Damian's Assassin (Chapter Five, page 1 of 7)

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"Boss, what is this?" Toni complained.

Dusty looked up from the computer screen as Toni walked in, staggering under the weight of a massive box.

"Send it to the lab. Don't open it," he instructed him. "It's my souvenir from Ohio."

"Is it alive?"

"Not anymore."

Toni grunted as he backed out of the study. For the first time in ages, Dusty was falling asleep at his computer. It was midnight, and he'd just finished reading Jenn's latest report. This one was on her interview with Bianca. And the fact the Black God wanted her.

He rubbed his face. They'd suspected Talon was one of Czerno's many bastard children, and the fact the sadistic bastard had called his daddy to tell him about Bianca confirmed it.

"Iggy's running it to the lab," Toni said as he returned. "You look beat."

"I feel beat," Dusty admitted. "Read this. Start pinging our sources in the underworld. I need some sleep."


Dusty closed his eyes, the soft sound of the TV greeting him before he opened them. He looked around, at once irritated. Bianca was asleep on the couch, the cat curled on her back. A plate of half-finished food sat on the coffee table, and the kitchen was a disaster. Dainty cat prints trekked through the flour she'd spilled on the counter. He followed the trail to the edge of the carpet then took in the dirty dishes in the sink.

"Bianca!" he barked. She groaned and rolled onto her side. "Bianca!"

"Yeah?" the woman mumbled and pushed herself up.

"Clean up this shit," he ordered. "Rule number two: if you make a mess, clean it up."

"Okay," she said in a sleepy voice.

He looked at her again, taking in her warm features and shapely body. Her hair was free, the long, loose curls cascading down her shoulders and back. His gaze lingered before he strode towards his bedroom, determined to get a few hours of sleep.

"Dusty," she called, rising and following him. "Thank you for rescuing me today." I don't know what to think about everyone you killed, but I do appreciate you protecting me."

"It's my job." He faced her when she said nothing in response and didn't leave his bedroom. She chewed her lower lip, warm eyes troubled.

"I don't really have a choice about anything going on, do I?" she asked. "I have to be a member of your group, and I have to stay here so the bad guys don't get me."

"For the most part, the major decisions were made for you," he replied. "You do have the choice of sharing my bed or sleeping on the couch."

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