Prologue (Part 2)
New Mexico, United States
I waited. There had been so much waiting the past few weeks. But it was nearly over now.
I stood in a small city park, just beside the pool of yellow light cast by the lone street lamp. It was a quiet night—no cars could be seen, and even the sounds from the highway were distant, as if muffled by the dark. Humans were asleep in their homes, unsuspecting of the evil that lurked in their midst. Unaware of me.
All at once I heard a car approaching down the otherwise quiet street. I straightened, angling my long body toward the sound. In seconds a pair of headlights flashed across me as the car came out of a side street and pulled toward the park, coming to rest against the curb. The lights switched off, but the car continued to run. I heard the power locks disengage, and I stepped up to the passenger door in front of me. I pulled it open before ducking smoothly inside.
There was no illumination in the car, yet from the glowing light outside I could see the scarred face of the driver. A man I’d seen many times but never really spoken to. Takao Kiyota was his name.
He was reaching into his jacket, pulling out a thin spray bottle. It appeared to be innocent perfume, though I knew differently.
He handed it over sleekly, skipping a greeting and moving on to the warning. “There isn’t much. Only one guaranteed potent dose. You cannot fail.”
I took the bottle and stuffed it into my own pocket without bothering to study it. “I never do.”
Kiyota’s head dipped once, allowing that, before he continued. “The Demon Lord assures me your target will be susceptible. Romero reported as much when his Seer saw him at the club last week.”
“I’m sorry I missed O’Donnell. I was in the area.”
The Demon Lord’s personal Seer smiled, but it was completely chilling. It was a smile I knew well, for it was identical to mine. “Yes, that was a pity, wasn’t it?”
I glanced out the windshield, my words firm. “I will be doing this differently than originally discussed.”
“I’m unwilling to approach O’Donnell so directly. This situation requires a bit more finesse.”
“Are you sure that’s wise?”
My nonanswer was answer enough.
The Demon Lord’s Seer spoke deeply. “Very well. But you must not forget the stakes. There is more than the Demon Lord’s fury to risk.”
“I’m perfectly aware of the risks. That’s the reason I’m here. I would not entrust this Seer to anyone else. Kate Bennett is mine.”
The Seer seemed to consider his words carefully. When he spoke, his voice was low. “You’re sure she’s the one?”
His lips compressed into a thin line. “If you’re right, she’s worth more than the Demon Lord first imagined.”
Again, I didn’t bother to comment. Instead, I got right to the point. “I could use your talents, if you can spare a couple of days.”
Kiyota’s answer was immediate. “My orders were to see that you have everything you need.”
I smiled darkly, fingering the bottle in my pocket. “Excellent.”
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