Million Dollar Demon Page 1

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: The Hollows #15

Genres: Fantasy , Fiction



Cincinnati’s airport was predictably noisy with the Friday crush, the press of people and chatter giving rise to an unexpected unease. Sitting straighter in the row of uncomfortable chairs, I scanned the throng of constant movement for a furtive shadow, someone making an effort to blend in, someone not moving. But there was only the lone TSA agent leaning up against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest as he stared at me as if I might start throwing spells. Seeing my attention on him, he made the “I’ve got my eyes on you” gesture, and, frowning, I ran my middle finger under an eye to give him the one-fingered kiss-kiss back.

Immediately he pushed off from the wall to blend in with the domestic travelers, but I knew there was probably a camera or six trained on me, and as I tucked a stray curl that had escaped my braid back behind an ear, I watched the oblivious throng to see if anyone had noticed. Quen, standing at a nearby table with Ellasbeth and the girls, gave me a knowing half smile and I warmed.

“Crap on toast, I’m not banned from air travel anymore.”

Am I? I wondered as I tucked the curl back again, stretching to look over and around the milling people until I found Trent returning from the coffee counter with three coffees and two cups of juice. The cardboard tray and primary-colored kids’ cups would have looked odd against his business suit and tie any other place, but here, at the Hollows International Airport, it all seemed to work.

My breath caught as he jerked to a halt, eyes going from the sloshing coffee to the tall, blond, beautiful living vampire who had cut him off. Oblivious, the man ghosted past with an eerie quickness, clearly late for his gate. Trent’s gaze rose to find mine, a slight lift of his chin telling me he’d be right back. Lucy was shouting to hear her voice come back from the high ceiling, and Ellasbeth was becoming increasingly tight-lipped and frustrated.

I slouched, smile threatening as Trent distracted the girls into better behavior. Lucy downed her juice immediately, but her quieter, more reserved sister ignored the cup, focused on the three dogs trotting through the terminal before their abundantly tattooed and therefore clearly Were owners. They were the size of small ponies, and probably ran with the pack.

Ellasbeth looked frazzled in her professional, cream-colored suit, her thousand-dollar purse at her feet. My jeans, dark green leather jacket, and low-heeled, butt-kicking boots were out of place beside her boardroom polish, but that wasn’t unusual. The six-hour flight and four-hour time shift were going to leave their mark. Fortunately, flying first class turned cranky little girls from annoying to adorable. That she’d dressed them alike in blue and white jumpers and matching hats stuck in my craw, but it would make keeping track of them easier.

If I was honest, I was glad I didn’t have any luggage tagged for Seattle in the pile beside them. I was sitting this one out, but I still kept my gaze on the passing people with more than a mild scrutiny as they moved around the small family like water about a stone, leaving no mark in memory or deed. Oh, Trent was still recognized every time he stuck his beautiful blond head outside of his estate’s gates, but lately, people were more inclined to whisper and snap furtive pictures than rush over to shake his hand and ask for a selfie.

A quiver of something spilled through me as Trent finished with the girls and came over, two cups of coffee in his grip. Smiling, I took the one he offered, shifting in the seat to make the row of chairs seem more private.

“They didn’t have skim,” he said, his expressive green eyes pinched in a charming, faint worry. “Two-percent okay?”

Nodding, I sipped it, appreciating the unusual richness. “Thanks. Yes.” It was almost time. I could tell Trent was anxious as he glanced at his watch and settled in to wait. His familiar sigh went right to my core, and the touch of his knee against mine made me reconsider. But no. I had too much to do, and me leaving to tag along like so much baggage was not a good idea.

I’d miss him, but even if there was no trouble brewing in the Hollows, I wouldn’t willingly spend seven days with Ellasbeth’s family, pretending everything was peachy keen while Trent sparred with the elven mucky-mucks, demanding they recognize his Sa’han status.

Warm and nutty, the coffee slipped down my throat as I watched Ellasbeth over my cup. Her lips fell into a thin line when she noticed my knee touching Trent’s, but her smile became real as she cajoled Ray into trying her juice. Still, that tiny line in her forehead never went away.

“I’m going to miss you and the girls,” I said, and Trent took my hand, giving it a squeeze as he settled it on my leg.

“I’d love to have you with me for the week, but Quen knows their security and you have your playdate with Dali tomorrow.”

Playdate? That was hardly the word, and I frowned, not looking forward to accompanying the self-proclaimed leader of the demons to meet and possibly mentor one of the surviving Rosewood babies. Dali wanted to teach him. For free. After three months of putting Dali off, I’d finally agreed to introduce him to the kid’s understandably reluctant parents. “I could be on the moon and Dali would pick me up and drop me off for that,” I said, and Trent chuckled, his grip on my hand becoming more sure.

“I think,” he said, leaning to whisper in my ear, “that what you are doing is admirable. This will help all your kin find their place in the world again. Give them something to be proud of after having put themselves above the law for so long.”

A quiver of worry spiked through me. “And when Dali screws it up and Keric’s parents come to me with a legitimate complaint, will you help me pound him for said law?”

Trent’s smile widened. “He won’t. He needs this. They all do. It’s a connection to society, a reason to exist.”

“More like a second chance to get the demon’s rebirth going with innocent minds rather than with a witch who doesn’t listen to them. Though I’ll admit I’m glad I’m not the only female demon anymore,” I said, and Trent hid a chuckle behind a sip of coffee. “Dali is going to screw it up,” I predicted. “Sooner or later, he’s going to manipulate Keric’s morals, or teach the kid something his parents specifically said not to, or just outright lie to them.”

Trent chuckled. “If you change your mind, I bought an extra seat to insulate everyone from the girls. They do sell toothbrushes in Seattle.”

I winced. Six hours on a plane? “Me being there won’t help your case.”

Trent’s good humor vanished. “It would if they weren’t such—”

“Careful . . .” I warned, a tiny smile threatening. “You never know who’s listening.”

“Tradition-entrenched, frightened old farts blind to reality,” he finished.

Loving him, I leaned to flatten his floating hair as he scowled at the way things were. The tingle of magic pricked my fingertips, and he made a visible effort to calm himself. “No, thanks,” I said as the girls ran to the big plate-glass windows, excited as a jet pulled into the terminal. “I’m surprised they even let me through TSA to see you off at the gate. Trying to get on the plane is another story.”