Dead and Loving It (Page 18)

“She’s one of a kind.”

“No s**t. But she’s a little—uh—that is to say—you think she’s in it for the long haul?”

Crescent shrieked with joy as Richard bounced her on the balls of her feet

and she shot into the air again.

“I have no idea,” he said.

“It’s just—you know, I didn’t really know what I was missing until Dick

kidnapped me—”

.

“What?”

“Long story. Anyway, you’re a pretty good guy. I mean, I always liked you.

It’d be nice if you could finally settle down.”

“Why, Janet, I never dreamed this tender side of you existed.”

“Shut the f**k up.”

“And it’s kind of you not to mention my grossly debilitating handicap.”

“What? Oh, that. I’m not being nice. I just keep forgetting. I mean, you don’t

act like a blind guy.”

“How exactly does a blind guy act?”

..

“How the hell should I know? So anyway, back to Blondie. You just, like,

saw her and knew? Well, I know you didn’t see her…”

“Actually,” he said suddenly, “I did. See her, I mean. I can.”

“For real? Not just make a picture from how she smells?”

“For real. I can see her perfectly. But only her. Everything else is the same. For example, I know your height and weight from your voice, and how you sound when you walk, but I don’t know what color your eyes are. Hers are beautiful,” he added dreamily.

“Wow. That’s the weirdest s**t I ever heard. And I live with a vampire.” Janet rested her chin on her knees for a moment. “I don’t know dick about fairies. Except I remember this story from when I was a kid—you remember Sarah Storyteller? Michael’s grandma?”

“Sure. She used to read to all of us on the grounds, under those trees by the pond.”

“Right. Well, there was this one story—about fairies? They were little and invisible. They’d only appear if you caught them. And if you caught them, they’d grant wishes. So maybe Crescent appeared to you. You know, maybe that’s why you can see her.”

“Or maybe,” he said slowly, “she granted my wish.”

“You wished you could see? Not that I could blame you, you poor handicapped freak of—”

“Oh, quit that. No, I never really minded not seeing, but I always wondered what my mate’s face would look like. What her hair would look like, the color of her eyes…like that.”

“Hum. Well. You can see her. Only her. So…maybe she is in it for the long haul.”

“There’s that tender side again. My, Richard has been quite the good

influence.”

“Oh, shut up. So, what are you going to do?”

He sighed and shifted his weight. “Hope she flies back to me, I suppose.”

“Lame.”

“Mature.”

“I kicked your a*s all over Faneuil Hall, you know.”

“Then my girl kicked your a*s.”

“Oh, shut up.”

Janet and Richard left, but Crescent refused. He’d tried to explain why she should go, but she wasn’t having it. “What, is this that dumb ‘if-you-love-something-let-it-go-if-it-comes-back-blah-blah-blah’ thing? Because that sucks. You said I could stay as long as I wanted, you welsher.”

He tried to disguise his joy. “Crescent, there’s something you should know— ”

“Later. God, I’m starving. Listen, I’m going to run up ahead and see if those guys are serving breakfast yet.”

“It’s four o’clock in the morning.”

“I know, that’s why I want to check. Be right back.”

He shook his head as she hurried away, then realized they were quite close to the shelter where she’d been living. Foolish to be concerned—she was a tough one to hurt, after all—but he decided to catch up with her anyway.

That was the last rational thought he had for a while. Stupid, really—the punk shaking Crescent like a maraca looked far worse for the wear. An obvious beta type—he needed to be led. And, in abandonment, couldn’t take care of himself. He certainly wasn’t worth getting worked up over. He supposed Nick and what’s-her-name had gone on to greener pastures…or easier marks.

“Jimmy, you idiot,” Crescent was saying, prying his fingers off her arm, “will you give it up? Grabbing me is not going to fix your life. Now buzz off.”

“It’s all your fault,” Jimmy was insisting. “Nick and Maria took off because of you.”

“My a*s! They took off because you can’t walk ten feet down here anymore without tripping over a cop. Too bad they didn’t bring you with, huh, Jimbo?”

Jimmy’s eyes flashed murky murder and Drake moved quickly, spinning him away from Crescent. “Just once I’d like to take a walk with you without your being assaulted,” he muttered, carefully examining her arm.

“What can I say, I’ve got a dark past. He’s harmless. Let’s go eat.”

He ignored her. Then he whirled and grabbed Jimmy by the throat, lifting him in the air as easily as a mother picked up her toddler.

“Did you really,” he began. He was so angry it was hard to talk. He wanted to growl and bite. “Did you really think you could put your hands on my mate and live to see the sun come up?”

“Whoa!” Crescent said, tugging on his arm. Before them, the punk squeaked and kicked, his face turning an interesting shade of purple. “Let go, Drake. He’s just an a*****e.”

He was shaking the man—really just an overgrown boy, but surely old enough to know better—like a dog shakes a rag doll. “Did you really?” he said

again. “Did you?”

“Drake! You are freaking me out, dude!”

You’re a doctor.

She’ll have bruises. He actually marked her—marked her with his filthy

hands!

But you’re a doctor. “Drake, will you put him down already? He’s passed out, for Christ’s sake. And I really don’t want to finish the day at the Cop Shop.” He growled, then flung the man away. They both watched the unconscious tough sail through the air and then hit the street like a sack of sand. Jimmy groaned, but didn’t regain consciousness. “Jeez, overprotective much?” But she was smiling. “Remind me to never tell

you about my years on the streets.” “You will tell me.” “Later. When that vein in your forehead isn’t throbbing. Yuck, by the way.” “He touched you. He should never have done that.” “Yes, and I think he gets that now! Your mate?” she added, teasing. “Is that

what I am?” He put his arms around her. “Yes. That’s what you are.” “Well, all right. Let’s go eat.” “If I have to look at another pancake, I may well vomit.” “Dude, it’s fine. I’ll get waffles,” she added with a wicked grin, and stretched

up, and kissed him. “I have to tell you something. No waffles. I’ve put this off long enough—” “What, no waffles, like, ever?” “Crescent…this may be hard to believe…” She kissed him again. “Your intolerance of starchy foods?” “Be serious. I’m talking about—” “The fact that you can see me?” He blinked. “Well…yes. You’re not surprised.” “Of course not.” She smiled at him and he swore he could almost see her

glowing. “I granted your wish. Apparently it’s what we do.” “News to me! What exactly did I wish for? To have you in my life, or to see

you?” “I don’t know, but it’s kind of nice that you got it all in one package, isn’t it?” He supposed it was.

THE END

A Fiend in Need

Author’s Note

The events of this story take place in February of 2006, following the events of Undead and Unreturnable.

Also, I have changed Chicago’s Chinatown to suit my needs. It’s a wonderful city, but I just couldn’t leave it alone. That’s a failing in me, not the city of Chicago.

I did the same thing, again, with Summit Avenue in St. Paul. A lovely city. Just couldn’t leave it be. Sorry. “We shall find no fiend in hell can match the fury of a disappointed woman.”

—Colley Cibber, Love’s Last Shift, Act 2

“Like a fiend in a cloud

With howling woe, After night I do crowd, And with night will go.“

—William Blake, from Poetical Sketches

“Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.”

—Billie Holiday

Prologue

Bev Jones took a deep breath and stepped out onto the roof. She’d snuck to Chicago’s Chinatown on her lunch break because she wanted to die with the smell of fresh potstickers in her nose.

She walked slowly to the edge of the roof and peeked over. The winter wind ruffled her short, dark hair, but for a miracle, it was almost a nice day—nice for Chicago, anyway.

It was a typically busy Friday afternoon… the Friday before Valentine’s Day, in fact. And if she had to spend one more Valentine’s Day alone—or worse, with only the company of her psychiatrist—she would kill herself.

People said that a lot, but Bev never said anything she didn’t mean. And so here she was.

She put her hands flat on the ledge and got ready to boost herself up. Given that she was wearing snow pants and a down-stuffed parka, it might take a while—say, her entire lunch break. Ah, well. If nothing else, she was mildly curious to find out if there was an afterlife. Would there be potstickers and noodle nests in the afterlife? She didn’t—

“Bev! Hey! Wait up!”

She started—the last thing she’d expected on a rooftop was to hear someone calling her name—and turned around. And instantly assumed she’d gone crazy: there was a woman running toward her, a woman who—whoop!—just jumped over the Chinese arch separating the two buildings. And now—was she?—she was! She was hurrying right over to Bev.

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