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DECEPTIONS

 

 

Book Two

 

 

Demonkin Series

 

Deceptions

A Demonkin Novel #2

An Echelon Press Book

 

First Echelon Press paperback printing / April 2012

 

All rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2012 by Sean Hayden

 

Cover Art © Karen L. Syed & Nathalie Moore

 

Echelon Press

2721 Village Pine Terrace

Orlando, FL 32833

www.echelonpress.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Echelon Press LLC.

 

ISBN: 978-1-59080-871-9

 

Published by Echelon Press LLC.

 

 

In my darkest hours you became my friend. In the years that followed you never stopped. When a new chapter of my life started, you became the hero of my story. It is only fitting that I give this book to you, my Angel.

Other Works by

Sean Hayden

 

Origins

A Demonkin Novel, Book 1

 

The Magnificent Steam Carnival

of Professor Pelusian Minus Series:

(Co-authored with Connor Hayden)

 

First Flight

Second Chance

Third Time

Fourth Stand

 

Lady Dorn

 

Her Majesty's Mysterious Conveyance

(Anthology)

Queen of the Travelers

 

A Very Scary Christmas

(Anthology)

The Ghost of Christmas Last

 

 

Prologue

 

 

 

Asmodeus brought his taloned fist down on the armrest of his throne of bones so hard the enchantments holding it together broke. The corner of the magnificent throne shattered like a crystal vase smashed against the ground. Fragments flew to the four corners of the enormous room some embedding themselves in the granite walls of the desolate keep. Never before had Asmodeus felt such anger course through his veins.

"Vizier," Asmodeus called for his seneschal, uttering the name in the stagnant palace air.

Within moments, the misty demon appeared at his lord's feet. "Yes, My Lord," the form hissed his familiar response.

"Answer me, worm. Were you listening to my foolish cousin's accusations?"

"Yes, My Lord. I heard every word." The shadowy form nodded as he spoke, still bowing.

"What say you?" He tensed in his throne awaiting an answer. What the figure lacked in power, he made up in wisdom and knowledge exponentially. If a way existed to circumvent the law, surely his seneschal would know of it, or how to find out about it.

Vizier rose and began to ponder the situation. "My Lord, I fear you must obey. To me, in this case, the letter of the law matters not. Even if we found a way around the indiscretion, you have been commanded by The All to rectify it."

"I feared as much. Go, Vizier. Go to the mortal realm and search out my offspring. I give you the image of her mother and the place I begot my illegitimate folly," he said, giving the memory to the wraithlike figure. "Find her and return. I will deal with her."

Vizier stood and willed himself down the pathway to the mortal realm, the pathway that should have been open as per the decree of the messenger Raphael, but it remained as closed as ever. He turned and looked at his lord and saw understanding dawn upon Asmodeus' countenance. Understanding quickly became replaced by rage.

Asmodeus slammed his hand down in frustration. "If they expect me to correct the folly, why is the pathway not open?" The crescendo of his question rose in volume until the walls of his keep quaked in resonance with his annoyance.

"Apparently, My Lord, they will not assist you in correcting your error."

Asmodeus stood in rage. He didn't understand. The All expected him to eliminate his misbegotten child. The decree that no more of the powerful children be inflicted upon the mortal realm had stood uncontested for thousands of years. Asmodeus had devoured the soul of his latest toy. He remembered the sweetness of her fear and terror. The birth of another was his responsibility to remedy, but he would receive no aid.

Vizier didn't see the enormous demon lord move, let alone see the fist close around his immaterial throat. Being a wraith demon protected Vizier from most physical attacks, but apparently his ability didn't protect him against the fury of Asmodeus.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

"I've told you fifteen times already, Agent Grimes, I don't know how he died. Cicero and I fought and I heard Thompson getting his ass kicked. I ended the fight as fast as inhumanly possible and rushed out to help him. That's when the cavalry came in through the proverbial window. When we went back into the office, Cicero wasn't undead anymore." I sighed as I recounted the made-up chain of events for the fiftieth time since returning to Washington, D.C.

I closed my eyes and thanked the gods the events of the past month were over. The weeks I spent working as an Agent in the Chicago field office of the FBI had been pure hell. I got my partner assaulted by one vampire, and then killed by a different vampire named Cicero. The master of the City of Chicago had been a crazed lunatic and my partner paid the ultimate price. I held back the tears for my dead friend and smiled, for the gods had given me Thompson, my current partner, werelion extraordinaire, and the only reason Cicero had his ashes in a ceramic container and I didn't.

"Agent Ashlyn," Agent Grimes began and cleared his throat, "the forensic team found Cicero's body with his throat torn out and completely drained of blood. Let me get this straight, you have absolutely no idea how he 'became un-undead'?" I'd answered this question so many times I was about to snap, and how dare he quote me to myself.

"Grimes, I've explained this a hundred times and at least five of those times to you. The wounds inflicted on Cicero couldn't have killed him. Even a common vampire couldn't be killed by blood loss, so I didn't kill him. Even if I had, it would have been self-defense! The deputy director himself congratulated me on a job well done. Why the sudden change?"

"It's easy. We didn't know you ate the rogue vampire, Ashlyn. You're an Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. You were hired to police the rogue vampires. That means bringing them in so they can be incarcerated, tried by jury, and punished by a court of law!" He seemed to mean every word he said.
Was this guy joking? A vampire who kills somebody doesn't get a jury. They'd be lucky to get a cell without a window.

"Which is why I tried to non-lethally subdue him," I lied again through my teeth. The douchebag abducted my injured partner, used him to get to me, and then killed him without a second thought. If you ask me, he got what he deserved. I fought down the urge to flick my superior off and walk out of the room. "What else can I do for you, Agent Grimes? I've answered all your questions, I've filed all my reports, and honestly I don't know what else to say. If you don't believe me, the Deputy Director will have my resignation in the morning." I stood and made my way to the door, not giving the mousy man a chance to respond.

I thought the entire act of my rebellion quite debonair until I placed my hand on the knob and tried to turn the handle. I could have sworn I heard a trombone somewhere in the room going
wa-wa-waa
. Talk about ruining the moment. I watched Grimes when he came through the door. He didn't lock it, so I knew something wasn't right. I turned around and stared at the balding man sitting at the table tapping his pen on his notepad and staring pointedly at the mirror on the wall. "Sonofabitch," left my lips before I could curb my tongue.

Instead of rounding on Grimes, I walked over to the mirror. I stopped in front of it and crossed my arms. I thought about knocking on it to get their attention, but settled for my secondary idea. I uncrossed my arms and held out my talon. Slowly, I etched a circle slightly larger than my head in the otherwise perfect surface of the glass. Once it was completely etched, I rapped my knuckles against it. I smiled as the circle fell out smoothly and shattered on the floor in the tiny dark room behind the mirror.

A normal human wouldn't have been able to see in the dark room, but I didn't have a problem. I peered in and saw the Deputy Director standing next to a tall slender man I'd never seen before. I stood there staring at the both of them and waited for some sort of explanation.

"Agent Ashlyn, please meet me in my office in five minutes," the Deputy Director said to me without a hint of emotion or surprise.

I seriously considered telling him what he could go do with himself in his office, but I blinked and pulled my face from the Ashlyn-sized hole in the glass. I turned and strode past Grimes. By the time I reached the door the handle was unlocked, denying me the satisfaction of ripping the door off its hinges. I snarled and made my way to the elevator.

* * *

I don't know how the Deputy Director beat me to his office, but he did. The name of the building was the J Edgar Hoover building, so I wouldn't be surprised if a series of passages wound through it, allowing the Deputy Director to add to his mysterious persona.
Yeah right, the man probably needs help tying his shoes.
I opened the glass door separating his office from the expanse of the rest of the room and nodded to his secretary.

"Go ahead in, agent, he's expecting you," she said, picking up the phone.

I sighed and made my way to the wooden door that led to my fate. It seemed too many times in my short life fate chose to hide my destiny behind large wooden doors. Sometimes you just had to open it and see what it had in store for you.

I watched in slow motion as my hand made its way to the stainless steel lever. I couldn't shake the feeling of foreboding. I gripped and turned and without pausing, walked in and shut the door behind me. Deputy Director Sanders sat behind his desk and the other gentleman sat on a couch off to my left, resting his chin on his hand. I made my way to the desk and ignored the stranger, directing my focus solely on the man who had turned on me, or at least in my mind he had.

"Sit, Ashlyn," he commanded, leaving little room for argument. He's just lucky I
wanted
to sit.

"Thank you, sir." I gritted my teeth instead of jumping over the desk and snarling in his face, as I wanted to. I knew one thing, I wasn't going to be sitting on the couch with Mr. Mysterious, and so I opted for one of the comfortable leather chairs facing the desk on the opposite angle.

"Agent Ashlyn, I just want you to know I completely believe your series of events in Chicago," he started. "This whole inquisition wasn't for the benefit of the FBI, I can promise you. May I introduce Michael Vetters with the DHS?"

I turned toward the slender man I'd been trying my best to ignore. He didn't smile as he stood and walked to where I sat and offered me his hand. I did my best not to squeeze it like a piece of overripe fruit.

"I'm sorry to have opened an investigation, but we have a situation we need your help with and the Department of Homeland Security needed to be certain of your character." I expected his voice to sound one way before he spoke, but the timbre of his actual voice surprised me. Some people just didn't sound like they looked. He should get a job in the radio industry.

"I'm very confused, Mr. Vetters, what could the DHS want from me?" To say I wasn't feeling very comfortable dealing with somebody from the enigmatic branch of the federal government would have been an understatement.

"I'm sure you're well aware, Ashlyn, the Great State of California elected themselves a governor who just so happens to be a vampire," he began. I actually wasn't aware of it, but I nodded my head as if I paid attention to the news. I couldn't believe it. More so, I couldn't believe nobody found a law to keep him out of office. "The incumbent governor maintained his role while they battled the legalities of it out in court, but the Supreme Court ruled in the vampire's favor last week. He takes his oath of office on Monday."

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