Saint Or Sinner

July 24, 2018 – Bad Things, Book 8

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Saint Or Sinner
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Beware of Beauty…because she’s got the heart of a real beast.

Smart people—and monsters who know the score—fear Josephine Saint. The sexy vampire might appear to be a sensual temptation, but she’s a cold-blooded assassin. Mercy? Jo doesn’t know the meaning of the word. With each successful hunt, Jo slides one step closer to getting the promised prize that she’s coveted—her freedom. Long ago, Josephine made a deal with the devil, and now, the jerk is collecting on the final payment due him.

Find the angel…before he rips the world apart.

Her latest target is Malik, an angel who has gone dark. The fool fell and crashed hard to earth, and now he’s indulging in every sin he can find. And, bonus, the guy has every predator in the land closing in on him because angel wings are highly prized on the black magic market. It’s Jo’s job to find Malik and bring his sexy angel ass back upstairs except…

The angel is already changing…into something new and something very, very deadly.

Malik has his own mission, and it doesn’t involve being dragged back to heaven. He’s ready to lose his wings, ready to pay any price, if it means he can right a wrong from his past. He never expected for Jo to hunt him, and he knows that he won’t be able to control himself when she’s near. Because Jo—fierce vampire, deadly assassin—she’s his charge. He’s been watching over her for centuries. Watching her, and wanting her. Now that he’s earthbound, Malik can finally make the vamp his.

Can a vamp save the world? Maybe…if she can claim a fallen angel’s heart.

With every moment that Malik spends on earth, the darkness within him grows. When angels fall, they change. They become something new—and a firestorm is about to erupt from Malik. When the fire erupts, it will destroy everything and everyone in its path…His only link to sanity is Jo, and if he loses her…Malik may lose his very soul.

The hellfire is coming, and it will rage. SAINT OR SINNER…what will you be?

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Prologue

“An angel has fallen.”

Josephine Saint stiffened at those low, deep words, and her gaze slowly rose from the golden floor—real, actual gold that she’d been contemplating stealing—as she locked eyes with the man who’d summoned her for this not-so-fun chat.

Lucas Thorne stared back at her, his handsome face intent, his eyes hard and unyielding. Once upon a time, Lucas—or Luke as he was known to his enemies and the tiny handful of friends that the guy amazingly possessed—had once been the ruler of the Bad Things in the world. All of the dark and dangerous paranormals who lived to inspire fear and loathing in the hearts of humans.

Bad Things…like Josephine.

But then Fate had stepped in and played some mind games and, bam—suddenly, Luke wasn’t the devil any longer. Now, he was in charge of the beings upstairs…the so-called “Light” paranormals. The goody-goody ones. The ones who typically got on Josephine’s everlasting nerves.

When Luke just stared back at her, not saying anything else, Josephine realized she was probably supposed to respond in some way. So she mustered up a shrug and said, “Good for him.”

Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say.

Luke’s eyes narrowed. “Not. Good.”

“No? Okay.” Another shrug. Whatever. “Is there a particular reason you summoned me here?” And it had been a summons. She was so tired of answering to the guy. You make one little deal that you maybe sign in blood, and suddenly, your life is basically over. Highly unfair. She’d been trapped in this particular deal for two centuries, and she wanted out. She’d thought that with Luke moving upstairs, maybe the deal would become null and void—please, please be null. But since he’d summoned her with a snap of his fingers—literally—and she’d found herself magically transported to this weird, gold-filled room, Josephine figured her hopes had very much been in vain. The deal wasn’t off.

Luke stalked toward her.

She didn’t stiffen. Didn’t back away.

Unlike the other paranormals, Josephine didn’t fear Luke. He just mostly pissed her off.

“Jo, Jo, Jo…” Luke shook his head. “Don’t you remember our contract? Our deal?”

Like she could ever forget it.

She glanced down at her left wrist. There, right above the blue line of veins—she had a tally mark. One black mark left. Because she only had one more soul to take before her deal was officially done with Luke.

Then…

Hello, sweet freedom.

Luke caught her left hand. Lifted it up. “And to think…” His voice was rough and growly, and, probably—to some poor, confused women somewhere—sexy. Not to her, though. No way, no day. “We’ve been through so many kills together. How many did you begin with? Ten? Was it—”

“It was twenty, and you damn well know it. You’ve had me killing someone for you every ten years for the last two hundred years.” Her arm had once been covered with the marks. But with each kill, a mark had faded.

The kills—jeez, they hadn’t been easy. Because Luke didn’t send her out on easy cases. Obviously, he liked to torture her. He sent her after the worst of the paranormal scum out there. Monsters, in the truest sense of the word.

“You’re just so good at your job.” His finger stroked over the tally mark. “I mean, your prey never sees the danger coming. You walk right up to them, and hell, the fools greet you with open arms.”

No, they didn’t. “Have you already forgotten the werewolf?” Josephine hadn’t. “That crazy werewolf nearly ripped my arms off me. You didn’t tell me he was rabid. You didn’t tell me that he’d take one look at me and go freaking ballistic. You failed to mention that he hated vampires more than—”

“Jo,” Luke sighed out her name. “I wanted to challenge you. We both know how you hate to be bored.”

She would not growl at him. She would also not bite him. But her fangs had lengthened in her mouth. Typical vampire reaction. When pissed…the teeth come out.

He released his grip on her wrist. “You have one more target, and then you’re done. Our deal will be over.”

Her heart leapt in her chest. Yes, she was a vamp, and her heart still beat. She still breathed. She still had sex. She did everything that humans did. Except, well, she had a not-so-awesome liquid diet. Sucked, but that was her undead life.

Her spine straightened. “Who is the target?”

Luke rolled his eyes. “Seriously? Do you just not listen when I talk?”

“Luke—”

“The. Angel. The angel is your target.”

Oh, no. No way freaking way. “I’m not killing an angel!”

“He’s fallen.

So? “Yeah, he’s still an angel.”

But Luke sighed again. A rather long and drawn-out sound. “I’m afraid he’s not, at least, not for long.”

“Don’t be cryptic. It’s not cute.” It kinda was. “Just tell me—”

“When angels fall, they change. It starts slowly at first, but the longer they are earthbound, the worse it can be.”

Okay. He was still being stingy with the details. She rubbed her hands together. “So—what, exactly? Angels become human? That’s not so bad. It’s—”

“It’s worse than bad. They don’t become human. They become destruction.”

She laughed.

He didn’t.

Oh, wait. Maybe he hadn’t been making a joke.

“There haven’t been many angels who fell.” His voice was grim and so was his face, and now she was fully getting that this situation was bad. “One of them—the bastard was so strong that he almost killed me and my brother.”

His twin brother, Leo. Josephine typically made a point to avoid Leo. He wasn’t the fun twin. Neither was Luke, actually. Hmm. There wasn’t a fun twin.

Luke rubbed the side of his hard jaw. “Each fallen angel becomes something different, so I have no freaking clue what Malik will become.”

Malik.

“All I know is that the guy has an appetite for sin.”

Wonderful.

“And that if we don’t haul his ass back here, then the world as we know it could end.”

She laughed again. And it sounded nervous, even to her own ears. “Little dramatic, don’t you think? I mean, even when you sent me after that crazy Fey King, you weren’t worried about the world ending—”

Luke didn’t crack a smile. “There are few things stronger than a fallen.”

Crap. Her heart was racing too fast, and her palms were starting to sweat. “Let’s reverse a bit, shall we?” To make sure she had all of the facts. “You want me to bring the guy—”

“Malik.”

“Yeah, I caught his name. You want me to bring him back? This is some kind of retrieval mission? Not a kill?” Just to be clear. Crystal.

“If you can bring him to me before the change is complete, then, yes, Malik can live.”

This was the first time she’d been sent to bring someone back. And not to say, take a head or a heart or something. “Do we have any kind of timeline here? I mean, what are we talking? Bring him back in a week? Two? Bring him—”

“Sin is his drug of choice, Josephine. His appetite is unquenchable. Every minute he spends in the human world pushes Malik closer to the edge. You want to talk time? Bring his ass back to me within forty-eight hours. If you can’t catch Malik and haul him back in that time, then you must kill him.”

Okay, new problem. “And how does one kill a fallen angel?”

His hard jaw got even harder. “Any fucking way that one can.”

She stared at him. Rather, glared. “You don’t make this easy.”

“You don’t like easy. If you wanted easy, you never would have made a deal with me.”

He knew exactly why she’d taken that deal.

“You’ll figure out how to kill him.” Luke shrugged, as if unconcerned. “You always figure it out. Isn’t that part of your gift?”

Being skilled at death wasn’t exactly a gift.

He looked at his wrist. At a watch that wasn’t there. Jackass. “You’re wasting time. That forty-eight hours is already ticking down.”

Her back teeth locked. “And…where, exactly,” Josephine gritted, “will I find Malik?”

Luke glanced up at her. For the first time, a smile teased his sensual lips. “Where do you think you’ll find a fallen who is hungry for sin?”

Sin City. Typical.

“All right.” Now that she had her final target, Josephine figured she might as well get down to business. “Tell me his strengths. Tell me his weaknesses.” So she could use them all to her advantage.

But Luke scratched his chin. “I’m afraid that’s the tricky part.”

What?

“I don’t know…exactly…what his strengths are at this point. Like I told you before, not many angels fall, and when they do, the results can be unpredictable.”

Wonderful. Her final job kept getting better and better.

Luke nodded, as if he’d reached some important conclusion. “You should be prepared for anything. And that brings me to my next point.”

How many points did he have?

“To bring Malik back here, you’ll need to chain him.”

“What?”

“I’ll need him contained, you see. So just take this…” And he held up a gold chain. Sparkly. Dammit. She had a wee weakness for sparkling things so she tried not to stare directly at it—the same way she’d been trying not to gawk at the golden floor beneath her feet.

“Are you listening to me, Jo?”

“Absolutely.” Like she had a choice.

“Put it around his neck and when it’s in place, then you can contact me.”

She snatched the necklace from him. It was heavy and warm, and her skin seemed to tingle on contact. So she wouldn’t be distracted by the charm, Josephine shoved the necklace—chain—into her pocket. “For the exchange, I give you the angel, and you take away my last mark?”

Luke nodded. “The slate will be clean. You can finally have what you always wanted.”

She couldn’t let herself dream. Not yet.

Luke’s face tensed. “But if he changes, Malik can’t come back. You’ll have to kill him.”

There was always a but where Luke was concerned. “And I’ll know that he’s crossed the point of no return because…?”

Luke laughed. Not a reassuring sound. “You’ll know. Everyone will know. Trust me.”

Nope, not even on her very worst day. Oh, wait, yes, I did. Been there. Done that. Still living with the mistake. Her temples were throbbing. “We are so done after this, Luke. Done. As in, don’t call me, and I will never, ever call you.”

“You sure about that?” he murmured. “Our deal worked out so well before. You got what you wanted, didn’t you…Queen?

Oh, no, he had not just thrown that title at her. She flipped him off as she spun on her heel. Then Josephine wondered how in the hell she was going to get out of his place. She didn’t see an exit anywhere.

“You have an advantage,” Luke called after her.

“Against someone who has unknown strength?” Finally, some good news. “Wonderful to know. Excellent—”

“Others are hunting Malik, too.”

That wasn’t an advantage. That was competition. She hated competition. Amateurs getting in her way just annoyed her.

“Word has spread about his fall,” Luke added. “And angel wings are very valuable. The feathers have magic in them.”

This job sucked.

He seemed to consider things. “Of course, angel blood is also very, very powerful, too. But if I were you, I’d try to keep my fangs off Malik.”

Now she turned and glared back at him. “I want to hunt.” He’d been the one to throw out the forty-eight hours on her. She was working against the clock while Luke was being all chatty. “Yet you’re still talking and wasting time.”

“Don’t you want to hear about your advantage?”

“All I’m hearing is you telling me that I can’t bite my food. If I can’t play with my prey, then how will this be any fun?” It wouldn’t be fun. None of the cases were ever fun. Nightmarish? Definitely. Not fun.

“He has one very, very big weakness.”

Then Luke should just spit it out and say—

He shrugged. “But I think you’ll figure that out, soon enough.”

He wasn’t going to tell her the weakness? What. The. Hell?

“Good-bye, Josephine. Bring me back an angel.” Then Luke snapped his fingers, and the golden room vanished.

***

The vampire vanished. She’d been screaming something at him right before she’d gone poof. Something about fucking.

One of his favorite things, usually. But it had sounded as if Josephine had said—

Fuck off?

Fuck you?

Fucking bastard?

So hard to be sure.

Footsteps rushed toward him. The sweet scent of—

Luke smiled. “Hello, my love.” He raised his hand toward his Mina. The one individual that he’d gladly give his very soul to protect.

Her fingers locked with his. “Did you tell her about Malik? Will your hunter find him?”

“Absolutely. Josephine never fails.” He tried to sound utterly confident.

But Mina was nibbling on her lower lip. “I heard the others talking about him…um, did you happen to mention to her about his…” Mina cleared her throat. “You know, his issue?”

Luke gave her what he hoped was a tender smile. “I like to think of it as Malik’s weakness.”

She stared at him. A cute furrow appeared between her brows. “Did you tell her?”

Luke cleared his throat and shrugged. “Didn’t quite get around to it.”

Mina gaped at him. “You didn’t mention that the angel is obsessed?”

“Oh, I think Josephine will figure it out…”

Luke.

“What? I almost told her.”

“You should have mentioned it first! You should have told her that Malik is obsessed with her! That’s dangerous! She needs to know. She has to be prepared!”

“Dangerous?” He blinked. “Nah…that’s her advantage. And like I said, I’m sure Josephine will figure things out on her own. I gave her forty-eight hours.” Plenty of time.

But his precious Mina stared at him as if he were insane. He wasn’t. Hadn’t been for ages.

Mina stepped closer to him. “What happens when the forty-eight hours is up?”

If Malik wasn’t back where he belonged by then…

The angel would die. “My hunter has never missed a target. Death is truly Josephine Saint’s gift.” And it was a gift that just kept on giving.

Or at least, it had, for two hundred years.

“What if he can’t be killed? Did you think of that? What if Malik changes, and he can’t be killed?”

Well, that would be unfortunate. Especially for Josephine. But Luke was still betting on his vamp. “There’s more to her than meets the eye.” After all, he’d made certain of that fact.

They’d made a deal.

Sealed it in blood.

Josephine might look like sweet sin, but the woman was a monster straight to her core.

Chapter One

The music was too loud, the voices too grating, the perfume too thick…and the club too packed. Josephine stood just inside the doorway, feeling the bouncer practically breathing down her neck. She’d just popped into the place, transported magically in a way that made her stomach knot, and she figured her prey had to be close by.

Unless Luke was messing with her. He did love his games.

“Lady,” the bouncer growled, “how the hell did you—”

She turned toward him. Josephine gave the hulking guy a wide smile, being careful not to show her sharp canines. Then she fluttered her lashes at him. “I’ve lost my friend.”

His granite-like face softened. His gaze dropped, darting down to her breasts. Hey, asshole, eyes up! She snapped her fingers.

He looked up, blinked.

She decided to use a little compulsion on him. She had a way with that particular power. In fact, she could generally get most humans to do anything she wanted. So she put her hand on the guy’s bearded cheek. “I’m searching for my friend, Malik.”

“Wh-what does he look like?”

She had no clue. Because, of course, Luke hadn’t bothered to describe the angel. That would have been too helpful for the jerk. “I think he has wings.”

The bouncer frowned. “What?”

Josephine gave a long-suffering sigh. Luke had said the guy liked sin. “He’s probably drinking like a lush, burning through money faster than you can blink, and making out with every willing woman he can find.”

The bouncer just laughed. “That describes most of the jerks in this joint.”

Fair enough. “I’ll look on my own.” She peered up into his eyes. “Just stay out of my way.”

His mouth went slack. His eyes glazed. He nodded.

“Excellent.” She patted his cheek and realized she had one more question. “What’s the name of this place?”

“Razor’s Edge.”

She lifted a brow and then turned toward the crowd. Angel, angel…where are you? Josephine took her time strolling through the crowd of men and women there. Lights were flashing on the dance floor, casting heavy shadows against the walls, and she saw tons of couples glued together as they gyrated and—

Wings.

She stopped. Backtracked and glanced at the far wall. A tall, dark-haired man stood there, and behind him, she could have sworn that the shadows had just taken the shape of black wings. Her eyes narrowed. She turned on her heel and headed for the fellow. As she advanced, her gaze swept over him. He didn’t seem to notice her because his attention was glued to the redhead with double Ds who stood way too close to him. The redhead’s hand was on his chest, and she was leaning forward to give him a stellar view of her world class cleavage.

The man…Josephine studied his profile. Sexy. Handsome. High cheekbones. Long, straight blade of a nose. Rock hard jaw. Not so much as a hint of stubble on his cheek. Too perfect. She liked her men rougher. Wilder.

He was tall, probably around six-foot-two, maybe six-foot-three. Muscled—she could see that even though the guy was wearing some fancy suit coat. One that reeked of money. The shadows behind him were gone. The flashing lights had stilled momentarily, and Josephine wondered if she was just closing in on a human. She hated wasting time, but those shadows…

“Why don’t you take me to your place?” the redhead practically purred. “I’ll give you the best night of your life.”

Josephine’s eyes widened. That was a big promise. She waited for the guy to eagerly accept.

Only…

He didn’t.

Instead, his head slowly turned until he was staring—

At me.

Bright blue eyes. The bluest eyes she’d ever seen. Eyes that seemed to stare at her with recognition. Recognition, lust and…possession. His stare was so greedy and hot that she actually glanced over her shoulder, thinking the fellow had to be looking at someone behind her. Because he was staring at her as if he knew her. As if he’d seen her naked, had her naked beneath him, dozens of times. The look of a lover.

The crowd was thick behind her. No one was there, staring soulfully back at Mr. Blue Eyes. Weird. Josephine glanced back—

“Hello.”

Shit. He was right in front of her. He’d moved—fast and quiet—and she hadn’t even known. That should have been impossible. No one snuck up on her. She had enhanced vamp senses, but—

His hand lifted, and his fingers brushed over her cheek in a gentle caress. Then he stilled, as if surprised. His fingers lingered against her cheek. “I can touch you.”

Josephine considered knocking him out. She had the vamp strength to do it. Well, maybe. She’d never fought an angel before—if he is the angel—so she wasn’t sure how powerful he’d be. But if she could knock him out, get the golden chain on him, then bingo…this job would be done.

She could serve him up to Luke. And get her freedom. Finally.

“Uh, what in the hell?” A woman’s sharp voice demanded. “Get away from him!”

Josephine lifted one brow. The redhead had closed in. She was easily a head taller than Josephine. Right. Being short—for eternity. One of her perks. She barely topped five feet three inches in her heels. And she was wearing some killer heels right then. Seriously, killer. Blades could pop out of the heels. But she was hoping to keep a low profile so… “He’s near me, honey. And I think it’s time for you to leave.” She motioned her hands in a scoot, scoot manner.

The redhead’s mouth opened, then closed. Then it opened again.

“You’ll find another guy in like three seconds, five tops.” Josephine spared her a quick glance. “You’re gorgeous. The men will fight for you.” And I’m doing you a favor, sister. You don’t want the trouble this guy will bring.

The redhead was totally decked out in her clubbing clothes. How she could breathe in that skin-tight dress was beyond Josephine. Meanwhile, Josephine wore her faded jeans, a t-shirt that might scoop a little low but was deliciously comfortable, and, of course, her killer shoes. Never leave home without them.

“I. Want. Him.” The redhead’s voice had turned grating. Her cheeks flushed. An eruption was obviously imminent—

“She’s mine, and I am hers. You should leave.”

Josephine’s gaze flew back to Mr. Blue Eyes. His stare was locked straight on her. He’d spoken those words simply, quietly, and with utter conviction. She’s mine, and I am hers.

“What the fuck ever!” The redhead stomped away. “Your loss, jackass!”

She’s mine. Yeah, he was a jackass. But was he an angel jackass? Josephine moved a bit to the side, trying to check out his back. It looked normal.

Where were his wings?

His hand slid over her cheek. “You feel warm.”

“You shouldn’t touch people you don’t know. It’s rude as shit. And if a woman doesn’t give you permission to touch her, then don’t put your hand on her.”

His eyes widened and his hand immediately jerked back. “I-I didn’t think we’d make contact.”

“I have no idea what that means.”

“I’ve never been able to touch you before. I’ve tried, but…” He swallowed. “Didn’t happen.”

Okay, that was not good. “Listen, buddy, you don’t know me—” But she stopped. Wait. What the hell was she doing? She should be trying to charm the guy. The way he was acting, he’d follow her right out of the club without so much as a single protest. If she pretended like she was ready to take the redhead’s place, he’d be all smiles and eagerness. She could get him outside, away from curious humans, and—good-bye, final tally mark.

“I know you.” His voice was low. Rumbling. Oddly sexy. If you were into the Vin Diesel deep voice thing, anyway. She…was. She really, really was. She may have watched the original Fast and Furious far too many times to count. Hashtag fan.

“In your dreams, you know me.” Josephine’s flippant response was instant.

But he nodded.

So she leaned closer to him. “Who are you?”

His body stiffened. He looked over her shoulder. Frowned.

Her nostrils flared. Oh, crap. She’d just caught a wild, woodsy scent and that was going to spell serious trouble.

Time to cut to the chase. “Do you have wings?”

Her gorgeous stranger frowned at her. “Are you…all right?”

“Are you an angel?” The woodsy scent was getting stronger. She should have considered this, dammit, when Luke had told her that she’d be traveling to Sin City.

Josephine had a few too many enemies in Vegas. Enemies who had eyes everywhere. Maybe she’d promised to stay out of the city after she’d, ahem, beheaded the leader of the coyotes. That hit hadn’t been one of Luke’s assigned kills. It had been a necessary act because that particular alpha had been a straight-up psycho.

But surely one brief visit wasn’t really violating her agreement with the pack, was it? “Look, buddy, I don’t have time to spare.” She pulled up her compulsion power, stared into his crazy, gorgeous blue eyes, and demanded, “Are you an angel?”

He shook his head.

Fantastic. She was wasting time.

A growl reached her ears. Low, animalistic. Josephine exhaled dramatically. She stared at Mr. Blue Eyes. “This is going to get ugly. I’d highly recommend that you get your ass out of here.” Then she raised her voice as she turned toward the packed dance floor. “Everyone, get out!”

They kept dancing.

Would they still be dancing when the blood starting spilling? Probably. Humans.

Three men pushed their way through the throng. Tall, muscled, all carrying the distinctly wild scent…of coyotes.

One guy had a long scar that slid over his cheek. Because of the way coyotes could heal, the fellow would have gotten the wound before his first shift. The scar marked him, though, made it easy for her to remember him—

He’s the new Vegas coyote leader. And he wants to take my head.

She gave him a friendly wave. “Kellan! I’m over here! I think you’re looking for me.”

Actually, he was already looking straight at her. He was stalking straight toward her.

Three coyotes. One vampire. A club full of humans. Oh, yes, this was a recipe for a bloodbath.

“Josephine Saint.” Her name emerged as an angry snarl from Kellan. “You’re a dead woman.”

Josephine shook her head. “How many times do I have to tell you? It’s undead, not dead. If I were dead, I wouldn’t be talking to you. I’d be decomposing someplace.” She flashed him a wide smile. “How’d you know I was in town?”

Claws sprouted from his fingers. Someone was not in the mood to play. And the humans were still there.

“Fire!” Josephine yelled at the top of her lungs. That was what you were supposed to say, right? When people ignored your warnings and your other screams? She swore she remembered an Oprah show about that from like, a million years ago. “Fire!

Her yell did get people running. Finally, the humans paid attention. They stampeded for the door. They must really not want to burn. Oprah had been right.

Josephine didn’t rush to flee the scene. She just braced her legs apart and—

“If there is a fire, you should leave.”

What?

Blue Eyes was there. Staring at her. Nodding. “We should both get out if there is a fire. I know you don’t want me to touch you, but we can walk out together without touching.”

Okay, he definitely wasn’t the guy she was after. Luke had said her prey was obsessed with sin. And this guy—he’d turned down the sexy redhead and now he was trying to play the hero? So not my target.

“You’re not going anywhere, Josephine.” Kellan’s body was getting…bigger. Uh, oh. He was shifting. “You knew the rules. You broke the rules. Now you have to pay.”

“And here I am, without my wallet. So embarrassing.” She exhaled slowly. “I don’t want to kill you and your dogs. That’s not why I’m here.”

“Bullshit! You want a war, you’ll get—”

“I’m looking for an angel. I get him, and then I leave.” Simple enough. She took a few steps toward Kellan. Slow, confident steps. Steps that said she wasn’t afraid of the big, bad coyote. Because she wasn’t. “But if you get in my way, then you’re going to die.” She smiled at him once more. “Cool?”

He lunged for her. Guess it’s not cool. Her fangs burned in her mouth as they extended even more and she leapt into the air to—

Blue Eyes caught Kellan. He’d jumped in front of Josephine, moving too damn fast. His hands wrapped around the neck of the coyote leader, and he tossed the guy back. He threw Kellan into the bar, and glasses smashed and shattered.

The other two coyotes lunged forward. Josephine shot into the air, and she hit the closest coyote in the chest with her heel. She felt the high heel break, and when the coyote howled, she knew her knife had sliced into him. Her silver knife. Coyotes and werewolves both suffered from a wee silver allergy. It paid to be careful when you knew those guys were around.

And, um, when you knew they had a price on your head.

The last standing coyote should have played it smart—he should have turned tail and fled. He didn’t. He let out a bellow of fury and charged at Blue Eyes. Before the coyote could make contact, Josephine slammed her body into the shifter’s. They hit the floor, and they were rolling. Fast and hard and—

She bit him.

His blood gave her a burst of super strength. It fueled her so that when she jerked her mouth away from him, the guy didn’t stand a chance against her punches. He was unconscious two seconds later.

Three coyotes down.

She swiped the back of her hand over her mouth. Josephine glanced up. The club was deserted, and she could hear the wail of a fire truck’s siren. Someone had called in her false fire.

The lights from the dance floor were flashing again, but no music was playing. There was only thick, hard silence.

“Are you hurt?”

She looked up.

Up—into very, very blue eyes.

“You…you’re bleeding.”

Her hand swiped over her mouth again. She jumped to her feet. “Not my blood.”

His face hardened.

“What in the hell are you?” Because no way could a human do what that guy had just done.

He shrugged. And when he rolled his shoulders…when the lights from the dance floor flickered behind him…she saw the shadows shift and bend.

Saw the outline of black wings. I’ll be damned. True enough.

“I know what you are.” She laughed because he’d caught her off-guard. But only for the moment. Her hand shoved into her pocket. Her fingers curled around the chain there. Perfect. She sidled toward him. Leaned in close, but didn’t touch.

His pupils had flared, the darkness spreading to mute the bold blue of his eyes. “What am I?”

“You’re a liar.” She yanked the chain out of her pocket and whipped it up and out, aiming for his neck. This job was going to be the easiest one of her whole entire undead life—

He caught the chain in mid-air. And suddenly, he didn’t look so friendly. So perfectly handsome. His features hardened. Sharpened. Went cold and deadly.

She realized that he’d been playing her…all along. Every single moment.

Well, shit.

He fisted the chain in his hands, and he ground it up into dust.

All right. That was unexpected.

“Be very careful, my Josephine.” His voice was a low rumble. A thick rasp that sent shivers down her spine, and she was not the shiver type. So not. She was the ass kicking type. No man made her shiver.

Except, he wasn’t a man, was he?

“I’m fucking pissed right now because you just had your fangs in another man’s throat. Then you dared to come at me with a capture chain?”

Ah, so he knew exactly what sort of little weapon Luke had given her. “I dare all kinds of things. It’s part of my charm.”

His gaze was on her mouth. “And you called me a liar.”

“Because you are…angel.

He leaned in closer. His mouth was right over hers. “I’m not an angel, sweetheart. Not any longer. I’m fallen.”

He wanted to push semantics with her? “Fallen or angel, I’m still taking your sexy ass back upstairs.”

“No, you won’t.” His gaze was just hot on her. She could practically feel the burn. “And if you come after me again, I won’t be so nice next time.”

“Right, you just—”

Wings burst from his back. Not shadow wings like she’d seen before. Big, wide, feathered wings that were freaking huge and oddly beautiful. Before she could say another word, he’d erupted, flying straight up through the ceiling, smashing through the wood and shingles and whatever hell else was in a roof.

“That’s not fair!” Josephine yelled after him. “I don’t have wings, you jerk! I can’t follow that way!”

He didn’t stop. He didn’t look back. And since he didn’t look back, the angel—Malik—didn’t see her smile.

Now I know what you look like. There would be no more hiding. Her broken high heel scraped over the remains of the chain. Losing the chain was a slight problem, but she’d deal with that. There were plenty of witches in this town who owed her a favor. Surely one of them could enchant some other chain for her.

Her prey never got away. Never. Malik wasn’t going to be the one who broke her perfect record. He was her ticket to freedom. She had his scent, and by sunrise, he’d be bagged and tagged, and on his way back to Luke.

That was a Josephine Saint guarantee.

***

“We’ll get her, Kellan. We’ll track her down.”

Kellan stood in the darkness, watching as the human authorities swarmed the club. He’d gone in there after Josephine, wanting some payback but he’d come out…

With a whole new end game. “I don’t care about Josephine. She doesn’t matter anymore.”

He turned and saw his two shifters gaping at him. Didn’t they get it? “That was an angel, boys.”

At his words, they just stared at him.

“Did you miss the fucking wings?” Kellan snarled.

“But—”

“An angel’s wings are worth more on the black market than you can possibly imagine.” They could kiss too-hot Vegas good-bye with those wings. They could live the high life and have anything they wanted. Have everything.

“He…he seemed pretty strong, boss.”

Yeah, he had. So what? “Next time, we’ll be stronger.” It was a numbers game. “Call in every coyote you can find. The bastard angel is somewhere in this town, and we’re taking his wings.”

He’d get the wings. He’d get the cash for them, and then he could finish up his business with Josephine.

So he’d lost the first round. No big deal. In the end, he’d be the one on top. He’d cut those wings from the freaking angel. He’d sell the feathers to the highest bidder. Finally, things would change for his pack.

All it would take was just a little bit of blood…

And an angel dying.