On a warm June morning, shafts of sunlight pierced thick white clouds and glinted off the darkened windows of the Shifters, Incorporated building. The nondescript brick and glass building was tucked away in an industrial area of Playa Linda, where the security agency’s clients could expect a measure of privacy. The sign outside the building read “Harwell Industrial”, a vague name that revealed nothing about its true identity or purpose. Clients were accepted by referral only.
A golden shaft of sunlight pooled around the slim, purple-haired human woman who sat in a small parking lot to the left of the building, cross legged on the hood of a Lexus, illuminating her like a Botticelli angel.
The trick of the light was as deceptive as the bland building. Pixie Montana was no angel. She wasn’t exactly a devil, either; more like an energetic imp with a talent for stirring up trouble.
The roars of an enraged lion shifter, rolling out from the lobby of the building, were testament to that.
“So how long, exactly, have you had a death wish?” Hillary Mease asked Pixie anxiously. “I should have been told about this. And shouldn’t you be running for your life?”
“Nah, he’ll get over it. Don’t get your panties in a wad.” Pixie grinned insolently.
The roars of rage coming from inside the building were increasing in volume, but Pixie wasn’t worried. She’d been dealing with Dominick for the past year, or rather, deliberately provoking him for the last year, and he hadn’t killed her…yet.
Hillary just wasn’t used to the special brand of mayhem that was the Pixie/Dominick dynamic; she usually worked in human resources and missed out on all the action.
However, with Pixie’s best friend Bobbi about to leave for her honeymoon, Pixie’s boss had felt that someone should be assigned to hang out with Pixie. Apparently Pixie could be, according to Kenneth, a “handful.” And a “security risk”. And a “wild card”. And various other less flattering things he muttered under his breath when he thought she wasn’t listening.
She was also one of the best thieves and pickpockets in the world, and Kenneth seemed to be oddly fond of her in a protective-uncle kind of way, so he kept her on staff, but he didn’t want her running around unsupervised.
Hillary wasn’t the ideal choice for the job of Pixie’s babysitter. Hillary was a nervous, follow-the-rules kind of girl who called home to her mother every day and blanched at the idea of jaywalking. Pixie was a minor league criminal who’d been hustling and living on her own since she was twelve. It was a slow day when she didn’t commit at least a misdemeanor.
However, Shifters, Inc. was so successful that most of their employees were currently scattered around the world on assignments, and there weren’t a lot of alternatives, so Hillary had drawn the short straw and gotten stuck on Pixie-watch today.
That was fine with Pixie. Hillary was almost as much fun to torture as Dominick. Dominick was a temperamental lion shifter who seemed to descend into an angry funk the minute Pixie walked into a room, and who regularly flipped his switch every time Pixie lifted a wallet or otherwise openly flaunted the rules.
Take today, for instance. A skinny, stuck up hyena shifter bitch in tight jeans and a scoop neck halter had strolled into the lobby of Shifters, Inc., hand in hand with a lion shifter who looked a lot like Dominick. While the lion shifter had spoken to the receptionist, asking for Dominick, the skinny bitch had raked Pixie with a look of utter contempt.
Shortly thereafter, Pixie might or might not have removed several items from the stuck up bitch’s purse. In Pixie’s opinion, if nobody had seen her do it, it had never happened.