Tag Archives: GBU Read Along

He had me at “I want to drive your car”

I finished GBU last night, racing through Rachel’s confrontation with Piscary and the ultimate satisfaction of her beaning him over the head with a chair leg three times. Once for her, once for Ivy, and once for him killing her dad. I’d forgotten how nasty he was until he had her on the floor and was going to kill her. It was a scintillating moment of truth that she was going to die.

GBUmmCoverISBut there was good stuff, too, and seeing Trent in Edden park in the sun with his bowl of strawberries was kinda nice. That envelope with the two thousand dollar down payment to find the person responsible for killing his new employees wasn’t, even if it was only a downpayment to the irresistible 20,000 he was actually dangling before her.

You have to admire his persistence, but I think it was when Trent wanted to drive her car, that I, as the author, decided to give Trent a chance to redeem himself. And then losing Jonathan at a red light so he could have a little freedom? He didn’t do it to be alone with Rachel–which I think is telling. He did it to get away from who he was and closer to who he wanted to be.

And in hindsight, this might be when Trent starts to see Rachel as a way for him to get what he wants, the same thing he’s dangling in front of her. His own freedom.

EWWBDmmCoverISI’ll be taking a little break before we start Every Which Way but Dead on Tuesday. It goes on sale in US markets on Monday, but until then, GBU will be in the sale slot with that tantalizing chapter two of THE UNDEAD POOL slipped into the back. [GBU markets]

Also, early heads up on the prize packs I’ll be giving away on Monday! More on that Friday, but it will be very much a wash-rinse-repete of what we did last time. [DWW give away]

PS. I’l have info on tour T’s tomorrow. Dude, Guy really out did himself this year.

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Okay, now I remember why Rachel stayed

I got up through chapter 25 last night, and got so pissed I had to put the book down. Chapter 25 is when Kisten dumps Ivy off at the church after Piscary blood raped her in an attempt to force Rachel to come to him, fully intending to kill her. I truly hate / love this chapter, hate it because Ivy has not only been forced into something she didn’t want, but because she feels as if she’s failed, not just herself, which is bad enough, but failed Piscary, the bastard who blood raped her.

So why did I write it? Not to sell books, that’s for sure. I had spent two books trying to get across the message that undead vampires were soulless, manipulative, ugly, and warped–creatures that should be feared and reviled, unable to be redeemed, and definitely not to be admired or lusted after, and that the living vampires should be pitied for their entitled status. My message wasn’t getting through. The living were beautiful because they had been breed that way. They were lustful because that’s what their masters wanted. They were toys, entertainment, and they were slated to become everything they loved and hated all at the same time. They had everything, and they lived in hell.

That Piscary blood raped Ivy was no surprise to me. But the love and loyalty that Rachel showed, the courage . . . that was. And that’s why Rachel stayed. Rachel knew what vampires were, and she wanted to help Ivy become what Ivy wanted. Free.

Guy found this praying mantis yesterday. She’s cold, looking like she’s ready to lay her egg sack and die. Another species that eats their mate, eh? But this one, I admire. I love the way they turn their heads to watch you.

TheyEatTheirMate

 

PS. Thursday, I’ll have something real for you about the Tour T’s.

Also, threaded conversation about the books is ongoing at Goodreads. I’m there to answer your questions as well. Goodreads

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Auras and genetics. Sure, they go together. (read-along to cp 22 inclusive)

RachelTrentMarkRudeSo, I’m cruising right up to the end of GBU. Honestly, I’m trying to stretch this out until next Monday when we do another flash-give away, but I know once I start reading tonight, I’m going to finish it. I stopped after chapter 22 last night, right after she used the ley line in Trent’s office to find Dan’s body, joined apart by Al and left in Trent’s stables.

I liked the scene in Trent’s office when she first intentionally used a ley line charm for the first time. Trent was fascinating to watch, and I truly think he was afraid of her at this point. I’d forgotten she forced him to shake her hand, and the attraction was there, even then.

And then there were the auras. I don’t do a lot with the aura colors in the books intentionally, mostly because I think a lot of harm can be done when people start sticking labels on people, and yet, I did try to make some kind of correlation between personalities/morals/histories with the aura colors simply to add another layer of world building onto the Hollows.

I don’t like the idea that seeing someone’s aura gives you an accurate idea of their morals. It doesn’t. What I’ve tried to do is make it more of a record of a person’s history, both their actions and what they suffered, good and bad. And in turn, that might give you an idea of what their morals and future choices might be, but one not any more accurate than simply knowing a person well would.

And so I’ve tried to make red an indication of tragedy. Orange can mean danger–as in they can cause danger, and gold is an indication of high self esteem. (Pride, perhaps, but not ego?) Green is good or bad depending upon the shade. Purple has always meant ego to me, and black is an indication of smut. Sparkles, which don’t come into play until the last couple of books, mean at this point, a higher purpose or goal. Ivy has them. So does Trent. Rachel doesn’t.

But I think one of my favorite parts of this section is Rachel finally putting together what Trent, Quen, and Jonathan are. As the author, I’d known since book one, and I couldn’t sit on it any more. It was either an elf, or he was a dragon, but I’d already done shape-shifting dragons, (FIRST TRUTH) so elves it was.

Also, GBU is still on sale in most US markets as an e-book: [e-book markets]

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Rachel, how foolish you were:GBU read-along to cp 14

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel . . . What the heck are you doing in that church? How foolish you seemed to be, making excused to stay in what looked like an abusive relationship. Everyone but you appeared to know what was going on, that Ivy was hunting you even as she didn’t want to. And yet you stayed even when she pinned you twice, even when you said no and she said yes. Making excuses, blaming yourself for her lapses of control: were you right that Ivy was an abused woman trying to escape a circle violence herself, or was Ivy lying even to herself as she pulled you down into the hell her life was?

From outside looking in, it seemed you were naive. Even I, while rereading it last night, was saying “Get out! You’re allowing yourself to be a victim!” And perhaps Rachel was. But perhaps . . . Rachel really was to blame. Perhaps Rachel knowingly pushed Ivy into loosing control. Perhaps, just perhaps, Rachel was manipulating Ivy. If it was a real relationship with real people, I’d say she was making a mistake, but it wasn’t. We’re talking vampires, and within the mythology of the books, Ivy is truly able to be manipulated with smell and vamp pheromones.

And what is it with Glenn and tomatoes? I’d forgotten about the stolen ketchup. But hey, once you’ve had Piscary’s pizza, it’s all downhill. 🙂

Piscary’s Pizza actually does have a real-world connection to me. Guy and I have made our own pizza for almost twenty years, beginning with making our own yeast dough, to cooking the pizza sauce and grating the cheese. Just how often we make pizza has shifted over the years, swelling to every Friday night for about five years when the boys were home and liked the same movies we did, waining when they began to get older and Guy and I found ourselves home alone on Friday, but the pizza stones are never hard to find. Oddly enough, we had pizza last night, and man, was it good. You do anything for over twenty years, and you’d better be good at it. -laugh-GBUmmCoverIS

Just as a reminder, GBU is still on sale for 1.99 in most U.S. markets, so if you’re taking part in the read-along or trying to get your buddy hooked, it’s relatively painless to make a gift of it. [multiple platform sale] Also, just found out that the latest version of it has chapter two of THE UNDEAD POOL in it. Dude!

TUPhcCoverA-a-a-a-and, Nicola’s has come through, and page to pre-order a signed-to-you-with-a-note-from-me is up. Just be sure to tell them in the comment box when you order who you want it signed to. International orders are okay, but email them for a shipping quote first. nicolasbooks@tds.net  [pre-order signed book]

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Takata as the Hollows oracle: GBU read-along to cp 8

It was right about during GBU that I realized Takata, first mentioned in DWW as a way to ground Rachel in the real world (who doesn’t have a favorite music artist?) was going to be important by the time the books ended. I was starting to think about a three book series, and Takata had already begun to take shape in my mind as Rachel’s birth father. But I had decided, if I was going to play the “I’m your father” card, I was going to have to put the clues out early, and faint–hence the drips and drabs of it in Takata’s lyrics.

It took almost six books, but I managed to create in Takata’s lyrics something that could both foreshadowed Rachel’s ultimate future as a demon as well as her hidden past. I was never able to bring more than a phrase or two into the actual texts, but I did write them all out, and if you look through hindsight at them, you can see Takata’s shame and regret for having given his son and then his daughter to the woman he loved to be raised by his best friend from college. Sift the clues from the dust, from my lives, of my will. / I loved you then. I love you still. It still gives me pause, that regret that he gave her away, and he was telling Rachel, even then, that the clues and hints to her future and past were there in his music–if she would just slow down an listen.

You can see the lyrics in their entirety at the website [lyrics] One of the things that hurt the most when CW lost interest in the Hollows was the chance that Takata’s lyrics might have been brought to glorious life. Takata is the watcher, the one who knew everything–bound to silence by a promise he made to the woman he loved. Even as he ached.

Maybe someday.

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Three times, she wished: GBU to Cp 4, inclusive

Heads up: 1.99 e-book sale at most US markets for GBU starts today. [sale]

I got through chapter four in GBU last night in the read-along. (Join in the conversation here or Goodreads)  I’d forgotten Rachel dumped the fish tank to get the fish, but I find it interesting that right about the time I was writing this in 2004, I was having a devil of a time with my anti virus program, hence Vanessa knowing how to fix it. And the fish. If you read carefully, you’ll notice that Rachel wishes three times for a car, all while holding it. That was me trying to be clever, but most people don’t catch it until a re-read.

This is not the original chapter I submitted GBU with, but it is arguably the best, smoothly fitting in backstory and dropping the reader right into the world.

But  . . .

If you’re interested, I did find the unedited, raw, original first chapter. It’s kind of an interesting study to read both versions and see what I transposed with no change, and what I modified. If I remember correctly, some of the things I was trying to address with the new first chapter was bringing in the Were mythology earlier. I also wanted to preserve the mystery of the wishing fish to allow it to unfold naturally instead of being in your face. I liked the old ladies on the bench, and I liked Jenks’s Soylent fish tirade, but exchanging them for a more “grown up”, faster feel of a high-rise building in Cincinnati and Jenks’s complaint that “I’m wearing dead dinosaur, Rache!” was a fair trade in my mind.

Personally, I like the second version best, but you can read the original here.

ONE

 

From the corner of my eye, I watched the old ladies with their black boots and dry crusts of bread as I waded farther out into the scummy city pond.  Perched upon their sunny park bench, they put their gray heads together and gossiped loudly.  I glanced away as the water pressed against my thighs through the brown plastic of the waders I had borrowed from Nick, my boyfriend.  Only God knew where he got them from or why he even had them.

Apparently one of the old ladies couldn’t hear very well as her voice was overly loud when she asked her companion, “Do you think she’s a mermaid?”

Mermaid! I thought, tucking my sweat-sticky hair behind my ear and shifting the net to my other hand.  How lame was that?  With the red hair, maybe, thanks to Mr. Disney.  But the waders?  I was a witch first-class, graduated with—well—high grades if not honors.  But it was hard to tell right now, being thigh deep in pond water chasing someone else’s problem made mine by the promise of money.

Rent was due by the end of the week, and if I didn’t have my share, Ivy would have my hide.  Not a comfortable proposition when one’s roommate is a vampire.  “Jenks!” I shouted, pushing my sunglasses farther up my nose with the back of my wrist.  “Where’s that fish food?”

There was a tight hum as the pixy darted over my head.  I instinctively ducked, nearly losing my balance.  Water splashed as I struggled to keep upright.  My green nylon fishnet swung wildly, smacking into the surface with a loud pop.

The old ladies gasped, and I spared them a look as I caught myself.  Water seeped over the top of my waders, making a cold trail down my side to pool at my toes.  I mentally added dry-cleaning my skirt to the bill.  It was a cute little red thing that hit about midthigh, better suited for catching men than fish.  But waders were supposed to keep you dry, right?  And it had been the only clean thing in my closet.  I’d been too busy this weekend for laundry.  Tailing a troll accused of eating neighborhood cats was harder than it sounded.  It didn’t pay well, either.

“Darn it, Jenks,” I said through gritted teeth as he laughed at me.  “Don’t buzz me like that.”  I swung the net halfheartedly at him, and he darted back on his dragonfly wings.  He was dressed in what I called his gardening clothes: modest long-sleeved shirt and pants made of green silk.  I imagined he was saving his black body stocking for when we were gainfully employed in “less savory activities.”  A red bandanna of truce covered his blond hair to keep the local fairies working the pond from chasing him off.  He looked like a cross between a four-inch Peter Pan with wings and an inner-city gang member.  And he was about as much trouble, too.

“I just used your last coin,” he said, continuing his extre-e-e-emely helpful circles about my head.  “If you want to keep trying for that fish, you’re gonna have to ask the old ladies for some change.  They think you’re either a city employee culling the fish or a nut trying to baptize them.  This is the most fun they’ve had since feeding the squirrels love potions last week.”

My gaze went from the coin-operated feeder to the two women on their bench.  “Glad I can entertain them,” I muttered, and he skimmed away for more fish food.  One of the ladies waved merrily, and I pretended not to see, scanning the surface of the water for a silver form.

This was getting embarrassing.  I thought I had timed this so that no one would be here.  A hundred yards away, traffic was stop-and-go, the noise muted by trees and distance.  It had picked up, and I guessed it was probably after two o’clock, just beginning the span of time when humans and Inderlanders struggled to share the streets of Cincinnati.  I’d been up since before noon chasing this stupid fish, and I’d die if someone from the I.S. saw me in waders.

It had been nearly three months since I had snapped under the crap assignments my old boss at Inderland Security had been giving me.  Feeling used and grossly unappreciated, I had broken the unwritten rule and quit the I.S. to start my own agency.  It had seemed like a good idea at the time.  But before the sun had risen, I had saddled myself with a vamp and a pixy for partners and had two death threats set on me.  I had survived the death threats.  If I couldn’t come up with rent, I might not survive my roommates.

It wasn’t all bad, though, I thought as I waded closer to shore and felt the water temperature rise at my feet.  I now had the chance to put my degree to work, stirring spells I used to buy and some I had never been able to afford.  But being an independent wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be.  Money was a real problem.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t get the jobs; it was that the money didn’t seem to stay in the cookie jar atop the fridge very long.

What I made from proving a werefox had been slipped some bane by a rival pack had gone to renewing my witch license.  The I.S. used to pay for that.  I recovered a stolen familiar for a warlock and spent it on the monthly rider on my health insurance.  I hadn’t had any idea that runners were all but uninsurable; the I.S. had given me a card, and I had used it.  Then I had to pay a university kid to take off the lethal spells on my stuff still in storage, buy Ivy a new silk robe to replace the one I’d ruined, not to mention pick up a few new outfits for myself.  I did have a reputation to uphold.

But the steady drain on my finances had to be from the cab fares.  Most of Cincinnati’s bus drivers knew me by sight and wouldn’t pick me up.  It wasn’t fair.  It had been ages since I had accidentally removed the hair from an entire bus load of people while trying to tag a Were.

I was tired of being almost broke.  Jenks said it was my soft heart.  Ivy said it was poor business practices.  I thought it was bad luck.  It didn’t help that some of my clients didn’t deal in money.  But I wasn’t going to turn away a desperate pixy if all he had was a handful of tomatoes, especially if all I had to do was get rid of a wasp nest that was too close to his sídh.  How much does a can of Raid cost, after all?  This time, though, I would come back with my tag, and Cincinnati’s second, all-Inderland professional baseball team would pay up.

Finding the Howler’s mascot had sounded like an easy run.  The coach hadn’t bothered to tell me up-front it was a koi that a rival team had thrown into one of Cincinnati’s numerous ponds.  Now, after three days of frogs, scum, and angry beavers, I was ready to give them the first fish that came even marginally close to the photo they had given me.

The shimmer of Jenks’s wings caught the afternoon sun as he flew back, slower from the pellets in his arms.  Guilt and my mother’s insistence for good manners prompted me to give the old lady a low wave as she continued to struggle for my attention.

“Oh my God, these things stink!” Jenks said, his tiny face screwed up dramatically as he came to a faltering halt before me.  “You know what they got in them?”

I met his eyes.  Please, not another free-flowing stream of conscious thought.  “Just throw the food, Jenks.”

“I’m not talking about the usual stuff, like cornmeal and shrimp powder.  It’s the meat by-products that give me the shivers.  Meat by-products?  Try horse balls and pig dicks.  And you know what’s worse?  There’s fish in there too.  What we got here is fish soylent green.  Yes sir, fish soylent green.  And they are sucking it up.  Standing in line to get a taste of Uncle Bob.  Poor, poor Uncle Bob who went missing last week.  Gee, I wonder where Uncle Bob is?  Gulp, gulp.  Slurp, slurp.”

“Just dump the food,” I said tiredly.

A carp leapt at him, and I gasped.  “Jenks!  Look out!”

He was eight feet above the water before I had finished.  Heart pounding, I slumped as his laugher mixed with the splash of water.  I worried about the little twit.  It’s hard to be four inches in a six-foot world.  “Relax, Rache,” he said slyly, coming close so the wind from his wings shifted my hair.  “I’ve been fishing before.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Grinning at my fading fright, he dropped the pellets.  Large pale mouths gulped at the surface.  I watched, mesmerized, looking for the glimmer of silver among the predominately gray bodies.  “There!” Jenks shouted, pointing as pixy dust sifted from him in excitement.

I flung my arm out, slicing the net through the green water.  My pulse hammered as the net bounced.  “I’ve got it!” I cried, lifting the dripping net high.  Relief flooded me as I saw the foot-long squirming body.  It had to be the right fish.  It was silver with a black spot on its side, matching the description I’d been given.

From their bench, the old ladies cheered and clapped.  I grinned and gave them a thumbs-up.  Holding my catch free of the water, I staggered to the shore.  I had a silver-colored carp with a black spot.  It was going to pay my rent.  I was in the clear for another month.

I sloshed forward, struggling with the wiggling fish.  “Open the bucket, Jenks,” I called out as I neared the shore.  My eyes widened as my foot hit a hole and I lurched to find my balance.  I was going down!

Panicking, I flung the net toward the shore.  The fish hit the bank and started flopping.  I staggered to fall to my knees.  The water wasn’t deep, but I was abruptly soaked as warm water filled my waders.  On my hands and knees, I watched the fish struggle, edging toward freedom.

“Get up!” Jenks shouted, hovering helplessly over the fish.  “Rachel, I can’t stop it!”

I slogged forward, the water in my waders slowing me down.  “No!” I cried, flinging myself onto the fish as its tail hit the water.  It wiggled and squirmed.  A slimy tail hit my face.  Black earth and decayed leaves plastered my face.  My sunglasses fell off.  “Turn it all!” I shouted.  “I wish you would stop flopping!”

The fish went still.  Gasping, I pulled away.  I’d killed it!  I’d squished my rent money!

“Pick it up!” Jenks cried, his wings a bright red in agitation.

Jolted into motion, I grabbed it and held it against me.  Fish stink rose high as I waddled in my waders to the five-gallon bucket.  Breathless, I dropped the fish in.  Jenks and I hovered over it, watching the fish take a grateful gulp of water.  The two ladies were clapping, their white-gloved hands making hardly any sound over their loud cheers.

The fish was all right, I thought in relief.  So why had it stopped struggling?  It was almost as if it heard me.  Eyebrows raised in speculation, I looked from the two ladies to Jenks sitting perched on the rim of the bucket.  “Did you see what it did?” I asked.

“Yeah.”  His wings blurred to nothing, but he didn’t rise.  There was a wicked glint in his eyes.  “It stopped moving when you asked it too.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

I licked my lips.  “It’s a wishing fish,” I said.  “No wonder they want it back so badly.”

“I wonder how many wishes it has in it.”  Jenks flitted upward as I straightened.

“There’s only one way to find out.”  Wiping the water from my face, I waddled the three steps to the nearest bench and sat down.  Water sloshed at my knees as I mulled the possibilities.

“Well?”  I looked up to see Jenks with a wide-eyed eagerness.  “Try it,” he prompted.

I sat back against the bench and sighed with a mixed ambivalence.  The last time I had used a stolen wish, I had nearly gotten killed.  Twice.  A simple-worded request would be best, especially from a fish.  Trying to be clever would only get me slapped in the face.

My thoughts went to the long, wet, embarrassing ride home I faced on the bus.  That is, if they even picked me up.  Trying to catch a ride with a bucket of fish would be more difficult than usual.  Not to mention my bus pass was soaked and probably wouldn’t go through the reader.  And I was out of change.

Leaning over the bucket, I dipped my hand into the sun-warmed water.  The bright red of my manicured nails stood out sharp against the fish’s silver scales as I lightly settled my fingers around it.  “I wish I had a car that was mine,” I said, trying to negate the possibility of getting stuck with a stolen vehicle.

The fish did nothing.  Suddenly I felt foolish.  Pulling my hand from the water, I shut the lid and glanced at the nearby empty parking lot.  Jenks flitted to the large hoop earrings I wore just for him.  “Sorry,” he said, landing on it as if it were a tire swing.

“I didn’t really think it would work.”  Jeez.  I must be losing it.  It was a fish, for crying out loud, not a leprechaun.

I slipped the straps holding up my waders off my shoulders and shimmied out of them.  Standing in my damp skirt and soaked nylons, I dumped the waders upside down.  Twin rivulets flowed back to the pond, taking bits of twigs and leaves with them.  I had to get home and call the Howlers.  They would be happy to get their fish back.  And I’d be happy to get paid.

My mood soured as I took a quick look around and rolled my nylons down off my legs.  They were ruined.  The late September breeze off the water was chill in the shade, and ugly goose bumps rose upon my pale legs.  If they hadn’t gone along with the red hair, green eyes, and freckles of my Irish, way-back ancestry, one might think I was ill, they were so white.

“Hey, how about that, Rache,” Jenks said, flitting off my earring to hover beside me.  “Your wish worked—sort of.”

A big four-door car had swung into the lot to take up two spots.  Engine still running, it flashed its lights at me.  I deliberately turned away.  A black Crown Victoria could only mean one thing.  What the Turn did the FIB want?

The FIB, short for the Federal Inderland Bureau, was the human-run version of the I.S.  It had been created to take the place of both local and federal authorities after the Turn.  On paper, the FIB had been enacted to help protect the remaining humans from the—ah—more aggressive Inderlanders, generally the vamps and Weres.  The reality was dissolving the old law structure had been a paranoiac, knee-jerk attempt to keep us Inderlanders out of law enforcement.

Yeah.  Right.  The out-of-the-closet, out-of-work Inderland police and Federal agents had simply started their own bureau, the I.S.  After forty years, the FIB was hopelessly outclassed, taking a steady abuse from the I.S. as they both tried to keep tabs on Cincinnati’s varied citizens.

The old ladies on their bench buzzed over this newest development.  I stifled a groan as I went to get my sunglasses off the ground.  Brushing the leaf chips from them, I tried to find a dry spot on me to clean them with.  The hem of my red halter didn’t work very well as it was mostly nylon and spandex.  Stretching awkwardly, I tried to tuck it back in.  My damp hands kept getting stuck between me and my skirt, and I quit when I realized I was doing more harm than good for my image, standing in bare feet and jerking at how cold my hands were.

The car window rolled down.  “Ms. Rachel Morgan?” the dark man behind the wheel called out, his deep voice belligerent.

Trying to look as if standing barefoot in parks was something I did every day, I found a nasty-looking tissue at the bottom of my bag and wiped the pond water from my lenses.  Being slighted by humans wasn’t new, but most knew better than to get aggressive.  “Yeah?” I said, not looking up as I put my shades back on and reclined on the bench.  I crossed my cold legs modestly at the ankles and stretched out.

“I’m Detective Glenn.  I’m from the FIB,” he said.

Jenks snorted as he came back to my earring.  “Whoopee freaking do,” he said dryly.

“Yeah?” I repeated.  Nervous, I sat up and wrung my stockings out.  He looked young to have made Detective.  Must be the FIB was getting desperate.  “I’ve got a permit.”  It wasn’t for fishing in a public park, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.

The man behind the wheel looked up through the roof of his car, his attitude begging for a fight.  “Captain Edden wants to talk to you,” he said across the distance.

My shoulders drooped.  It was what I had been afraid of.  I owed Edden a very large thank-you.  The ladies on the bench watched with wide eyes, their breadcrumbs forgotten, their white-gloved hands in their laps.

“It concerns Councilman Trent Kalamack,” the FIB officer added indifferently.

“Kalamack!” I yelped, then cursed myself for having said anything.  The wealthy bastard wanted me to work for him or see me dead.  It depended on his mood and how well his stock portfolio was doing.  I tossed my damp hair over my shoulder in an effort to look disinterested, but it lost much of its effect as the tangled curls got stuck halfway on my shoulder.  The old ladies were probably savvy enough to know I was faking my cool.  I was hoping the detective didn’t.  “Kalamack, huh?” I amended, turning on the bench to see him better.  “Why is Edden is sending a detective to fetch me?  You on his hit list this week?”

He shrugged.  “Get in.”

Not moving from my bench, I lolled my head to the trees’ canopy as I thought it over.  “What do you think, Jenks?” I asked.

“I think he’s an ass who needs his ears cut off.”

“Not him,” I said sharply.  “About Edden wanting to talk to me.”

A sigh sounding too heavy to come from someone so small escaped him.  “Maybe he’s got a job for you.”

“Maybe.”  I tossed the wad of my stockings into the open-weave trashcan with my soggy tissue.  “But I don’t want him to think he can crook his finger and I’ll come running.”

I ran my gaze down myself in disgust.  Everything but my heels tucked neatly under the bench was damp.  I reeked of fish slime.  The thought of the looks I’d get on the bus weren’t encouraging.  I glanced at the old ladies, and one of them waved me to go with him.

“What did you say your name was?” I called out.

“Detective Glenn, ma’am,” he said, an arm now propped up on the window.

Jenks laughed.  “Ma’am,” he said.  “He called you, ma’am.”

I frowned.  I was used to wary distrust from most humans.  This guy wasn’t afraid, and it was ticking me off.  Maybe he didn’t know I was a witch.  “Well, Detective Glade.  I’m working a very important case right now.”

Jenks snickered, and the man flushed, the red almost hidden behind his skin’s dark hue.  “It’s Glenn, ma’am.

I pushed my hair behind an ear, purposely chasing Jenks off my shoulder.  “If Edden wants to talk to me, he can come to my office like everyone else.”

“Please, Ms. Morgan,” he said with obvious sarcasm.  “Have some pity.”

Making trouble when I thought I could get away with it was one of my greatest joys, but I could use a ride.  Jenks flitted back to perch on my hoop earring.  “It would be easier than dragging that bucket onto the bus,” he said.

“Yeah.”  I glanced at the two ladies, and they nodded.  “Tell you what.”  Pausing, I brushed the dirt from my feet and put my heels on.  The red leather had looked good this morning when I was dry, but now . . . and with no nylons to keep from getting blisters?  Wincing, I met his eyes.  “I’ll let you drive me and my fish home.  Once I get cleaned up, we will go see Edden.”

“Whatever you say, ma’am.

My eyes narrowed.  I snatched up my bag and stood waiting beside my bucket until Glenn got out of the car, crossed the patch of grass, and lugged it and my net into the backseat.  He was a good head taller than me, which was saying something—with nice shoulders, curly black hair cut close to his skull, firm jaw, and a stiff attitude just begging for me to smack him.  Comfortably muscled without going overboard, there wasn’t even the hint of a gut on him.  In his perfectly fitting gray suit, white shirt, and black tie, he could be the FIB poster boy.  His mustache and beard were cut in the latest style—so minimal that they almost weren’t there—and I thought he might do better to lighten up on his aftershave.  I eyed the cuff pouch on his belt, wishing I still had mine.  They had belonged to the I.S., and I missed them dearly.

As he struggled not to slop the water on his nice creased pants, I settled myself in the front seat and turned the heat on full to blow my hair back.  Glenn said nothing as he slammed his door shut, but his clenched jaw made it clear he wasn’t happy.  Of course, he might be upset about the fish stink on his floor mats, or that a witch was sitting next to him, or that he had water on his shiny black shoes.  Tough toads.  I had pond water in my undies.

The old ladies waved good bye as we pulled out, and I rolled the window down and waved back.  Jenks settled himself at his usual spot on the rearview mirror where the wind wouldn’t tear his wings.  “Thanks for the ride, Glenn,” I said, lolling my arm out the window.  I let the air pressure push against my hand as we picked up speed.  I glanced at him, noticing how blocky his hands were.  His grip was so tight on the wheel that his fingernails were almost white.

“My pleasure, ma’am.

I smiled, turning it into a nasty face when he looked away.  “Call me Rachel.”  Settling back in the leather seat, I alternated my attention between the extra gadgets on the dash and the passing buildings flicking sunlight and shadow over me.  A call came over the radio about a shoplifter at the mall, and Glenn snapped it off.  A frown crossed me as I realized we were headed away from the river, towards uptown.

“Hey, Glenn,” I said as I tugged my damp skirt toward my knees.  “My office is in the Hollows.  You’re going the wrong way.”

“No, I’m not.”

I shifted my arm inside as he rolled the window up from his control panel.  Immediately it grew stuffy.  Jenks flitted to the ceiling, trapped.  “What the hell are you doing?” he shrilled.

“Yeah!” I exclaimed, more irate than worried.  “What’s up?”

“Captain Edden wants to see you, Ms. Morgan.”  His gaze darted from the road to me.  A victorious glint was in his dark eyes, and I didn’t like his nasty smile.  “And if you so much as reach for a spell, I’ll yank your witch butt out of my car, cuff you, and throw you in the trunk.  Captain Edden asked me to get you.  He never said what shape you had to be in.”

I repeatedly flicked the switch for the window, but Glenn had locked it.  Jenks alighted on my earring.  “Like I said, Rache,” he said loudly.  “An ass needing his ears clipped.”

I settled back with a huff.  I could jam my finger in Glenn’s eye and force us off the road, but why?  I knew where I was going.  And Edden would see that I had a ride home.  It ticked me off, though, running into a human who had more gall than me.  What was the city coming to?

A sullen silence descended.  I took my sunglasses off and leaned over, noticing the man was going fifteen over the posted limit.  Figures.

“Watch this,” Jenks whispered.  My eyebrows rose as the pixy flitted from my earring.  The autumn sun coming in was suddenly full of sparkles as he surreptitiously sifted a glowing dust over the detective.  I was sure it wasn’t the usual pixy dust.  Glenn had been pixed.

I hid a smile behind a hand, not caring it stank like fish.  In about twenty minutes, Glenn would be itching so bad, he wouldn’t be able to sit still.

“So, how come you aren’t scared of me?” I asked brazenly, feeling vastly better.

“You’re just another skinny white girl,” he said.  I stared at him, and he added, “A witch family lived next door when I was a kid.  They had a girl my age.  She hit me with just about everything a witch can do to a person.”  A faint smile of remembrance crossed him, making him look very unFIBlike.  “The saddest day of my life was when she moved away.”

I made a pouty face.  “Poor baby,” I said, and he went back to scowling.  I wasn’t pleased, though.  Edden had known I couldn’t bully him.  And now I was going to have to face an entire building of FIB personnel with fish stink all over me.  I hated Mondays.

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