And they certainly wouldn’t take you along to a murder. That would be irresponsible parenting.
Dont talk to the crazy kids. I longed to shout back that we weren’t crazy. I’d mistaken her kid for a ghost, that’s all.
Everyone is the sum total of past experiences. A character doesn’t just spring to life at age thirty.
What gave it away? When she loaded me bound and gagged into the back of her truck? Or when she actually said. “I’m ready to kill you and throw your body inn the swamp?”Hey for a while there, it looked like you were going to talk your way out of it. I didn’t want to interfere.
If you say ‘we’re in this together,’ I’m going to hurl.
Mom says crap like that comes from people who’ve accomplished so little in life that they feel the need to lift themselves above someone, anyone. So they pick skin color or religion or sexual orientation and say, “Well, I might not be much, but at least I’m not a…” I’d look at those guys, and see the truth of her words.
Yeah, I worry what will happen when we stop running. When we go back to school. When she meets other boys. Boys who don’t argue and snap at her. Boys who don’t obsessively worry about her. Boys that could take her to a movie and stay right until the end, not have to leave halfway through because he started turning into a wolf. But she wouldn’t pick up some random guy in the mall. Ever.So why was I over-reacting? I don’t know. I saw the guy and something ignited in my brain, a flash-fire that burned away reason and common sense. If Simon hadn’t stopped me, I’d have made an idiot of myself and called attention to us. Worse, I’d have embarrassed Chloe. I was over-protective enough as it was. Frothing at the mouth because a guy talked to her? Really not going help us get to that next anniversary.
Some women just aren’t cut out to be mothers, and unfortunately it had taken Susanna three kids to realize she was one of them.
Philip wooed me with all the patience of someone trying to coax a half-wild animal into the house and, like many a stray, I found myself domesticated before I thought to resist.
Antonio-“Just in time, Pete. Five more minutes of reading this and she’d have been in a coma.”Peter-“Are we such bad company that you’d rather hide out in here reading that old thing?
I have to.I’ve been fighting it all night. I’m going to lose. My battle is as futile as a woman feeling the first pangs of labor and deciding it’s an inconvenient time to give birth. Nature wins out. It always does.
You forget, darling. the local psychopath.
Urban survival rule 22: Never annoy an armed man.
I got to eavesdrop at a window. As Clay said, I did have another option. I could wait in the car and let them fill me in later. So, eavesdropping it was.
We scarified a mosquito. I bet that’s what did it. It was probably a virgin too.
Behind us, the man laughed. “Looks like we aren’t the only ones looking for a little diversion. There’s an empty office right over there, guys.” Marsten raised his hand in thanks. The couple moved on. I let the kiss continue for five more seconds, then pulled away. “They’re gone,” I said. Marsten frowned, as if surprised-and disappointed-that I’d noticed. I tugged my hair from his hands. “Okay, coast clear,” I said. “Let’s go.” He let out a small laugh. “I see I need to brush up on my kissing.” “No, you have that down pat.” “She says with all the excitement of a teacher grading a math quiz…” “A-plus. Now let’s move. Before someone else comes along.
It reminded me of what Dad said after every snail’s crawl home fromAlbany when snow hit.“It’s New York, people. It’s winter. We get snow. If you aren’t preparedto deal with it, move to Miami.
On that walk around the building, two sets of cops coming out stopped to tell our guys to hustle us inside so they could head back out on the road. Accidents everywhere. A pileup oneach of two major roads. “Welcome to winter,” one said. “When fifty percent of drivers should have their licenses temporarily suspended.
Your mother sets you up blind dates? With guys like that?” The corners of his mouth twitched. “She doesn’t like you very much, does she?
Demons are a very human creation. You look for ways to explain evil, and instead of seeing it in yourselves, you offload the responsibility onto monsters. The monstrous exists in the mirror, not in the sulfurous depths of some fantasy world.
Don’t apologize.””I wasn’t-“”Not in words, but it was clear from your tone. Apology suggests that you are keeping me from doing what I need to do, which implies I am somehow powerless to do otherwise. It’s a choice, Olivia.
A stereotype becomes a stereotype when a significant percentage of the population appears to conform to it.
Could you please put this–could you all put these–could you get dressed, please?”The woman only bestowed a serene smile on me. “We are as the Goddess requires.””The Goddess requires you to be naked on my lawn?
As my hair fell free, Cortez entwined his fingers in it and kissed me even harder. Then he slipped one hand from my hair and snapped his fingers over our heads. The lights went out.
I ran my tongue along the top of his underwear, letting it slide underneath. Then i shifted my body forward, lips moving back up his chest, until i was straddling him again.
My fourteen-year-old sister Lara is a brat. Unfortunately, no one sees it but me. To everyone else, she’s adorable. She’s tiny and blonde and sweet and as helpless as a kitten. Chloe reminded me of Lara, at first. The difference, as I discovered, is that Chloe really is as sweet as she seems and she isn’t as helpless as she looks.
Chloe. Always Chloe with him and his brother. I know I sound like a whiny brat when I complain, but I think I have a good reason. I’d just discovered that I was a witch and my mother was a bitch—the murderous kind. I was now on the run with three kids who didn’t want me along.No matter how hard I tried to keep up and help out, the guys only cared about Chloe. If I ran in front of this bus to push her to safety, they’d race to her side to see if she was okay. Probably give me crap for bruising her when I shoved her out of the way.
I used to think that once we started going out, Derek would change. When I admitted that to Tori, she nearly laughed herself into an aneurysm and gave me a lecture on the stupidity of expecting to change a guy. Maybe I didn’t have her dating experience, but I knew you didn’t go out with someone because you thought you’d change him. That wasn’t what I’d meant. I liked Derek the way he was. I’d just hoped getting closer would mean landing on the sharp side of his tongue less often.
Tell me half a cup’s worth of story and we’ll call it a night.
I don’t forgive him,” I said.”Hell, no, you don’t. And why should you? So he can feel better? Get on with his life? And what’s he done to help you get on with yours?
So consider your options, make your choice and call me home.
One life per year. It seemed so moderate a price… until you looked back and realized you could fill a movie theater with your victims.
As a vampire, you must accept that every person you ever know will die, and you are the only constant in your life, the only person you can—and should—rely on.
I make the choice because it is one I can live with.
Demon possession strains the boundaries of credulity, given the sheer number of times it seems to happen. One would really hope demons had better things to do with their time.
I wouldn’t call Gabriel Walsh if I was on fire.” She pursed her lips. “No, I might. To sue everyone responsible—from the person who lit the match to those who made my clothes. But I’d wait until the fire was out. Otherwise, he’d just stand there until I was burned enough for a sizable settlement.
Take note, Anderson. Size and martial ability do not need to come with a correlating decrease in intelligence.
I’d seriously contemplated a real collar – a sparkly green one – if only because I was sure it would offend his dignity.
…ethics were in most cases a burden that could be reasonably ignored in pursuit of necessity.
In the meantime, I’ll get a job. I’ll pay my own way.” “A job?” “Mmm, yeah. It’s that thing people do to make money.
I signed off with Ricky, and I was putting away my phone when TC slunk past, heading for his spot in the front window.”Hey, cat,” I said. “We’re bringing home a friend for you. A doggie big enough to devour you in a single gulp. Is that okay?”He turned a baleful stare on me, as if he understood. I’m convinced TC isn’t just a cat, no more than Lloergan is just a dog. Maybe someday, when I’m moments from perishing at the hands of an intruder, TC will save me in a sudden and awe-inspiring display of supernatural power. Or maybe he’ll decide I haven’t given him enough tuna that week and leave me to my fate. He’s a cat, so I figure my chances are about fifty-fifty.
Picture a place called the Karma Kafe and it’ll save me the bother of describing it. There was nothing in it you wouldn’t expect, from the Buddha flowerpots to the wallpaper decorated with symbols that probably said, “If you bought this just because it looked pretty, may Buddha piss in your coffee, you culturally ignorant moron.
”If you want that kind of thing, call Nick. His advice is shit, but he really likes to give it.
What’s next? If there are vampires in there, they probably drink artificial blood plasma substitute.
Common courtesy dictates that we never drain the lifeblood of anyone to whom we’ve been formally introduced.
He liked women with little butts and big tits? Someone had played with one too many barbie dolls as a kid.
The rottweiler stood his ground and waited for me to take the next step in the dance of ritualized intimidation. Instead, I leaped at him. Screw ritual. Now was not the time to stand on ceremony.
Another werewolf thing. Like most animals, we spent a large part of our lives engaged in the three Fs of basic survival. Feeding, fighting and… reproduction.
You guys are weird,” Tori said.Simon sat on the crate beside me. “That’s right. We are totally weird and completely uncool. Your popularity is plummeting just by being near us.
With no chance to take off, I had to play my role, searching for the rendezvous spot, which gave me the excuse to look for an escape opportunity. Maybe a hole in the wall too small for Tori’s mom to follow me through or a precarious stack of boxes I could topple onto her head or an abandoned hammer I could brain her with. I’d never “brained” anyone in my life, but with Tori’s mom, I was willing to try.
He stood and inhaled, then walked a few more feet, stooped, and prodded a chunk of rabbit fur.“I’m definitely thinking something with more body parts,” I said. “Like a head.”He gave a snort of a laugh. “It’s probably around here somewhere, but I suppose you want the parts attached, too.
Simon whispered to me, “But is everything okay?”“No,” Tori said. “I kidnapped her and forced her to escape with me. I’ve been using her as a human shield against those guys with guns, and I was just about to strangle her and leave her body here to throw them off my trail. But then you showed up and foiled my evil plans. Lucky for you, though. You get to rescue poor little Chloe again and win her undying gratitude.”“Undying gratitude?” Simon looked at me. “Cool. Does that come with eternal servitude? If so, I like my eggs sunnyside up.”I smiled. “I’ll remember that.”***“Oh, right. You must be starving.” Simon reached into his pockets. “I can offer one bruised apple and one brown banana. Convenience stores aren’t the place to buy fruit, as I keep telling someone.”“Better than these. For you, anyway, Simon.” Derek passed a bar to Tori.“Because you aren’t supposed to have those, are you?” I said. “Which reminds me…” I took out the insulin. “Derek said it’s your backup.”“So my dark secret is out.”“I didn’t know it was a secret.”“Not really. Just not something I advertise.”…“Backup?” Tori said. “You mean he didn’t need that?”“Apparently not,” I murmured.Simon looked from her to me, confused, then understanding. “You guys thought…”“That if you didn’t get your medicine in the next twenty-four hours, you’d be dead?” I said. “Not exactly, but close. You know, the old ‘upping the ante with a fatal disease that needs medication’ twist. Apparently, it still works.”“Kind of a letdown, then, huh?”“No kidding. Here we were, expecting to find you minutes from death. Look at you, not even gasping.”“All right, then. Emergency medical situation, take two.”He leaped to his feet, staggered, keeled over, then lifted his head weakly.“Chloe? Is that you?” He coughed. “Do you have my insulin?”I placed it in his outstretched hand.“You saved my life,” he said. “How can I ever repay you?”“Undying servitude sounds good. I like my eggs scrambled.”He held up a piece of fruit. “Would you settle for a bruised apple?”I laughed.
It’s me,” a deep voice rumbled.The hands released me and I turned. There stood Derek, all six foot of him. Maybe it was just the thrill of seeing him, but he looked better than I remembered. His black hair was still lank, and his face was still dotted with acne. But he looked…better.~~~~~Tori waited until Derek was gone, then shuddered. “Okay, Derek always weired me out, but the wolf man stuff is seriously creepy. Suits him, I suppose. A creepy power for a creepy guy.””I thought he looked better.”She stared at me.”What? He does. Probably because he’s starting his wolf changes and he’s not stressed out about being in Lyle House. That must help.””You know what will really help? Shampoo. Deodorant – “I raised my hand to cut her off. “He smelled fine, so don’t start that. I’m sure his wearing deodorant and – for once-it’s working. As for showers, they’re a little hard to come by on the street, and we won’t look much better soon.””I’m just saying.””Do you think he doesn’t know you’re saying? News flash-he’s not stupid.
Maybe my expectations for honesty are too high.
When you accept a leadership role, you take on extra responsibility for your actions toward others.
When you accept a leadership role, you take on extra responsibility for your actions toward others. If you shun someone, the effect will trickle down through those who value your opinion.
I started rubbing my temples and she suggested I don’t really get headaches. It just hurts me to think.
Remembering. Forgetting. I’m not sure which is worse.
It was completely fifth garde and completely silly and I loved it, because he wasn’t afraid to be silly. It was like kissing him first – I could do whatever I wanted and not have to worry what he’d think of me.
I want you to have big dreams, big goals. I want you to strive to achieve them. But I don’t want to see you beating yourself up every time you make a mistake.
Yes you’re getting your tattoo.” I threw my arms around Dad’s neck. “Thank you!” “Hey,” Mom said. “I’m the one who had to persuade him it wasn’t turning his little girl into a streetwalker.” “I never said that,” Dad said. “No?” I said. “Cool. Cause I’ve decided to skip the paw print. I’m thinking of a tramp stamp with flames that says ‘Hot in Here.’ No wait. Arrows. For directionally challenged guys
This is so cool,” I said loudly as Dad walked away. “Have you met the tattoo artist? Is he hot?” “He’s a she,” Mom said. “Is she hot? Cause I’m still young, you know. My sexual identity isnt fully formed.” “Your father can’t hear you anymore, Maya.” Mom sighed.
Another night then,’ Mom said. ‘Maybe on the weekend we can have a barbecue and invite your sister.’ ‘Or,’ I said turning to Rafe, ‘if you want to skip the whole awkward meet-the-family social event you could just submit your life story including your view on politics religion and every social issue imaginable along with anything else you think they might need to conduct a thorough background check.’ Mom sighed. ‘I really don’t know why we even bother trying to be subtle around you.’ ‘Neither do I. It’s not like he isn’t going to realize he’s being vetted as daughter-dating material.’ Rafe grinned. ‘So we are dating.’ ‘No. You have to pass the parental exam first. It’ll take you awhile to compile the data. They’d like it in triplicate.’ I turned to my parents. ‘We have Kenjii. We have my cell phone. Since we aren’t yet officially dating I’m sure you’ll agree that’s all the protection we need.’ Dad choked on his coffee.
I glanced in the first open door and stopped short. Desks. Four tiny desks. A wall of faded posters of alphabet animals. A blackboard, still showing the ghost of numbers. I blinked, certain I was seeing wrong.Derek nudged my legs, telling me to get moving. I looked at him, and I looked at the classroom.This was where Derek had grown up. Four tiny desks. Four little boys. Four young werewolves.For a second, I could see them—three boys working at the three clustered desks, Derek alone at the fourth, pushed slightly away, hunched over his work, trying to ignore the others.Derek nudged me again, whining softly, and I looked down to see him eyeing the room, every hair on his neck on end, anxious to get away from this place.
You were just worried about me.” An exhale, relieved that I had understood. “Yeah”I turned. “Because you think I’m worth it”He put his fingers under my chin. “I absolutely think your worth it.””But you don’t think you are.”His mouth opened. Shut.”That’s what this is about, Derek. You won’t let us worry about you because you don’t think you’re worth it. But I do. I absolutely do.
This is what I wanted. This guy. This life. This me. I was never getting my old life back, and I didn’t care. I was happy. I was safe. I was right where I wanted to be.
I might be half Derek’s size, but I was the one who sounded like a two-hundred-pound beast plowing through the woods.
The door slapped shut, sound echoing as Derek marched across the yard, dead on target.I looked around, desperate for an escape route, but there was none. Go forward and deal with Derek, or run back toward Simon and have to deal with both of them.
I glanced up to see Liz and smiled. “Thank you.” “I just went along for the ride. After that happened-” She waved at Derek. “You know how blind people need Seeing Eye dogs? Well, apparently werewolves could really use Opening Door poltergeists.
Simon kissed me and I just stood there like someone had cut the cord between my brain and my muscles.Finally, the connection caught and I did kiss him, but awkwardly, some part of me still holding back, my gut twisting, like I was doing something wrong, making a huge mistake, and—Simon stopped. For a moment, he hovered there, face above mine, until I had to look.
You know children, always playing with the forces of darkness.
He was trying to tell me something.”Derek snorted. “Aren’t they all? Must be a rule in the ghost handbook—if in danger of evaporating, make sure you’re in the middle of a dire pronouncement.
I’m going to need to save you.””Excuse me? No one needs-“”I’m saving you, so shut up and be grateful.
Of the Phoenix kids, the one Derek got along best with was Daniel. In him, Daniel had found a good sparring partner. And a plotting partner, too. Derek wasn’t just the biggest and strongest in our group. He was also the smartest. Scary, off-the-charts smart. That intimidated Daniel a little at first—he’s bright, but he needs to work for his grades. But Derek wasn’t a show-off or a know-it-all, so they got past that and we would hang out together, the two guys, Chloe, and I planning and plotting our future, bouncing ideas off one another.
Is that a no?” I said. “No. I mean..” He struggled for the smile again. “I’m just waiting for the punch line. Something about making it date so I need to pay. Or you expecting flowers. Or..” He trailed off.”There isn’t a punch line,” I said.I rose onto my knees and inched over, in front of him. Then I stopped about a foot away.”No punch line, Daniel,” I said. “I’m asking if you’ll go out with me.”He didn’t answer. Just reched out, his hand sliding between my hair and face, pulling me toward him and..And he kissed me.His lips touched mine, tentatively, still unsure, and I eased closer, my arms going around his neck. He kissed me for real then, a long kiss that I felt in the bottom of my soul, a click, some deep part of me saying, “Yes, this is it.”Even when the kiss broke off, it didn’t end. It was like coming to the surface for a quick gasp of air, then plunging back down again, finding that sweet spot again, and holding onto it for as long as we could. Finally it tapered off, and we were lying on the picnic blanket, side by side, his hand on my hip, kissing slower now, with more breaks for air. until I said, “We should have done that sooner.”He smiled, a lazy half smile, and he just looked at me for a moment, our gazes locked, lying there in drowsy happiness, before he said, “I think now’s just fine.” And he kissed me again, slower and softer now, as we rested there, eyes half closed.”So, about Saturday, did you ask me?” he said after a minute, “Because I’m pretty sure that means yo’re paying.””Nope. You were imaging it. Considering how you eat, the meal bill is all yours. But I will spring for the movie. And bring you flowers.”He chuckled. “Will you?””Yep, a dozen pink roses, which you’ll have to carry all night or risk offending me.””And what happens if I offend you?””You don’t get any more of this.”I leaned in and kissed him again. And we stayed out there, on the blanket, as the sun fell, talking and kissing mostly, just being together. We had a long road ahead of us, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But I had everything I wanted-everything I needed-and I’d get through it just fine. We all would.
Whatever it is,” I said, “the point is moot because as long as I’m on these pills, I can’t make contact to ask.”Derek … snapped, “Then you need to stop taking the pills.”Love to. If I could. But after what happened last night, they’re giving me urine tests now.”Ugh. That’s harsh.” Simon went quiet, then snapped his fingers.Hey, I’ve got an idea. It’s kinda gross, but what if you take the pills, crush them and mix them with your, you know, urine.”Derek stared at him.What?”You did pass chem last year, didn’t you?”Simon flipped him the finger. “Okay, genius, what’s your idea?”I’ll think about it. …”***Here,” Derek whispered, pressing an empty Mason jar into my hand. He’d pulled me aside after class and we were now standing at the base of the boy’s staircase. “Take this up to your room and hide it.”It’s a … jar.”He grunted, exasperated that I was so dense I failed to see the critical importance of hiding an empty Mason jar in my room.It’s for your urine.”My what?”He rolled his eyes, a growl-like sound sliding through his teeth ashe leaned down, closer to my ear. “Urine. Pee. Whatever. For the testing.”I lifted the jar to eye level. “I think they’ll give me somethingsmaller.”…You took your meds today, right?” he whispered.I nodded.Then use this jar to save it.”Save . . . ?”Your urine. If you give them some of today’s tomorrow, it’ll seem like you’re still taking your meds.”You want me to . . . dole it out? Into specimen jars?”Got a better idea?”Um, no, but …” I lifted the jar and stared into it.Oh, for God’s sake. Save your piss. Don’t save your piss. It’s all the same to me.”Simon peeked around the corner, brows lifted. “I was going to ask what you guys were doing, but hearing that, I think I’ll pass.
He said “cool” like I say a Spanish word when I’m not sure of the pronunciation.
Schizo. It didn’t matter how many times Dr. Gill compared it to a disease or physical disability, it wasn’t the same thing. It just wasn’t. I had schizophrenia. If I saw two guys on the sidewalk, one in a wheelchair and one talking talking to himself, which would I rush to open a door for, and which would I cross the road to avoid?
That’s what we all want, isn’t it? Power without price.
If I was crazy, would I know it? That’s what being crazy was, wasn’t it? You thought you were fine. Everyone else knew better.
Rae burned me. She has matches or something. Look, look…” Tori pulled down the collar of her T-shirt. “Leave your cloths on, Tori,” Simon said, raising his hands to his eyes. “Please.
I let out a laugh that sounded more like the yip of a startled poodle. “Superp-powers? I wish. My powers aren’t winning me a slot on the Cartoon Network anytime soon… except as a comic relief. Ghost Whisperer Junior. Or Ghost Screamer, more like it. Tune in, every week, as Chloe Saunders runs screaming from yet another ghost looking for her help.”Okay, superpower might be pushing it.
Why is it that every time a girl says a guy is bothering her, it’s fluffed off with oh, he just likes you, as if that makes it okay?
Stray cats are like two-timing men. He got tired of you and took off. He doesn’t find anyone new? He’ll come slinking back. By then, if you’re smart, you’ll have decided you’re better without him.
My foggy brain slid away and— And I was still dressed in only my bra and panties. Well, at least it’s a nice set of bra and panties. Yep, these were the thoughts going through my brain as I looked at a photo of a decapitated head on my bed.
Gabriel discourages emotional attachments the way most of us discourage door-to-door salesmen. They’re inconvenient, intrusive, and liable to end up saddling you with something you never wanted in the first place, at a cost far higher than you wish to pay.
So, is it too young for you?”He leaned over, lips coming to mine, arms pulling me into a kiss, soft at first, tentative, then … wow. The guy could kiss. I finally had to pull back to catch my breath.”Good answer?” he said.
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