"I need a minion," I announced suddenly.
My best friend Jezebel, more commonly known as Jezzie, whom I'd grown up with in the pit known as Hell, looked up from her issue of Demon's Duds and frowned. "What do you need a minion for?"
"If I'm going to be hunting down scummy souls and sending them back to Hell then that kind of makes me a superhero, right?"
"I guess," said Jezzie slowly. "So why the need for a minion?"
"Don't all superheroes have a minion?" Redundant question, as I'd watched all the movies and had read like a zillion comic books--Batman had Robin, Hercules was followed around by the weird satyr, Han Solo had Chewie. If I wanted fame--and the other side of the coin, fortune--I needed a lackey of my own, someone to enhance my awesomeness. Besides, I'd grown tired of fetching my own coffee and dry cleaning.
Jezzie's face cleared in understanding and she laughed. "I think you mean a sidekick."
Talk about splitting horns. I rolled my eyes. "Minion. Sidekick. Whatever you want to call it, I think I need one."
"Sure, why not? But, if you're going to set yourself up as some kind of super crime fighter, shouldn't you have a cool name? I mean seriously, even Diana Prince had a secret identity."
"Who is she?" The name drew a blank. I thought furiously. I knew who Clark Kent was, Peter Parker, too, but I'd never heard of this Diana broad.
"Diana Prince." Jezzie sighed at my continued blank look. "You know, Wonder Woman. She wore the American flag body suit and tiara."
"Oh, yeah." I knew who Jezzie was talking about now, and I hated Diana even more than ever for she not only already owned the best superhero name, she also had the sluttiest supergirl outfit--the bitch.
Much as I hated to admit it, Jezzie had a good point though. Somehow my true name, Sally Jones, just didn't have an awe inspiring ring or the right kind of syllables sure to make villains tremble. It was my father's fault. He, a demon with the wicked and strong name of Asmodeus, had caved into the stupidest of human emotions--love. Ick. You wouldn't catch me falling in love--lust yes, love never. My father though had fallen hard for my mother and out of nostalgia for the human who begat me, he named me after her. I wasn't impressed. I might have felt differently if she'd lived to raise me, but all I had left of my mother, other than her name, were faded photographs.
"What do you think I should I call myself?" I asked jumping up from my sofa to pace back and forth. I really liked the idea of changing my name. "How about Sexy Lady? Or Wears Prada?"
Jezzie, the traitor whom I instantly demoted from best friend, laughed at my wonderful suggestions. I growled and she laughed harder. I ended up joining in. Okay, so they weren't the greatest titles, at least I'd gotten the ball rolling.
"I know what you should do," said Jezzie, the bright gleam in her eyes signaling the arrival of a great idea. I waited eagerly to hear it. Her last great idea had been utterly fantastic and gotten us kicked out Hell for six months. I still wasn't allowed to talk about it according to the terms of the contract Satan made me sign. But damn, we'd had fun.
"Well, spit it out," I said. "Wait, don't spit. Last time your acid ate right through the carpet and floor into Mrs. Livingston's place and she wasn't happy." For a human, my neighbor could be quite shrill.
"How about you have a contest?"
"What? For a name or a minion?"
"Why not both? We'll setup a Hellbook fan page with pics of you doing superhero stuff and let the denizens of Hades choose your name. And at the same time, we'll put out word we're accepting applications to become your sidekick."
"Minion," I corrected absently, my mind already turning this idea around in my head. Did I want strangers choosing my name? Then again, could they do any worse than I had so far? The more I thought of it, the more I liked it. "Let's do it."
With a shout of glee, Jezzie dove for her laptop and fingers flying, she got the proverbial ball rolling.
Leaving her tapping madly, I went to the third bedroom, a space I'd converted into a walk-in closet. If I was going to be in the spotlight, I'd need to dress the part. Of course, I managed to find nothing at all in my closet that would work. What a shame. I'd have to go shopping.
Stores beware. I grinned when I imagined my credit card screaming in my wallet.
I came back from a successful bout of shopping, laden with bags and not a single dime left on any of my credit cards, to find my special phone from Hell flashing. In the shape of a pair of lips, it blinked red on and off when it had a message for me. Tacky, but it was a gift from my daddy, so I made it work with the rest of my decor.
Before making the call, I dropped my bags of clothing in my closet and peeked in on Jezzie who absently waved at me even as she still furiously typed. No longer able to avoid it, and knowing I was about to lose an evening of dancing and flirting, I put the plastic lips to my ear and pressed the only button on the base of the phone. The line rang a few times then was picked up with a snarky "Hello" by my arch nemesis, Medusa.
Medusa positively hated me. I think she resented the fact I'd gotten to move topside, lived in a swanky apartment and got to do all kinds of cool ass stuff. It wasn't my fault she was stuck in Hell because she had an obvious head of snakes--although I think her intense dislike of me might have also stemmed from the fact I'd once braided her serpents when we were just kids. Some people just couldn't let go of the past.
"Hey, mouse breath," I said in a cheery voice. Did I forget to mention I still hadn't lost my instinct to drive her nuts?
"You." The disgust in her voice made me beam.
"Yes, it's me, your favorite soul hunter. What do you have for me today?"
"I heard about your contest and I've got a suggestion for you."
Wow, Jezzie had truly worked hard in my absence if word was already getting around. "Oh yeah, let's hear it."
"Super Bubblehead." Medusa snorted in mirth, pleased with herself.
I tsked. "Really, Muddie, can't you come up with something more original? Bubblehead is so overdone already. If you're going to play, put a little effort into it would you."
The laughter on the phone stopped abruptly. "You've got a mission. This one is an escapee from Hell. Quite a nasty little fucker, too. I hope he gets you. Check your printer."
Without a chance to retort--a specialty of mine--Medusa cut the connection. As soon as she did, the printer I hid in the console table under the phone whirred to life. I opened the cabinet and pulled out the wanted poster that spat out into the tray followed by a few fact sheets.
Hell's escapee didn't look too imposing--balding on top with a sharp nose, almost no chin and beady eyes. The stats sheet put him at only five foot six which was shorter than my barefoot five foot nine. I read his summarized bio.
Albert Jefferstein lived from 1898 to 1959. He killed over one hundred women, mutilating them while still alive. He was brought to Hell prematurely when one of the victim's mothers sold her soul in return for him being captured and punished eternally.
I perused the rest of the sheet, but mostly found an itemization of the crimes he'd committed and the punishment he'd incurred. I winced at what Albert had earned--Satan had a perverse sense of retribution. Something nagged at me though? How had he escaped? Prisoners who received the most severe of punishments were closely guarded. There was no way he could have escaped without help. Not my problem though, and I was sure my big boss, Satan, had noticed this glaring fact. I could sense a television special coming as heads rolled, literally.
But back to the matter at hand: finding Albert. Contrary to what Medusa and others thought, my job wasn't an easy one. Getting the low down on escapees didn't tell us where we'd find them, nor help us seize them once we did. To everyone's surprise, I'd shown a knack for this. My dad said I had intuition. I called it dumb luck. Either way, I was really good at finding the souls who had somehow fled Hell's punishments. And when it came to catching them, well, my years in the pit where to get ahead you sometimes needed to kick some serious ass, had taught me some valuable fighting skills.
I read over the notes again, paying close attention to Albert's hometown and hunting ground, but I kept coming back to one nugget of info: the part describing the mother who sold her soul so Hell would take him early.
"Jezzie. I need the computer." I shouted bringing my notes with me into the living room where she sat hunched over our laptop. Okay, her laptop, but we shared the apartment, so didn't that make her stuff my stuff? In my mind it did. Of course, it didn't always work in the other direction, but Jezzie didn't seem to mind, most of the time anyways.
"Who are we looking for?" she asked looking up. For those who've never met Jezzie, and trust me when I say you don't actually want to, she's a tiny thing. She barely comes up to my chin with straight blonde hair, baby blue eyes and the nastiest right hook your face ever met. Just ask the last demon who called her sweet thing. He'd drunk from a straw for weeks.
I gave her the name of the mother who sold her life and soul. "How many kids did she have?"
Jezzie did her magic which involved hacking into databases which went beyond those the human government and police kept. Hell kept very thorough records of everyone.
"Got it. She had one daughter who died at nineteen. They found her body mutilated. Another daughter lived and got married but died of an aneurysm in her thirties."
"Did the living daughter have any kids before she croaked?" I was pretty sure I knew the answer already.
"Yes, one, a girl who is now twenty-one."
Bingo. "I need her location please." And knowing the bureaucracy in Hell, it would be nearby because even though they never gave me the answer, they always made sure to give soul retrieval missions to nearby bounty hunters.
I don't know if she Googled it, hacked it or used arcane methods, but Jezzie found out where one Alice Smith, great granddaughter to the mother who sold her soul, would be working tonight.
And just my luck, she was a bartender in a downtown dance club. It looked like I might get to go dancing--code speak for getting lucky--after all.
But first I had to find the perfect outfit for Lady Kick Ass. Okay, still not the right name, but I hadn't given up hope.
I paid the cab driver and stepped out onto the pavement across the street from the club where Alice worked. I stood in the shadows and surveyed the area, thinking. In or out? Where would Albert strike?
A long line of young, hot twenty-something's stood in line waiting for the bouncer to give them the go ahead to enter. Albert with his looks would never make it past the gorilla--I would of course--but if Albert couldn't enter the club, where would he lurk in wait? His previous method of operation always had him attacking near the victim's place of work, hitting them when their shifts ended and they were headed home. Knowing this, logic dictated I check the alley behind the club which also had an employee entrance. Dark and with less witnesses, it was a perfect spot for those wishing to indulge in nefarious activities, my favorite kind.
In this day and age though, even the back doors were guarded against the unwanted, not a label which applied to me--humble I am not. Another gorilla of a bouncer leaned against the brick wall beside the employee entrance, smoking. If I'd wanted in, I would have just walked up to him and dazzled him with my presence, but I didn't want to go inside or be noticed. Besides, he wasn't my type. I liked big and muscled guys, but judging by his package, he lacked the heavy equipment needed for true satisfaction.
Not my fault, I had specific needs. As a half demon, I'd inherited some neat powers. I wasn't just gorgeous, awesome and super sexy--not to mention completely shameless--I also had the ability to either be noticed or not, totally handy for the times when the situation called for a stakeout. But as a half demon and daughter to a demon of lust, my sexual appetite went beyond voracious. I just thanked my lucky stars I'd inherited enough human to skip the succubus gene. The thought of draining a guy's soul while fucking him was a little too freaky even for me.
Calling on my demonic abilities, I blended into the shadows and made my way to the gray metal doors which marked the back exit of the club. The thug in the black t-shirt didn't even look in my direction. Hidden, I did the most boring part of my job. I waited.
Damn, I hated this part. The vibrations of the music blasting from the club thrummed through my body, calling me like a tempting siren--a male one of course. It took a lot of willpower to keep my feet still, but I was on the job, so, hard as I found it, I bit my lip and persevered. I know, martyr material. Too bad the name Saint already belonged to someone. I could have really done something cool with that as my superhero name. A nun's habit with slits up the thigh and...
I left off imagining ways to sluttify a sister's holy dress when I heard the soft scuff of someone sneaking up the alley. The big brute at the rear door had just gone inside and right on cue, in scuttled Albert, my escapee from Hell.
I dropped my do-not-notice me glamour--when I was young I used to like imagining I was part Jedi--and cranked up the look-at-me one on high. I strutted with swishing hips towards my target, my curvy frame undulating hypnotically. As expected his eyes locked onto me, riveted by my sensuous motion. It would take a stronger soul than his to ignore my feminine attributes. I tried not to shudder when he licked his lips. His stay in Hell really hadn't agreed with him. A few steps more and I'd touch him. Then wham, I'd invoke the magic which would send him back to Hell where he belonged and collect the bounty for his capture. Some shoes I'd placed on lay-away were counting on this bonus.
And that's when he appeared. He dropped down from the night sky, an agile hunk of male who made my jaw drop for several reasons. One, he wore only a pair of indecently low slung jeans, with no shirt and no shoes. I mean who came to a fight barefoot? This simple fact distracted me and turned on my lust, which in turn annoyed me. Wasn't there an unwritten rule somewhere which stated like most restaurants, shirts and shoes must be worn to a fight? If not, I'd start a lobby for one because the amount of naked--mmm muscled--torso displayed was waaaaay too distracting for poor little me, who obviously hadn't received a good shag in a while.
The second thing which made speechless--a state my dad would have found amusing--was the fact Mr. Hunky gave me a masculine grin--a naughty one which made me cream my panties--and said in a velvety baritone, "Run along, sweetheart. I've got this."
Me, one of Hell's most successful bounty hunters, dismissed with a smile and a wave of his hand. His treatment made me want to tear his pants off and ride him like a cowgirl--I mean, he'd called me sweetheart, how hot was that?--while at the same time making me see red. I'm gonna wipe the smirk off his face. Then I'm gonna kiss him. Then...
Caught in so many conflicting emotions, I'm afraid I didn't react quickly enough and he took matters into his own hands--did I mention they were huge? He turned and gave me his back--which I'll admit was almost as sexy as his front and which would have only been improved with a set of nail marks, mine of course. With an animalistic grace that would have put most predators to shame, he approached my target and engaged him in a slug fest.
Damn, did I need a fan or, even better, a really cold ice pack for my crotch. Heat suffused me as I watched him dance around a dazed looking Albert. I'd forgotten all about the bounty in my fascination with watching him move. Just like a man, lust made all the blood in my brain rush to other places and I think I might have drooled.
Mr. Hunky used no weapon unlike the scuzzball Albert who wielded a serrated knife, a fact which did not daunt my shoeless hero. His fists flashed and connected with solid thumps. The escaped soul reeled beneath the force of his blows, but no matter how well my hero acquitted himself, he couldn't win. Souls couldn't die.
Sucking in my stomach--scrawny I was not--I strutted over to interfere and send the wandering one back to Hades. I looked forward to collecting my reward for a job well done and as a treat for being hot, I'd bestow some of my pleasure on the treasure hidden in Mr. Hunky's pants.
Before I could touch Albert and say the words to send him back where he belonged, my shirtless wonder said them, and with a dwindling scream of frustration--a scream I almost repeated--my new pair of shoes, umm target, was sucked back to Hell.
I gaped at the glistening skin on the back of my shirtless hunk, too angry for words--not to mention still hornier than ever.
He turned and faced me. With a sensual smile, he strutted towards me, and even in my pissed off state, I couldn't help the arousal that flashed through me. He was fucking gorgeous. Built like an ox and at least six and a half feet, he towered over me. Slabs of muscle covered his impossibly wide chest and his arms where so thick I doubted I could get both hands around them. His skin was tanned and smooth while his unruly hair was black as night. Fuck me, I wanted him--naked, like right now.
A light glinted in his shockingly blue eyes and I wondered briefly what demon caste he belonged to, for this close I could sense his otherness.
I said nothing when he placed a hand around my waist and pulled me up to his lips. I wanted him to kiss me. The touch of his hard lips on mine sent an electric shock throughout my body and I clutched at him tightly, my knees buckling. His mouth slanted over mine, claiming mine masterfully. I gave back as good as I got, slipping my tongue between his lips to wetly tangle with his. I lost myself in the pleasure of the kiss. Unlike many prudes, I saw no issue with making out with guys I barely knew. I tended to live in the moment, and boy, this was one moment I didn't want to end.
Plastered against his solid length, I couldn't miss his erection which pulsed against me behind the confining material of his jeans. I ground myself against it, and he grunted in my mouth. He slid his hands down from my waist to cup my full ass and pressed me more firmly against him. Oh sweet fucking bliss. Wet didn't come close to describing the state of my pussy and I couldn't wait to soak his cock.
If it hadn't been for the stupid drunken humans who came stumbling into the alley, I would have fucked him, right there against the brick wall in the alley. But I had a softer bed at my place. We separated, our breathing uneven, pulses racing and I opened my mouth to tell him to come back to my apartment so I could make him a lucky man.
He, unfortunately, spoke first and ruined my mood. "You're welcome."
I think my jaw dropped. I know I clenched a fist when I asked him tightly, "Welcome for what?"
"Rescuing you, of course."
I gaped at him then I lost it. "Listen here, "I sputtered.
Ooh, hot name, but I wouldn't let his hotness distract me from my anger, lusty hormones or not. "I don't know who you think you are, but I had things perfectly under control 'til you decided to jump out of the sky like some underdressed Batman and take over. That was my bounty you stole."
He scoffed at me. I know. I was surprised I didn't kill him either.
"Please, a cute little thing like you a bounty hunter?"
I restrained myself from preening. Me, cute and little? Damned smooth talker. But pretty words wouldn't allow him to escape my wrath. "Don't you use flattery to cloud the issue. I was assigned this bounty by the Hellacious Office of Escapees." More shortly known as HOE.
He crossed his arms over his impressive chest and my mouth went dry because all the moisture in my body headed straight for my pussy.
"Impossible. They put me on this case just today."
Even overcome with lust, things suddenly became clear. "Medusa," I snarled. "I'm gonna feed her snakes Ex-Lax for this."
A rumbling chuckle made me break off from the swearing and various tortures I'd inflict on the slithery bitch. "What's so damned funny?" I asked with a scowl.
"You." His eyes glinted with mirth and his lips twitched in a smile which made me want to taste them all over again. "Say, do you want to get a coffee or something?"
Ha, first he stole my bounty, and then he thought I was going to let him ravish me. Hmm, on second thought, ravishment which included a lot of oral would probably go a long way towards appeasing me.
"I say let's skip right to the something." I grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the street where we could flag a cab. I could have called a portal, but I really had this thing for making out in the backseat of cabs while the driver watched.
I didn't drag my shirtless hunk for long as his greater stride brought him alongside me and his fingers weaved through mine, an intimate gesture I wouldn't have believed of a big guy like him.
"I don't suppose you'll tell me your name before you have your way with me?" he asked, humor in his tone. "I'm Drake by the way."
"So you already said. I'm Sally." I replied absently looking up the street for a yellow taxi.
"Wait a second," he said turning me to face him. "You wouldn't be the Sally, would you?"
"Depends. Which Sally are you talking about?"
"The one I heard about. The one who's put up a page on Hellbook looking for a superhero name and a sidekick."
"Minion," I corrected.
He laughed. I didn't get the joke so I stood there tapping my foot glaring at him, my ardor shriveling with each guffaw. He kept howling though, so I finally had to ask. "What's so fucking funny?"
"I expected someone bigger and badder," he snorted, "not some cute little thing. And it's not a sidekick you need, it's a boyfriend to take care of you."
"Well, when it comes to the position of minion or boyfriend, you need not apply. And as for not being bad enough, does this count?" I wear pointy toed shoes for a reason, and I showed Drake one of their many painful uses.
A cab pulled up as he hunched over gasping for air. I smiled at him sweetly. "Next time hands off my escapee. And in the future, wear a shirt, it's indecent for you to gallivant around half-naked distracting those of us with serious jobs to do."
I could have sworn I heard him laugh as I slammed the cab door shut. Not likely, only a madman would find humor in the pain I'd inflicted.
Turns out he was partly masochistic.
Drake, hunched and wheezing from the radiating pain in his balls, somehow still found the breath to laugh. Damn, what a woman. He'd rarely met a female who didn't either swoon at his looks, or cower at his size. And while he'd seen the admiration in her eyes--and tasted it in her kiss--he hadn't intimidated her at all, a fact his inner beast noticed and approved of. Actually, his beast more than liked this, it wanted him to go after the ballsy Sally and ... claim her?
Drake stopped dead en route to his apartment. No way. However, his beast stirred and whispered sibilantly in his mind. Mark her. Claim her. She is our mate.
Drake shook his head in negation and resumed walking, but the idea he'd found the one woman who could complete him churned in his mind. And all I know of her is her name is Sally and she's a bounty hunter for Hell. Oh, and he shouldn't forget the fact someone wanted her discredited or worse from the soul retrieval game.
When he'd accepted the job to steal a bounty out from a hunter's nose, he hadn't asked questions, not with the zeros attached to the fee. Nor had he batted an eye at the postscript which stated there would be a bonus if the original hunter for slimy Albert got hurt or killed. The games played by the denizens of Hell were both varied and deadly, and in this demon eat demon world, only the strongest survived. And while it would seem Sally had been unknowingly drawn into a game of survival, she had a hidden advantage--Me. Which begged the question, what are the rules and who is the opposing player? Something he'd have to discover if he was to keep her safe until he could claim her.
His beast growled. Danger. We must protect her. Drake got the feeling she could protect herself, but that wouldn't stop him from finding out more about sexy Sally and who had set her up. And once he found the one who thought to hurt his mate, he'd first thank them for introducing him to the woman who would soon grace his bed, then he would rip their head from their body. Inside, his beast chuffed in anticipation.