Authors: Abby Blake
PUP Squad Alpha 8
Kristen Haynes wasn’t supposed to be an ordinary human. All of the other women born on her birthday showed extraordinary talents, but she has none. Even though she’s been targeted by assassins, she feels guilty for being protected when it’s merely a case of mistaken identity.
Angus McPherson worked for Deeks Security for many years, but a recent tragedy reminded him how short life really is. Kristen is supposed to be his last assignment before he resigns, but when it seems like the whole paranormal world is trying to kill her, it might be his last assignment permanently.
Dyson James loves his job. As a two-hundred-year-old fire demon and member of PUP Squad Alpha, he’s used to getting what he wants, but can he and Angus use their very different skills to protect Kristen and convince their seemingly ordinary human that between them is exactly where she belongs?
Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal
PUP Squad Alpha 8
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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IMPRINT: Ménage Everlasting
First E-book Publication: August 2012
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PUP Squad Alpha 8
Copyright © 2012
“Working late again?”
Cassandra Lipton glanced up at the Judiciary standing just outside her office door. She smiled. Tory had been her biggest supporter since Cassandra had gotten this promotion. The job had been a very steep learning curve, so she’d gratefully accepted the guidance from someone who understood the inner workings of the Ruling Body.
“Afraid so,” Cassandra answered with a half smile. “My computer died this morning, and it took the IT guy hours to rebuild my files from the backups.” She glanced at the pile of things sitting in her inbox and knew she’d be here for hours yet. She shook her head at the mess. “It doesn’t seem to matter how computerized things get, there always seems to be more paperwork.”
Tory laughed softly. “That is so very true, but since I’m old enough to remember the ink bottle and quill, I do have to say humans have been good for a couple of things this past century.”
“Is that why you’re fighting so hard to protect the Oracle’s receptacles?”
Tory gave her a sad smile. “I suppose that’s part of it, but I’m fighting for them mainly because it’s the right thing to do. Those poor little humans are completely innocent. They didn’t ask to be dragged into a world of paranormal politics and backstabbing.”
Cassandra gave the woman a sympathetic look. While working in the administration area of the Ruling Body, Cassandra had never truly appreciated how many decisions were made in the back rooms. Her promotion had given her more access to the inner workings of the Ruling Body, and quite frankly, she’d been a little shocked. By the time all thirteen Judiciaries stepped into the conference room to “discuss” a situation, allegiances and deals had already been struck. The formality of the official meeting was basically a carefully presented stage play to convince the members of the paranormal worlds they represented that their system worked.
Cassandra supposed it was very much like the politics and politicians of human worlds, except that Judiciaries often stayed on the Ruling Body for centuries rather than a handful of years. Thankfully, Tory had helped Cassandra to understand that the political maneuvering and deal making was an integral part of running any organization. Sometimes it was necessary to give a little to get a lot.
“Did you have any luck getting them to cancel the PLA’s contract?”
“Not yet,” Tory said with a worried frown. “We can’t even pinpoint who is paying for it. The latest order seems to have come from the pixie king himself, so even if the Ruling Body does agree to overrule the pixie king’s decision, they may have a hard time enforcing it. Dex DeKardoin isn’t known for backing down. I’ve heard suggestions that even his wife is involved in this contract somehow. Her absence from official functions has the rumor mill working overtime.” Tory stepped into the room and sat on the leather sofa in front of Cassandra’s desk. The woman looked tired. “Of course, it doesn’t seem to concern any of them that our best PUP squad is liable to get caught in the cross fire. And only a few of the Judiciaries are even listening when it comes to preserving the information the humans possess.” She shook her head slowly. “Most of them seem blinded by the fact that the humans have somehow developed telekinesis. It’s one little side effect. If we assassinate humans because they have skills we can’t control, where do we draw the line? Would warlocks and witches be next? They’re often mistaken for human.”
Cassandra nodded. She’d given that quite a bit of thought in recent days. If they allowed this blind hatred to continue, who would be next? Human-paranormal half-breeds? Most likely. Witches, warlocks, and any other species capable of procreating with humans? Possibly. Where would the hatred end? Half-breed offspring were often left without any paranormal skills anyway, but would that stop a mob of angry full-blood paranormals from tearing them apart?
Did the witches and warlocks not realize they could become victims of a war they themselves were starting?
“I still can’t believe that Jason turned on his own squad,” Cassandra said quietly, feeling ill to her stomach about it. The man had worked and fought beside the men of Alpha squad for fifty years, yet he’d abandoned that simply because the warlocks and witches had decided they didn’t want their history being collected by humans. The bigotry and raw hatred some witches and warlocks held for humans, though not entirely unexpected, was still astounding in its vehemence. Few Oracles were ever identified publicly—some never even revealed it to those closest to them—but they were always of a different species than the one of the history they recorded. Surely the witches and warlocks understood the way it worked. If their Oracle had been revealed as any other species, would they still be ready to start a war to get their own way?
The worst part was that Jason had contacted Cassandra claiming that the commanding officer of PUP Squad Alpha was keeping information from her and the Ruling Body. Jason had even suggested that three of the Oracle’s receptacles believed to be dead were actually still alive. He’d claimed they were being protected by PUP Squad Alpha and some private contractors from Deeks Security.
Cassandra couldn’t trust the man, not after the way he’d betrayed the men and women who trusted him, but for the first time in her life, she’d bent the rules and not put his visit into her report. She was a play-by-the-rules type of person, so the omission weighed heavily on her conscience, but reporting Jason’s visit to her private home would likely paint a great big target on her back. The last thing she needed was to give some of Tory’s opposition the power to bring hers and Tory’s loyalty to the Ruling Body into question.
“Tomorrow is another day,” Tory said, obviously trying to put a positive spin on what seemed to be a losing battle. “Hopefully, I can talk some sense into Gordanna before her meeting with Craiges. If I can get her to take our side in this, she might be able to persuade the others to at least call off the assassins until we can work out what will be lost. With only three of the Oracle’s receptacles still alive I already suspect that more than half of the information they held is now gone.” Tory looked genuinely upset. For a woman who held herself so regally when dealing with the vicious world of paranormal politics, the small hint of vulnerability was something Cassandra saw rarely. She also had the feeling that she was the only person Tory ever let see that side of her.
It made Cassandra want to work even harder to help the woman.
“Oh, by the way,” Cassandra said, finally remembering the one good thing she and the IT guy had stumbled across earlier today. “Remember the e-mail PUP Squad Alpha got a few months back warning them of the serial killer?”
As Tory nodded, Cassandra tried not to shudder at the memory of being told her former boss had been a murderous imposter. As awful as it sounded, she’d been quite relieved to learn the vampire had been killed by Benjamin and Samuel as they protected two women Higgins had been about to kill. The thought of being dragged into a hearing to discuss her boss’s capital punishment still gave her nightmares. It had been bad enough answering questions about him posthumously.