Omega Mine

By: Aline Hunter

Chapter One

The alley was dark, cold and empty—with no sign of Jonathan Roberts.

“Damn,” Ava Brisbane cursed under her breath and glanced from left to right. Nothing but brick, chilly air and asphalt greeted her from either direction. And just like a bad horror movie, a heavy gray fog was a-rollin’ in.

Double damn.

Lifting her left hand and shoving aside her jacket, she glanced at the thick black leather cuff on her wrist. 12:49 a.m. Yep, it was definitely time to get a move on. The liaison wasn’t coming and being caught out at this hour—in the godforsaken Bronx—was just plain stupid. All kinds of things came out when the sun went down. Things that would eat her flesh and pick their teeth clean with her bones.

The soft humming of the cell phone inside her back pocket vibrated against her ass, tickling her skin through the thin, stretchy denim. She knew who was calling because the same person who gifted her with the electronic device was the only one who knew the number—the annoying, scheming and blackmailing bastard Craig Newlander.

Rolling her eyes, she pulled the thin piece of metal from her jeans, flipped it open and placed it to her ear. “He’s not here.”

“I know that.” Craig’s voice was a deceptive device used to gain favor. He sounded amiable, polite and downright sexy. Too bad he was an asshole, poser and opportunist. “Jonathan was forced to seek shelter when he got a tail. Get out of there and go home. I’ll contact you tomorrow.”

“Wait a minute,” she snapped, attempting to remain calm and keep her voice hushed. “You told me that if I came and exchanged the packages, you would return the locket for services rendered. That was the deal.”

“I’ll contact you tomorrow.”

A loud click echoed in her ear and the line went dead.

Ava extended her arm, glowered at the cell phone and snarled, “You dirty rotten pig bastard!”

For a moment she considered chucking the device across the way and achieving a perverse—but fleeting—satisfaction at its demise. Instead she returned it to her pocket and seethed inwardly. Craig could kiss her ass after she wiped the floor with his. Once she had possession of the locket her useless brother pawned, that’s exactly what she planned do to the arrogant piece of shit.

Her shoulders suddenly felt heavy, laden with the burden of obligation.

Sweet baby Jesus, the entire situation was whack. She was a bartender who peddled drinks for a living, not a hoity-toity Villati who lived off stocks and mutual funds. And if she knew what was best for a continued life expectancy, she would keep it that way. The preternatural investigators who unearthed the existing names and secrets of the supernatural families across the world didn’t last long. Most of the time their obituaries ran in the paper at the same time their findings were bound, recorded and placed in the Villati registry.

Thinking about the circumstances that brought her to this dangerous location incensed her further and she vented her frustrations via the fingers that adjusted the strap attached to the leather messenger bag draped across her chest.

Her brother, Thomas, was a bona fide loser. He’d piddled all of the money left by their parents to nourish his gambling addiction and started hocking their valued belongings when he hit a losing streak. First it was antique silverware and vintage vases. Then, when she noted their absence, he went for the throat and hocked the jewels.

If she hadn’t been neck deep in a horrible relationship that was doomed to sink, yet she felt obligated to repair, she might have noticed the debt collectors and the phone calls. As it happened, she didn’t get hip to the deception until all of Thomas’ fortune was gone. They were forced to sell the home in Greenwich their mother and father had worked so hard for, to save his wretched ass, along with all of the belongings left following their unexpected deaths.

But one treasure had remained hers—the Brisbane family locket, passed down for generations. The platinum piece of jewelry was meant to continue along as a link to the past and it would have until Thomas, in the throes of addiction, had paid her a visit a month previous under the guise of needing a place to sleep for the night. The following morning the locket was gone and within a week she got a visit at her place of employment from a Mr. Craig Newlander, the big Villati head kahuna an asshole of epic proportions and a persistently annoying burr in her ass.

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