The Woods Chapter 8

The Woods: Chapter 9

She entered the bedchamber to find it empty.  Ileana frowned a moment before a sound in the garden drew her attention.  A smile came to her face as she looked out the window.  Keffer and Thomas were both stripped to loinclothes, sparring with quarterstaves.  Keffer was fey, stronger and faster than a mortal man, and he had a greater reach than Thomas.

And yet it was Keffer who was losing the match.  Thomas caught the satyr’s ankle with the staff, taking Keffer off his feet.  The butt end of Thomas’s staff stopped a couple inches above the satyr’s throat.  A killing blow, had Thomas intended it as such.  Her husband tossed the staff aside before offering her lover a hand back to his feet.

“Ileana.”  Keffer caught sight of her watching them.  “My apologies, I took the liberty of untying your pet when I realized he was awake.”  Thomas glared at him.  “I also fed him, watered him, and took him for a walk.”

“Then I beat him with a stick.”  Thomas rolled his eyes.

“Thrice.”  Keffer nodded, smiling.  “I thought I’d save bathing him for when you returned.”

“Hmmm…”  She extended a hand, running it down Thomas’s chest.  His body had just a trace of sweat, and there were a few bruises starting to form from the duel to add to the ones she’d left on him the previous evening.  Ileana gestured for them to follow her to the bath chamber.

Inside the steaming room, she directed Thomas to sit in one of the shallow pools.  Then she stripped off her robe before selecting a soap.  He smiled when she joined him in the pool, a smile that only widened when she sat down atop him, straddling his lap.  His arms went around her, caressing her as she began to wash him.  “You taste of woodsmoke.”  His voice was soft.

Ileana hesitated, then nodded.  “In two week’s time we will travel to my father’s castle.”

Thomas was silent for a moment before meeting her eyes.  “Where Nicolas dwells.”

“I hope that Nicolas will see reason, and speak with me.”  She ran a hand down his chest.  “Since you are…”  She shrugged.

“You intend to use me as a hostage.”  Thomas raised an eyebrow at her.

“If it stops Nicolas from engaging in hostilities, yes.”  She brushed his hair back.  “If he resists my reclamation of the castle, I will be forced to imprison him.”

“Let me speak with him.”  Thomas leaned back a little.

“I intend to.  But first, we must actually get inside the castle itself.  Otherwise Nicolas could hold it against us.”  She smiled at him.  “I’ve arranged a place of safety for his family.  Whatever does happen, they will not come to harm.”

“Thank you.”  He returned her smile.  “Nicolas is a good man, and a wise man.  He will listen.”

“I…”  Strange, how much had changed in just the past few days.  “I remember him fondly.”  She settled back a little in his lap.  “He visited our library, a few months before you and I were wed.”

“He brought you the silk.”  Thomas nodded.

“It…”  Her eyes widened.  “Then it really was from you?”

“Of course it was.”  Thomas blinked.  “Who did you…”  He tilted his head at her.

“I…”  She leaned in to kiss him again.  “After everything, I told myself you probably had some servant handle the letters.  But they were you.  It was always you.”

“There was never another, Ileana.”  His voice was soft.  “Even after…”  He bowed his head.

“Thomas…”

“Who could compare to the daughter of the wind?”  He ran his fingers through her hair.

Her own fingers tangled in his hair as she pulled him to her for another kiss.

(more…)

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The Woods Chapter 8

The Woods: Chapter 8

It took him a moment to realize Ileana had spoken.  She stood, then gestured.  “Clear the hall.”  There was grumbling, but everyone save Keffer obeyed the command.

Thomas remained where he was.  At this point, he wasn’t entirely sure he trusted his legs to hold him anyway.  He focused on controlling his breathing.  Keffer’s hand still rested on the small of his back.  “Ileana?”  Keffer shifted his position just slightly.  “Earlier you seemed rather enthusiastic about this performance.”

He didn’t dare raise his head to look up as she walked over to them.  At least the others were gone.  Whatever Ileana intended now, he would not have to endure their eyes while it happened.  She stood there, silently.  Then her hand touched his hair.  Her fingers seemed almost tender as they caressed him.  “Thomas, look at me.”

Only then did he lift his head, and stare up at her.  She was looking down at him, her face contemplative.  “You told the truth.”

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The Woods: Chapter 7

The next morning when she went looking for him she brought a strap rather than the riding crop.  His gaze went to the weapon in her hand before meeting her eyes.  She pointed at the posts.  “Put your wrists through the loops.”  Without a word, Thomas obeyed.  “There is no number, this time.”  She narrowed her eyes.  “I’m going to beat you until you beg for mercy.”

“If you wish me to beg, you need only give the order.”  His voice was quiet.

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The Woods: Chapter 6

He vomited again, and started to wipe his mouth with the back of his hand.  Someone offered him a towel.  He took it, then blinked when he saw the satyr.  His fists clenched.  “What do you want?”

“If you loved her…”  The satyr frowned.  “Why not tell her?  Have her go to her father and convince him?”

Thomas wiped his face.  “I suggested that to my father.  He…”  Thomas sat, leaning his back against the smooth stone column.  “I don’t know.  He was so convincing then, but…”  He looked up at the satyr.  “Why do you care?”

“I could say that the stupidity of humans never ceases to amaze me…”  The satyr shook its head.  “But this is one of those fascinating occasions where nobility and stupidity are all but indistinguishable from each other.  As much as I mock the latter, I do have considerable respect for the former.”  It tilted its head.  “You did something stupid, because your father told you to do it and you were taught all your life that he must be obeyed.  And now you are here, because you are willing to sacrifice yourself to save your family.”

“You’re mocking me.”  He glared.

“If I was mocking you, I would be bringing up just how terrible you are at sucking cock.”  The satyr rolled its eyes.  “If I had known interceding would make her that mad at me I’d have let her strangle you.”

His eyes widened as he stared up at the satyr.  And then, to his own surprise, he started to laugh.  “I hate you.”

“Pity.”  The satyr shrugged.  “I think I rather like you.”  It offered Thomas a hand, and Thomas let it pull him back to his feet.  “I would not protect you from her, even if I could.”  It met Thomas’s eyes.  “But I will ensure she keeps her word.”

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Truth and Shadows : Chapter 4

“For a couple months, things went smoothly for us.  We kept our relationship between us and…”  Viteri shifted a little.  “Ma’am, uh…”  He hesitated.

“Mr. Viteri?”  She raised an eyebrow.

“Well, it’s just you seem like a proper lady, so I’m not sure…”  He gave her an awkward look.  “Just there are places where the details are a little important so…”

“I’m a big girl, Mr. Viteri.”  She smiled a little.

“Right.  But if you get uncomfortable, then uh…”  He shrugged.  “Right.  Anyway.”  He took a deep breath.  “Tobias and I, we got to know each other in a lot of different ways, and we learned some things about ourselves too.”

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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.

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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…)

Wren and Adam: Chapter 12

He knelt on the floor, his forehead against the carpet and his hands flat.  Wren’s magic held him fast in place despite his best efforts.  He could kill one of the most powerful beasts in the world, and he was completely helpless to his girlfriend’s whim.  Adam felt the urge to vomit as Sima and Wren casually began discussing the best way to punish him for his ‘misbehavior’.

Coraline.  Wren had suggested going after Coraline.  Wren told Sima about the biker, and Sima actually laughed.  The thought of his little sister anywhere near these people was unimaginable.  Coraline belonged on a stage.  She was a singer, not a…  Not a killer.  Not like him.

Fingers caught hold of his chin, and Sima raised his head to make him look at her.  He kept his face calm and composed.  Renee hadn’t broken him.  This bitch wouldn’t either.  He knew what werewolf blood tasted like.  He’d already killed something more powerful than Sima could ever hope to be.  Something flickered across her eyes.  And she knew it too.  “Do you know what my gift is, Adam?”

“You can tell when someone is lying.”  Adam nodded.

“Let’s play a game.  Tell me Adam, when it comes to ice cream, would you rather chocolate or vanilla?”  Sima raised an eyebrow.

“Vanilla.”  He tried not to roll his eyes.

“Would you rather boxers or briefs?”

This was stupid, but if he didn’t play along, Wren would make him.  “Boxers.”

(more…)

The Woods: Chapter 5

Keffer caught her arm and yanked her off the bed, pushing her against the wall.  “Enough, Ileana.  You’re killing him.”

She started to protest, and his hand touched her breast.  A wave of sensation flooded through her, driving all else from her mind.  Ileana staggered when it stopped, catching and holding Keffer for support.  It took her several tries to catch her breath.  “My father was not a traitor.”

“I am well aware of who and what your father was, Ileana.”  Keffer pulled her into a hug, holding her tightly.

“He was lying.”  She clung to him.

“He told the truth as he saw it, precious heart.”

“Kef—”

“Is it his fault he was deceived?”  Keffer looked down at her.

“That doesn’t excuse that he lied to me then.”  She glared.

“No.”  Keffer nodded.  “It does not.  You were his wife, and should have been his first loyalty.  He broke the laws of sacred hospitality.  You are not wrong to be angry.”  He tilted her head up.  “But some of your anger is misdirected.  Tell me, precious heart, is it the knife or the one who wields it that holds responsibility for the cut?”

“Why would they…”  She shook her head, and let Keffer guide her to a chair.  “Why would anyone seek to hurt my father?”

“Greed for his lands.”  Keffer shrugged.  “And sheer ignorance.  How few among the mortal realm would believe such as I still exist?  Your family has performed its sacred duty well these past centuries.”

“And now it’s his family holding the castle.”  Ileana sighed.  “Nicolas.”

“The man who tried to save your sister.”  Keffer raised an eyebrow.

“I…”  She sighed.  “I need to think.”

“Take your time, precious heart.”  Keffer rose, then bent and picked up Thomas, slinging the unconscious man over his shoulder.

“Where are you…”  Ileana frowned.

“Forgive me, dear one, but I do not think it is in his best interest to be within your line of sight.”  Keffer shrugged.  “I will return him to you when your rage no longer controls you.”

Ileana sighed, then nodded.  She took a deep breath, and then rose and began to pace.

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 4

“So can you like arrest people again now?”  Daniel tilted his head at Stephan.

“No.  I can however, turn over information to the police and let them arrest people.”  Stephan shook his head as he looked over the paperwork.

“I want one.”  Daniel pulled the private investigator’s license closer to him.

“Excuse me…”  Stephan raised an eyebrow at him.  “Raise your hand if you aren’t a wanted fugitive.”

“Arf.”  Ash raised his hand.

“You’re wanted…”  Stephan reached over and petted him.  “Just not a fugitive.”  Ash leaned into the petting.  “So I get to be the legit one.”

“We need a case.”  Daniel budged over on the couch to make room for Matthias, then immediately snuggled back into him.  Matthias draped an arm over his shoulders before taking a sip of his coffee.  “Oh, and a logo and catch phrase and —”

“And capes.”  Anna piped up.  Ash immediately woofed in agreement.

“No capes.”  Matthias shook his head.

“Oh come on…”  Anna put her hands on her hips, a pose that made her belly protrude even more.

Only Stephan still used his real name, though he had a second identity set up as well, just in case.  The ID in Daniel’s wallet made him, Ash, and Anna all siblings with the last name of McNamara.  There was enough resemblance that they could pull it off pretty convincingly.  At least, when Ash was being a human.  Magda and Matthias remained mother and son, but they were now using the last name Savatier.  A set of already prepared IDs was going to make Anna’s child the child of a sadly diseased mother and Ash’s real identity.  That way, in a worst-case scenario, the child would be insulated from the cabal and hopefully end up in the custody of Ash’s maternal aunt.  It wasn’t a good plan, but if things actually did get to the plan Z point it was the best they could do.

“Capes are impractical.”  Magda brought Stephan a cup of the coffee.  “They hamper, catch on things, get grabbed by opponents, and can off balance you at a critical moment.”

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience.”  Daniel grinned up at her, then when she just gave him a look, he blinked.  “You’ve fought somebody while wearing a cape?”

“I was born in sixteenth century France, Daniel.”  She chuckled.  “The only thing worse than fighting in a cape is fighting in a corset and petticoats.”

“So I guess adding a corset to the ensemble is out of the question?”  Daniel raised an eyebrow at Stephan.

“Depends on how drunk I am.”  Stephan chuckled.

“We still need a case.”  Matthias finished his coffee.  “Not a lot of call for private dicks way out here.”

“Hoping Anna will flash something, get us a lead.”

“Okay, the words ‘flash’ and ‘private dick’ are never again to be uttered in the same conversation.”  Magda shook her head.

“I did already.”  Anna rolled her eyes.

“A slightly less metaphorical lead.”  Stephan glanced at her.

She made a vexed noise.  “Not my fault none of you know where to find an angel.”

(more…)

The Woods: Chapter 4

He was no longer certain how many days he’d spent hanging from the tree.  At least a week, maybe more.  Time seemed to pass strangely where ever it was they were.  At seemingly random intervals he’d take his meals with Ileana and her strange companions.  He was becoming somewhat inured to their taunts.  The delicate winged woman had even expressed disappointment in the fact he no longer blushed just by sitting at the table.  The satyr, however, could still make him turn red, though at least half the time it was anger rather than embarrassment.  It would whisper to him when it put him back in the tree, of things it would like to do to him.  Ileana seemed to find it amusing, though she never let the creature go beyond words.

The few hours he was given to sleep were never quite enough.  He’d be woken, and set out to be displayed in her garden again.  Her silent trophy.  She never let him speak, save to make him beg for basic necessities.  And to make him ask the satyr to be put back in the tree.

They were plotting against his brothers.  Ileana viewed Nicolas as a threat, and rightly so.  Nicolas would have known what all these creatures were.  If anyone could get this blasted collar off, it was him.  There had to be some way to get a warning to him.  With warning, he could prepare, could…  Do something.  Thomas had nearly forgotten what it felt like not to hurt.

She was waiting for him outside the privy door.  Waiting to put him back in the tree.  Thomas took a deep breath.  The satyr had suggested a collar for Nicolas, and Ileana had laughed.  Said it was only fair that the beast have a pet prince of his own.  He couldn’t stomach the thought of his brother at that thing’s mercy.  If she would just listen…  He looked up, and met his reflection’s eyes.  Then he took another deep breath, and went to the door.

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 3

Daniel sat down across from Ash.  “Alright, Ash, I’m going to have to touch you for this.  Is that okay?”

The guy tilted his head and gave him a quizzical whine.  He knew the guy could talk, because he apparently talked to Magda and Stephan.  But around anyone else, he just acted like a dog.  He’d spent half of yesterday playing fetch with Anna.  It occurred to him that probably should have weirded him out more than it did, but the last few months had completely thrown off his definition of what qualified as ‘normal’.

Ash was a kid not much older than he was, who’d been through hell.  He didn’t know if this would work, but it was worth a try.  He reached out and put his hands on either side of Ash’s head.

Nothing happened.  He concentrated, trying to focus on the stir of energy he’d felt the times he’d healed Matthias.  There was nothing.  Ash looked confused, and Daniel frowned.  “It’s not working.”

“It was worth a —”  Magda started to let out a dejected sigh.

“No, I mean…”  Daniel shook his head.  “I mean my power.  It’s not working.”

“The wards shouldn’t be interfering with that.”  Matthias frowned as he turned toward Magda.

“They shouldn’t.”  She nodded.  “That doesn’t mean they aren’t.”

“My powers don’t work in the house.”  Anna spoke up from where she was sitting.  “I can’t look into any of your heads in here.”

“Which implies you’ve been trying…”  Matthias gave the girl a look.

“I figured it was the wards.”  Anna shrugged.  “I mean, that’s why we came here, isn’t it?”

“Let’s try outside.”  Daniel stood.  Ash followed, crawling after him as they headed for the porch, and the others followed as well.

(more…)

Gabriel : Part 3

“Batman has has entered the building.  Repeat, Batman has entered the building.”

“Didn’t he say for you not to call him that?”  Ted rubbed his forehead.

“Batman is now glaring at me in a threatening manner.”

“So, situation normal.”  Laura’s voice came over the radio.

There was a pause before Michaels spoke again.  “Batman wants to know why you are still on the radio after 10 PM on a school night.”

“Did Batman miss the part where I am a juvenile delinquent dropout?”

“She’s doing a self-study GED program.”  Ted smiled.

“Batman is pointing out —” There was a small thudding sound and Michaels yelped.  “That doesn’t change that there is a 10PM curfew on school nights.”

“Relax, I’m in Lloyd’s living room.”

“One, I’ve asked you not to call me that, and two, you broke into my fucking house again?”

“Kindly do not cuss in front of the minor.”  Ted tried not to snicker.

“Yeah, don’t fucking cuss in front of me.  I don’t need to hear that shit.”  Laura’s voice drawled.  “And I didn’t break in, I used your spare key.”

“Who told you where my spare key was?”

I did.

“Alright, one, why are you telling people where my spare key is, and two, how the fuck are you even transmitting over this channel?”

Language.”

“I am not getting a lecture in morals from a succubus.”

“The Batman thing is dumb.”  Laura sounded like she was eating something.

“You’re just mad we won’t let you Batgirl.”

“No.”  Laura didn’t even bother to disguise the fact she was lying.  “But Batman’s been done.  He needs something new.  How about…”  She swallowed.  “The Crimson Crusader?”

“If that man owns a single article of red clothing I will give you a hundred dollars.”

“You’re going to have to pay up.  The volunteer shirts from the park thing are red and he actually showed up to help like he promised.”  Ted laughed.

“Fuck.”

Ted asked you to watch your language.”

“Yeah, Ted asked you to watch your fucking language.”

“How come you aren’t yelling at her about her language?”

I find her usage precocious and adorable.”

“And we girls gotta stick together.”  Laura made a small slurping sound.  “You know, with her on the team, we should probably incorporate fire or demons or something into the name.  The Hellfire Avengers?”

“No.”  Ted started shaking his head.

“Batman wants to know if anyone other than him has actually done any real work on this case?”

“Right.”  Ted looked down at the folder on his desk.  “I’ve got the location the other missing person was last camping…”

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Gabriel : Part 2

He sighed, and looked around the bar.  You know, there is this new-fangled thing you might want to consider trying, just for variety.  It’s called ‘sex with women’.  Why would I share you with another woman, pet?  I hate you.  I know.  Pick one and lets get this over wi…  Corner, near the window.  I see it.  Let’s go ruin his night.

Gabriel walked over to where the twink was swaying just a little.  “Everything alright here?”

The older guy shrugged.  “I think my buddy here had a little too much to drink.”  He started to grab the kid’s arm.  “I’ll just take him home.”

“Kid, hey.”  Gabriel looked up.  “You got a name?”

“I’m, uh…”  The kid blinked at him, his eyes dazed.

“He just needs to go home…”  The older guy narrowed his eyes at Gabriel.

“I can see that.”  Gabriel nodded.  “Kid, you’ve got ID or something?”

“Yeah…”  The kid swayed a little, nearly losing his balance as he reached for his back pocket.

The older guy grabbed his wrist before he could get his wallet out, then glared at Gabriel.  “I’ve got this under control, man.  Back off.”

Say it, say it.  Come on, pet.  Do it for me.  Say ‘starting to want you to make me’.  Please.  Shut up.  “Kid, do you know this guy?”

A confused look came to the kid’s face.  He shook his head and frowned a little.  “I, uh…”

“Somebody I should call for you?”  Gabriel raised an eyebrow.

“My boyfriend…” The kid started to nod.

“I said back the fuck off.”  The guy yanked the kid away from Gabriel, then glared.  “You want to start something?”

“No.”  Gabriel smiled.  “But I’m more than happy to finish it.”

“Son of a…”  The guy balled up his fist and took a swing.  Gabriel put his hand up and caught it, then twisted the guy’s arm up to throw him off balance.  He put his other hand on the guy’s shoulder, and bounced his face off the tabletop before shoving him aside.

The guy fell to the ground and lay there, groaning.  The bouncer made his way through the crowd.  “Sir, I’m going to need to…”

Gabriel pulled out his badge and flipped it open.  “Call the kid here a cab, get him home.”  He stepped over to the man on the ground.  “You have the right to remain silent.”

(more…)

Gabriel : Part 1

He was still buttoning his shirt when his eyes fell on the file sitting on his kitchen counter.  Plain, manila, and taunting him.  His cell phone sat atop it.  Gabriel walked forward, staring at the thing.  Then he reached for his phone.  It blinked to life before he touched it, open to the map application.  A place several miles out of town.

Gabriel took several deep breaths before looking at the name on the file.  “Roske.”  He sighed, then picked up the phone.  He dialed Angela’s number.  “Hey sweetie.  It’s Gabe.  Look I hate to do this, but something just came up with a case.  Can we take a rain check on tonight?  Call me.”  He stabbed the end button.

The map popped back into view.  He stared at it for several seconds before heading into the living room to find his keys.

(more…)