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Devils playground, p.1
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       Devil's Playground, p.1

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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Devil's Playground


  Devil's Playground

  Kris Chase Book 2

  Gena D. Lutz

  Devil’s Playground

  Copyright © 2015, Gena D. Lutz

  All Rights Reserved

  Published by Gena D. Lutz

  This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. All characters and events in this story are fictitious. They are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, organizations, or persons is entirely coincidental.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without expressed written permission from the author.

  Cover Design by:

  Covers by Christian

  Editing by:

  Kitten Jackson - Kittie Kat Tales Editing

  eBook Design by:

  Bob Houston eBook Formatting

  Dedication

  This book is dedicated to a man who loves without limits and provides my heart and soul with more than enough nourishment to write a thousand books.

  A bit of our love makes its way into each and every one of my stories. How could it not?

  Joseph, I love you.

  Acknowledgements

  Immense gratitude goes out to all my readers. Thank you for taking a chance on me.

  Rachel Sockwell, Mary Tibbitts, Debby Pence, and Rachel Olson… thank you for everything that you do.

  Prologue

  Late Friday night…

  Shaking my head, I placed a finger over my lips, the ‘Sssshhh’ sounding flat with warning. Rush leapt, in all his naked glory, from the bed. He landed silently next to the bedroom closet, and as soon as his feet met the ground, he waved me over. I was instantly at his side.

  He raised a hand and gestured to a built-in shelf that housed several drawers. I opened the one at the bottom, to find that it was a locked weapons safe, with a faux drawer front. Rush knelt down and reached inside, swiping his fingertips over the buttons. The door immediately clicked open, to reveal a row of guns.

  I slowly straightened, weapons in hand. After a quick clip check, I was happy to find that they were loaded with iron bullets. They could kill a human, but unfortunately, they couldn’t kill a vampire or ghoul. However, that component did slow the monsters down by interfering with the magic that sustained and animated them. Not many people knew that crippling information. It was a secret carefully guarded, because vampires and ghouls weren’t the only supernatural creatures that had a weakness for iron. It also had the same dire effect on necromancers.

  “You’re smiling,” Rush whispered.

  I could sense his apprehension building.

  “I can’t help it.”

  Wicked admiration glinted in Rush’s eyes, as he said, “I’m in love with a beautiful killer.” He looked down, between us. “We need clothes.”

  Gripping a gun in each hand, I said, “Getting dressed will waste valuable seconds, but if you insist….”

  Rush didn’t have time to answer, nor did clothes remain an issue. The bedroom door slammed open with a crash, and three forms in dark clothing appeared. My gut clenched; the intruders were vampires.

  It was hard to think, with the room exploding into chaos, but my body had a mind of its own and moved into action instinctively.

  Pop, pop, pop. I unloaded three shots into the chest of one of them, before he could fully enter the room.

  Rush was standing on top of the bed, bullets flying from the muzzle of his gun, which was aimed at a vampire, who was soaring toward him in midair.

  “Bad vampire!” I said, jumping forward.

  Chapter One

  Earlier, Friday morning…

  To call washing dishes the bane of my existence would be a gross understatement of fact. But there I stood, at the kitchen sink, hair twisted up, not thinking about anything special, while I scrubbed dried yolk, or more like yellow cement, off of a dish from that morning’s breakfast. That’s when the doorbell rang.

  I turned around and shouted at my grandmother, “Lily, can you get that? My hands are wet.”

  An annoyed voice echoed back from across the house at me.

  “I've told you a million times, child. Call me Grandma.”

  I chuckled to myself. It was so strange to call her Grandma, when she looked so young, with her natural dark hair, loose and flowing, around her flawless alabaster face. She loved to run around the house barefoot, with tight leather capris on, wearing her favorite AC/DC cotton t-shirt cinched tight underneath her breasts, to reveal flat, cut abs. She was a knockout at 70 years old. Her anti-aging secret’s main ingredient—she was a necromancer, a Creator, just like me.

  And the similarities didn’t stop there. She and I could easily pass for sisters, maybe even twins; the resemblance between the two of us was that uncanny.

  Ever since I hauled a trapped phantom out of her lifeless body, a few weeks prior, she’d refused to leave my side. Lily, as well as the ghost of my great grandmother, Deidra, who declined to leave this world for the next, had taken it upon herself to move in with my sister, Torra, and me, after we’d fled the Shadowscape. It was a place that resembled its name in that it was perpetually covered in shadows, and its lands were teaming with monsters.

  I wasn’t too put out about that, however. The small Craftsman-style home that my sister and I had been living in for years was Lily’s. Just another tad-bit of information my absentee mother, Lizet, forgot to mention to me, before she hightailed it out of town and out of the lives of my sister and me.

  A transparent head, covered in loose curls, popped out from what seemed like the inside of the refrigerator.

  “You’re not going to like this,” said Jude, my best friend, who also happened to be a ghost.

  “What do you mean?”

  A raspy voice, caused by many years of chain smoking, filled the space.

  "Krissy, darling... I’ve missed you so much!"

  I froze like a statue at the grating sound, and the sponge I was holding dropped from my hand, splashing suds across my face. Wiping the soap from my eyes, I cursed under my breath for even thinking about my mother. After hearing her voice, the old saying, “Speak of the devil,” came to mind.

  Being a necromancer had gifted me with many abilities, but the talent to summon demons wasn’t one of them... or so I’d thought, before she showed up out of the blue.

  Lizet strode through the living room like she owned the place, stopping in front of the kitchen table. She tossed her purse onto it, before draping her leather jacket over one of the high-back chairs, and looked up at me.

  Like a vacuum, she sucked the life from the room. I took my time, dried my hands on a dish towel, and put on a respectable game face.

  “Liz, I wasn’t expecting you. It’s only been what? Two years since we last spoke?"

  Lizet’s press-on smile faltered, and her green eyes fell on me.

  “Give it a rest. The lines of communication work both ways, you know.”

  Her tone rang with the opposite of motherly love. In my eyes, even at her best, Lizet resembled a spoiled teenager, never an adoring mother.

  For a moment, I could only stare.

  “What do you want? I’m busy,” I managed to say without much contempt.

  It bugged me, how easy it was for her to walk back into my life with such an air of nonchalance, as if she hadn’t abandoned my sister and me, leaving us to fend for ourselves many years prior.

  Jude appeared next to me, a show of support and love. Lizet ignored him altogether an
d began to pluck the browning leaves from the floral centerpiece on the table.

  My mother was a Beholder, a class of necromancer that allowed her to communicate with the dearly departed by voice and sight, so seeing a ghost wasn’t new to her at all. Ignoring them was most likely second nature. Either way, it bugged the crap out of me that Jude would be treated like just a piece of furniture in the room, or worse, a nuisance. The least she could do was acknowledge his presence with a “Hi.”

  My grandmother sat in the chair beside her daughter, dark thin brows bunched together. The tension lessened with her nearness, but it didn’t dissipate. Lily didn’t seem happy with her daughter’s abrupt appearance, either. But she still laid a gentle hand over Lizet’s restless one and smiled the way a mother should, with love for her offspring.

  Lily turned those affectionate eyes to me and said, “Sit, child.”

  My cheeks filled with warmth, and I sat down in the chair across from Lizet. Jude hovered to my left. A deep frown crinkled his face, as his hand hovered over my shoulder. His presence skittered across my skin like a static jolt of ghostly comfort. Sometimes having a ghost for a best friend really rocked.

  My grandmother said, “Why are you here, Liz-beth? You must have a good reason for showing up unexpectedly like this. Are you well?”

  I held my breath, waiting for her reply.

  Why was she there? Why hadn’t she seen fit to grace us with her presence before that day? Unfortunately, one could never understand the workings of Lizet Bethany Chase’s mind. She did what she wanted, when she wanted to. It was as simple as that. Not even the responsibility of having children could hold a woman like her down.

  Did I think she was a bad person because of that? I wasn’t sure what my feelings were in regards to her. I only knew her as a highly respected necromancer and a woman who loved to party. Other than that, she was a familiar stranger. So I guess what I mostly felt was hollow inside.

  Lizet cleared her throat, and after a quick look at her mother, she settled her gaze on me.

  “I was contacted by the Council,” she began. “They questioned me about a recent incident at the Center. It seems that our family’s sacred chamber was broken into.”

  Giving away nothing, I kept my features neutral and settled back into my chair.

  “What does that have to do with me?”

  With a slight smile, she said, “I know you had something to do with it. Well, I didn’t know right off the bat. But then I spoke with Torrance, and she filled me in. So I hopped the first flight out of Tampa to see you. I knew you’d get over your silly moral issues about vampires and one day use your magic like it was intended. You’re not as useless a necromancer as I thought you’d be. You’re your mother’s daughter, after all.”

  Her half-smile spread into a full one. She was pleased to think I could be anything like her. Even the slightest possibility of that was depressing to me.

  My grandmother sucked in a sharp breath and said, “Lizet, that’s enough out of you.”

  Lizet chuckled.

  “What? It’s the truth, isn’t it? Not many of us are blessed with the gift of creation. Your granddaughter was wasting it. Now, she’s not. I’m proud of her,” she stated with a shrug.

  My mouth dropped open and then snapped shut. Really, I couldn’t care less about her opinion of me or that she knew I’d used my powers to create Rafe. However, the fact that she’d contacted my sister wasn’t sitting well with me.

  “When did you get in touch with Torra?”

  Lizet plucked at the flowers. Her fingers were still fidgety, her face an unreadable mask, until she gave me one of her smug looks.

  “I called her cell. We talk often, she and I. Torrance is my daughter.”

  I was her daughter, too, but that didn’t seem to be of any concern to her. That was, until she found out that I’d used my magic.

  Confused and annoyed, I sighed. I needed to talk to Torra, which wasn’t going to be easy. Talking to a teenage girl about anything was like trying to pick up a penny, while wearing oven mitts. I looked down at my watch. Shit. I was running late to meet up with the secret-keeping brat. I stood to leave.

  “Is something wrong?” Lizet asked in a sickly sweet voice.

  “Nope, you’ve just caught me on a busy day is all. It was nice seeing you again, Liz. Until next time….”

  Calm composure slipping, Lizet scrambled to her feet and asked, “But what about the break in? What should I tell the Council?”

  It was my turn to shrug.

  “Tell them whatever you want.”

  She pursed her lips, before saying, “They’ll want to speak with you.”

  I walked over and picked up my jacket and keys from the coffee table.

  “I can handle my own business, but thanks all the same.”

  A trail of barely veiled profanities followed me, as I disappeared out of the front door. There was more to that woman’s visit than she was letting on. I could tell that right off, by the mischievous spark in her eyes. Lizet Chase didn’t care about any of the Council members and damn sure wasn’t threatened by any of them. But I’d let her sit and stew in her own scheming for a while. Everything would come to the surface soon enough.

  In the meantime, I had an apartment to look at.

  ***

  Torra was standing outside of a three-story building, as I pulled up and parked. She was talking to a short middle-aged balding man of Chinese descent. I assumed he was the building manager.

  With brows raised, Torra gave me a disapproving look. Her long sunflower locks, which were pulled tightly back into a ponytail, caught the sun’s reflection.

  Judging by the apparent relief on her face when she noticed I’d arrived, she must have been stuck there, listening to that guy, the entire time she’d been waiting for me.

  It broke my heart to think I’d almost lost her only two short weeks ago. Wolf, a phantom who had the magical ability to jump inside any human’s body and take them over completely, had kidnapped her in an attempt to save his mistress, Camille, queen of the phantoms. His plan had worked, making it so I had no choice but to yank the evil red-headed witch from out of my own grandmother’s body. Luckily, I hadn’t heard from the two since. But if I ever did, I planned to personally deliver a painful and bloody death to them both.

  “Sorry for making you wait, Mr. Riley,” I said, casually walking over. I extended a hand to the apartment manager and winked at my sister. “It’s nice to finally meet you in person.”

  The manager switched the coffee he held in his right hand to his left and gripped my offered hand.

  After a quick shake, he said, “It’s nice to meet you, too, young lady. Do you mind if we hurry things along? I have another appointment at noon.”

  I glanced down at my watch and nodded. It was 11:15—15 minutes past my set appointment time. His curtness was understandable. Torra slipped her hand into mine, and with an excited hop in our steps, we followed the guy up the outside stairs, to the third floor.

  The apartment was small, about 900 square feet, but my voice still echoed throughout the empty space. Large windows, covered with plantation shutters, wrapped around a decent-sized living room, which opened up into a modest kitchen. It was a great space for what I needed. And with the right furnishings and a splash of paint here and there, I thought it could be beautiful.

  “I’ll take it.”

  The manager stopped at the entryway to the hall and looked at me with surprise.

  “But you haven’t seen the rest of the apartment, the bedroom or bathroom.”

  With a shrug, I said, “That’s okay. I want it.”

  “It has a good vibe to it,” Torra said, as she opened one of the cabinets underneath the sink and then shut it. “It looks to have been kept up. No plumbing leaks.”

  It did have a good vibe, and as far as I could tell, it was free of any wandering spirits.

  The manager nodded at me and said, “All right, then, I’ll need you to fill this out.” He re
moved a set of rolled-up papers from his back pocket. “First and last month’s rent are required. That’s if you’re approved. I don’t let just anyone stay here.” His eyes narrowed with suspicion. “You’re not a felon or a rent-jumper, are you?”

  I grabbed the rental agreement and shoved it inside my purse.

  “Nope, I’m none of the above. There won’t be any problems.”

  “Well, then, if we’re finished, I’ll get to my next appointment.” He pointed to my purse, where the papers were stashed. “You can drop those off anytime between 9:00 and 6:00. The office is closed on Sundays, so try and do it before then if you’d like to secure this apartment. It’ll go fast… always does.”

  I walked over to him and shook his hand.

  “I’ll have it filled out and returned by the end of the day.”

  “Mm-hmm, sounds good,” he said, turning to leave.

  Torra walked over and threaded her arm through mine, as she said, “Let’s go grab lunch and talk about how we’ll decorate your new place. I can’t wait to start!”

  My stomach growled at the thought of food.

  “That’s a great idea; I can fill out the rental application while we eat.” In a hurry, Torra rushed us out the door. “We can also talk about our mother. She showed up at the house today,” I added.

  Torra’s hand constricted around my arm, and she cleared her throat.

  “Oh, is that right? What a surprise.”

  She was lying to me. I always knew when she was hiding something. Feeling mentally exhausted, I closed my eyes and just let it go.

  “Yes, our mother is certainly full of surprises.”

  Chapter Two

  As we walked into the diner, a waitress appeared almost out of nowhere to greet us. The young woman was petite, maybe 20 years old, with dark hair that was pulled up into a loose bun. She was dressed in a 50s getup, complete with a poodle skirt and white scalloped apron that was cinched tight around her thin waist. Her buttoned-up pink shirt had a few key buttons undone, which showed off the top trim of her black lace bra and a lot of cleavage. I thought that was a smart maneuver, considering the fact that she worked for tips, and about 70 percent of the customers there were over 40 and of the male persuasion.

 
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