Pierre might be the capitol of South Dakota, but it was a small town at heart. As I stepped out onto the front steps, I noticed that the neighbor next door, a retired schoolteacher, peered out of her lace curtains at where Valentine stood naked in the yew hedge. She had a pair of binoculars around her neck and her cell phone in her hand.
“We should probably go inside,” I said, holding the screen door open.
Robert nodded, though his attention was riveted to the expanse of Valentine’s pale skin.
I had to admit, it was hard not to stare at Valentine. He was quite a sight, with the shock of jet back hair hanging in front of his thin, angular face and all those well-toned muscles on full display. No doubt from where Robert stood, he could probably just see a tantalizing hint of the little trail of dark curls on Valentine’s taut lower abdomen that led to the fuller thatch between his legs. Valentine was otherwise surprisingly hairless for such a masculine man. His underarms were as sparse as his chest, and, from his stubble, I’d always imagined that the best Valentine could hope for in a beard was a devilish goatee.
Valentine, as usual, had no sense of how to behave like a human being. Utterly shamelessly, he pushed his way through the hedge. Robert’s eyes went as round as coins when Valentine cleared the yew and turned to walk up the steps. Mouth hanging open, Robert looked ready to drool at the sight of Valentine’s backside. The neighbor, meanwhile, had the binoculars up for a better view.
The whole scene would have been awkwardly hilarious, if it wasn’t for the seriousness in Valentine’s as he walked past me into the living room. “You knew you we were being… dislodged?”
I scratched the short hairs at the back of my neck. “Kind of?”
I followed Valentine into the living room. We hadn’t switched on any of the lamps when we snuck through to the bedroom. Sunlight streamed in through the windows. Dust motes danced in their beams. To the left was the dining room set: heavy wooden antiques with carved legs and dark veneer. Its surface was covered in the things Valentine had collected: spoons, salt and peppershakers, candy dishes, and other antiques covered in silver plating. The other side of the room was the living room. The back of the long sofa acted as a kind of divider between the rooms. Two overstuffed chairs had been set at angles to form a conversation nook, or extra seating to watch the TV. The TV was an old-fashioned boxy-thing that sat on an entertainment stand just wide enough to support it. The end tables and the top of the TV were also filled with Valentine’s silver hoard.
Even without the antiques covering every surface, there was something about the shag carpeting and retro-furniture that made the place feel like we’d been staying at ‘grandma’s.’ Would it be such a bad thing to have a place of our own?
Standing in front of me, Valentine loomed. Over six feet tall, I had to crane my neck when we stood this close. “You either knew or you didn’t,” Valentine said in a tone that made it obvious he knew I had. “Is there some particular reason you chose not to share this information with me?”
“You should get some clothes on,” I told Valentine as Robert came through the door.
“Oh, no need to on my account,” Robert said in a sing-songy appreciative way. “I mean, really, the view is lovely.” Still the suit and tie he wore for his corporate job, Robert settled himself in one of the overstuffed chairs in the living room as if ready to enjoy the show.
Valentine continued to frown down at me, completely ignoring Robert.
Giving Robert the stink eye around Valentine's hulking, naked form, I asked:“Why are you even home?”
YOU ARE READING
Alex Connor thought that being the South Dakota Hughes County Coroner was going to be a boring cushy job. She didn't count on the fact that her first case would leave her with a magical, living tattoo and awaken her latent magical powers. Now she'...