I turned to look at him and snatched up my cup, deliberately displaying my more than human speed. I expected to see fear, but only admiration crossed his gorgeous face. His eyes took on that feral look that all men get when desire takes possession of their minds. He wasn’t observing the creature in me. He saw only the woman: soft, sleep-tousled, with luminous eyes and a pouty mouth. And he wanted to kiss me. I could tell.

Boy, did I want him to. I’m not going to deny that the thought of seeing him naked and in my bed left me feeling a little more than flushed. But I didn’t mix business with pleasure for a reason. The last thing I wanted was to put Tyler in danger, no matter how well he could handle himself.


Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, USA

First Printing, December 2011

Copyright © Amanda Bonilla, 2011 All rights reserved

For Juan, because you looked me in the eye and made me promise not to quit


Some people think writing is lonely business, but I have never felt such a sense of friendship and community as I have since I began this endeavor. I don’t think my words could ever do justice to the love and gratitude I feel for everyone who has stood by me, believed in me, and supported me in my journey.

To Juan, Jacquelyn, and Drew, you endured my absentee status the past few years as I hid behind a computer screen. You’ve been patient with my writing marathons, midnight scribbling by the light of the refrigerator, and late—sometimes burned—dinners. You’ve allowed my brain to be where it needs to be, and I couldn’t love you more for it.

Mom and Dad, God knows I’ve put you through the wringer, and since we all know I’m Murphy’s Law incarnate, you both deserve some kind of medal. Or award. Or both.

Niki, you’re my partner in crime. There’s no one I’d rather get lost with or talk books with.

Suzanne Hayes, Sarah Bromley, and Windy Aphay-rath, how your eyes aren’t bleeding from the number of times you’ve read this book, I’ll never know. But I wouldn’t be half the writer I am without you guys. You’ve listened to me whine, talked me off of ledges, and offered me constant support. I owe you all a hundred times over.

Cole Gibsen, your advice when I had doubts carried me over many a rough patch. Michael J. Pollack, you were my first “writer friend” and read the very first draft of Shaedes of Gray, and assured me that it didn’t suck. And to Nancy Smith, Cassidy Winter, and Jess Ellis, your enthusiasm and love of reading are contagious! Through your eyes, I saw what could be.

To my Magic and Mayhem sisters: Sandy Williams, Shawntelle Madison, and Nadia Lee. Sandy, thanks for bringing us all together. Shawntelle, my Web site would be drab and lifeless without your expertise. Nadia, you are indeed a marketing guru. I’ve learned so much from you guys!

Suzette Saxton, Elana Johnson, and Mary Lindsey, you gave me the confidence I needed to get myself out there. Christine Fonseca, and Michelle McLean, thank you for bringing me out of my shell while I negotiated the waters of blogging, and social networking. And to Kimberly Minter and Joy Denisoff, thanks for lending your artistic talent and services and helping me look more glamorous than I really am.

I wouldn’t be writing these acknowledgments at all, though, if it weren’t for several fantastic people. Thanks to my agent, Natanya Wheeler and everyone at Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Natanya, you are made of awesome. You believed in me and this book, and you put up with my neurotic insecurities, which has to be a full-time job in itself. I also owe a huge thank you to Laura Cifelli, who went above and beyond for me when she didn’t have to, and to my amazing editor, Jhanteigh Kupihea. The Army’s got nothing on you! You totally know how to make someone be all they can be! Thanks also to Kathleen Cook, my production editor; Robin Catalano, my copy editor; and Cliff Neilson, my cover designer, for all their hard work.

And for anyone I might have missed, I apologize for my lack of functioning memory. But I trust you know who you are and you know how I feel!

Chapter 1

I live in the gray. It’s a wonderful place, free of accountability, bereft of conscience. I’ve lived in the black and white, but that was before, and I don’t worry about how I used to be.

I hate the cold, and yet there I was, standing on the roof of the Cobb Building, looking out across the Metropolitan Tract while the dark, cloudy sky spit snow on my face. I wouldn’t have been there at all if I hadn’t needed the money. Okay, that’s not exactly true. I didn’t need the money. I wanted the money. I also wanted the action. That, I needed.

“Could you have picked a weirder place to meet?” a man’s voice spoke from behind me.

Marcus. Lovely.

“Where’s Tyler?” I demanded, a little on edge that Ty had sent an errand boy instead of meeting me himself.

“Had an appointment that ran late.” His thin lips turned up in a twitchy smile, and I palmed the dagger at my thigh, feeling a bit twitchy myself. “He said to tell you he’s sorry and he’ll call you later.”

Great. It was bad enough I had to wait out in the cold. Now I had to do business with this clueless idiot. Not many of Tyler’s contractors enjoyed the privilege of an in-person visit from him, but since day one, I’d been the exception. I looked Marcus over, from his dirty black hair to his soft middle and right down to his worn, secondhand army boots. Where did Tyler find these guys?

“Let’s get this over with,” I said. “I’m freezing my ass off out here.”

“Seventy-five percent,” the lackey said. My eyes narrowed and I felt again for the dagger at my side. As if it made everything okay, Marcus quickly added, “Tyler promises he’ll get the rest to you after the job’s done.”

I jerked the envelope out of his hand. I didn’t stand out in the cold for seventy-five percent. I didn’t have to. “Ty knows I won’t do shit until I get the rest.” I tucked the money into my coat and waited.

Marcus stared at me, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He looked like he was trying to keep from pissing his pants. I can come across scary when I want.

“Look, Darian. I’m just the messenger.” I quirked a brow and he faltered. “Y-you have a problem with what’s in that envelope, you take it up with the boss man. I’m out.”

He turned his back on me, and I fought the urge to laugh at his carelessness. The tip of my blade pressed into his back before he could face me again. “You know what they do to the messenger—right, Marcus?” He swallowed, and the sound was like a stone dropping into a fifty-foot cavern. “I want the rest of my money,” I whispered close to his ear, and he shuddered. “Tell Ty to call me when he gets it.”

I disappeared before he could open his mouth again.

A gust of wind hit me full in the face as I walked, blowing back my hood and causing my hair to billow out in soft strawberry waves. I locked eyes with a man who brushed my shoulder as I passed him on the street. He studied me for a fleeting moment before averting his gaze. Perhaps he’d picked up on the faint glow of my green eyes that betrayed my lack of humanity, or maybe it was simply the solemn black clothes and deadly expression

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