“You alright?” Gabriel put a hand on Micheals’ shoulder.
“So…” Michaels nodded. “Werewolves are real.” He shrugged. “That one I sort of expected after the whole…” He gave a small shiver. “Whatever that other one was though…”
“Michaels?” Gabriel crouched next to him.
“She was in my damn head, Gabe. I couldn’t fucking move. If Erilon hadn’t…” He exhaled. “Holy shit, I never thought I’d be grateful I let a demon ride shotgun sometimes.” He shrugged. “Thanks Erilon.”
Nobody fucks with my pets.
“What was she?” Gabriel raised an eyebrow, glancing around to make sure no one could hear them. The corpse had already been loaded. As far as their boss knew, all that had happened was Michaels had rounded the corner just in time to see the woman get hit. He’d given Gabriel permission to take Michaels home and deal with the paperwork later.
A witch. Not just a little spark like Laura is now, but full on. Real deal. And that’s not something we need to go playing around with, pet.
“And the other one?”
Michaels is right. Werewolf. One of the little ones, on par with a thrall, or maybe a younger vamp at most.
“Those things get…” Michaels blinked. “That was a little one?”
Think about investing in some silver. I can probably walk Laura through the process of making them effective against the big ones.
“Shooting them works?” Michaels raised an eyebrow.
Done properly, yes. Actually, it works on witches, too.
“Alright then.” Michaels grinned. “Finally. The pawnshop sells silver, and I’ve got a casting kit already. Handgun work, or should we go for rifle? Or shotgun, cause pellets would be easy.”
“You sound a bit more enthusiastic about this than I would have thought.” Gabriel stood, and pulled Michaels to his feet.
“I can’t leap buildings or throw cars at people…” Michaels shrugged. “But I was a Marine. Shooting the fuck out of something I can do.”
“Sidekick Man to the rescue.” He chuckled as he headed toward their car.
“Damn straight.” Michaels fell into step with him.
Laura came into his office, sighed, then flopped face down onto the sofa, arms and legs splayed. Ted raised an eyebrow. “Laura?”
“I can’t fly.” Her face was muffled slightly by the pillow. She was wearing the stiletto heeled knee high boots he’d ended up getting her for her birthday, and he was amazed she hadn’t broken an ankle yet.
“Well, neither can I.” Ted shook his head. “Still trying to figure out your superpower?”
“I’ve gone through all the cool ones already.” She sat up. “I can’t see through anyone’s pants. I can’t turn invisible. I can’t talk to animals. I can’t fly.” She flung herself down again, this time face up. “I can’t even juggle cars like Detective Pretty-Boy.”
“I don’t think he can actually juggle cars.” Ted went back to his ledger. He needed to increase the food budget to accommodate the cooking class. There was more than was needed in the gas budget. He could transfer some of that.
“So what the hell is he like in the sack because…” She whistled. “He can juggle cars.”
“You do understand there is nothing on this earth that will…” Ted turned toward her. “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”
“I like to keep my options open.” Laura grinned. “Besides. I’m sixteen now. Technically I’m legal.” When he rolled his eyes, she laughed. “Nah, I wouldn’t go after your man, but seriously, do you guys keep it down low so you don’t have every gay man and straight woman in the entire city hating you?”
“Yes.” Ted chuckled. “That’s exactly why we keep it on the ‘down low’.”
“Then tell him not to leave his boxers in your office.” She put her feet up on the side of the couch.
“He left his boxers in your office.” Her voice was sing song. “You’re lucky I didn’t put them on the flagpole.”
“I’m not sure whose boxers you found, my dear, but they weren’t his.” Ted smiled. Per his instructions, the only undergarments Gabriel wore were the ones Ted had purchased for him. And he certainly hadn’t wasted his money on boxers. Whatever she’d found had probably been left over from last week’s clothing drive.
“How do you…” Her eyes widened. “So he’s a briefs man?” When Ted just smiled, her eyes widened even more. “Seriously, every gay man and straight women in the entire state hates your guts.”
Ted shrugged and went back to his books. “I can live with that.”
“Got an ident on our dead woman.” Michaels tossed a few sheets of paper onto the desk before sitting down across from him. “Rosita Juarez aka Roseanne Jenkins aka Rose Lawson aka Rosa Gutierrez. Last one is the most current, not sure which of the others is the real one.”
“You said they called her Rosa.” Gabriel nodded.
“The interesting part is this.” Michaels pushed the papers toward him. “Her ‘known associates’ list reads like the Manson family reunion.”
He picked up the papers and started going through them. Then he let out a low whistle. “Rosa was in with some bad people.”
“That woman, the one who…” Michaels shook his head. “Said they needed Rosa alive. My guess is either one of these folks needed information, or…”
“Or someone needed information on one of these folks.” Gabriel frowned. “Either way, good chance someone is going to come poking around for more information.”
“We’re going to end up off the reservation on this one, aren’t we?” Michaels sighed.
“Afraid so.” Gabriel exhaled.
“Check this out.” Laura held up a scrap of red cloth.
Michaels took it from her and took another look at it. He blinked. “This is a mask.”
“Yep.” Laura nodded. “A Crimson Crusader mask.”
“No.” He handed it back to her. She narrowed her eyes at him and just stared. “Laura?”
“I’m trying to control your mind.” She kept staring.
A shudder ran through him. “Don’t.”
She blinked. “Michaels?” She frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“Somebody already tried that today.” He walked toward the kitchen, and made an annoyed noise. “Seriously, pizza again?”
I have forbidden her from further attempts at cooking.
“Uh…” Michaels blinked. “Do I even want to know?”
“Probably not.” Laura shook her head.
We got the fire out before it spread. The ability to control flames is also beyond her.
“Couldn’t control water, either. Had to actually put it in a cup.”
“I…” Michaels sighed. “Can only imagine what you two are going to do to my home owner’s insurance rates.”
“Wait until you see what I do to your car insurance.” Laura grinned. Then she hesitated and shifted her weight from foot to foot. “My mom got my email address.”
He set the slice he’d just taken out of the box back down. “Are you alright?”
Laura took a deep breath. “She said she’s willing to forgive me if I come home.” She folded her arms around herself. “And promise to stop lying about…” She looked away.
Michaels started to put a hand on her shoulder, and thought the better of it. Laura tended not to want to be touched whenever the subject of her stepfather was broached. “We can file for your emancipation. They won’t be your problem anymore.”
“Except once we start the legal paperwork…” She slumped in on herself. “If they find out you and Gabriel knew where I was and didn’t run me in you’ll get —”
“Hey.” Michaels shook his head. “You let us worry about that.”
“Laura.” Michaels smiled at her. “You let us worry about that. Gabe and I are cops, and Ted used to work for the IRS.” He lowered his head. “Ted…” His voice became low. “Worked for the IRS. As an auditor. Just imagine the hell he could put someone through if they went after his favorite crazy-ass hobo. Seriously, baby girl, the IRS took down Al fucking Capone.”
A giggle escaped her. Her smile faded a little, but became hopeful. “If, um…” She shrugged a little. “If I do the emancipation thing, uh…” She couldn’t quite meet his eyes. “Can I stay here? I mean, as in move in? For real?”
“Well…” A smile came to his face, and he opened the junk drawer. He took out an object and tossed it to her. It jingled when she caught it, and her eyes widened. “Red is the house, green is the garage, and I swear baby girl if you take the car anywhere before we get you a driver’s license, I —”
Her squeal nearly deafened him as she threw her arms around him. “Does this mean you’ll teach me to drive?”
“Nope. That’s on Gabe.” Michaels laughed before tugging on one of the currently bright blue braids. “He stands a better chance of survival.”
“Thanks.” She hugged him again before stepping back and going to collect a slice of pizza. “What’d you mean when you said somebody tried that already today?”
“While Gabe was punching out a werewolf, I had a witch try to get into my head.” He took a slice of pizza for himself. “If it wasn’t for Erilon, I uh…” He frowned. “Well I really don’t know what would have happened. This little blond girl just grabbed my arm and suddenly I couldn’t even move.” He couldn’t quite stop himself from shivering again. “I could seriously feel her inside my head.”
“Wow.” She looked down at her pizza. “I mean, I’d make a crack about tossing a rock into an empty pool, but you’re like actually pale.”
“No way I could go toe to toe against a vamp, but at least I could try punching at them.” Michaels sat down. “Erilon said bullets work and she thinks you’ve got enough mojo to make silver ones that work on wolves, so guess what you get to learn to do tomorrow.”
“Oooh, awesome. I can be the gadget girl.” Her eyes lit up.
“So I couldn’t help but notice…” Ted tilted his head. “You don’t seam to own a swimsuit.” Whatever response Gabriel tried to make was muffled by the gag. Ted trailed a finger down Gabriel’s cheek, then attached a clamp to Gabriel’s left nipple. “Fair is in two weeks, Gabriel.” He attached the other clamp to the right nipple. There was a muffled response. “You most certainly are not skipping out.” He narrowed his eyes. “It’s for charity.”
Gabriel yanked at the restraints that kept him firmly secured to the frame as Ted held up the third clamp. He started shaking his head as Ted reached for his cock. Slowly, Ted let the clamp close on the tip of Gabriel’s shaft. Then he walked a circle, admiring the look of Gabriel’s naked body spread before him, his wrists and ankles bound to the corners of the vertical frame. “I was thinking something nice, and tight, and red.” He picked up the leather strap. “Then I remembered the fair was at a church.” He gave a disappointed sigh. “So I got you some baggy shorts and a white t-shirt that will uh…” He patted Gabriel’s ass. “Let’s just say the chance at getting it wet should bring in some cash.”
The sound Gabriel made behind the gag might have been laughter. Ted smiled before bringing the strap down across those firm buttocks.
It always took him a moment to get his bearings when he woke in Ted’s bedroom. Ted had woken before him, as was his habit, and Gabriel could smell breakfast cooking. He started to reach for his pants, and then a sharp pain seemed to go through him. He cried out, and fell back on the bed.
Immediately there was the sound of running feet. Ted came through the door like a shot. “Gabriel?” He rushed over. “Gabriel, what happened?”
“I…” He shook his head. “I don’t…” He tilted his head. His head swam just a little, like he was dizzy, and all the colors seemed brighter. “Erilon?”
The sensation abruptly faded. I’m sorry, pet. Are you alright?
“What’d you do?” Ted frowned.
Throwing the witch out took a bit more energy than I thought. I tried to business as usual but I had to draw a little deeper than normal. I’m sorry. I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Or at least give me a little warning.” Gabriel got to his feet and grabbed his pants. “Erilon, you sure you’re alright?”
You’re sweet to worry, pet. I’ll be fine.