Sunday, July 30, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 49

As they were preparing to go back to Kenton’s to have another face-to-face with him, Jared told Mor and Aidan about rescuing the kittersals. When he got to the part about what the little girl had said about Daniel, his partner shot him a glare that said better than words that if he repeated it, Jared might be in for a long dry spell. Discretion being the better part of valor Jared slid over it and finished the story.

“I think he’s holding something back,” Mor said with a knowing look.

“Nope, that’s just how it went down,” Daniel told her quickly. “And now we have to see how things will go down with Kenton. Is everyone ready?”

“Almost,” Aidan said as he paced back and forth muttering under his breath. “Need to get the last of my spells set.”

Daniel bit back the desire to make a comment about magical fireworks, knowing that it was quite possible there would be some, if things went wrong. When he looked at Mor he saw she was concentrating too.

“Antsy,” Jared asked softly so as not to disturb the others.

“More like worried. If we are walking into some sort of trap to catch Aidan, I hope we’re able to handle it. You know magic isn’t our thing.”

“But it is theirs and they’re both powerful. We’ll all be just fine. We do the physical, they do the mental.”

“That’s great in theory, but you’re not a fighter.”

“Let’s just say I’m not you, I don’t go pell-mell into the fray. But I have certain powers that I can use when needs be, as well as claws and fangs.” Jared gave him a slight smile as he opened his jacket to reveal a pistol in a shoulder holster. “I also have this, just in case.”

Daniel stared at him. “Since when have you started carrying?”

“Since today. That’s where I went once we were finished with the Council job, to pick this up from a man I know. It’s loaded with silver because you never know what could be thrown at us, if anything.”

Daniel grinned a bit as he said, “Just don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Or me as far as that goes. Damned silver hurts like a son of a bitch.”

Jared pulled him into a hard hug. “Not planning on it. I hate digging bullets out of people, especially you.”

Leaning back in Jared’s arms Daniel gave him a long look. “If this comes down the way it might, we’re both going to come out the other side alive and in one piece. Got that?”

“Got it,” Jared replied with a smile just before Daniel sealed their lips together in a deep kiss.

“Do you two think you could abstain, at least until we get back,” Mor growled, but she was chuckling as she patted Jared on the shoulder.

“Yes mother dearest,” Daniel replied as he stepped away from his partner. “Now are we ready to go?”

“We are,” Aidan said tightly as he joined them.

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (3)

"At least he's alive. I did manage to make certain he got away from his attackers," Paddy said as he paced Samuel's office, his wings fluttering in agitation. "I had just gotten there, but not quite soon enough to stop them before they jumped him." He paused, smiling wryly. "This time I almost wasn't late to the job."
"Almost." Samuel smiled sourly. "You did get him out of the car, which counts. All right, you need to get back down there, now that you've made your report. I'm also sending someone else with you to watch over the man who took him in."
"Someone I know?"
Samuel nodded, calling out, "Enter", even though no one had knocked on the door. That didn't surprise Paddy. After all, Samuel didn't get to be the head guardian angel by being unaware of everything that happened around him. What did surprise him—and not in a particularly welcome way—was who came into the room.
Domingo, known to most as Dom, was not on the top of Paddy's friends list. They weren't enemies but they had butted heads a few times, usually over small things while they were waiting for their next assignments.
"Dom," Paddy muttered, looking at the slender angel who stood there. Dom's wings were tipped with the same brown tone as his hair, just as Paddy's were edged in red.
Domingo nodded curtly to Paddy then looked inquisitively at Samuel, after he'd taken a seat on one of the chairs by his desk. "Who needs me now?" He turned his gaze to Paddy momentarily. "Did you blow an assignment and I'm taking over?"
"Póg mo thóin," Paddy growled.
"Pádrig," Samuel cautioned. When Dom asked, Samuel told him Paddy had said, 'Kiss my ass,' in Gaelic.
"As if," Dom muttered.
"Now, if we can get back to the business at hand," Samuel said tersely. "Pádrig did not blow his assignment, but the man he's guarding was hurt. He managed to find shelter, which is good for the time being. However, as a result, the man who offered it may now be in danger himself. He will be your charge, Domingo." 
Dom nodded. "Do these men have names?"
"No, we're calling them 'Man A' and 'Man B'," Paddy replied, shooting Dom a look of disgust. "My subject is Victor Kingston."
"Yours is Evan Reed, Domingo," Samuel told him. "He's ex-military and now owns a security service."
"Then he should know how to handle himself if something happens."
"Presumably. However…"
"Understood. Is there anything else I should know?"
"Only that he—that both men—have to be kept alive. As always"—Samuel smiled tightly—"I can't tell you why."
"The future of the world depends on it," Paddy said with a derisive shake of his head. "Isn't that always the reason?" But deep down he knew that could be the case. The world was like the game, Jenga, at least that's how he thought of it. Pull out the wrong piece and the whole structure collapsed.
"If you have no further questions…" Samuel said. Paddy looked at Dom and they both shook their heads. "Then get moving."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

'Protecting Max' has arrived!

Protecting Max

Twelve years ago, Max Harman survived a vicious attack by his ex-lover Tony. It severed their relationship and landed Tony in prison.

When Tony’s released from jail, Max’s nephew Jack fears the man may seek revenge on his uncle. Wanting to buy a gun for protection, he visits Deacon Young's shop. Deacon convinces him to bring Max by to do the same. Despite his misgivings, Max gets a gun for security, too.

When Jack’s fears prove to be correct and Tony starts to stalk Max, Deacon steps in to try to protect him. Can Max's growing interest in Deacon -- and vice versa -- survive Tony's escalating reign of terror?

    The man behind the counter, who Max presumed was Deacon, was busy with a customer when Max and Jack arrived. He studied him for a moment. Not quite what I expected. I figured he'd be rough and tough, like hunters in ads I've seen. Sort of a redneck. He looks more like a commando with that short haircut. He was surprised when he realized the man was close to his age, from the look of him. Though why I figured he'd be closer to fifty than forty is beyond me. Pulling his attention away from the man, Max looked around. He resisted shuddering at the number and types of guns he saw -- on the walls and in two display cases.

    "Who knew there were so many ... styles?" he murmured to Jack, getting a brief grin and a nod in return. "Which did you get?"

    "One like this," Jack replied, pointing.

    "Do you have it with you?" Max was very certain he didn't like the idea that Jack might.

    "Yes." Jack took the gun, in its holster, from his jacket pocket.

    "It's small." Max frowned. "Don't you need a license to carry that?"

    "Not in this state," Deacon said, coming over to them. "He passed the background check, which is all he needed to do. I'm Deacon, by the way. You must be Max. It's good to meet you."

    "Thanks. You, too, I guess." Max replied wryly.

    "Not so sure you want to be here?"

    "Definitely sure I don't, but Jack convinced me I should at least talk to you."

    "He told me what's going on," Deacon said. "He's pretty certain Tony might come after you. Do you agree?"

    "I think it's possible. Not probable, but possible. If nothing else, he could threaten that he will."

    "Like stalking you."

    Max nodded, glancing at Jack. "We haven't talked about that, but I have considered the possibility. I do have a restraining order against him."

    "Not to burst your bubble on that," Deacon replied, "But they're usually not worth the paper they're written on if the stalker is dedicated to making the victim's life miserable, or taking it beyond that to a violent confrontation. From what Jack told me, Tony has no problem with that."

    "No. But he was drunk when it happened."

    "Is he an alcoholic?" Deacon asked.

    "A friend of mine called him a situational alcoholic. When the situation arises and he starts to drink, he doesn't stop. He never drank at home, if that tells you anything."

    "That he didn't want to lose his meal-ticket," Jack muttered.

    "Probably," Max agreed.

    "Okay," Deacon said. "So we have a man with a drinking problem, who has most likely spent his time in prison thinking about how he can pay you back for his being there. Maybe he won't head to the local bar the second he gets out. Maybe he'll find a place to stay, even look for a job, and try to settle down and become a productive member of society again. But --" Deacon looked hard at Max "-- I wouldn't count on it."

    Max sighed. "I know."

    "So, you might be safe when you're at home, since, according to Jack you've got a very good security system. But I don't think you want to spend the rest of your life holed up in there."

    "I can't. Among other things, I have a business to run that requires my visiting clients from time to time."

    "Exactly. So, be proactive. Get a gun, a small one like Jack has, then learn how to use it. You might never have to, but it's better to be safe than dead."

    "That's a fairly good argument for getting one." Max rubbed his temples. "All right. What do I have to do?"

    Deacon chuckled. "Buy one, for starters." He took Max through the same process that he had with Jack the previous night, ending up in the shooting range.

    Much to Max's surprise, and more than a bit of dismay, he seemed to have a good eye and a steady hand when it came to hitting the targets. Deacon worked with both Max and Jack, with brief breaks on his part to deal with two customers who came into the shop. By the end of the night, Max felt reasonably confident he could hit what he was aiming at -- if not lethally, at least to stop the person.

    But can I really shoot Tony? He did mean something to me, before the end. I loved him, once. If I have to look him in the eye and then pull the trigger, will I be able to? I guess time will tell, but please, God, don't put me in the position where I'll have to find out.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 48

Seeing that the child was occupied, and laughing to himself when he heard Daniel’s loud purrs, Jared quickly approached the shed. Pushing the door open he stepped inside. Four kittersals looked up at him, the largest hissing as it went on the defensive.

“I’m not here to harm you and yours,” Jared said quietly. “We only need you to leave here. You should have known better than to settle down in a public place.”

::We had no choice, my mate went into labor with our kits:: the kittersal replied.

Jared nodded slowly as he looked at the two tiny bundles of fur and wings. “We can help you. Where is your home?”

::Too far away:: the female looked up at him. ::We got caught in a storm and were driven off course. I needed shelter::

“If you…” A loud cry interrupted Jared. Stepping outside the shed he saw a frantic woman racing to where Daniel, in his jaguar form, lay with the little girl sitting beside him as she scratched behind his ears. Jared hurried over to intercept the woman, saying in a firm but kindly voice, “It’s alright; he’s my pet and very tame.”

“It’s a…a jaguar,” she retorted in a panic looking at her daughter while trying to get by Jared.

“A sweetie-pie kitty, mommy.”

“And friendly,” Jared added, biting back a grin at the little girl’s description. He just might not let Daniel live that one down.

The woman glanced up at him, which allowed him to catch her eyes. Quickly he calmed her as he took her hand to lead her over to her daughter. He nodded to Daniel to move away. When he had, Jared erased the mother and child’s memories of having seen him, the jaguar and the kittersals. Then he suggested they go into the house to eat lunch.

As soon as they were gone Daniel retook his human form. “Are the kittersals willing to leave?”

“Yes…sweetie-pie.” Jared ducked when Daniel growled and took a swipe at him. While they walked to the shed, Jared explained why they were there in the first place. A few minutes later he and Daniel each held a parent and kit as Daniel got the picture of where to go from the father. Seconds later the shed was empty.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 47

“No way in hell. Not now.” Jared slammed his hand down on the desk, causing Daniel to jump and look up at him in surprise.

“Not like we have much choice in the matter. Besides they’re kind of cute so it would be nice to save them before someone else finds them and does who knows what.”

“Yeah, right. One by itself may be cute, if they keep their wings hidden, but a family of them living in someone’s backyard, that’s a problem.” He sighed. “Okay, if we have to, we have to. Let’s find them and get this over with before supper.”

Daniel nodded, humming ‘High Hopes’ as he took them just outside of the city where their targets had been spotted.

It was a large yard behind an equally large home. Daniel landed them just outside the split-rail fence. From there they could see toys, a gym set and a sandbox. There was also a garden and several tall trees. In the corner farthest from the house was a tool shed, its door cracked open.

“Twenty to one says the kittersals have setup housekeeping in there,” Jared pointed at the shed.

Daniel nodded. “And use the sandbox for other than its intended purpose,” he added with a chuckle. “Now we just have to convince them to relocate somewhere else before the word gets out that there are flying cats in the neighborhood.”

“I guess we should thank our lucky stars the man knows something about Supes and called the Council right away.”

“He’s a cop in the loop, according to the report, so it’s not surprising.”

“Well let’s go have a chat with our targets.” Jared started to open the back gate, stopping when a small, blonde-haired girl came streaming out of the house into the yard, heading towards the shed. “Oh boy, now what do we do?”

“I deal with her; you take care of the kittersals.”

“She’s going to scream bloody murder if we come into the yard,” Jared pointed out.

“Maybe, but if she likes small cats she should just love a bigger one.” Daniel grinned as he opened the gate and then shifted. He padded into the yard, waiting for the child to spy him before lying down so as not to frighten her.

“Oooh, big kitty,” the little girl cried as she ran over to stand in front of him. “Pretty kitty.” Fearlessly she reached out a hand to pet him.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 46

Aidan paced Mor’s living room, deep in thought, while the others watched. After a few minutes of swiveling his head back and forth Daniel had finally had it. “Sit, Aidan, now,” he growled. “Sit and tell us who would want to discredit you badly enough to make it seem that you are a spy for your court.”

“Honestly? Too many,” Aidan said as he stopped moving, although he didn’t sit as ordered. “I’m a battle-mage. I made my fair share of enemies before I left. It’s my enemies that made me decide I didn’t trust the court, since too many of them are members.”

“Wait, this court of yours is made up of people from both sides of…well whatever it was that caused you to be fighting?”

Aidan nodded. “Sort of like the human’s government only we’re a bit bloodier.”

“Ahh, reminds me of my home,” Mor said with a sigh. Then she chuckled, shaking her head. “And I don’t miss it one bit.”

“Why is it that Supes all seem to be like that,” Daniel pondered. “Always the alpha and omega, always fighting for supremacy or submitting to the leader.”

Jared replied, “And humans don’t do the same thing?”

“I guess they do.” Daniel muttered before turning back to Aidan. “Is there anyone specific that would like to see you fail here, or perhaps who wants you to come back there? As far as that goes, would you have considered Kenton a friend or an enemy before tonight?”

“Last first. I suppose I’d have considered him an ally of sorts since he’s chosen to live here and distrusts the court, too. As for the rest, sure there are a couple of them that stand out but…” Aidan ran his hands through his hair in frustration. “This seems to center on the wand, and to the best of my knowledge there’s no reason for either of them to think I’d even been close to it, to say the least of being in a position to steal it.”

“What about friends?” Jared said.

“Meaning what?” Aidan looked puzzled.

“Are you in contact with a member of the court and did your tell them about the wand?”

“Jared, I’m here and in hiding from anyone from my world. Well, I was in hiding until tonight when I went with you to see… Oh hell!”

They all got it at the same time. Mor was the one who voiced it. “The wand was a lure to draw you out. The fact that the nahual, or any of the rest of us, were involved was purely coincidence.”

“It’s possible,” Aidan said, angry at himself for falling for that if it was true. “Kenton weakens the hiding spell hoping I’d sense its whereabouts and go after it. Instead you do and take it.”

“I wonder if he’s re-hidden it with the idea that this time it will be you who finds it,” Daniel questioned, “Although if he did, he’s undoubtedly moved it again to safer place after our visit tonight.”

“Probably,” Aidan agreed. “But why would he do this? I still don’t understand.”

Jared tapped a finger to his lips. “Perhaps he’s not what he seems. Aidan, you told us he was sent here originally to retrieve the wand and take it back to the court.”

“So the story goes and everything points to it’s being true.”

“But you say he had a change of heart and hid it instead, once he got to the States.”

“Yes, Jared, and that was over two hundred years ago, back when I was still there and involved, fighting the ‘good fight’.” Aidan sneered out the last two words.

“Then, in the last few years, you had your own change of heart and went into hiding in this world. That puts the two of you on an equal footing.”

“What if someone threatened to force Kenton into returning to your world if he didn’t help capture you?” Daniel asked.

“Possible.” Aidan nodded slowly. “Very possible.”

“Time to go back and have another talk with him,” Mor stated adamantly.

“And what if we’re walking right into the spider’s web if we do?” Daniel said. “He’s got to be expecting us to do that now.”

She looked at him and then the other males. “Then we destroy it and whatever spiders are there.”

“Tomorrow.” Jared shot a stern look at her. “If we’re going after spiders we need the proper bug killer.”

“Arachnid killer to be technically correct,” Daniel pointed out, earning an arched eyebrow and flicked-up middle finger from his partner and tension-relieved laughs from the others.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (2)

"They… didn't. I managed to get here without them seeing me. Then"—Vic tried to pull away when Evan started to lift the hem of the dark sweatshirt he was wearing—"I crawled into your yard, hugged the shadows by the porch, and prayed."
Evan stopped what he was doing for the moment. "I heard someone in the alley, just after you collapsed against the wall."
"That was them." Vic barely smiled. "Guess they were blind not to see me. I wasn't exactly moving fast. But then, they didn't expect me to get away."
"Were they holding you somewhere?"
Vic gave a slight shake of his head. "They caught me, took me out behind my building, and worked me over… while they asked me… questions. Then… I heard someone coming. They did too, so they shoved me into their car. I suspect they were planning on taking me somewhere more… private to continue questioning me. They thought I was unconscious. I wasn't. As they drove I tried to open the door but it was locked. Then"—Vic looked puzzled—"they'd just turned a corner, very fast, and suddenly it opened. I rolled out. Remind me that it hurts when you land. But I was desperate. I saw the alley and managed to get into it before they knew what happened, I guess. The rest… well, I figure I lucked out."
"Probably more than you think, given the situation. I want to check you over, and before you get any ideas about that, I know what I'm doing. I was a combat medic in the Army." Evan started on the sweatshirt again. "Hold out your arms."
"I can do that," Vic protested weakly.
"I'm sure you can, but it'll be easier on you if I do." Evan pulled the sweatshirt carefully over Vic's head and off his arms, whistling low when he saw the damage to the man's chest. "They did—"
"A number on me. You already said that. Not that I don't know."
"Why?" Evan asked, while he gently ran his hands over Vic's torso. "Sorry," he said when he carefully felt Vic's ribs and got a gasp of pain from him. "I need to see if they're broken."
"Don't… think so."
"Me neither, from what I can tell, but we won't know for certain until they're X-rayed."
"No hospital. I told you that."
Evan moved away, staring at Vic. "Why not?"
"I have my reasons."
"No shit. That much is obvious, but if I'm now harboring a criminal…"
"You're not."
"You'd say that either way."
Vic almost grinned. "I would. So"—he staggered to his feet—"for your own peace of mind, I should get out of here."
"You're not going anywhere until you've gotten some rest. I doubt you'd make it even halfway down the street before collapsing. And that presupposes the men who attacked you aren't still out there looking." When Vic grabbed the edge of the table in an attempt to remain upright, Evan put his arm around his waist. "You're going to lie down. My sofa's long enough for you to sleep on."
With Evan's help, Vic made it into the living room, collapsing on the sofa. "If I thought I was hurting before…" He groaned, rubbing his knee. "I think the adrenaline rush has worn off."
"Did you land on your knee when you escaped from the car?"
"Knee, hip." Vic slumped back, looking up at Evan. "I'm a fucking mess."
"I'd say that's a given at the moment, but at least you're alive."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 45

“Jared knows what you chose to tell him Aidan,” Kenton growled angrily. “You are part of the lies, the machinations dreamt up by the court in their attempt to get the wand and use it to destroy the humans. I will not allow that to happen. I have my spies in the court still; I know what goes on there.”

Aidan jumped to his feet, striding over to stand angrily in front of Kenton. “Whoever your ‘spies’ are they are lying to you. If you don’t believe me use a truth spell.”

Kenton sneered. “It would have no effect and you know it. You can counteract one easily, as powerful as you are.” Kenton looked past him to Mor. “I’m sorry. If you were not aligned with him I might have trusted you and your intentions, but there is no way you can prove to me that it is safe for me to let you study the wand, even from a distance.” With another angry look at Aidan, Kenton pointed to the door. “Leave now, all of you.”

With Aidan in the lead they did. As soon as the door closed behind them Aidan turned to face his companions. “It not true.”

“Then prove it,” Mor said tersely.

“How can I? How do you fight lies when you don’t know who is perpetrating them or why?”

“By searching for the truth,” Jared told him in a quiet voice. “And we can’t do that standing here.”

“Do we trust Kenton enough to think he has secreted the wand in a safe place, safer than it was before?” Daniel asked.

“Do we have a choice?” Aidan replied. “He certainly seems concerned that it will fall into the elven court’s hands. What I don’t understand is…”

“Aidan, let’s discuss this at our place, not out here where anyone who might want to can hear us.”

“No, we’ll go to my home,” Mor told them in a voice that brooked no argument. “Between Aidan and myself we can set the wards so that no one can penetrate them while we talk.”

“You trust me to help with that after what Baesysti  said?” Aidan asked in surprise.

She chuckled. “About as far as I can throw you. However something about this whole thing stinks and I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for the moment.” As she spoke she took his hand and Jared’s. Jared put his arm around Daniel’s waist and with a few murmured words from Mor they vanished. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 44

“Then you do have the wand,” Daniel said, pouncing in Kenton’s words.

“I’ll neither confirm nor deny that until you explain why you care. I know why Mordollwen does. She craves it for herself.”

Mor nodded. “I won’t deny that I would love to be in control of it. However I strongly suspect that is no longer an option for me.”

“Never say never my dear,” Kenton replied, smiling. “If I have it, and if you prove to me that you do not plan to use it as a weapon against the humans, I just might allow you to study it. For scientific purposes only of course.”

“Of course.” Mor smiled back, trying to keep her raising excitement from showing.

“As for your original statement, why do you care about the wand, Jared? You are neither an elf nor a magic worker.”

“My partner and I,” Jared laid a hand on Daniel’s thigh, “are enforcers for the Council of the Supernaturals.”

Kenton scowled. “You want to get your hands on it so you have yet another weapon in your arsenal?”

“No, far from it,” Jared replied. “Between the two of us, we are quite capable of dealing with most problems without the help of something like that. Besides it’s my understanding that it only works on humans. Please correct me if I’m wrong.”

“You’re not,” Kenton replied succinctly.

“In that case it would do us no good anyway. We would, however, like to keep it out of the hands of a human magician, or a Supe mage or sorcerer who would like to use it as a weapon.”

“As would I.” Kenton studied each of them one by one before apparently coming to a decision. “I will tell you that the wand is in a safe place and nothing more. I’ve lived too long and seen too much betrayal, even by those I considered friends, and so far none of you rate that title.” He stood, pacing away from them before turning back. “You,” he pointed to Aidan, “can tell the court you failed in your mission.”

The shock on Aidan’s face was almost matched by the disbelief on the faces of the others in the room. “I never… I am not their lackey, Baesysti . Ask Jared. He knows.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 43

After what seemed like an interminable wait, the door slowly opened. A regal male with dark hair laced with silver stood there, one eyebrow raised in question. “May I help you?” he asked. Mor stepped into his view and he smiled in amusement. “Have you come to try to reclaim that which you stole from me, young woman?”

“I didn’t steal it, Baesysti ,” she replied indignantly. “I merely moved it so that a creature bent on absconding with it couldn’t get it.”

The elf nodded slowly as if weighing the truth of her words. “Would you have taken it even if this creature had not found it?”

“Well…” She delicately shrugged one shoulder.

Sighing, the elf murmured a few words that Aidan recognized as a spell to drop the strong wards on the house. Then Baesysti  opened the door all the way and stepped back. “Please come in. I think we have things we need to talk about.”

“You may call me Baesysti or Kenton, whichever suits you,” the elf said once everyone was settled in the large but comfortable living room.

While Jared and the others introduced themselves, Aidan looked around the room and smiled. It was done in shades of gold and green and one wall was filled with plants of all sorts. Some stood in pots and planters, flowers and flowering bushes whose aromas mingled to fill the room with the scent of meadows in summer. There were also two trees whose roots were, he surmised, buried deep in the earth below the hardwood flooring. He pointed to one, asking Kenton, “What happens when they reach the ceiling?”

Kenton chuckled. “Then I open it so that they can continue growing upwards. I think in perhaps a hundred years or so they will be through the roof.”

“That will be interesting, if a bit damp when it rains,” Daniel commented.

“Magic, my dear boy. Magic will keep that from happening.” Including the others, Kenton asked if they wanted something to drink before they got down to business. When everyone declined he sat down on a large ottoman, crossing his legs. “May I ask exactly why you are here?”

“To make certain that you actually have Circe’s wand, and if so, that it’s somewhere safe,” Jared told him.

“You honestly expect me to answer that question? I know nothing about any of you, other than Aidan, and while he claims to distrust the court that does not mean he does, or that he couldn’t have some other agenda concerning the wand.”

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 42

The shadows were deep between the streetlights that sat on each end of the street. Large homes formed dark silhouettes, some accented by illuminated, curtained windows. Towering trees and tall hedges, outlined by wrought iron fences, only served to heighten the illusion of small, private worlds housing those who could afford the ornately decorated and balconied mansions.

Daniel and Mor stood in front of one of them, a three-storied creation with ginger breaded eaves and fancy grillwork on the balconies. All the windows were dark but Daniel could see the flicker of candlelight deep in a room on the ground floor.

“Someone’s here,” he said softly. “Whether it’s Kenton is of course the question.”  

She put a finger to her lips as she studied the house with both her eyes and her senses. “It is him, or one with as much power as he has,” she finally whispered.

Nodding, Daniel spoke with Jared. ::Unless you’ve found something to negate it we think we’ve found Kenton::

::Excellent. Now if I can drag Aidan away. He insists he wants to visit the zoo::

Daniel chuckled softy. ::Tell him I’ll take him tomorrow and even buy him cotton candy::

“Cotton candy my ass,” Aidan said indignantly, if quietly, as he and Jared appeared beside Daniel.

Daniel bit back a rejoinder to that, pointing to the house.

Aidan turned to study it before consulting with Mor. “I agree with her, there’s a sorcerer in there. The question becomes can we enter without being fried, boiled or otherwise attacked.”

“We can do the obvious, go up and knock on the door,” Jared pointed out.

“Tell him we’re trick or treating.”

“Gods Daniel, grow up,” Mor grumbled.

He gave her a wide-eyed look. “But being a kid is so much fun, and around all of you that’s exactly how I feel.”

“Just how old do you think I am,” Mor asked, huffing.

Before Daniel could answer Jared clapped a hand over his mouth, saying, “Now is not the time, children.” He started up the walk to the front porch of the house and knocked, not waiting to see if the others had followed.

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (1)

Evan awoke with a start to what sounded like something hitting the back of his house. Seconds later, he heard someone—or more than one person—running down the alley.
Curious, but also cautious, he went to the window and inched the blinds back just enough to see outside. Nothing was visible from where he stood, but then it was still dark. For a moment he wondered if punks had dumped over the trashcan by the back door. Then he heard a low moan. Raising the blinds, he leaned his hands on the windowsill, trying to see who or what had made the noise. It sounded human, but for all he knew it could be an injured dog. If dogs moan. He had no clue if they did.
Whatever it is, I won't find out standing here. He grabbed a set of sweats from the dresser drawer, pulling on the pants before heading downstairs. By the time he got to the back door, he was dressed, if barefooted. Punching in the code to disarm the security system, he stepped onto the porch and looked around. In the dim moonlight, he saw something dark on the ground under the kitchen window. Moments later, he was kneeling beside the battered figure of a dark-haired man.
"Can you move?" he asked, suspecting that was an inane question. "If I can get you inside…"
"Please," was the barely whispered reply as the guy struggled to sit up. Evan stood, putting his hands under the man's arms to help him rise, ignoring for the moment the deep moan of pain when he did. He figured would be a good idea to get the stranger into the house quickly before his attackers returned—if they were going to.
For a moment, when they got to the back door, Evan hesitated, wondering if he was asking for trouble. But I'd feel guilty as hell if I left him out here and they found him. He opened the door, asking as they entered the kitchen, "What's your name, so I can tell the police when I call this in?"
"V-Vic. Please… no… police."
Rather than argue right then, Evan helped Vic to a chair at the table. Vic collapsed onto it, groaning. Evan started to turn on the overhead light then thought better of it. Instead he switched on the one over the stove, knowing it wouldn't be visible through the curtains on the window across the room but would still let him check out what damage had been done to Vic.
When he came back to where Vic sat, what Evan could see of his face was pale and drawn in pain beneath the dirt and bruises. 
"Where do you hurt?" Evan asked. "By the way, I'm Evan."
Vic grimaced. "Where don't I?" He touched his right side. "Ribs, chest, gut…"
"If nothing else, I should call 911 for an ambulance."
"But you won't." Vic rested his arms on the table, leaning his head on them. "If you were going to, you would have already."
"Since my phone is upstairs in the bedroom…"
"Good. Please leave it there for now."
"Why no cops?" Evan inquired while he went to the sink to turn on the water. Taking a dishtowel from a hook in the cabinet under the sink, he wet it then wrung it out. Coming back to the table, he pulled the other chair over beside Vic. "Look at me, please, so I can clean your face and check the damage. And answer my question."
Vic lifted his head, turning toward Evan. When Evan carefully rubbed the towel over his face, Vic hissed, pressing his lips together in pain. After a couple of tries, Evan got the worst of the dirt off, revealing several deep bruises on Vic's cheeks and on one temple. "Not to state the obvious, but someone did a number on you. Why? And why dump you in my yard?"

Friday, July 14, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 41

“So far no luck, which leaves us with the two here in the city. If they don’t pan out we’re back to square one.”

The others nodded in agreement at Daniel’s words.

“Do we want to try them tonight or wait until morning?” Aidan asked.

“If everyone isn’t too tired I’d prefer tonight,” Mor replied. “I’ve had enough sunlight to last me for a while, or at least until I recharge my amulet.”

Jared cast a worried look at her as he said, “I’ve got no objections.”

“I’m fine,” Mor told him, patting his arm. “I just don’t want to push my luck and you know that the sun drains my powers somewhat even with the amulet.”

“Then tonight it is,” Daniel stated. “Split up again or go as a group?”

“Let’s split up as before,” Aidan told him. “If Mor or I feel anything we’ll pull back and regroup.”

“Okay, she and I will take this one,” Daniel pointed to the spot on the map marking a home in a very up-scale neighborhood. “You two can have the one near the zoo.”

Aidan chuckled somewhat maliciously. “If he’s there, it could make one wonder how many of the zoo animals were human at one time.”

Daniel glanced at Jared and smiled slightly. There was at least one there that they knew for a fact wasn’t a true primate. Rather he was a Skunk Ape who had wandered into the area in search of food, terrorizing the locals who though it was an escapee from the zoo. The pair had managed to corner and capture him and the Supe Council had arranged for its incarceration at the zoo.

“If we’re ready,” Mor said, eager to get moving and find Kenton.

“Five minutes more, I need food,” Daniel told her over his shoulder as he walked quickly to the kitchen.

Jared followed him, leaning against the counter to watch as his partner threw together a massive sandwich. “You’re not on the verge of killing her yet?” he asked, quirking a grin.

Daniel shook his head. “She’s actually been very well behaved, even nice.”

“Good.” He waited until Daniel had the sandwich made before reaching for his hands, pulling him to him. “Needed to do this before you ate that monstrosity,” he told him before kissing him thoroughly.

“Think we’ll really get out of here tonight?” Aidan asked Mor, shaking his head in amusement when he felt the raising lust coming from the kitchen.

“Two minutes and I go break them apart,” she grumbled in reply. “How come Jared was never this horny with me? I swear he can’t keep his hands off of Daniel.”


Mor thought about that for a second. “No, not really. Well maybe just a bit because I’d like to find someone who cared that much for me. Jared and I had a good marriage for a while, but then,” she shrugged.

Aidan nodded. “I understand. And I think their two minutes are up.”

Mor grinned, starting towards the kitchen. She stopped when Jared appeared, running a hand through his hair to tame it again before telling her, “Now we’re ready.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 40

“Now why the hell would he have registered as an elf,” Aidan grumbled as he and Jared walked away from the large home that housed the individual they’d been looking for.

“Because, for whatever reason, he doesn’t want to admit to being a faun. Not that it’s hard to tell that he is one on first sight.”

“Are you going to report him?”

Jared shook his head. “He’s quite harmless. Hell, if he’d been any meeker and more self-effacing he’d have melted into the woodwork. All he wants is to be left alone with his books and his gardens. As Daniel says, way too often sometimes, no harm, no foul.”

“Well since we still have time shall we check out the one by the bay? Hopefully he won’t turn out to be a troll or something.”

With a laugh Jared agreed and moments later they were standing by the shore looking at a small, well-built cabin.

“He’s not going to be in there,” Aidan said with certainty. “I’d be willing to bet that’s just to give him an ‘address’, and possibly a place to meet with friends that aren’t aquatically inclined.”

“He’s a sea elf then? I’ve never met one. As a matter of fact, I actually thought they were things of legend.”

“We are,” a voice said emphatically from the water behind them. Then the elf stood in the shallows, smiling slightly at the two men. “We don’t exist except in fairy tales.” He moved onto the land before shifting to a more human form which hid his blue, green and silvery skin.

“We’re sorry to bother you,” Jared told him. “We’re looking for an elf, a specific one. It’s quite apparent you aren’t him.”

The elf raked his eyes over him and a small grin quirked his mouth. “How unfortunate for me.”

The look on Jared’s face had Aidan turning away to hide his laughter behind a closed fist.

“What? He’s gorgeous,” the sea elf said, his glance fixed on Jared’s crotch.

“He’s, I mean I’m already taken,” Jared choked out.

Without raising his eyes the elf murmured, “More’s the pity then. I’d have loved to teach you how to make love in the ocean.”

Sympathizing with his friend, Aidan gripped Jared’s hand and seconds later they left the very aroused sea elf behind.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors - 39

Despite Mor’s wishes to the contrary, Daniel did the transporting once Mor had activated her amulet so that she could handle the sunlight. He landed them in a field across the road from the small plantation house that was listed as belonging to one of the elves.

“I’d say he’s definitely a back-to-nature elf,” Daniel commented as they studied the property. Other than the house itself, which was in definite need of some repair work, from what they could see, there was nothing else on the land but trees, bushes and flowering shrubs. “Do you sense any magic?”

“Some, yes, but nothing out of the ordinary for a normal elf. We all carry some of it within us in case you didn’t know.”

“Trust me I’m well aware of that. Jared and I have dealt with a couple of them.”
Mor looked at him questioningly but he shook his head. “A story for another time. For now let’s go meet the owner. Will you be able to tell if he’s shielding more power than he’s showing?”

“I should be able to.” After linking her arm in his they crossed the road and walked up the long path to the house.

Before they got to the veranda the front door opened and a young man stepped out. He looked at Daniel and grinned. “I didn’t do it whatever it was, enforcer.”

Daniel laughed. “But you probably did something else you hope I don’t find out about. Mor, I’d like you to meet Crispen, or at least that’s what he called himself when I knew him. Apparently either he was lying then or he lied when he registered with the Supe Council.”

“Or both,” Crispen said as he strode forward to take Mor’s hand, kissing the back.

“Oh my, a real gentleman.” She smiled at him while telling Daniel, “Unfortunately he’s not the one we’re seeking.”

Crispen released her hand to look at the two of them. “Who are you looking for?”

“Baesysti , or as he called himself here, Kenton St. Pierre.”

“I’ve heard of him,” Crispen replied with a frown. “You’ll have a hard time finding him I’m afraid. He’s been in hiding for, damn, at least two hundred years, maybe more. It seems he came into possession of something the court would love to get their hands on.”

“We know. That’s why we need to find him,” Mor told him.

Crispen looked at her, a frown creasing his handsome brow. “So that you can turn him and the item over to your own people?”

“Not at all.” She glanced at Daniel and when he nodded she explained, without going into too much detail, exactly what was going on.

When she’d finished Crispen nodded. “All I can say is ‘good luck’. If I could help you I would, but…” he shrugged.

“Not a problem man,” Daniel replied. “At least we’ve eliminated one suspect.”

Crispen grinned. “For that crime anyway.”

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Guardian Angels – Protection (21)

Kip was on his feet seconds later. He got to the door just in time to hear Jamie tell Cass, "My dad wants to go out with you but he's afraid to ask."
There was dead silence in the room. Then Cass looked over Jamie's head and saw Kip standing there. "Maybe you should tell him not to be afraid," she said quietly to Jamie.
Jamie nodded, turned and ran back to Kip. "She said not to be afraid."
"I heard." Kip stared at Cass, ignoring the fact he had an audience. "Would you like to—I don't know—go out to dinner some evening? With me?"
"Maybe. If I'm not working. When?"
Kip shrugged, trying to act more casual than he felt. "Whenever is convenient for you?"
"I'm off at five tomorrow, barring another shoot-out," she replied with a small grin.
"Then I'll pick you up at six?"
"That would work."
"Yay!" Jamie cheered. Everyone else let out their collective breaths and laughed.
"On that note," Mack said, "I think we should all get back to what we do best, serving and protecting. Well, except for Emily."
Emily huffed. "I serve and protect my family—especially the serve part." She smiled up at Rob when he hugged her. "Right?"
"Right. I'll take you home and then meet Cass and Mack at the station house. They have reports to fill out and I expect them on my desk before they leave."
Mack groaned. Cass ignored Rob, going over to Kip to ask quietly, "Do you really want to go out to dinner. I think you were sort of forced into asking."
Kip nodded. "I really do. So… I'll see you tomorrow at six?"
Cass grinned widely. "You will, but it might help if you knew where I lived."
"Well, yeah." Kip waited while she wrote down her address and handed it to him. "Tomorrow night then."
"It's a date." Cass smiled at him then at Jamie, who had been standing there listening. After that, she and the Howes left.
"You pulled a fast one on me, young man," Kip told Jamie, trying to look stern and parental.
"I just wanted to help," Jamie whispered, looking down at the floor.
"I know." Kip chuckled. "It worked too. And who knows, maybe something will come of it, and maybe it won't, but I guess I'm willing to find out. Now, shall we make lunch? I'm suddenly starving."
* * * *
"Apparently," Dave said, when he and Hal had left Kip's apartment, "I don't have to stick around and play matchmaker after all."
Hal laughed. "Nope. Jamie beat you to it and was a lot less subtle than you would have been."
"I never did figure out quite how I really would have managed it," Dave admitted, "so it's just as well Jamie stepped in."
"Now we can pick up Paddy and go home."
"I'm right here," Paddy said, appearing beside them. "If I never have to see another kid again, I'll die happy."
Dave grinned. "I hate to point this out to you, but you're already dead."
"Technicality," Paddy grumbled before disappearing again, calling out as he did, "You coming?"
"Maybe in a while," Hal called back. "But first"—he wrapped one arm around Dave's waist—"I vote we find a nice, empty hotel room somewhere and have some real fun, of the carnal kind."
"If you mean screw our brains out, I'm all for that." The words were hardly out of Dave's mouth when the two guardian angels vanished, trailing laughter behind them.

The End