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I couldn't find my car keys.

I dragged my unwilling body out of bed a few hours past dawn and started searching the house, and my hazy memory, for my things. It wasn't surprising things had been misplaced, considering I last remembered passing out next to a dead man in a parking garage, arguing with an irritated—and murderous—demon. I did manage to find my purse, spotted with blood and dirt, thrown on the sofa with my ruined cardigan, but my keys alluded me still.

Elbow deep in the couch cushions and discovering nothing but lint, I swore aloud when my phone—another absentee object—started ringing. I followed the shrill noise to the refrigerator, where I found my phone abandoned on one of the barren shelves with a few handfuls of crumpled plastic wrap.

"Is there anything he doesn't eat?" I muttered as I picked up the phone, frowning at the unfamiliar number.



I knew the voice on the line, but couldn't quite place it. "...yes?"

"I find myself in a quandary—a quandary questioning how you manage to remain employed for any length of time with any establishment," The Sin of Lust sneered, and I groaned, glancing up at the clock on the wall. My shift at Klau should have started hours ago.

"I'm busy." I sat on the floor and leaned on a cabinet, prodding the uncomfortable bandages binding my side. Everything ached, but staying in bed made me far too anxious, and yet I hadn't thought of going to work. It's a farce anyway.

"Oh, you're busy. How very unthoughtful of me." A door opened and closed in the background. "I gave you this job so you and—by extension—your Sin, would be under my watch." Thin veins of anger threaded the woman's derisive tone. The steady clack of her heels moved upon a solid surface, voices echoing beyond her. "If you are not here within the hour, I will personally break your goddamn arm. Or you're neck. We'll see where the mood takes me."

I fought the urge to fling the phone across the room. "I'm busy," I repeated, biting the inside of my cheek. "I was attacked yesterday."

The chorus of heel clicks abated. "What?"

"I said I was attacked yesterday." My temper rose and the sharp pain of my teeth cutting into my cheek did nothing to stop it. "I was sent home early by someone at Klau and attacked in the parking garage. It seems strangely suspicious, doesn't it? Like maybe you had something to do with it?!"

"Don't be ridiculous."

"God, you sound like my mother." I got to my feet and swayed, grabbing the edge of the table and balance my weak legs. The pervasive darkness that had taken to crouching in the anterior of my thoughts slid along my spine and across my ribs, putting pressure on my chest. It felt like a shadow with weight and I didn't understand where it came from. "Dammit, Amoroth!"

The woman didn't answer.

Loose mail on the counter fluttered as the air pressure in my small kitchen shifted, and suddenly the irritated CEO stepped from the Realm with her phone still held to her ear, her lavender eyes roving over the house, cataloging the meaningless details of my existence before she looked at me. She pressed the button atop her phone to drop the call.

"Nice house," she mocked as she crossed her arms below her chest.

"How do you even know where I live?"

"Those forms you fill out for HR are hardly confidential."

I scoffed, annoyed. "Figures. What are you doing here?"

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