Cass Rogers peered through the thick branches of the pine tree that hid her presence. She was twenty feet up clinging to the trunk, her feet lightly resting on a limb not quite as thick as her arm. Below her was the dilapidated old mansion that belonged to Kirk Raynard.
In the whole house, only two rooms showed evidence of occupation--upstairs on the right, the master suite with its elaborate, leaf-strewn balcony, and downstairs on the left, the smaller space once used as a parlor. Given the fragrant smoke rising from the chimneys and the flickering colors that painted the windows, it was safe to say the only sources of heat and light were the wood-burning fireplaces.
Sheesh. You'd think a vampire could pay his electric bill. And hello? Summer was not the time for cozy fires in hearths.
The wind kicked up, the first volley from the threatening storm. The branches rattled and the top of the tree swayed. Cass readjusted her grip, inhaling the sharp sting of pine. Here in this Midwestern cesspit, August meant it was unbearably hot and humid. Sweat popped out on her forehead and dribbled down her temples. Usually she wore a jacket to hide her Walther PPK snug in its shoulder holster, but she couldn't add another layer to her long-sleeved knit shirt, jeans, and boots--all black. Her knives were hidden in their usual spots.
The unseasonable clothing, including the gloves, was necessary for her concealment. Her skin was too pale, more a result of her declining health than lack of sunshine. Though she didn't particularly enjoy daylight activities.
Good thing, too.
Cass continued to study the mansion for what seemed like the fiftieth time in two days. Without electricity or any obvious security system, getting into the house would be easy. Especially if she entered through the broken attic window. It was small, but even though she was tall, she was slender. She'd fit through, so long as she held her breath and sucked in her stomach.
No, the house wasn't a prob.
The werewolves were.
She'd counted three, not including the one already in the house with Kirk and the human woman. She hadn't seen the girl with her own eyes. The audio bug she'd placed on the bedroom window yesterday confirmed her presence. Cass's stomach clenched. She couldn't imagine being a bloodsucker's pet. A couple of the vampires lounging around Queen Isolde's sumptuous throne room had had humans sitting next to them like dogs on leashes. It made her sick, the way that asshole Carlos kept nibbling the neck of his female slave. She was naked, and pale from blood loss. And the look in her eyes...
Cass shuddered. She'd rather be dead.
The biggest werewolf she'd ever seen, though her paranormal education had only begun a month ago, padded through the open front door of the house. She saw shadows pass in the bottom floor window, so that wolfie was hanging out in there.
"Fuck," she muttered. She'd had bad odds before, but dealing with four werewolves, a vampire, and a potential mental case? And even if she managed to complete her objective and live, she still had to worry about whether or not the vampire queen would keep her word.
Queen Isolde was pissed off at her cousin for missing the annual tribute in June. Not only had he dissed her by not presenting a juicy human morsel, he'd screwed up her plans to assassinate him. He was the last link to the royal family, the only vampire with any real shot of icing the queen and getting away with it.
"And that's why I have to kill you, buddy." Her gaze flicked to the top floor. The French doors were closed. The frosted glass on the panes prevented her from a direct look into the room, though it didn't hide the dancing firelight. The audio bug confirmed all three were in there, the vampire, his werewolf lover, and the woman. And they were having fun.
It had been a while since she'd had that kind of fun.