where I’d find some bedrooms, an office, study, and library. The master bedroom was at the back of the house, just above the pool. Good. I still remembered everything. Hopefully all that information would be in my brain later when I needed to run on instinct. Fancy blueprints on my phone or something might’ve been handy, but it’s been my experience that killing someone for money often led to running for my life, and there’s hardly an opportune time to pull out a map in those instances.
I came to a stop just as we reached the doors. Beyond them was a large, high-ceilinged ballroom, where about a hundred and fifty guests stood talking in small groups. The usher left me there, and before me was a thin, aging man with a proud stance and a somewhat forced smile. The man of the house—the man with a contract on his head. Mr. Baseball Mitt Face himself.
Just don’t call him that, Zar. “Mr. O’Connor,” I said in my most velvety voice and with an easy smile. “What a lovely home you have.”
“Thank you, Ms...?”
“Helene Walker.” The name came as easily as my own. I probably could have been a kick-ass film star if studios didn’t require me to work daylight hours and I didn’t get typecast as a vampire.
“Of course,” he said, though I saw a moment of confusion cloud his face. “So nice to have someone from your family grace us this evening.”
“So very kind of you to invite us.” Just don’t realize that you didn’t, in fact, invite me, old man.
He nodded, then looked to the next group of guests behind me. Dismissed so casually. Ugh. Guess that was better than him hitting on me, though.
I continued on into the room. This was so stupid. I could just snap his neck right there and be done with it. The need for a covert assassination seemed unnecessary to me, but Mishka had explained it would look better if a warlock of O’Connor’s status was killed in his home, as discreetly as possible, so I tolerated the minor inconvenience of small talk.
I scanned the room, committing to memory all the exits, the exact positions of the guards, and the powder rooms. After going through the layout in my mind again, I glanced over at the large, sleek steel clock on the far wall. Not even nine yet. I’d planned to wait until the guests left before I killed the O’Connors, which meant it was going to be a very long night.
I attempted to converse with several witches and promptly remembered why I hated trying to converse with most witches. They were talking spells and such, so I sipped my bright pink cocktail and listened intently. Or tried to. Even though for three years I’d had Mishka as a roommate, everything they said seemed foreign to me. I feigned amusement at a joke about some crazy spell mix-up, where the user had confused the Latin root for a particular ingredient, and ended up with a recipe for white dove quesadillas. Before they could request such a story from me, I excused myself and looked for the hors d’oeuvres.
My second target, Nathan O’Connor, was AWOL, it seemed. Originally, I had suggested to Mish that I seduce the son at the party, thereby giving me free access to him and his father later. It seemed like an easy plan to me, but she insisted it wouldn’t work. Apparently she wasn’t aware of some of my more womanly skills, but perhaps she was right—I ought to keep it simple.
The sound of the mortals made me want to run around the room slashing all their throats. Literally. I even plotted out what route would let me take out the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time. Their constant breathing and chatting and laughter...the noises swirled into one awful sound and drove into my brain like a drill. I gritted my teeth and tried to block the sounds out. A full half hour dragged by, and I started fantasizing about mass murder once again.
“Why, hello,” said a man behind me, and I turned to see the bright smile of someone I didn’t recognize. He had dirty blond hair