Demon’s Mercy – Chapter 1
Logan Kyllwood had never gone for the career type with the business skirt, buttoned shirt, and upswept hair. But this woman…she rocked it. Head to toe, high heels to hair clip, she owned the pencil skirt look.
He relaxed on his tall stool in the sports bar, behind a dented table, and watched her stride around other tables toward a booth in the back. Almost on an automatic swivel, men turned from chips, potato skins, and loud discussions about the Hearts and Hibernian football teams to watch her move. And hell, could she move. Tight ass swaying in the skirt, toned legs moving with the grace of a dancer. She was petite enough to be considered fragile…also not his type.
Her features were narrow to the point of being elfin, her lips full and lush, and her skin pale and smooth in contrast with her dark red hair. She wasn’t so much beautiful as intriguing. Very.
She reached the booth where two of her friends sat drinking what looked like margaritas, stiffened, and did an about-face, turning to look directly at him.
Everything in him fell silent.
She stared at him for two seconds before gliding back into motion. Then, keeping his gaze, she drifted past tables to reach his.
A guy with narrow glasses and a designer flannel shirt grasped her arm from a tall table, halting her progress. Her eyes widened.
Logan straightened, his blood sparked, and he set his glass down with a loud thump.
The guy turned, his lip twisting. The second his gaze met Logan’s, he released the woman. Immediately and based on what were probably pretty decent instincts.
Logan settled back down and grasped his chilled mug again, his concentration returning to the woman.
She glanced at the man turning quickly away from her, and a small smile played on her enticing mouth. Then she visibly gathered herself, lowered her chin, and continued uninterrupted toward Logan.
The second she arrived, he kicked out the stool across from him in a silent invitation, unable to look away from her. This close, her eyes were the dark green of a Scottish moor. The kind surrounded by enduring moss and ancient stones. He wasn’t sure if he was impressed or surprised when she slid onto the stool. Maybe both.
“What do you want?” she asked, her voice intriguingly smooth and sultry for her petite frame.
Her scent washed over him, wild and free gardenias, heated in its intensity. In its effect on him. He sure as shit couldn’t answer her question honestly because his entire system had just gone into overdrive. If all else fails, deflect.“Excuse me?” His hoarse voice hinted at his demon heritage, but she wouldn’t know that.
She met his gaze levelly, unusual for a human. “You’ve been watching me the whole hour I’ve been here with my friends. And even though you tried to hide behind a pillar, I saw you at the coffee shop earlier this morning. Also watching me.”
He hadn’t been hiding. “You don’t believe in coincidences?” he asked.
She rolled those stunning eyes. “No. Never have. I do, however, believe in stalkers and creeps.”
A light and mellow energy cascaded from her, not nearly as strongly as he’d expected. Her enhancement—the ability that made her one of the three female Keys his people needed to find—was surprisingly subdued. He gave her his most charming smile. “Which am I? Stalker or creep?”
She craned her neck to the side, and her gaze ran from his head down his torso to his boots…and all the way back up.
His chest heated and his groin tightened. The woman had guts. Not many people, especially humans, faced him so fearlessly. Their instincts warned them away.
Did this woman not have instincts?
“Well?” he prompted. “Stalker or creep?”
“I really couldn’t say.” Her narrow nostrils flared. “If I had to guess…it’d be lost soul.”
Wasn’t that sweet? And disarmingly damn correct. His soul had been lost years ago.
She leaned in. “Are demons chasing you?”
The entire room disappeared around them, and his focus narrowed only to her. Adrenaline poured through his veins and his muscles clenched. “Excuse me?” he said for the second time.
She sighed, looking both put out and impatient. “You heard me.” Those finely arched brows drew down.
He swallowed. Wait a minute. She’d meant the question figuratively. The woman was just flirting with him. It had been so long since he’d flirted with a female, he’d forgotten how. “Demons are always chasing me, sweetheart.” His answer was more truth than banter, but she wouldn’t know that. He smiled. “You gonna save me?”
“Sometimes it’s too late to save a soul,” she mused, as if talking to herself.
How much tequila had she enjoyed? He cocked his head to the side and studied her. What exactly was her enhancement? Sometimes humans surprised him. “Do you, ah, save souls?”
She grinned then, and it was like the sun appeared when he hadn’t realized he was sitting lost and alone in the dark. “Sounds like an admirable calling, but no. Sorry,” she said, folding her hands on the table. Her nails were long and unpainted. Strong with natural white tips.
He motioned for the blond waitress, and she hurried toward him, large breasts barely restrained by her tight shirt. “You want something?” she breathed.
He focused on the pixie. “Margarita?”
The woman nodded, her gaze remaining on his face. “Blended with salt.”
The waitress pouted but turned and swayed back to the bar.
“Logan.” He held out his hand.
“Mercy O’Malley.” She slid her small palm against his, and the shock of her touch almost made him growl. Electricity and enough heat to burn a forest. “Nice to meet you.” Her face registered no emotion.
Had she not just felt that jolt? That beyond-strange connection? He was never thrown off-balance, and he sure as shit didn’t like it.
He reclaimed his hand. The dossier he had on her was way too light, but he’d already known her name. He’d spent the day debating whether to cajole her from safety or just kidnap her. For some reason, he didn’t want to frighten somebody so delicate. “I did see you at the coffee shop, and I was definitely watching you tonight. But it’s a coincidence to find you at both places.” He tried to look harmless.
Both of her eyebrows now rose.
Harmless had never been his default setting. If she had half a brain, and it appeared that she did, she wouldn’t fall for his bullshit. He tried again. “Okay. I may have noticed the Paddy’s Bar logo on your coffee cup this morning.”
She frowned and then relief filtered across her sharp features. “Of course. I won the travel mug last week during a trivia game.”
“I figured there’d be a chance to run into you here tonight and introduce myself. I haven’t been following you all day,” he said gently, lying his ass off.
“Oh, good.” She chuckled and leaned toward him just a little. “I wasn’t sure what to do if you had.”
Not approaching him would’ve been the smart move, but why tell her that? She was obviously innocent and trusting, which unfortunately suited his purposes just fine. But he wouldn’t let her get hurt. Ever. He felt attention and turned to see her two female friends looking their way. “You might want to let your friends know you’re okay,” he murmured.
“Oh.” She started and then turned, giving them a wave.
They nodded and settled back down to their drinks. At least she had a small amount of protection by having friends around. Not enough, though.
The waitress delivered the lime-green margarita and waited, sparkling eyes focused on Logan. “Can I get you anything else? Anything?”
A very quiet snort came from the woman across from Logan. He bit back a grin. “We’re good. Thanks.” The waitress moved away.
Mercy took a sip of her drink. “For a stalker, you’re cute.”
Nobody had ever called him cute. Not once in his life. He’d been oversized from day one, and he’d learned to fight and kill shortly thereafter. “Tell me about yourself, Mercy O’Malley.” Even her name was adorable. It was too bad he had to kidnap her. He took a drink of his beer.
She shrugged narrow shoulders. “Not much to tell. I’m the VP of Acquisitions for a private family trust. Pays the bills.”
Smart and humble. The woman was checking more boxes than he’d realized he had. “What do you do for fun?” He tried to keep his voice light, but it was getting late, and he had a job to do.
“This.” She swept her hand out to the still-boisterous patrons around the bar.
Her friends finished their drinks and stood, gesturing her toward the door. One female was a tall blonde and the other a shorter brunette, both wobbling a little.
Ah, shit. Now what?
Then she shook her head and motioned that she’d call them later. “We all live close, so they can walk home,” she said, focusing back on him. The friends left as if nothing was amiss.
Okay. Way too trusting and innocent. He couldn’t help but shake his head. While he didn’t have sisters and never would, he had a mom, sisters-in-law, and a niece he’d die for. He’d already killed for them—more than once. “You probably shouldn’t remain by yourself in a bar with a guy you just met.” Yeah, he should just keep his damn mouth shut.
Her eyes lit up. “Aren’t you sweet? Don’t worry. I can take care of myself.” Her amusement filtered through the air between them.
Sometimes humans were so clueless, having no idea of the predators walking right beside them. If he told her he was a vampire-demon hybrid, what would she do? Probably laugh it off and keep flirting with him. He sighed. “All right. Took a couple of self-defense classes, did you?”
She chuckled. “Not really. But I have excellent instincts about people.”
That statement was so sad it pissed him off. He took a couple of drinks to cool his suddenly heated throat. The woman was about to learn different, so maybe this was a good thing. He’d keep her safe and also teach her not to be so careless. Why her trusting nature ticked him off, he’d figure out later. “It’s a nice night. How about a walk outside?”
Her teeth played with her bottom lip for a moment.
His groin tightened again. Hard and fast. This effect she had on him was annoying. He finished his beer and pushed away from the table. Either she’d come with him, or he’d acquire her later that night from her apartment. “You coming?”
“Yes.” She stood and faltered slightly. For the first time, doubt filtered across her expression. “But just for a walk.”
His heart thumped and warmed. “I’m not going to let anything hurt you, Mercy.” Truer words had never been spoken. Oh, she might hate him within hours, but she’d be safe.
She smiled, her face taking on a serene beauty. “That sounds like the truth.” Walking around the table, she slid her soft hand into his.
His lungs seized, and he led her through tables to the door. Once outside, he finally took a deep breath of fresh spring air. Night had fallen, and the stars above Edinburgh sparkled high and bright in the darkened sky.
They fell into step easily, and he shortened his stride to accommodate her smaller stature. Her head barely reached his shoulder. He naturally switched their places to keep his body between traffic and her, taking her other hand instinctively. He might be a killer, but his mama had taught him manners. And it was easier to contain Mercy when she couldn’t run across the street.
“You didn’t tell me what you do, Logan,” Mercy murmured, eyeing closed storefronts as they passed.
“Well, at the moment, I’m in acquisitions as well,” he said, having no doubt she wouldn’t appreciate his humor.
A woman’s muffled scream shot his body into sharp awareness.
The blonde friend ran out of the nearest alley, one of her shoes gone. “Help,” she cried, panic streaking across her face.
Logan reached her quickly and put Mercy behind him as they halted.
The blonde pointed into the alley. “He has Trina. Grabbed us both.”
“Stay here.” Logan released Mercy and shot into the darkened alley toward a black SUV.
Pain lanced into his neck, and electricity ripped through his body so rapidly he dropped to his knees. Water from a mud puddle washed up. What the hell? Another jolt, and his vision grayed. Stun-gunned? Not a normal jolt, either. This was meant either for vampires or, hell, a brontosaurus. He tried to turn, but a third jolt beneath his left ear bashed through his entire head. He swayed. Mercy. Where was she? He opened his mouth to yell for her to run, but only a croak emerged.
“Get him in the SUV.” The blonde suddenly appeared and shot an arm beneath his shoulder.
Then Mercy was in front of him. “Hurry. He should be completely out, but his eyes are still open.” Her voice was crisp, but those pretty eyes looked worried.
“M-Mercy?” he asked, his brain feeling like Jell-O.
She winced. “Sorry about this, sport.” The brunette emerged from the side of a dumpster, a black box in her hand. Between the three of them, they managed to drag him to the back of the SUV and shove him inside, where he landed on his back with a hard thump.
“He weighs a ton,” the blonde muttered, disappearing around the side.
Mercy jumped in beside him and quickly shackled his wrists and ankles with iron. The good kind. The door slammed shut, then the vehicle peeled out of the alley.
Anger finally spurted through the shock and pain of the electrical attack. Who the fuck were these females? More importantly, what were they? Witches? He growled.
Mercy’s eyes widened and then she winced, sitting on the newish carpet and leaning against the side of the SUV. “I’m really sorry about this, Logan.”
Sorry? Oh, the woman didn’t understand the meaning of the word. Yet.
The brunette leaned over the back seat. “You can’t kill him here. We’ll have to take him to the warehouse.”
Logan kept his focus on Mercy’s angled face as the feeling started to return to his limbs. Kill?
Mercy sighed. “I know. That’s where I left the sword, anyway. A demon has to be decapitated.” She leaned in, her wild scent filling his head. “I truly am sorry about this, Logan Kyllwood. I wish I didn’t have to kill you.”
Dark Protectors Book 9
January 22, 2019