Ace’s rules for your survival
Rule #1: don’t get on my bad side. Which is all my sides so just…don’t be annoying
Rule #2: do what I tell you.
Rule #3: don’t touch my hair. Yes I know it’s fab but if you don’t wanna get your soul reaped, don’t do it.
Rule #4: don’t ask annoying questions. You might think it isn’t annoying but I guarantee you it is.
Frederick Young stared around at the interior of Flare and wondered for the third time how the hell he had gotten here? A jumbie club. He didn’t frequent these establishments. Not for work and definitely not for pleasure. He wasn’t one of the off the books undercover agents the League employed for such missions.
He was trained to work in the field like most of them were but he didn’t usually do this kind of work. He also wasn’t some junior hunter who was given the shitty missions as a learning tool or form of basic training. He’d been in this game too long but when the League’s director personally picked you for a mission you didn’t whine about it.
He wrinkled his nose as his gaze landed on a sharp toothed jumbie feeding off of a human. Amber eyes looked up at him as they creature continued to indulge. The human looking totally blissed out.
“Fucking hell,” he muttered looking away only to land on the amused smirk of his partner in this ill-advised endeavour.
Ace Grim, real name Solace Grim—or so they supposed, no one was entirely sure if that was her real name—also known as The Reaper, looked right at home in this hedonistic den of debauchery. Of course she would. This was her world that Frederick had stepped into.
“She’ll show you the time of your life if you want,” Ace crooned, darkly painted lips stretching into a wicked smile against her brown skin. Her eyes flashed in the dim lighting of the club as she sucked on her red lollipop. A reminder to Frederick that this oh so important mission included working with a jumbie.
Not his usual thing.
“Pass.” He didn’t fraternize with her kind.
“Buzzkill.” Ace looked around as if searching for the specific person they had come to meet. Dia Francis, another jumbie. “No one comes here unless they want to indulge.”
“This is work as you well know.”
Ace speared him a glance, head tilted as she dragged her glowing eyes up and down the length of his body, giving him a full view of the shaved side of her hair and the multiple piercing that ran up her ear. “God, they really saddled me with the most boring hunter of the bunch didn’t they? And for what? All these fucking years I been loyal to Midnight and this is how he does me? And whose dick did Ghost suck to get out of this anyways?” she muttered.
Frederick’s jaw clenched. “Look, I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me to, but you claim Dia is instrumental in helping us change the minds of your community about this ridiculous plan so…” he waved around at room. “what choice do we have?”
He didn’t do failure. If his director said they had to work with fucking Midnight to ensure this PR plan worked then he had to get it done. He didn’t get the point of any of this. Jumbies and hunters weren’t friendly. The supposed shaky truce had near imploded and now he had to do some collateral damage with The fucking Reaper? It didn’t make sense.
Their entire file on Ace practically screamed she was the worse candidate for something like this. She was reckless, dangerous. Didn’t know the meaning of rules. Why the director okay’d him working with one of Midnight’s goddamn shadows was so unfathomable, he even wondered if the director had some ulterior motive he hadn’t made Frederick privy too.
Ace tugged on the rings at the end of the black collar that encased her neck. “I at least have the choice not to be a whole wet blanket about this. I might sample some of the offerings after we speak to Dia.”
Frederick was definitely not sticking around for any soul sucking Ace would be doing. He didn’t think he could willingly turn a blind eye to her feeding off of humans. Even if they had given their consent, as most who entered into this space did. It wouldn’t sit right with him.
“Ace darling!” A woman with long dreadlocks called out as she sashayed over to them.
Frederick knew it was probably impolite as hell but he couldn’t stop his gaze from dropping to her feet. Both were clad in boots so he couldn’t tell which leg was the hoof.
“Fucking humans,” Ace muttered causing him to look away from the footwear into Ace’s narrowed eyed stare.
He glared back. He wasn’t going to feel bad about anything. Could she really blame him for being curious?
The woman cupped Ace’s face in her hands. “Hey, lovely,” she drawled.
Ace smiled and before Frederick could catch himself Dia Francis, who they had come here specifically to ask for help, leaned forward and kissed Ace. Really kissed her. Not just some simple peck in greeting. There was definitely tongue.
What the fuck?
He shouldn’t be surprised. He was in a whole jumbie club after all. All sorts of shit went down here but he couldn’t help the way his mouth dropped open.
Ace pulled away, tongue swiping over her bottom lip, grin so wide. “Well?”
“Cherry, obviously. Delicious.”
Frederick blinked as he realized Dia had kissed Ace in order to guess what flavour lollipop she was having. Seriously?
Dia looked over at him. “You brought a present for me? You shouldn’t have. This one looks like he tastes good.”
“She didn’t,” Frederick said, not about to be a part of some jumbie game and he sure as hell wasn’t allowing some La Diablesse to feed on him.
“Freddy’s no fun,” Ace helpfully supplied.
“My name is Frederick,” he gritted out.
Dia ignored him, hooking her arm with Ace’s. “You brought a hunter into Ren’s bar. You better have good reason.”
Frederick wasn’t too bothered that he’d been made. He knew he didn’t fit in here with the supernatural creatures and the humans who frolicked with them.
Ace sighed. “Didn’t you see that ridiculous PR blast? We’re the joint pet project. Seriously who even chose the name for that shit? Preserving the Peace of our Precious community? Gag. This entire business is way out of my usually playground. So we need your special charms. You’re a people person.”
Dia’s smile grew wicked. “Are you allowed to mix business with pleasure?” Her eyes swept his body, lingering on his crotch. Subtle this jumbie was not. The files didn’t lie. Dia Francis was known for her seductive ways.
“No,” Frederick answered before Ace could say anything to the contrary.
There would be none of that. Hunters getting intimate with jumbies wasn’t technically banned but definitely frowned upon. Those hunters who did slip up and get caught were spoken about in hushed tones, not advertised, dealt with accordingly. Didn’t advance up the ladder much but were kept doing a lot of grunt work.
Frederick was in no way inclined to allow himself to fall for any jumbie’s seduction plan. His job was way more important than some short-lived frolic.
“You’re right, he’s no fun.” Dia’s grin stretched eerily wide. “But those are the best ones to play with. They get on board soon enough.”
Frederick had enough of this. They’d come for a specific purpose. They didn’t have time to waste.
“I’m not here to play your twisted games. Ace said you could help. Is that true or not?”
“Why is it always the cute, square jawed ones who always play hard to get?” Dia sighed, lips shaping into a full on pout. “Look at all that pretty floppy hair I could grab on to. Just give in a little. I’ll make it worth your while.”
Dia’s voice took on a sinuous tone and Frederick blinked, found himself leaning towards her without meaning to. Shit. He shook himself. “Stop.” He gritted out.
Dia raised a brow, her grin grew even wider. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”
Fuck. He had no back up here. Was alone in this club. Hadn’t come in with a whole crew, to show goodwill or whatever the hell the director had convinced him was the reason. Now it just made him wonder if he was dispensable and would be replaced with some other eager fool before his lifeless body was even cold. If this La Diablesse and shadow wanted to say fuck this peace mission, he would be in some deep trouble.
Ace rolled her eyes and waved her hands. “Leave him be.”
The edges around her hands blurred and turned into wisps of black smoke for a split second before reforming. Frederick knew Ace could transform into the literal shadow she was called as one of Midnight’s elite soldiers. But reading that in a file and actually seeing it were two very different experiences.
The files on Ace were definitely incomplete. They had no information on just how old this jumbie was and why she was so loyal to Midnight but the shadow shifting, they were aware of that. There had been enough reports about seeing her and the other soldier, Ghost, slinking about in their shadowy forms before transforming back into the human-like skins. Clearly it wasn’t something they were keeping under wraps.
“If you keep your mouth shut and let the far superior people talk, I may take you on a little shadow jump.” Ace’s gave a noisy suck to her lollipop while waving her hand in his face, the smoky quality returning. “You seem curious. It would be fun to see what could happen to a human.” Ace tapped her chin. “Some jumbies puck. Wonder if your body would just fall apart completely?”
Frederick recoiled. He didn’t know what that smoke would do if it touched him and while he should use this as an opportunity to learn more about Ace’s ability he couldn’t help his knee jerk reaction.
Dia clapped, laughter ringing out. “While this is highly amusing we really should go chat. I need to get in the cage in an hour. Can’t disappoint those who come to see me shake ass.”
She pointed at the cage hanging above the dancefloor area. There was a lot to unpack there but Frederick said nothing. The faster they got this talk done the quicker he could get the fuck out of this place and return to his normal, jumbie-free home. The only space he was able to decompress after a long day at work.
He was lucky his senior hunter status afforded him an apartment off the compound.
Dia trailed a nail along his cheek before he realized what she intended. “Stay after. I saw you looking earlier and I know you want to see my hoof.” She gestured for them to follow her.
Ace shot him a look, her amusement replaced with disgust. “Amateur,” she said.
This place was throwing him off for real. He needed to shore up his defences. Not show how unsettled he was by everything. He had been chosen for a reason and he would not fail. If the director wanted him to be the face of this endeavour, with a loose cannon jumbie by his side then fine.
He would get that shit done.
Copyright © 2021 N.G. Peltier