Friday, June 30, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 34



“A third possibility, the wand is connected to someone and they summoned it,” Daniel pointed out.

“If that were the case, why wait until it was taken from its original hiding place to do that,” Mor asked somewhat scathingly.

“Duh, because who or whatever summoned it back is the one who buried it in the first place.”

Jared nodded in agreement. “That makes the most sense. It didn’t just end up deep in the ground under that warehouse. It was hidden there, probably long before the warehouse was built, by someone who didn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands.”

“I wonder what they consider is ‘wrong hands’? After all Mor had no intention of misusing it.”

“But they might not have known that,” Mor said. “They check on it for some reason, discover it’s been taken and try to summon it. But by the time they do I’ve sent it off into hiding. Their first chance to get it back is when it returns.” She sighed deeply. “I wanted it so badly, I had it in my hands, and now it’s gone again to who knows where.”

“I’d be willing to bet the owner is a resident of the city,” Jared stated. “He, or she, wouldn’t have left without taking it with them. As Mor said they probably checked occasionally just to be certain no one had disturbed the hiding place.”

Daniel looked at them. “So presuming that what we’re thinking is fact, how do we find them, and do we even want to?”

“Yes we want to,” Mor stated emphatically. “If for no other reason than to be quite certain that the wand is in safe hands. After all, when you stop to think about it, if the owner summoned it from my room then he could have done the same from where he’d hidden it.” Her eyes lit up with a sudden thought. “That could be how he discovered it was gone in the first place. He wouldn’t have had to go to the warehouse in person.”

Jared frowned. “Then my theory that he lives here isn’t necessarily true.”

“I disagree,” Daniel told him. “If you own something that precious and powerful, you don’t go far from it. It’s even possible that he once lived where the warehouse is now. It would certainly be a good idea to see who used to own that property.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 33



“Where is that bastard elf?” Mor said angrily as she pushed her way past Daniel to enter the apartment.

“Says the bitch elf,” Daniel muttered as he watched her stalk across the room to stand looking down at Jared who was sitting on the sofa.

“I presume you mean Aidan,” Jared replied.

“No I mean Santa’s second in command.” She rolled her eyes. “Yes I mean Aidan. Where is he?”

Jared shrugged. “I have no idea, I’m not his keeper. What’s going on?”

“He stole Circe’s wand.” Mor dropped down on the sofa next to him, glaring.

“He wouldn’t do that, Mor.”

“He would and he did. It came back and much against my better judgment I allowed him to see it. Now it’s gone.”

Daniel sat down on the coffee table, crossing his legs tailor-style as he looked at her. “You were in that room when you showed him?” She nodded. “And he left with you and the wand was still there at that point?” She nodded again. “Then how could he have stolen it? As a matter of fact how could anyone have taken it? You’re the only one who can come and go from there freely.”

She chewed her lip, considering what he’d said. “You have to be logical, don’t you?”

“It happens occasionally. So, unless you told him the trick to getting back to the room, it stands to reason he’s not the one that took it. That means it has to be there still, somewhere.”

“It’s not! I searched high and low and it’s gone!”

“Mor,” Jared said, putting his hand on her arm, “is the case still there, or was it taken as well?”

“It’s there, standing open on the table along with the tapestry that the wand was wrapped in.”

“So either the wand was stolen, or it’s is sentient and has left, or hidden itself somewhere, somehow, within the room.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 32



The bakeneko rose on its hind feet, stretching itself as it did until it was just over five feet tall. It hissed at Jared as it hurled two balls of fire at the day-walker, howling in anger when Jared moved swiftly to avoid them.

Then it saw Daniel, and suddenly the bakeneko was in its human form, a slender, golden haired, and very naked female who purred seductively while she sashayed towards him, her hands outstretched.

Daniel whistled softly in feigned appreciation as he moved with cat-like grace to meet her. He held out his hands with the intention of taking hers and thus capturing her. He drew back quickly when hers turned back into cat’s paws with razor-sharp claws that swiped viciously at him. “So the kitten wants to play,” he said with a feral smile. Seconds later he was in his jaguar form.

Giving a low growl the bakeneko shifted again, her fur standing on end, ears laid back, tail weaving as she looked for an opening to attack. Daniel watched her carefully and then leapt, clamping his jaws down on her shoulder. She twisted her body, her hind claws raking across his stomach in an attempt to make him loosen his hold. Despite the pain he clamped down harder, holding her as Jared approached. The day-walker deftly avoided her gnashing teeth to grip her head between his hands so that she had to look at him. Seconds later she went limp, a deep sleep overtaking her.

Daniel regained his human form again, struggling to pull on his jeans at the same time that he was pressing one hand to his stomach. “Someone should de-claw her,” he growled.

“Let me see.” A small pixie fluttered over, hovering beside him. He pulled his bloodstained hand away and she moved closer, murmuring softly under her breath while she drew her tiny hands along the deep gashes. As she touched each one it healed. When she’d finished, she flew up to brush an almost imperceptible kiss across his forehead as she thanked him for saving them. Almost immediately they were surrounded by the rest of the wee folk, all of them adding their thanks to hers.

Jared handed Daniel his shirt, waiting until he’d donned it before helping him to stand. When he was certain Daniel was able to move on his own, he picked up the bakeneko. “Let’s get her back to Council headquarters so they can deal with her,” he suggested.

With a nod of agreement Daniel put his arm around Jared’s waist and they vanished.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Guardian Angels – Protection (19)



Kip sat in the back seat of the car with Jamie in his lap, making very certain Jamie couldn't see what was happening while the police dealt with Stewart's dead body. Only when the ambulance drove away did he release his tight hold on his son, although he didn't let him move. He asked Cass, belatedly he knew, "Are you all right?"

"Yes. He never even came close to hitting me before I took him down." She knelt by the car door, looking at him closely. "Your throwing yourself on the ground helped, as well as Jamie's making it to the car so fast. At least I didn't have to worry about the two of you at that point."

"My angel took me here," Jamie told her. "Real fast. Like that!" He snapped his fingers.

"Jamie…"

"Honest, Dad, he did. I swear. Right at the same time you fell down."

Kip frowned. "I… I didn't fall. It felt like someone pushed me, which is crazy. Maybe I stumbled?"

"You probably have an angel too," Jamie said, nodding his head hard. "I bet so, but you can't see him because you're grown up, maybe."

"I don't feel too grown up right now," Kip muttered. "I feel like a scared kid." He looked at Cass and Mack, who had joined them at that point. "Is it really over?"

"It really is," Mack replied. "Cass nailed him, but then we knew she would. We were just here…in case."

Something finally sank in and Kip glared at them. "You planned this whole thing, knowing he'd undoubtedly be here. You put our lives in danger without even warning me!"

"Kip," Cass said quietly, "if we'd told you, you wouldn't have acted naturally."

"Naturally? Naturally? We were huddling in the doorway and then trying to make it to the car as fast as possible. How's that natural?"

"It's exactly what he'd have expected. That's why he was waiting behind that bush"—she pointed—"at the end of the building. Best guess is he figured he'd shoot you, beat it around the building, and make his escape before I could react to what was happening."

Kip looked at her in shock. "You knew he was there?"

She smiled slightly in reply. "Who do you think fired the first shot? I spotted him, but I needed to wait until he moved enough for me to get a good bead on him. He was stupid enough to half-stand to see over the bush and that's all she wrote. I got him in the shoulder, he decided to shoot back, and I nailed him."

"It sounded like a gun battle."

"Only because you're not used to being around gunfire," Mack said, patting Kip's shoulder. "Now I suggest we all go back inside before the reporters descend."

Kip looked around and realized there were two TV trucks, as well as a lot of spectators, behind the crime scene tape the cops had strung up. The last thing he wanted was for Jamie to have to face cameras and microphones. Setting Jamie on his feet, he got out of the car. They walked quickly into the building, with Cass and Mack right behind them. Only when they were all in the elevator did he begin to feel safe. He wasn't the least surprised that Jamie clung tightly to his hand on the ride up and all the way into the apartment.

When they were inside with the door locked, Kip took a deep, relieved breath. "I think…"

"Don't think," Mack said. "Just relax and try to unwind. Jamie, do you want something to eat?"

"Uh-uh." Jamie shook his head.

"Kip, do you?"

"I think I'd probably lose it if I did." Kip sank down on the sofa and Jamie immediately huddled beside him.

Mack's phone rang at that moment. He answered, saying "Send them up".

Two minutes later, Kip heard the sound of running feet in the hallway. When Mack opened the door, Emily dashed in with Rob not far behind her. She slowed down when she saw Kip and Jamie, coming to a stop in front of them.

"You could have called to say you were all right," she said angrily. Then she was hugging Kip tightly, tears streaming down her face. "When Officer Smith told me what happened… My own husband didn't even bother to tell me what they were planning." She glared at Rob.

"And spoil the surprise?" Kip said with a shaky laugh.

"Surprise my ass. Damn it, you could have been killed."

"But we weren't," Kip replied, untangling from her embrace. "We're fine. Well…we will be, once it sinks in that it's over." He smiled wanly, taking her hand. "Be glad it happened here, not after we got to your place where Stewart might have shot both of us in front of your family."

"It was equally well protected," Rob put in. "I just didn't let Emily and the kids know, because I didn't want them panicking. He wouldn't have gotten within five hundred yards of the house."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 31



“I’m so sorry to bother you,” the young elven waitress said timidly, “but there is a problem with one of our customers.”

“One that the bouncers can’t handle?” Jared asked. Most of those were trolls—large enough and strong enough to take on most anything.

“It’s a bakeneko and it has reverted to its cat form. At the moment it is in the wee folks’ area, hunting.”

“It couldn’t go after the mice in the basement,” Daniel grumbled as he got up. “Okay, lead the way.”

Once they arrived on the second level it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out in which room the problem was. High-pierced shrieks of fear seeped out into the hallway from behind a closed door at the far end.

“Shall we?” Jared said as he strode toward the door.

Daniel grabbed his arm before he could open it. “Be careful. These damned things throw fireballs, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“I hadn’t.” Jared shot him a look. “I’ll be fine.”

Opening the door, he moved quickly into the large, airy room. It was as if he’d been transported to a forest glade replete with flowers, flowering bushes and exotic trees, some that no human would have recognized. Any other time it would have been idyllic. At the moment it was far from that. Fairies, pixies and other like creatures flittered in panic high above the ground, while brownies and gnomes zig-zagged between the bushes trying to avoid the golden-furred bakeneko as it chased after them. It leapt up suddenly to a low-hanging tree branch sending a fireball at a fairy who had dared to land on a nearby tree. The fairy shrieked as one of its wings was singed, plummeting towards the ground. The bakeneko jumped after it, claws outstretched.

“Bad cat,” Jared hissed; catching its attention before it could capture the fallen fairy.

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.

“Why?”

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."

"Tag?"

"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.

"Da-ad."

"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.