Mercenary Magic Page 10

Simmons took his seat. “You did an excellent job on Wednesday at Magical Research Laboratories. You contained the mage before he could cause any substantial damage to either the facility or the surrounding areas. And no one was hurt. Very clean work.”

Naomi cupped her hand to her cheek, masking most of her face from Simmons. She arched her eyebrows and mouthed, “Demon possession?” sideways at Sera.

Sera kept her face neutral and her gaze fixed on Simmons.

“The mage who went mad was returned unharmed to Drachenburg Industries, just as our client specified. He’s a cousin of the director of the San Francisco office, and they’re now all trying to figure out why he went berserk.”

Sera had been doing this long enough to know that was code for ‘recreational magic drugs gone wrong’. With those filthy rich magic dynasties, it was nearly always drugs. Not that they’d ever admit to it.

“Mr. Drachenburg was very impressed with your work. He’s applied a bonus of one thousand dollars to his payment.”

That was spare change to someone like Mr. Drachenburg. Someone that high up at Drachenburg Industries probably had at least that much money buried between his sofa cushions. But to Sera, a thousand dollars was a whole lot of money. Too bad Mayhem got to keep most of it. Between their cut and splitting the remainder with Naomi, she might see fifty dollars from it. Fifty dollars was nothing to sneeze at either. She could put it toward a new pair of boots, which was right at the top of her shopping list right now. The caterpillar guts had turned out to have an appetite for leather.

As Sera and Naomi began to stand, Simmons held out his hand. “Sera, stay for a minute.”

Naomi gave her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder on her way out. She seemed sure Sera was going to get into trouble for something. But what?

The unruly drunk vampires? They’d trashed three different bars before she even arrived on the scene. As soon as she was there, though, she’d rounded them up pretty quickly.

The centaurs? Their battle had been on a whole other scale compared to the bar fights. But she hadn’t been the one in charge. Simmons had sent half of Mayhem’s mercenaries and put Zan in charge. She’d done what he told her to do and hadn’t even teased him about his silly new hairdo.

Maybe Mayhem’s disposal team was grumpy about the pile of caterpillar parts she’d left for them to clean up, and they’d complained to Simmons? But then if they were going to complain, they wouldn’t have looked so happy about getting the chance to study a new monster species back in the lab.

Which left the vampires who’d attacked her at home last night. He was going to grill her on them. If only she knew what to tell him.

“Sera,” Simmons said after the door closed behind Naomi. He held an open folder in his hand.

“Yes?” she replied, trying not to sound too guilty. She hadn’t done anything wrong. She repeated that over and over again to herself in her head until it sounded believable.

“I want you to go to this address.”

He pulled a thin strip of paper out of the folder and handed it to her. An address was written on the paper. Somewhere in the Financial District. Maybe where he sent misbehaving mercenaries to get shot. Sera chewed on her lip. Or maybe this wasn’t about Mayhem at all. She looked up from the paper and stared Simmons right in the eye. Did he know? Had he figured out what she was, and now he was doing his duty as a good citizen of the supernatural by delivering her to the Magic Council?

“What is it?” Her heart pounded in her ears. Her hands were sticky with sweat. She set them palms-down on her knees.

“The San Francisco branch office of Drachenburg Industries.”

Wait, huh?

“Mr. Drachenburg was so pleased with your work, that he wants to hire you for another job. He asked for you personally.”

The pounding in her ears faded out. Her fear turned to excitement. No client had ever asked for her by name.

“I’ve had Fiona clear your schedule. This will be an extended assignment for Drachenburg Industries.”

Drachenburg had paid extra to be the only job on her plate for an unspecified time period. Wow. Usually, it was only the veteran mercenaries who got these prestigious jobs. Exclusive paid more—a whole lot more. Maybe she’d make enough to buy Riley a nice graduation present and also a new knife for her collection.

“You’re in shock.” Simmons appeared amused, which was a new look for him.

“Yes.”

“Well, you can absorb it on the way. You have a meeting with Mr. Drachenburg at eleven o’clock to receive your assignment. Don’t be late. And whatever you do, watch what you say.” He folded his hands together.

“Are you praying?”

“No. Yes.” He dropped his hands to his desk, his eyes hard as they met hers. “You’re a good fighter, Sera, but you have no brakes on that smart mouth of yours. The Drachenburgs are one of the oldest and most influential magic dynasties in the world. If you screw this up, I’ll put you on disposal duty for a month. Understood?”

Sera nodded solemnly. She was good at making messes. She didn’t enjoy cleaning them up. “I’ll behave myself.”

“Good. Now, get over there before Drachenburg fires you on account of your tardiness.”

* * *

Sera didn’t own a car, but she did have a pretty spiffy scooter. Her name was Lily, and she was pink. She was also equipped with a pair of racing wheels and a horn loud enough to give a vampire—or any other supernatural with a case of sensitive hearing—a big, thumping migraine.

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