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I know him by one name: Vicious.

He’s in his late thirties. He has those green eyes which are infamous among the female members of our community, that dark hair which looks like it curls when it’s wet, a bit like mine. Right now it’s slicked back. He likes control, and every inch of his body reflects that.

Handsome is a word for models and television stars. He’s more than handsome. He’s enigmatic. Magnetic. Every inch of his body is worthy of attention, and I can’t stop staring.

Beneath that suit of his, I can only imagine the state of his body. Blaze says he’s tattooed and scarred. If she were here right now, she’d be drooling for him, because he’s every bit as impressive in person as he is in pictures.

His appeal is more than superficial. I get the impression that the world moves around him. My kidnapping shows it. I was walking down a relatively busy street. He shouldn’t have gotten away with anything that brazen – but he just did.

“It’s nice to meet you, Kitty,” he says, giving me a bright smile. His dimples seem somewhat incongruous with the rest of his persona, but they add to his charm. That hard jaw, those masculine lips, that straight nose and those green, expressive eyes ringed with long dark lashes. His shoulders are broad, his hips are powerful. He’s an animal with all the vicious intelligence of a man.

I should be replying. I should have something intelligent to say. But I don’t. I’m made temporarily stupid by the suddenness of it all – and by the charm he exudes. The one mistake I’m not making right now is giving in to that charm. I’m still smart enough to know I’m in danger. It doesn’t matter how attractive he is, he has just abducted me.

“You’re a quiet kitty,” he notes. “I thought you’d have more to say.”

I stay silent. Make him talk. I need to find out why the hell I’m here and I won’t find that out by talking myself.

“You are interesting, aren’t you,” he smiles, cocking his head to the side and fixing me with a piercing, curious gaze. “I take it you know who I am.”

I nod.

“Tell me, so I can know what you know.” He stands in front of me, his feet shoulder width apart, his hands in his pockets.

“You’re Vicious.”

“And what does that mean?”

“It means you’re…” I struggle for words. The question he just asked me is far more complex than it seems. “You’re a criminal, but more than a criminal.”

His smile broadens. He likes that description.

“You’re a murderer.”

The smile fades.

“Hardly, Kitty.”

“You’ve killed people.”

“People die,” he shrugs. “They tend not to when they’re smart and compliant.” His voice dips suggestively on compliant.

Vicious has me and he is threatening me. I am wracking my mind as to why, but I can’t think of a link. I stay clear of men like him. I do work for some scumbags, but not on Vicious’ level. Blaze worships him, but I’m not as romantic as she is, or as fucked up. I know better.

“What do you want from me?” I chance a question.

“I want you to work for me.”

What?

“No.” The refusal slips out of my mouth almost before I have time to think about it. His expression becomes stormy. It’s a frightening sea change, and I don’t like it. “I mean, I’m very busy. I don’t have time for any new clients.”

“Don’t worry about that. You’re only going to have one client from now on.” The smile is back and it’s broad as he spreads his hands in an expansive gesture. “Me.”

“I don’t think my other clients would like that.”

“It doesn’t matter what they’d like.”

“Well, Mr. Vicious, I have a reputation to keep. If I go around dumping my clients, that’s not a good look.”

“I’ll pay you twice what they do.”

“Thank you, that’s very generous of you, but…”

He makes an impatient motion. “Kitty, you’re making this difficult.”

It’s not a good idea to piss this guy off. I think about saying yes just to get the hell out of here, but that’s just going to kick this can of shit down the road. I have to get out of this situation with diplomacy and charm and a bunch of other skills I don’t actually have. Most of my job involves being nondescript and generally basic. I don’t talk to people, for the most part. Looking at Vicious, I know I’m not equipped for this conversation. He’s going to get what he wants.

He lights a cigarette and lets the smoke curl out the end of it. Smoking is a disgusting habit, but it’s probably the least disgusting thing about him all things considered. He looks like an angel, but this man is the devil incarnate.

“If it’s the killing you object to,” he says. “It might help to know I kill for money, not for pleasure.”


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