Sunday, February 28, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
So, I chose none of the above..... BAWAHAHA! Because I'm cool, and I can do that. So, for my hundred followers contest, I'll be giving away the hat above (sans the model with the 5 o'clock shadow and romance novel lips... and the cleft in his chin that you sort want to stick your tongue into... but maybe that's just me.) I designed it for myself based on Honor's favorite retort of "Bite me." (We'll be like... twinners. We can wear our hats on the same day.)
Monday, February 22, 2010
Three minutes later, I rushed down the hall and slid on Summer's hall carpet.
Who keeps a circular rug in a hallway with polished wood flooring? Summer was just lucky I discovered this before Ike played human bowling or something.
I felt less lucky as I pulled some crazy figure skating moves (which wouldn't have been possible in a skirt.) I nearly collided with Julio, but he has really good reflexes after four months of me tripping and crashing into him. He moved at the last second, probably after hearing the first pirouette, and grabbed me before I hit the ground. I winced and quickly buried my face in his shirt.
Seeing the wince, he asked in concern, "Are you hurt?"
I could hear Summer and Steve trying desperately not to laugh until they found out I was okay.
I kept my face buried and muttered, "I'm okay. I'm just very, very embarrassed."
Steve and Summer gave up the fight and guffawed.
I didn't think people actually made that noise, but now I do. They guffawed all over… loudly.
Apparently, Steve, who'd had the best view, said that he would have given me a high score for creativity and execution.
Julio showed the most restraint, and just held me long enough for my cheeks to fade to something less violet crayon shaded. I couldn't see his face, but at least he wasn't shaking with silent laughter.
He did say, though, "I had no idea mornings were so exciting for you." He tried to shoo Summer and Steve off, but made the mistake of saying "show's over."
This brought new peals of laughter from them that followed us out the door.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Just as the video window popped up on my computer, I heard Scott start playing drums. He’d mentioned them, but I hadn’t noticed them yesterday. I couldn’t see him on the camera, so I wondered if his drums were in another room. I knew nothing about drums, but he sounded fantastic. Loud… but fantastic. I lay down on my couch and listened. After about a half an hour of drum solos, I heard a doorbell. I got up to go get it, but couldn’t see anyone through my peekhole. Scott answered his door—it had been his door. After a murmured conversation, he shut the door and walked straight through his place throwing his drumsticks with a sigh. I followed his progress over to his balcony with my own steps.
“Juliet?” he called when I stepped outside.
“A famous musician wants me to illustrate a children’s book with an accompanying CD of music,” I said, sitting down.
“Who?” he asked.
“I don’t know, and I don’t find out unless I contract to do it.” I lay down with my back on the cement, staring up at the sky that was shades of purple and pink from the setting sun.
“I can see your hair—it’s beautiful.” I was pretty sure if my hair could blush, it was. “It must be long,” he added. “It looks just like it did in the sketch. It’s all wavy. That’s cool.” I could feel the soft tug of him touching my hair, but I tried to stay still.
I cleared my throat and said, “I have to go do it in his recording studio, though.”
“Hmm. Do what?” he asked, distracted.
I laughed and said, “You’re not listening anymore.”
“No,” he agreed. “I have a really short attention span actually. Your hair looks like the color of gold in the sunlight. How long is your hair?”
“It’s down to my waist.”
He stopped touching my hair and said, “Okay—sorry—musician—book—you don’t know who.”
I turned over onto my stomach, putting my chin on my hands. “I have to go to his recording studio in New York City to do them. He says it won’t be right otherwise.”
“Ohhh,” Scott said in understanding.
“My agent needs an answer in two weeks. He asked if I could try meds or therapy. If I don’t do it, the guy isn’t going to do it. He says his kids liked my books.”
“So, no pressure or anything, huh?” he asked dryly.
“I’m pretty sure this is entirely your fault,” I grumbled.
This surprised a bark of laughter out of him. “How is that again?” he asked.
“My life was boring and according to schedule before you came, and I was sort of happy with it.”
“I could leave,” he offered.
“No….” I sighed. “It’s too late.”
“Hmm. I didn’t think I could feel any crappier today, but being compared to the plague—managed it.”
I laughed and said, “No, well—I wasn’t really happy before, but I was convinced I was because I was finishing ‘to do’ lists. Actually BEING happy is a lot more complicated.”
“Well—that’s a little better,” he admitted.
“Your drum playing sounded really good.”
“Good… That was the end of it for a really long time. Apparently the man beneath me is homebound and has a heart condition. I know it’s not like a rock and roll drummer to cave to ‘the man’ but, drumming isn’t literally life or death for me.”
“Oh—your news is worse than mine,” I said. He clearly loved drumming. I wanted to help him. What could I do? “What about if your drums were up here in my apartment?”
“Do you play the drums?” he asked.
“Then, why would there be drums up there?”
“So, you could still play.”
“So, I would be up there with my drums?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, and then quickly followed it up with, “But not right now!”
He laughed. “Of course not—that would be crazy.”
I groaned and stuck my hand down. “Okay—here is my hand—slap your face against it,” I said in irritation.
It surprised me when he put his face against my hand, but my mouth dropped open when he kissed my palm. His fingers twined between mine, and he brushed his lips against my wrist and the tips of my fingers. My face felt hot, and my stomach started doing funny things. His lips felt really soft against my wrist. I looked around, thinking, “We’re out in plain sight… anyone could see what you’re doing to my hand.” His breath felt hot and sensual. Finally I just laid my cheek against the cool pavement, and closed my eyes. I was pretty sure it must be obscene—especially when his teeth brushed against my hand, but I’d been good for far too long anyway. Then he started taking nipping bites of my skin. I felt completely edible. Mmm. My heart was dancing. Wow. I’m pretty sure I’d never felt anything this good.
Then, he stopped.
He asked softly, “Juliet, can I come up?” and it brought me back to my senses, and my heart started pounding for a different reason.
I swallowed, pulling my hand up, while I sat. I could let him come up. My cheeks felt hot. No, I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. It was too soon. No one new had seen me for—a long time. What if he didn’t like me? Sure—he seemed to like my hand, but my hand was a very small part of me. Plus, he’d just totally seduced my hand, and it was so hot—wow—it was hot. It would be strange and awkward to have him here after that, wouldn’t it? The seconds dragged on. We sat there, and I kept trying to convince myself it was going to be fine, but none of my limbs would listen.
He sighed and said, “Sorry—too soon still? I’m kicking myself right now.”
No matter how many times I stand beside their bodies hearing the subtle crackling of their flesh cooling and smelling the decay of organs creeping towards death—it never changes the feeling that it wasn’t meant to end like this—not for Shantel Cummings—not for any of them.
There were a million other scents in this room of death—some from the room itself—some from the building that housed so many living and dead. None was pleasant—not to me. Sometimes, I challenged myself to establish how long the scent had been present and where it had come from. When had the female at the front desk returned from her repast of eating some sort of curry flavored dish? How long ago had the heavy floral-scented female walked by this room? What about the older male whose body was terminally ill—what had he been carrying into the office two doors down thirty-six minutes ago? Today, I did none of that, though.
I blocked it all out and forced into my mind the scent of her. Sweet. She smelled sweet like something creamy and decadent. I knew her scent so well that it was tangible in my mind, and I could block out this mortality that hung around me like a shroud. Beautiful. Never had I imagined an odor to be so, but hers was. I concentrated on it until I could taste it on my tongue.
Her curling, long, black hair was scented slightly differently from her pale, ivory skin.
I’d switched out her shampoo again, trying to find the least fragrant concoction so that it wouldn’t detract from the smell of her. I’d washed all of the vile fabric softener from the three batches of clothing I’d used it on—so it was no longer over-powering, though it was still there in subtle trace amounts. She’d liked it, but it was a slight scent to her—though stronger than her own smell.
Sometimes, she wore moisturizer on her skin—though it was rare. I was grateful she wasn’t enamored of cosmetics of any kind. I was, on occasion, grateful that she was as small as she was. At four foot ten, her shorter-than-average frame was so sweet-smelling that—were there any more skin—she’d be irresistible. I’d thought of mentioning this to her, but she didn’t take comments regarding height so lightly.
It was unfortunate that I had to share her scent with my Brethren. I’d wanted to insist they ignore it, but it was hardly a rational request—I’d known that even before the Master had laughed when I’d admitted to it.
When her heart sped up, the perfume of her body wrapped around me as her blood warmed her skin. Its heat slipped into the air so quickly and so completely that it seemed to defy all laws of the physical world. Perhaps it was just because I was constantly waiting for it—inhaling it into every inch of me the moment it passed from her skin—absorbing it into me—wishing it was her inside me and not just the scent of her skin. Beautiful.
I was so focused that my mind bridged the twenty-three miles between us.
‘Hey, Shiny,’ she said in my head.
‘Hi. What are you doing?’
‘Is this the mental line of what are you wearing?’ she asked, amusement in her voice.
‘What?’ Often, she was a few emotional steps ahead of me in idioms.
‘Never mind. I was just getting ready for bed.’
My mind quickened at the thought. She was getting ready for bed. I had a much better reason to be done with this. I searched the scents around me briefly. One of them would be due to return to this room soon. I could wait—a few minutes. The impulse to return to her side was intense. It nearly broke through hundreds of years of forced behavior and control.
‘What are you doing?’ she asked.
I looked around the cold room that tried for a clinical sterility but really was anything but. There was no reason for description, and I’d learned that she wasn’t asking that. She was asking for a time not an action. It was a learned pattern of speech.
‘Just finishing up,’ I said.
‘How bad?’ There was so much sweet concern in her voice. It was nearly my undoing on patience to leave.
‘Not too bad. I arrived soon after it happened. She told me she was dying anyway. She had nothing to settle in her mind or life. It was most tragic to see her so prepared for her end.’
‘So that’s not as bad,’ she said, trying to quantify it. It was odd—but nice.
A male was coming toward the room.
‘I need to speak with someone. I’ll be there in thirty-seven minutes,’ I said.
‘Exactly thirty-seven minutes?’ There was humor in her voice again. She found my exactness to be amusing. I’d never found it to be so before I met her. I was still struggling to realize when exactness was a poor choice and when it was acceptable. I didn’t mind that she was amused. In fact, I liked it. Her smile was worth it. Her happiness was worth it. Besides, she was never amused in a cruel way.
‘Well, alright. Hurry home.’
My muscles seized at the command. My mind tried to push motion beyond desires and intentions. ‘Okay.’ The word slipped out—was pushed out. ‘Uhh,’ I said, while I still could.
‘Never mind,’ she said quickly, realizing she’d activated that blood bond. ‘Take as long as you need. It doesn’t matter.’
My body and mind relaxed. ‘Thank you.’
‘Sorry,’ she said, never intending to force my will.
‘It’s fine. I’ll see you in…thirty-six minutes.’
‘Okay, I’ll set the timer.’
Would she? Or was that a joke?
I knew the scent of the male coming, and I pushed the awareness of my presence into the room. There was no reason to hide from him.
The thin, thirty-eight year old Being pushed through the doors while pulling on the latex gloves. His heart sped up slightly when he saw me, but only slightly, and he tried for nonchalance—as if this non-reaction was a game between us.
“Jack,” I said, smiling.
“Hey, blood boy. Haven’t seen you for a few months,” he said. He was from Fresno—originally, but had lived in Seattle for over five years now. It was in his voice—as was the lack of sleep and stress he was under.
“Your wife had her baby.” I noted the scent of formula and diapers on his skin.
He froze in his movements. The intimacy of my knowledge of his life outside of this place clearly discomfiting.
“You smell differently,” I explained, lest he think I was following him. They didn’t like to know that we followed them—for whatever reason.
“Oh. Yeah, she did,” he said relaxing. I knew before he did so that he was about to change the subject away from his life. He didn’t like me knowing about him. He didn’t like knowing about me—if he was being honest with himself. Looking at the body I’d set on the metal table, he said, “It looks like we’ve got a pro here.”
“Pro?” I repeated. The female was hardly pro-anything. She just… was. It was still a shock to me what they put themselves through in order to make money to spend on things to destroy their bodies.
“She’s a prostitute,” Jack said.
“Oh. Yes, she was.” Technically, she wasn’t anything anymore.
“Did you get a name?” He picked up a sheet of paper attached to a clipboard.
“Shantel Cummings. Age: Forty-two years, six months, twelve days.”
I watched as he did the math.
“Did you get any next of kin information?” he asked.
“If her sires or siblings were still alive, she had no knowledge of that. Her mother was Sonja Cummings and her father, by birth, was Samuel Clark. She was born in Everett.”
“How fast will we need to get her in the ground or fire?” he asked, scratching his eyebrow with the cap of his pen. Once again, there was that attempt at nonchalance. He knew things that he didn’t want to know, so he pretended they didn’t matter.
“She was bitten eight hours ago. I wasn’t able to attempt any type of recovery potion because her body was already compromised due to this disease you call AIDS.”
“Whoa. She has AIDS?” Jack said, taking a step back. His heart rate picked up slightly. “Lead with that, blood boy. Always lead with that.”
“My apologies. I will in the future.”
Their bodies are so fragile.
I was losing time that I could spend with her—she might already be in bed. Jack might be able to move faster. “You could ascribe that as her cause of death,” I suggested, pushing it into his mind. Normally, I wouldn’t use persuasion with him, but I wanted to be done.
His pen paused, and he said, “Hey, I don’t tell you how to do your job—whatever it is—you don’t tell me how to do mine.”
“Again, my apologies. I’m anxious to be with my mate.”
“Your mate?” he repeated, a smile on his face. This knowledge of my personal life made him feel strangely powerful—I could tell, though it made no sense to me. Perhaps he was just relieved that there was something he understood about me.
“Yes. I’d like to be done here within the next forty-five seconds if possible. I still have a bit of a drive to make tonight.”
“You drive—you don’t fly?”
“It wouldn’t make sense to go to the airport before going back to the Sovereignty Heart,” I said.
“No, I mean wings. You don’t turn into a bat or a….”
“Myth,” I said.
“That’s too bad. I always thought that could be useful.”
“I eat bats,” I volunteered. I wasn’t sure how far I was to take this sharing of information, but if it encouraged his cooperation—and hurried him, I was willing to tell him anything.
I sensed this was sarcasm.
The seconds were ticking away as he continued to write on the paper.
“You’ll bury or burn the body within the next six hours,” I told him, adding a slight suggestion to it.
“Yes,” he repeated in a monotone—before shaking his head and frowning. “Hey, I cooperate—you don’t need to get into my head.”
“To be exact, I’m not getting ‘into’ your head, I’m merely….”
“UHH…tut tut tut,” he interrupted me, shaking a finger. Jack was odd—even for a human. “Let’s keep the mystery alive, blood boy.”
“Very well. My anxiety to be gone is becoming more sincere.”
Another smile. “This mate of yours must really be something. I’ve never seen any of you anxious to be doing anything. It’s… humanizing.”
I sensed that he wasn’t intending to be insulting, so I smiled.
“In fact, she—is it a she?” he asked.
Once again, no insult was meant—he was merely unfamiliar with our ways.
“Yes, she is female.”
“I’ve never seen a female of your kind,” Jack said.
While not technically a Hunter, she was a Shadow Hunter, but this was a distinction he wouldn’t understand.
“There are not many. There are only three females currently in the Sovereignty Heart.” Two Shadow Hunters and one vampire—though he also wouldn’t understand this.
“And you have one of them. You lucky dog.”
Slang. It was so unpredictable to perceive its intent. Jack was not the type to level insult, so I guessed that he was merely being humorous.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Okay, I think we’re done here,” he said.
“You’ll spray the body with saltwater soon?”
“I’d heard we’re doing that now,” Jack said. “Some new vampire policy?”
“It’ll help deter the Shifts, though I’ll have one of our Hunters check back within six hours to ascertain that none have traced her back to this repository for the deceased.”
“We like to call it… the Morgue,” he said, amused again.
“Very well. We’re done?”
“Yes, Hunter or whatever. Off to your mate.”
“Please, call me Reeve.”
Friday, February 12, 2010
"No," I said.
"Isn't that her butt, though?" Larry asked from the other side of me. "If that's meant to be her from in front, you aren't seeing what I'm seeing. Plus, you're using the wrong colors. Blue and green? It's like someone beat her with a stick."
"Are you sure it's supposed to look like that?" the girl in back of me hissed.
I rolled my eyes. Who cared about the model? She was plain and uninspiring. I was painting the beautiful girl in front of me... who was probably blocking her own painting of the model with her curvy, clothed form. Carissa turned to look at me. Her blue eyes tipped up slightly at the edges giving her an exotic look. Her red lips were puckered and looked like they wanted to be kissed. She smiled at me. I smiled back.
She took a step to the side, so I could see my own face looking back at me. She was painting me? Dipping her paint brush into the flesh tones... she painted, "443-8974 Call me" just below my chin.
I snatched my pen up, wrote it on my palm, and a moment later, a brush stroke obliterated the words--but not the satisfied smile on her face.
"You slept with my wife. I'm walling you into this sidewall... just like in this book I'm reading," Edgar said.
"You git! You can't wall a conscious person up into a brick wall. They have to be unconscious. Do you expect me to just stand here while you're building a wall around me?"
Edgar nailed him in the head with the next brick. Allen dropped in a heap.
"Good point, Allen. This'll be much easier," he said, starting a fresh layer of bricks and dipping his trowel in the cement. "Much easier."
"Hush up, Travis," his mother said.
"Gramps has cracked, Mom. We both know it. He should be in a home or something." Travis chewed on a wad of gum. He'd replace it with tobacco when he was out of the house, but this would have to do with his mom around.
"I think it's sweet." His mother washed out the remainder of the breakfast dishes while gazing out at her father. "It's only been a year."
"Yeah, but he goes out there, sits in that chair, and talks to her like she is sitting in a chair next to him. It's weird enough having that chair out back," Travis said.
"It's not hurting anyone."
Travis rolled his eyes and pushed through the back screen door of the ancient farmhouse, striding toward the chair.
As he approached, he could hear his grandfather say, "No, Nell, the boy will be fine. You'll see."
His grandfather was deaf as a post and didn't hear Travis's feet in the grass as his grandson crept up.
"Nell, are you sure he is the one killing the chickens?" his grandfather asked.
Travis stopped and stared. He and his friends had snagged a few of his grandfather's chickens a couple nights back. There was no way that his grandfather could know that. Still, there was no way his dead grandmother was sitting in a chair beside him telling him this stuff. Was there?
Looking at the ground, he noticed a patch of dead earth to the side of the chair his grandfather sat in. It was as if something was blocking the sun from that spot of grass. Grandpa Troy was too frail to move the chair. Still, if it wasn't Grandpa Troy's chair killing the ground beside it... whose was it?
Travis turned around and strode back to the house.
"You're right," he told his mom. "It's nothing."
"I told you," she said,smiling over her shoulder. Dropping the dishcloth to the side of the sink, she asked in concern, "What's wrong, Travis? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"Uh, Faith, what's with the panda suit?"
I didn't even look like a real panda. I looked like a giant child's stuffed animal There was no mask, but the hood on my head conveyed that I wasn't just dressed in an unflattering black and white jumper. No, I was a panda.
"What?" I asked, plastering a confused look on my face.
"Uhh... the bear thing," he said, gesturing at my outfit.
I looked down. In the distance, I could hear my roommate run into the bathroom before she could ruin this by laughing.
I shook my head while narrowing my eyes. "Are you feeling okay, Billy?"
"You're wearing a panda suit!" he said.
Keeping my face straight, I said, "No... I'm not."
"YOU ARE." He gestured at me again before running a hand through his hair. "I can't take you out dressed like that."
"Dressed... like... what?" I asked.
"LIKE THAT!" He groaned. "Look... just go change. We can still make the movie if you hurry."
I narrowed my eyes. "You can't tell me what to do."
He stormed off toward his jeep just as a ratty old Cadillac waited for him to exit the driveway. A moment later, a new guy appeared at my front step. He took in my outfit in a glance.
"Cool. Do I get one too?" he asked.
I unzipped the panda suit and pulled it off to reveal my actual attire. I fluffed my hair, saying, "That thing was hot."
Betty stuck her head around the corner. "He didn't run off."
"No. I'd say my portion of the forfeit is fulfilled," I said.
"Yep, next time bet on the Saints, bubs," she said. "I'll let bachelor number three know you're taken." She looked at my date for the night and said, "Hey, Luke, for the record... I was betting on you."
Luke smiled and said, "I'm a little disappointed that the Panda costume came off."
I winked at him and said, "Honey, it was bound to come off sooner or later tonight."
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Okay, so I need to work on my pitch for Re:Straint today. I'm wondering if I should focus on Scorched and Re:Straint as far as querying and so on goes. Honor kicks tail, don't get me wrong, but it might be difficult to convey how Honor isn't your typical vampire book and is genuinely funny.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The skeletons hiding in Lucas's closet are microscopic, but deadly. He's never had a normal life. Genetics have predetermined what he eats for breakfast and who he can be around. Nothing about his existence is healthy including his reaction to Hallie. He's been stalking her as his desire to be around her has proven to be irresistible. Like an infection, she's in his blood, but he desperately wants to keep his germs... and family to himself. There are those among the Strain who'd kill to keep them apart.The feeling of hollowness and waiting has finally lifted in Hallie's life, but the mystery surrounding Lucas just seems to grow exponentially. She keeps trying to convince him she needs him in her life completely and forever, but he's convinced he'll prove fatal to her. His mother is rather terrifying, but how bad can she really be? What is the Strain and why do its members hide in dark and quiet corners?Not everything is visible to the naked eye in this story of infectious love.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
A scream ripped through the air with a nearly visible intensity. I closed my eyes for a moment and replayed its direction before opening my eyes and taking off at a run.
In a deserted dead-ending nook not far, but far enough from the main drag for private violence, there was a woman pressed up against a wall. A man held a knife at her neck while whispering furiously. I dropped my bag near the entry to the alley which was long enough to park about eight cars in it. I considered bringing the letter opener, but I suspected I was already out-gunned, so I left it. Five years of hate had taught me the value of a well-placed foot and a light step. I slid into the alley with the hood on the jacket up and around my face. His concentration was all on the woman, and she was too terrified to do anything. In fact, her terror would make her reactions into that of a feral cat. If allowed, she'd most likely attack me too.
I was within fifteen feet… and then ten… He'd ripped her blouse and she was begging. He was choking her with one hand, and in the other holding a rather nasty-looking knife that made my letter opener look like… well… what it was. I decided to trade out… even though a well-placed letter opener was worth more than a sloppy knife jab. A knife in my hands was one less in the hands of a criminal. So, I guess I wasn't trading so much as just swiping his knife before I disappeared, but that's semantics.
After a quick scrutiny of position, I opted for the low blow. I'll admit… I opt for this quite a lot… especially when I’m in a bad mood. A well placed knee from behind while simultaneously grabbing both his underarms with clawed hands and ripping at both flesh and hair…. Well, that would immobilize most men for a while.
He dropped the knife in his free hand, and his other hand fell from her neck.
"RUN! Call the police," I shouted at the woman while getting well out of her way.
She stumbled at me, ready to fight, before my words sunk in and she ran out. Her departure made me realize two other shapes hovered at the entrance to the alley. Perfect.
My stray, the would-be attacker, was recovering, and I dove for his knife at the same time as him. I was faster. I'm usually faster. Instead of using it, though, I threw it into the trash where I could see it, but he couldn't. I've discovered that when you have the benefit of seeing in the dark, getting rid of pointy objects is a priority when it's down to grappling. Pointy objects end up being what the grappling is over. You could get hurt that way.
He tried to claw my face, and I turned sideways and kneed him again as he flew past. This time, though, he didn't slow down because adrenalin was fueling his movements, and he hit the brick wall just a little beyond me. He staggered back towards me, and I swept his legs. A pile of garbage broke his fall, and he yanked out a broken bottle to wield. Criminals can be so unsanitary. He didn't know what was in that bottle. He jabbed forward, and I flipped backward, kicking the bottle up in the air. I recovered in time to catch the cool blue glass in my gloved hand, and to toss it into the corner with the knife. I was calling that my "pointy object" corner. He came running at me again, and I jumped to catch the bottom rung of some metal stairs attached to the building my back was to. I nailed him with a kick in his chest with both feet. Stumbling, he nearly went down. It gave me time to look at our visitors who were nearing while gauging the fight.
Could this night get any better? If only it had been more goons. I could have handled a dozen more strays over the hand fate had just dealt me.
It was Sarah. I'd recognize her pixie height and build anywhere. She had a taser in her hand… even better. The man next to her carried a bat. I groaned. Either I'd have to save them too, or they'd attack me. Neither scenario involved me sneaking away just as the police got here… if the girl I sent running called them. I could kiss my brand-new knife away. It was probably covered by the remnants in the broken bottle anyway.
My stray got in a good punch to my stomach, but I reacted fast enough to punch his face. We backed up from each other and circled around in a wrestler stance.
"Who are you?" he asked. "Are you a cop?"
I jumped forward but arced toward the ground into a handspring, pulling my feet into a double kick. I don't like standing kicks. It involves leaving a part of you exposed that I'd rather not. I've discovered it's much easier to train in gymnastics and self-defense separately and work out moves myself. There aren't very many places that teach "Jackie Chan" fighting. He's an excellent teacher, though. That's the reason I use to justify watching "Super Cop" over and over. The stray fell, but grabbed one of my feet… unanticipated… but I landed on top of him… cool. I put the foot he'd grabbed on his neck.
That's when Sarah and batboy arrived.
"I don't know which of them is the one we're after," she said, walking toward me with her taser pointing in our direction.
I went to pull my hood off. The jig was up. I wasn't about to be a taser outlet. "Stop. I'm the Devi you know…," I said wryly. I turned into the light and Sarah screamed and fired.
A typical taser is designed to be relatively non-lethal and only work on the one that the probe is fired into. The former Vegas Scott had decided this was less fun and "upgraded" to something stronger that could incapacitate two people. The person with the probe in them got the higher voltage, but anyone touching them was hit too. I know all this because I had an "upgraded" model in my back-pack at the apartment. Apparently, Sarah had received a "Scott Special" also. I needed to talk to Scott about the phrase "with great power comes great responsibility." Well, we'd talk after I shot him with the taser that Sarah had just fired into my side.
I fell off the stray, and onto my back, and for a second my vision exploded white like a fire ball as the air around me became a little charged. Then, I heard the sirens. I was in too much pain to groan again, but internally it was there, and I swear I could smell fried brain.
Sarah came running saying, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Your eyes hit the light just right and even though you warned me, it freaked me out a second before I recognized you." All of this was said in the amount of time it would have taken the average person to say "hello." She knelt next to me pulling my head onto her lap. "I wasn't expecting you… I was expecting him…" she said, gesturing at the stray.
"Help me… up… please…" I muttered painfully.
After a worried maternal look, she did.
The sirens were coming… This wasn't good. I pulled the probe out of my side, and the gun out of Sarah's hand. I threw it into another pile of trash and made sure it sunk into the nasty. "I'll need the bat, Charlie."
They both looked at me, and Charlie flashed Sarah a look but didn't say anything. "Why?" she asked.
"Hurry… The police are nearly here, and I need to get a good hit in before they get here," I said, attempting to stand up enough to reach for the bat.
He looked at Sarah and back at me.
"C'mon!" I insisted, shaking my hand a little.
"Who?" Charlie said the one word and with what I felt was uncalled-for animosity towards the person his wife had tried to maim.
"Give it to me NOW," I shouted fed up with it. I surprised him enough that he handed it over to me. "Go cover your wife's eyes, she won't want to see this…" He shot in front of Sarah and in-between us. Apparently, he thought she was my intended target. It was cute, and a level of cute that I was actually comfortable with. Maybe that says something about me….
"No… I'm not…," he started angrily. When he saw my target, he quickly turned and hugged Sarah's head into his chest.
My bat hit the stray's head with a sickening thud. I leaned down to check a pulse after dropping the bat and taking deep breaths. "Ouch…," I complained as the impact made my jittery arms hurt. I felt a fluttering pulse in the stray's neck and collapsed up against the wall over where I'd flung the Taser. My stomach felt vile. There are certain parts of your anatomy that don't take kindly to electricity… well… actually… most of your body doesn't. Tasers always left my stomach feeling queasy like running a marathon after a flu. That chocolate cake was feeling like a bad idea. It felt like it'd been rebaked to a solid in my stomach.
The cavalry was running down the headlight illuminated alley.
"Okay… ow… we don't have much time. Here is the story. Charlie nailed him with the bat after the stray… uhh…that guy… punched me in the stomach. THERE WAS NO TASER… and you don't know me. The knife is in the corner over there," I said indicating the corner with my head. I took my coat off and tied it around my waist. I had a black shirt underneath that screamed "All In!" and had big white cards and poker chips across it. It was the kind of shirt that said, "If you didn't see me, than you weren't looking." I quickly shoved my "driving gloves" into the pocket of my coat. I sank down to sit on the taser and clutch my stomach. Smiling at Sarah, I said, "Nice shot, though, Sarah. Poor target choice, but good aim."