Archeology 101: Chapter 8

“How is Rome?”  Abigail grinned at the phone.

“A lot rainier than I wanted it to be.”  Bridget’s voice came back over.  “I won’t be able to go sight-seeing until it clears up.  I wish —”  She cut herself off.  “No, Khait.”

“He’s not even in here, he’s on the computer.”  Abigail leaned over to look.  “Binge-watching Netflix.”

“Well, at least he’s doing something normal.”  Bridget continued chatting about the new job.  Since she was mostly talking about the filing system, Abigail tuned it out and just said ‘uh-uh’ whenever Bridget paused.  “And there is this stunning blond at the cafe I’ve been going to.”

Now that was interesting.  Abigail sat up.  “Getting back in the saddle now, are we?”

“Don’t be silly.”  She could almost hear Bridget blushing.

“Ooh, tell me all about her.”  Abigail grinned before leaning back again and putting her feet up on the arm of the couch.

“I uh…”  Bridget let out an honest to god giggle.  “I have a date tonight.”

(more…)

Advertisements

Archeology 101: Chapter 7

Khait carried the pile of books toward the library and dumped them into the return box.  Bridget had said unless she summoned him, he wasn’t to teleport anywhere.  And he couldn’t have one of the two wheeled horseless transport things or a car until he had a classy diverse license.  He gave another long-suffering sigh.  And she’d banned him from just getting one.  He had to seek out instruction and pass a test of some kind.

He cut through an alley on his way to where they’d told him to meet him, and stopped short.  Professor Kravitz was backing away from a big man and an angry looking woman.  “Professor.”  Khait grinned as he walked over.  “How are you?”

“Who…”  Professor Kravitz gave him a strange look.

“Get lost.”  The man narrowed his eyes at Khait.

“Unlikely.  I have an excellent sense of direction.”  Khait smiled.  Bridget had been very clear.  He wasn’t allowed to instigate any conflict.  But self-defense was still allowed him.  Perhaps the day would be fun after all.

“I said scram.”  The man sneered.

“Professor…”  Khait turned toward him.  “Would you like to scram?”

“Very —”  The professor’s eyes widened.  “Look —”

The big man’s fist hit Khait in the side of the face, smashing into him with the force of a mule’s kick.  Slowly, Khait turned back toward him.  The big man blinked.  “The fuck —”

“Come now…”  Khait sent out a tendril of power.  These two had attacked him, and he was defending the professor.  He saw a slight flush rise in the cheeks of the big man.  “Surely you could think of more entertaining things to do to me?”

“I…”  The big man started to smile as he took a step toward Khait, and then he caught hold of Khait’s arm.  “I can think of a few things.”  He yanked Khait toward him and planted a hard kiss on his mouth.

“The fuck are you doing?”  The big man’s companion stared.

His hand went around the back of the big man’s head and held tight as he brought his power to bear.  Energy flooded into him, and he heard the big man groan in ecstasy as Khait’s nature manifested.  The man gave one last thrash, then went limp.  Khait released him, and he dropped lifelessly to the ground.  Khait licked his lips.  “Delicious…”  He gave the woman a sultry smile, and saw her flush.  He held out a hand to her.  “Next?”

(more…)

Archeology 101: Chapter 6

Abigail gestured at the screen.  “This is the Internet.”

“It looks very much like your television.”  Khait glanced up at her.

“No, not the monitor.  The stuff on the monitor.”  Abigail tapped the screen.  “This, specifically, is Wikipedia.  It’s like a massive collection of human knowledge.  Or a summary of it, anyway.”  She typed in a few letters, then clicked the mouse.  “See, this is San Francisco, which we are very near.  We’d live there, but neither of us can afford it.”

“I can —”

“Khait.”  She exhaled.  It was so, so tempting.  But Bridget would throw a fit.  “Maybe we can find some way to…”

“She is very…”  Khait made a noise that sounded like a low growl.

“What are you banned from now?”  She raised an eyebrow.

“Donuts.”  He let out a long-suffering sigh.

“Why are you…”  She caught herself.  “Never mind, I don’t want to know.”  She pointed at the keyboard.  “Okay, you can type things into this.”  She grabbed his hand and put it on the mouse.  “This moves that little arrow thing, see it?  You click on the blue underlined bits and they’ll take you to other pages.”  She heard the door open.  “Okay, that’s Bridget back with the pizza.”

“I could have —”

“Without stealing someone else’s order?”  She sighed.

“Well…”  He stuck out his lower lip.  “No.”

“Learn about San Francisco.”  She headed out of the room.

(more…)

Archeology 101: Chapter 5

“Okay…”  Bridget took several deep breaths.  Then she took several more.  Then she got a drink of water, drank it, and took several more deep breaths.  Only then did she turn to look at Khait.  “Let’s set a few more ground rules.”

“Sharks.”  Abigail was sitting on the couch, staring at the wall as though shell-shocked.

“I am uncertain —”  Khait started shaking his head.

“One…”  Bridget held up a hand to stop him from talking.  “Street lights.  Do not alter them in any way.”

“Yes, mistress.”  He nodded.

“Two…”  She took a deep breath.  “When I say I wish someone would go away, it is a rhetorical statement.  Do…”  She exhaled.  “Not teleport them anywhere.  Especially not anywhere they may be endangered.”

“Even if they attempt to take liberties with your person?”  Khait raised an eyebrow.

“He grabbed my ass.”  She shook her head.  “That’s the kind of thing you punch someone for.  Teleporting them to the arctic circle is not okay.”  She hesitated a moment, then sighed.  “Even if it was a little bit funny.”  She shook her head.  “It’s still not okay.”

“I…”  Khait shrugged.  “Yes, mistress.”

“Three.  Do not change my grades.”

“You wanted an A.”

“Bridget, don’t you think your priorities are a little —”

“I will get to it, Abigail.”  Bridget sighed.  “I wanted an A.  But it’s my responsibility to get one.  I don’t learn anything when you go in and change my grades.  Don’t do it.”  She glanced at Abigail.  “Don’t change Abigail’s either.”

“Bitch.”

“Yes, mistress.”

“Four…”  Bridget stood there a moment, trying to put the words together properly.  Then she just started shaking her head.  “Why the hell did you put sharks in the swimming pool?  It’s a shark.  Swimming pool.  People swim in pools so they don’t have to worry about sharks.  If they wanted to swim with sharks here is an ocean like twenty miles that way —”  She pointed.

“It is that way.”  Khait pointed in a different direction.

“Irrelevant!  You don’t put sharks in pools!”  She stared at him.  “Why did you put the sharks in the pool?”

“The little girl wanted to see them.  She gave me ice cream.”

“You…”  Bridget blinked.  “What?”

“Ice cream.  It is a frozen dairy thing with sugar and —”

“I know what ice cream is!”

“Oh.”  Khait nodded.  “She was too small to go in the cage to see sharks, and it made her very sad.  She likes sharks.”

“So you put sharks in the pool so a little girl could see them.”  Bridget ran a hand down her face.

“She gave me ice cream.”  Khait nodded.

“That is simultaneously one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen…”  Abigail was trying not to laugh.  “And the worse nightmare I’ve ever experienced.”

“No sharks in pools.”  Bridget felt her own lips trying to twitch into a smile.

“Yes, mistress.”

“You know, you could have gone with smaller sharks.”  Abigail leaned back.  “Like nurse sharks or something.  That way she could have touched them.”

“Abigail…”  Bridget all but growled her friend’s name.

“Those wouldn’t have eaten her stepfather.”  Khait shrugged.  “Bull sharks are —”

“Wait.”  Bridget held up a hand.  “What’s this about eating a stepfather?”

“Khait…”  Abigail was staring at him in horror.  “Did the sharks actually eat someone?”

“Well, no.”  Khait frowned.

“Okay, good.”

“He got out of the pool too fast.  I had to get a tiger.”

“What?”

(more…)

Archeology 101: Chapter 4

She stopped in front of a column and started hitting her head against it.  Behind her, Abigail had a firm grip on Khait’s arm.  They’d already lost him in the airport six times.  He kept wandering off to look at things, or simply stopping to stare while they continued walking.  Fortunately, as they’d disembarked at a different time than the rest of their team, they’d managed to avoid him being noticed.  “Alright.”  She turned toward Abigail.  “What do we —”

“There are more of those moving stairs.”  Khait pointed, a huge grin on his face.  “Can I ride them?”

“You set a TSA agent on fire!”  She glared at him.

“You told me to.”

“I most certainly did not.”  She frowned, then looked at Abigail who was sighing.  “Did I?”

“The line was slow and you wished someone would light a fire under them.”  Abigal gave a small shake of her head.  “You’ve really got to eliminate the words ‘I wish’ from your vocabulary.”

“Ugh.”  She pointed at Khait.  “That fiasco with the baggage claim was all him.”

“She has a point there.”  Abigail shrugged as she looked at Khait.  “Was making things fly off the conveyor belt really necessary?”

“You seemed in a hurry.  I was trying to help.”  Khait gave Abigail an innocent, wide-eyed look.

“The thing with the bathrooms?”  Bridget folded her arms.

“Which thing are you refere —”

“The fact that there was more than one proves my point.”  She uncrossed her arms and jabbed a finger into his chest.  “And the thing with the cop?  Not okay.”

“What is a cop?”  Khait blinked.

“The guy you made piss hims—”  Abigail sighed.  “The second guy you made piss himself?  Law enforcement.”

“You were concerned about the professor.  I was attempting to assist by creating a distraction.”  Khait shrugged.  “Everyone else was highly amused.”

“He’s got a point there, Bridge.”  Abigail snickered.  When Bridget glared, Abigail rolled her eyes.  “Come on, that cop was totally being an ass.”

“I…”  Bridget started to raise her hand, then sighed.  “Okay, that one you are forgiven for.  The rest though?”  She poked Khait again.  “Not okay.”  She took a deep breath.  “I wish you wouldn’t use magic without my permission or Abigail’s, and you may not whammy Abigail to get her permission.”

Khait started to nod, then frowned.  “So, if bulls were about to trample someone, I shouldn’t —”

“Or if you are saving someone’s life, but I wish you’d be discreet about it.”  She glanced at Abigail.  “Better?”

“Yes.”  Abigail nodded.

“What is whammy?”  Khait tilted his head.

“Argh.”  She started walking, then stopped in her tracks.  A horrified thought had just come to her.  “Abigail…”

“What’s wrong?”

“I have a studio apartment.”

“Oh.”

(more…)

Archeology 101: Chapter 3

Khait rubbed his head and looked up at his ‘mistress’.  “Please stop hitting me.”

“Don’t whammy my friend.”  Bridget glared at him.

“What is ‘whammy’?”  Khait tilted his head.

“That thing you just did that uh…”  Bridget glanced at where Abigail was adjusting her clothes.  “Abby, are you okay?”

“Oh yeah.”  Abigail smiled.  “I’m great.  Wow.”  She laughed a little.

“That thing that made her like that.”  Bridget pointed.  She narrowed her eyes, then jabbed him with the umbrella.  “What are you?”

“I am not certain how to answer that question in a meaningful way.”  He spread his hands, moving away a little so she’d have a more difficult time hitting him with her chosen weapon.  This was going to require a change of tactics.  “I was cursed.  To escape the curse, I must throw myself upon your mercy.”

“Why were you cursed?”  Before he could answer, Bridget held up a hand.  “And I’m ordering you to or wishing that you would or however it works.  Tell me the truth.”

Oh.  That was going to be a problem.  Okay, so, no lying, but maybe he could leave a few parts out.  Like as close to everything as possible.  “I seduced a queen and caused a…”  He shrugged.  “Political difficulty that annoyed a dragon.”

“There is no such thing as dragons.”  Bridget rolled her eyes.

“Yesterday you would have said the same about genies.”  Abigail gestured at him.

“He’s not a genie.”  Bridget glared at her friend, then looked back at him.  “Tell the truth.  What are you?”

“I…”  He felt the magic of the talisman take hold and gave a frustrated sigh.  Isis had really gone all in on the retribution thing.  He was going to have to be careful.  “I’m an incubus.”

“Whoa.  Seriously?”  Abigail laughed a little.  “Wow, now that explains the whammy.”

“Stop talking about the whammy.”  Bridget glared at her again.

“What is a whammy?”  Khait exhaled.

“Like, who all does the whammy work on?  I mean, clearly it doesn’t work on Bridget, but is that because she’s your boss or because she doesn’t like cock?”  Abigail leaned forward.

“I…”  Khait considered the question a moment, then shrugged.  “Could be both.”

“Would it work on guys who like cock?”  Abigail chewed her bottom lip.  “Cause I’ve got some theories about Professor Montague and really could use an A in math.”

“Abigail Cross!”  Bridget gave her a scandalized look.

“What?”  Abigail responded with an innocent smile.  “Come on, getting that man laid would do the whole student body a favor.”

“Stop whoring out my genie.”

(more…)

Archaeology 101: Chapter 2

This was…  Where in the…  Khait started looking around.  Aside from the two women staring at him, he saw no one else around.  He also saw a hole in the ceiling, a lot of sand, and best of all, no angry dragon-goddesses.  Things were looking up, mostly.  “Didst thou sayeth…?”  He glanced down at himself, then shrugged.  Naturally.  Stark naked.  Well, that should make things easy, though neither of the women before him had averted their eyes.  The dark-skinned one was staring with a clearly appreciative expression, and the brown haired one looked at him as though he had tracked dog feces through her parlor.  And they were both dressed… in trousers that cut off at the knees.  Well, if you could call it dressed.

“Who the hell are you, and where did you come from?”  The brunette’s words were strange.  It took him a few moments to puzzle out what she had said.

“Khait, my lady.”  He bowed.  “I cometh…”  He paused, and looked around.  “Whither art we?”  He took a step toward them, then caught a glimpse of himself in a metallic decoration set into the wall.  Sure enough, he was indeed nude, but that wasn’t the part that concerned him.  He glanced at himself, then looked back at the women.  One of them had to have summoned him, but why…  “Wherefore hath mine appearance not changeth?”  If she was one of Isis’s adherents, he might be in a little trouble.

“Why the hell are you talking like that?”

Twice now she’d invoked hell.  He couldn’t decide if that were good or bad.  “Thy tongue is an oddity.”

“Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”  The dark-skinned woman started snickering.  “Or weareth nothing at all?”  Her accent was different than the other one’s.  Slightly more familiar, though there was a mocking tone to her words.  “Seriously, how drunk are you?”

“Methinks I be sober…”  He shrugged.  “Could beest mine mistake.”  He had been drunk, before Isis had…  No, she’d drugged him.  Somehow.  Hadn’t she?

“Yeah, I’ll bet your mistaken.  Right…”  The dark-skinned woman whistled.  “Not that I don’t appreciate the show, but we might want to get you some clothes.”

“Doth thee plan to acquire proper attire?”  He raised an eyebrow.

“I’m getting the professor.”  The brunette ran a hand down her face.

(more…)

Archaeology 101 – Chapter 1

Khait yanked at the ropes binding him to the stone table.  To his surprise, they failed to give even the slightest amount.  He frowned, then began struggling in earnest.  The last thing he remembered was a woman pouring him wine.  There were a half-dozen black-robed figures moving around the room.  One of them came toward him with a knife.  Khait blinked as the figure began cutting off his clothing.  Then he smirked.  “Ah, it’s going to be like that, is it?”  He licked his lips.  “You know, if you wanted to pl…”  He cut off as a woman came through the door.  “Oh.”

“Tighten the restraints.  He needs to be still.”  She waved a hand at one of the robed figures.

He grunted as the figure obeyed.  “Isis, look, I’m certain this is…”  His eyes widened as she drew a knife of her own, and cut open his arm.  “Isis, you and I go back a long way, and…”  She touched her finger to the blood, then began using it to draw a glyph on his chest.  “Isis.  Isis.”  He started shaking his head.  “This isn’t…”

“You…”  Her eyes gleamed with an unnatural light.  “Were warned.”

What he hoped was a charming smile came to his face.  “Look, I get that you are angry, but why don’t we just —”

“Your antics have jeopardized us all.”  She shook her head.

“I…”  He winced as she worked the blade again to draw more blood.  Though he knew it would do him little good, he tried to summon up his magic anyway.  He felt as though he were trying to get purchase on ice.  “Isis, you don’t want to do this.  You want to just eat me and go one with —”

“Eating you…”  Isis rolled her eyes.  “Would do me little good.”

“Little good?  You’d get a good meal, I’d be out of your hair, you win.”  He tried struggling again, but the restraints prevented him from moving.  They pulled at his joints, straining them until just breathing was painful.  “Isis —”

“I’m well aware killing you is not an option.”  She leaned down until her lips were near his ear.  “Usariel.”

Not good.  Painful or not, he started thrashing.  He even managed to nearly pull his arm free before it was yanked down and secured again.  He opened his mouth.  “Isi—”  Metal was forced between his teeth, both gagging him and holding his head in place.

Isis stood.  Her eyes had left the masquerade of humanity behind, and glowed with green fire.  She set a gemstone on his forehead.  Power seemed to wrap around him, and then it started to tear.

Behind the gag, he screamed.

(more…)

Escapade: Chapter 5

He picked the phone up and set it back down again three times before finally dialing the number.  She answered on the third ring.  “You’re checking up on me.”

“I am simply calling to ask how the tour went.”  Michaels glared in the general direction of San Francisco.  Liar.  You’re calling to check up.  Rather than sit around and worry about her, he’d taken Diana up on her offer to have a nice quiet week at her uncle’s cabin.

“Liar.”  Laura snickered.

There was background noise.  Way more background noise than should be present in a quiet hotel room.  “What are you up to?”

“I ran into an assassin and we kidnapped me an academic adviser and drove him out of the city so we could find some magical paraphernalia that used to belong to Merlin’s girlfriend Nimue.”

“Uh-huh.”  He rubbed his forehead and hit the speaker phone button.

“Except we ran into werewolves but that’s okay because my new partner can turn into a gorilla and he just beat the shit out of the alpha and took over the pack.

“Did he now?”  He sat down next to Diana and rolled his eyes.

“And it was awesome.  Only, it turns out that the werewolves were just after the same artifacts we were and somebody else stole them first, so I went to a history lecture and it was actually pretty interesting.  While I was doing that we learned there was a vampire tailing the professor, so we kidnapped him again and stuck him in a five-star hotel suite.”

“I see.”  He saw Diana cover her mouth and try not to giggle.

“So now I’m just kicking back doing karaoke with a hit man while we wait for the vampires’ base to open.”

“Right.”  He nodded.  “You’ll be back at your hotel by midnight, right?”

“Hell no.  The five-star place has a jacuzzi on the balcony and I am so gonna try that thing out.”

“Midnight.”  He narrowed his eyes.

“We probably won’t even be done killing vampires until like one AM.  You and Diana enjoy the cabin and make kissy faces at each other.”  Or better yet, get the handcuffs out again.

Diana laughed.  “I really hope she’s majoring in creative writing.”

“Yeah…”  Michaels stared at the phone for a second.  Then he dialed again.  What are you doing?

The phone was answered on the second ring, but it was Ted’s voice on the other end.  “Michaels, is something wrong?.”

“Yep.”  He exhaled.  “I’m going to need you to tell Gabe to get to San Francisco.”  Hey, I’ve got the situation under control!  And he was the Queen of fucking Sheba.  “Laura’s found herself some trouble.”

(more…)

Escapade: Chapter 4

He raised an eyebrow when Laura stopped the car still some distance from the university.  Kravitz shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  He really couldn’t blame the guy for being disturbed.  “Um, Adam…”  Laura turned around to look at him.  “What do we do now?”

“About…?”  He raised an eyebrow.

“Once they learn the files are encrypted they are totally going to come after him again, so we can’t exactly just take him back and drop him off.”  She glanced at Kravitz.  “I mean, unless you’ve got a good place to hide?”

“I teach a class that starts in an hour.”  Kravitz sighed.

“Yeah, you should call in a sub or a TA or something cause um…”

“He’s a professor, Laura.  He’s been gone long enough already that questions are going to be asked.”  Adam leaned forward.  “We didn’t exactly give him time to say he was going out.”

“Well, that’s why I’m asking you.”  She waved a hand.  “You’re like, the professional here.”

“Two options.  One, we stash him somewhere —”

“Do I get any input on —”  Kravitz frowned.

“No.”  Laura shook her head at him.  “Option two?”

“We stay with him.  Shadow him.  That’s got complications.”  He nodded to her.  “You stand out in a crowd, and I can be ordered to bring him in.”

“There is Erilon.”  Laura shrugged.

“Who is —”  Kravitz looked from Adam to her and back again.

“She’s a demon.  The one you saw in the mirror.”  Adam leaned back.

“A…”  Kravitz’s eyes widened and he went pale again.

“You know, you could have broken that to him a little nicer.”  Laura glared.  “I mean —”  She cut off when her phone rang, then glanced at it and picked it up.  “Hey Daniel, how is things?”  She listened for a second.  “Nah, I’m in Berkeley right now.”  She listened.  “Well, at first I was just touring colleges then I sort of ended up kidnapping a professor and now we are doing some Indiana Jones shit to find some missing artifacts.”  She listened for a moment, then glared at the phone.  “I am not.  We really did kidnap a professor.”  She held the phone out to Kravitz.  “Tell him we kidnapped you.”

“Oh for the love of…”  Adam banged his head on the back of the chair.

“Ugh.”  Laura put the phone back to her ear.  “Oh, we means Adam.”  She nodded.  “Yeah, that Adam.”  She shook her head.  “Nah, if they find out he’s helping me shit will hit the fan so we are playing it low key right now.”  She glared.  “Kidnapping a professor is too low key.”  She wrinkled her nose.  “I don’t need you to call Michaels.  Daniel…  Daniel…  Daniel if you call Michaels I am going to have Erilon do Monty Python scenes in your head every single time you and Matthias have sex…  Yes, that is fighting dirty so don’t call Michaels…  Ha, Anna wishes she were that good…  We’ve got this.  Adam has a plan.”

“I do?”  Adam blinked.

She just nodded to him, and he sighed.  “Yeah, we’re good.  But hey, we might need Stephan at some point so maybe keep your phone around…  Yeah, you too.  Bye.”  She hung up the phone, then looked up at Adam.  “So, you had a plan?”

Adam sighed, then glanced at Kravitz.  “I am so, so sorry.”

(more…)

Escapade: Chapter 3

“Professor Kravitz?”  Laura raised an eyebrow.  The man behind the desk looked to be in his forties, with hair just starting to go gray.  His glasses were fashionable rather than spectacles, and he wore a simple t-shirt and jeans rather than what she expected from a history professor.

“Can I help you?”  He smiled, then looked from Adam to her.  “I’m fairly sure I would recall you if you were one of my students.”

“I’m here touring to decide if Berkeley is the school for me.”

“And you’ve an interest in archeology and history, then?”  His smile warmed. “How delightful, though I’ll warn you it’s not quite like Indiana Jones makes it out to be.”

“Oh god, I hope not.  Running from giant boulders 101 sounds like a really tough class.”  Laura grinned.  “But since my name actually is Lara Croft…”  Or so it said on her IDs.

Professor Kravitz laughed.  “Well then.  As I just had a meeting cancel, I’ve a few free minutes.”  He glanced at Adam.  “I didn’t catch your name.”

“I’m Adam Wu.”  Adam glanced at her, then looked back at Professor Kravitz.

“And you’re also interested in history?”

“She’s the prospective student.”  He jerked his head at her.  “I’m just…”

“He’s a hit man.”  Laura shrugged.  “Professional assassin.  It’s pretty boring, so he’s killing time hanging out with me.  So, your focus is European history?  Excalibur and shit?”  She waved at the artwork hanging on his office wall.  Help me out here?  Right.  Try this.  “I read your screed on all the things wrong with that King Arthur movie with Clive Owen that suggested he was a Roman officer.  I didn’t catch that the swords were held together by screws until I read that, and then it was like all I could see every time the camera focused on a weapon.”

“That might have been a forgivable error if they hadn’t also had trebuchets and stirrups.”  The professor nodded.

“Oh, and the whole landing north of the wall instead of, you know, sailing around it?  Though that’s just bad writing rather than an anachronism.”  Laura nodded.  She caught the rather bemused look Adam was giving her.  “But what I’d really like to ask you about is Merlin and Nimue.”

“I fear there is little historical basis for any of the Merlin myths, though I admit the folklore regarding the character is incredible.  Some of the earliest —”

“Specifically, the Landau expedition.”  Adam’s voice was quiet.  The professor’s head immediately came up, and he stared at Adam.  Adam shifted his position just slightly.  “You worked for Professor Landau’s son, didn’t you, Mr. Adler?”

“I was trying to be subtle.”  Laura glared at him.

“You told him I was a professional assassin.”  Adam glared back.

“I think you are mistaken.”  Professor Kravitz started shaking his head.

“No, he really is a hit man.”  Laura shrugged before turning her full gaze back to the professor.  “The Cabal knows where you are, Professor.  I’m not part of them.  I can help you.”

“I don’t have what you are after.”  His smile had vanished, replaced by no small amount of fear.  “The artifacts were destroyed.”

“We know.”  Laura nodded.  “But they want the files.”

“They burned —”

“You scanned them all.”  Adam clasped his hands behind his back.  “You’re an archaeologist and historian.  You wouldn’t have disposed of that data.”

“This is insanity.”  The professor swallowed.  “People were murdered because some cult believed…”  He shook his head again.  “It’s insanity.  You realize they actually think werewolves and vampires are real?”

“They are real.”  Laura shrugged.  “I got captured by vampires once and a couple good friends are werewolves.”  Maybe she’d leave out that she was regularly possessed by a succubus.  That sort of thing does seem ripe for misunderstanding.  She glanced at Adam.  “Hey, come to think of it, what even are you?”

“Can we…”  Adam sighed.

“That’s it.”  The professor glared.  “I’m calling —”

“Oh, don’t do that.  It would get awkward.”  Erilon’s form rose in the mirror on the back of his office door.  “And I think you’ll find things are both more and less insane than you previously believed.  Also, they weren’t joking about Adam being a hit man.  Please don’t give him a reason to hurt you or anyone else.”

(more…)

Escapade: Chapter 2

Though her boys had been teaching her some moves, Laura let Erilon guide her movements.  Her opponent stood no chance against the demoness.  The big man hit the ground as she made his knee and elbow both bend in ways nature had never intended.  Then she turned to note the young man had no trouble putting his own opponent down.  Be careful.  There is something strange about him.  I cannot get a read.  Right.  “Come on.”  She jerked her head before moving toward the next gallery.

Once they’d put some distance between themselves and the fight, she caught his arm.  “How did you know my name?  Who are you?”

“A palindrome.”

“What?”  She blinked.

“Madam…”  He gave her an elaborate bow.  “I’m Adam.”

“That…”  She stared at him before giggling.  “That was terrible.”  Laura, he’s Adam.  “Oh, shit, you’re Adam!”  Immediately she dragged him into the gallery garden before taking another look at him.  He didn’t exactly look intimidating, certainly not like the kind of guy who could shoot four professional killers before any of them got their weapons out.  Hell, he looked like a cute kid not much older than her.  Not much bigger, either.  He’d have been dwarfed by her boys, except maybe for Ted.  Then again, he had just put a man half again his size on the ground with practiced ease.  He feels strange.  Empty.  “So, you’re the guy who rescued Ash.”

“To be fair…”  Adam shrugged.  “I’m also the guy who kidnapped him.”

“Right.”  She frowned, then narrowed her eyes.  “Why are you following me?”

“I wasn’t.”  Adam chuckled.  “I was on my way to get some dinner, and you uh…”  He flicked one of her blue braids.  “Kind of stand out in a crowd.”

“There is no way you just randomly run into me in San Francisco.”  Laura shook her head.  “It would be hard enough to believe just in a city this size, but since I’ve only been in this city a few hours…”  She glared.  “Tell me why you’re following me.”

“You’re cute when you’re trying to be threatening.”  He smirked.  “I take it you’ve got Erilon calling in backup?”

How did he know about you?  How did he know about me?  “How did you know about her?”  She poked him in the chest.  “Ash couldn’t talk when Sima was around so he didn’t tell you.”  She folded her arms.  “Does the Cabal know?”

“Do you have her calling in backup?”  He glanced at the archway they’d come through.  “Cause I’d really prefer not to have to hurt any of your friends.”

“Pfft.  They’d take you apart.”  She caught his arm again when he started to move away.  “I’m not done questioning you yet.  Does the Cabal know about Erilon?”

“No.  I didn’t tell them.”  He glanced down at where her hand was around his arm.  “Let go.”  His eyes narrowed just a little.  “Now.”

Laura released his arm.  “You didn’t tell them.  How’d you learn?”  She made a growling sound.  “You were spying on us.”

“Yep.”  And he had the nerve to not even look apologetic.

“What are you doing in San Francisco?”  What else do we know about him?  Well, for starters, he’s wearing Armani and he’s got three guns concealed on him.  One of them is loaded with silver.  But even getting a surface read on him is taking effort.  If you weren’t looking at him, I wouldn’t be able to see him at all.  How is that possible?  It’s not.  Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

“Killing people.”  He shrugged.  “Mostly bad ones.  You?”

“You just confessed to spying on us and you’re asking me for information?”

“You asked me first.”  He waved a hand.  “Fair play and all.”  He sighed, then glanced at the gallery.  “They are closing.  You’ve got a safe place to stay?”

“I…”  Slowly she nodded.  “Yeah.  I do.”

“I’ll walk you to the cab stop.”  He gestured toward the street.

(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…)

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…)

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…)