First Chapter: Betting on the Devil

So, here it is! My first chapter for Betting on the Devil. It’s a little later than I said it would be, but shit happens.

This is the first chapter in the first book of a paranormal romance series. I haven’t fully decided what to name the series just yet. The main couple of the book will be Lucifer and Sophia. I want the series to explore their relationships. I might have some novella/novels featuring some of the other couples of the series, but they will be spin-off and not necessarily part of the series itself.

Just a small disclaimer before getting into it. This has not been edited whatsoever. No grammar checks, nothing. I haven’t had time to go back and check it all, and I’m afraid if I do that, I’ll start working moving onto the next chapter and on and on and just never end up finishing the book. So, you guys are getting a completely untouched first chapter, and I’m hoping it’s not riddled with mistakes.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy!

1.

There was a demon sitting on her left and an asshole on her right. The demon was the better company. His mouth stayed shut and he didn’t glare at her every thirty seconds from some perceived aggression. Not that Sophia could blame the asshole. He was only there to protect his boss’ investment, the $10,000 dollars she was currently gambling away.

Sophia Thatcher, Blackjack extraordinaire, was currently losing, and badly. Thus far, $3,000 had gone to the dealer and another thousand to the demon. It was making the asshole nervous because she wasn’t the one that was going to go down if she lost all the money. He was. Shan Chu Chao Li wasn’t going to punish his favorite piece of property just for a measly $10,000. The local Triad leader would hurt his underling for failing to stop her, though. The lowly 49 might even be killed if Sophia said the right thing. A very tempting thought, if she didn’t say so herself.

One more glare sent her over the edge. “Why don’t you go get me a drink or something.” He looked as if he were about to argue and she cut him off. “You’re sucking up all of my luck.” That got him moving. Sophia rolled her olive green eyes at his back. Good riddance, she thought as he stood at the bar, trying to get the bartender’s attention, who was doing a good job of ignoring him.

That distraction out of the way, Sophia turned her attention back to the table. The dealer had just laid out their second card. The Jack laid there for the world to see, staring up at her. She inwardly smiled. Her facedown card was a queen, giving her a nice twenty points. A winning hand so as long as the dealer didn’t get to twenty-one, which, given her luck that night, could be possible.

There was a way for her to check, to be sure she had the winning hand, but even that wasn’t reliable. Sophia had the ability to see in the future, something that was not as useful as it sounded. While she could see in the future, anything she did even slightly different- move her right hand instead of her left, winking instead of blinking, etc.- would change what she originally saw. So, it wasn’t good for winning the lottery, but it was good for playing cards. Specifically Blackjack. The shorter the game, the less likely the outcome would change. It was how she had won so much money, and how she had gotten on the Triad’s watch list.

When they came to collect her father’s debt, he had no qualm selling her off to them; he hated her and made no effort in hiding it. And that was how she ended up where she was. Going from casino to casino in the great city of San Valentin with a different 49, the Triad equivalent of a foot soldier, at her side, and an obscene amount of money in her pocket. Well, the 49’s pocket. The Shan Chu, Triad leader, would never trust her with the money even though she couldn’t run off with it. They would easily find her. Or maybe he liked the idea of having someone with her at all times. He seemed to like to remind her she was his, and this might be another one of them.

The dealer’s eyes met hers and she indicated she wanted to stay. The demon, however, took the hit. He cursed, throwing his cards toward the center of the table. Bust. Sophia allowed her lips to curve into a smile. Just her and the dealer now. The only way he was going to beat her was if he got twenty-one, and his faceup card was a 3 so it wasn’t going to be an easy feat. Three cards later and he busted. That was when the 49 came back with, setting the drink in front of her.

“I won while you were gone, so you should just make yourself scarce.” She gave him a shooing gesture. The man, probably older than she was, glared at her before heading back to the bar.

“You don’t seem to like him,” commented the demon. His voice was as smooth as melted dark chocolate, and his eyes the same color. His coarse hair was cut short to his head and there was some stubble on his black chin. The charcoal gray suit he wore complimented his dark skin. And beneath the attractive facade was the look of a demon. Blood-red eyes and ashened skin that appeared to be flaking off. It was worse around the mouth, the teeth and bone exposed all the way up to the cheeks. If Sophia hadn’t been used to the sight, she might have screamed.

A very unlady-like snort came out of Sophia as she sipped on her drink. She didn’t know what it was, but it was good. At least, the 49 had decent taste in drinks. “What gave you that idea?”

“Just a hunch.” His smile was nothing less than charming. The dealer started to deal the cards and his attention fell to the game. “He doesn’t like you either.”

She took another sip of her drink. “He doesn’t have to like me. Just make sure I don’t walk off with his boss’ money.” Her tongue seemed to have gotten loose around the demon. She couldn’t blame it on the drink. There was something telling her to spill everything. That he or someone near him could be a way out for her.

Chao Li was never going to let her go, she knew that. He had told her that as soon as she had worked her father’s debt off. There was just too much possibility with her. Too much money to be made. And he seemed to like the look of her as well- dark ringlet hair, round olive green eyes, full lips, and pale olive skin tone. There had been more than one touch that bordered on sexual harassment. There wasn’t much she could do about it. Just hope he didn’t go too far and she had to hit him. Her chances of survival went down if that happened.

Sophia set her drink down on the table, playing with the condensation on the side. “What’s the sudden interest in me?” The forty-five minutes they had sat there, the demon hadn’t said a word to her, until the 49 left.

“Maybe it was getting awkward with the silence.” The dealer was dealing out the face-up cards, but Sophia didn’t need to look to know that she had won. She was going to get twenty-one this time around. Her gift told her that. So, she went all in, hoping that the dealer didn’t magically pull a win out of his ass.

“No. You want something from me. You’re just beating around the bush. What do you want?” Maybe if she asked directly, he would answer her directly. Though, did she really want to know why a demon had interest in her?

The demon smiled at her, spreading the flaking skin around his mouth, making her cringe. She tried her best to keep her poker face on that one, but it was just too much for her to handle. “My boss has an interest in you, and wanted me to see if you were worth it.”

She sat back in her chair, staring out in the distance, still playing with the condensation on her glass. “What would the Devil want with me?” That was supposed to stay in her head, but the words had formed on her lips before she could stop them.

The dealer paused for the briefest of moments before starting to deal to himself until he bust. It was just a second, but Sophia noticed. And that was the first time she actually paid attention to the dealer. He had short dark hair, light blue eyes, and pale skin. A fairly attractive man with a strong jaw and what could be a decent body under the clothes. But there was that tell-tale ashen gray skin, just starting to flake off. Another demon.

The demon had her chin in his hand and dragged her toward his face, before you could say “shit”. “You can see what we are.” By the way he said it, it wasn’t a question, but Sophia nodded anyways, unable to form words. “That is interesting. I can see why my boss is interested in you.”

Before Sophia could say anything back, a hand grabbed the demon’s wrist. Shifting her eyes, they landed on the 49. He’s a brave one, she thought. Not that he knows this is a demon. “Please,” the 49 started politely, a light Chinese accent showing through, and his grip tightening, “release Ms. Thatcher.” Well, color me surprised. She hadn’t even known the 49 knew he name. Hadn’t known any of them but Chao Li and his officers knew her name. And he used it. Most of them just called her woman or female. That 49 might not be an asshole after all. Maybe when this night was over, she would ask for his name.

The demon grinned, releasing Sophia. “I do apologize. She’s just such a striking woman I couldn’t help myself.”

49 had a mixture of disdain and disbelief on his face, but didn’t say anything to the demon. Instead, he turned to Sophia. “Are you alright?” he asked, concern lacing his words.

Sophia couldn’t help but smile up at him. “I’m fine. Thank you. I did win a bunch on money.” She indicated to the pile of chips in front of her. “You should go cash those. I would like to finish my drink here while you do that.” He didn’t seem to like that, but did as he was told, casting one last mistrusting glance at the demon.

A silence fell between the trio, as if the dealer had spoken before. The two demons stared at Sophia as she tried to gather her thoughts. She needed to know if her feeling was correct. If the demon could lead her to a life free of the Triad. Or if it was going to be another life under someone else’s rule. She decided to go with her gut. It had never steered her wrong before. “I would like to meet your boss.”

“You must be either desperate or insane.” There was a smile on his face, enjoying that this conversation was going his way.

“Or brave,” the dealer said. The demon turned to him, the expression on his face saying he hadn’t thought of that.

“Why don’t we just go with all three.” Sophia downed the rest of her drink. “I’m awfully curious about his interest in me.” More than curious. Hungry. She hungered for the answer and wouldn’t take it from anyone other than the Devil himself.

Maybe stupid was the right answer.

The demon stood and fixed his suit. “I’ll let my boss know you’re interested. If he feels the same, we’ll find you.” His eyes shifted to the other demon and with a gesture of his head, the dealer followed as they left the room. Much to her surprise, the bartender followed. The Devil must be really interested in her for them to come up with this elaborate of a plan just to speak with her.

And it all hinged on her getting her escort to get her a drink. Very risky. It panned out for them. The demon spoke with her, and she showed interest in meeting their boss.

The Devil. She might actually meet the Devil in the flesh. Hell, no pun intended, she might even shake his hand. The thought would scare most, but not Sophia. Oh no. She was excited. So excited her heart was pounding in her chest, and she could feel the flush in her cheeks.

No. It wasn’t excitement. This was something else. Something she couldn’t place her finger on, but it had to do with the pair of eyes Sophia could feel on her. They roamed her skin, making her hair stand on end, a pleasured shiver going down her spine.

Before she could turn to look, the 49 reappeared. “Are you ready to leave?”There was a black leather bag in his hand, carrying all the cash that she had just won.

Sophia stood, offering the man a smile. “Yes, thank you. What’s your name?” If she knew his name, she could request that he be the one sent with her to all of her gambling excursions. She would have someone that showed her some inkling of respect.

“Eddie.” That was not what she expected, and it didn’t seem like he was going to give her a last name.

“Well, Eddie, let’s go see your Shan Chu.” The last person she wanted to see. She would rather go swimming with sharks with papercuts all over her body than be in the same room with that man.

As they started to leave, Sophia took the opportunity to glance over her shoulder. Her eyes were drawn to the man leaning against the archway. He was tall, blonde, with blue eyes that peered into her soul. He was wearing an expensive looking black suit that was tailored to his fit form. His hair was long and tied back into a braid, showing off his high cheekbones and pale skin. And beneath that form was another. A beautiful and twisted being that made Sophia want to cry out at the beauty or from sheer terror. She settled for a whimper.

Sophia wanted to go to him. Wanted him to take her in his arms, where she should be, but was glued to the spot. She couldn’t bring herself to move knowing there was someone that would stop her, and she would rather not cause a scene.

“Ms. Thatcher,” Eddie called, annoyance tinting his words. “Are you ready?”

She turned away from the man. “Yes.” When she turned back, the man was gone, taking her desire with him. “Sorry, thought I saw someone I knew.” A smile curved at the corner of her lips as she followed her escort out of the casino. She had just seen the Devil, and couldn’t wait to meet him on a more personal level.

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