Home > Sin & Chocolate (Demigod of San Francisco #1)(3)

Sin & Chocolate (Demigod of San Francisco #1)(3)
Author: K.F. Breene

I shivered.

I sincerely hoped he wasn’t magical. This altercation reaffirmed why I stuck to dual-society zones. Chesters, the worst of the non-magical bunch, could be crazy, but at least they followed stricter laws with less insane punishments. Also, they ignored me instead of picking on me. Win-win.

The stagnant smell of recycled air greeted me as I stepped into the bright store at the far end of the complex. Another non-magical-owned establishment, this one sold homewares and various other domestic items. This was where I should have gone straight away instead of getting swept up by unrealistic fantasies.

The small clock by the door said I needed to get in and get out so I could make it back to work in time. But the call of all that sparkled and shone dragged my feet off course. Immediately, I spied something I desperately needed: a lovely scented candle that would mask some of the mildew smell of the bathroom.

Or over there, by the strange painting of a dog face—a garbage can whose lid rose and fell by sensor. I wouldn’t get sticky when I threw away the kids’ messes in the kitchen.

Or there! A sponge holder that suctioned to the side of the sink so I wouldn’t have to leave the sponge on the side of the dirty basin that Mordecai and Daisy were supposed to have cleaned, said they’d cleaned, and definitely hadn’t.

I drank in the sight of all the stuff I definitely needed or could at least use while calling up in my mind’s eye my embarrassingly low cash balance. A balance so low, I only had wiggle room in the budget for the single item I’d come for.

“Dream small, Alexis,” I muttered, staring at the shelves of kitchen gadgets. “Dream small.”

I was a sighing machine today.

I headed back toward the other side of the store, making my way to the blanket section.

When asked what color he would prefer, Mordecai had needed to be convinced that yes, he needed a decent blanket. Central heating wasn’t a luxury we could afford, and his other blankets were all threadbare. Finally, he’d admitted a cheery color would really suit him. Apparently, the drab color scheme of our house wasn’t to his taste.

My hand hovered over a bright yellow blanket with little tassels on the ends. He wanted cheery, and yellow was certainly cheerful, but I also knew he absolutely detested the color. I loved playing jokes, but this one seemed too harsh, even for me.

I thought about pink, which was soft and happy. He was into those sorts of things, but I wasn’t, so I moved on. Turquoise…might work. It seemed a little kiddish, but who was I to judge?

I checked the price, nodded, and pulled it from the shelf. Good enough.

As I turned toward the checkout, a puffy gray blanket caught my eye. Affixed with a ridiculous price tag of nearly three hundred dollars, it boasted gridded stitching and a classy red ribbon around its folded girth.

The packaging suggested a quality item. A luxury item.

I loved luxury. I would’ve done great as a rich person. It was a role I’d been born for. Maybe someday I would marry a prince and find creative ways to shrug off running his country while I ran up his credit card. I smiled at the possibilities.

“This blanket isn’t dreaming small, idiot,” I said, fighting with myself to keep from reaching out and touching the fabric. It would be soft, I knew it. It would make love to my hand and beg to be bought.

But I didn’t have that kind of money. If I did, we’d have heat, and I wouldn’t need the dang thing in the first place.

But doesn’t Mordecai deserve the best?

“He’ll get the best. He’ll get the turquoise best…”

He has a hard time sleeping, which only makes his condition worse. He loves a crapload of blankets. This would help.

“So would the heat being turned on.”

The sign mentioned that it was a weighted blanket, which I’d never heard of before. Reading up on its other attributes—premium and therapeutic, both things Mordecai needed and deserved—I hefted it, for research’s sake.

“Oooh,” I said, running my face across its finely woven surface. It kissed my cheek, then pushed itself into my arms, begging me to take it home.

Whoa, down, girl.

My months-long dry spell was starting to mess with my head and materialize in inanimate, premium-grade objects. Maybe Mordecai wasn’t the only one who needed therapeutic devices, though mine didn’t usually take the form of a blanket…

I bit my lip, staring at that price. It was just so much money.

How hard would it be to steal this beast…?

Before I could talk myself out of a terrible idea, a strange feeling washed over me. Like eyes digging into the back of my head. Only this time I could tell it wasn’t another customer coveting the luxury item wrapped in my arms.

My hardwired danger sensors roared to life.

No way would that guy have followed me. No way. Guys like him, rich and entitled, had business to do. Important things dragging at their attention. An idiot like me shouldn’t even register past the initial annoyance.

Unless he was that crazy magical type, looking for sport. Maybe he was bored, and the cat had found a canary.

“Bugger,” I said between clenched teeth. Of all the rotten luck.

Moving ever so slowly, I put the thick and wonderful blanket back onto the shelf and slightly turned to look over my shoulder.

Cold washed through my middle. Fear crawled up my spine and sent tingles of apprehension racing down my legs.

Stormy blue eyes under high, arching brows surveyed me from over a shelf of unnecessary doodads. His lush and shapely lips, which softened his rugged face to something distractingly handsome, twitched downward, the budding of a grimace.

Grimaces on crazy people weren’t good. His following me wasn’t good.

None of this was good.

Time to go.



I turned to stuff the turquoise blanket back onto its shelf, but stopped myself.

“Mother-trucker biscuit fucker,” I said, a saying my mother had always used when I was in the room and she was trying not to swear. By the last word, she’d apparently given up.

Mordecai needed that blanket. He was trying to fight off a serious cough, and given his chronic illness, another cold night could easily propel him toward bronchitis or worse. Since my place of employment was run by stingy non-magical people, they only offered non-magical health insurance. Being that the world largely kept the two worlds separate, even if certain zones did not, magical people like me and Mordecai could only get medical treatment through magical establishments, and only then with magical health insurance, or the money to pay. I had neither. If Mordecai got worse, not even the local emergency room would take him. I’d have no way to help him.

I needed this blanket.

Blanket tucked under my arm, I pretended I wasn’t shaking with adrenaline as I headed to the checkout. The man’s body came into full view, and then I couldn’t even pretend anymore.

He was built like a god. Large, thick shoulders tapered down to trim hips. His formfitting white T-shirt showed off muscular biceps, the bumps of his pecs, and the plane of his stomach. To complete the picture of mighty strength and power, his muscular thighs strained his snug jeans.

The man would be jaw-dropping if not for the raw intensity rolling from him in heady waves. His eyes held a haunted viciousness that spoke of imbalance. Live in the cracks of society for long enough, and you become an expert on spotting danger. This guy would kill, or had killed, without batting an eye. He wasn’t here to chat. If he’d had something to say, he would’ve said it by now. If he’d wanted a groveling apology, he wouldn’t be tracking me silently, like a predator does his prey.

Everything in me said to run like my hair was on fire. I was the little brown mouse in this scenario, and he the snake, coiled and ready to strike.

But I was a caretaker if not a pseudo-mother, and I would not let Mordecai down because of an outrageously scary though equally attractive stalker. I just had to hope this man was not so unhinged as to accost me in plain sight.

Which meant I’d better damn well stay in plain sight.

“Gotta buy this,” I mumbled to myself for encouragement while quickening my pace. “He’s too sick not to. Just gonna…move faster.”

This guy was big, but was he fast? Because I was fast. I was super fast, especially when a huge man with lots of working muscle was chasing me.

At the cashier, I praised all things holy that there was no line and I had cash in my pocket. There would be no awkward pauses as the curly-haired checker verified my ID against a debit card, realized I wasn’t “like her,” and tried to figure out if she could wait on me or not. Sometimes the answer was no, true, but a teller should really know the rules of the establishment in which she worked.

I flicked my hair to hide some of my anxious tremors as she reached for the blanket. Her wide smile was reassuring, and I let a smile linger on my face in response. Peers, that was what we were. Just two normal gals going about their lives.

An intimidating presence filled in behind me, and I swallowed past the sudden lump in my throat.

“Sir, I can help you over here,” the cashier beside us called in a sweet voice.

My cashier, Darlene, going by the nametag, looked up. Her eyes widened and she paused before putting the blanket into a bag.

“Sir?” the cashier next to us called again.

“I’ll stay here.” His voice was barrel-deep and raspy. The confidence in it vibrated through my body and burned across my skin.

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