Cover art: Les Byerley
Give yourself over to the dark…
Elijah Cade makes his living as a high-paid assassin. Unsanctioned and operating under the cover of darkness, he pursues his mark to the completion of his task. Jobs are sent to him by simple means and from unknown authorities. The night he receives the text commanding him to see a man, Jean LaCroix, Cade is intrigued. There is something about LaCroix that tells Cade he is one of the elite paranormal that inhabit the world, who use the night themselves for their own purposes.
LaCroix has a job for him – to kill the succubus that has stolen his lover. Cade is reluctant, as there are too many secrets surrounding Thanatos as well as an aura of shadowy power. Despite his misgivings Cade takes the job, and after finds that LaCroix wants more from him, he wants Cade to completely give himself over to the dark.
It took Cade only a second to strike. Even less time for his prey to expire.
Always meticulous with his weapons, he took a moment to clean the blade of his sword. He looked down at the corpse of the businessman who’d won numerous humanitarian awards.
“That’s a fucking joke.” Cade had found so much dirt on the bastard that there was no question the man had to die. He couldn’t figure out why no one else had seen it. Then again, it had been his experience that most people did see, and just ignored it. Money is God.
“Another hit wasted on some lying sack of shit.” Cade bitterly spat the words. He supposed he shouldn’t be upset. Maybe he was crazy trying to find satisfaction in killing. But damn it all, he wanted a challenge, and this fat SOB definitely wasn’t it.
“Gotta pay the bills.” He slammed his sword into the back sheath he wore, ran a gloved hand through his hair and stepped over the body as he made his way out. But he knew that wasn’t really the reason why he killed people.
Once he stepped outside, Cade stopped to be certain the bodyguards were still unconscious. Unlike other hunters and assassins he knew, Cade never killed indiscriminately. Like him, they were just doing their job. He doubted they would come after him. There were plenty of ways to make money.
Cade slipped into the darkness behind the house. The stand of trees surrounding the opulent structure gave him the perfect cover. If the bodyguards were any good they would have noticed too, but they weren’t being paid to tell their employer about defenses. It was doubtful their boss, the owner of the house, would have listened to them anyway.
Cade moved through the trees, taking his time. He wasn’t in any hurry. It was nice and dark, like he preferred. When he was near the road, he stopped by one of the trees. He could hear the cars passing by, as late as it was. They were the people you never saw during the day, much like him. The ones that kept the world running.
He smiled as he leaned against the tree and drew a pack of cigarettes from the interior pocket of his jacket. He was trying to quit. Yeah, me and a shit-load of other people. He drew one out and lit it, but the darkness around him didn’t recede. It didn’t bother him. He had a thing for the darkness. He always had a sense it was hiding him, which was a damn good thing for an assassin. He grinned at the night, as if it were a friend standing in front of him, and he was certain those who felt as he did appreciated the irony.
* * * * *
“That’s not why you kill people.” LaCroix grinned as he steepled his fingers and watched Elijah Cade from within the flames of the fireplace. He was damn fine, LaCroix had to admit. Not overly muscular but nicely built. He wore his brown hair close shaved, a military cut if LaCroix was correct. Cade looked a little older than he was, his features a bit craggy, and that five o’clock shadow hiding the lower portion of those well-defined cheeks.
But that wasn’t the cause for LaCroix’s interest. Cade was meticulous and LaCroix liked that. Even took the time to clean up after himself, though it wasn’t really necessary. Cops knew an assassin’s work. Yes, the ATF sanctioned some of them, but they were paranormal agents.
The ones that operated outside of the system were the assassins, the hunters. A sort of an unspoken agreement between them and the law enforcers allowed them to do their jobs. To take care of the people the police couldn’t touch.
Of course LaCroix didn’t have a problem with causing death. Well not normally, even he had damn rules to follow, which was part of the problem. Yes, he believed he’d made a good choice in Cade to take care of some unfinished business.
LaCroix was seldom one to punish himself himself, but he chose to do so anyway, although it didn’t change the situation. With a mere nod of his head the fire showed him a different scene. One of a young Hispanic man, not too far out of his teens but with a weight on his shoulders that an elderly man would have. LaCroix had not expected to fall for him so readily.
“I remember when you sought me out, Detrick Benjamin,” LaCroix murmured aloud. “I knew about you beforehand, the same way I knew about Elijah Cade.”
Detrick was a voice crying out in the night, but LaCroix wasn’t the only one who heard him. LaCroix left his eyelids closed halfway as the fire showed him the scene of the woman who’d dare steal from him. He’d made the mistake of underestimating her, and look where it had gotten him. He’d indulged Detrick because the younger man felt he had something to atone for, but LaCroix knew better. If he’d gone with his first instincts and never allowed Detrick out of his sight, he would have never lost him in such a way that wounded his pride. LaCroix was surprised that he even had pride. It was such a useless thing with all the other mortal emotions. And that had been LaCroix’s problem.
“Serephine.” LaCroix knew he could threaten all he wanted. It would be pointless and she knew it. She was one of the creatures who coveted the night and had taken Detrick as her prize. Detrick was nothing to her except for a way to satisfy her lusts and hurt LaCroix. He wanted to deal with her himself, but he couldn’t. He needed someone who moved easily about in the darkness. That was why he needed Cade.