Steele and Skin

Excerpt

Mia Arceneaux stormed into the room and closed the door behind her as quietly as she could. This should have been a simple snatch and grab operation, they said. Find the password and deactivate the system, they said. They would take over from there, remotely overriding any default commands that the Steele Group’s IT had put in place. This was for her family’s honour, she was told. The Steele family had stolen something that belonged to the Arceneaux clan. It was time to take it back.

But they didn’t tell her Milo Steele breathed, ate, and slept the company.

She looked around the room. She wasn’t sure where she was supposed to go. It had all been hurried, unplanned after two of her sisters had tried and failed to wheedle their way into the company and do the very same thing she was now being asked to do. She flicked her night vision goggles back on and smiled. Mia couldn’t believe her luck. It was so easy. Either no one knew about the statuette, or Milo Steele was that cocky to believe no one would steal it.

The room was spartan as it reeked of luxury. The carpeted floor was a luxurious pelt underneath her boots. There was a single teak table with a slim line keyboard and a computer screen that was the same length as the table. Behind it was a glass wall showing a panoramic view of Seattle’s skyline at night. On the wall to her right was a set of dark sectional settees over a Persian rug. To her left was a marble wall and rack pin lights illuminating one square hole covered in thick glass.

Bingo.

Mia approached the wall slowly, unable to believe her luck. Her sisters had tried every trick in the book to entice and seduce Milo Steele, Billionaire CEO of the Steele Group without success. She had been the last option, the kind of choice that was reluctantly considered when all else failed.

Because Mia Arceneaux was not a follower. She marched to the beat of her own drum, and not the dictates of her witch family.

She stared at the artifact behind glass. The figurine was about six inches tall in the shape of a fertile goddess. There were no features on the face but Mia could imagine tiny eyes, a button nose and a line for a mouth. The breasts that seemed to have nursed countless babes looked heavy with milk. A rounded belly protruded underneath while the figurine’s arms were outstretched, as though offering a welcome embrace. More importantly, the statue was made of twenty four carat beaten gold. Gold that was supposed to have given an imp the gift of turning hay into the gold.

Mia worried her bottom lip as she examined the glass. She was sure that there was a slient alarm trigger somewhere in the grooves of the glass. It wouldn’t be surprising if hidden cameras were recording her movments, either. But those cameras would be recording air. Her heat signature wasn’t going to be picked up by the sensors since she cast a cloaking spell on herself. The problem? It would only last for twenty minutes before it wore off and the entire building would know there was an intruder in the room.

“I wonder if the gold’s the real reason…” Her voice trailed off. Hers was not to question why. Hers was not to do or die either. She just had to get the damned relic.

She took out the small vial from between her breasts. In the dim light, the milky substance swirled looking like the entrance to the ether. Slowly wiggling the stopper off, she waited. Soon the swirling substance rose from the vial as an airy sliver of mother of pearl. Mia closed her eyes, saying the incantation, and softly blew. The tendrils moved forward as dainty as a princess’ steps before landing on the glass partition. When Mia felt it was safe enough, she opened her eyes.

The glass was disintegrating. It’s clear appearance gradually blurred until it became opaque, slowly melting and returning to it’s original form. Sand. It cascaded down resembling a wall waterfall, pooling at Mia’s feet.

Her heart leapt at the triumphant expectation of succeeding where her sisters failed. Her hands inside her gloves became cold and clammy. This was the hard part. Her incantation may keep her hidden from an ordinary human’s eyes. Her concoction may melt glass to sand. But she had nothing to ward off the silent alarm that would be activated the minute the artifact even so much as moved from it’s display case.

Mia walked to the windows and and her stomach lurched when she looked down.

“I can do this,” she muttered. She came prepared, but rappelling down the side of a glass window of a fifty storey building was something she did as a last resort.

She inspected the contents of the vial and raised it in front of her. She repeated the incantation then blew the elixir on to the glass.

Sit speculum desolati.

Mia shivered as cold wind hit her face. The warmth of the building was so comfortable she didn’t want to go back outside and return to her small flat where heating came from a faulty and quirky radiator. She shook her head.

Focus, Mia.

She looked at her watch.

One minute.

She rushed to the statue and grabbed it from its nestling place, but the minute she did, she cried out and fell to her knees. Her hand loosened its grip on the object as she tried to cover her ears against the silent siren threatening to make her go deaf. She couldn’t fail now! She just had to get her sorry carcass off the building. She gritted her teeth, her eyes tight shut as her wince came out as a whimper. She crawled across the floor with the warm air at her back and the cold wind in her face. Finally reaching the edge of the window, she clawed at the exposed frame, hissing as some of the glass crystals dug into her palm. Gritting her teeth she screamed just as the door to opened and she hurtled down the fifty storey building.

With Rumpelstiltskin’s statue in her hand.

Coming in October 2020!

Pre-order here.

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