Again, I’m too busy to get much writing done (but I’m trying to work it in, I promise!) but because I opted to have a nice day out on my day off yesterday, the blog post didn’t get written (bad, bad me). Therefore, you get a teaser instead! I know this will make my writing buddy happy, if no one else.
In case this is your first glance at my novella in process, here are links to the first four chapters posted earlier:
As is with most of the teasers I post, these are unedited so please excuse any typos, grammatical errors or repetitiveness.
Being that there were several hours before the mysterious Mr. Abbate could show up, I checked messages and grabbed my job tickets. There was a Selkie pelt to pick up from a fae dry cleaner–shocking as they don’t typically let anyone else touch their pelts. Maybe my client was a trusting progressive Selkie–, iron supplements to be bought and left in the mailbox of one of Josiah’s brood who was on a fasting cleanse, and a pair of hell hounds that needed to go to a down under groomer. Weird was my life and the list of jobs for the day certainly highlighted that.
Most of it was a breeze but wrestling the hounds was a challenge. Not because they were mean and vicious–quite the opposite actually, unless ordered by their master to attack–but because they just wanted to play, knocking me down and covering me in dog slobber. Ugh. I liked animals, really, but those ones needed better manners. The incessant crotch sniffing was especially embarrassing. I’d have to talk to their owner about some obedience classes if he wanted me to keep dealing with them.
By the time I was done dragging the sparkling pooches back home, the sun was dangerously low to dipping beneath the horizon. I’d have to hurry back if I wanted to beat meet my new client to the shop. While he didn’t give me an exact time he’d show up, something told me he’d be there as soon as it was possible for him to leave his daytime resting place.
Throwing my bag into the passenger seat, pink job slips belching from the top, I put the pedal to the metal, chanting a quick no-see-um spell which would let me get away with speeding and not having to worry that the local cops would pull me over. Magic was really handy at times.
When I pulled into the lot, I saw a dark shadow creeping around my door. Samson? Or perhaps my newest client was older than I thought. The older a vamp is, the less sleep they need, allowing them to rise earlier. Not that they can take the full sunlight of a summer afternoon, but twilight and a dusky dawn were do-able. Older also meant more powerful, which worried me. I could handle my own against most, but some older vamps had powers I could only dream of. I hoped that wouldn’t be the case with this guy.
“So sorry I’m late,” I called, hurrying from the car. The shadow turned my way but said nothing. Miracles of miracles, I managed to find the shop key with no trouble and worked it into the lock, smooooth as could be. The fluorescent lights flashed and flickered to life after the switch was thrown.
The silent shadow followed behind me causing the tiny hairs on the back of my neck to stand at attention. Goosebumps joined the party. I did not have a good feeling about this guy. Trying to look nonchalant, my hand rummaged in my giant purse for the container of garlic spray I carried. Garlic wasn’t deadly to vampires, but it acted like tear gas, annoying them enough to allow for a quick exit.
“That won’t be necessary Ms. Weston. I’m not here to harm you.”
The low timber of his voice sent chills down my spine. Regardless of his words, my brain was screaming “Danger! Danger! Danger!” His words also had me worrying he was a mind reader. Those were the worst.
“Was I that obvious?” I gave a weak chuckle and was quick to move behind the counter wishing Samson would make one of his surprise visits.
“I apologize if my presence concerned you. Before the sun sets I am a mere…shadow of myself. Able to get around but not much else.”
When I saw out the window that the sun had indeed set, his explanation made sense but I was still weary. Reaching under the counter, I set my phone down, Josiah’s number ready to dial in a heartbeat if needed. I grabbed the pink work pad, slapping it down on the countertop before picking out a purple pen from the cup next to the phone.
“Mr. Abbate, I assume?” He nodded and pulled a case out of his suit jacket. It was a dull and battered gold rectangle, an art deco kind of design etched into the front, bold and geometric. With a flick of the wrist it flew open, revealing a neat row of cancer sticks.
“Please, call me Tomas. Mind if I smoke?”
I shrugged. I’m not a fan but he seemed like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to say no to.
He removed one of the small cylinders with long deft fingers and place it in it his mouth. As he patted his pockets for a lighter, he spoke around the cigarette in his mouth.
“Dirty habit I know, but it’s not like it will kill me.” The accompanying smile did a lot to calm me. Nothing so evil could have such a stunning smile, could it?
He lit up and took a long slow draw. It was weird to see since vampires don’t need to breath. The smoke undulated around him, adding to his mysterious aura. While he was enjoying his dirty habit, I looked him over, as discretely as I could. Tall, really tall, with a tapered swimmer type of body, broad at the shoulders and skinny at the waist. His pallor was pale, as is with most vampires unless they’ve just fed. Black slicked back hair and shadows under his eyes gave him that typical Dracula look that people would normally associate with a vampire. I don’t know much about men’s clothes, but his suit fit perfectly and looked expensive. When I looked at his face, he grinned, raising an eyebrow.
“Do I meet your approval?”
Heat came to my cheeks. “I don’t know what you’re referring to.” I tried to play it cool. He continued to smile, knowing he caught me checking him out.
“So the job…” he started.
I nodded and put pen to pad. “Yes. What can I help you with?”
He took another drag and exhaled a smoke circle which floated in my direction. “I fear there is a rogue werewolf in my neighborhood.”
My eyebrows rose. That could cause some serious damage. “Why come to me? Not that I don’t appreciate the work but…wouldn’t this be a job better suited for the local pack master?”
The vampire looked me over, his penetrating gaze sending another round of chills up my spine. “You could say…that the pack Alpha and I are not on the best of terms. I assure you, I will make the job worth your while.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that. It’s just that…” How did I tell him I found it weird he wanted a seventeen year old girl to handle a rabid hybrid when another werewolf, with superhuman strength, would be the more logical choice? Sigh.
“Just what, my dear?”
I shook my head, clearing thoughts. Back to getting details. “What makes you think it’s a rogue wolf?”
“Mostly the decimated bodies, torn and tattered beyond recognition.”
Swallowing hard I tried to put the image out of my head. Had to get as much information out of Tomas as possible.
“Other creatures have been known to uhh…cause that kind of damage. Anything in particular that points towards wolf?”
He pondered my question for a few moments. “Well, it does always seem to happen on a full moon. Also, there was a wet dog smell lingering. After all these years, my sense of smell is very sensitive.” I nodded, knowing that to be true. Josiah always complained if I wore any kind of perfume or scented lotion. It was kind of annoying actually.
“Normally, I’d say live and let live. Who am I to say one of my down under brethren should be tamed, but I fear their actions will leave people thinking the murders are my doing, and I just can’t have that…tarnish on my reputation.”
“I understand.” It was true. If Josiah caught wind and thought Tomas was the cause, he’d have to be staked. While it’s not illegal for vampires to drink from humans–willing humans that was–killing them was an absolute no-no.
He had smoked the cigarette down to a small nub. I cringed when he put the lit tip to his skin, twisting it in small semi-circles. Tomas didn’t flinch and after he tossed the remaining filter into the nearby garbage I noticed the small red circle was already healing. Another perk of being a vamp.
“The next full moon is three days away. I know it does not give you much time but I’ve made a list of the killer’s previous…dinner locations. I thought you would want to see them.” He reached into his suit jacket again, opposite side from where his cigarette case was, and removed another white card like the one Samson had given me this morning. He held it out to me with a smile.
“I’m afraid I have another appointment to get to my dear. Half of the payment is inside. You’ll receive the remainder when the job is completed.” He rose to his full height, causing me to crane my neck to look at him. I took the offered card from his outstretched arm.
“And if I have any questions, how do I contact you?”
“I shall find you.” He winked at me and before I could open my mouth to protest, he was gone, the card in my hand and the slowly closing door the only indications that he had been there.