CW: Strong language, adult situations, strong sexual content, trauma, and character experiencing PTSD
Hey, y’all! Just a heads up that Chapter 12 (coming August 21st) will be our “mid-season” finale. After that, I’ll take a few weeks off to refill the creative tank and do some site maintenance and game admin. I’ll return at the end of September for the second half of the season (Chapters 13 – 24).
Don’t despair, though! I’ve got a little something to celebrate the high school pack release on July 28th, and I’ll be back with more crazy adventures before you know it!
Bella set down her coffee and stared at the photos on the phone. “It’s the same thing…” she announced, tone astonished.
Her lips parted; she seemed to do that a lot when thinking. Caleb always told himself he’d avoid being his parents—two lovesick idiots fused by their mutual narcissism. He was single. Happily so. Bella and her bright green eyes and stubborn determination and keen—
“Oof,” Caleb coughed as Akira elbowed him. “What was that for?”
“She said the park where they found her first victim had the same ritual set-up as the graves in the woods. She asked us what it’s for.”
If he could, Caleb would have blushed. It hadn’t occurred to him that the ritual might be something other than the standard Beltane fare.
“Why don’t you call those creepy crime scene witches?” Bella suggested.
Inwardly, Caleb cringed. The supernatural world was new to her; she didn’t mean the things she said. Still, it was like nails on a chalkboard whenever she made a thoughtless comment.
Akira scoffed, his pointed ears twitching with agitation. “Those creepy crime scene witches could peel open your skull and empty every thought in your head, so maybe, just maybe, try their title: Acolytes.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“We know,” Caleb said quickly, “Anything else you can think of that connects to your crime scene?”
“Eliza and Johnny both had werewolf tooth necklaces. That’s how I ended up tracking down Nina. We also found shoeprints: male, Spencer-Kims, which makes them pretty damn expensive. Deacon and I were hoping a local bubble blower dealer might help us track them down, but does that mean anything to you?”
“I’m not sure,” Caleb lied. He stood, dropping a few simoleons down on the table. “Let me walk you to your car, and we’ll talk about it later.”
Bella stopped when they got to her vehicle, nervously tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. “I didn’t mean to offend you. Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of me.”
“It’s fine,” Caleb assured her. “You’re adjusting to all of this. Just try to be thoughtful.” He paused, listening. “And avoid taking the highway; there’s a pile-up. I can hear the honking.”
She laughed. “You know, of all the things I thought vampires would be concerned about. Traffic was not one of them.”
Caleb smiled as she climbed into her car and drove away. He was still smiling when Akira came to stand next to him.
“I don’t like her,” he grumbled.
“You weren’t asked.”
“You’re not sure about her either. You didn’t say shit about us having an identical shoeprint belonging to a vampire.”
“The details of that are unconfirmed.”
Akira cocked an eyebrow.
“What? Only a werewolf could track a specific identity, and even then, they’d need to have smelled it before. My ego doesn’t need any false attribution; the most I can tell you is what kind of creature was in the area. Which reminds me, we have another problem.”
“More problem than you not trusting any werewolf for fear this might be one of your psychotic family members?” Akira held his hands in mock surrender when Caleb growled, “Don’t get all worked up. I’d do the same fucking thing.”
He would. Akira always made it clear that he believed the world operated in shades of gray. He had such a laissez-faire attitude towards supernatural law that Caleb often wondered why he did this job at all. “Johnny Zest smelled like a werewolf but he never turned, I could tell from his bone structure. He also smelled like a spellcaster, but the Landgraabs aren’t witches.”
The fae cracked his knuckles, “So, werewolf teeth, rituals, and a little family tree mystery. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Lilith and Matilda,” Caleb felt a wave of exhaustion wash over him. “One guess as to which one will be easier.”
The Omar Golf and Country Club
“You’re doing it wrong,” Anastasia called out, her golf club slung casually over her shoulder.
Penny focused on the ball, trying to ignore her. “Do you usually spend your first few dates pointing out all of your love interest’s flaws?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
With a resigned sigh, Penny switched sides, but she was not going to give Ana the satisfaction of begging for help. She intended to do a moderate swing, but something went wrong, and the ball sailed clean over the fence.
It had been Anastasia’s insane idea to go golfing. Penny only agreed because she wanted to know the second the vampire returned to her condo so she could figure out some sort of explanation…
Did she even need an explanation?
She thought she saw Jimena and another maid when she high-tailed out of the building, but to be honest, it was a blur. Maybe no one saw anything…
“I could show you,” the vampire offered, drawing Penny out of her thoughts.
The way she was holding that club should be illegal. It made Penny think irrational thoughts.
Ones she wasn’t even sure were sexy.
“Get thee back, devil.” Penny plucked another ball from the bucket and lined it up. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Ana palming her golf club. “Why are you hovering?” she snapped when she meant, “Who in the hell wears spiked heels on a golf course, and must you look so incredible in them?”
Turning her attention back to the ball, Penny found it absurdly hard not to hit the thing with all her might. She failed again, watching as it pinged off the side of a table and crashed through a window.
“Relax,” Ana slid her arms around Penny’s waist, “Let me teach you how to make a hole in one.”
Every part of Penny clenched deliciously, and her heart rate began to speed up. Predator, her adrenaline whispered, but llamas, how she craved that word.
“You just need to grip it gently,” Ana whispered, pressing a kiss to Penny’s shoulder.
“Then you hold it steady like you’re in control,” she angled their bodies towards the hole. “And swing.” Anastasia held tight, and they watched the golf ball sail directly into the hole. “Am I an excellent teacher, or what?”
“Y-yeah…” Penny stumbled back, light-headed, her whole body burning up.
Hold it in.
“Penny!” Ana’s voice sounded like it was coming from down a long tunnel.
I can hear you, Penny wanted to say. But what came out was, “Am I on fire?”