Not everything I write finds its way into the final book. This is an outtake from FORGIVEN (Demon Trappers Book #3) and it happens right before Riley and Beck share a deep conversation and a cookie on Stewart’s porch the night before the final battle with Sartael. Beck has been tracking the people responsible for buying demons illegally and he’s about to close in with Chris Jackson’s help. FYI: Dodger is one of the two guys who stole Riley’s Grade Three in THE DEMON TRAPPER’S DAUGHTER during her solo trapping run in Demon Central.
It’d been a long day and though it was only eight in the evening, Beck was exhausted. He wanted to be in his bed, but instead he was waiting in a seedy parking lot south of town with Dodger, one of the losers they’d captured in Demon Central. Jail time had done some good for Dodger’s sense of survival: he’d been the first to cut the deal with the cops, leaving his buddy to swing in the wind.
“Will ya stop that?” Beck snarled, irritated at the man’s constant jittering.
Dodger paused for a second or two, then fired back up.
I gotta stop volunteerin’ for this kind of crap.
Once Dodger had made the call to whoever was buying the demons, they’d been sent to this parking lot in one of the rougher parts of Atlanta. Like most of lots in the city, this one had its supply of abandoned tires, discarded trash and gang graffiti. Someone had dumped a sofa near the tires and the way the cushions bulged said something nocturnal called it home.
“Tell me about this guy we’re meetin’,” Beck demanded. “What’s he like?”
“He’s okay. The other dude, he’s wicked.”
“What other dude?” This was the first Beck had heard there were two buyers involved in trafficking the demons. If he’d known that, he’d have brought more backup than just Jackson.
“The one in the suit,” Dodger replied. “He doesn’t come every time.”
“He gets into your head, like an ice pick in the brain.”
Dodger seemed offended that Beck wasn’t buying his story. “It’s not only me, man. You know how the demons always howl like crazy? If he’s around, they go real quiet. Even they knew he’s wicked.”
Maybe this junkie’s onto somethin’.
“Did ya hear all that Jackson?” he called out.
“Sure did,” came the muffled reply from the bed of Beck’s truck. “I hope this goes down soon. Tell me again why I’m the one hiding under this tarp of yours. It smells disgusting.”
“Next time bring yer own,” Beck replied, smirking.
A vehicle pulled into the lot and headed toward them, a white delivery truck with no markings. Beck shielded his eyes from the headlights.
“Heads up, we got company.”
“That’s the guy,” Dodger said, bouncing around even faster now.
As soon as the truck stopped, a man stepped out, though he left the motor running. After a cautious look around, he walked towards them. Clad in jeans, sweatshirt and a baseball cap pulled low, he had a pistol stuck in his waistband.
The newcomer halted about ten feet away. He kept staring at Beck.
Dodger jittered faster. “Hey, ah. . .we got a demon for you.” No reply. “Did you hear me, man?”
“I heard you,” the guy said. His hand was closer to the gun now. “Why is the trapper here?”
Beck jumped in before Dodger said something stupid that would get them killed. “He brought me because I’m damned tired of makin’ diddle on the demons I’m trappin’. Dodger,” he slapped a hand on the loser’s shoulder, “said he knew how to help me with that problem.”
“How do I know you’re on the level?”
“If ya don’t want the Four I’ve got in the back of my truck, I’ll take it to a trafficker,” Beck said.
He’d purposely chosen a Hypno-Fiend as his bait rather than a Three. A Grade Four demon was harder to trap and that made it more valuable.
“A Four? Show me the thing,” the buyer replied.
Beck didn’t like turning his back on an armed man, but he had no choice. He kept it cool and made sure Dodger stayed at his side. Once they were around the back of the truck, Beck popped down the rear gate. As the buyer watched Beck tug off the tarp, he found himself pitched forward, kissing the truck bed, the gun no longer his.
Jackson flung off the tarp and it was all over.
Beck hauled the guy up and gave him the full evil-eye stare. “We need the name of yer boss.”
The man shook his head. “No way I’m going to––”
He was bent double, clutching his gut a moment later. “You shouldn’t have done that,” the guy wheezed as Jackson hauled him back up.
“Put it on my long list of sins,” Beck said, his knuckles complaining. He retrieved his steel pipe from under the tarp and jabbed it at the guy’s chest. “Give us a name. That’s all we need.”
“You don’t know what he’ll do to me. He’s got connections.”
“With who?” Beck asked.
A shake of the head.
Tempting as it was to work this guy over, Beck knew this is what the masters got paid for. “Let’s load him up and take him to Stewart. I’m sure––” he began.
“Stewart?” the man said, trying to back away. That proved impossible with Jackson’s hold on him. “No way. I do not want to be anywhere near that lunatic.”
Beck and his companion traded looks over the man’s shoulder. Maybe they’d just gotten a break.
“How do you know Master Stewart?” Jackson asked.
“I used to be a trapper, about a decade back.”
“We had this gig going, we’d shake down businesses and if they didn’t pay, we throw a Pyro-Fiend in their place and burn it down.”
“I know this story,” Beck said. The Scotsman had told him the tale. “Some of ya tried to take down Master Harper, and National sent in Stewart to clean up the problem.”
“Yeah and the man’s batshit crazy!” the man retorted. “I saw him kill a guy with his bare hands.”
Beck’s respect for Stewart went up another notch. “Why?”
The trafficker was shaking now. “We started a fire in a drycleaners. We didn’t know there were kids in the back of the place and––”
“They died,” Beck said.
Jackson’s arm went into a chokehold. “You help us and you go to the cops when we’re done. If not, you go to the Scotsman. Then we’ll refresh his memory as to who you are and what you did. You understand?”
The buyer’s eyes were saucers now. When he nodded frantically, Jackson loosened his grip.
“Spill it,” Beck ordered.
“I buy the demons for a suit in the mayor’s office. He’s a real eerie bastard. Gives me the creeps. I swear he can get inside your head and make it bleed.”
Something clicked over in Beck’s brain. When he and Stewart had been hauled in front of the mayor to explain why the Tabernacle was a flaming wreck, His Honor’s assistant had spent most of the meeting whispering in Montgomery’s ear, like he was feeding him information.
Maybe he was tellin’ him what to say.
“Is this dude the mayor’s flunky?” Beck questioned.
“Might be. I don’t know.”
“When did this guy start buyin’ the demons?”
“A couple months back. He said money was no problem.”
“Any idea where he got it?” Jackson asked.
“Try again,” Beck said, poking the pipe into the man’s chest.”
“I really don’t know. He said something about the Holy Water and how it wasn’t what everyone thought it was. He seemed to think that it was really funny. Like I said, the guy is scary.”
“Holy Water.” Beck grinned. Jackson matched it.
“We might have a two-fer here,” the other trapper remarked.
“One can only hope.”
With a nod from Beck, Jackson hauled the buyer into the back of the truck, did some quick work with a rope and left him bound and gagged under the smelly tarp.
“Yer a cruel dude, Jackson,” Beck said.
“I try my best.”
As if to prove brains were an optional accessory he’d not bothered with, Dodger was still hanging around. He’d had plenty of time to take off when they’d been working over the buyer but instead he’d stayed put.
“There’s four demons in the back of that truck,” he said, pointing toward the vehicle. “All Threes. We could split that money, man.”
“And we will,” Beck said, “but yer not included in the deal. Get in my pickup.”
“Come on, I did what ya asked,” Dodger protested.
“The cops aren’t done with ya yet. Seems ya have a few charges hangin’ over yer head. Ya know, like demon traffickin’ without a license, assaulting a minor and––”
“Is this about that girl you were with? Come on, she was in Demon Central. That chick was just begging to get––.”
Beck’s fist met the loser’s chin a split-second later.
(c) FORGIVEN 2012 Jana Oliver