Below is the first chapter of the Dog and Spider Private Investigation series. The entire series (5 books so far) is available at:

amazon dot com /gp/bookseries/B01MZZGJTJ/

Chapter One:

"In My Head", Jason DeRulo

The R-9A fighter slipped through with so little room to spare that its thruster trail could have scorched the gates that snapped shut behind it. The pilot breathed a sigh of relief even as his feat drove renewed confidence for the battle ahead. A line of fighters, holding to a formation as if controlled by some unseen though… not very bright... intelligence, came into his view. The pilot's nostrils flared and his pupils dilated lightly. This was unexplored territory. No man had gotten this far before, and the fighter type headed his way was nothing he'd have trouble dealing with. With the press of a button he changed out his weapons and then… darkness.

Nick Sakamoto sighed and set down the joystick attached to his Commodore 64 as all the lights flickered out, leaving him with only the dim sunlight filtering through his curtains and the filth in the air to guide him. He popped up off his couch, not even bothering to put a shirt on as he walked to the window of his loft unit above the garage. He pulled open the… rather pointless lock on his window, and yelled down, "What the hell, Cynthia?"

The greasemonkey shifted a blonde forelock out of her view with a little head motion and looked up. The smoking pile of machinery in front of her gave a sudden spark which she moved away from without flinching.

She favored her tenant with a grin. "Hey, stud! Gun show!"

Nick rolled his eyes, "No bouncing pecs and bulging biceps for you, you screwed my game up!"

Cynthia pouted in an exaggerated manner, and then headed to the fuse box. Staring at it a few moments, she mumbled something about pennies and defeating circuit breakers, then looked up, "Gonna have to replace the box, Nick. Be an hour or so."

Nick snorted, "Worst. Landlord. Ever. I'm going to the bar."

Cynthia slammed the fusebox shut, "Bring me back some beer or pay your rent on time!"

Nick rolled his eyes, "Canadians," and closed the window, re-locking it out of long habit. Heading over to his closet, his tail flapped lightly as he picked up shirt after shirt, seeking one fashionable enough to remotely allow him to function in polite society. Unable to find that, he settled instead for one that would work at the Lusty Succubus. Having found a shirt that was unlikely to repel people at a range of greater than five feet, he slapped his leather trench coat on; latching his pistol belt on to where it would mostly be hidden by said jacket, and popped out the door, heading back down to where Cynthia was.

"You got my car working?" he asked.

The blonde mechanic pointed at him with her first two fingers, "You know it. Just needed a valve job. Pay me!".

Nick grinned lopsidedly, "First you want rent money and now you actually expect me to pay you for work you do on my car? Fascist."

Cynthia stepped over and posed like a pinup model on the hood of his black 1969 GTO Judge. "You know I'm worth every penny!"

Nick pulled open the driver's side door, "C'mon, I wanna go get drunk. You in or you out?"

Cynthia slid off and shook her head, "No time. Start her up, let's hear that growl!"

Nick took a moment to run his hands over the wheel and gearshift, smiling. "Every P.I. has to have a bitchin' car."

Cynthia leaned into the driver's side window, "Yup. My sister took the classes, but got kicked the fuck out when she brought her riced out Civic in on graduation day."

Nick smirked, and drove away…

Satine Reigns, the chaste succubus owner of the Lusty Succubus… thought randomly of what a stupid way that would be to introduce herself, as she poured a draft ale off for the pointy dog eared man that was coming through the door, "Heya, Nick. How's tricks?"

He slid into his usual stool and grinned a lopsided grin, "Not as high paying as yours, Satine."

Satine rolled her eyes, "Ladies are all either perfect angels or complete whores, huh, Bogart?"

He took a healthy swig from his mug, and chuckled, "Aww, for shame. Here and I just found a shiny nickel in an old pair of pants and said to myself 'Self, let's go see Satine! She will-'"

Nick was cut off mid-sentence as a bar towel snapped within an inch of his nose; the general yuck splattering his cheek. Nick stared at Satine, expression blank, and licked his face clean. Satine's nose wrinkled, "You're disgusting!"

Nick sighed, content, and scanned the bar for familiar faces, or possible leads on paying clients. A lot of the regulars were here; off duty police and their opposite number most prevalent. The Lusty Succubus was well known as a place where opposites mingled freely; the just and the cruel, the noble and the base, the haughty and the slutty. Well, that wasn't entirely true. Nick had never seen any nobility in here, at least not of the traditionally titled variety; but there was certainly enough variety to keep one's mind and eyes occupied. As his one good eye drifted to the corner; one the varieties that most occupied his mind showed herself to be in one of the unlit booths.

The woman was low over her bourbon, similarly scanning the bar. Her obsidian tresses thrown over one shoulder and half on the table caught Nick's eye as so many times before. His eye then trailed to the empty glasses on the table… she was well into her seventh drink of the night. He blinked once, then looked back, hoping to catch a glimpse at her green eyes, when Satine's voice broke him out of his distraction, "What the hell is it with you, Nick? Every couple of nights I see you in here, mooning over that trainwreck."

Nick looked back to the red-skinned bartender, her own black hair and green eyes nothing to be sneezed at, before grinning wryly, "What? She's hot."

Satine pursed her lips, "And WAY below your league, Nick."

Nick finished his beer and tapped the bar for another, "Is that so? I don't see you taking a crack at me."

Satine took his mug away and slid it under the tap; "I don't see you taking a crack at her, either. It's not like she's hard to get at."

Nick looked at the patron in the far booth, "Yeah, but… you know. I look at her and see… someone... I dunno. I just want something more with her. She's… you know?"

Satine made sure the beer was mostly head and slid it back under his nose and mocked his voice, "'I just want something more with her'. Christ, you are such a pussy."

Nick shrugged, "I go over there, I get some action, and then what?"

Satine looked over at the lady. Jessica Dombrowski had been a regular in her bar for maybe eight years now, nine? Preceding Nick, that was certain. Preceding Satine herself at this bar, all told. When Satine first met her, she had been a fresh faced recruit to the Chicago PD, came up from West Rogers Park, herself a child of the family that held influence there. Figuratively and literally, as her mother, Marion Dombrowski, ruled over the gambling and prostitution trades in the area. Jessica sought to become something more, to stand against her own mother for the good of the people in her neighborhood. That lasted all of four years. She was one of the rare good cops… not always morally pure, but she got done what needed to be done.

Then came the Skinstealers up from Lake Shore Drive. Not much of a threat to think of in the face of Zipperheads and the Virus, much less plain old fashioned organized Orc crime, so they went mostly below the radar. One night Jessica stopped coming to the Lusty Succubus and that was probably the same night the Skinstealers took her away. At least, that was how Jessica told it.

Two years down the road, the Skinstealers had damn near taken over the entire Chicago political machine, and it seemed the wayward princess was the architect of it all. Expertly uniting the law abiding as much as she could their opposite numbers, Jessica had replaced half the court and the Mayor himself. Were it not for the keen eye of the mayor's own brother, the duplicate he had been replaced with would never have been noticed. Once he was outed, the full blue fury of the Chicago PD descended upon the corruption and rooted it out.

Jessica claimed she was another victim of the Skinstealers, but she was still busted down to foot patrol and only intermittently bothered to show up for work. The department was never sure if she had also been replaced or was just plain a traitor. The media sure went with the latter choice. Unwilling to join the Dombrowski, she had in the time since gradually dropped into a darker and darker place. While Satine had seen several times Jessica would rise to fight for justice as if she were a blue knight still, there was no shortage of self abasement and even destruction in that woman. Satine looked over at the private investigator.

"Really... Nick? Maybe you should just fuck her and get it out of your system." she said.

Nick swished his beer and looked into it. "Just doesn't feel right, Satine."

As he looked up, he noted a pair of pretty elven boys seating themselves without invite into the raven-haired beauty's booth. When the light hit her hair just right he felt like he could see a little ethereal green. Sure, her green shirt was unwashed, but who was he to talk? And her legs in those jeans….

Satine's voice broke him out of his fog, "You don't go home with her, someone else will, dumbass."

Nick tapped the bar for another refill, "Like every other night. What difference does it make?" Satine dunked Nick's mug into the dishwater and left it there.

"Hey, Dogboy? Real life isn't a romantic comedy, where you are all pure and noble and one day the girl realizes what you are, then you two go have a happily ever after. You want a piece of that, you go and GET a piece of that."

Nick opened his mouth to speak, and Satine smacked him on the back of the head, "No. No more drinks until you go over there and buy her one. You don't, those daisy eaters will, and there's a good chance they'll have her sweating between them tonight, while you're at home nursing dumbass film noir stereotypes and loneliness punctuated with eggnog drinks."

Nick looked over at her, again, seeing Jessica's-

Satine clapped her black-nailed hands down in front of him, and then pointed at the booth, "You fancy yourself a tough old timey gumshoe? Then man up and get the dame. So what if you're alone tomorrow? You'll have this night to remember and you'll stop wondering what it would be like." Nick followed her gesture, and blinked.

"Besides, I fucking hate elves", Satine grumbled, "Seriously. Do mean things to them and you won't have to 'buy' the trainwreck drinks."

Nick opened his mouth again, and Satine pointed firmly. He held his hand out, and Satine obliged with a shot of rum for courage. Nick took the shot, and then sauntered over to the booth.

Jessica was speaking as Nick approached, "You guys wear socks with sandals. I have standards."

One of the elves leaned into her, "That is not what I hear. I hear you are a lonely lady, and my friend and I have the cure for that."

Jessica stared at the elf a moment, then shrugged, "I haven't had an elf in a while, so what the hell. I'm not taking both of you home."

The elves looked at one another, "We will pay extra."

Nick paused his approach and winced. "Bad move, euro-trash," he said loud enough for them to hear.

Both elves turned to look at him, and the heretofore silent one spoke, "Are you saying you will-"

But the elf did not get out another word. Jessica nailed him with a hook so well practiced that the green eyed cop didn't even have to get up from her sitting position. A slight crunch was heard upon impact, and he fell to the ground so fast Nick could actually HEAR his skull thud onto the floor. The first elf looked at the second, jaw open a bit, and Nick grinned at him,

"What, you thought I was gonna play big man hero? I've seen her lay out half a dozen guys just this month for implying she's a prostitute," he said, feeling the irony of the fact that he had minutes ago gotten away with calling Satine a whore.

Jessica looked him over, "Then what did you come over here for? Got tired of staring at me from across the room and decided to obsess over me up close?"

Nick grinned lopsidedly, "Figured I'd come over and ask if you wanted to-"

Jessica stood up, "You're cute. Was wondering when you'd come say hi." She placed her hand over his mouth as soon as he opened it, "Don't… stammer at me like a nerd asking out the prom queen. You're going to kill this. You can drive me home now."

And she stood to leave, not looking back to see if he was following. Stepping over the flattened elf, he threw a few dollars on the bar. Satine chuckled, "Hope your insurance covers GonnoherpesyphilAIDS!" Nick showed her his middle finger, and followed the black haired woman out.

When Nick headed out, there was a rain beginning; light drizzle now; but the sky was darkening fast. While the last of summer had not been chased away by the autumn to come, there was a definite bite to the wind. If the sky cracked open as it threatened to there would be problems… despite his only furry parts being tail and second set of pointed ears, "wet dog smell" was a very real threat. He looked around for Jessica, and was somewhat surprised to find her standing at the passenger door of his car already, her classic 80's styled denim jacket zipped against the oncoming night. He cracked his lopsided grin as he approached, "You knew which car was mine?"

Jessica's teeth were chattering already… Nick attributed that to her alcohol abuse. It was not THAT cold, but even as beautiful as he found her; he had to admit she was a bit pale and unhealthy looking. His left dog ear flickered a bit as he observed that the woman was trying to think fast. There were certain mannerisms that people exhibited when you surprised them. No matter how level headed a person is, only the most sociopathic liars could hide such flickers from Nick's intuition and well trained eye. He was shaken out of detective mode when she spoke.

Jessica put her hands on her hips and mirrored his grin. "Look at you. Black trench coat, a custom made Indiana Jones hat with room for you to poke those freaky extra ears through, eyepatch with war scars here and there and a thousand yard stare… for pete's sake you have a toothpick in the corner of your mouth."

Nick… blinked and spat the toothpick out, cheeks reddening a bit.

"Except for the gunslinger position of that pistol, you're so many Private Eye stereotypes rolled up that you're one shot of bourbon away from asking me to check some punk's elbows while telling me I have 'top flight getaway sticks, for a bull'. All I had to do was step out here and look for the car that lets the world know you were compensating for something." Nick was deflated for a moment… then quirked an eyebrow quizzically at the Lamborghini two spots over. Jessica gave him what could be mistaken for a warm smile, "Oh please, your trenchcoat isn't THAT expensive. C'mon, my mouth runs away sometimes. You gonna open the door or let me freeze out here?"

Nick walked to the passenger side, and unlocked the door for her, and offered his hand. She blinked at it a moment, then sat down and looked at his hand, then up at him questioningly.

Nick shrugged, "Eh. Mother taught me to offer a lady my hand to help her in. Gentleman... stuff."

Jessica shook her head, "I'm not a lady, and, man, if you're gentle with me we're not going to have a round two."

Nick walked over to his side, and was pleasantly surprised to find Jessica had leaned across the seat to unlock his door, and not just at the view of her ample breasts this afforded him. He slid in, ran his hands up the wheel a moment, and then brought the car to life. Her growl was a reassuring sound to his ears, and he pulled out of the lot smoothly, resisting the urge to peel out. Instead he brought the car through a speedy but well-heeled acceleration, operating the car with as little wasted energy as possible.

"Where do you wanna go?" he asked

Jessica didn't look away from the road, "My place is four blocks up ahead and hang a left."

Nick nodded lightly, "Good to know, but do you wanna watch a movie or grab something to eat first?"

Jessica closed her eyes, "You don't have to do that. You're gonna get laid."

Nick downshifted as they approached a red traffic light, "Don't have to do what?"

Jessica unbuckled her seatbelt abruptly and snaked her hand down under the waistband of his pants, "Try to make it a date or whatever. You ain't gotta…" Her hand quickly found his manhood and she closed her palm around the sensitive part just under the tip, causing Nick to twitch and a little blood to flow to the area immediately.

"You get to fuck me no matter what. You're hot, I'm horny, this is a thing and this is happening." Jessica began to make little milking motions, teasing Nick to life as she leaned in to kiss his neck. The light turned green.

Nick inhaled sharply, and gritted his teeth a moment, "No matter what?"

Jessica reached for his belt buckle, intending to undo it to free him, "Yeah, Prettyboy, no matter what."

Nick touched her hand, "Then I'm taking advantage of that. You said I get it no matter what, well, I wanna do something WITH you before I do things TO you."

The car behind them let out an angry staccato of beeps. Jessica let go of him and was back on her side of the car as fast as she came over the first time. The heat of her body as well as the moment itself lingered on, and he had to take a moment to collect his thoughts. A long beep startled him out of it, and Nick finally accelerated. Jessica laughed a bit, "Okay, then. Get on Archer and get us to Chinatown. We can probably catch the last part of Keeper of Darkness at Liberty if you haul it."

Nick looked over at Jessica as she tucked some of her voluminous hair behind her ear and settled back into the seat. She glanced over and met his eye a moment, then said, "Eyes on the road, Romeo."