Dead and Loving It

Page 17


“Unwise,” Drake said, shrugging out of his coat.
“Oh, please. Nothing personal, Blind Man’s Bluff, but you’re fucked. Can’t have anybody ratting me out to Mikey Boss Man, so sorry, sit still and die now,
“I’ll pass. And I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Really, Janet. Can’t you two solve this a little more amicably than
introducing death into the equation?”
“Pipe down, Dick, no one hit your buzzer.”
Crescent bounced up from the pavement. All three of them looked surprised to see her still in the game. “I said,” she growled, “keep your hands off my man, bitch!” Then she punched the cow in the jaw.
This was infinitely more gratifying than when she’d hit El Hottie. The woman rolled away from Drake like a bowling ball and slammed up against the Gap’s front door, cupping her hands beneath her chin to catch the blood, and Crescent felt the shock of the blow race all the way up to her shoulder.
The woman spit a tooth into her palm. “Hey, that actually hurt, you little cunt!”
“Now that’s interesting,” El Hottie said approvingly. He was the most detached man she’d ever met. What a weirdo! “You don’t smell like a meateater.”
“Crescent!” Drake was utterly shocked. It was almost worth getting jumped, just to see the look on his face. “How did you manage that?”
“Do we have to talk about it now? Or do I have to keep kicking the shit out of what’s-her-cow?”
“Hey, hey,” what’s-her-cow said warningly. “Watch the language.”
“You have a problem with cow? You put your hands on him again, I’ll kick your ass up so high people will think you have a second head. Cow.”
“Says the midget.” But the woman’s lips were twitching—like Drake’s did when he was amused, and trying not to show it.
“You know what they say. All cow and no cow makes cow a cow-cow.”
The woman reddened…then laughed reluctantly.
“For heaven’s sake, Janet,” Drake was saying, limping over to her and helping her out of the dirt. “What’s the problem? I haven’t seen you in—what? Fifteen years? And you attack me?”
“I don’t suppose we could talk about this over a drink,” Hottie commented. He grinned, and Crescent nearly screamed. He had about a thousand teeth, and they all looked very sharp. “So to speak.”
* * * * *
“—so now we’re sort of…uh…in love and stuff. And I’m not going back,” Janet added defiantly.
“You don’t have to sell me on the advantages of going rogue,” Drake said.
“What, so, you’d get in trouble with your boss? The—what d’you call him? Pack Leader?” Crescent dumped a third packet of sugar into her coffee. “What’s he care?”
“He probably wouldn’t,” Janet replied after a long pause. “But it’s not worth it to me. The risk, I mean. He could order me to stay on the Cape and I—I would have to obey, or disobey.”
They were sitting in the corner of the Starbuck’s on Park Street, speaking in low voices. Although Crescent wasn’t sure why they bothered. This was Boston, after all. Nobody gave a shit.
“Well, you don’t have to worry about me. You’re only the second Pack member I’ve run into in the last year,” Drake said. “And even if I were to run into Michael—which isn’t likely—I certainly wouldn’t mention you.”
“Well, thanks. I guess I shouldn’t have… Uh.” Janet coughed. “You know. Kicked the shit out of you without asking questions first.”
“That’s all right,” he said kindly, ignoring Crescent and Richard’s snickers.
“You might think about moving,” Crescent suggested. “If your boss and all his lackey werewolves live on the Cape. I mean, you’re only ninety miles away. If you lived in—I dunno, Argentina? That would be better.”
“Our home is here,” Janet said stubbornly. “Besides, we’re all over the world. Might as well stake out a small claim and defend it here as well as anywhere else.”
Crescent noticed the hottie—Richard—hadn’t touched his frozen coffee. “Aren’t you thirsty?”
“Well, why aren’t you—”
“So what’s your story, blondie?” Janet asked. “Getting smacked by you was like getting smacked by a two-by-four. What do you have for bone marrow, steel ball bearings?”
Crescent blinked at the interruption. “Well, I think I—”
“—might be part fey.” Drake finished for her.
Richard’s eyebrows arched. “Really? I thought your kind died out years ago.”
“It’s fairy, not fey, and most of us have—at least, I’ve never been able to find anybody else like me. And Drake, how the hell did you know that? I never got around to telling you!”
“I guessed yesterday,” he explained, “and when you smacked Janet I knew for sure.”
“Whoa, back up.” Janet put her palms out like a traffic cop. “You’re a fairy?
Like Tinkerbelle? With wings and shit?”
“Do you see any wings?” she snapped.
“Jeez, nobody told me fairies had such rotten tempers,” Janet muttered.
“She’s just mad because I figured it out,” Drake said with annoying
smugness. “She was saving it for a surprise.”
“You’re so insufferable!”
“It runs in the family,” Janet added with a grin. “The men especially. So
“Oh, yes,” Richard said. “Male werewolves are the annoying ones.”
“You shut up. Listen, I always heard fairies were these little delicate things.
You hit like a bulldozer. I’m gonna have to wait for that tooth to grow back, which sucks.”
“Dense bones,” Drake said.
“Difficult to break,” Richard added. “I ran into one of your kind about seventy years ago, and he nearly killed me. He was quite old even then, dear, so don’t get your hopes up. I’m sure he’s dust by now.”
“Oh,” Crescent said faintly.
“Don’t sound so disappointed. He was a nasty old man.”
“This explains your fixation with flying,” Drake said, thinking out loud.
“Dense bones, and she can fly?” Janet snorted into her Caramel Mocha Frappucchino. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
“You ever see an airplane take off?” Crescent asked. “You look at it and wonder how something that heavy can ever get off the earth…and then it goes…and you’re left on the ground.”
“Well, of course you can’t fly with all those accessories.” Whip-quick, Richard flicked his spoon at his whipped cream, and a dollop appeared as if by magic on the end of Janet’s nose. “But you knew that.”
“Dammit, Dick! Quit throwing whipped cream on me; you know I hate it.”
“What?” Crescent nearly yelled.
Richard looked startled. “All your piercings. You probably set off metal
detectors in airports. And of course your kind can’t tolerate certain metals.”
Drake’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head. Crescent knew exactly how he felt. How had she never thought of this before?
“What are you guys talking about?” Janet had finally gotten the last of the
whipped cream off her nose. “Drake, you look like you just crapped your pants.”
“I—um—I want to fly, but I can’t. But I never made the connection—”
“What are you guys talking about?” Janet practically yelled.
“Fairies have a legendary fear of metal, especially iron,” Richard explained.
“In Crescent’s case, I would guess that translates into being unable to get off the—what are you doing?”
Tearing out all her goddamned earrings and rings, that’s what she was doing. Between her ears, nose, and belly button, she had over a dozen.
“I guess we’re done talking,” Janet commented when Crescent stood up so quickly, her chair fell over.
“There’s a back door behind the second coffee machine,” Drake said, “but I’m not sure now is the appropriate—Crescent?”
She ran for the door and it was right where he told her it would be. She was through it in a flash and bounding up one, two, three flights of stairs, and praise all the gods, the door to the roof was propped open and then she was out in the open.
She dove off the roof. At the last moment, she closed her eyes—she’d been disappointed too many times not to feel a twinge of anxiety. She knew she wouldn’t break any bones, but landing hurt, all the same.
Except she wasn’t landing.
She cracked open one eye and saw Janet, Richard, and Drake standing on the roof, looking at her. Except they were upside down.
Correction: she was upside down. In mid-air.
“There we go,” Richard said cheerfully. “Problem solved.”
“Uh.” She could feel the grin split her face. “Can somebody reach my foot? I have no idea how to get down.”
“Now, it’s none of my business,” Janet began with, for her, heartening tentativeness.
“Oh, here we go.”
“She’s a little young for you, don’t you think?”
“I have to take relationship advice from a woman who hangs out with a dead guy?”
“Figured it out, did you?”
“Took me a while. He doesn’t really have a scent, you know? In fact, he smells more like you than anything else.”
They were back at Drake’s house, and the sun would be up soon. Crescent’s feet hadn’t touched the ground in three hours. Richard was amusing himself by bouncing her off the roof, seeing how high she would go. His personal best was sixteen feet. Drake and Janet were sitting cross-legged near the edge of the roof, watching.