War: Chapter 2

“So how was the luncheon?”  Michaels smirked at his partner.  Gabriel just narrowed his eyes.  The mayor’s wife patted his ass.  “I told you to spill coffee on the chief’s desk, but you didn’t listen.”

“I do not miss political functions.”  Stephan shook his head and looked up at Gabriel.

“You had to go to a lot of them?”  Michaels glanced at him.

“Only black guy on the force.”  Stephan shrugged.  “I got dragged along to all of them.”  He looked over his shoulder.  “Magda had to go to, until they hired…”  He frowned.  “What was her name?  Pretty blond girl with the…”  He gestured in front of his chest.

“Violet.”  Ash supplied the name.  Stephan smirked at him, and Ash rolled eyes.  “They were very noticeable.”

“Yeah she was…”  Stephan chuckled.  “Almost out of uniform a few times.  Good cop.  She’d bat her eyes, bend a little forward, and next thing anyone knew the suspect had babbled every bit of information they had.”

“I seem to recall a certain someone walking into a pole the time she wore a mini-dress for a sting.”  Magda grinned.  She caught Gabriel’s arm as he tried to go past into the house.  “Where are you going?”

“To change.”  Gabriel glanced down at her.

“Sorry partner.”  Michaels patted his arm.  “They took a vote when they learned you were in dress uniform.  You’re not allowed to do that.”  He looked over at where Matthias and Ted were coming up the stairs.  “Erilon voted on your behalves.”

“So, it was one to…”  Gabriel turned to count heads.

“Nah, it was unanimous.”  Michaels grinned.  “I like picking on you.”  He put his hand on Gabriel’s shoulder.  “Remember, our job is to serve and protect for the forces of justice and democracy.”  He turned back to the grill and started putting burgers onto plates for Matthias and Ted.

Gabriel started toward the door again, and Magda stepped into his path to block him.  Daniel and Laura came up the stairs, and Daniel started snickering.  Gabriel exhaled and looked up at the sky.  “She showed him the photo?”

“She showed him the photo,” Michaels confirmed.

“What photo?”  Matthias raised an eyebrow.

“Oh for…”  Gabriel took a deep breath, then he shrugged.

Michaels nearly dropped the plate he was holding when Gabriel simply started unbuttoning the jacket of the uniform.  “Uh, partner?”  He blinked.  “What are you doing?”

“Stripping.”  Gabriel continued unbuttoning the jacket.

“You’re…”

“Is anyone…”  Gabriel looked around.  “Going to stop me?”

“Hell no.”  Matthias grinned, then put an elbow on Ted’s shoulder.  Ted was running a hand down the front of his face.

Continue reading War: Chapter 2

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War: Chapter 1

He shuffled a few papers together in a pile on his desk and then set them aside before grabbing a different stack.  Rather than invest Mr. Ishi’s money directly into the center, he’d set up an investment fund.  From that, he funded several types of scholarships and grants.  Security deposits for kids getting their first apartments, emergency car repairs, clothes for seeking employment, and other needs.  It was rapidly becoming one of his favorite parts of the job.

Actually deciphering the applications, however…  Ted rubbed his eyes and winced.  Maybe he should have listened to Monica about having them be only online, but not all the kids had access to computers.  He’d set up a small computer lab there at the center, but perhaps he should consider expanding it.  Ted exhaled, then set the applications in a folder.  Magda and her crew would be arriving sometime today.  Perhaps he could convince Daniel and Ash to help.

There was a light rapping at the door.  “Come in.”  Ted looked up, expecting to see Margaret.  Then his face broke into a wide smile.  “Rebecca.  I wasn’t expecting you until next week.”  He stood up.

His ex-wife returned the smile.  “Plans changed at the last minute.  I hope you don’t mind me just dropping in.”  She shrugged, then looked around.  “Last time I saw this building it looked like setting it on fire would be doing it a favor.”

“We’ve put a lot of work in over the past couple years.”  He walked around the desk.  “Let me show you around.”

“Just show me to whatever room is emitting that heavenly smell.”  She nodded as they stepped into the hallway.

Ted laughed.  “Sister Margaret teaches a cooking class.  I believe this week is brownies.”  He gestured for her to follow him.  “And since she is a nun I suppose heavenly is accurate enough.”

Rebecca smiled warmly as he introduced her to the class.  He referred to her as an old friend rather than explaining to everyone that she was his ex-wife.  And it was true enough.  They’d been friends once, and after putting their disaster of a marriage behind them they’d managed to become friends again.  The kids let her taste the brownies, and she praised them all.

After the kids filed out, he turned toward her.  “So what does bring you to town?”

“I realized I’m still paying rent on that storage unit on Fifteenth.  Since I don’t recall what is in it, I thought I should check with you before heading over.”  Rebecca shrugged.

“I remember it being a lot of boxes that we never unpacked after we moved from Oregon, but beyond…”  He frowned, then waved a hand.  “That might be where all those linens are.”

“Oh, the ones we collected in Europe?”  She started nodding.  “I think you’re right.”  She gave him a hesitant look.  “Dibs?”

“All but the French ones?”  He raised an eyebrow.  Magda was going to be staying with them, after all.

“Deal.”

Continue reading War: Chapter 1

Escapade: Chapter 6

Part of her wanted to reach out and put a hand on his shoulder, but given the circumstances touching him was probably a bad idea.  Adam leaned against the wall, bent over with his elbows on his knees.  He gave a small shake of his head before looking up at Laura.  “I’d have died for her.”

“I…”

“I’d have died for her, and it was because…”  He straightened.  “When I shift, change forms, every single bone in my body breaks.  I can feel my teeth being smashed into another shape.  I told her it felt like being put through a wood-chipper, begged her not to…”  He shook his head.  “And she still couldn’t wait to try the spell out.”  He wiped a hand across his eyes.  “And I still loved her after that.”  He punched the wall.  “I killed for her.”

Her stepfather had broken her arm once.  She could remember exactly how bad it had hurt.  Adam changed form in the blink of an eye, shifting from creature to creature in his fight with the werewolf.  And she’d thought Michaels was tough.  “I wish I knew what to say.”

“Let’s get that damn…”  He took a deep breath.  “Let’s get the information and make sure she never gets her hands on it.  She’s fucked things up enough with the power she already has.”

They moved deeper into the tunnels.  Thralls ahead.  “Erilon thinks this is the place.”  Two.  “Two thralls.”

“Right.  Stay here.”  He nodded to her.

“Adam?”  She caught his arm.  When he raised an eyebrow, she hesitated.  “You don’t have to do this.  I can call in Gabriel or someone and…”  She exhaled.  “You don’t have to hurt anyone.”

His smile was warm.  “It’s alright, Laura.”  He shook his head.  “To be a thrall, you’ve got to get in with the vampires willingly.”  He checked his gun.  “Taking out the trash doesn’t bother me.”

Continue reading Escapade: Chapter 6

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.”

Continue reading Escapade: Chapter 5

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.”

Continue reading Escapade: Chapter 3

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.

Continue reading Escapade: Chapter 2

Escapade: Chapter 1

“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

Michaels and Gabriel both ducked reflexively before looking at Ted.  Ted chuckled.  “I think she found the —”

“I’m perfect!”  Laura came flying through the door waving a sheet of paper.  She shoved the paper into Micheals’ chest.  “Perfect perfect perfect perfect perfect.”  She spun around in a ballet twirl before throwing herself into Gabriel’s arms in a swoon.  He caught her, rolling his eyes as he did so.  “I’m perfect!”  She grinned up at him.

“Holy shit.”  Michaels looked down at the paper.  “She’s uh…”  He chuckled.  “Not kidding.”

“I could use a little context.”  Gabriel raised an eyebrow.

“SATs.”  Laura straightened.  “Perfect score.  1600, bitches.”

Which means our little girl is going to college, Erilon’s voice echoed around them.

“Wait.”  Laura blinked.  “What?”

“Pretty much any college she wants.”  Michaels nodded.

“But uh…”  Laura shifted her weight.  “College costs um…”

“You let me worry about the costs.”  Ted immediately shook his head.

Pfft.  Give me five minutes and it won’t cost you anything.

“We want to keep things legal, Erilon.”  Ted sighed.

It’ll be legal.  Ish.

“No.  Totally legal.”  Michaels folded his arms.  “I don’t want any problems cropping up during her presidential campaign.”

Oooh, running one of those sounds like fun.

“Let’s start small.”  Laura grinned.  “I’m gonna be mayor of this place first.”

“I’m…”  Gabriel exhaled.  “A little scared.”

Continue reading Escapade: Chapter 1

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.”

Continue reading The Woods: Chapter 6

Hunting: Chapter 22

Matthias carried the urn toward where the others were finishing up.  He glanced over at Ted.  “I appreciate this.”

Ted smiled.  “She was your friend.”  He looked over at where Ash was carrying the second urn.  “What do we know about —”

“He was Adam’s friend.”  Ash held the urn tightly.

“I meant birthday, things like that, Ash.  For the markers.”  Ted patted Ash’s shoulder.

“Patrick Delacroix.”  Stephan read off the screen of his tablet.  “Born July 7, 1971, in Graden, Texas.  Joined the Navy in 89.  Made it into the SEALS in 94.  Less than honorably discharged in 98.  No family.  Parents died in 91, younger brother died in 98.”

Michaels stepped away from where he and Gabriel had been digging.  “What was Rosa’s real name, anyway?”

“Emperatrix Consuela Rosenda-Orellana.”  Then they all turned to look at him, Matthias shrugged defensively.  “Don’t blame me.  I’m the one that started calling her Rosa.”

“Gonna need help spelling that.”  Laura looked up from where she was working on the markers.  “But I can draw a rose or something.”

He listened while Father Williams intoned a prayer, then poured the cremains into the first hole.  Ash did the same in the second hole.  Magda and Gabriel carried the trees up, and they solemnly planted them.  Matthias set the bricks down in a circle around Rosa’s tree, while Magda helped Ash do the same with Patrick’s.  Their mole, Adam, had asked that Patrick be treated with respect.  Since the man had rescued Ash, this seemed the least they could do.  The apple trees already had blossoms.  Daniel added some mulch around the bases.  Considering it was Rosa’s resting place, maybe he should…  He shook his head.

Anna giggled, and he turned to look at her.  She shrugged up at him.  “Wouldn’t that make the apples alcoholic?”

“Stop looking in my head.”  He shook his head at her fondly.

“Tequila wouldn’t damage the roots.  They aren’t set yet.”  When Matthias glanced at him, Father Williams shrugged.  “One doesn’t need to read minds to know what you were thinking.”

“Priests allowed margaritas?”  He raised an eyebrow.

“All things in moderation.”

“Except sex.”  Daniel grinned up at him.

“Except that, yes.”  Father Williams smiled.

“Right.”  Matthias chuckled.  “Well, Rosa was pretty clear on how she wanted her funeral to go, so, uh…”  He sighed, and gave Father Williams an apologetic look.  “Look, the naked lady pinata was absolutely her idea.”

“I believe you.”  He smiled.  “Though I shall take my leave before any sombreros or donkeys make their appearance.”

Continue reading Hunting: Chapter 22

Hunting: Chapter 21

“Why didn’t you stop his escape?”  Wren glared at Adam.

“That wasn’t the mission I was given.”  Adam shook his head.

She fought the urge to take control of his mind, to make him crawl toward her and beg forgiveness.  “Sima’s pissed.”

“She was already on the phone to Giroux, telling him her version of what happened.”  Adam shrugged.

Wren froze.  “What do you mean?”

“Sima hasn’t been paid yet, Wren.  Giroux finds out Sima diverted resources over a pet, he’s going to be annoyed.  She’s got to downplay it, or spread the blame or something.”  Adam sighed.  “She’s probably going to say it was my fault or something.  I just hope Giroux doesn’t decide that makes it your fault.

“She wouldn’t…”  Wren narrowed her eyes.

“I hope so.”  Adam shook his head.  “I really don’t want to end up her pet.  Especially now that she knows about the talisman.”

Her fingers clutched the ring around her neck.  That’s right.  Sima knew.  And Sima had expressed an interest in Adam and…  She frowned.  And Sima had blown the mission by not letting Adam go into the field.  Adam could have killed the alpha and…  Giroux had known Sima a long time.  Surely he’d know…  Except he didn’t know Wren herself.  “There has to be a way to salvage this.”

“He lost a lot of people, and stands to lose the rest if they don’t get moving soon.”

“You can still kill Matthias.”  She nodded.

“I could.”  Adam folded his arms.  “Be a waste of time though.”

“You should keep a civil tongue when addressing —”

“My mistress?”  He had the nerve to smirk at her.  “Or what, Wren?”

“You know ‘or what’.”  She clenched her fists.

“You could break me.”  He met her eyes.  “Turn me into your pet.  You see how well that game worked for Sima.  But ask yourself something, Wren…”  He straightened.  “What good to anyone is a broken weapon?”  He shook his head.  “You’re a witch.  You’ve got me.  Nobody can do what I can do.  Giroux isn’t an idiot, Wren.  If you can manage not to be one as well, you can still come out on top of this.”

For a moment she just stood there, staring at him.  “I could…”  His gaze didn’t waver.  “You’re still mine.  Don’t forget that.”

“I’m well aware.”  He shrugged.  “Suggest you get to the airport, and use your magic to get the retreat going.  Giroux is going to be annoyed if he loses anymore guys.”

“Fine.”  She jabbed a finger into his chest.  “But when I’m done, you, me, and Sima’s little truth ability are going to have a long talk.”

“Looking forward to it.”  He sat down as she headed for the door.  And to her irritation, he just turned on the TV like he hadn’t a care in the world.

Continue reading Hunting: Chapter 21

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.”

Continue reading Hunting: Chapter 19

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.

Continue reading Hunting: Chapter 18

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.”

Continue reading Hunting: Chapter 17

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.

Continue reading Hunting: Chapter 16

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.”

Continue reading Wren and Adam : Chapter 16