Quick thinking and loyalty have taken human Sophie Lawson a long way in the UDA--along with a healthy dose of magic immunity. But when her old boss Pete Sampson asks for help after a mysterious two-year disappearance, she's determined to find out what high-placed demon has put two ruthless werewolf killers on his tail. Of course, sucking up to her icy vampire department head and negotiating a treacherous inter-office demon battle are the kind of workplace politics that could easily get a "breather" way worse than reprimanded. And sexy fallen angel Alex is doing whatever it takes to heat up Sophie's professional cool and raise feelings she's done her best to bury. Too bad their investigation is about to uncover the Agency's darkest secrets. . .and powerful entities happy to sign one inquisitive human's pink slip in blood. . .
Praise for Hannah Jayne's Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles"Jayne continues to delight with the third Underworld Detection Agency novel." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Under Suspicion
"Looking for urban fantasy with an offbeat and wacky sense of humor? Then Jayne has the series for you. It's great fun!" --RT Book Reviews on Under Attack
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UNDER THE GUNThe Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles
By HANNAH JAYNE
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2013 Hannah Schwartz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneYou might think that after a visit from my dead grandmother, a run-in with my dead sister, and a rent-controlled apartment shared with an undead vampire fashionista, a visit from the undead wouldn't be so unexpected.
But you'd be wrong.
Which was why I was frowning while he stood in my doorway looking remarkably comfortable, without the faintest glow of otherworldly aura or the oozing, fetid sores I had come to expect on those who returned from the dead.
He said my name and my hackles went up; I was all at once intrigued, delighted, and horrified.
I opened my mouth and then closed it again, willing the words that tumbled through my brain to form some coherent, cohesive thought, something great and all-encompassing enough to explain what I was feeling.
"I see dead people," I mumbled.
Without conscious thought, I snapped my arm back and slammed the door shut. I ran backward into my apartment, falling over the arm of the couch and landing with a thump on the pillows, ending in an inelegant heap on the carpet. My puppy, ChaCha, trotted over to me, sniffed, and walked away. It's happening, it's happening, it's happening....
I was shaking, the mantra rolling through my head as I curled in on my chest, rocking gently. I'd known it was only a matter of time before I developed some sort of mystical powers—red hair and an insatiable appetite for chocolate or anything in a take-out box couldn't be the only things I'd inherited from my mother and grandmother who both had been powerful mystics with the ability to tell the future.
"I'm getting my powers." I licked my lips, terror and joy bounding through me.
That was it.
This was my power.
"I see dead people."
I felt the words in my mouth, the exhilaration of finally belonging, and finally feeling a connection to my paranormal family and office mates chipping away at the terror that sat like an iceberg at the bottom of my gut.
The jiggling of the ancient hardware on my front door brought me crashing back to the reality of the doorknob turning in front of me. I stared at it as it moved horror-movie slow and my blood pounded in my ears. The person on the other side of the door knocked again. This time it was a quick warning rap, and when he pressed the door open, the air that I had gulped in a greedy, terrified frenzy whooshed out.
"What are you doing here?"
He grinned. "I thought you'd be happier to see me."
I rolled over onto my back and pushed myself up, my eyes still trained on the man—the apparition?—who stood in my foyer, smile wide, welcoming, and corporeal looking.
"Mr. Sampson?" His name was a breathy whisper that made my bottom lip quiver. "You need me to help you cross over," I said.
I took a tentative step toward the man whom I had known so well—who had been more like a trusted confidante than a boss to me for so many years, who had given me my start at the Underworld Detection Agency. The man whom I had watched being tortured until he finally disappeared, news of his death reaching me months later.
I reached out in front of me, fingers shaking and outstretched, willing myself to touch him, knowing that all I would feel would be a cold burst of nothingness of the displaced molecules that should have been a living, breathing human form.
I stuck my index finger in his right nostril, my thumb brushing his bottom lip.
"Sophie! What the hell?" he snapped.
My hand recoiled back in near-boogered terror. "Oh my God! Mr. Sampson! You're alive!"
My heart slammed against my rib cage and every fiber of my being seemed to expand with joy. I crushed myself against Pete Sampson, feeling his wonderful heart thudding against my chest, relishing the human feeling of his tender, warm skin against my own.
He shrugged me off—gently—and held me at arm's length. "You look wonderful."
"You're alive.... You're alive." I mumbled it dumbly again and again until my eyes could focus on the stiff reality under my fingers. I massaged Mr. Sampson's arms, feeling the ropey muscles flinch underneath his soft flannel shirt, my fingertips working down his forearms until I found his bare skin, his pulse point. I paused, counted.
"You're not dead at all. You're really, really alive."
A smile cut across Sampson's face—a smile that went up to his milk-chocolate eyes that crinkled at the corners and warmed me from tip to tail. I stiffened, shook his hands off, and slapped him across his chest, anger and betrayal walloping me.
"How are you alive? You're dead. You were dead! I mourned for you! And Alex," I huffed, a sob choking in my throat, "and Will." I sniffed. "And I'm the Vessel...." Tears flooded over my cheeks, dripped from my chin as I hiccupped and quaked. "Will's my Guardian."
Sympathy, with just the slightest tinge of amusement, flitted across Mr. Sampson's face as he took me by the wrist and offered me a stiffly starched hankie. I held it in my hand, my fingers working the burgundy stitching—the letters P and S embroidered elegantly against the white cloth.
"You look so different," I whispered.
The Mr. Sampson whom I had known was always freshly shaven and dressed impeccably in tailored suits that highlighted his powerful build. He kept his sandy brown hair close-cropped and slicked back. This man sported a three-day beard peppered with gray stubble and looked unkempt and disheveled in a wrinkled flannel shirt that was unbuttoned over a plain white T-shirt. His hair was beginning to thin, but still slightly shaggy. He wore a pair of jeans that were a combination of broken-in and over-worn, but as I held the handkerchief to my nose I smelled the faint scent of the Mr. Sampson I used to know—a scent that was spicy, familiar, with just the slightest hint of salt and pine.
Sampson pulled me to the couch and I sat down next to him, leaving just enough space to let him know that despite his heavenly return from death, all was not forgiven.
"What happened to you?" I managed to say.
It was then that I noticed the easy laugh lines that had sat like commas on either side of Sampson's mouth were hard etched now; it was only then that I noticed the latticework of worry lines between his eyes, the thick frown line that cut across his dark brow. A thin streak of gray sprouted at his hairline, peppering his too-long hair with a washed-out sheen.
"I'm sorry I never contacted you." Sampson shook his head and stared at his hands in his lap. "I wanted to; the last thing I wanted was to have you—you and everyone else at the UDA—worry about me. But if you knew I was alive, that's what would have happened. You would have worried."
He offered me what I assumed was supposed to be his appeasing smile, but it only served to stir up a hot seed of anger in my belly.
"You could have let us decide whether or not we worried about you," I spat. "I thought that the chief killed you. That's what Alex said—"
I stopped, the words going heavy and bitter in my mouth.
Alex was the fallen angel who had the annoying habit of popping into my life at inopportune moments (think bathtub) and the even more annoying habit of making my knees weak and my nether regions wanting, bathtub or no. He was fallen, but good; wickedly sexy, but moral.
And now I knew that he had spent the last year lying to me about one of the most important people—and the most intensely painful situations—in my life.
I felt my eyes narrow, and knew that I was holding my mouth in a hard snarl. "Did Alex know? Did he know this whole time?"
Sampson pushed himself off the couch, avoiding my gaze. "Sophie, Alex—"
I launched myself up then, too, hands on hips. "Alex knew this whole time, didn't he?"
"Not the whole time, Sophie. I had to hide. I had to make it look like I was dead or they would keep coming after me and no one at the Agency would be safe. I wasn't going to do that to the Underworld, Sophie. I needed to know when it would be safe to come back again. And the only way I could do that—the only way I could do that and still even have the slightest hope of coming back—was to have eyes out here."
"He helped me, Sophie."
I thought of Alex, of his ice-blue eyes and that cocky half smile, of the two-inch scars above each shoulder blade that had grown silvery with age after years of wandering the earth without his wings.
Alex may have been fallen, but he swore he was determined to do good, to one day be restored back to grace. He had been my protector, my lover, my friend.
And he had been lying to me.
"Does he know you're back now?" I wanted to know.
"No." The stern look in Sampson's eyes convinced me he was telling the truth. "And you can't tell him. You can't tell anyone I'm here. You can't tell anyone I'm alive."
I swallowed hard, the weight of knowing crushing against my chest, squeezing out the air. "No one?"
Sampson shook his head. "You have to promise me."
I felt myself nod, mute, while the wheels spun in my head. Finally, "If you don't want anyone to know you're alive, why'd you come back from—where were you?"
Sampson cocked his head. "Everywhere. Nowhere. After that night—"
An involuntary shudder wracked my body. The memory of being chained with Sampson in an underground basement while a madman sharpened the sword he was going to use to pierce my flesh was still as cold and as fresh in my mind as it was a year ago. Sampson slid a comforting arm across my shoulders and I slumped against him, my body relying on muscle memory because my brain was still calculating, figuring, trying to make sense of Pete Sampson, alive, in my living room.
"I was rescued—or so I thought—from that damn little kennel."
Sampson clapped a hand over his chin and rubbed where the salt-and-pepper stubble littered the firm set of his clenched jaw. He looked at me and I could see the smallest flitter of embarrassment cross his face; his shoulders seemed to sag under the weight, under the memory of being chained, being beaten—being treated like an animal by a man whom he had once considered a friend.
"There were people—they said they knew about the Underworld. I didn't have a choice. I got in the car and immediately passed out. I must have been drugged. Then I was crated, moved. I woke up in a shipping yard, somewhere. I knew it was woodsy, or forested, but that's all I knew. Nothing was familiar."
"They dropped you in the woods? In the middle of nowhere? That's awful!"
Sampson wagged his head, the hand that was stroking his chin now raking across his ragged curls and over eyes that were tired, heavy. "I was starving, naked, in the middle of nowhere, and by the time I fully came to, so did they."
I gulped, the sour state of my own saliva catching in my throat. "Who were they?"
"The werewolf hunters." He licked his lips. "Trackers. It's an ancient calling...."
I nodded. "I know what trackers are, Sampson."
I knew all too well. It had only been a couple of weeks since Will—Will, the man charged with keeping me and all my Vessel of Souls–filled self safe—had had a run-in with Xian and Feng Du, Werewolf Hunters. And although werewolf hunters sound incredibly elegant and Van Helsing-esque, you should know that werewolf hunters have come out of the silver-bullet-forging days of ancient, dusty castles and now taken up residence in more urban environments—like in the back of a retro delicatessen in San Francisco's Chinatown.
You should also know that werewolves are not the drooling, shirtless mongrels changing each time the moon becomes full that modern cinema would like us to believe. First of all, it's not just the moon that brings on the hairy changes in werewolves. If it was, I might have never gotten my first job at the Underworld Detection Agency under Pete Sampson. What edged out the other applicants—a fairly well-put-together zombie woman with melon-shaped boobs and a vampire so newly formed that his fangs were still short—was my ability to chain up a grown man in thirty-four seconds flat. That grown man was Pete Sampson.
I licked my lips, choosing my words carefully. "So why now? Why did you come back now?"
Sampson swallowed slowly, his eyes flicking quickly over mine, then working hard to avoid my questioning stare.
"Hey, who's this?" He patted ChaCha, who popped up on her popsicle-stick back legs and danced around like the ferocious three-pound ball of fur that she was. I snatched her from under his hand and held her to me.
"Why now?" I asked again.
"I couldn't run anymore." Sampson's lips were set in a hard, thin line. "I would have to spend my whole life running. The trackers weren't—aren't—going to back down."
"How do you know that?"
"They sent me a message."
He paused and I sucked in an anxious breath.
"There was a den—about six of us, werewolves that had been driven from our previous lives. We were living off the grid in a nothing town north of Anchorage. The townspeople were good to us, didn't ask questions, but"—he cocked his head—"they knew."
I put ChaCha down, hugged my elbows. "What happened?"
"A few of us went out, decided to check in with one of the satellite UDA offices. When we got back"—Sampson swallowed slowly, his Adam's apple bobbing with the effort—"the whole den had been slaughtered."
Sampson nodded. "They didn't stop there. The town had been ravaged, too."
I felt myself recoil, felt the ice water race through my veins. "They went after the townspeople? I thought the trackers were only after werewolves."
Sampson looked at me, his warm eyes full and wide. "It used to be that way. But this new breed of trackers ..." He looked away, breathing out a sigh that seemed to dwarf his shoulders, seemed to carry the weight of the years in it. "They're relentless. They attack werewolves ... and anyone who helps us."
I looked over my shoulder, the hair on my arms standing on end. Sampson reached out to touch my knee, then seemed to think better of it, his arm falling listlessly to his side. "I don't want to put you in any danger, Sophie. I'm only here to warn you. I couldn't stand it if I knew that this"—Sampson turned his hands palms up—"that I, was responsible for anything bad happening to you. I think I'm going to leave tonight. I just needed you to be aware."
"You can't keep running. You said so yourself. They're just going to keep coming after you."
Sampson shrugged. "It's nothing I'm not used to."
"No." I clamped my hand around Sampson's arm. "I want to help you." I paused. "I'm going to help you. Me and Alex—and Will, and Nina—"
Sampson's jaw clenched, fire blazing in his eyes. "I told you. No one can know I'm here. It's my fight."
"You said they were coming after the Underworld. It's our fight now, too."
"You don't understand, Sophie. It's bad out there." He gestured absently over his shoulder, toward the San Francisco Bay or the entire world, I couldn't be sure.
I sucked in a breath and forced a smile. "I'm okay with bad. I mean, how bad is bad? Werewolf hunters. Silver bullets, right? Heh, that's nothing. I was almost blown up. And I was kidnapped. Held hostage in a restroom. A public restroom." I raised my eyebrows in Beat that! style.
"After they attacked our den, they decapitated all the townspeople."
My stomach lurched and bile tickled the back of my throat. "That's nothing," I whispered hoarsely, my smile painted on.
"So it's settled. You'll stay here." I looked around my apartment, feeling suddenly hopeful. "Yeah. Yeah, you could stay here. They wouldn't come looking for you here, no one would."
"And what about Nina? You think she won't notice a big hairy wolf on her couch? Or smell me?"
"First of all, it's our couch. And you're right. Nina smells all my friends." I cringed. I wasn't sure what was worse: the need to hide someone I cared about deeply from someone else I cared about deeply, or the fact that I cared deeply about someone who had the tendency to smell all my visitors.
I snapped my fingers. "I've got it! I read on the Internet—work is slow, I've had some time to read—that drug dealers pack dryer sheets with their pot so dogs won't be able to smell it. We could do that."
Sampson's smile was staid. "Well that's ... offensive."
"I could make it work."
Suddenly Sampson's smile was gone.
His hands closed around my forearms, his eyes wide and dark. He shook his head. "No, Sophie. You can't tell anyone I'm here. And I don't want to put you out."
"No one. Please. Please tell me I can trust you to keep my secret."
I nodded, and the relief was visible on Sampson's face.
Excerpted from UNDER THE GUN by HANNAH JAYNE Copyright © 2013 by Hannah Schwartz . Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sophie Lawson is in for the shock of her life. Her boss, Pete Sampson, was presumed dead for the last 2 years suddenly reappears and needs her help. Mr. Sampson is a werewolf and there are werewolf hunters hot on his trail. Using her position at the Underworld Detection Agency, Sophie tries to uncover who is responsible for the contracted hit on Mr. Sampson. But suddenly werewolf type attacks start happening all over the city and as far as Sophie knows her ex-boss is the only werewolf in town. While trying to stay ahead of the werewolf hunters, Sophie with the help of Alex (sexy fallen angel) investigates these gruesome murders. But she about to discover that treachery is closer than she thought. I simply loved Sophie Lawson’s character. Ok, she is quirky, funny and faints often but she is basically human in a world of supernaturals. Sure, her father is Satan but her only special ability is magic immunity. Taking the world on with a bass knife because she “peed myself little” the last time she shot the gun – yeah, you got to love her. She is living with 2 vampires trapped in her apartment because the sun is out, and one is going through a home shopping club addiction...and the fun doesn't stop there. Hannah Jayne created the perfect recipe for a wonderful book. She had just the right amount of funny, action, witty banter, gruesome mystery, sexual innuendos and great characters making this a entertaining, enchanting and enjoyable read. This ARC copy of Under The Gun was given to me by Kensington Publishing Corp. in exchange for an honest review. Publish Date February 5, 2013.
I just love this series! This one was a little slower in the beginning, but it sped up and I really loved the ending! If you have read these books in order then you will love the ending. Someone you don't like is gotten rid of!!! Think Ding Dong the Witch is Dead(but not a witch)! No spoilers. And, someone you really like is back! I can not wait to read the next book!
Great addition to the series Magically immune Sophie Lawson is the only human working for the Underworld Detective Agency. Her official title is Head of the Fallen Angel Division, but that doesn’t really keep her very busy. Good thing because Sophie has been having an interesting time lately. And by interesting I mean she’s been investigating some serious crimes that seemed to involve demons. And by investigating, I mean she’s been running around half-cocked, throwing about wild theories that end up being wrong before she finally figures things out and generally getting herself injured multiple times in some way or another. This time Sophie’s former boss, werewolf Pete Sampson, shows up at her door. This is the Pete Sampson we thought was dead. Just as he shows up in town murders start happening. Murders that look like a wild animal attacked. Or was it a werewolf? Sophie needs to clear Sampson’s name and figure out who is murdering the humans, but she’s starting to wonder if it’s another werewolf or if it’s actually Sampson. I think I’m starting to actually like Sophie now. She’s not as annoying as she was in the first three books. In fact, she appears to have some kind of natural ability when it comes to wielding a sword. I want to see more of that! We meet Mort who is an interesting, if not deranged, character. I’d love to know his story. Still not liking Alex. If he’s going to be Sophie’s love interest then I’m never really going to love this series. Nina and Vlad’s dilemma cracked me up. All-in-all the series is getting better and I look forward to the next book Under a Spell due out August 6th. *Book source ~ Many thanks to Kensington for providing me with a review copy. Please see disclaimer page on my blog.
Under the Gun By Hannah Jayne Copyright February 2013 Publisher Kensington Urban Fantasy When you’re near the top of the Underworld Detection Agency, the claws really come out… Quick thinking and loyalty have taken human Sophie Lawson a long way in the UDA—along with a healthy dose of magic immunity. But when her old boss Pete Sampson asks for help after a mysterious two-year disappearance, she’s determined to find out what high-placed demon has put two ruthless werewolf killers on his tail. Of course, sucking up to her icy vampire department head and negotiating a treacherous inter-office demon battle are the kind of workplace politics that could easily get a “breather” way worse than reprimanded. And sexy fallen angel Alex is doing whatever it takes to heat up Sophie’s professional cool and raise feelings she’s done her best to bury. Too bad their investigation is about to uncover the Agency’s darkest secrets…and powerful entities happy to sign one inquisitive human’s pink slip in blood… What would you do if your former boss, who everyone thinks is dead shows up at your apartment? If you are Sophie Lawson you will be looking for a way to help him, and at the same time find out who is killing supernaturals . This is the fourth book in the Underworld Detection Agency series, and each adventure gets better and better. Sofie and her friends have to use all their wits and any and all luck they have to stay alive long enough to solve multiple problems. I love this series and have been following it from the first book. I hope you will pick up a copy, enjoy it as much as I do, and share it with your friends. FTC Full Disclosure: I received my ARC of this book from the publisher who only requested a fair and impartial review.