I left Robert, Jack, and Valentine staring uncomfortably at one another in the living room and dashed off to change into something more work appropriate. Standing in front of our overflowing closet, I considered the scene I was likely to encounter. I picked my least favorite pair of ‘some day these will fit better’ jeans and jammed myself into them. Since the shirt I was wearing was Valentine’s, I took that off and traded it for a t-shirt I never cared much for either, a worn one with a tiny Chicago Cubs logo over my left breast. It wasn’t that I wasn’t still a Cubs fan, more that the logo managed to look like a slightly off-center nipple. I wouldn’t care if any of this got covered in blood.
I grabbed a pair of socks and my black Converses and pushed my door open to the living room/dinning room.
The men all stood around, not talking. Robert remained in the living room chair he’d first sat down in. He’d pulled out his phone and busily swiped at things—knowing him, he was probably playing some game or other.
Valentine leaned his butt against the back of the couch. His arms were crossed and he frowned at the pile of silver-plated items that crowded the dining room table.
Jack had closed the door on himself and stood on our stoop, his face turned toward his vintage VW bug parked at the curb, as if wondering if he should just go hide and wait for me there. It wasn’t a huge surprise that Jack put a screen door between himself and Valentine. Their relationship could be summed up thusly: Valentine had a tendency to call Jack “rabbit;” Jack had a similarly unfortunate tendency to squeak in Valentine’s presence.
Seeing me, Jack smiled happily and hopped down the stairs towards his car, not bothering to see how closely I followed behind.
As I went out the door, I told Robert, “I hope we can talk more about this. We’re not ready to move right away.”
“I won’t throw you in the streets,” Robert said with a little chagrined smile. “I just think the sooner we start this process the better.”
“Agreed,” Valentine growled in a way that made me pause halfway out the door. I could only see part of his face. His dark, shapely eyebrows crumbled into a deep frown as he continued to glare at the silver.
I glanced back at Robert. I wanted to tell him to be careful. It was clear he’d angered the dragon. Before I could formulate a way to say that that didn’t sound silly and ‘otherkin’-y, Jack tapped the horn.
“Try to be good,” I said on my way out—not sure if I meant that for Robert or Valentine.
Even with the windows rolled down, the interior of Jack’s car felt like an oven.
“You know they make new ones of these,” I grumbled as I tried not to burn my fingers on the seatbelt buckle that probably also hadn’t come standard on this antique, either. As we pulled out from the curb, I watched my car disappearing behind us and made grabby hands at it. “Or we could have taken mine.”
Jack said nothing. Normally chipper and chatty, he watched the road intently, like a model of drivers’ safety.
“Are you taking lessons from Spenser?” I finally asked.
Jack blinked at me from under a mop of unruly curls. He was the sort of fellow that seemed like ought to wear glasses, but didn’t. Maybe the reason I thought so was because to me he looked a lot like a nerdy version of Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe, complete with British accent. Today my favorite geek/goth wore ratty black cut-off shorts, a t-shirt with some Anime character on it with a very Freudian-ly large sword, and black socks and Birkenstocks.
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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'...