PLEATHER

Prologue

"You understand that this is my third mission this week, right?"

I leaned forward, raising a pencil thin white brow at my boss. "I know times are tough, Dom, but I'm not a slave. I need rest, or I'm going to slip up. It's not a question of 'if' anymore, it's a question of 'when.'"

"I know that," Dom answered impatiently, tapping his black ballpoint pen against his dispiritingly expensive desk. "But I don't have any other options. No other agents with your unique…qualifications…are available, and this has to be done now."

I crossed my legs, my pointed, white ears flattening against the curved sides of my skull. "Can't you ask Ami? You and I both know she's good. She's trustworthy too. Dominic, I'm getting sick, I can feel it."

He pushed forward a thick stack of papers, held tightly together by a long, thin paperclip. I fingered through them gently, and he gave me a soft but stern smile. "You don't have a choice, Luc. Ami's on leave after last week's round trip to Cuba. She's got it worse than you do kiddo."

I'd forgotten about that. He continued, "Venom's got an agent set up to swipe the original seventeenth century gold plated statue of the King. It's highly valuable, and something one of our sponsors has been after for a while. We've got to grab it, or we lose their donation."

I flipped through what he'd handed me, and sighed. "When do I leave?"

Dom lit a cigarette, lazily blowing a ring of smoke before he made any move to reply. "It leaves at eight. I suggest you grab a suitcase and get a move on. There's a car waiting outside. You can start with that."

I pursed my lips and strode from the room without as much as a 'goodbye.' The sleek, silver car was running outside, a driver flipping through radio stations as he sat there. I silently cursed Dominic and slipped into the passenger seat, still holding a page of the file, one I'd swiped less than a minute ago.

Just as well. I needed a plan, and I needed it fast. It was time to disarm and disable one major pain in my ass. It just so happened that now my personal demon had a name.

Watch out, Ryder Loccino, that King is mine.

And when you play games with this cat, you get the claws.