Sunday, January 16, 2011
by Jocelyn Michel
Cover art: Reneé George
Theme(s): Vampires, Werewolves
Series: Assassins in Lace
Vampire Chantel Mathis, aka Karma, is an assassin who always gets her werewolf. Tonight she's posing as an interior decorator applying for a position at Aubrey Enterprises. Her interviewer and mark is Ren Aubrey, the delectable CEO and owner. Though Ren plays the role of savvy businessman to perfection, Karma knows there's more there than meets the eye. This werewolf is really an assassin so deadly that the vamps have nicknamed him Slayer.
What Karma doesn't know is that Ren is exactly her type. Worse, he's onto her. So the moment he steps into the room, she struggles not only to keep her wits about her, but to keep her distance. It doesn't help that Ren is every bit as beguiled and perfectly willing for their business relationship to be much more. Will Karma be able to resist Slayer's many charms? Or will their night of passion turn deadly?
Assassins in Lace: Impressions
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2011 Jocelyn Michel
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All of us vampires hated having the man on top -- top floor of the Aubrey Building in St. Louis, that is. The man? Ren Aubrey. Though humans called Ren by his given name, vamps knew him as Slayer, the ruthless killer who'd tracked down and murdered over fifty wily female assassins trying to murder him -- and in only six months. Why didn't we want him in that penthouse office suite of his? Too much daytime security to outsmart.
Oh, how the Assassins in Lace, as we called ourselves, wanted to snuff that guy. But no assassin, one of ours or not, had succeeded so far -- for several reasons. First, Ren wasn't just that guy. He was that shapeshifting guy, as in a crafty, ridiculously powerful werewolf. Second, deadly werewolf bodyguards -- we called them watchdogs -- protected him and his place of business during the day. Third, when he prowled the city at night, alone and deliciously vulnerable, he somehow stayed under our radar. I'd actually crossed paths with him once and only by accident -- just long enough to make a positive ID and be glad he hadn't seen me. Not that I feared him. I feared no werewolf. I simply had a healthy respect for this one's diabolical contribution to our rising death toll.
Thanks to a war that had raged for centuries, vamps and weres of all kinds hunted each other mercilessly. I often wondered what started the bloody feud and how we'd kept it and our very existence secret from humans. Hatred for the enemy ran rampant through vamp veins, thick as our crimson blood. We never questioned or resisted it. And even I -- along with an army of other vamps, both genders, embraced it. It was the reason I'd chosen werewolf assassin as my night job.
Because of my high success rate, my fellow assassins, who'd long ago given me the nickname Karma, nominated me to finish off pesky Ren Aubrey once and for all. I'd schemed for months and watched his every daytime move. I'd also researched him on the internet. After certain preparations, I made my first deadly move late one afternoon on a Friday in December. Yeah, vamps can survive in sunlight. In fact, we can even tan.
"I have a four-thirty appointment to interview for the decorator position," I said to the petite werewolf who served as receptionist.
My gaze swept the massive foyer of the Aubrey building, deeply shadowed by the setting sun streaming through the western windows. I eyed the décor with disgust. Though tasteful, it bored me to tears and screamed retro tacky. I assumed that Ren, who'd just inherited Aubrey Enterprises from his deceased father, wanted to modernize the place. I didn't blame him.
"Your name, please." Raquel, according to the tag pinned on her tasteless, low-cut blouse, disdainfully eyed my couture black business suit and my honey-blonde hair, twisted up and fastened with a diamond clip. Behind her stood an enormous watchdog.
She looked down and checked my name off her list. "Mr. Aubrey is expecting you. Right this way, please."
My resume had earned me this interview; my smarts would ensure that I made it through alive. For starters, I'd drunk the blood of the were-panther I retired last night, something vamps never did. Drinking the blood of any were equated to drinking dog piss, in our opinion, but it did help mask vamp aroma for a couple of days.
In addition, I'd sprayed myself down with Beguiled, a perfume designed by vamps for vamps to help neutralize our distinctive scent. I also wore venom-infused lipstick and nail polish. On top of all that, I'd avoided the obvious clichés that set us apart: leather everything, stripper heels, too much cleavage. So many female vamps dressed to Goth extreme, a natural for flashy us. I never did... at least not when I hunted. Might as well have bloodsucker tattooed across my forehead, right?
As for my fangs, no one could control them the way I could. Fangs, like cocks, were reflexive, which meant they sometimes popped up at inopportune times. Mine never did.
In addition, I'd done my homework and probably knew more about Ren than he knew about himself -- his likes and dislikes, his vices, his haunts and his hideaways. This wealthy bachelor werewolf loved to party hearty, resulting in internet speculation and exposure. Apparently he could charm the habit off a nun. And though I'd never be one of those, I definitely had my work cut out for me. As for the actual business of Aubrey Enterprises, nothing I'd read anywhere so much as hinted at what it might be, so that remained an riddle I sincerely hoped to solve.
Instead of escorting me to the penthouse office suite, Raquel led me to a large conference room on the first floor. A watchdog accompanied us, but stopped at the door as I entered it and set my portfolio and designer bag on the rich mahogany table.
"Mr. Aubrey has another appointment at five. That only gives you a half hour with him which is why I tried to set up an earlier meeting time."
So she'd arranged the interview. "No problem. If I can't nail this account in thirty minutes, then I don't deserve it."
With a shrug and a dubious look, Raquel left.