A SOUL TO TAKE
By: Emily Taylor
Dying is the least of Elixia’s worries.
The world has changed. Demons are no longer legend, but part of life, integrated into our society . . . or so the Government claims. Things are never that simple, though, and neither side favors the new union. Agent Elixia Albelin knows the dark nature of demons firsthand, and will do everything in her power to protect the innocent from their wrath.
But when a mission from the Agency goes sour, Elixia finds herself in a predicament. Murdered, with her last living family-member kidnapped, her only hope is an offer from the very thing she despises: a demon. It’s no ordinary demon offering the contract, though, and his motive for such a deal is unclear. But if she’s to discover the truth and save her sister, she must commit the greatest taboo for an Agent:
Sell her soul.
Now, Marked and shackled to the terms of the contract, she must try to uncover the mystery of her sister’s abduction before her new “owner” comes to claim what is his. Her past may hold answers, but what happens when her investigation finds something far more sinister? Something not even the demons can condone?
READ AN EXCERPT
“Shellie?” I called. Nothing.
That wasn’t right. She never slept when I was out; she always waited for me to come home. Always.
Swallowing, I dropped my boots by the door and slipped the semi-automatic pistol from my remaining holster. I pulled out the cartridge, checking to see how many shots I had left—four. I swore under my breath and shoved the cartridge back into place. Raising my aim, I stepped forward and checked to see if anyone was around. No one. My heart pounded against my chest.
“Shellie . . .”
There was no sign of an attack. No sign of struggle.
Passing through the hallway, I gently opened Shellie’s bedroom door. Every sound was loud in the heavy silence, and I winced at the soft whine the hinges made.
Empty. The bed was made, clothing drawers were half open, and cosmetic materials were scattered across her desk; the usual. Pushing back my growing anxiety, I stepped away from the threshold. Where are you, Shellie? Jones’s face flashed in my mind. This can’t be happening.
I strode back to the kitchen and grabbed the owl-shaped memo book from the counter by the phone. Maybe she’d left me a message; maybe she’d decided to stay with a friend for the night. Why not? There was a first time for everything.
Something caught my eye, and I stiffened, dropping the notepad. A man stood in front of the glass walls on the far side of the living room, past the kitchen counter. He stared out into the dark, bustling city hidden behind sheets of water, only visible in wisps of light. The rain poured down the glass like a waterfall, and he reached out to touch it, grazing his fingertips along the translucent surface. I adjusted my aim to his head.
How the hell did he get into my house?
There should have been artificial wards set up by the Agency, protecting the place. But more importantly, what did he do to my sister? Fear gnawed at my churning stomach. Concentrate, Elixia. Nothing good would come from losing my cool. Fresh adrenaline pumped through me, numbing my wounds to a dull ache in the back of my mind.
“Where is my sister?” I asked.
The man didn’t reply.
He didn’t turn away from the window, but lifted his hand and pointed to the couch between us. As if that gesture removed an invisible veil, my eyes focused and I saw Shellie perched on the edge of the seat. How did I miss her before? He must have used magic to hide her from sight. Who else is in the room with us?
Shellie stared at me, eyes large and terrified, leaking tears. They trickled down her cheek, dampening her lace shirt’s collar, and tangled in the static mess of long, brown curls framing her face. She sat with her back straight and stiff, clasping her hands on her lap. Her glossy nails dug into her skin, drawing blood—a bad habit she used to deal with anxiety. It took all my willpower not to shoot the man, grab her, and run. Instead, I tried to smile comfortingly while I walked around the counter. I won’t let Jones, or anyone, take you away.
She went to stand, to go to me, but was slammed back into her seat with a tasered shock. Her face screwed up in pain as her body jerked. She mouthed a swear word. I gritted my teeth, fighting the urge to launch forward to her defense. He was using power to hold her hostage, and strong power always complicated things.
“What do you want?” I asked.
My top lip pulled back in a snarl. “You can’t have her.”
The clean-shaven man looked over his shoulder, just enough to get a glimpse of me from the corner of his eye. “We had a feeling that would be your response.”
“Elixia, don’t.” Shellie’s voice broke off as the man glanced at her. She bowed her head.
I tightened my damp grip on the gun. I needed two still hands. No room for error. “Leave.”
The man turned away from the window. “No.”
My grip faltered as I took in his face: red eyes, thin lips, sharp cheekbones, and waxed-back hair.
“Malcolf.” Saying his name felt like confirming this nightmare was real. My knuckles turned white against the gun.
“That is my name,” he said. “However, theirs are irrelevant.”
Whose? I turned as four men appeared, seemingly from thin air. I was outnumbered. Again.
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Besides writing, Emily Taylor currently studies Music Technology at her state’s Conservatorium and recently helped on Respect Cat Production’s feature film, In a Corner, as a Script Advisor. After great success on InkPop and Figment, A Soul to Take is her first formally published work. You can see more from Emily on Facebook and Twitter.