Leaning back into Valentine’s body, I closed my eyes to the sun and listened to the sound of the wind lapping the waves against the sandy shore. His naked, muscular arms grasped my stomach lightly. Surrounded by his strength, I felt grounded.
Which was helpful, because my mind had been blown.
If I understood Valentine correctly, I had dragon blood in my veins. My dragonkin status made me resistant to ‘naming’—a power I didn’t entirely understand, though I imagined my ability to ‘curse’ was related to it. If I said something was fucked, then it was, often in an ‘oops-I-hadn’t-meant-to-level-the-town-like-a-nuclear-bomb’ kind of way.
Valentine’s nose nuzzled the short spikes of my hair and his arms tightened around me. Where they’d been wet, sand stuck to his legs.
Snuggling into the hard plains of Valentine’s broad chest, I sighed. What were we going to do? Okay, so I was a dragon—or partly one, but that didn’t help the fact that I’d busted out of jail. Internal Affairs demon-agents were on my tail. On top of all that, bodies were falling out of the sky, and, despite Valentine’s suggestion we dump everything and run, I wanted to know why.
I knew I wasn’t much of a coroner.
I’d felt woefully outclassed this morning while doing the autopsy, but getting elected to this position and discovering Precinct 13 had given my life a direction that I was loathe to abandon. I was something here. I’d been nothing my whole life.
Besides, if I thought about it, I liked being part of an investigative team. The drop victims were the newest riddle to unravel and it bothered me that with the Internal Affairs agents in the way, the team had never had the opportunity to do that thing we did—sitting in the conference room, eating donuts, tossing around theories, and musing over bits of evidence trying to make connections.
That was the part of my job that I really loved. Being part of a think-tank like that. All I’d done so far since everything started this morning was run away.
I didn’t want to do it any more.
Besides, if I up and left, I could never get any of this back.
Valentine’s lips grazed my neck lightly, sending ticklish goose pimples racing down my arms. Under my t-shirt my nipples stiffened. “Hey, cool it,” I said half-heartedly, not really wanting him to stop. “I’m trying to think,” I insisted as he continued, his teeth nipping ever so slightly on sensitive skin. “Seriously. I think—ah!” okay, that little bite shot a wave of something hot right between my legs “—that maybe I should turn myself back in, because—“
“Because justice would be served?”
I turned around to see Furfur standing over us. Tengu stood a few paces behind him. They both looked ridiculous standing on a sunny boat landing/beach in full suits, ties, and sunglasses. But, it was weirdly creepy and impressive that they’d managed to arrive so silently, without even the crunch of sand or ‘bamf’ and smell of sulfur.
In fact, I was about to accuse them of having materialized when I heard a feet pounding down the pathway—along with all the various noises of brush and gravel and huffing of breath.
“Oi,” Mac shouted to the agents. Behind him were Jett and the rest of the werewolf biker gang, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Tengu turned and pulled his sunglasses down to regard hair, ink, and leather. “We’re taking these two back to Precinct Headquarters.”
Jett stepped forward. Her voice was a deep, threatening growl, “They’re under my protection.”
Valentine, meanwhile, hadn’t stopped nibbling my neck. Into my ear, he whispered, “Cute. A wolf cub protecting the likes of us.”
It shouldn’t have made me giggle, but I think the fact that Valentine was stark naked just made it seem funny.
The wolves and the demons edged closer to a fight as the bikers jeered threats at the agents, “Just try to take ‘em!” “Yeah, give us an excuse!”
Letting out a soft sigh into my ear, Valentine unwound himself from around my body and stood up slowly, deliberately. He was about to do something magical, take the decision away from me, so I pushed him down with a little shove. Shooting to my feet, I said, “No.”
It was a word.
With it, I created something, like a shockwave and, in a second, it wasn’t just Valentine sprawling on his butt. Everyone stepped back. Some of the bikers even dropped to their knees or barreled into each other like some kind of tattooed bowling ball Rube Goldberg machine.
“Seriously,” I said when I had everyone’s attention. “I’ll go back,” I told the agents, “But not under arrest. We have a crime to solve and I want to solve it, damn it.”
I’d muttered the curse, and it had an effect. The ground trembled.
Everyone stared at me in stunned silence for several moments. Then, Tengu lifted his sunglasses and perched him on the top of his head. “That seems reasonable.” His partner looked ready to protest, so he quickly added. “We’d no intention of getting in the way of an on-going investigation. Would you consent to ride back with us so that we can discuss the matter at hand?”
Things had gotten so tangled, I had to ask, “Which is?”
Furfur was glaring at Valentine, which reminded me that Valentine was actually the number one suspect in this case I was so desperate to solve. But, now that I knew that when we saw him before he was carrying his horde, I was sure there had to be a way to prove that.
Tengu considered another moment and then said, “I suppose our main business is regarding Captain Jones and how the precinct is being run, and—“ now he glanced at Valentine, who lay back on the beach like he were sunning himself. “The various… loyalties of the precinct members, yourself included.”
This sounded dangerous, but I felt like the only way forward was to push through this. “Okay, fine,” I said. “But no putting me in golden jails.”
Furfur snorted unhappily. “As if that would keep you.”
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'...