Dead Man's Deal The Asylum Tales - By Jocelynn Drake


WRITING BOOKS IS about dreaming big dreams while your eyes are wide open. It’s about playing God and battling demons. With this book, I want to thank my husband for giving me the time and space to wage my wars and dream my dreams with Gage. He’s brought me food, rubbed my shoulders, and listened when I needed to babble.

I also wish to thank my wonderful readers. You’ve followed me from a fiery vampire to a tattoo artist with attitude and a wand. Your outpouring of support and enthusiasm carries me through the rough days when Gage doesn’t want to talk.

As always, a big thanks to my amazing editor, Diana Gill. I write stories because it’s my thing. Diana is the reason I tell a damn good story. She guides and pushes me, and with a little luck and hard work, I learn to be a better storyteller. Thanks to my agent, Jennifer Schober. She’s my coach, my friend, and my defender.



I glared at the brown brick house with its neat little lawn and trimmed hedges. I wanted to storm inside and set the pixies free before I took a baseball bat to the head of whoever was running that slaughterhouse. Instead, I slouched in the passenger seat of Bronx’s Jeep, thinking of all the ways I would love to kill Reave, but I was no closer to getting out of the car.

I couldn’t set the pixies free and I couldn’t beat anyone’s head in. I was there to set protective wards on the house, not burn it down.

Bronx shifted in the driver’s seat, watching the house as well. “You know we can’t sit here all night.”

“They’re killing pixies,” I said, glancing over at the troll. “They’re making fix—killing not only pixies, but anyone who is stupid enough to take the drug. I can’t put a protective ward on that house. I’d rather hand myself over to the Ivory Towers.”

“Reave isn’t going to let you out of your deal just because you have moral objections to his business pursuits.”

“Fucking bastard.”

Months ago, Reave discovered that I was a former warlock. Well, just a warlock-in-training, but the information was enough to get me killed. To keep him from selling me to the highest bidder, I had to work for him. And because I was an idiot, Bronx was stuck working for the dark elf Mafia boss as well. I needed to extract both myself and the troll from this mess, but I didn’t have a clue as to how. So for now, here I was protecting drug manufacturers and helping them kill creatures for their livers.

Sitting up, I unbuckled my seat belt. “I warned Reave that I wasn’t going to kill anyone for him. Protecting these assholes would make me an accessory to murder.”

“Then we go back to Reave and we tell him that we’re not going to do it,” Bronx said as he reached for the key still sitting in the ignition.

“No,” I snapped. I wasn’t angry at the troll. I was angry at Reave and maybe even angry at myself. If it was just me, I’d tell Reave to shove his little task up his ass. But Bronx was in this mess too, and if I told Reave to fuck off, Bronx would get hurt.

Unlocking the door, I pulled the handle and rolled out of my seat to the sidewalk. Bronx climbed out of the Jeep at the same time and walked around to stand beside me. The large troll with the spiky blond hair scratched the stubble on his chin as he stared at the house. “Let’s take a look,” he suggested. “You should know what you’re protecting. Things could go wrong, through no fault of your own, if you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”

An evil grin spread across my mouth as I shoved my hands into the pockets of my baggy jeans and strolled down the block toward the two-story house. Man, I loved his wicked sense of humor. We were going to see what kind of trouble I could cause while maintaining a somewhat believable alibi. It was unlikely that Reave was going to buy any excuse that we came up with, but it was worth a try. If I taught the Svartálfar anything, it was going to be that you never backed a warlock into a corner.

A woman with a blue handkerchief wrapped around her greasy brown hair jerked the door open after we stood pounding on it for a couple of minutes.