Stone and Fire: Chapter 12

Wendel immediately started shaking his head in denial.  “I’m not to be king.  I’m the third son.”  He then paled more when Uduak just lifted her eyebrow.

“But you are Prince Wendel Jaeger.”  She took a deep breath.  Under other circumstances, she’d be ecstatic about all the ways she could turn this to her advantage.  “One of ours was lost in the process of saving your life, and you decline us the basic courtesy of truth?”

“Forgive me, my lady.”  He gave a small bow.  “After our experiences of the past few months trust is in short supply.  The last group we paid for passage sold us to Manisar upon learning we were noblemen.”

She gave him a sharp nod, then turned to Liam and switched languages.  “What else can you tell me?”

“There are false messages being delivered.  He knows the truth, having witnessed certain events firsthand, and he’s someone from whom the king will hear the truth.  King Sigmund trusts him most of his sons.  Calls him the Rock of Ardual.”

“I see.”  She gave the young man a considering look, and saw him shift his weight nervously.  Then she looked back at Liam.

“And…”  Liam met her eyes.  “Events are far enough and I can’t…”  He took a deep breath.  “I can’t focus right now.  We need him alive and on the throne, Mother.  We need him as an ally.”

“Adaeze, tell the pilot to change course.  We’ll take him where he needs to go.”  Uduak switched back to the trade tongue.  “Prince Wendel, we’ll get you to your destination.  I assume you want us to do so…”  She gave a small shrug.  “In a subtle fashion?”

“It would…”  He nodded, though he gave Liam a confused look.  “Be appreciated, my lady.

“Captain.”  She narrowed her eyes.  “My title is captain, and on my ship, Prince Wendel, I am the sovereign.”

“Understood, Captain.”  He bowed.

(more…)

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Hunting: Chapter 19

Michaels sat on the tailgate of the truck, his face empty.  Laura was in his lap, crying softly as he held her.  Magda swallowed past the lump that has risen in her own throat.  Even knowing the man as short a time as she had, she knew something precious had been lost.  Not for the first time, she regretted coming to this city.  “He told Gabriel it was good to see him again.”  She turned at the sound of Daniel’s voice.  He looked like a lost little boy as he leaned on the tree next to Matthias.  When he saw her looking, he shrugged.  “Ryuu.  He knew.  How could he know?”

“I once asked Ryuu how old he was.”  Magda exhaled.  “He said the Cenozoic era was boring, but things picked up during the Cretaceous period.  I was never entirely sure if he was kidding.”

“We…”  Michaels stood, and set Laura down.  “Assholes still have Ash.  Let’s go find him.  Get me a likeness or something of Sima and I’ll start on the desk clerks at the hotels.  Someone will have seen her.”

“Michaels…”  Magda started to put a hand on his arm.

He pulled away, and shook his head.  Then he squared his shoulders.  “Someone needs help, and I’m still a fucking cop.  Gabriel and I swore to serve and protect.  Now let’s go get the rest of these fucks.”

“Semper Fi.” Matthias straightened.  “Let’s go.”

“Gabriel would help.”  Laura nodded, drawing herself up to her full height.  “Ash is in trouble.  Let’s save him.”

Magda nodded, then met Michaels’ eyes.  “Thank you.”  She put an arm around Laura as the girl hugged her.  “Thank you both.”

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 18

Matthias snarled as he grabbed the smaller werewolf by the throat.  With his other hand, he grabbed the top of the beast’s snout and ripped, tearing the top half of the thing’s skull off.  He heard a shot, then turned to see the man taking aim at his back fall with a hole between his eyes.  A glance to the left showed Michaels reloading.  “I…”  Michaels shook his head before nodding to the corpse Matthias was still holding.  It was slowly changing back to human.  “Am going to have nightmares about that later.”

He tossed the corpse aside.  “Suck it up, buttercup.”

“Then again, my partner did kind of kick your ass, so…”  Michaels shrugged.

“He got lucky.”  Matthias tilted his head to first one side, then the other, then stared down at Michaels from full were form.  He felt a grudging respect for the fact that even after the previous events, Michaels didn’t flinch.

“He took out a vampire nest by himself.”

“Seriously?”  Matthias followed.

Michaels smirked.  “Well, I did shoot a few mooks.”

“Huh.”  Matthias glanced at where the sounds of fighting could be heard.  “Want to go shoot some more?”

“You’re buying after.”  Michaels started heading that way.

(more…)

Deescalation and Violence

There is a lot of violence in my stories.  This has led some people to think that I myself am okay with violence.  I would like to point out there are also a lot of werewolves in my stories.  I assure you, I very rarely howl at the moon.

I am not a pacifist.  From time to time, violence is necessary.  However, you will find I have absolutely nothing but contempt for those who utilize it as a first resort.  I don’t ‘respect the blue line’ or have unquestioning reverence for our military.  There are cops and soldiers I respect, and I respect those who joined to put their lives on the line to defend others.

But I’ll be blunt here.  I think way too many folks in uniform have a fetish for violence.  And thus, yeah, you’ll find me saying a lot of disrespectful things about police officers these days.

Why?

Look, if I can take a knife away from a mentally impaired individual off medication while they are in the middle of a full meltdown and do so without either myself or that person getting hurt….

Please explain to me exactly why I should have any sort of fucking respect for a group of people that can’t handle a ten year old kid without body-slamming or shooting them?

I see more action in a given week than most cops do in their entire careers, and it is extremely rare for me to actually have to resort to actual violence.  I don’t ever have to put anyone in a choke hold.  I’ve been attacked over a hundred times already this year and on only one of those occasions did I have to take someone to the ground.

Why?

Because deescalation tactics actually work.  I know.  I use them every single time I go to work.  Nine times out of ten, I can keep the situation from getting physical at all, and the rest of the time I can stop things with little more than holding onto someone’s arm.

And I work with people who are already off the streets because they are a danger to themselves and others.

So the real ‘why’ question here is why, exactly, do we expect so little from these people we are apparently supposed to ‘respect’?

Emilio’s Puppy

Emilio took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself down.  He looked down at the remains of his case, and cursed.  Weeks of work, dozens of drawings, destroyed.  Cooper and his crew had been waiting for him just outside the building.  All four of them.  Andrew, Rylan, Lance, and Warren.  Goddamn it.  He hadn’t even done anything this time.  He brushed tears out of his eyes, and started home.

It was already getting dark.  Emilio shivered.  He didn’t care double back to the bus stop.  Too great a chance one of them was there.  Assholes.  Worst part was he’d been friends with Rylan and Lance once.  That had been years before high school.  Two years of college hadn’t grown them up any.  He sighed.  It was only about an hour walk, even in the cold.  He’d be fine.

Forty-five minutes later, he was cutting through the alley behind his family’s place.  He froze when he heard Rylan’s voice.  “Nah, I’ve got it.  See you in a bit.”

Slowly, he crept forward.  Rylan was near Emilio’s grandmother’s car, jimmying the lock open.  She had a bad habit of leaving things inside, such as her medication.  Rylan was…  Rylan was robbing his grandmother.  Emilio shook his head, then picked up a piece of wood.

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 17

He woke up, then looked around before awareness flooding back in.  “Ash.”  He started trying to sit up, only to realize he was tangled in various medical things.

“It’s alright.”  A calm voice said and someone reached over to pat his arm.  “You’re in the hospital.  Magda said to make sure to tell you as soon as you woke up that everyone is alright and they are looking for Ash right now.”

Stephan nodded.  The woman sitting by his bed looked to be in her early fifties.  She was a light skinned black woman, with warm eyes and a pleasant smile.  He tilted his head.  “Are you Laura’s mother?”

“I’m Gabriel’s mother.”  She smiled.

“You’re…”  He blinked.

“He’s adopted.”  She shrugged.  “We thought it best if someone was on hand to reassure you as soon as you woke up…”  She lowered her voice conspiratorially.  “So we may have let them all believe you’re my nephew.”

“Right.”  He shifted on the hospital bed.  “So, Aunt…”

“Patricia Williams, but you may call me Patty.”

“Aunt Patty…”  He nodded.  “Fill me in.”

“Good news first.”  She leaned back.  “Anna and her baby are healthy.  I’m not sure what all is going on and as soon as things are settled I am going to box some people’s ears, but Gabriel said to tell you that he’s ‘playing guardian angel’ and that as soon as…”  She took a deep breath and shook her head disapprovingly.  “Your ass can get out of bed Matthias is probably going to need you.”

“Yeah.  Probably.”  He started to sit up, then gave a frustrated sigh.  “Don’t suppose they left any —”

She offered him a set of clothes.  “I’ll be right outside.”

(more…)

Stone and Fire: Chapter 11

He took Adaeze’s hands, and let her lead him through the steps of the dance.  Fortunately, she was aware enough of his movements that she wasn’t thrown by his single misstep.  Baako and Tau played drums, the rhythms playfully competing for the attention of Nkruma’s pipes.  The first time he’d tried dancing Ilael style, he’d nearly broken his own leg and his partner’s.

Nearly a dozen ships were gathered at the atoll, trading goods and information with each other.  Any shipsmeet was cause for celebration, and the fact that it had been a good year for trade just made spirits higher.  The Phoenix was one of the wealthiest of the ships, wealthy enough that Uduak was considering taking on a sister-ship.  Apparently, word had spread, because many prospective young captains had found excuses to spend time on board.

Though few actually wed that young, Ilael were considered of marriageable age at fifteen.  Though he lacked some months yet, Liam found himself gaining no small amount of attention.  Ships were often inherited, and it was not uncommon for a wealthy mother to give captaincy of a sister-ship to a daughter or the spouse of a son.  And rumors about him and his gifts had spread throughout the Ilael.  The exotic and mystic son of Uduak was apparently considered quite a prize.

Adaeze had come to his rescue, and hadn’t left his side after finding him being cornered by a rather persistent woman a few years older.  They finished the dance, then joined the onlookers.  Less than a dozen heartbeats after they sat, Enu joined them.  “Liam, the young pilot from The Ranger just asked me the strangest question.”  He leaned forward and smirked at Liam.  “She wanted to know if you’re proportional.”

“She wanted to…” Adaeze started to ask, then her eyes widened.

“Another one?”  Liam ran a hand down his face.

“Wait…”  Adaeze stared at him.  “What do you mean another one?”

“I’ve been asked that four times now.”  Liam sighed.  Then he gave Enu a suspicious look.  “What did you tell her?”  When Enu just grinned, Liam glared.  “Enu, what did you tell her?”

“That you’re still growing…”  Enu’s smile was evil.  “And if you end up proportional you’re going to be about eight feet tall.”  When Liam gave him a look, Enu just laughed.  “I think she’s actually scared off now, so you’re welcome.”

“You’re terrible.”  Adaeze shook her head fondly, then glanced over her shoulder.  “Though that would explain some of the strange looks I’ve been getting.”

“He’s a full foot taller than you already, little sister.  They’re probably wondering how you can kiss him without carting a ladder around.”  Enu reached out to rub Liam’s hair affectionately before standing.  “Pardon, but Lesedi is giving me looks that suggest she’s offering to be far better company than you two.”  He left.

They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes.  Adaeze leaned into him, and he put an arm around her shoulders.  “It’s okay.”  She said softly.

Liam blinked.  “What’s okay?”

“That we aren’t kissing.”  She caught his hand, and twined her fingers around his.  He squeezed her hand gently.  “This is nice too.”

“I…”  He shifted just a little so she could lean on him more comfortably.  “Thank you, Adaeze.”

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 16

The sounds coming from the next room were horrifying.  The worst of them was Mistress’s laughter.  Ash tried to crawl under the bed, but it was blocked off.  He whimpered, unable to put his hands over his ears with them secured behind his back.  Snarling and screaming and dying and wet and choking.

He was back.  Mistress’s collar was around his neck again.  She’d taken Magda’s collar off him and put her collar on him.  Leather tight enough to make it hard to swallow.  They’d brought him to Mistress.  They’d left Stephan on the docks and shot Matthias and they’d brought him to Mistress.  He could feel tears running down his cheeks.

She’d petted him and acted glad to see him, before reminding him to follow the rules.  He leaned forward to wipe the tears off on the bed.  Crying was against the rules.  Mistress would be…  Your name is Bernard Rudolf Achterberg.  You are a cop, not a pet.  You are a person, not a dog.  Her name is Sima, not mistress.  You are not alone.  We will come for you.

He knew that voice.  Laura’s when her eyes turned red.  He took a deep breath, and nodded.

(more…)

Wren and Adam : Chapter 16

Adam walked through the fair, occasionally stopping to play one of the games so as not to draw attention to himself.  Stasya was doing the same thing, while Patrick waited in the car playing mission control.  Patrick almost couldn’t help but look threatening, and the last thing they needed was some hysterical parent wondering what he was doing there by himself.

The blue haired girl finished dunking the younger cop, and walked away giggling.  He debated approaching her directly, maybe flirting and seeing if he could get her number.  Might help with the information gathering.  Or better yet, maybe she’d see through him and tip off the others.  Shit, the last thing he wanted to deal with right now is Wren deciding she needed to be jealous.  Fewer people got hurt, the better, and there was still a chance he could keep her and the old man out of things entirely.

Kidnapping a pregnant thirteen-year-old was risky in many ways.  Fortunately, it had been fairly simple to convince Wren they’d be better off just wait until the kid had been born and snatch it.  It wasn’t like they could actually keep him out of a room, and worst case scenario he could always shape shift into a stork or something.

That just left Stephan and Ash, both of whom Sima wanted.  The fact that Sima’s motives were clearly vengeful didn’t bode well for their intended fate.  He stopped at the center’s booth, smiling as he let Magda tell him about the center before dropping a hundred dollar bill into the donation case.  Sima didn’t care about Stephan beyond the fact killing him would hurt Magda, and she was too much of a coward to go after Magda herself.

He joined Stasya near the entrance to the church’s garden.  “Baby Bear.  Thoughts?”

“The guy Sima wants…”  He jerked his head up at the church.  “Is in there, but he isn’t alone.”

“Near as I can tell, he is never alone.  They are very protective of him.”  She nodded.  “Girl is never alone either.  The ex-cop might limp, but he carries two guns and probably can use them.”

“His cane is a weapon as well.  Tazer.  Strong one.”  Adam frowned.  “But he’s often one of the people looking after Ash.  Could take the two of them together.”

“Put gun to Ash, Stephan puts his gun down.”  Stasya frowned.  “Then what?  Tip off other werewolf and let her deal with Sima?”

“That’s not a bad plan.”  Adam nodded.  It was possible without Sima’s influence, Wren would…  He needed to stop thinking like that.  “She took out an alpha, and her son is an alpha.  We could sit back, make some popcorn, let nature take it’s course.”

“Would prevent her death from being traced to us.  We were obeying her orders.  Not our fault she was blinded by lust.”  Stasya smirked, then shrugged.  “Leaves baby matter.”

“That’s an issue.”  Adam exhaled.  “We’ve ruled out a lot of things William’s isn’t, but we still have no idea what he is.  And you ruled out a honey-pot idea.”

“Old man is very lucky man.”  Stasya nodded.  “I stopped by his booth.  Shook his hand.  You know he —”

“Nope.”  Adam shook his head.  “Still don’t want to hear details.”

“Williams is very flexible.”  Stasya smiled dreamily.

“You are such a pervert.”

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 15

Daniel tried not to be nervous as the door opened.  Meeting a dragon was so far down the list of things he’d thought he’d ever get to do.  And that was the list he’d made after he’d started dating a werewolf.  The man on the other side of the door was…

Actually kind of a disappointment.  He looked like an ordinary man.  Maybe 5’3”, about Ted’s age, and some flavor of oriental.  He thought Japanese.  The name had sounded Japanese.  Actually, he looked a little like George Takei, so Japanese was most likely.  And he was rambling in his own head.  He tried to focus.

The dragon, Ryuu, actually greeted Magda with a kiss on the cheek.  And ignored Matthias entirely as he stepped back to let them all enter.  Magda took off her shoes as soon as she entered, and the others all immediately followed suit.  “Welcome, welcome.”  Ryuu gave a small bow.  “Let me start by assuring you, I have absolutely no interest in harming any of you lovely people.”  He closed the door behind them.  “Or Matthias.”

“Forgive me if I’m slightly relieved, Ryuu.  It’s been rather eventful lately.”  Magda offered him the wine Ted had picked out, and Ryuu made some appropriate noises of gratitude as he accepted it.

“Truly.”  Ryuu nodded.  “You know for all the fussing the Western division has been doing lately I expected something better than that tired old anti-christ thing.”  He rolled his eyes.  “Two thousand years.  You’d think they’d get a new gimmick.”  He gestured toward archway that led to what looked like a dining room.  “But business can wait until after we’ve eaten.”  He crouched a little to look Anna in the eye.  “Milady, I won’t be offended if your condition prevents you from partaking.  I arranged a fruit tray just in case, with extra bananas.”

She smiled.  “I like bananas.”

“You are a woman of excellent taste.”  He nodded to her before standing again and walking into the dining room.

“He’s being friendly…”  Michaels gave Magda a concerned look.

“He says he’s not here to hurt us…”  Magda smiled reassuringly.  “Then he’s not here to hurt us.  Right now we’re probably safer than we’ve been in the past year.”

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 14

“You know, I actually thought this task was going to take all day.”  Ted looked around the room.  With Gabriel having to work, he’d planned on renting some hand carts or perhaps even a pallet jack to get the truck unloaded.

“We keep Matthias around for a reason.”  Daniel grinned at him.  “God, Ted, this place is awesome.  I wish my hometown had something like this.”  He ran a hand down the machine in front of him.  “Why pinball?”

“Once, a long time ago, I was a child.”  Ted chuckled.  “Used to love it.  When I saw these up on an auction website I couldn’t resist.”  He pointed.  “The game consoles have been in here a while, and get used so much I have to replace the controllers every couple months.  I thought perhaps they might enjoy these as well.”

“Alright.”  Matthias slid out from under one of the machines.  “That’s the last one.  Everything should be working.”  He stood.  “I remember when these things were everywhere.”  He tilted his head.  “Kind of craving a malt now.”

“Oh, almost forgot.”  He headed over to the storage closet.  “I know Anna wants to go to the fair, but in her condition that much walking might not be wise.”  It took him a moment to pull the item he was looking for free, then he pushed it toward Daniel.  “This might help.”

“She might object to being pushed in a wheel —”  Daniel cut off as Ted offered him the bright pink bike horn with attached streamers.  “Yep, that’ll work.”

“Hey, Ted…”  Matthias shrugged.  “How much does it cost you to run this joint?”

Ted shrugged.  “Less than you might think.  Erilon, through methods I really prefer not to think about, has managed to keep the licensing fees pretty minimal and we do get donations.  Plus most of the labor is volunteer.”

“Generous as you’ve been to us…”  Matthias shrugged.  “Like to make a donation.”

“That’s not necessary.”  Ted smiled.  “Given your situation, it would be best to conserve your resources.”

“Money ain’t one of our problems.  The whole uh…”  Matthias rubbed the back of his neck.  “Being one of the good guys thing is sort of new to me.  Might be one of the reasons I’m not great at it.”  He shrugged.  “Lot of people out there willing to pay a guy like me a hell of a lot of money to get shit done.”

“You…”  Ted exhaled.  “You’re telling me you used to be an assassin.”

“Among other things.”  Matthias nodded.

“Not really sure what to say to that.”  Ted exhaled.  “Well, Matthias…”  He shrugged.  “There will be a lot of charities at the fair, some of which do better work and are much more desperate for funds than I am.  If you are looking to buy some forgiveness, that would be a good place to start.”

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 13

Daniel looked around.  “Matthias?”

“Hmmm…?”  Matthias glanced over his shoulder.

“I’m leaving you for Ted’s kitchen.”

“What?”  Matthias blinked.

“You really can’t blame him.”  Magda chuckled as she looked around, then she turned toward Ted.  “You have a lovely home.”

“Thank you.”  Ted smiled.  “There are two guest bedrooms.  One has its own bathroom.  Anna may be more comfortable in that one, considering her condition.”

“Ted uh…”  Magda shrugged.  “Do you mind if I do use your kitchen?  I mean, the least I can do is make you all dinner.”

“Oh, not at all.  Please, make yourselves at home.”

“Yeah, uh…”  Michaels was looking out the back window.  “Dog boy kind of found your hot tub already and…”  He shrugged.  “Someone might want to ask him to put his clothes back on or something.”

“No, they don’t have to.”  Laura was also standing at the back window, her head tilted as she smiled dreamily.  Michaels gave her a look before putting his hand over her eyes.  She ducked away then stuck her tongue out at him.

“I’ll uh…”  Magda sighed.  “Just go take care of that.”

“There are towels in the cupboard there.”  Ted pointed.

“I can cook too…”  Daniel nodded.  “But Magda is much better at baking and at French cuisine which makes sense because she’s actually French even though she’s got like a Norse name and that’s because Matthias’s dad was an actual Viking and actually I’m not sure what Magda’s real name is but she’s been using Magda since he was born so I guess it’s her real name now and anyway I took a bunch of cooking classes in college so that I could —”

“Breath,” Gabriel said as he walked by.

“Yeah.”  Daniel took a deep breath, then smiled apologetically at Ted.  “Sorry.  I start talking when I’m nervous and I’m really nervous around you guys cause of everything and I just want you to know we won’t mess up your place at all and we can help out with anything you need and let us know what foods you like so we can cook and I cook anyway cause Anna’s down to only about six things she can eat without her stomach getting upset so I just try to make those —”

“Breath.”  Matthias patted his shoulder.

Ted tried not to smile as the young man inhaled deeply before launching into yet another rambling assurance.  “Daniel, son, please.”  Ted held up his hands.  “Sit down before you really do talk until you pass out.”  Then he shrugged.  “I do have a security system.  There are cameras on the front and back doors.  It’s not active at the moment, but I’m guessing at least one of you has the expertise to set it up.”

Matthias nodded.  “Where’s the control panel?”

“By the garage door.”  He watched the man walk away.  Matthias was massive even before taking into account the man could, according to Laura, turn into a ten-foot-tall werewolf.  He almost jumped when he felt Gabriel’s hand on his shoulder.

“You alright with this, Ted?”

“I issued the invitation, didn’t I?”  Ted smiled at him, and then mentally kicked himself.  “Though uh…”  He exhaled.  “Can I assume that werewolves have excellent hearing and other senses?”

“Yes.”  Matthias called from the other room.  “Werewolves do.”

“Oh.”  Well.  That was going to make some things very, very awkward.

Gabriel leaned forward, and whispered into his ear.  “You’ve still got my extra key, right?”

Ted smiled.

(more…)

Wren and Adam: Chapter 15

Adam sat on the bus stop bench, a few doors down from the detective’s house.  He’d retrieved his clothes after the older man, Ted, had set his cat form outside the door.  His cell phone showed a couple text messages.  He’d texted back that he was still watching, even though it was a lie.

The young man who’d held him had been Sima’s pet, the one she talked about fondly and claimed had been stolen from her.  The sound of her name had been trauma enough to send him hiding under the bed.  If Sima had her way, that’s all he’d be.

At dinner, Wren had smiled.  She’d laughed and joked, and she’d been his Wren again for a couple precious hours.  Trauma affected different people in different ways.  He couldn’t just abandon her, not when she’d refused to leave him to the mercy of the hag.  She had kept her word, and gotten them both out and…

He looked down at his hands, then stood.  He’d taken two steps back toward the house when the phone rang.  His hands shook, but he managed to keep his voice calm when he answered.  “Wren?”

“Mi corazon…”  Wren’s voice suddenly trailed off.  “No, that’s Spanish.  What’s it in French again?”

“Mon coeur.”  He smiled.

“Ugh, for a romance language that just doesn’t work.  What about German?”

“Mein Herz.”

“No, that’s worse.”

“It’s fy nghalon in Welsh.”

“I bet you a blow job you can’t say that three times without choking.”

“Fy nghalon.  Fy nghalon.  Fy nghalon.”  He smiled.

“Be honest.”  Wren laughed.  “You shape-shifted your tongue for that.”

“Mitt hjärta.  Mogo wangu.  Mijn hart.  Cor meum.”

“How the hell are you even doing that?”

“I have google translate on my phone.”  He smiled.  “It’s toku ngakau in Maori.”

“Anyway…”  He could almost see her rolling her eyes.  “I was calling to see if you’d seen anything yet.”

“I was just about to call you.  Had to sneak back to my phone.”  A thousand options ran through his head.  “They got back.  Sounds like them running across you and Rosa was a complete accident.”  He hesitated.  “They apparently made some silver bullets just in case it happens again.  Wren, I’m not sure this is a good use of our time.”  He crossed his fingers.

She sighed.  “Maybe you’re right.  Alright, check in with your team and see if they learned anything else.”  She was quiet again for a couple seconds.  “Hey, there is a little cafe called ‘Spice of Life’ there on the boardwalk.  Why don’t you meet me there and we can peek in at some of the galleries?”

“I’d love to.”  He smiled.

“It’s a date.”  She hung up.

For a long moment, he just stared at the phone in his hand.  Then he looked back up at the house.  Technically, nothing he’d said had actually been untruthful.  That should get it past Sima, and from the sound of things the people in the house didn’t need much longer to…  He realized his hands were shaking, and he stuffed the phone back into his pocket before turning and walking away.

(more…)

Stone and Fire: Chapter 10

Jurgen set his axe down, then folded his arms atop the pommel.  Diantha blinked as she came over to where he was.  “Aren’t you supposed to be…”

“Shhh.”  He nodded.

She turned in the direction he was looking, then put a hand on his shoulder.  “Blood and ashes, he just cut a man in half vertically.”

“Yep.”

“Huh.”  She tilted her head.  “Okay, refresh my memory.  We were sent as reinforcements…”  She stared at the warrior.  “Why?”

“Mother looked at the numbers and noted Clan…”  He let out a low whistle.  “Well, that’s one way to take down a knight.”

“That poor horse.”  Diantha winced.

“Right.”  Jurgen picked up his axe, and set it on his shoulder.  “Let’s go meet this guy.”

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 12

There was still a lot of tense and awkward silence.  Ted had his own few minutes of frustration when he learned that Anna was not under a doctor’s care.  “The ability to heal is not the same as the ability to ensure health.  She’s a child.  She should be getting blood tests to determine what supplements are needed to prevent cumulative damage to her body.”  He glared at the young man, Daniel.

“I’ve uh…”  Daniel glanced at Michaels and Gabriel.  “We are kind of fugitives from the police too.  Trent made sure there were warrants out on me.”

“I’ll call up a couple of the nurses that work with my center.”  Ted shook his head.  “They’ve worked with abused children before and will be discreet.”  He sighed, then looked over at Anna.  “Do you need anything, young lady?”

“They do take pretty good care of me.”  Anna shook her head.  “Matthias cuts the vitamins in half and everything so I don’t choke on them.”  She gave him a reassuring smile.

Reconciling a man who’d tortured his friend with a man taking care of a little girl was extremely difficult.  Ted nodded.  “I meant at this particular moment.  Juice or anything?”

“Oh, yes.”  Anna nodded.  “Thank you.”

“So your magical ability is you not only don’t have a magical ability you make everyone else not have a magical ability?”  Laura tilted her head at Stephan.

“Pretty much.”  He nodded.

“That is simultaneously awesome and totally ass sucking.”  Laura exhaled.

“What are your powers?”  Daniel frowned.  “I mean, his we saw…”  He nodded at Gabriel.  “And then you did the bullet stopping thing…”  He nodded at Laura.  “But what about the rest of you?”

“Oh, the bullet stopping thing was all her.  I haven’t figured out what my power is yet.”  Laura shook her head.

“Michaels and I do not have any powers.”  Ted shook his head.

Magda and Matthias exchanged a look.  Magda frowned.  “But this demon, Erilon or whatever, Anna sensed her in his head.”

“Yeah, cause she tried to get in and Erilon bolted the door.”  Laura sent a glare at Anna.  “Don’t do that shit.  It’s really fucking rude to go where you aren’t invited.”

“The point was that if he didn’t have magic, the demon taking possession would have killed him.”  Matthias glanced over at Michaels.

“Shows what you know.”  Laura stuck her tongue out at him.

“With all due respect…”  Magda straightened.  “I am almost four hundred years old.  This is not my first encounter with witches or demons.”

“Bull.”  Michaels narrowed his eyes.  “Shit.”

“Nah, she’s actually telling the truth there.”  Laura turned toward him.  “Werewolves live a lot longer than humans, or would if they didn’t piss people off all the time.”

“I was born before World War I…”  Matthias nodded.  “And fought in World War II.”

“That’s…”  Ted blinked.  “Certainly something.”

(more…)