Darker Agency #1
Imprint: Entangled Teen
“So not your biggest fan at the moment,” I said, closing the office door behind me. The runoff from my jeans had soaked my sneakers pretty good. With each step, I gave a slight squishing noise accompanied by an annoying squeak against the old tile floor.From across the room, Mom stared. “What happened to you?”“It attacked me.” Tossing my bag on the couch, I sank into her chair and made sure to grind my butt into the cushion. Got it nice and wet. I was all about sharing the love—and right now, the love was soggy.She laughed, waving a folder in my direction. “Surely you’re overreacting. It was one little zombie. They don’t attack people.”“I’m serious, Ma. It tried to drown me. And the client assaulted me with ugly footwear. As far as punishments go, I’d say we’re probably square. I’ve learned my lesson.”“You’re serious?” Amused expression now replaced by concern, she crossed the room and leaned over her desk to get a better look at me.“As a coronary.” Once I was sure the chair had sponged up all it could, I stood and huffed past her. Pulling at my favorite T-shirt—the word Fate inside a blood red heart, is a four letter word on the back—I said, “Child welfare would not be happy to hear you tried to feed your only child to a walking corpse…”“But why would it attack? Did you provoke it?” Folding her arms, she frowned. “Insult it, perhaps?”I winked at her. “Provoke it? Sure. I went and wiggled my ass in front of it yelling lunch just to see what’d happen.” I’d called it Stinky, but that didn’t count as an insult. Something couldn’t be considered an insult if it was true, right?Right eyebrow twitching, she fought against a smile. “But you’re okay, right? No bites, broken bones, head injuries, possessions…?”I smiled and did a little twirl. “All in one piece and still me.”Mom had a checklist she went through at the end of each job. I was known for taking almost as much damage as I inflicted.“Oh, and you’re probably going to get a call from the client. I sorta smashed her fence in the process.”Mom groaned. “I told you to be more careful.”“It’s not like I tried to break anything.”“Something tells me you didn’t try hard enough not to break anything, either.”“In my defense, it wasn’t a simple trap and slap…”“We can’t afford this.” She reached down and pulled a white envelope out from under a stack of papers. “This is the bill for that Mercedes you smashed.”“Oh! So not my fault. How was I supposed to know that Spring Heel was gonna land on the car? If it makes you feel any better, I think he was aiming for my head…”“If you keep this up, we won’t even be able to afford the rent.”She was right, of course, and it made me feel horrible. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m a wrecking ball wrapped in blue jeans. Take my cut of this job and put it toward the repairs. Keep my paycheck for the next month, too.” A good start, but it didn’t feel like enough. Sure, it would cover the damages—I hoped—but I felt guilty about upsetting her. The bills that were piling up kept her awake at night. This was only going to make things worse. We got a fair amount of business, but the overhead in our line of work was sky high.As much as I hated the idea, I knew what would cheer her up. “I’ll even throw in pet possessions for the next month.”
JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. At the last minute, she realized her path lay with fiction, not food, and passed on the spot to pursue writing. Jus is the bestselling author the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing and is currently working on the first book in a new adult series due out summer 2013. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.