Rob Thurman: Trick of the Light

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Rob Thurman Trick of the Light
  • Название:
    Trick of the Light
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    ROC
  • Жанр:
    sf_fantasy_city / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2009
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-1-101-13622-5
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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Trick of the Light: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Now you see it....Now you don't....Now you're history. There are demons in the world. Monsters. Creatures that would steal your soul. You might hide under your covers at night and pretend all's right with the world, but you know. Even if you don't want to admit it... Las Vegas bar owner Trixa Iktomi deals in information. And in a city where unholy creatures roam the neon night, information can mean life or death. Not that she has anything personal against demons. They can be sexy as hell, and they're great for getting the latest gossip. But they also steal human souls and thrive on chaos. So occasionally Trixa and her friends have to teach them some manners. When Trixa learns of a powerful artifact known as the Light of Life, she knows she's hit the jackpot. Both sides — angel and demon — would give anything for it. But first she has to find it. And as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her true loyalty lies — and what she's ready to fight for. Because in her world, if you line up on the wrong side, you pay with more than your life...

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Trick of the Light

(The first book in the Trickster series)

(2009)

A novel by

Rob Thurman

To the real Leo.

Thanks for letting me borrow your name.

You will never be forgotten.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my mom—an ass-kicking woman in her own right. No demon would dare cross her path. I would also like to thank my evil twin, Shannon (your ability to not strangle me on a daily basis continues to amaze me); my patient editor, Anne Sowards; my infallible link to the publishing world, Cam Dufty; Brian McKay (the Once and Future King of copy writing); kind and wonderful author Charlaine Harris; Agent Jeff Thurman of the FBI for the usual weapons advice; the incomparable art and design team of Chris Mc-Grath (an art god) and Ray Lundgren; Jennifer Jackson; Tony Lopes for his weak negotiation skills in the matter of one Slimer; great and lasting friends Michael and Sarah-of-the-red-shoes; Mara—keep those books coming; and last but never least, my fans—all of you are what makes this worthwhile. And a special thanks to Marjorie Liu for her inspired assistance with the photo situation.

Chapter 1

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. I’d read that in a book once, a fairly famous one. Right now I was going with the time of reaping. Fire had been sown and fire would be reaped. Now. By me, personally. Why?

One: Fire burns. Fire destroys. Fire cleanses.

Two: Fire drives up your insurance rates like crazy.

Three: It was deserved. Oh yes, it was very much deserved.

And how do I know this? A lot of ways, but mainly because I know there are demons in the world. Monsters. Creatures that would steal and eat your soul. Devils that would . . .

Wait. You’ve heard this before, right? Seen the movies. Read the books. You might hide under your covers at night or avoid the deepest shadows of the darkest alleys and pretend all’s right with the world, but you know. I don’t need to tell you. I don’t need to show you the light . . . or the dark.

You know.

Like me, you know. Even if you don’t want to admit it.

Chickenshit.

But that’s okay. Since I knew, I could personally pitch a Molotov cocktail at a nightclub that sat halfway between the university and the Strip, an area otherwise and ironically called Paradise. No hiding under the covers for me. I knew about what hid in the dark all right, and there was nothing I enjoyed more, at least tonight, than watching some son of a bitch demon’s club burn to the ground. Demons in Paradise. Could they be any more smug?

It was six a.m. and the club was empty. The last drunk had staggered out twenty minutes ago into the dark November morning. Frying patrons wasn’t on the agenda and a fire wouldn’t do the demon or his demon employees much harm even if they were standing in the middle of it, not if they changed from human form back to the genuine article fast enough, but I still enjoyed it. You get your kicks where you can.

And this was a kick. I inhaled the fragrance of burning gasoline, felt the hot wind lift my hair, and the thud of the ground under my sneakers—my normal high-heeled boots were out for this one. I also felt the adrenaline squeeze my heart, pumping my blood faster and faster. Damn, I loved that feeling. I looked up at the sky, faintly orange because Vegas was never dark, fire or not. The neon made us a sun all our own. It was exhilarating: the smell of smoke and alcohol, the sound of shattering glass as the bottles smashed through windows, and the glorious red and yellow of leaping flames.

“Beautiful,” I murmured, feeling the sear of heat against my face. It didn’t touch the heat of satisfaction inside me.

“Not without its charm,” Griffin commented dryly next to me before turning and following me. “You and your hobbies, Trixa.”

“Yeah, great. I’m hungry. Let’s go.” That would be Zeke. Griffin Reese and Zeke Hawkins, quite the pair. I wouldn’t say Zeke had a short attention span; he didn’t. But when a task was done, it was done, and what was the point of hanging around? Zeke was a born soldier at heart. I came. I saw. I kicked ass. What’s next? But it was a little more than that. Zeke was special, in more ways than one, which was why there was a Griffin. The Universe saw a need and filled it. Saw an imbalance and stabilized it. The Universe was good at that. Unless you wanted to get laid . . . then you were on your own. It was the downside of putting business before pleasure.

But this was a pleasure too, and I was cheered as I stood at the side of two boys I’d watched grow to men and we watched the smoke billow. Family came in all shapes and sizes. It even sometimes showed up Dumpster diving outside your bar. Family also shared hobbies, but this little excursion was close to being over. Time to go. I turned and ran, vaulting over the low chain-link fence that surrounded the dirt and gravel vacant lot next to the club. Running across the street, I hopped over the door to Griffin’s car and into the backseat. He had an old convertible. I’d no idea what make. It was old, big as a tank, and with an engine that would’ve been better suited in a jet. It was great for fast getaways and even better for mowing down whatever unholy thing playing crossing guard might stand in the way of your escape.

As the sirens began far away, I turned and pillowed my arms on the back of the seat, ignored the dig of a slight rip in the upholstery under my skin, and watched the fire recede into the distance. I didn’t ask them to put the top up in the fifty-degree weather. I loved the bite of chill air against my skin. And I didn’t need to look up front to know Griffin was driving. Zeke didn’t take to driving too well. If he wanted to go, he went. Red light? Stop sign? What did that have to do with anything when you were following a demon? Hell-spawn trumped traffic codes. Between his absolute attention on his goal and his black and white judgment, things—such as driving into a bus with painted strippers cavorting on the side—tended not to work out so well.

Especially when the bus was full of German tourists in shorts so short that they required a Brazilian wax for the men as well as the women. There had been thighs as bountiful as baking bread, as wobbly as Jell-O, and as pitted as the surface of the moon. I still had flashbacks over that one, and all thanks to one of Zeke’s few attempts at taking the wheel.

Zeke with his dark copper hair pulled back into a short, three-inch braid; eyes that were the green of the first leaf to bloom in the Garden of Eden; a scar on his neck that looked like someone had tried to cut his throat and half succeeded . . . No, Zeke wasn’t right. Not that he was wrong . . . just different. It wasn’t his fault. No damn way it was his fault. Whoever had borne Zeke had done him serious damage. I think he knew right from wrong, but sometimes in doing right he went so far that wrong was just a kiss away. “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” was more than Zeke’s philosophy. It was his very reason for being. And if the punishment far outweighed the cause, well, that was Zeke. He saw individuals and their actions in black and white only; gray didn’t exist for him. He simply couldn’t feel it, and he certainly didn’t see a point to it.

And if he did slip into doing wrong while trying to do the opposite, he was sorry. Extremely sorry. Unlike most, he didn’t count himself exempt from his own code. So far Griffin had kept him from doing anything that would make him so sorry that he’d throw himself off a building. Then again, I didn’t know the story behind the scar on Zeke’s throat.

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