Home > The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files #3)

The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files #3)
Author: Lisa Shearin

1

I wasn’t sure this qualified as a first date.

Yes, I was having lunch with one of the richest and most eligible bachelors of not only Manhattan but also another dimension. We were in a trendy new restaurant in Tribeca, with a celebrity chef in the kitchen. Two nights ago, I’d played a big part—along with said inter-dimensional bachelor—in saving the lives of the supernatural citizens of the tristate area.

That was three causes for celebration: hot guy, great food, still alive. Yay, me.

The fly in my fancy soup du jour, so to speak, was twofold.

First, on the other side of the restaurant, and unfortunately with a clear view of our table, was my partner, Ian Byrne. My name is Makenna Fraser. Ian and I work together at a worldwide organization fighting the forces of supernatural evil. Ian thought that my date, Rake Danescu, deserved a spot near the top of our most wanted list.

Second, I was still considered a newbie and my partner was the protective type. Actually, that was part of his job. Protecting me, that is. Right now, those protective urges were getting on my last nerve. I’d had more than one near-death experience during the last few days, and was way overdue for some R&R. Having Ian only taking his eyes off of me long enough to stare crosshairs onto Rake’s forehead was taking the rest right out of my relaxation. We’d recently decided that a healthy mentor/mentee relationship shouldn’t also be a romantic relationship. I had to admit that took a lot of the tension—sexual and otherwise—out of our workday, which was good for focusing on the bad guys and not my partner’s mighty fine backside. But right now, Ian was putting plenty of tension right back in. He wasn’t jealous—at least I didn’t think he was. I think he was being protective of his still relatively new partner.

“I knew you were reluctant to accept my invitation,” Rake murmured, “but I assure you a bodyguard wasn’t necessary.”

I sighed. “I didn’t tell him.” It was a coincidence that we were all here at the same time. A really unpleasant and awkward coincidence.

Rake smiled slowly. “You didn’t tell him? Oh, I like this devious side of you.”

“I’m not being devious. My personal life isn’t anyone’s business but my own.”

“I don’t think he agrees with you.”

“Doesn’t appear that way, does it?”

Rake peered around a waiter to see who my partner was having lunch with, and to provoke Ian even more, he made a leisurely show of appreciating the view. I thought I heard Ian growl all the way from our table. Kylie gave Rake a smile and finger wave.

They knew each other.

Of course they did. They were both breathtakingly beautiful supernaturals.

Rake Danescu was a goblin. Kylie O’Hara was a dryad.

Kylie was a friend and coworker. Different department, same secret organization.

Interspecies dating wasn’t frowned on by most supernaturals. Heck, dryads didn’t have much of a choice. All dryads were female, and they all came from trees, so their intraspecies dating pool was more of a puddle. Unless they were lesbians or had a thing for botanicals, dryads had to hunt elsewhere when looking for love. Kylie had dark hair, green eyes, was five foot nothing, and like her sisters down through history, could probably get any man she wanted with the crook of one dainty digit.

Ian had had a crush on Kylie since she started at SPI. Though “crush” sounded like something out of high school. Let’s say he admired her from afar, because getting close would violate one of the personal rules my stoic partner wouldn’t allow himself to break—no workplace romance. I’d told him numerous times to just ask her out already. But in the end, it wasn’t my doing that resulted in them being here together, it was the same near-death experience that had gotten me here with Rake. When Death does heavy breathing on the back of your neck, you reexamine your life. My partner decided that life was too uncertain to throw away potential happiness.

I smiled. The rule of “no workplace romance” was presently being bent until it squealed in Café Mina’s corner booth. I wondered which of his “thou shalt nots” my partner would take out for a reexamining look-see next.

“Kylie O’Hara, a lovely girl,” Rake said. “Though I always thought she had more discerning taste.”

I gave him a look.

“What?” The goblin was all innocence, which was no mean feat for any goblin, let alone Rake.

“You know very well what. Ian doesn’t trust you as far as he can throw you.” I stopped and thought a moment. “Actually less than that. Night before last, the two of you were at each other’s throats, and now here you are having lunch with his partner and making goo-goo eyes at his date.”

“Goo-goo? That must be a droll, human term that I’m unfamiliar with. But if its meaning bears any resemblance to how it sounds, I assure you I have never made ‘goo-goo eyes’ in my life.”

“It sounded better than undressing her with your eyes.”

Rake lowered his voice to a soft rumble. “Do I detect a hint of jealousy?”

“In your dreams.”

“You and Miss O’Hara battling, with me as the prize for the winner . . .” His dark eyes turned from teasing to full smolder. “That would be a dream worth remembering. I assure you, dearest Makenna, you are the only woman I am interested in undressing.”

I took my napkin out of my lap and calmly placed it on the table.

“Are you required to check in with Agent Byrne every hour?” Rake asked, as I scooted my chair back to stand.

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