February 2020 Newsletter
MY KIND OF TOWN
“There’s blood everywhere.”
Kyle Treharne leaned into the passenger side of the overturned car, the driver’s side so badly damaged no one could get through the crumpled metal to extract themselves. Not even the female whose fear he could smell. Her fear and panic…and something else. Something he couldn’t quite name.
“Do you see anybody?” his boss asked. Kyle re-adjusted the earplug to hear the man better. The Sheriff’s voice was so low, it was often hard to make out exactly what he’d said.
“Nope. I don’t see anyone. No bodies, but…” He sniffed the air and looked down. “Blood trail.”
“Follow it. Let me know what you find. I’ll send out the EMS guys.”
“You got it.” Kyle disconnected and followed the trail of blood heading straight toward the beach. He moved fast, worried the woman might be bleeding to death, but also concerned this human female would see something he’d never be able to explain.
Kyle pushed through the trees until he hit the beach. As he’d hoped, none of the town’s people or resort visitors were hanging around, the beach thankfully deserted in the middle of this hot August day. He followed the blood cutting in a small arc across the sand, the trail leading back into the woods about twenty feet from where he’d entered.
He’d barely gone five feet when a bright flash of light and the missing woman’s scent hit him hard, seconds before she hit him hard. He should have been faster. Normally, he would be. That scent of hers, though, threw him completely off balance and he couldn’t snap out of it quick enough to avoid the woman slamming right into him.
Her body hit his so hard that if he were completely human, she might have killed him.
But Kyle wasn’t human. He’d been born different like nearly everyone else in his small town. They may not all be the same breed, but they were all the same kind.
Still, his less than human nature didn’t mean he didn’t experience pain. Like at the moment, he felt lots and lots of pain as he landed flat on his back, the woman on top of him.
Yet the pain faded away when the woman moved, her small body brushing against him. She moaned and Kyle reached around to gently grip her shoulders.
“Hey, darlin’. You all right?”
She didn’t answer. Instead, she slapped her hand over his face, squashing his nose. Putting all her weight on that hand, she pushed herself up.
Between her fingers, he could see the confusion in her eyes as she looked around. Blood from a deep gash on her forehead matted her dark brown hair and covered part of her face. Bloodshot, brown eyes searched the area. For what, Kyle had no idea. A cut slashed across her top lip and although it no longer bled, it had started to turn the area around it black and blue.
Damn, little girl is cute.
“Uh…” He tapped her arm. “Could you move your hand, sweetheart?” And the question came out like he had the worst cold in the universe. “I can’t really breathe.”
She didn’t even look at him, instead staring off into the forest. “Dammit. It’s gone.” Putting more pressure on his poor nose, the woman levered herself up and off him. “Damn. Damn. Damn.” She stumbled toward the forest and Kyle quickly got to his feet. “This isn’t my fault. It’s not.” Poor thing, completely delirious from all that blood loss and muttering to herself like a mental patient.
Then she stopped walking. Abruptly. Almost as if she’d walked into a wall. “Damn,” she said again.
Knowing he had to get her to the hospital before she died on him, Kyle put his hand on her shoulder, gently turning her so she could see him. “It’s all right, darlin’. Let’s get you out of here, okay?” He slipped one arm behind her back and the other under her knees, scooping her up in his arms.
Hhhm. She feels nice there.
Kyle smiled down at her and, for a moment, she looked at him in complete confusion.
Then the crazy woman started swinging and kicking, trying to get out of his arms. Although she had no skills—she did little more than flail wildly—he couldn’t believe her strength with all the blood she’d lost, but he quickly realized someone else had caught on to her scent, too, and was heading right for them.
Kyle gripped the fighting woman around the waist, dragging her back against him with one arm. Ignoring how much her tiny fists and feet were starting to hurt, he turned his body so she faced in the opposite direction and with his free hand, swung up and back, slamming the back of his fist into the muzzle of the black striped and orange Yankee bastard hellbent on getting his tiger paws on the woman in Kyle’s arms. Tiger males only had to get a whiff of a female and they were on them like white on rice. The fact this one was full human and an outsider didn’t seem to matter to some idiots.
A surprised yelp and the Yankee cat flipped back into the woods. Kyle rolled his eyes. He loved his town but, Lord knew, he didn’t like the Yankees who often came to call. All of them rude, pretentious, and damn annoying.
Kyle walked off with the woman still trapped in his arm until she started slapping at him.
“Hands off! Hands off! Let me go!” After all that blood loss, she seemed completely lucid and quite insane.
Even worse…he’d recognize that accent anywhere. A Yankee. A damn Yankee.
Kyle dropped her on her cute butt and she slammed hard into the sand.
After a moment of stunned silence, she suddenly glared up at him with those big brown eyes…and just like that, Kyle Treharne knew he was in the biggest trouble of his life.
No, no. That was not a normal-sized human being. Not by a long shot. Her Coven had warned her, “They grow ‘em big in the south, sweetie,” but she had no idea they grew this big.
Nor this gorgeous. She’d never seen hair that black before. Not brown. Black. But when the sunlight hit it in the right way, she could see other colors under the black. Light shades of red and yellow and brown. Then there were his eyes. Light, light gold eyes flickered over her face, taking in every detail. His nose, blunt at the tip; his lips full and quite lickable.
“You gonna calm down now, darlin’? Or should I drop you on that pretty ass again?”
Emma Luchessi—worshipper of the Dark Mothers, power elemental of the Coven of the Darkest Night, ninth-level Master of the dream realm, and Long Island accountant for the law offices of Bruce, MacArthur, and Markowitz—didn’t know what to say to that. What to say to him. Mostly because she couldn’t stop staring at the man standing over her.
Routine. This should have been routine. A simple search for a power source, necessary so they didn’t have to worry about blood sacrifices. Their last two power sources had dried up fast. Faster than usual, so they’d gone searching outside of their hometown. They simply didn’t mean to go this outside their hometown. And somehow the Coven had opened a doorway they now had to scramble to close. Leaving dimensional doors open for too long led to all sorts of problems.
Using a few location spells and some powerful runes the Coven possessed, Emma located the spot somewhere on the coast in the Carolinas. Normally, Emma’s role simply involved her finding out the where and someone else in the Coven would solve the problem.
Like at her day job, Emma handled the minutiae. The details. The little things. While someone else handled the more dramatic or interesting things. And this time would have been no different if it hadn’t been for one little problem…
“North Carolina? In the South? Oh. Um. Well, you know, I really shouldn’t take anymore time off of work.” If she’d said London or Paris or even San Francisco or Chicago, there would have been a full-on screaming match about who should go or not go. Even her High Priestess, Jamie Meacham, would have had to at least gone toe to toe with her cousin, Mackenzie Mathews.
So, in the end, Emma ended up trapped on this little excursion because no one else wanted to head on down south to take care of such a minor situation.
Of course, Emma still wasn’t quite clear how her “minor situation” went into full-blown catastrophe in seconds. One moment she was typically lost, unable to find the town called Smithville anywhere on any of her AAA maps although a giant “welcome” billboard told her that was exactly where she was. Then, like a stray dog, it came out of nowhere, stepping right in front of her beige rental car. She could have stopped in time but, unlike a stray dog, it charged her. Head on. Slamming into the hood of her car and crumpling it around her. Trapping her. And killing her if she hadn’t moved quickly. As the metal buckled and screamed around her, she called to her sisters. Called to them and took their power. Yanking it clean and surrounding herself with it. Letting the power of the Dark Mothers flow through her.
She woke up outside the crumpled remains of her rental car with no idea how she got there, laying in a pool of her own blood. Yet she could feel her strength returning. Feel the protective power of her Coven healing open wounds and revitalizing dying blood.
Her body still needed to heal completely, though, because while the doorway had been closed—sending her careening into this gigantic malcontent—the thing that had tried to kill her still ran loose. She had to get to that thing before it killed someone. She didn’t know if her Coven unleashed it when they opened that doorway, but she sure as hell couldn’t leave it to go wandering around some dinky little Southern town like in some horror movie.
Swallowing hard, Emma forced words out of her throat. “I need to go.” It was the most she could manage at the moment as her insides repaired themselves.
“Yup. You sure do.” He crouched in front of her and she silently sighed in relief when she finally saw the Smithville County Sheriff’s Department badge logo on his T-shirt. Originally all she saw was a beautiful man in black jeans, black boots, and a perfectly fitted black T-shirt. Black in the middle of August didn’t make sense to her but he did look good.
One of his big hands reached out and she immediately reared back. He blinked in surprise and said, “Don’t worry, darlin’. No one’s gonna hurt you. I just need to look at your head. And then we need to get you to the hospital.”
“No,” she forced out, sounding way tougher than she felt. “No hospital.”
He grinned and she felt her skin tingle.
“I love how you think you’ve got some say here, darlin’.”
Big strong hands that could probably ring her chicken neck, gently lifted her hair off her face. She frowned, deeply. Not because he touched her but because he might notice exactly how quickly the cut on her head was healing. Hell of a lot faster than it should.
She slapped at his hand. “Stop touching me!”
He sighed and she wasn’t sure why he sounded so exasperated. Weren’t cops trained to deal with difficult victims? Jamie and Mac had been. A cop and a firefighter, respectively, the two of them could handle most situations Emma and the rest of the Coven would run screaming from. “Are you going to keep being this difficult?”
“Yes,” she said simply.
“Fine then.” Without another word, he put his arms around her, lifting her up as he stood.
“Wha…what are you doing?”
“Taking you to my truck so I can get you to the hospital. I don’t want to wait anymore for EMS. And stop wiggling, woman.” She didn’t, but he pulled her closer into his body. “What did I just say?”
She glared at him, unable to say another word.
“Oh, good. You can follow orders.”
Son of a—
“And don’t curse at me in your head.” Freakishly light gold eyes stared down into her face. She’d never seen eyes that color before in her life. “Cause I know you are.”
She rolled her eyes and he raised one coal-black eyebrow. After nearly a minute of mutual silent staring, he nodded and walked on and Emma sulked.
Sulked because she was simply too weak to fight anymore. Between the blood loss and what she’d already done to close the door, she could barely keep her eyes open. In fact, maybe a little nap would—
“Oh, no you don’t. I need you awake, darlin’.”
Sighing, she forced her eyes open. “Stop calling me darling.”
He chuckled and pulled her tighter into his wonderfully warm body. “Fine then. I’ll call you exactly what you are…”
Emma waited for it. If she were home she knew exactly what he’d call her. What she’d been called before when she ignored a strange drunk guy on the street or when she didn’t step off the gas fast enough at a changing light. But the next word out of his mouth had her stiffening in his arms.
And what bothered her most was how disgusted he sounded.