Saturday, April 09, 2011
by Jocelyn Michel
Cover art: Reneé George
Genre(s): Paranormal, Humor & Satire
Theme(s): Vampires, Werewolves
Series: Assassins in Lace
Page Count: 37
Vampire Sasha St. Claire runs a fragrance industry by day and stalks werewolves by night. Tripp Stefano, a werewolf notorious for how many vampires he's killed, has been particularly hard to snuff. What Sasha doesn't know is that sexy Tripp actually works as a handyman in her company's maintenance department. And the first step to taking her down is sabotaging every gizmo she owns so she'll open up her penthouse office suite to him.
Assassins in Lace: Scents
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2011 Jocelyn Michel
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No one knew my vampire secrets. By day I ruled a billion-dollar fragrance industry, and by night I ruled the streets. This particular Friday, I'd pulled up my luxurious red hair and wore a camel couture business suit with boring brown pumps. Nonetheless, I got a lot of lustful stares from good-looking men I didn't know as I walked into my building, probably because of my height and lush curves. Naturally I enjoyed the attention. The vamp in me loved imagining I could really let loose, sucking and fucking each one of them dry before they knew what bit them.
I rode up to my top-floor suite on my private elevator and strode down the hall, eyeing with pleasure the original artwork on the walls and the Persian rug under my feet, both of which screamed success. Heidi, my pretty young secretary, greeted me with a prompt, "Good morning, Ms St. Clair," and handed me a cup of steaming Red, a synthetic blood drink that wasn't as good as the real thing but did the trick. Taking it, I wordlessly stepped into my tasteful office and shut the door behind me. I'd say more to her later when we discussed my schedule for the next eight hours. First, I had to check in with my sister assassins.
Sitting at my enormous mahogany desk, I pushed a button. A panel to my left slid open to reveal a hidden compartment. Another button raised a ruby-red laptop into my workspace. The mechanism made a grinding noise both times. I made a mental note to tell Heidi.
It took a couple of minutes for the laptop to boot up, so I drank the fake blood and scanned the headlines of the city newspaper waiting for me on the desk. I saw the usual stuff: murders, muggings, political snafus. Delving deeper, I read the latest Hollywood gossip, my guilty pleasure. Star-struck me drooled over photos of my favorite hotties traversing the red carpet. Oh, how I'd have loved a taste -- as in literally -- of Alexander Skarsgård. He was so my kind of guy, even if he wasn't a real vampire.
With a sigh of longing I returned to my computer, one of several I owned, but the only one dedicated to all things assassin. I logged in and read last night's additions to a list of dead dogs dating back to the beginning of the current vamp-werewolf skirmish, the latest activity in a centuries-old war. I skipped my entry, of course, which left one, two... seven more. We'd only offed eight werewolf assassins total? Bummer. Our kills kept dropping in number, and no one knew why.
The Assassins in Lace, as we called ourselves, consisted of nine deadly women, all vampires. There used to be ten in our particular group, but one of our sisters-in-arms, Karma, had recently gone missing. I regretted that we'd sent her after Slayer, a notorious werewolf assassin who'd killed dozens of our kind. I strongly suspected he'd nailed her for good, not an easy feat. And we'd been so sure she'd get her wolf, as usual.
I read the names of the deceased, frowning when I realized that Tripp Stefano, a.k.a. Stalker, was still not on it. Triniti, the only one of us who knew what he looked like, had sworn she'd get him, but the man was as slippery as a snake in addition to being one of the most dangerous murderers on the planet. In fact, his kills matched those of Slayer, who'd once snuffed three of us in one night. I simply couldn't understand how they did it. No creature on earth had the strength, smarts, or skills of a vamp. Add to that our allure, and each of us became a murder machine capable of doing some serious werewolf damage.
Just as I moved my cursor to the box that would shut everything down, the screen went blank. I messed with the keys to no avail. Great. Just great. Then I couldn't lower it into the desk to hide it from the world. With a sigh, I closed the thing so the screen wouldn't be visible if it lit up again. I reached for the intercom. "Heidi? I need you."
Heidi Lawrence, assistant by day and assassin-in-training by night, hustled into my office seconds later. I mentally approved of her pale blue shirt and navy skirt, both of which complemented her sky-blue eyes and flaxen hair. "Something's wrong with this," I told her, pointing.
"I'll have maintenance check it."
"Only the sliding panel. No one touches the laptop. Ever."
"How's my schedule today?"
"You have a meeting with the head of research in thirty minutes. He has a new male scent for you to try."
"Excellent. And after that?"
"Lunch with the head of the art department."
Damn. Vampire Tim Spaulding had been trying to screw me since I hired him. He practically panted when we got together, a real turnoff. I so preferred to stalk my prey. That being said, I loved his work, which had put St. Clair Fragrances on the fragrance map.
"A two o'clock with the head of the marketing department."
Samson Kinney, another dud. Fantastic at what he did, but really just a vamp with fangs he couldn't control, begging for sexual crumbs I had no intention of dropping.
"A three o'clock with your sister."
Who probably needed another loan. Solange ran through my money the way I ran through the drink that gave me the control I needed to make it through a day packed with tasty humans. I never slip up, so werewolves, who are our sworn enemies, had no clue how lethal I could be. Neither did the general public.
"And dinner at eight with Mick O'Laughton."
At last. I'd been verbally sparring with the president of Class Act for the past six months, trying to place our designer scents in his exclusive clothing stores. Success finally loomed on the horizon, and that made me very, very happy.
After Heidi went back to her desk, I attempted to power up the sleek black laptop I used for my day-to-day business. It stayed on my desk at all times. I wanted to check my spreadsheets again so I'd have the details of all my scents memorized for that evening's meeting. But the laptop wouldn't respond. Frowning, I followed the cord down the hole in the desk, under the middle drawer and across the room. I found it still plugged in.
Hm. On my hands and knees, I reached up to turn on the lamp belonging to the other cord plugged into that outlet. It didn't work, either. With a huff of impatience, I got up and called Heidi on the intercom. "Add checking an electrical outlet to the list of maintenance to-dos, will you?"
"Yes, Ms St. Clair."
Smoothing my straight skirt, I sat again and scooted the black laptop to one side, squaring it neatly with the corner of the desk. I so loved everything in its proper place, which made the hang-up with the red computer very annoying. To distract myself from that minutia, I decided I'd read through the list of calls I'd received in response to my ad about the third floor vacancy. I owned the building and devoted most of the floors to St. Clair Fragrances, though I rented out five to other firms.
Unfortunately, that quickly bored me, so I picked up the remote to open the doors of my entertainment center. Though I pressed the usual button, nothing happened. Fuming, I changed the batteries and tried again. Nothing. I practically stomped my way over to it and yanked open the doors. Since I still held the remote, I turned on the plasma TV and got all the way back to my desk before I realized it hadn't come on. "Heidi! Add the entertainment center and the TV to that stupid list."
At a loss, I walked to the vertical blinds covering the windows and flipped the open switch so I could check out the traffic situation far below and catch some rays. Contrary to popular belief, vampires did not melt in the sun and even enjoyed it... if they could get their curtains open, which I apparently could not. These just sat there. I couldn't even maneuver them manually. What the hell? Were all my gizmos in revolt?