Home > Sin & Chocolate (Demigod of San Francisco #1)(9)

Sin & Chocolate (Demigod of San Francisco #1)(9)
Author: K.F. Breene

“I certainly will not,” I cut in, iron in my voice.

“Ha!” Daisy pointed her fork at me. “See? You won’t mention Mordecai because you’re trying to protect him. Which means you know this isn’t legit, but you’re prepared to accept the terms anyway.” She shook her head. “Now it’s a definite no. Tell that stalking bastard to shove his luring-type gift where the sun don’t shine. Mama didn’t raise no fool.”

“I decree that this house is no longer a democracy. It is now a dictatorship.” I scooped up more glop. “I get the only say.”

“Tell him thank you,” Mordecai amended, “but that you can’t accept such a generous gift. Then ask him how to get it back to him. Or better yet, just get his license plate and we’ll find him the same way he found you.”

“Not good that he has our address,” Daisy mumbled.

“Agreed,” Mordecai said.

I agreed with them but didn’t say so. Nor did I tell them I was a little relieved I wouldn’t be accepting the blanket. I didn’t know what that stranger’s game was, but guys like him didn’t give handouts without an ulterior motive.

I just wondered what that ulterior motive had to do with me.



“What have you got for me?” Kieran asked as he stepped out of his car. His shoe splashed down into a small stream of murky brown water running from the side of the alleyway behind several prospering businesses. Large metal trash containers dotted the other side, most with trash nearing the top. Cars sped past on the busy street at the far end, their colors muted in the late evening light.

He eyed his car, only a few months old. He hated leaving it in such dimly lit, unmonitored areas, like this back alleyway within the busy magical San Francisco downtown, but he didn’t need to attract attention to his whereabouts.

His Six waited off to the side, standing in a staggered line. Tough warriors all, and each with something powerful and unique to bring to the table, these guys had laid down their lives to enter the service of a Demigod—him. Through the blood oath with which they’d pledged their loyalty, they’d inherited a boost of power and certain additions to their skill sets. They were his eyes and ears when he couldn’t be present.

Zorn stepped forward; he was a medium-statured man, the most vicious fighter Kieran had ever seen, and as close to a friend as he’d ever been allowed. Zorn had been the first of the Six, and would’ve been by Kieran’s side even without the inherent perks.

“She’s a nobody, sir,” Zorn said, handing forth a file. “Very little power, next to no talent, and as poor as they come. What you pulled earlier is the extent of it.”

Kieran frowned and flipped open the file folder before running a finger down the report within. Sure enough, it was the same information he’d seen in the database, easily pulled up and viewed when he’d searched for her license plate. Not one detail was out of place.

He checked the picture again, then the name and address, before shaking his head. “Can’t be right.”

He flipped the file closed and walked the few steps to the nearest trash container. He chucked the report inside. What he was looking for wasn’t contained in that report.

“She had a lot of power,” he said, comparing his own details to what he’d read. “A high class five.”

“You’ve never been wrong on the power scale before, sir,” said Jack, a tall, robust man who was happiest navigating deep waters.

“Even so, the report says she’s a weak class two.” Donovan crossed his arms, his short, dirty blond hair spiked in all directions. “A weak class two is quite a bit different from a strong class five. The assessment for magical people has been known to be wrong from time to time, but never that wrong.”

“You said she did fit the part she was playing, sir,” Zorn said, clearly remembering their earlier conversation. After leaving her, Kieran had parked behind the row of subpar stores in that tattered shopping complex and just sat there for ten minutes, reflecting. Trying to make sense of all he’d just encountered. Of the feel of the woman’s magic curling through his bloodstream and exciting his senses. It had been the most unique feeling he could remember. The most invigorating. Finally, he’d summoned the will to meet with his men—but he’d asked them to find out more information about her.

He shook his head to clear it, poring over what he’d observed, and trying to make sense of the report.

“She’s definitely poor,” he said, remembering the look of her clothes. “A spy or assassin might don ill-fitting, cheap clothes, but the woman’s shoes had been worn to the point of distress. They were molded to her feet. That look couldn’t be duplicated by anything but time.”

“Something a highly skilled and trained assassin, packing enough power to raise eyebrows, wouldn’t need,” Zorn said. He would know. He was such an assassin, when Kieran needed one.

“Her house has been registered to her since her mother died, and to her mother nearly since Alexis was born,” Kieran said. “She’s lived there all her life. Or so the records have it.”

“A person with that much power would never be left to their own devices,” Thane said, scratching his chin through his thick brown beard. “At least not that dual-society zone. Your father would want you to keep tabs on her.”

“But on paper, she doesn’t have that much power,” Jack said.

“And there’s the rub,” Kieran said softly.

“You said she didn’t realize you were following her around the home goods store.” Zorn’s brow furrowed. “Anyone half trained would’ve sensed it.”

“Easily,” Kieran said, remembering the potent trail of magic she’d left behind, like fairy dust, almost as if she were daring him to follow. He’d sensed a trap, but, knowing he had the resources to combat such an attack, had seen it through to see what she would do. The answer, much to his increased confusion, was absolutely nothing. She’d only noticed him once he stepped out in plain view. “That sort of ignorance can’t be faked. Not from me.”

“Which means…she hasn’t been trained,” Zorn said with finality.

“Not a chance,” Kieran replied. “Everything about her checks out, except for her power level…and her magic.”

“What did you say the magic did again?” Donovan asked.

Kieran used a finger and drew a line down the center of his chest. Then, with fisted hands, he mimed spreading open each side of the line.

“It felt like she reached into my middle and grabbed hold of my vitals. I knew one moment of utter, primal vulnerability. But before I could answer in kind, she pulled it away.” He shifted his weight, remembering when she’d done it—then remembering when she’d brought out the mace and done it again. “She didn’t seem to know she was doing it. When she realized the mace didn’t work, she acted like a sitting duck. She was afraid of me; I could sense it.” He shook his head. “A person with that kind of magic should never feel afraid. I don’t know what kind of magic it was, but it was arresting.”

“Her file says she’s a Ghost Whisperer,” Zorn said.

Kieran huffed out a laugh and led the way down the middle of the alley. “She’s no Ghost Whisperer. I’ve seen enough of them to know.” And was about to see another one. Anything to help his mother. Loss pierced his gut, driving away his breath. “Even still, I’ll compare her to the woman I’m about to see. This Ghost Whisperer is supposed to be the best in the city. I doubt she’ll give me anything more than anyone else has been able to.” He blew out a breath, trying to regain his composure. “Have we made any headway in my father’s office?”

A tremor of violence ran through his Six. Kieran could vaguely feel their emotional turbulence and anger through the blood bond. The woman was a sideshow curiosity, but their plan to overturn his father required their utmost focus. Focus…and courage.

Henry spoke up. “I’ve made contact with Valens’s secondary assistant, and his bed warmer. Both are more than happy to give up his secrets—”

“As long as they get something in return,” Jack said with a smirk.

“Naturally,” Henry replied with a smile. He hadn’t met a woman he couldn’t make scream, or so he claimed. No doubt he’d charmed the bed warmer. “Valens is pretty tight-lipped, but I can get a good idea of his movements and plans through them.”

“I’ve been working through the security staff,” Zorn said. “Most of them are disgruntled. They can be paid off, but we’ll need to go through a third party to use them.”

“I’ve got third parties all day long.” Donovan chuckled. “All day long. I’ve got a list of organizations Valens consistently uses. Everyone else is fair game. They’re not picky. I’ve also been working my way through the government building, chatting and making friends.”

Kieran rounded the corner and emerged onto the busy sidewalk. Street lights rained down a yellow glow, barely lighter than the pink- and orange-streaked sky. Magical people strolled along in the heart of the magical half of San Francisco, most hardly discernable from their non-magical cousins, but a few drawing notice with pale green skin or the flutter of their heavily feathered wings. Delicious smells drifted out from ritzy restaurants, and street vendors beckoned tourists over to see their wares.

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