Run Wild: State of Grace Bonus Scene
© COLETTE RHODES 2021
POV: WILD. This bonus scene takes place before the State of Grace series begins, but is meant to be read between books 2 and 3.
I drummed my fingers on my desk, staring at an email in front of me from a local brewery, something about price increases and gas costs. Or was it increased supplier costs? I didn’t even know.
I was bored, and boredom was dangerous for a Keres. It made me want to hit things.
For eighteen months I’d worked myself to the bone, building myself a small empire here in this shitbox town I’d moved to. I’d taken all the money I’d made fighting in London and invested in property around Milton, and converted this abandoned warehouse into a downtown club and housing complex that attracted daimons and humans from all the surrounding areas.
There were still things I’d like to do—bars I’d purchased that needed a lot of work, and I wanted to buy another retreat property for Keres daimons closer to Milton—but nothing was sparking my interest lately.
I was about to abandon my futile attempt at clearing my inbox in favor of a workout when Onyx sauntered into my office with the absolute confidence of a second-in-command. I fought my natural urge to knock her down a few pegs and assert my dominance. That was the restless Keres in me talking, and I refused to be ruled by that side of me ever again.
Onyx was a friend, almost. She was an astute, vicious woman who’d earned the position of second within two months of me getting this place off the ground. She did the talking that I couldn’t.
I leaned back in my chair as she dropped into the seat on the other side of my desk. Whatever the news was, it was making her as close to jittery as Onyx got. Very few things excited her—we had that in common. Perhaps she’d acquired a new balisong.
“You won’t believe this,” she began with a disbelieving laugh. “But an agathos has moved here. As in here, Milton. A girl, woman, whatever, she’s pretty young. She purchased an apartment at 30 Quarry Street.”
An agathos woman moved here? Alone? Agathos women were never alone. Onyx must be missing information. I knew more about the agathos than the daimons here seemed to—London was a mix of both agathos and daimons, though never in the same neighborhoods, and I was surprised at the separation between the two when I moved here. I was also surprised by how misinformed the daimons in Milton were about their more angelic counterparts.
“I looked her up. Her name is Grace Bellamy. She’s one of the snooty Auburn agathos who runs that shelter on Union Ave,” Onyx continued. Grace. Pretty name. She couldn’t be that snooty if she’d moved to this dump, surely, I thought as I scanned my mind to see what I could recollect about the area she’d moved to. Quarry Street was predominantly human.
“Should we do something about her?” Onyx asked, eyes dropping expectantly to the blank notepad on the desk for me to write my response. “I mean, she’s probably a harmless little gnat, but she’s an encroaching harmless little gnat.”
I shook my head. I doubted some do-gooding little agathos was a threat to our operation, but even if she was, I’d prefer to assess that threat for myself. Onyx may be my second, but I didn’t enjoy delegating. If there was a dainty agathos princess playing house in my town, I’d look into it myself.
Onyx shrugged, a flash of disappointment crossing her face that she wouldn’t get to spill some blood today, probably.
“Need anything else while I’m here?” she asked with a sigh.
I tipped my chin at the screen before forwarding the emails I couldn’t be arsed dealing with and she gave me a nod of acknowledgment before letting herself out of my office.
It took a few minutes for me to find her. There were very few areas of Milton I had no eyes on—either by virtue of owning property and therefore the security cameras, or through arrangements with whoever did own them.
I liked to be prepared.
There was a camera on the building where the agathos woman—Grace—had moved into, looking out towards the street over the entrance. She parked her large SUV opposite the building, and I rolled my eyes at the typically agathos vehicle. Everything with them was always so big and over the top, ostentatious in the extreme.
I leaned in close to the screen as she climbed out of the driver’s side, curious to see who this plucky little thing was.
The weather was warm, and dainty sandaled feet were followed by toned brown legs, covered by a swishy pale skirt that fell to her knees. She smoothed it down modestly as she exited the vehicle, slamming the door behind her and pausing to lock it. Her blouse was tucked into her skirt, and long dark hair was pulled back into a smooth ponytail. Everything about her screamed… sweet.
But then she looked around, and her shoulders slumped ever so slightly. The serene look on her face slid away like a mask, revealing a more disillusioned expression than she probably wanted to show the world. Not all agathos sweetness and sunshine then, but when were they ever? The agathos I’d encountered weren’t good and kind. They just took more care to hide their claws than daimons did.
As I watched her, I realized my heart was pounding like I’d just gone twelve rounds with a well-trained Keres, and there was a physical yank in my gut like she could pull me through the fucking screen with her magnetism.
All she was doing was shrugging a purse over her shoulder and crossing the street, totally oblivious to the fact that I was salivating over her through the camera.
What was wrong with me? I didn’t act like this over anyone. I hadn’t even been with anyone since I’d been cursed four years ago. With the exception of one kiss when Asphodel first opened with someone who’d clearly regretted it, the only time I’d touched another person was when I was punching them.
Grace passed under the camera and out of my sight, and I gripped my wooden desk so hard, I was vaguely surprised it didn’t crack under my fingers.
I pulled up a map, immediately navigating to her street. I would buy every fucking building on Quarry if I had to. I pulled up a blank email, ready to instruct Onyx to do exactly that as well as pass on the message that the agathos woman was to be left alone by all daimons in my employ, not giving a shit what Onyx would make of the request.
Why was Grace alone here? Where was her harem of savage agathos men hiding beneath a veneer of civility? Why did she make me feel like this?
You know why.
I’d seen enough of the agathos in London to know how these things went. Agathos women had four lovers, chosen by the gods before they were even born, their souls intertwined. Maybe another daimon would struggle to believe that their soul was tied to an agathos, but I didn’t. I’d looked a god in the face. Fought with them. Been humbled beyond belief and cursed for my impertinence.
I knew better than most that nothing was impossible when it came to the divine. I was Grace’s, I knew it in my bones, but I’d be the worst kind of monster to claim her. Let her claim me. Whatever.
She was an angel, and nothing about this place was angelic. I’d be doing her a favor if I chased her away, set my crew on her until she ran all the way back to Auburn with her tail tucked between her legs.
But I couldn’t. I’d keep my curse far away where it couldn’t touch her, but I couldn’t bring myself to let her leave.
Angel, I’m keeping my eye on you.