by Laurence Raphael Brothers
Nora Simeon hates demons. But as an investigator for the secretive Commission, the organization that regulates financial sorcery in New York City, she deals with the creatures a lot more than she'd like. Her latest case has her on the track of a rogue demon, escaped from magical bondage as an analyst for a leading investment bank.
On the demon's trail, Nora crosses paths with a beautiful young man named Eyre. He's too pretty and complaisant to be human, and too kind to be a demon in human form, but what else could he be? Together they become embroiled in the secret corruption at the heart of the financial industry. But before Nora can untangle a twisted skein of sorcerous murder and intrigue, she has to untangle her feelings for Eyre. And before she can do that, she has to find out who and what he really is.
Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Novella.
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I was working the action of my compact Ruger, pretending to shoot people I knew, when my phone rang. The ringtone was the opening to Night on Bald Mountain so I could tell who it was without looking at the screen. Also, the phone answered itself and switched to speaker. It wasn't programmed to do that.
"Mother," I said, "what is it?" I imagined her face floating in front of me, aimed, and pulled the trigger.
"Nora, dear, would it hurt to be polite?"
"To you? Yes." I keep hoping if I was offensive enough maybe she'd just leave me alone, but it never worked.
"I just wanted to let you know, dear, you have some work coming your way."
"I thought we had an understanding. I don't need your money, especially not for some stupid make-work job."
"Nora, please, this is not my idea. And it's not makework at all. This is the Commission's assignment. I just thought it would be nice to let you know about it in advance. I expect you'll have a case before the day is over. Your first in quite some time, if I'm not mistaken."
"Yeah, well. Thanks, I guess."
"Don't mention it, dear. And good luck. I think you'll need it."
She hung up. Talk about politeness. But she was a big one for last words. I felt a point of heat in my chest; it was Spark, responding to my irritation. So I walked over to the little clay pot by the window where it hangs out while I'm at the office and sprinkled some more crushed incense to show I wasn't angry at it. Not that I thought Spark really understood that kind of thing, but I liked to pretend it did anyway. And it settled down, too; the spike of fiery heat became a pleasant emanation of warmth before fading away completely.
About the author:
Laurence Raphael Brothers is a writer and a technologist. He has published over 25 short stories in such magazines as Nature, the New Haven Review, PodCastle, and Galaxy's Edge. His WWI-era historical fantasy novel Twilight Patrol was just released by Alban Lake. For more of his stories, visit https://laurencebrothers.com/bibliography, or follow him on twitter: @lbrothers.