A short while later, scrubbed clean and dressed in acceptable human attire, Ryssa worked her way through the woods that separated the bad part of town from the good on tired, aching feet. Wealth was not necessarily a good thing, in her opinion. Oh, there were benefits, of course, she thought as she took in the huge, imposing manor house. Money could get you a warm, dry place to live. It could pay for good food and cover your back with some nice clothes. Help others in need, if you were the charitable sort. But this place was more than meeting basic needs. This place was over the top.
You couldn’t even call it a house, not by any stretch of the imagination. A mansion, maybe. Small castle, more like. How many people actually lived here? The place was bigger than three of the run-down tenement buildings she called home put together. And what was that behind the manicured topiaries? A freaking tennis court?
She winced as a bright motion-sensor floodlight blazed in her face. What the hell was it with people and these damn floodlights these days? If God had intended light to be a twenty-four hour thing, he wouldn’t have bothered with the moon and the stars.
It forced her to focus, though. She’d been so busy gap-jawing at the sheer size of the place that she hadn’t been paying much attention. Good thing they were just floodlights and not bloodthirsty Dobermans or she’d be dog food by now. She might not be able to die, but she could hurt a hell of a lot in the time it took to heal.
Taking a deep breath, she rang the doorbell. From far away, soft chimes sounded the notes of some classical masterpiece. Bach, she thought idly, going back to an eon ago and a universe away. Now there was a guy who knew how to party, she thought with a quirk to her lips.
It was the middle of the night. Whoever was behind the door was probably long since in bed and wouldn’t be happy to be disturbed, but it was what it was. They summoned her, not the other way around. They would have to work with her timeline. Besides, a place this big probably had a slew of servants around the clock who got paid to answer the door at all kinds of ungodly hours.
Ryssa was forced to adjust that preconceived notion a moment later. The guy who opened the door was no servant.
The scent of expensive men’s soap hit her first. She looked at the wall of the muscled male chest in front of her, tightly wrapped in a high-quality designer shirt. A shiver ran down the length of her spine.
Lifting her gaze, she found cold green eyes looking down on her with absolute derision. Those eyes travelled down the length of her petite body over the span of several heartbeats, taking in her threadbare jeans, ratty sneakers, and plain black cotton T.
The man’s upper lip actually curled when he said it. Without the snarl, she might have considered him handsome. His features were classically male and well-proportioned. Dark auburn hair cut close at the nape, and deep, penetrating green eyes that might have sparkled under different circumstances.
Ryssa stuck her tiny foot in the door as he tried to close it on her, grunting softly when the heavy weight of the hand-carved oak hit the side of her arch. He looked down as if he couldn’t believe she’d done that, then shot her an angry look. Figuring he was about a breath away from shoving her back she said, “I’m Ryssa.”
He stilled, his gaze growing even colder, if that was possible. She withheld the urge to shiver again. The ice in his human eyes made Marcella seem warm in comparison.
“Ryssa.” He repeated the name, but made no move to invite her in or push her away. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
For a moment, Ryssa had her doubts. Maybe Marcella had been mistaken. Maybe this wasn’t the right place after all, though it would have been hard to mistake this house for any other. Her weight shifted from one foot to the other as she pulled the thin jacket tighter around her in the chill of the night.
“My friend said a woman was asking for me.”
Those perfectly cold, clear, green eyes narrowed on her. “Your friend? Who is your friend?”
No way was Ryssa going to tell him about Marcella. Wealthy types like him didn’t typically buy into the supernatural. Money, power, prestige – that’s what they understood. Not that any of that truly mattered in the grand scheme of things, but it sure as hell wasn’t Ryssa’s job to enlighten him.
Tired, cranky, and slightly unnerved by the power of his gaze, she opted for the direct approach. “Is someone here dying?”
He winced at that, the only crack in his icy façade. Behind the frosty exterior, she could sense his pain. It was the only reason she didn’t knee him in his manly bits and beat feet out of there. People handled grief in different ways; maybe his was just by being a condescending asshole.
He stared at her like she was some kind of cockroach heading towards the caviar.
“Look,” she said, reaching for her patience. “She called, I came. That’s how it works. Let me in or release me from the summons.”
Avoiding the cold steel of his glare, she looked up at the position of the moon. At most, she had about an hour and a half before she had to turn and go back. Even cutting through the woods it was a long walk and she was beyond tired, having worked nearly a full shift at the Seven Circles before coming here.
Still he made no move one way or the other. “Dude, come on. I’m on a schedule here.”
His scowl deepened and his fists clenched, but she stood her ground. He might think he was big and bad, but he had no idea what was out there, the ones she dealt with on a regular basis. There were a very limited number of beings who could intimidate her, and they were a whole lot bigger and badder than this GQ jack-off.
Just when she was sure he was going to push her back and slam the door in her face, he stepped back abruptly and opened it instead.
“Follow me. And don’t touch anything.”
Copyright © 2016 – 2018 Abbie Zanders.
Written by Abbie Zanders.
All rights reserved.