Excerpt for Contractual Obligations: Part 1 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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“Contractual Obligations” is copyright Zoe Miller, all rights reserved.

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A tremor of anticipation runs between Arsa’s shoulder blades. The summoning is nigh she just knows it. Nailed fingers scrape through her thick, short purple hair, dragging it away from the stubs of the nascent horns above her forehead. She runs her tongue out, moistening her pale lips, shakes her head and shifts her hips, applies a bit of heft to her sporty breasts, and puts on her best game face. This is it. This is what she’s waited for. She’s finally going to do it.

The call pulls her across the void, her first appearance in the human plane announced by an acrid burst of purple smoke and a peal of thunder. Told to expect something the candle-lit den of someone’s slumber party or maybe a ring of stones in some wooded copse, Arsa is surprised to find herself in what looks like… a corner office?

No matter! Though the dim fluorescent lights sting her eyes, Arsa does not hesitate. Setting her feet against the floor, she exclaims, “Rue the day of this ritual, human, for—”

Before she can finish, a manicured hand wraps around her cheeks. Firm fingers drag her face to face with a tall woman with dark brown skin and dyed blond hair shaved into short, tight Mohawk of curls.

Expecting easier prey for her first summoning, Arsa instead finds herself face to face with this statuesque woman in a power suit—tightly cut jacket almost bursting against the swell of her breasts, densely constructed white button-down left partially open to show just the right hint of cleavage, and constrictive pencil skirt providing a natural visual taper down to her thick legs ending in expensive, unwieldy high heels. The woman turns Arsa’s head from side to side and purses her violet-painted lips. “A Skint.” Her baritone voice is clear and exact, dense and deliberate. “Horns haven’t come in, so you’re still young—a hundred, maybe?” She reaches for something; metal glints in the dim light of the stuffy office. “Hold still.”

Arsa struggles her lips against the inadvertent goldfish pout her captor’s fingernails have squeezed them into. “Now just wait a minute—ow!” The sudden pain has Arsa flailing her arms on instinct. Breaking free, she retreats a defensive step, holding her hand against her neck to staunch the blood from her newfound cut. “What the shit!”

The woman lifts a scrap of parchment from the mahogany desk beside her and wraps it around the box cutter she holds. As she draws it across the blade the ragged, age-yellowed skin quickly blots to maroon as it absorbs the peculiar color of Arsa’s blood. Grace’s eyes flit towards Arsa’s crotch. “I thought Skint’s tails were on their backsides.”

Arsa’s tapered tail flicks quizzically in the air behind her. She lifts her arms and tilts her hips, cocking a searching gaze back at her rump. “What?” She asks. “It’s right where it’s always been…”

Suddenly self-conscious, Arsa sweeps both hands in front of her small, flaccid cock.

The woman’s lips quirk into a curious smile. “A bit small for proper use, isn’t it?”

Arsa’s eyes light in the dark room, her felid pupils soaring with amethyst energy. “Listen, lady—”

Grace Gallant,” the woman corrects, extending a lithe, powerful hand. “Esquire. I’m a lawyer.”

Whatever!” Still using her hands to mask her crotch—it’s not her fault the growth fairy apparently decided to skip her—Arsa hunches her shoulders and spools up the power deep within herself, beginning the internal invocation that will burn Grace Gallant, Esquire to a rotten smear on the carpet. Can’t steal a charcoal briquette’s soul, but oh well. Skints are a proud sort of demon; even the young ones don’t suffer these sorts of slights lightly. “Doctor, lawyer, fucking veterinarian, I don’t care!”

“Ah, ah, ah.” Without a hint of concern for her imminent demise, Grace Gallant (Esquire) lifts a single, long finger and tsk-tsks it in front of Arsa’s face before pointing to a corner of the room. “I wouldn’t if I were you.”

Taken off guard, Arsa blinks. Craning her neck this way, she observes the cylindrical masses, glowing the cerulean blue of larval energy, set into each corner of the room at about head height, between the gaps in the bookshelves that line two walls, and the equally impressive floor-to-ceiling windows with their perfect view of the twinkling cityscape at midnight.

“Do you know what those are?” Grace asks.

The all-encompassing hellfire flickers uncertainly in Arsa’s eyes. Chipping her toenail ruefully against the caked goat’s blood of the summoning circle, Arsa answers like she’s just had had her nose rubbed in something. “Thronic Dispersers....”

The tall woman’s subtly confident smile grows. “Then we’re on the same page.”

“Sure,” Arsa says. “If ‘the same page’ is ‘your head will explode if you try any of that funny demon bullshit in this sanctified room.’ So fine, you got me. What do you want?” She squints against the pain of her wounded neck. “And what’s with the blood?”

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(Pages 1-3 show above.)