The Demons of Wall Street by Laurence Raphael Brothers – Chapter 1, part 1

Fair warning, there is adult language in this except. The Demons of Wall Street is book one in our new paranormal romance series, Nora Simeon Investigations. Here’s your chance to read Chapter 1!

CHAPTER 1

I was working the action of my compact Ruger, pretending to shoot people I knew, when my phone rang. The ringtone was the opening to Night on Bald Mountain so I could tell who it was without looking at the screen. Also, the phone answered itself and switched to speaker. It wasn’t programmed to do that.

“Mother,” I said, “what is it?” I imagined her face floating in front of me, aimed, and pulled the trigger.

“Nora, dear, would it hurt to be polite?”

“To you? Yes.” I keep hoping if I was offensive enough maybe she’d just leave me alone, but it never worked.

“I just wanted to let you know, dear, you have some work coming your way.”

“I thought we had an understanding. I don’t need your money, especially not for some stupid make-work job.”

“Nora, please, this is not my idea. And it’s not makework at all. This is the Commission’s assignment. I just thought it would be nice to let you know about it in advance. I expect you’ll have a case before the day is over. Your first in quite some time, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Yeah, well. Thanks, I guess.”

“Don’t mention it, dear. And good luck. I think you’ll need it.”

She hung up. Talk about politeness. But she was a big one for last words. I felt a point of heat in my chest; it was Spark, responding to my irritation. So I walked over to the little clay pot by the window where it hangs out while I’m at the office and sprinkled some more crushed incense to show I wasn’t angry at it. Not that I thought Spark really understood that kind of thing, but I liked to pretend it did anyway. And it settled down, too; the spike of fiery heat became a pleasant emanation of warmth before fading away completely.

It wasn’t half an hour before someone knocked on my office door. I couldn’t be sure it was a Commission agent. I do get drop-in clients from time to time, and sometimes people who aren’t clients at all. I slotted a magazine into the Ruger and put the gun back in its clamp under my desk. You never knew. Then I hit the button to unlock the door. It made a thwocking noise loud enough for the person on the other side to hear.

The man who entered paused uncertainly. He was looking around at a tiny, bare space just big enough to wedge in an assistant or a secretary and their desk. If I had an assistant or a secretary, anyway.

“In here,” I said, and he stepped through the doorway into my inner office. It wasn’t much bigger than the outer one, a mere cubbyhole, but at least it had a window looking down on 35th Street. For what that was worth.

“Ms. Simeon?”

I figured he was a Commission agent; he looked like one, anyway, in his conservative gray suit with its thin red pinstripe. They liked to think they project an aura of authority, inherited from their bosses, but really, it was more like smug self-satisfaction at being in on the big dark secret behind all the finance of midtown and Wall Street.

“Yup.”

The man pulled a device from a pocket that looked like one of the pistol-grip bar-code readers they use on checkout lines. He pointed it at me, which made me antsy to begin with, then pulled the trigger, almost blinding me with a laser glare. I came this close to blowing him away because I had the Ruger in my hand under the desk. And then a moment later, when I realized what he was doing, I almost had Spark set his hair on fire. But I managed to restrain myself for the sake of the hundred grand a year they pay me as a permanent retainer. That was pretty much my entire income.

“The fuck? A little warning first, asshole!”

“Sorry,” he said, not sounding apologetic at all. “ID. Retina scan.”

“Yeah? What about you? How do I know who you are?”

He produced a thick envelope from his jacket pocket and put it down on my desk. Heavy parchment bound with a gold ribbon and a double wax seal. “This should be enough. Good afternoon, Ms. Simeon.”

He turned and left before I could say anything more. I hated these guys, but not only did they pay my rent, there wasn’t much I could do about cutting ties. When you’re let in on the secret, they keep track of you. You’re either with them or against them, and against them tends not to work out that well. And oh yeah, my mom? She was more than just with them. On their board of directors. Fuck my life.

To be continued in Part 2… or you can pick up this book today in ebook or paperback form from our online store!

Laurence Raphael Brothers is a writer and a technologist. He has published over 25 short stories in such magazines as Nature, the New Haven Review, PodCastle, and Galaxy’s Edge. His WWI-era historical fantasy novel Twilight Patrol was just released by Alban Lake. 

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