CHAPTER 1

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Getting separated from my partner was not the plan-neither was getting dead.

Regardless, I found myself flat on the pavement, cheek to ground and face to foot with a very large, very black boot.

I thrust myself to the side and raised my arms to shield my face. The boot smashed against my forearm. Force from the kick rolled me over, and my back crashed into an unforgiving brick wall.

Oh, that's gonna leave a mark.

Gloved, steel-like fingers wrapped around my throat. The surface beneath me fell away as the attacker hoisted me into the air. I grabbed the arm attached to the hand squeezing my neck.

"You think you can defeat me?" the demon said.

"Oh, my gosh, got any more clichés to spit at me, Demon?" Marble-black eyes stared a hole through me.

Rancid breath pierced my nostrils, triggering my gag reflex. Gone was the cute, blue-eyed, nice-smelling college boy named Chip Daniels I'd been flirting with minutes earlier. He slammed me against the brick wall and pressed his body against mine in a way only a lover should.

Eyes closed, he drew in a deep breath through his nose. "I bet your blood tastes like wine. I knew I'd enjoy this mission."

What did he mean by mission?

I thrashed, but his grip tightened around my neck. He thrust his body against mine again while his other hand pinned my arm against the wall.

"Not interested anymore? You were practically throwing yourself at me earlier." He swiped his black tongue over his thin lips.

"Back when you were a hottie frat-boy. Not a freaking old, saggy-skinned demon."

He growled, revealing his elongated teeth.

Stupid Shifters. "Flash your big teeth all you want, you're still ugly as mud."

His black eyes widened, and a rumble vibrated from his mouth. "Sassy little girl. Yes. I'll enjoy this very much."

"Dream on." I wiggled my fingers beneath the digits squeezing my throat.

My electricity prickled at the nape of my neck as I ignited a current and pulsed it through my fingertips. But the energy wouldn't penetrate the gloves, he must have known I needed to touch flesh. I connected my knee with the spot no man wanted to be kicked.

Even non-human men.

He grunted, sending his rank breath over me again, but my aim must have been on target because he dropped me. I landed, then rammed my steel-toed combat boot into his stomach. He keeled forward, and my elbow crashed against his temple with a burst of electricity for emphasis. The scent of singed hair overpowered the musty smell of the alley.

Nobody touched my body like that unless I said so. And I didn't say so very often.

I leapt to the side and rolled over the damp asphalt to the other side of the narrow alley. Tiny rocks and grit ground into my bare arms. From my boot, I pulled out a silver blade, then stood. The demon lunged, but I buried my weapon in his chest.

"Bye now." I waved and closed my eyes, knowing a blast of dust would come next.

A micro-burst of dirty air pricked at my skin as the creature vaporized.

"Dakota?" Sean's voice bounced off the brick walls that towered around me.

My teammate jogged down the alley toward me. Long, blond locks of curly hair bounced as he moved. The moon's rays illuminated his sun-kissed, smooth skin and laced a silver tint in his blue eyes.

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