When Riley Met Jade

When Isabella’s name popped up on his computer for entering the property, Riley never looked up. He trusted her and Andrea simply because of his premonition. Even if Nate and Sam were skeptical, he wasn’t. They were supposed to be a team–all four of them. That much he knew.

At least, he was pretty sure that he was making the right decision.

“Sam!” he yelled out his office door, knowing Sam had wandered down to the kitchen. “Get the door!”

“Unless you want me answering the door naked–”

“Put your clothes on!” Riley ordered, rolling his eyes. “Isabella is here.”

“Then maybe I will–”

Put your damn clothes on!” he repeated louder. He shook his head. The man was incorrigible and in need of a short leash some days. 

Scooting his chair across the office, Riley got up and went to the door with the full expectation of letting Isabella in. Politeness dictated at least someone let her in. It wasn’t Isabella on the other side of the door, giving him pause. No one ever got the one up on him in his house.

“You’re not Isabella,” he blurted out. The woman standing on his welcome mat was the prettiest he’d ever seen, and his brain faltered. Eyes of liquid chocolate crinkled at the corners as she smiled cheerfully at him. The gesture made his knees weak, and his grip on the door tightened.  The brightness in her yellow skirt contrasted with the simplicity of her monochrome sweater. Whimsical gnome earrings dangled along her delicate neck, peeking out from the thickness of her dark hair. Unable to think of something better to say, he repeated, “You’re not Isabella.”

“No, I’m not!” She laughed. The wonderful sound shot straight through him. “I’m Jade. Jade Silverton. I’ve heard of you! You must be Riley. You could say I’m their Riley.”

“You are much prettier than I’ll ever be,” he said, the words falling out his mouth before he could stop them. 

“Oh, please! You’re quite pretty, too,” she replied quickly. Her ivory cheeks flushed a vibrant pink color, but her smile widened. Awkwardly, she gestured with both hands to either side of the porch. “Isabella went… that way or that way. Something about looking at the house from the outside. She’ll be back shortly. Less than shortly? I’m not… really sure when she’ll be back.”

“Okay.” He nodded repeatedly. Sentences rolled through his mind as he attempted to come up with something smart to say. Or at least something halfway decent. Hell, he’d settle for just something to say. “I’m Riley James Marx. Why did I say my middle name? I shouldn’t have said my middle name. You can call me Riley. Or Rye. They call me Rye. Well, Sam does mostly. I’m going to stop talking now.” 

He laughed nervously and ran a hand through his hair. 

“If it helps, my middle name is Lynn.”

“It helps.”

“It’s wonderful to meet you, Riley James Marx,” Jade told him, another brilliant smile lighting up her gorgeous face. 

“It’s certainly wonderful to meet you, Jade Lynn Silverton,” he whispered and leaned his head against the door as he grinned at her. Never had he said more honest words in his life. 


Showing Jade his office was a little like bearing his soul to her. It was terrifying in the oddest of ways. Sam and Nate spent a lot of time there, but they never scrutinized it the way she did. Her delicate fingers slipped over books, reading the spines, and grabbing ones that caught her attention. She was full of questions and often answered them before he had the chance to. 

She fascinated him. 

Even when she began pulling his private journals off the shelves, he didn’t stop her. He kept his premonitions, private thoughts, hunt wrap-ups, tech ideas, and more between those pages. They were the most honest assessment of the way he saw the world. It was nerve-wracking. They were thoughts he never shared with anyone if he didn’t have to. Her awed expression as she slowly went page by page through each one made them worth sharing. 

“These pictures… they’re almost beautiful…” Jade whispered, carefully turning through the pages. “Whoever drew them made demons look almost beautiful.”

“Thank you,” he replied, smiling. She glanced up from his journal, pretty eyes wide with surprise. 

“You drew these?” she exclaimed, and he nodded. “What else can you draw?”

“What do you want me to draw?” He pulled an empty journal down from the shelf and grabbed a pencil out of his desk. Flopping down into his chair, he waited as he gave her his best smile. “I’m serious! Tell me what you want me to draw.”

“Draw me a gnome,” Jade said as if it was a challenge. His grin widened, and he began sketching while they talked. 

“What is it you do to document the demons you encounter?” he asked. 

“Mostly I screen grab a picture off surveillance camera somewhere before scrubbing them,” Jade told him. She leaned against the edge of his desk, visibly at ease as they chatted. “It’s not the most efficient technique, I’ll admit, and the images are often crude, but it gives me my own little catalog for reference.”

“Bring it here. I’m more than happy to draw them all out for you if you want,” Riley offered. Why was he offering to do it? That was going to be hours of work. It wasn’t like he didn’t have enough on his plate already. “We can use the Demon Web for any additional information you might need.”

“Oh… the Demon Web,” she murmured. Her tone made him pause, and he glanced up at her. Her lips pursed together as she mulled it over.

“Do you know what the Demon Web is?” he replied. 

“Kind of…” her voice trailed off as she shook her head. A thick section of hair fell in her eyes, and she tried to blow it away but failed miserably. He chuckled, fighting the urge to get up and brush it back for her. “We’re kind of old school compared to this.”

“There’s so much I have to show you.”

“Really?” Her big, beautiful eyes lit up at the prospect, making his heart pound faster in his chest. He immediately returned his gaze back to his paper. His ears burned, and his cheeks grew warm as they flushed. She was far too pretty for him and made him nervous. “I can’t wait.”

“Okay,” he began, clearing his throat, “please remember this is a rough sketch. A very rough sketch. I’ve never drawn a gnome before.”

“I’m sure it’s lovely,” she assured him. He turned it around for her to see, and she gasped with delight. Taking the journal from him, she smiled ear-to-ear. “It’s adorable! I can’t believe how cute! Oh, you’re so talented! I’m keeping this forever! You have to sign it!”

There was no hiding the way his cheeks radiated red under her praise. He grinned stupidly as he watched her fawn over the ridiculously simple sketch. The joy in her eyes and the brightness of her smile were enough to convince him that he’d draw a hundred gnomes if it made her happy.