For those of you who have read Darkness Haunts and are patiently waiting for the next book in the series, I have a short story that takes place approximately six weeks after the first novel. It will give you a brief glimpse into how things are going for Melena and hopefully make you even more ready for when Darkness Taunts releases. I wrote this last summer, but haven’t released it for anyone to read until now. Enjoy!
I wanted to ignore the mewling sounds coming from a box beside the dumpster, but mama had been hit by an idiot driver moments before. The helpless cries pulled at me. October in Fairbanks, Alaska would not be kind to these little ones.
“Damn.” This was the last thing I needed.
I took a step closer, but caution kept me from going further. A sweep of the parking lot revealed nothing but a pair of stumbling drunks from the nearby bar I’d left. I couldn’t go back in there and ask my former date for help. He wouldn’t be too obliging after the drink I’d thrown in his face. My only regret was that the glass had been half-empty.
My attention returned to the box. Those felines were going to turn me into a bloated vegetable. Cats and I did not go well together, but I also knew what being an orphan felt like. Maybe someone else could take them in for the night. Felisha might be willing. I couldn’t trust them with the vampires or werewolves. God knows what they might do with them.
I crept closer.
The wind whipped up my hair to sting my face and blur my vision. I’d left it down and gave it a loose curl to look nice for my date. Too bad that hadn’t worked out. Human men were as difficult to understand as their supernatural counterparts—not that I’d ever consider being with a sup. My kind and theirs didn’t mix well together.
I burrowed into my wool coat and cursed the Alaska climate for the thousandth time since coming here a couple of months ago. My last escape attempt hadn’t gone so well, damn Lucas and his ability to track me, but there was always next time. They couldn’t keep me in this town forever.
The tiny chorus of meows echoed out even louder than before.
It was impossible to resist the call, even for me. I reached the box and found crumpled papers and napkins littering the inside. Small bodies were wriggling through it. I wrinkled my nose at the pungent odor coming from all around. It was too dark to make out their coloring, but a flash of white caught my attention. At least mama had cleaned them up before meeting her demise.
My breath stilled as I reached out. The kitten fit in the palm of my hand. A place in my heart I’d thought long dead warmed as it snuggled close to my chest. The decision of whether it lived or died was up to me. I’d seen far too much death.
Two more warm bodies came out to join the first. My eyes watered. I had to grasp them tight when a series of sneezes shook me. All three of them had taken an unhealthy liking to my neck.
They protested when I put them back in the box. No matter how cute they were, I couldn’t take responsibility for them. The little guys didn’t understand the effect they had on my allergies.
I pulled my phone out.
“Melena?” Felisha never got a call from me this late.
“Yeah, it’s me. I need a favor.” I didn’t give her the full details. My sneezing and wheezing were enough to send her on her way once she had the directions.
She pulled into the parking lot ten minutes later. A few patrons came out of the bar at the same time. They shouted suggestive comments at her as she passed, but she didn’t bother to glance their way. The red-headed woman could have passed for a model. Instead she chose to run a local herb shop and cater to the local supernatural population. She’d been trying to get me to work for her, but I hadn’t decided yet. The idea of working for a sup—even a nice one—galled me.
I stood up as she approached.
“Oh, Melena.” Sympathy filled her eyes. “Look at your face.”
I scratched my swollen nose. “It’ll pass.”
At least the drunks wouldn’t be bothering me—probably.
She knelt down and inspected the contents of the box. The kittens crawled eagerly into her hands. I took a couple of steps back and pretended not to be envious at how easy she held them. Cats were not my thing, but these were kind of cute.
“Can you take them?” I asked.
She sighed. “I’ve already got two at the house.”
“I know. That’s why I never visit.”
“There is a way around that.”
I shook my head. “I’m not drinking vampire blood.”
“You did before.”
“Dying will make you do strange things. Will you take them or not?”
Felisha rubbed her face into their fur. Of course, she didn’t sneeze. “I’ll take them on one condition.”
I crossed my arms. “What’s that?”
“You’ll come visit them once a month.”
“I can’t.” Nope. No way would I go near them again.
She started to put them back in the box.
“You wouldn’t.” She was too kind for that.
“In this case, I would. You have to stop hiding from the things you fear.” Damn, she would. My senses told me she spoke the truth and they were never wrong.
“That’s ridiculous. I don’t fear kittens.”
“But you fear the cure that would allow you to be near them.”
Tiny stars lit up the sky. I wished I could be up there with them right now.
“Fine, I’ll visit once a month—for a few minutes, but that’s it.” I could suffer for that long without drinking vamp blood as a temporary fix. She wouldn’t win this battle entirely.
A smile spread across her face. Her green eyes might have twinkled as well. With fairies anything was possible.
“Good,” she said. “Don’t back out of it either or I’ll bring them to your house.”
I shuddered. Cat fur in my home would be a disaster. I’d fought hard to have my own place—even if it was only a five-minute walk from Nik’s home, the master vampire of Fairbanks. Orphaned kittens were not going to mess that up for me.
“I won’t back out,” I said.
“Then it’s settled.” She took the box in her arms. “We’ll make an animal lover out of you yet.”