Authors: Jill Myles
Copyright © 2011 Jill Myles
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Your average museum is a tough nut to break into—the doors are locked and passcoded, the windows wired, the alarm ready to go off at a moment’s notice. Of course, there’s one thing they usually don’t think of—the sun roof. For your average person, this might pose a problem.
Luckily for me, my lover comes with wings.
The three of us crouched on the roof of the New City National Museum of Art—my previous place of employment. We peered down through the glass into the ‘Discoveries of the Renaissance’ display below.
“So what’s the big plan?” Remy said at my side, her long, black hair pulled into two braids at her neck. She wore a tight black jumpsuit to go with the stealth theme… which she’d ruined by pairing with a glittery rhinestone belt and bright red platform heels.
“We’re going to go through the window,” I explained. My own hair was pulled into a tight knot atop my head, and I wore black jeans and a plain black sweater. And sneakers.
Which pretty much told you everything about Remy and me. One of us was flashy and fashionable, and one of us dressed like a broke college student.
“How are we going to break through the glass?” Remy asked.
Between us, Zane pulled out his lighter and lit a cigarette. “We could use your head.”
Remy scowled at him, her pretty face scrunching. “Har de har har. Jackass. We could just toss you through the window. I’m game for that.”
Zane grinned. “Suit yourself, but good luck getting down there.”
“We don’t need you—”
“If both of you don’t shut up, I am going to turn this car around,” I said sharply. “Is it too much to ask that you two stop harping on each other for five minutes to help me steal a damn manuscript?”
“He started it,” Remy said, then extended her lower lip in a pout.
Zane simply flicked his ever-present cigarette and winked at me.
I refused to be moved by his sexy smile or the way the jeans he wore clung to his legs when he squatted next to me. Or the sight of his wings, feathers ruffling in the night air… time for that later. “Look. All we need is ten minutes to get this manuscript and then we’re out of here, understand?”
I expected Remy to make a snappy comeback, but all she did was nod and peer down through the window.
Zane just grinned at me, content to let me lead.
With that, I picked up the hammer I’d bought for such an occasion, aimed at the window, and then slammed it into the glass.
It didn’t break, but my arm nearly did. It clanged against the glass and bounced backward, and I staggered back a few feet with it. Dammit. Dammit. Freaking shatterproof glass.
Why couldn’t succubi have super strength? Gritting my teeth at the shockwaves of pain that vibrating up my arm, I extended the hammer to Zane. “Can you do the honors?”
He grinned at me, swung, and glass rained down below. I winced, waiting for the alarms to go off—nothing. Good.
We stood, and Zane grabbed each of us around the waist and then jumped through the now-open window. I clung to his neck, squeezing my eyes shut, and felt his wings open, and we 4
jerked slightly in his arms as he began to coast us down to the floor far below. This particular museum had a vaulted ceiling, and it gave us plenty of landing room.
We dropped to the wooden floors and I sighed at the priceless artifacts surrounding me.
“I can’t believe that I worked here just a year ago and now I’m robbing the place.” I slid my arms from Zane’s neck and let my hands run down his chest as I pulled away. “This is what I get for dating bad boys.”
He winked at me. “Being good gets you nothing, princess. Besides, I like it when you’re naughty.”
My body flushed at the innuendo, and I could practically feel my eyes go blue with need.
“Ugh. You two get a room,” Remy said, clicking away on her high heels. She began to walk through the rows of
, hands on her hips. “Let’s find this stupid manuscript and get out of here.”
I tilted my head, watching her leave. Remy was many things, but she was never cranky.
This wasn’t like her. “What do you suppose is bothering her?”
“Don’t know, don’t care,” Zane said, his wings folding against his back. “I’m here for you.”
I patted his chest—such a fine, delicious chest. “You do know she’s my best friend and you’re going to have to get along with her at some point, right?”
He pulled out his cigarettes. “Nope. I can put up with many, many things, princess, but that woman is not one of them.”
I rolled my eyes and pushed away from him. “Well, stay here. We shouldn’t be but a minute.”
He grinned and grabbed my hand before I could go and kissed the palm, melting my irritation away.
They’d eventually get along, I told myself. A few millennia of bickering and they’d settle right in.
At least, I hoped that was the case.
The floor of the Dark Age & Medieval Europe wing of the museum was lit, which told me that the security guard was somewhere on the premises. We had to be quick about this. Get in, take the manuscript, get out. I tried not to think about how wrong it was. I mean, it was a priceless artifact. One of a kind. The Melledin manuscript was indecipherable to scholars, a regular modern-day puzzle. Of course, Zane knew what it said—it was written in an angelic script, by one of his old buddies. We’d seen a news article on it and once I realized Zane could read it, I’d grown excited. Maybe this book would lead us to the missing halos. We had no clues otherwise. The fact that it was in the New City museum was just an added bonus. Things were going my way for once.
Of course, when we got to the wing… the manuscript wasn’t there. I checked every glass case. Twice. Nothing.
“I don’t understand,” I said slowly, standing in the center of the long room and shaking my head. I’d sent Remy to scope out the premises (since I couldn’t really fly under the radar, being an ex-employee and all) and she’d reported that it was at the museum, in the wing we currently stood in. “You said you saw it here on Friday, right?”
At my side, Remy stared at the empty case in front of us, chewing her lip. “I did. I took a picture of it, too.” She fished out her phone and handed it to me.
I stared at the picture, squinting at the placard in front of the case. “On loan from William Jeffers III’s private collection,” I read, then cursed. “He must have taken it back. You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Remy shrugged. “Maybe he heard something about a breakin?”
“This place hasn’t been robbed before. Before now, that is.”
Remy shrugged again.
“Do you know if they said anything about the exhibit being a temporary one? Or where it was going next?”
She shrugged once more.
I was really not liking how quiet she was. “I guess we should go,” I said, my words trailing off as she looked at something over my shoulder. “What is it?”
She stepped past me and moved toward a display case.
Frowning, I followed her, resisting the urge to snap my fingers in front of her face. Zane was waiting for us, and the sooner we got back to him, the better. I was nervous about getting caught, even though the worst-case scenario was not all that bad. Even if the security guard was armed, well, we’d survive a gunshot wound. Succubi were hard to kill, and a bullet wasn’t one of the ways you could take us out. Even if we got shot, it wouldn’t do lasting damage. Sting, yes.
Remy put her hand on one of the glass cases and stared at an object inside. I stared at it too. The case was filled with Viking art—cups and helmets and drinking horns. The figure that had Remy’s attention was a fertility god idol—Frey. Like all Viking figurines of Frey, it showed a short, squat little man and an incredibly enormous penis that jutted from the statue.
“Well, that’s… ugly.” I said, staring at the monstrous stone phallus. “But if you want one for the living room, I guess we can go get the hammer from Zane and break the case.” In for a penny, in for a pound.
But Remy simply stared at the phallic statue for a moment longer and then burst into tears.
I stared at her. “Remy? You okay?”
“Ethan,” she sobbed.
I looked at the stone penis, then back to her. I was going to regret asking. I just
I was going to regret asking. “What do you mean, Ethan?”
“I miss him,” she wailed. “He’s gone. I sent him away.”
When Sucks were depressed, lonely, or fatigued, there was one surefire way to make us feel better—food. We slid into booths at the local Pancake House and ordered stacks of pancakes in every flavor they carried. Zane sat in the booth next to me, ashtray and a cup of coffee parked in front of him. As Remy wept into her napkin across from me, he couldn’t hide his annoyance.
“This is a nightmare,” she cried for the eight hundredth time in the past ten minutes. She pulled another wad of napkins from the dispenser and blew her nose noisily.
I looked over at Zane, who shrugged.
“What’s a nightmare, Remy?”
She only shook her head and wept. “Oh, Ethan. I miss you already.”
Zane sighed, as if his patience were severely tested by my friend. He reached over and tugged the clip holding my bun, and my hair fell free, spilling over my shoulders. His fingers played with the ends of my red hair, as if he couldn’t resist the opportunity to touch me. “I suppose it’s too much to hope that he’s come to his senses and left for greener pastures.”
I looked over at Remy, confused. “Uh, Remy? I didn’t even know Ethan was gone? We just left him back at the house. Did you guys somehow have a fight between now and then?”
“I sent him away,” she sobbed. “It’s time.”
“Time to break up?” I ventured. Sure, Ethan was the longest she’d held a man since I’d known her. I was pretty sure three months was a record for Remy. She liked her men hung, malleable, and kind of stupid. And while Ethan wasn’t stupid—just naïve—I was guessing he fit her other criteria. They’d seemed pretty happy together, too. Remy gave all kinds of orders, and Ethan? Well, Ethan took them. He waited on her like an oversized, adoring maid, ready and willing to serve. It was weird to see the warrior waiting hand and foot on her, but he worshipped Remy, and he was good for her. He sure wouldn’t have instigated the breakup. “Did something happen?”
“2011, that’s what happened,” she said, looking on the verge of tears again.
I shook my head. “I don’t understand.”
The waitress set stacks of pancakes on our table and Remy sighed, digging her fork into a stack. We paused our conversation while the waitress hovered, refilling coffee cups. I took a few bites of my food, hoping she’d go away. She seemed to want to linger, though. She filled Zane’s coffee cup extra slow and smiled over at him. I watched her hip twitch out to the side and then she handed him back the mug with a wink.
All right, then. Bitch was not getting a tip. I glared up at her.