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Come over here and keep me company.” He crooked his finger to beckon her over and his already high creep factor rose five more notches. “Tell me more about Angela. She sounds interesting.”

Since when did angels read minds?”

You still don’t know who I am? I’m hurt.” He frowned like a spoiled brat.

Sorry,” she said with extra sarcasm.

No, you’re not. What you are is something of a conundrum.” He stared at her with a disturbing intensity.

Knock it off, weirdo.”

Apologies. It’s because I’ve never met someone quite like you before.”

A vampire? I find that hard to believe.”

He scoffed. “No, not that. The demon thing. It’s unique. Quite special.”

There’s nothing special about me.”

Mea culpa.” He bowed. Actually bowed! “I was curious and that happens so rarely these days. I am sorry to have caused you such distress. Let’s forget about it and meet anew.” He handed her a tumbler of Malort.

I’m still not drinking that swill.”

No? Hmm. Damn. Guess I was wrong about your demon side being dominant.” He appraised her like a priceless gem, then his eyes widened and he brought a perfectly manicured hand to his mouth. “Isn’t this something? I wasn’t expecting that at all. I mean a demon/vampire hybrid is unusual. A Shidarian? Well, you’re off the charts. We thought you went extinct eons ago.”

I’m not a dodo.” Kissera crossed her arms and glanced at the sky. The night was half over and she didn’t have another to waste. If Charouth wasn’t available, maybe Mr. Glow Stick would help. Godsdammit, she was desperate. “Maybe you could help me.”

He clapped his hands like a little kid about to get a treat. “Let me guess. You want me to undo the vampirism so you and Angela can grow old together. That’s not possible, but I bet I could get it down to a manageable state if you let me pick your brain.”

I didn’t come to Charouth about my vampirism.” Kissera had made her peace with that long ago. It was what it was. “It’s my companion. She’s missing.”

You’re sure she didn’t run away?”

Duh. Covered that already. Free range companions aren’t a thing, you know.”

Don’t get all bent out of shape. I had to ask. If you let me read your mind, we can skip the irrelevant.”

She side-eyed him. “I don’t even know your name. I’m sure as hell not gonna let you rummage around my brain.”

He offered a hand to shake. “Lucifer, the Lightbringer. Morningstar, if you’re nasty.” He winked again.

By the blood, she’d just met the devil, and he was an idiot. Ridiculous. Obnoxious. Kind of charming. Kissera sighed and shook his hand.

Just my luck to meet Satan on a terrace.”

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