Excerpt for Contractual Obligations: Part 3: Strictly Business by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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

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The tennis ball thwocks against the ceiling of Arsa’s small room. Lying in her twin bed, over the covers, she catches and tosses it again, listening more to the complicated hum of traffic filtering through the open window from twenty stories below than she does the television sitting on top of her dresser.

She doesn’t understand why the hot wife remains with the fat husband. Her tolerance appears to be based on the husband being kind, but if Arsa had to define the man in one trait it wouldn’t be “good natured,” but “slovenly.” To Arsa’s sensitive, preternatural nose, there can be no greater crime.

It’s hot tonight. Even lying still, her bare body is dappled with moisture. Arsa swipes the back of her hand across her forehead, quickly clearing away some the sweat from her brow before catching the ball and throwing it upwards again.

Arsa’s thin tail wriggles helplessly, trying to escape the damp prison between the bed sheets and her body. She wriggles her hips, unleashing it, letting it loll limply over the edge of the bed. Being a demon, Arsa tolerates heat fairly well. However, the air conditioning that pervades the law firm’s infrastructure—save the dorms, seemingly—has yet to lose its novelty, especially as it concerns Grace’s domain, where Arsa’s boss tends to climate control with a dictatorial grip, maintaining the lavishly appointed office as sort of winter oasis from the ubiquitous summer heat.

As the television husband unearths some platitude about familial love, Arsa audibly groans. She bandies her ball against the ceiling again, aiming for the same spot as last time. A scuff worn away in the beige paint on the ceiling is testament to her growing accuracy.

Though she has limited need for human food, Arsa still enjoys eating it. One of the top-tier firms in the country, Harris, Harris, and Clay has a cafeteria rivals some gourmet restaurants—or so she’s been told. It certainly tastes good, but her attuned senses can tell immediately when food has begun to foul. Just the thought of the smell flops her stomach. So how can the woman on the TV tolerate her husband leaving piles of dirty dishes in the sink? Arsa’s whole body retches with the thought of all that filth. Disgusting. She’d never tolerate it, no matter how affable the man might be.

She flinches with surprise as the tennis ball impacts her forehead. Arsa darts upright to grab it, but the bounding fuzzball slips from her grasping fingers, dribbling across the tiled floor and beneath the plywood desk—“Ikea crap,” Grace had called it—next to her bed, just out of reach. On the TV, the benevolent wife reminds her disgusting husband she loves him just the way he is.

Arsa jabs a finger against the power button.

Flopping her head back against the pillow, she rivets her gaze to the alarm clock sitting on her desk. The harsh green LEDs blare “9:30” into the otherwise dark room. She’s not even close to tired yet.

Though it took them until deep into Friday evening, the simulation was a success; she was able to safely feed from Marie—the firm’s junior Demonology expert and Arsa’s training partner—without letting her demon instincts take hold and biting, or otherwise terrifying, her. Which meant Arsa would get her glamour, which would hide her small horns and tapered tail, which meant she’d be allowed to go out into the mundane world—supervised, of course—which meant she could go tag along with Marie and the others on their Friday pub crawl.

Only, as it turns out, the witch responsible for casting the illusory glamours works strictly 9-5. She’s hourly.


The lonely, companion-free weekend stretches out before her, most of the firm’s offices empty except for the new recruits wasting their youth. It wouldn’t be so bad if there were anyone else in the dorms to talk to, but what occupied rooms there are—it being a “lean period,” whatever that means—play host to wage demons, mindless servitors, basically, who do nothing but eat and compile countless hours of doc review. Arsa tried watching them work, once, but found it more boring than staring at the alarm clock, which flips over to 9:31 as she watches.

Arsa turns over to face the wall. They didn’t actually get to the… you know… fucking part of it, but Grace seemed satisfied with the results of the simulation. So was Arsa, in a sense—her success with Marie left her full, yet somehow hungry for more. Is it because they didn’t have sex? It’s not as if she felt any overwhelming need to “seal the deal,” and it’s not that she was disappointed, it’s just… well, Marie’s nice, isn’t she?

In fact, many of the employees at Harris, Harris, and Clay seem to go out of the way to be polite to her. Not used to such deference, the past week spent in the human world has quickly divested Arsa of her desire to return to her home; there’s no pizza on Thursday back across The Void.

Arsa’s fingers swipe away the light sheen of sweat from her neck then, absentmindedly, stroke downwards against the inner curves of her small breasts. Her palm brushes against one of her nipples, already pointed and stiff, as she shifts the position of the silver ouroboros bangle around her left arm, its amethyst eye waking with a dull glimmer.

An unknown stirring begins in her gut, not hunger. In The Void Skints can sleep for years at a time, especially after a meal. Here, she seems bound by many arbitrary human restrictions. The need to eat and drink—however limited—a sleep schedule not defined by long periods of hibernation. Quite the opposite; after her delicate claiming of Marie’s essence, Arsa feels galvanized, ready to wreak havoc, ready to...

Not that she likes Marie, not anything like that.

Her hand roams in idle circles against her thigh. From there it’s a small jump to the incipient hardness of her cock. Her body melts in the heat, but somehow that is comfortable. In a sense, it reminds her of home. Arsa exhales a soft breath into the warm air as her fingers curl around her slender erection, urging it to further hardness with a slow, loping stroke.

She sighs at the memory of Marie’s smell. She closes her eyes, picturing the woman’s long, dark brown hair, her deep, olive skin, her generous smile, and her modest breasts—the left one has a small mole framing its dark, brown nipple, awfully cute—that sag ever so slightly. The last bit seems a peculiarly human thing, to Arsa and her perennially perky bosom, but only makes it all the more intriguing.

She also likes the way Marie can be so conversational, talking about her life and family, her cat, the mother she still lives with. Arsa would never share the details of her lineage, not in a million years, not even at gunpoint—though she’s not sure if guns would actually hurt her, that’s just a saying she’s heard on the TV.

Her hips gradually begin to rock, partnering with the motion of her loosely clasped hand, guiding the mellow awakening of her body. Arsa can almost feel the press of Marie’s breasts against her back, the sating warmth of her human essence, and the smell of cut lemons that highlighted her arousal during the training sessions. Taking a curved finger into her mouth and biting down, Arsa stifles a moan as fresh goose bumps speckle across her alabaster skin. Her hand urges on in purposeful stroke. This is a amazing, it’s as if she can actually smell Marie, as if, as if—

The door bursts open, Arsa screeches, and Marie, in the flesh and clasping a bundle of clothes with both arms, blinks at the naked, lustful Skint from her post at the open doorway. Though Skints are hardly known for their modesty, the element of surprise sends Arsa scrambling to yank the thin bed sheet over her evident arousal.

“Shit,” Marie says, “Sorry, I— I-I should’ve knocked.”

“No it’s okay, don’t go!” Arsa flails her hands, deciding it more important to delay Marie’s leaving than to cover the rather pointed tent springing up in the bed sheet bundled around her waist. “You surprised me, that’s all.”

Already halfway into the hall, Marie hesitates for a moment. After tucking her long hair back behind one of her ears, she runs a hand down her teal blouse and gives an awkward laugh. “I didn’t think Skints...”

Arsa flexes her posture, letting her body roil a bit, lost between the excitement of company and the aggravation of her brief, but denied, self-pleasure—so stupid! Worst of all because Marie’s right: who ever heard of a masturbating Skint? She sighs.

“Can everyone just stop telling me Skints-do-this and Skints-do-that?”

Marie smiles. “Occupational hazard, sorry.”

“I thought you were going to the bar,” Arsa says.

“Well, I was—I mean I did.” Marie shifts her bundle in front of her, urging it towards Arsa. “Aren’t you going to ask what this is?”

As if it weren’t obvious. Arsa raises her eyebrows towards the collection of clothes and the tennis shoes held by two hooked fingers. “Grace said I didn’t have to wear clothes in the office.”

A conspiratorial grin spreads across Marie’s lips. “Not in the office, no—this is a jailbreak.”

“What?” The mere promise of the outside world sends a tingle through Arsa, making it that much more difficult to shake her head at Marie’s suggestion. “No, I can’t. Grace’ll get super pissed.”

“She’s your boss, Arsa, not your mom. She can’t lock you in your room.”

A warm wind swirls through the opened window and across the dry, sticky sweat on Arsa’s back. Pursing her lips from side to side, she finally asks, “…Do they have air conditioning?”

Twenty painful minutes later, Marie jabs the Lobby button on the elevator panel.

“Quit that,” she says.

For a brief second, Arsa stops smearing the backs of her hands against her eye sockets. “What?”

That,” Marie says. “It took forever to get those contacts in—” The most important part of the disguise, given Arsa’s cat-like pupils “—I’m not going to let you undo all my hard work in ten seconds.”

Arsa, chastised, instead presses her palms against her breasts through the baby-blue button down Marie wrangled her into. “This is unbearable. It doesn’t even fit.”

“Suck it up already.” Marie just laughs, retrieving a paisley-patterned scarf from her purse. “You think you’re the first woman to complain about bras?”

“Well why do you wear them then?” Arsa groans, plucking her arms against the bra straps, her hips sending her loose skirt shifting this way and that as she tries to adjust to her first experience in not just clothing, but underwear. “My dick hurts. Everything’s chafing.”

“Chafing builds character. Hold still already.” Marie jerks the scarf tight around Arsa’s hair, tying it in a loose knot behind her head. “There, done.”

Examining herself in the reflective sheen of the elevator’s brass walls, Arsa takes in her outfit. She assumes the colors match. She lifts her elbows and examines the way the shirt falls against her small breasts, down the line of the medium-length skirt, and to the tennis shoes, nearly a size too big for her small feet. “This looks stupid.”

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