Alexa Zoe Daeberht never intended to end the world–or sentence it to a slow and terrible death. All she wanted was dinner. When her kitchen becomes the epicenter of the Dawn of the Dae, her normal, mundane life turns into a living nightmare. No one is really sure what the dae are, but because of her, they are here to stay. Some of the dae are harmless, safely bound to their human counterpart. Others are anything but harmless.
Only one thing is for certain: everyone is after the one who brought the dae into the world. Some want her to die for her crimes. Some want her as an ally. Others simply want her, though Alexa can’t begin to imagine why.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Christmas shopping in the dae-infested downtown core of Baltimore was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I should have known I’d have problems; eight weeks waiting for my ribs to heal had put me out of touch with the world, especially since my pair of self-appointed keepers had done a pretty good job of keeping me contained in my apartment.
I didn’t even celebrate the holidays, but a flummoxing mixture of guilt and gratitude had sent me on a hunt for presents in early November. I thought I had given myself plenty of time to avoid the worst of the shopping mayhem.
How was I supposed to know Walmart had become the hottest, hippest spot for dae to congregate? I sighed, peeked out of the aisle boasting children’s toys, and waited for the next wave of oddities to come barreling down the main corridor of the store.
At one end of the aisle, a herd of miniature three-headed giraffes waited, hoarding the women’s accessories. On the other end, a motley collection of whats-its gathered, and some I recognized from their sharp, pointy teeth.
It didn’t count as having a run-in with a vampire if all it did was spontaneously explode, did it? Rob couldn’t get mad at me if the vampire didn’t bite me—at least, I hoped not. Who would have thought a vampire had glittery goo for blood with the fluffy sweetness of cotton candy? Fortunately, I had been a good girl and taken my allergy suppressing medication, or the unfortunate and random demise of the vampiric dae would have sent me back to the hospital for the third time in as many weeks.
Straight up vanilla humans like me didn’t get along so well with the magical dae. Add in my pre-existing allergies to pretty much every humanoid living thing on the planet, and I was the poster child for misery and misfortune. With the medication helping, I’d only end up with splotches of rash where the goo caked on my skin, but at least I wouldn’t itch or lose the ability to breathe.
Breathing was important, and I liked doing it.
My desire to survive, however, wasn’t enough to quell my temptation to lick delicious vampire goo off my fingers. If I died, at least I’d go out during the euphoria of experiencing a true culinary delight.
Sullivan was going to have to watch out; if he was anywhere near as glorious as his other vampire brethren, he wouldn’t be the only one attempting to sneak a sip of blood. It seemed fair. If I had to put up with being prey for hungry dae, they could at least agree to exchange. If I tasted anywhere near was wonderful, I understood why my vampire friend drooled whenever he saw me.
A snort from the miniature giraffes’ side of the face off caught my attention, and I peeked out of my aisle. A sheet of water cascaded from the ceiling. Spluttering, I wiped my face and blinked as I dripped from head to toe.
The vampire’s goo pooled around my feet, leaving a thin glimmering film coating me and my clothes.
Why I had been so stupid as to venture out shopping on my own? If I had taken my roommate, at least I could have gotten a prize for accompanying the oddest of oddities.
I blamed impatience and the idiotic need to somehow thank Colby and Rob for sticking around while my ribs healed. If I had listened to them and stayed in the comfortable security of my home, I wouldn’t have gotten trapped in the middle of a war in Walmart. I wasn’t sure what the two sides were fighting over, but it likely had something to do with the cheap pink handbag a giraffe held in one of its mouths.
I understood; good bags were hard to find and were easily worth their weight in gold. Puzzled, I retreated into the safety of my aisle. Was gold even worth anything to the dae? My exposure to friendly dae was limited to a dragon with a foul mouth, a vampire who wanted to take me for drinks, an incubus who hadn’t quite figured out how to avoid killing whomever he slept with, my macaroni and cheese roommate, and Rob.
I really should have listened. A wise woman listened when her sentient macaroni and cheese told her to sit down, shut up, and stay put. Granted, Colby’s limited vocabulary left a lot up for interpretation, but my roommate had its tone of voice down to an art.
Who knew someone—something?—could use the word ‘Mommy’ so effectively?
Rob was the real problem and reason I had fled from my apartment the instant he had turned his head and hadn’t paid complete attention to me. Finding a gift for the dae was going to be the death of me. Walmart was the only place I had thought of with something he wouldn’t think to get for himself.
Colby was easy; all I needed to do to earn my roommate’s endless adoration was provide a bag of apples. Five minutes after consumption, my roommate would end in up a food-induced coma, purring like some demented omnivorous kitten from hell.
I’d have to work a lot harder to surprise and please Rob, and I had a plan, assuming I could navigate my way past the war over women’s accessories.
Acquisition number one was in women’s apparel, where I would select a cute little dress entirely for his benefit. I’d have to guess what he liked, and unfortunately for me, he appreciated anything I wore or chose not to wear, which made picking the perfect outfit a challenge at best.
I wanted a necklace to go with it, but to do that, I’d have to face the horde of miniature giraffes guarding the section. If they could blow a vampire to bits, I didn’t have a chance of defeating them with a display of violence.
Why had I left my gun at home? Rob had even updated my carrying permit to last until the New Year. I sighed, adding the paperwork to the endless list of things the dae had done for me in the past month and a half.
Maybe I’d head to one of the restricted clothing stores, assuming I survived Walmart, and buy some lingerie to go with the dress. I didn’t have the foggiest idea what to buy, but I’d sort it out once I found my dress, got my accessories, and advanced to step two of my plan.
Step two involved a very sharp knife with a pretty hilt and a sheath Rob could hide up the sleeve of his equally pretty suits. He couldn’t carry a gun everywhere, and while most dae seemed afraid of him, it worried me when he went out without a weapon.
Dumb people like me, who went out where the dae gathered, got themselves killed in the crossfire. I narrowed my eyes, backing down the aisle in search of a way around the mayhem. The empty water guns did me no good. While the rifles and crossbows equipped with foam-tipped ammunition appealed to my inner child, they wouldn’t be effective tools against the dae, most of whom breathed fire on a whim.
Maybe I could throw dolls at the dae and confuse them into forgetting about me. Grumbling a curse, I backed towards the narrow walkway skirting the entire store. When I reached the end of the shelves, I checked down the aisle.
There wasn’t a single dae in sight. Since running towards the miniature giraffes and screaming war cries like an idiot had worked so poorly for the vampire, I opted for the cool, calm, and collected method, strolling towards the accessories section.
Maybe I’d just grab the first purse and necklace I found. I could match the dress to the accessories. Rob wouldn’t notice if I went barefooted. He wasn’t interested in my feet. Did they sell shoes in lingerie stores?
What did a woman wear when giving her best of enemies a gift? He always dressed nice, and he never complained when I wore the ratty clothes I had spent most of my life in. I was intimately familiar with his taste in lingerie, which would make that phase of my purchases simple.
I made it all the way to the edge of the accessories section before one of the miniature three-headed giraffes noticed me.
It blinked at me.
I blinked back.
“Top of the morning to you, miss,” the central head said, and he stretched out his foreleg in a bow. “Do pardon us, but this here section does right belong to us at current.”
Sometimes, the dae really pissed me off, especially the ones with the pretty but fake British accents and their snooty attitudes. Some of them were dapper fellows, but I had the feeling he’d skewer me with his sharpened horns given half a reason.
“I have a date, and may some god help you, because if you come between me, a necklace, a dress, and a pair of shoes, I’m going to turn your pretty hide into a wall hanging.” It was important to deliver threats with a smile. Smiling while threatening someone had a way of unnerving people.
Smiling was also a good way of confusing the predator versus prey instinct.
“A date,” the dae stammered.
While I wasn’t technically dating Rob, dae were still a bit behind the times. I decided the dae would never understand my complicated relationship with the elite residing in my apartment. It wasn’t the dae’s fault they had been born yesterday. Well, in the grand scheme of things, two months was close enough to count.
“I’m dressing up for a gentleman,” I explained before sighing my frustration. “I want to look nice. To look nice, I need all the help I can get.”
The dae spent a full minute looking me over from head to toe, and his three heads conferred to each other in low tones.
“You’re right. You do need all of the help you can get,” the head on the far left declared.
“Be nice,” the one on the far right scolded.
“Hey, Frankle-Mankle-Charliebum! We got a code red here,” the central head bellowed.
Every single one of the three-headed giraffes focused their attention on me, and a cacophony of brays answered the declaration. My eyes widened as several of them approached.
The tiniest giraffe I had yet seen approached, and all three pairs of its eyes narrowed. It came up to my knee, and despite my advantage of height, something was warning me to run—fast.
I stood my ground. Prey ran, and while I qualified, all running did was make every predator nearby chase me.
“You weren’t kidding,” the left-most head of the tiny newcomer replied, clucking his tongue. “I’m Frankle.”
“She’s going on a date.”
At the proclamation, the herd of giraffes pranced, their hooves clattering against the store’s concrete floors. I tensed at the way the ground rocked beneath me from their enthusiasm.
“A date! A date! She’s going on a date!”
The giraffe turned my date into their war cry, and before I could obey my surging desire to run as fast as I could, they mobbed me.
On their own, the dae didn’t seem to understand what a date meant, but the three-headed giraffes understood clothes. When they realized they could use me as an oversized doll to dress up as they pleased, they recruited their enemies.
United by a common cause, the two sides focused all their energy on me. I would have left the store with the first skimpy dress to meet my requirements. Such a haphazard approach wasn’t acceptable to my new friends.
At least they weren’t breathing fire at each other or at me, summoning curtains of water, or otherwise trying to erase each other from existence.
One of them did, however, give me an unwanted bath by half-drowning me where I stood to get the vampire’s glittery residue off me and my clothes. I glowered at all of the dae, contemplating ways to murder them for the indignity of being treated like a toy.
To make matters worse, all my cash was a soggy mess in my wallet, which would lead to an uncomfortable time at the register. I sighed, wrinkled my nose, and endured.
It was easier and safer to let the dae have their way.
“Red,” a vampire hissed at Frankle-Mankle-Charliebum.
All three of the giraffe’s heads snorted in unison. “Blue.”
“Black is sexier,” I offered.
Mankle glared at me. “Gentlemen don’t have sex.”
My mouth dropped open and a strangled noise emerged from my throat. What was I supposed to say to such an absurd declaration? I could easily believe egotistical Rob slid from gentleman status due to his assortment of crimes, but his failings were far more nefarious than his enjoyment of sex. I mumbled, “Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“Gentlemen want elegant ladies,” Frankle said. “Elegant ladies wear blue.”
Charliebum sighed and shook his head, and one of his horns scraped against Mankle, who snapped his teeth. The two squabbled, and with an explosive snort, Charliebum whipped his neck against Mankle.
Frankle joined in, and the three beat each other with their heads.
I marveled they didn’t snap their necks in their effort to establish their dominance.
A loser who lived won the battle, so I scowled, shrugged, and said, “Blue is fine.”
“Blue it is!” Grabbing hold of my arm, the vampire dragged me to the rack of blue dresses the giraffes had selected. I never thought Walmart was the sort of place to have a staggering variety of dresses, but I had a choice of at least twenty different styles.
Surrounded by a bunch of overexcited dae, I didn’t get a choice of which dress to try on. The vampire thrust one at me and pointed to the dressing room.
Some arguments weren’t worth having, so I obeyed, wondering if I’d emerge from Walmart unscathed—and dressed in my own clothes.
I doubted it.
With my multitude of scars, dresses too often showcased what I’d rather hide, and the garment the vampire selected showed a lot of skin. The neckline plunged, and my bra worked with the gown to display a great deal of cleavage while leaving most of my modesty intact. The hem brushed the ground, but the gown was slitted all the way to my hip, showing off my right leg.
At least I had possessed the foresight to shave before going on my shopping adventure, so no one could accuse me of being some form of furry dae with control issues.
My street clothes did a disappearing trick, forcing me to wear the blue dress the vampire had selected. The giraffes—the entire herd of them—grudgingly accepted my attire. Several Walmart employees watched, shaking their heads. The more lively of them cleared out, leaving the undead to stare and drool. When one approached, I was torn between sticking with my unwanted makeover artists or making a run for it.
I decided Frankle-Mankle-Charliebum and his cohorts were the safer choice.
The zombie groaned at me, which drew the attention of a second one of the decaying dae. They converged on me, and their foul breath was even worse than the haze of rot surrounding them.
“I’m so sorry,” I mumbled. “They stole my clothes.”
The employees had been women before the Dawn of Dae. At least, I thought they had been women. They had deteriorated enough I wasn’t entirely sure, leaving behind bits of flesh here and there.
“Paid,” the taller of the two rasped, fluttering her hand. “No boom. Good.”
“No booms are good,” I agreed, wondering if the two women had internalized dae. If they weren’t dae, would I contract a plague from them and end up a zombie, too?
They shambled off. One groaned while the other chirped and whistled.
My route of escape closed, leaving me in a sea of eager dae armed with accessories and makeup. I swallowed when one of the vampires, a rare woman, grinned at me, displaying her pointy teeth.
“Come sit. It’ll be over soon.”
I wondered if she was taking about the makeover or my life. Fighting the urge to sigh, I sat on the chair someone had stolen from elsewhere in the store. Since they had turned their mutual attention to me, no one had attacked anyone or anything.
Once they dressed me up to their liking, I could make a run for it. If I could avoid it, I’d never go shopping again. Bad things happened when I went shopping.
I stared down at my dress. I did have to admit the giraffes had picked a nice dress for me; the blue didn’t clash with my bronzed skin, nor did it leave me feeling overdressed for my goals.
When the vampire finished with my makeup, all I needed to do was buy a nice knife. Despite being a big chain of stores operated by the elite, few places had such an extensive collection of knives and bladed weapons.
Tucked in the very back of the Walmart was even a kiosk for the truly nice things, which I intended to visit as soon as I escaped the dae using me as a doll. My allergy suppressant was even doing a great job of keeping me from falling over dead.
I’d really have to thank Rob later. There was something soothing about having someone apply makeup, and I relaxed while the vampire worked. She didn’t even bite me.
“Finished!” Grabbing a mirror, probably pilfered from the cosmetics section, the pale-skinned woman showed me my reflection.
The makeup covered my scars, and the blue eyeshadow matched my dress. I was still plain me, but at least I was plain me without the evidence of a lifetime of struggling. “I like it,” I said, smiling at the way the red lipstick made my mouth look a bit fuller.
Maybe I’d learn how to do my own makeup in the future.
“You better get going,” the vampire warned, thrusting a blue and gold purse at me.
It was filled with a new wallet, my keys, and a cell phone. The phone was new, and I stared at the woman, puzzled where the device had come from. “What’s this?”
“An apology for earlier. I told Stephan he’d end up a splatter if he tried such a stupid stunt. Poor thing, you were covered head to toe, too.” The vampire grinned at me.
She had a lot of pointy teeth. I mumbled a thanks, slung the purse over my shoulder, and headed for the back of the store.
Instead of taking the cursed corridor stretching between the accessories and electronics departments, I cut through the women’s apparel section. I made it to the socks aisle before the first war cry sounded.
Running in heels sucked, and lifting the hem of my dress so I wouldn’t trip and kill myself, I headed towards the weapons dealer in the back. I’d stick to my plan of buying Rob a knife, but I’d probably have to use it on some dae first.
He wouldn’t mind. Maybe if I brought back the skinned hide of a bejeweled dragon, he’d consider the offering a part of my present. The dae were weird like that.
Maybe I could feed the rest of the dragon to Colby. Did it have a taste for dragon?
Then again, I had a taste for vampire. I was in no position to judge my roommate’s unique culinary preferences. I shook my head, slowing to glance down the aisles before darting across.
I had made it to the sporting goods section when the ground lurched under my feet. Years of wearing heeled boots saved me from a bad fall and a broken ankle. I twisted around.
A plume of pink glitter erupted from the women’s apparel section. Werewolves howled, and their cries were answered by the trumpeting roar of a dragon.
“Damn it, can’t they keep from fighting for ten minutes? That’s all I’m asking. Ten whole minutes.” I waved my fist at the mayhem on the other side of the store, turned, and hurried to the weapon kiosk.
At first glance, I couldn’t tell if the man seated behind the counter was a human or a dae, which worried me far more than the fact a war was breaking out behind me. It’d only be a matter of time before the combat reached me, and I wanted to be armed and dangerous before it arrived.
“What can I do you for?”
“I’m looking for a gift. A knife with a good blade and decorative hilt.” I paused and glanced over my shoulder. “Sharpened would be nice.”
“Going to test drive it before you give it away?” Flashing a smile at me, he rose and headed into the back. “I have a few things that might work.”
When he returned several minutes later, the ruckus across the store had intensified and a fire alarm blared. I tapped my foot, turning to watch the smoke rising from the other end of the store.
“That dress could use one more accessory, and I think I have just the thing.” I spun in time to watch the man lay a katana on the counter. Fate or fortune had played a hand in the scabbard and belt. Golden dragons battled on the blade’s blue scabbard and belt. The blade was shorter than I expected, although I had never seen a weapon of its type in person before. I held my breath as he pulled the katana free of its sheath.
Wavy patterns on the blade caught the light, and I sucked in a breath at its intricacy. “I can’t afford that.”
Sometimes I hated myself for my honesty.
The dae grinned at me. “I’ll sell it to you cheap. In less than five minutes, most of the stock will be scrap anyway. It’d be a shame to see such a beautiful thing melt.”
I swallowed, glancing in the direction of the battle over women’s accessories. “Good point. What do you have for knives? It needs to fit up a sleeve of a suit, it needs to be as pretty, and it needs to be lethal.”
Pushing the katana to the side, the dealer lined several half-foot long daggers and knives on the counter. Most were in plain black sheaths. A flash of silver caught my attention.
While the design on the pommel and guard weren’t quite the same as my snake’s head tattoo, it was close enough my eyes widened. It was thin and narrow enough to fit up a suit’s sleeve, and with a little work, I bet I could rig straps for Rob’s arm. Pulling out the wallet, I checked to make sure the dae hadn’t made off with my cash.
It was still present and soggy from my drenching. “How much?”
“Three hundred for the pair.”
I felt my brows rise. Three hundred was nothing for the dagger, let alone the katana. Something large and heavy crashed to the floor, and flinching at the thought of trying to fight anyone in a dress, I pulled out my cash, flipped through the twenties, and slapped the money on the counter with one hand. I had both blades scooped up within moments. The dagger I crammed into my purse.
I wore the katana around my hips, buckling the belt into place. Before the Dawn of Dae, I had learned how to defend myself with kitchen knives. I’d treat the katana as a very, very large kitchen knife with an attitude.
“Top of the morning to you. Do try not to get blown up.” A moment after he spoke, he transformed into a winged squirrel, flicked his bushy tail at me and flew like a bat out of hell, grabbing the wad of wet cash on his way towards the door.
When the dae in charge of the entire weapons section of Walmart was making a run for it, it was time to leave. Pulling out the katana, I secured my grip on the leather-gripped hilt.
The weapon felt good in my hand, heavy enough to strain my arm and give it a sense of lethality. Could I stab with a katana? The tip looked about as sharp and lethal as the rest of the blade.
I’d find out soon enough.
Halfway across the store, I learned firsthand what happened when dae brawled. Explosions happened, but instead of death by fiery debris, a cloud of pink glitter blossomed through the store, shredding shelves to bits and scattering the goods that weren’t immediately destroyed.
The blast caught me in the open corridor, flattening me to the concrete. I somehow kept my grip on the katana. My ears rang. When I cursed, I couldn’t hear myself over the rush of air sweeping by me in the wake of the explosion. When the pink glitter touched me, it flashed and vanished, leaving a faint golden glow on my skin.
When the dae had dressed me up, the dress had been plain blue, elegant enough to masquerade among the middle castes, but nothing special. When the smoke settled, tiny blue stones encrusted the fabric. The golden threads binding the jewels to my dress shimmered.
One day I’d figure out how magic worked—maybe.
Once I wasn’t at risk of having my ticket punched by warring dae, I’d question why I wasn’t dead. I staggered to my feet, checked to make sure I hadn’t lost Rob’s new dagger, and secured my hold on the katana. I worried about my ribs, but they didn’t hurt, and deciding I could categorize my bumps, scrapes, and bruises after I got out of Walmart, I headed for the doors.
At least, I headed in the direction I thought the doors had been. The haze limited visibility to less than five feet. The air reeked of perfume, and I wheezed from the stench of it.
Why couldn’t I have good luck for a change? All I had wanted was a dress and a knife for Rob. Instead, I got a taste of delicious vampire, a dress worth more than I was, a katana I didn’t know how to use, a headache, and the dagger. If I didn’t get my head back in the game, I’d probably lose it in the crossfire.
Another explosion rocked the concrete beneath my heels. I spun in the direction of the blast in time to see a dark shape dart towards me out of the pink haze.
Every vampire I had ever met hissed before feeding, and the one after my neck was no different. I squealed and swung my katana like I would a baseball bat.
Maybe my luck was bad, but I had moments of dumb luck, too. Instead of having a set of sharp teeth rip out my throat, the edge of my sword sank into where the vampire’s shoulders and neck met.
In the movies, intrepid heroines yanked their swords out and kept going without missing a beat. My katana was stuck, and while the vampire slumped to the ground, oozing glittery goo all over the place, I couldn’t pull my blade free. Wailing my dismay, I braced my foot on the vampire’s shoulder and jerked with all of my strength.
The weapon popped free, and I fell backwards. A pair of arms slid around my waist, circled my stomach, and hauled me back. My back thumped against a warm chest. Before I could do more than gasp, Rob laughed in my ear.
“Whatever are you doing, Miss Daegberht?”
“Damn it, Rob!” I shrieked, getting my feet under me so I could kick back at his shins. I missed, but with him, I usually did. He shifted his weight, turned, and set me down out of the twitching vampire’s reach.
“You went to a party without me. I’m hurt, Miss Daegberht.”
Dae. Couldn’t live with them, could definitely live without them, but since there was nothing I could do about that, I sighed my surrender. Of course Rob would think a battle in a Walmart was a party.
Why couldn’t the dae, for just once, act like normal, sane people?
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Did I forget your invitation? How rude of me,” I muttered while I went to work wiggling free of Rob’s hold on me. If he didn’t want to let me go, I wouldn’t escape, but after letting me struggle for a few moments, he released me.
“You’re so mean. What, pray tell, are you doing here? I’ve been hunting for you for hours.”
“Mommy!” my macaroni and cheese roommate declared, slapping against my bare leg in greeting. I shuddered at the wet, squishy texture of its cold noodles pressing against me.
“Shopping? In a war zone? Have you taken complete leave of your basic common sense?”
“It wasn’t a war zone when I arrived! Anyway, Colby deserves apples,” I stated, shifting my grip on my purse so I could check I hadn’t lost the dagger for Rob. It was still there, and I shoved it deeper into my purse. “I wanted to try on a dress, too.”
“The dress is almost as lovely as you are. You could have asked me to take you to any shop you wanted, and I would have gladly done so, especially if it involved watching you change.”
I glared at Rob, deciding I had taken a complete leave of my common sense by feeling the need to buy him a present. “How did you find me, anyway?”
“I asked Colby very, very nicely, and I owe him a bag of apples, too.” Rob wrinkled his nose, took hold of my hand, and pulled me in the direction of the door. “Shall we get out of here before the building collapses?”
“It wasn’t my fault!”
Colby glared at me. How a macaroni and cheese casserole could inflict such scrutiny without eyes was beyond me, but I was learning not to question things. I never liked the answers.
Rob dragged me out of the store.
The pink dust settled on Walmart’s ruins. I shook my head, marveling at the mass destruction. “A herd of those three-headed giraffe and a pack of vampires brawled over women’s clothing and accessories. Who would have known cheap baubles could be worth so much?”
I leaned against Rob’s car, ignoring the way my dress’s tiny stones jabbed me. Sitting comfortably would prove a challenge, especially if I wanted to remain clothed on the trip home. Without my street shoes, jeans, and shirt, I’d either have to hike home in heels or accept Rob’s offer of a ride.
The dae in question cleaned my katana, shaking his head at the glittery goo covering the blade. “There are better ways to kill a vampire,” he informed me, wrinkling his nose.
“Invite them for dessert?”
The glare he leveled at me made me giggle. “That is so rude, Miss Daegberht.”
“Remember all the times you’ve yelled at me over wasting delicious blood?” I pointed at my katana. “That’s what you’re doing. You’re wasting it.”
Halting in his work, Rob stared at me, his mouth open although he didn’t say anything.
The worry in Colby’s voice drew my attention to it. “I’m fine, Colby. It’s not like I asked for the vampire to spontaneously erupt into cotton candy goo. He got all over everything.”
“You’re not wheezing,” Rob observed, watching me with narrowed eyes. “You didn’t eat a vampire.”
“I did. I so did. I took my suppressants before I went to Walmart. I did good. I can be a good girl sometimes.” I sniffed and lifted my chin. “I don’t answer to snobby elite dae.”
“You took your medicine without me forcing it down your throat? Amazing.” Shaking his head, he went back to work trying to clean my sword. “It’s a very lovely dress. The sword, however, makes me concerned for my health.”
Rob scowled at me, and after he got all of the vampire goop off the blade, he offered it to me hilt first. “I was not aware you fought with swords as well as guns.”
I sheathed the weapon, careful to avoid cutting myself on the edge. “I do now.”
“Dare I ask?”
Rob glanced at the Walmart and snorted. “Cute.”
I thrust my hand in my purse, grabbed the hilt of the dagger, and yanked it out, sheath and all, holding it out to the dae. “Speaking of tricks up your sleeve. Here. This is yours.”
Maybe one day I’d figure out how to give someone something without coming across as a complete idiot. I sighed when Rob stayed where he was.
“What is this?”
“You’re supposed to wear it up your sleeve and stab stupid people with it.” When Rob kept staring at me without moving, I shoved it in his suit’s pocket. “It’s for you.”
While I liked his smile the best, Rob’s puzzled expression and tone made it worth the trip into Walmart. Startling the dae didn’t come easily for me, and I smiled my satisfaction. I shrugged, turning my attention to the smoldering building. “I felt like it.”
“Women are mysterious creatures, Colby,” the dae muttered.
“Mommy,” my roommate agreed.
“Well, then. Thank you for the lovely weapon. I’ll think of you when I stab someone with it.”
“You’re welcome,” I mumbled. Maybe I should have settled for Plan B. Cuff links or some new ties couldn’t cause me trouble, could they?
Then again, the dae had a way of making messes of my plans, no matter what I did. What harm could it do arming him with a dagger and my hopes he’d stay safe? I guessed I’d find out, probably sooner than later.
I could live with that—probably. Maybe.
I watched the Walmart burn and decided it would be best for everyone if I just stayed home and limited my sphere of destructive influence.
Meet Trillian Anderson!
Opener of Portals. Urban Fantasy Author. Mistress of Giggles. Warped Sense of Humor.
Trillian Anderson is, like so many of us, a figment of someone’s imagination. She was born somewhere in the United States, loves to travel, and has no scruples about moving to new and interesting places around the world. She loves fantasy fiction of all types, but holds a special fondness for urban fantasies, epic fantasies, and stories capable of capturing her imagine.
Most of all, she enjoys grabbing a flashlight, hiding under the blankets, and pretending she’s asleep when she’s, in actuality, reading a beloved book.
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