Delivering Evil for Experts by Annette Marie

Chapter One

“This is zh’ūltis.”

I glared at Zylas. “Just be patient. All you have to do is stand still.”

Positioned in front of him, I held a piece of black fabric to his shoulders, the seams glinting with pins. Behind the demon, Amalia muttered under her breath as she pinned what would become the hood of the garment to the back collar.

“Zylas!” she exclaimed. “Stop hitting me with your tail. I can’t put pins in while you’re whacking me.”

His scowl deepened and his tail thudded to the floor, the barbed end twitching like an angry cat. Amalia rose on her tiptoes, checking the alignment of the hood piece, then nudged my fingers aside to add a few more pins.

“Okay. Gonna test it.” She carefully lifted the hood and settled it on top of Zylas’s head. “How’s it look? Right size?”

I took a few steps back to give the demon a proper assessment. His crimson eyes glowed from beneath the hood, sharp with impatience. The garment looked like a hooded vest, but once finished, it would be a jacket—or so Amalia claimed. I was having trouble picturing it.

“Looks good to me,” I said uncertainly.

She pulled the hood down to rest against his back. “I don’t like how the side seam is sitting. Lift up the bottom so I can take measurements.”

Zylas rumbled in the back of his throat, an exasperated half-growl that was more intimidating than it should’ve been.

Obediently, I slid the shirt’s hem up—and my knuckles brushed against his sides, teasing across smooth, warm skin. My cheeks heated as I held the fabric halfway up his torso. Amalia looped her measuring tape around his waist, checked the number, then lowered it to his hips and pulled it tight.

“You’re skinnier than I thought,” she muttered. “You look so beefy and muscular, but you’re a lightweight.”

“Ch,” was his unimpressed response.

I watched her adjust the measuring tape, ensuring it sat in the right spot just below the waistline of his dark, demonically fashionable shorts. My gaze drifted across his smooth, reddish-brown skin to his defined V line that disappeared beneath the fabric. I tried to jerk my eyes off him, but they snagged on his unfairly perfect abs.

“Move the fabric up more,” Amalia instructed. “I need to measure his chest again.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to take his measurements after you take this off him?” I asked, aiming to sound casual.

“Just do it.”

Puffing out a breath, I slid the fabric up until it bunched under his arms. Amalia cinched the tape measure around his pectorals.

“Hmm. Zylas, take a deep breath and flex your muscles.”

He grumbled—I picked up “mailēshta”—then inhaled, his chest expanding and muscles tightening. My blush intensified as Amalia calmly measured again. Did she even notice his physique? Were his flexing muscles and warm skin no different from a plastic mannequin to her?

“All right.” She tossed the measuring tape into her sewing bag. “I just need to take in the side seams.”

I lowered the fabric to its original position. “So the lining will be embroidered?”

“Yeah, it’ll look like a normal jacket from the outside.” She prodded Zylas’s arm until he lifted it out of the way, then crouched beside him. “This one will be more durable than the last set I made him, and since it doesn’t need to fit over his armor, I can make it look more normal.”

The armor issue had originated with his shoulder plates, but they were no longer a problem. The īnkav had shattered them, and even if Zylas could’ve repaired them, we’d had neither time nor opportunity to collect the broken pieces.

“Done,” Amalia declared, startling me out of my thoughts. “Help me slide this off him. Zylas, put your arms up.”

He lifted his arms, and Amalia and I tugged the pin-lined garment over his head. She held the incomplete jacket up, squinting critically, then grabbed her sewing bag and headed for her bedroom.

“He’s all yours, Robin,” she called distractedly.

She disappeared through the door, missing the way my face had blanched at her words. I gulped, telling myself to get a grip.


I turned toward Zylas, now shirtless with soft light washing over his bare skin and impossibly perfect musculature.

He peered at me, his face unreadable, and I tensed in anxious anticipation, waiting for the gavel to fall. How much of my inner dialogue had he picked up on? Had he noticed me ogling him? Was he about to—

“Where are my cookies?”

His—oh. Amalia and I had bribed him into participating in the garment fitting by promising a new type of cookie. I was supposed to feed him now.

That’s what Amalia meant when she’d said he was all mine.

“Right,” I squeaked, spinning on my heel. I zoomed into the kitchen where a bag of chocolate chips waited. I measured out a cup and stuck them in the microwave, then faced the counter where a dozen cookies cooled on a rack, their golden-brown tops capped with white blobs of marshmallow.

I alternated between melting the chocolate chips, which needed stirring every thirty seconds, and arranging the cookies on a piece of parchment paper. The familiar, mundane movements calmed my jitters, and I hummed as I mixed a tablespoon of shortening into the melted chocolate to smooth it out.