Sleeper

By: Lexi Blake

Hunter: A Thieves Novel, Book 3




Acknowledgements


I can’t tell you how happy I am to get back into this world. Life and work has kept me from it for a while, but slipping into Kelsey’s skin was like coming home. I want to thank everyone who helped bring Sleeper from a plan sneaking around in my mind to words on a page. This book went through several iterations as I found my way. Thanks to Kim for all the breakfast planning strategies and Kori for having to read more than one version of this book. Thanks to an amazing group of beta readers—Jennifer Zeffer, Diana Merritt and Riane Holt. Thanks to my family for their tireless support. Whenever I talk about Thieves, I have to thank the reader who was there first, a reader who became a friend and a friend who became family. I love you, Liz Berry. If no one else ever read these books, I would still write them for you!





Chapter One





I knew the minute the world around me cracked and that horrible stench of brimstone and BO hit my nose that I’d fucked up yet again.

Eight months and I still couldn’t get it right. It was frustrating as hell, but the good news was I would probably get to kill something real soon. I always feel better when I kill something.

“What the hell is that thing?” Casey backed away.

For a vampire, he was pretty freaked out by anything that wasn’t human, and he was scared of some of those as well. Casey was a young vamp, having only turned two years before. In his previous life he’d been a wannabe pro skater and one of those dudes who thought he should express himself through song. While he no longer carried a skateboard around at all times, I could practically hear him writing a song about the nasty, twisting thing that had come through when my spell had gone awry.

Again.

I glanced over at the other two people who had joined me in forming the circle that should have produced the demon named Nemcox. Liv, my witch best friend, and my brother Jamie were currently on the other side of the room, forming a triangle outside the circle we’d created in an attempt to keep Nemcox trapped until I could kill him. And by kill him, what I honestly meant was slice that little fucker open, play in his entrails, and generally torture his nasty ass until his body couldn’t handle it any longer.

Nemcox. I’d known him as Matthew. My father had known him as Stewart, and my former lover and brand spanking new dark prophet, Grayson Sloane, called him brother.

I was going to murder him because he was the reason my true father no longer walked the earth.

Liv shook her head, a frown on her face. Her skin had gone pale, as though the act of calling forth the demon had drained her. It probably had. Before the last few months, she’d been all about the white magic and the loving goddess and shit. I needed a bad goddess, unfortunately. “I have no idea. I might have mentioned that calling demons wasn’t my major in witch school. I was really more about the white magic. That thing is definitely evil.”

She wasn’t wrong about that. Look, I’ve seen some ugly things that turned out to be quite nice. You can’t always tell a book by its cover in the supernatural world. Like the troll I had to go and talk to because he was scaring the shit out of tourists in Montana. Dude was simply upset because he’d gotten kicked out from under his nice, out-of-the-way bridge in Canada. Was he twelve kinds of nasty looking? Hell, yes. But after a chat and a couple of hot dogs that I did not eat because I’m pretty sure they were actually made of dogs, he turned out to be a pretty chill guy.

The thing in front of me wasn’t ever going to be anything but evil.

There was a terrible crack of thunder that seemed to shake the house to its foundation and then I heard the sound of something slap against the roof as the thing in the circle hissed and snapped its spiny tail.

Yeah, it was one fugly critter.

“Any idea what it is?” I asked, trying to view the situation from an academic standpoint. I tried to shove down the need to punch through a fucking wall. How was Nemcox managing to do this? I had his name. I should have been able to call the fucker to my hand, at which point in time I fully intended to use that hand to chop his head off and mount it on my wall.

Five attempts. Five failures. Nemcox had found a loophole in the demonic laws apparently.

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