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FOURTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET
by Darynda Jones

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

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The trainer realized someone else was in the room. He turned to me, a sharp disapproval lining his face. “You can’t be back here.”

“I need to talk to your fighter,” I said, thrusting as much authority into my voice as I could muster, which admittedly wasn’t much.

Finally, and with infinite care, Reyes raised his lashes until I could see the shimmer of his rich brown eyes. I tried to force my heart to keep beating, but it stopped dead in its tracks.

His lips parted slightly, and my gaze fell to his mouth again. It thinned in response, and he said, “You need to leave.”

Ignoring the rush of heat that flooded my body at the deep, sensual sound of his voice, I squared my shoulders, stepped forward, and handed him the paper I’d crumpled the minute I saw him in the cage. “I brought your bill.”

He reached for the paper with his free hand. “My bill for what?” he asked, perusing what I’d written.

“For my services. I found your father for you. Almost died in the process. My private investigations business is just that, Mr. Farrow: a business. Despite what you might believe, I am not your personal errand girl.”

He quirked a brow the moment I used his surname but recovered quickly enough. He turned the paper over. “It’s written on a Macho Taco receipt.”

“I improvised.”

“And it’s for a million dollars.”

“I’m expensive.”

The barest hint of a grin lifted one corner of his mouth. “I don’t have a million on me at the moment.”

“We can go to the nearest ATM, if that would help.”

“Sadly, no.” He folded the paper and stuffed it into a back pocket, and the only thing I could think was how I would’ve loved to be a Macho Taco receipt at that moment in time. “I’m broke,” he added.

Even without reading his emotions, I knew that was an outright lie. Good thing, because I wasn’t getting much in the way of deceit. Lust, maybe. A hot, visceral desire that had my knees fighting to stay locked. But no deceit. Speaking of which . . .

“Why are you fighting?” I looked around at the paltry conditions. Even illegal fights should be sanitary. This was crazy.

“I told you, I’m broke. I need the money.”

“You’re not broke,” I countered. He shook off the man wrapping his hand and rose from the table. I stepped back in a wary retreat. He followed, every movement fluid. Powerful. I had a few tricks up my elastic cuff. Time to shock and amaze. “You have a cool fifty million just waiting for you to wrap your hot little hands around.”

He stilled, which was his tell. Where others gasped or rounded their eyes when surprised, Reyes stilled, so I knew I had him.

“You’re mistaken,” he said, his voice like silk over cold, hard steel.

“Your sister told me,” I explained. Though not biologically related, Reyes was raised with a girl whom he considered to be his sister in every way. They were both subjected to extreme abuse, though in very different ways.

He bit down. “That’s not my money. That’s hers.”

I folded my arms. “She won’t spend it. She swears it’s yours.”

“She’s wrong.” He took another step closer. “And I thought we agreed that you’d stay away from my sister.”