Beast raised her head and growled. I opened my eyes. I was sitting in a soft, oversized chair, trying to cure my headache with a cup of coffee. Dealing with intruders was the next to last thing on my want-to-do list this morning, the last thing being anything that involved werewolves.
My wounds had turned out to be shallow. The claws had barely grazed my ribs –it still hurt like there was no tomorrow –and once properly treated, most of it was on the mend. Unfortunately, dawn brought me the gift of a splitting headache, and a thousand milligrams of painkiller wasn’t even making a dent in it. I finally gave up on sleeping, crawled downstairs, made coffee, and settled down into the chair in the front seating area to drink my poison in peace.
My parents looked at me from the photograph on the wall. Yes, I went off the inn grounds and involved myself in some terrible mess. You would have too, in my position.
Beast barked, her gaze fixed on the screen door.
No peace for the wicked.
The magic splashed around me. Incoming. It could be a guest, although most guests would be more polite.
I leaned over to glance outside through the screen door. Sean Evans was marching across my yard, emitting menace. His face was grim and his eyes betrayed steely determination. All those hard muscles finally revealed their true purpose –they were propelling his big body toward me at an alarming speed and their strength guaranteed he’d mow down whatever was in his way. If I shut the door, he’d go right through it. That’s how the medieval knights must’ve looked when they assaulted a castle.
I looked at Beast. “Raise the drawbridge.”
The tiny dog gazed at me, puzzled.
“You’re a terrible gatekeeper.”
Sean pounded on the screen door’s frame. “I know you’re in there.”
“Should we let him in?” I asked Beast.
“I can hear you,” he snarled.
So he could. I sighed. “Okay. Come in. It’s unlocked.”
He yanked the door open and strode into the house. “Where is it?”
“Good morning to you too, sunshine.”
“I said where is it?”
“Not so loud. I have a headache.”
He leaned over, planting his hands on the arms of my chair. His amber eyes were all but glowing. Sean Evans was officially pissed off. Serves you right, furball.
“What did you do with it?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I drank my coffee.
“You went out and killed it last night and then you dragged it back here.”
I gave him my best innocent look. “Sir, I think you might be crazy.”
“You left a scent trail a mile long and I tracked it to this house. You took my kill and got hurt doing it.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I smelled your blood. What the hell possessed you to go out there? I said I was handling it.”
Oh, that was rich. “Handling what? I asked you to take care of it. You blew me off and decided to limit your involvement to poisoning my apples.”
“Poisoning? Really?” He actually sputtered.
I’d wanted him to handle it because I hadn’t wanted to break my neutrality and he was uniquely suited to killing things. But now that ship had sailed, and given his attitude, I was better off without his so-called help. I leaned forward so we were eye to eye. “It’s being handled. Your involvement isn’t necessary. You’re free to continue on your serial urination spree.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Sean! Go. Away.”
He locked his jaw. “I don’t know what the hell is going on here, but I’m not leaving until I get it sorted out.”
Of all the rude, arrogant morons… “Is that so?”
“Yes. You will show that thing to me and from now on, I will deal with them.”
I opened my eyes really wide and fluttered my eyelashes at him. “I’m sorry, I must’ve missed your coronation ceremony. Silly me.”
Ha! He remembered my name. I waved my fingers in the direction of the door. “Shoo. Leave, and don’t slam the door on your way out.”
He planted himself, arms crossed, muscles bulging. “Make me.”
He didn’t deserve a warning, but I gave him one anyway. “I’ve had about enough. I’m serious, Sean. Leave or there will be consequences.”
“Give me your best shot.”
Fine. “Your welcome is withdrawn.”
Magic smashed into Sean. He went airborne. The side door swung open just in time and he flew through it and into the orchard. The orchard was a safer bet. The bulk of the house shielded it from the passersby and traffic, which would hopefully let us avoid pain-in-the-butt questions.
I heard a solid thud, then got up, and looked out through the open door. Beast joined me.
Sean lay unmoving on the grass. Ouches.
I glanced at Beast. “I did warn him.”
Sean raised his head, shook it, and rolled to his feet. His face gained that feral, predatory look.
“Uh-oh. We better brace ourselves.” I sipped from my coffee cup.