Thursday, June 22, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 30

“Okay,” Daniel said an hour later, “if there’s any form of sexual activity, regular or otherwise this place doesn’t cater to, for damned sure I can’t think of it.”

“And you found some of them interesting,” Jared said with a laugh, glancing down at the now waning bulge in Daniel’s jeans.

Daniel smirked. “You weren’t impervious either, I noticed.” He led a slightly protesting Jared to the dance floor in the main club, putting his hands on his partner’s hips. “Relax, go with the flow, move to the music.”

“There’s music?” Jared tilted his head as if trying to hear it above the pulsating beat that came from the speakers.

“Yes, smart ass, you know damned well this is music. Just relax.” He slid his hands around to cup Jared’s ass, pulling their bodies tightly together.

“Very primitive music,” Jared agreed reluctantly, “Primitive and erotic. It’s a wonder half the supes in here aren’t fornicating as we speak.”

Daniel glanced upwards, rolling his eyes. And then he chuckled and pointed to the ceiling. “Apparently a couple of fairies agree with you.”

A quick look up and Jared was shaking his head. “I’m not a prude but that’s just a bit more than I needed to see.”

“You are a prude,” Daniel whispered, nipping his earlobe, “My own, personal prude.”

They continued to dance through two more songs before Jared had had enough. Taking Daniel’s hands he led him to the edge of the main room. “Either we leave or we leave here. I’m going deaf.”

“How about the jazz room? We can have a drink, sit back and you can unwind.”

“Please the gods, yes!”

Once they found a table along one wall in the smaller club, the pair settled on the banquette, ordered drinks, and sat back to enjoy what Jared considered real music. The room was dark, and with everyone’s eyes focused on the band Daniel was seriously thinking of taking advantage of the situation. He began tapping his fingers on Jared’s leather-clad thigh in time to the song, inching up slowly but surely to his intended destination.

“Enforcers,” a voice said diffidently.

Both men looked up and sighed in unison, though Daniel’s was more of a growl than a full-blown sigh.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 29

“Loud enough for you?” Jared hissed when they walked into the main room of the club.

“Almost,” Daniel replied with a laugh as he looked around. The room took up the center of the huge warehouse space, rising up the full two stories. A balcony ran around the perimeter with tables against the railing for those who preferred to watch rather than get into the thick of things on the main floor.

And things were thick. The large dance floor was filled with Supes of all kinds. Some were in their accepted human forms, while others didn’t bother to hide their less-than human attributes. Spotlights swirled all the colors of the rainbow over the dancers giving a kaleidoscopic feeling that was almost dizzying. On the back wall there was a long bar outlined in green and gold neon lights. The wall, what could be seen of it behind and above the backbar, was deep red brick that extended up to the ceiling of the club above the balcony. Scattered along the two side walls were many small seating areas with tables and cushioned chairs in various sizes and shapes, again to accommodate the various Supes.

“Shall we explore a bit before I go deaf,” Jared shouted as the music seemed to amp up painfully, at least to his ears.

“You got it.” Daniel steered him toward a door to their left.

When they reached it, a satyr bent to whisper something to the lovely kitsune clinging to his arm, before greeting Jared. “If you're hungry, there’s a room with willing donors at the far end of the hall. To the left is the jazz club, much smaller than the main club and,” the satyr chuckled, “much quieter. Above us on the second level, you’ll find several small club areas that cater to the wee folk or those that prefer not to mingle with the rest of us.”

“He means the spirits,” the kitsune explained, “and the harbingers. Since this place is for fun, some of the customers take it badly when a banshee or a nix stops them to predict their impending death.”

“I can see where that could be a bit off-putting when you’ve just come in for a drink and some relaxation,” Daniel said, shaking his head before asking, “What’s on the other side?”

The satyr’s face lit up, a lustful grin on his lips as he raked his eyes over Daniel. “Come with me and I’ll show you.”

Daniel swallowed hard. He had nothing against a bit of recreational play but he wasn’t about to indulge in any without Jared in tow. However the look in the satyr’s eyes, as he took a quick glance at Jared and then back at Daniel, said that wasn’t an option in his opinion.

“How about we let the young lady give us the guided tour of that side,” Jared suggested, having caught the by-play. “I’m quite certain you have better things to do ,sir, than show a couple of new customers around.”

The kitsune, being a fox who was wise to the ways of the world, immediately linked her arms with Daniel’s and Jared’s, leading them over to the other side of the club. There was a protracted growl and then an accepting chuckle from behind them and when Jared looked back over his shoulder he saw the satyr was already homing in on another hapless customer.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 28

“We should visit that club.” Daniel looked guilelessly at Jared before taking another bite of his steak.

“Should we now? And just which club would that be?” It wasn’t as if Jared didn’t know exactly which one Daniel was talking about, but he was in the mood to yank his chain a bit.

“You know; the one close to where we found the wand.”

Jared frowned in thought. “Not certain I remember a club near there. Is it one of those jazz clubs?”

“Jared! Damn, come on, Mor told us about it. It’s the one for Supes.”

“For Supes?” Jared stroked his chin pensively.

“I swear I’m going to up your dose of ginkgo biloba. You’re going senile,” Daniel growled.

“Day-walkers do not go senile, thank you very much,” Jared hissed before laughing. “I know the club you mean.” He ducked away when Daniel took a swipe at him. “And it might well be worth checking out.”

Daniel grinned. “I totally agree. So get dressed in something that doesn’t make you look like you just stepped out of a corporate board meeting and let’s hit it.”

Looking Daniel over Jared muttered, “I suppose you want me wearing something like that.” His partner was in tight jeans and a mesh shirt. Neither item left much to the imagination, as Daniel demonstrated by standing and turning slowly. Jared pulled him up against his body, running his hands down the front of his jeans to the bulge that grew exponentially with each stroke of his fingers.

Daniel leaned back against him, groaning low while reaching his hands back to cup Jared’s ass. “Keep that up and we’re going nowhere.”

“And this would be a problem for what reason?”

Using all of his waning will-power Daniel pulled away. “I know what you’re doing Batman, you’re trying to distract me so you don’t have to change into those sexy leathers you keep hidden in the back of the closet.”

“Caught me, Catman,” Jared said with a grumbling laugh. After pulling Daniel back long enough to kiss him thoroughly Jared headed off to get ready.

Guardian Angels – Protection (18)

Once breakfast was over, Cass became all business. "We're using my car," she informed Kip. "It's safer. Jamie, you're to hold your father's hand and stay right beside him when you leave the building. Neither of you come outside until I let you know it's safe."

Kip looked at his son and saw his own fear echoed in Jamie's eyes. He tried to smile, saying, "And the big adventure begins, right?"

Jamie nodded slowly, looking around as he did. "He's not here," he barely whispered.

Knowing who he meant, and not wanting Jamie any more afraid than he already was, Kip told him, "Your angel's probably doing just what Cass and Mack are, making certain it's safe to go to her car." He didn't believe that, but apparently Jamie did because he seemed a bit less fearful.

"Let's go down," Cass said, after checking the hallway. Kip noticed she had her hand on her gun. When they reached the elevator, she took it out of the holster, holding it by her side, away from Jamie's view. As soon as the elevator door opened on the ground floor, she stepped in front of Kip and Jamie, scanning the lobby before beckoning them to join her. At the front door, she pointed to the side, indicating they should wait for her signal.

Kip moved to put Jamie behind him while he watched Cass with bated breath. Her car was directly in front of the building, less than ten feet away, but to him it seemed like it took her forever to get to it. He knew that was because she was checking everything in her view, looking for any place Stewart might be hiding, either in another car, on a rooftop, wherever. She paused momentarily before carefully inching her way around her car to the driver's side. He heard the click that meant she'd automatically unlocked the doors. Then she beckoned for them to join her.

"Now," he said to Jamie, staring at the empty sidewalk ahead of them.

Four things happened almost simultaneously as they started toward the car. Someone yelled, "Down", a shot rang out, Kip was shoved to the ground, and Jamie seemed to vanish, reappearing almost instantly inside the vehicle. Kip heard more gunfire and prayed Cass was the shooter. Without thinking of his own safety, he was on his feet again, calling out Jamie's name, praying he hadn't been shot.

"Okay," he heard Jamie reply. The back door of the car was open and his son was crouching on the floor in front of the seat. Kip raced to him, diving in to cover him with his body. He was barely aware of the sounds of running feet from outside the car.

"You got him," Mack shouted.

Cass replied, almost boastfully, "Of course I did." She opened the back door on her side to tell Kip it was over.
* * * *
"That was a bit close," Dave muttered, as he watched several police officers descend on the scene.

"I suspect Cass had to wait until Stewart showed himself before she could do anything," Hal replied. "It wouldn't have looked good if she took out a passing stranger. She played it well, though."

"Almost too well. We barely got them out of danger. If we hadn't been there…"

Hal patted him on the shoulder. "But we were, which is what counts."

Friday, June 16, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 27

Daniel and Jared turned to Mor, who shrugged. “Hell if I know where the wand is,” she said.

“You don't know?” Aidan looked at her in disbelief.

“I. Do. Not. Know,” Mor said slowly as if he was an idiot.


Mor sighed. “Because the spell I used to hide it, just it in case I was being forced to reveal its whereabouts, doesn’t end for another six days.”

“At which point it will reappear where?” Aidan asked.

“In my workroom, and that room is not accessible to anyone but me unless I let you in.”

“Would you be willing to let me see the wand when that happens?”

Mor’s eyes gleamed in amusement. “Now why on earth would I do that for a sun elf?”

“Figures,” Aidan replied with a snort, glancing at Jared. “Dark elves are about as trusting as humans, when it comes to anything important. She’d probably destroy it rather than let me touch it, thinking my touch would somehow ruin it.”

Turning serious, Mor said, “I’m not afraid you’d ruin it, but I can see you wanting to take it back to your court so that the archmages could study it. And I have no doubt that you would at least attempt to steal it from me to do that. Not that you could of course, but I’d seriously rather not have to stop you. You seem to be of some use to Jared.”

Aidan sighed. “I am not a thief, my dear woman. And for your information, at this point in time I have little love for the court. As much as I dislike this world, I would prefer to remain here than return there. That is one of the reasons I agreed to help the Council of the Supernaturals when necessary. In exchange they keep my whereabouts hidden from those who might come searching for me.”

“Trouble in paradise?” Mor said, but she smiled just slightly as she did. “I can understand your feelings I suppose. There are those of my kind who would not grieve if I were to die.”

“I bet,” Daniel and Aidan muttered at the same time.

Jared broke into laughter. “Okay boys and girls, I think it’s time we all disbanded. It’s been a long, stressful day. Aidan, give me a call in the morning?”

The elf nodded, adding, “In the afternoon if it’s all the same to you.”

“Evening, and not before,” Daniel said, wrapping his arms around Jared. “He’ll be busy until then.” Without another word the pair vanished.

Mor chuckled. “Those two, I swear, they’re either working or in bed. There’s no in between.”

“Bed sounds good to me right now,” Aidan commented as he too disappeared.

“Me too,” Mor said under her breath as she headed that way. “Now if I only had someone to share it with.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 26

“Now Aidan,” Jared replied, “don’t allow your hatred of dark elves blind you. Mordollwen has been my friend, and at one time much more, for longer than I care to think about. She may have her faults but she’s basically a good woman.”

“Basically? And just what faults do I have?” Mor asked scathingly.

“Don’t start listing them,” Daniel muttered. “We’ll be here all night.”

Jared and Mor both shot looks at him, one amused, the other annoyed.

Daniel looked back at her innocently, winking at the two other men. “You are practically perfect in every way.”

“Good answer,” Mor told him. “Now back to the business at hand. You’re plan worked perfectly my dear.” She smiled at Jared.

“Thanks to our friend here. Without him things might have turned out quite differently.”

“Might have?” Aidan arched one dark eyebrow. “It seems to me that that creature would have had you two under his control as well if I hadn’t been here.”

“Typical of a…” Mor studied him momentarily, “a sun elf to be so egotistical.”

“Not ego, truth, dark elf,” Aidan growled.

“Alright, both of you grow up and behave like adults.” Jared looked between them severely. “It took all of us to pull this off.”

“But without…” Aidan began.

“We could have done it without…” Mor started to say.

Jared ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “What I’d give right now to know a silencing spell.”

Chuckling, Daniel hugged him. “We could always go home and let them fight it out between themselves. By the time the dust died down Mor would be looking for a new home and…Okay, bad idea. She’d probably want to move in with us and that is so not happening.”

“Aww Daniel, you don’t love me,” Mor pouted.

“From a distance I love you, but up close and sharing the bathroom, no way in hell.”

While the others were trading joking insults, Aidan had lowered the nahual’s dead body to the floor. Retrieving his cord, the elf muttered a spell and the body vanished. With that done Aidan looked at the others. “Now, just out of curiosity, where did you hide the wand?”

Monday, June 12, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors – 25

As suddenly as the blades had manifested they vanished, accompanied by a low chuckle of amusement.

“This is not right,” the nahual shouted, moving with preternatural speed back to Mor’s side. He reached for her and pulled his hands back with a howl a pain, the palms now a fiery red. “No! Who?” With a few muttered words his palms healed and he reached into one of the deep pockets of his long coat.

“Looking for this?” a quiet voice asked.

The nahual spun around to see a small wooden cross seemingly floating in midair.

“While I’m quite certain the jaguar would love to test his fighting skills against what ever beast form you were planning to take, that would be so bloody. I doubt the sorceress would appreciate the mess on her rugs and walls.”

The nahual didn’t reply as his eyes searched the area while he began muttering a spell.

“I wonder, can you cast non-verbal spells,” the voice asked.

As the spell died on his lips the nahual’s eyes widened in shock before he grinned in apparent amusement. The room suddenly filled with a freezing mist that limed Jared’s body and the shields surrounding Mor and Daniel in a haze of ice.

With an evil smirk, the nahual threw arcs of fire in Jared’s direction. But again the day-walker vanished before they could hit him.

Suddenly the nahual’s face contorted in rage as he began to fight against unseen bindings. Slowly his arms were pressed down to his sides until all motion stopped.

Only then did his opponent appear, amber eyes gleaming in amusement. “Never, ever, mess with an elven battle-mage,” the man said. “Well that is unless you like dying. Hmm, I do believe either flame, hanging or holy water will do the trick. And since we have a vampire in the room I’ll pass on the first and last. So hanging it is.” As the elf spoke a thin cord slithered down from above them, slowly encircling the nahual’s throat. With a flick of his hand the elf tightened it and then it began to rise slowly. The nahual struggled, his face contorting as his breath was cut off. Soon his limp body hung suspended between the floor and the ceiling.

“Does anyone mind if I take out the trash now,” the elf said as he brought down the shields that had protected Mor and Daniel.

“Hell, I’ll help you,” Daniel growled once he resumed his human form.

Mor shook her head, her long white hair giving her an almost angelic look before it settled again to cover her back and shoulders. “Allow me the honors,” she told them, casting a long distrustful look at the elf.

His look was equally distrusting as he gazed back at her before asking Jared, “How did you manage to get involved with one of them?”

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Guardian Angels – Protection (17)

"Stewart's been sighted," were the first words out of Mack's mouth when Kip came into the living room the next morning.

"Thank God. Are they going to arrest him now?"

"Small problem with that. It was a rookie who saw him. He pulled him over and the minute the cop stepped out of his squad car, Stewart drove off."

"Damn it! Where did this happen?"

"You're not going to like this—about twenty miles outside of the city. By now, if Stewart's smart, he's ditched his car and either stolen another one or is hoofing it." Mack paused when his phone rang. A moment later he said, "I'll buzz you in."

"Cass?" Kip asked.

Mack nodded, going to press the button. She was in the apartment two minutes later. They talked quietly for a few moments, with occasional glances Kip's way, then she informed him, "You're not going to school today," just as Jamie wandered into the room. "You'll be staying at Emily's."

"Why isn't he going to school?" Jamie asked, sounding scared. It was readily apparent he'd picked up on the tension in the room.

Kip wondered how much he should tell Jamie, then decided the truth was the best way to go. "They think Mr Stewart is somewhere around here, so they want me to be as safe as you are. That means I get to spend my day playing games with you and your cousins."


"Well, I think indoor games would be better, don't you?"

Jamie frowned. "I suppose. I'm hungry."

"You suppose you're hungry? You don't know?" Kip asked teasingly.


"Okay, okay. Pancakes and juice?"

"And sausage?"

"And sausage." Kip looked at the others. "That okay with you all?"

"I ate already, but if you have coffee…" Cass looked hopeful.

"And I'm going to leave, or make it seem as if I have," Mack said. "Then I'll circle back." He glanced at Cass and she nodded, giving him a thumbs-up.

"To catch the bad guy, so me and Dad can go back to school," Jamie said.

"You got it. Okay, I'll see you all later."

As soon as Mack left, Jamie tugged Kip's hand. "Breakfast?"

"Coming up."

The three of them went into the kitchen. While Kip cooked, Jamie set the table and Cass took charge of making the coffee. For a moment, Kip thought wistfully that they seemed almost like a regular family. He pushed that aside, remembering that women couldn't be trusted in the long run, especially ones who thought a career was the most important thing in their lives.

Still, it would be nice—for Jamie.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 24

“I don’t know where it is.” Mor watched the tall, willowy man who stood a few feet away from her.

“Do not lie to me again sorceress. I know you’re the one who took it and I want it, now!”

“I swear that its location is as much of a mystery to me as it is to anyone else.” She struggled against the magical bonds that held her in place.

“How is that possible? Why would you take it and then be stupid enough to misplace it somewhere?” Pacing to the stone wall he slammed his hand against it in anger and frustration before turning back to look at her. “No, you didn’t do that. It’s some where here and you will tell me where.” Stalking back he stopped inches from her and smiled with evil intent. “Do you know what pain feels like sorceress, real soul deep agony? If you don’t, you’ll find out soon enough. Now, where is it?”

“I. Don’t. Know,” she replied, meeting his eyes.

Placing one finger against the hollow of her throat he murmured a few words and her body arched as pain tore through her with such intensity that she couldn’t even scream.

“Now that’s no way for a gentleman to treat a lady,” Jared commented as he stepped through one of the arches into the room.

“But then he’s no gentleman,” Daniel said from a second arch.

The man, the nahual, spun around to stare at them in shock for a moment, before his lips drew back in a feral grin. “The rest of the trio appears. How? I have no idea how since I warded her home against intruders. But that doesn’t matter at the moment. I’m certain that subjecting you to the same pain I just gave her, and worse, will convince her to tell me what I want to know.”

“Oh dear, Jared, I do believe the bad man is threatening us,” Daniel said with a sly smile. “Whatever shall we do?” He shifted, and his jaguar form moved on silent feet toward the nahual, fangs bared.

The nahual shook his head as he raised his hands, sending a flash of energy towards Daniel that would have had him shifting uncontrollably from jaguar to human and back again—if it had hit him. Instead it seemed to encase him only to slide past, scorching one of the tapestries on the far wall.

“How..?” the nahual growled angrily as he backed away from the advancing jaguar. “Not that it matters. I’m certain a bit of silver will cause your friend there a great deal of agony.” Two blades appeared, flying towards Jared. The day-walker vanished before they could hit their target. They seemed to hesitate and then rotated in the air and continued their flight. “They will find you,” the nahual said with a gleeful laugh.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors – 23

The zombie scratched its forehead, not seeming to care when rotting skin flaked off. “Daniel,” he finally said as recognition lit his eyes.

“Yeah, Charlie, it’s me. What the hell are you doing scaring the hell out of these poor people?”

“This is good drink. Makes us feel better.”

“Too much better from what the cops said. Do you want to be put back in the ground again, or worse yet destroyed like in the movies?”

“No, Daniel.” Charlie shook his head violently. “We’re sorry.”

“I’m not,” the other zombie said as she grabbed the pitcher from the bartender and began drinking.

Keeping a careful eye on her, Daniel asked, “How did you two get here anyway?”

“Owner knew about us. He need…needed zombies and came for us.”

“And he let you drink? The man’s an idiot.”

“Not him, her.” Charlie pointed half a rotting finger at the bartender.

“I didn’t know they were, well you know, the real thing,” the bartender stuttered out. “I mean there isn’t such a thing except in movies.”

“Keep thinking that, doll,” Daniel muttered. “Okay, Charlie, you and your friend get a free ride back home care of Were Express, since this isn’t really your fault.”

“Thank you, Daniel.” Charlie reached across the bar to hug him and Daniel jumped back.

“Just saying thanks is fine, you don’t have to demonstrate. Okay?”

“Okay, Daniel.” Charlie looked as contrite as it was possible to with a rotted face. “We can take the pitcher with us? Please?”

“What the hell, sure.” Daniel reached over the bar, taking hold of each zombie’s wrist, and they vanished.

As soon as they had Jared took over, wiping the memories of the bartender and the two customers, replacing them with the idea that they had been part of a rehearsal for a movie shoot. Once he had he left the bar he stopped to tell the police sergeant that things were taken care of and that his men should tell anyone who asked the same thing—that it was just a movie rehearsal. Then he headed home.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 22

“If he’s still out there why the hell hasn’t he made a move,” Daniel groused as he read over the assignments the Supe Council had e-mailed to them.

“He might be playing a waiting game, if he picked up our signatures that night, hoping we’ll reveal the location of the wand. Or he has no idea who took it and has given up.”

“I doubt he’ll give up. The bad asses of this world never do, until someone eliminates them.”

Jared ruffled Daniel’s hair as he leaned over his shoulder to see what was on the schedule. “Are they serious? A zombie?”

“Looks like. A pair of them in fact.  It seems one of the local bars hired them to promote their new version of a ‘Zombie’ drink, and the bartender didn’t realize that they were the real thing. She let them taste test it and things went south from there. Luckily no one was hurt but the cops were called. They notified the Council and guess who gets to go round them up before they do something seriously bad.”

“Us.” Jared checked the address. “You know where this is and where we can land?”

“Yep and yep.” As soon as he’d put the computer to sleep, Daniel took Jared’s hand and they arrived on a rooftop seconds later. “Three guesses where they are,” he said, looking over the edge.

“I don’t know. Maybe inside the bar that the cops have cordoned off?”

“Got it in one. Shall we?”

They dropped down from the rooftop into the alley and crossed the street, stopping just long enough to show the cops their IDs so that they could get into the bar.

It was dimly lit and smelled of cigarette smoke, stale beer and rotting bodies; two bodies in fact—that were standing behind the bar with the terrified bartender between them. Her hands were shaking as she poured the ingredients for a Zombie into a pitcher. The only other people in the bar were two customers huddling in the back corner. Every time they glanced towards the door, as if contemplating escaping, one of the zombies growled at them and shook his head.

“Aw hell, Charlie, you promised,” Daniel grumbled as he strode across the room, leaning his elbows on the bar as he looked at the taller zombie.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 21

The shaman looked up from his desk, inquiry on his face. “To what do I owe this visit?”

“You owe it to the nahual you felt in the area. We need your help.”

“I don’t see how I can assist you. I felt it while dream walking.”

Jared nodded. “We know, but logically if you felt him once you should be more sensitive to his presence again.”

“I see. Logically you’re correct. In actuality I wouldn’t bet the farm that I can, but if you need me then let’s get moving.”

Daniel laughed at the sudden shift in how the man spoke. “I take it you’re a bit more down to earth when it isn’t a client you’re trying to impress.”

The man shrugged. “My attitude, like my name, depends on who you are. When you walked in, you could have been a potential customer and most of them expect me to be…erudite and mystical. So that’s how I act.” He pushed his bulk up from the chair. “So where are we going and how do we get there. If you tell me we’re walking then you’re SOL on my coming with.”

“We can get you there instantly or drive, your choice,” Jared told him.

“Oh, teleporting.” The man grinned broadly. “Which one of you is the were? Oh let me guess, you are.” He pointed at Daniel.

“Yep, jaguar.”

“Then that makes you a vampire,” he turned to Jared, “because there’s only one enforcer team for the Supe council that has a jag on it.”

“Day-walker actually but we won’t debate terminology. If your ready Orion…”

“Hell, call me Billy, that’s my real name. And I’m more than ready.”

Seconds later the trio was standing just inside the vacant warehouse. Billy took a deep breath to calm his nerves. Then he crossed his hands over his broad stomach as he turned slowly in a full circle, his eyes wide open but unfocused.

“He was here,” Billy stated unequivocally. “At the door and just inside of it. He was angry, very angry.”

“Probably because he just missed us,” Jared told him. “You’re certain it was the nahual?”

“Very. I couldn’t mistake that signature in a million years. You, my friends, have an enemy.”

“And this is news why?” Daniel said. “We’ve got several of those. More than I can count on both hands actually. What’s one more added to the list.”

“Trouble, with a capital ‘T’ as the song says. This creature is not something to take lightly, which I trust you’re aware of. He radiates evil. That, coupled with his anger, can make him a formidable foe.”

Jared nodded. “Then we’ll be doubly on the alert for him. Is there anything else you can tell us about him?”

Billy shook his head. “That’s all of it in a very small nutshell. Now if you have nothing else you need me to do, how about you take me back. I have an appointment in,” he glanced at his watch, “twenty minutes.”

Guardian Angels – Protection (16)

Much later that evening, with Jamie safely tucked into bed, Kip sat down opposite Mack. By tacit—if silent—agreement, they had refrained from talking any more about Ben Stewart while Jamie was still awake. As far as Kip was concerned, Jamie seemed to have finally understood what was happening and was dealing with his fears outwardly now, since he was asking questions.

"Will you guys catch Stewart?" Kip asked.

Mack nodded. He'd had another call from Detective Howe. "There's a BOLO out for him, saying he's armed and dangerous. Every police department in the country now has his picture and details."

"But you're not going to leave us unprotected until he's caught?" Kip tried to hide his fear, knowing he probably wasn't too successful.

"Nope. He's a kidnapper, no matter what his reasoning was for doing that, and a murderer. Both crimes seem to have been planned out, at least to some degree. So we still have to figure he might be looking to wipe out any further links to him and his crimes. Links meaning you and Emily, if he really thinks your dad might have said something to you."

"I feel like I should go find a nice, safe cave to hide in." Kip shook his head. "Don't worry; I'm not going to go hunting for one. I understand you need me, us, to be bait to capture him, if he's stupid enough to try anything."

"With luck, now that we know who he is, we'll find him before he does."

"I hope so. Jamie's not the only one around here who's afraid."

"I know, but you have me at night and Cass during the day. We're well trained in protection. Cass is one of the best on the force, actually. That woman gives no quarter."

"I still find that hard to believe. She looks so… normal. I'd be willing to bet all the guys in my classes are jealous she's hanging with me."

"Yeah, she's fooled a lot of perps with the innocent look, until she draws on them. Then they see the tiger she hides inside."

Kip chuckled. "I'll have to remember not to piss her off."

"You know," Mack said casually, "she's single."

"And obviously likes being that way, just like me. The last thing I need in my life—if that's what you're hinting at—is a woman."

"Not into women?"

Kip almost smiled. "I think Jamie's proof that I am. I just don't trust them—not since his mother walked away without a second thought, right after he was born ."

"Does he know that?"

"Yes. Not the details specifically. When he's asked—and he has a couple of times—I told him she cared about him but decided she wasn't cut out to be a mother. I didn't say she was going to put him up for adoption. He thinks she turned him over to me, since I wanted him more than anything I ever had in my life, which is the truth. I don't know what I'd do if anything ever happened to him."

"I understand exactly how you feel, so teach him what to be careful about, from crossing streets, to not talking to strangers, to all the other crap a kid might run into growing up."

"Oh I have, believe me." Kip chewed his lip pensively. "I wonder if I've done that too much. If that's why he's made up this angel to keep him safe."

"Could be. As long as it doesn't make him reckless, I don't see any harm in it though."

"True enough, I guess."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

It's release day for 'Under the Radar'!

Under the Radar

Life for Lou Travis changed drastically when, as Carlo Farro, he turned state's evidence on the two mobsters he worked for. He didn't know, when he was put into the WITSEC program, that he would end up falling in love with the marshal tasked with protecting him.

Walter Brooks certainly didn't expect love to come into his life in the form of a small-time drug trafficker. But it did. Now, under the name Wayne Bourke, he, his adopted daughter Rae, and Lou own a protection business -- and have for the last seventeen years.

Suddenly their lives change when Regotti, one of the mobsters Lou testified against, is released from prison. The man wants Lou dead. Can Lou, Wayne, and Rae stop him from finding them and putting his deadly plan into motion?

    “I am not ruling your lives, but damn it, we have to find out who broke in, and soon.” Rae stood in the middle of her living room, practically glaring at her fathers.

    Lou shot a look at Wayne and grinned, mouthing, “Told you so.”

    “Seventeen years ago, and you were right.”

    “About what?” Rae asked.

    “Nothing, Rae,” Lou said innocently. “And yes, we do need figure out who it was. The question is, how?”

    “We’ll know if they try again,” Wayne pointed out, “Which might or might not happen, depending on why he was there.”

    “My feeling is, if it was Goretti’s people, they’d have been at your house as well,” Rae said. “If they know about the business, then they have to know everything.”

    “Not necessarily,” Wayne said. “If they did, they’d have come after Lou long before this. As Lou pointed out, it could have been a fishing expedition, probably by someone sent by Regotti. With him getting out on parole for good behavior --" he snorted, "-- just over a month ago, he could finally be putting some real effort into searching for Lou. The kind he couldn’t do from behind bars. We know, at least according to our sources, that Goretti has had more important things on his platter the last few years. Yeah, he was out for Lou's blood when Regotti and DeMarco were convicted, and their parts of his organization were busted up -- until he realized he had to rebuild them. Then he had to hold onto his empire in the face of competition from the Mexican drug cartels. At that point, searching for Lou undoubtedly became a non-issue. Then Regotti was released.”

    Rae nodded, finally sitting down. “If that’s the case, what could have tipped Regotti off that Lou might be here?”

    “That, my dear, is the big question, and the reason I’m not buying into it’s being me they were looking for.” Lou held up a hand when it seemed as if she was going to protest. “I’m not counting it out, but I think we have to look at our clients first. Every one of them either has someone who wants to know where they are, or who would like to know when they’d be most vulnerable to attack.”

    Wayne nodded. “We need to bait a trap somehow to get our intruder to come back. Rae, you said there’ve been hacking attempts on Lou’s computer. Which files in particular, do you remember?”

    She closed her eyes for a moment then nodded. “There have been three attempts in the last two days to get into the Macintosh files, and a very concerted effort by someone to get their hands on information about Mr. Smith.”

    “All right.” Wayne tapped his fingers together. “What could we put out there that would make our man return?” He turned to Lou. “What’s wrong?”

    Lou was staring off into space, frowning deeply. Now he said, “The thumbprint pads.”

    “Yeah, and ... oh hell!”

    “Yep. The rest was just a ruse. He, whoever it was Regotti used -- and I'd bet my bottom dollar it was one of his people -- wanted to find proof that I’m, that I was Carlo Farro. All he had to do was lift our prints off the pads. Faster and easier than dusting the room for them, and it wouldn't have left any suggestion that that's what he was after."

    "True," Wayne agreed. "Since logically you and I are the only ones who touch them -- and just our own."

    "Exactly. He gets our prints, Regotti will check them out, and end up with the proof he was looking for. His punk trashed the waiting room to throw us off and keep us running around in circles trying to figure out what he was after.”

    Wayne was on his feet even before Lou finished talking. “Rae, pack a bag, we’re all getting out of here, now.”

    “And going where?” she asked as she headed to her bedroom.

    “We’ll figure that out once we’re on the move -- as well as how they homed in on us in the first place. That should not have happened, even as conjecture.”

    Rae was back five minutes later, telling them, “We’re not using your car, so we’ll go out the back way.”

    “You think?” Lou said with a tight smile.

    She chuckled. “Sometimes, Pop, sometimes.”

    The back exit led directly to the building’s parking garage. After making certain they were the only ones there at the moment, they got into Rae’s car and took off.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 20

“Now that we know the wand is relatively safe, I want to go back to where we found it,” Jared said early the next morning. He and Daniel had spent the remainder of the night in one of Mor’s guest bedrooms and were now sitting at her kitchen table while Daniel ate breakfast.

“You want to see if there’s any trace of the nahual’s presence there, I take it,” Daniel replied.

“Yes. We know he was there, or at least we’re presuming it was him. If it wasn’t then I’d like to know who else might be aware of the wand’s existence.”

“Are we taking Mor with us?”

Jared thought for a moment before shaking his head. “Better that she stay here and do what she talked about last night, put the wand in an even safer place. We can pick up the shaman who first sensed the nahual and see if he feels anything more.”

“It’s an idea, although you were able to feel him before he showed up.”

“I felt something malevolent is all and I wasn’t about to let us stand around and find out who or what it was.”

“Good point.” Daniel wiped up the last of egg from his plate with the remaining bit of toast, took a big gulp of coffee to wash it down, and then took his dishes to the sink to wash them. When he’d finished he turned to find Jared staring at him. “What?”

Jared’s lips quirked up in a grin. “Nothing, just admiring the view.”

“We could always retire to the bedroom and you can see it in its full glory,” Daniel said with a straight face, pacing towards his partner while unbuttoning his shirt.

“An idea with merit, but not at the moment. I really want to check the warehouse again before all traces of the creature are gone.”

“Spoil sport,” Daniel muttered as he re-buttoned his shirt. “Alright, I’m ready if you are. Shaman first?”

“Yes.” Jared wrapped his arm around Daniel’s waist and the jaguar transported them back to the city.