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       Gods and Ends (Ordinary Magic Book 3), p.1

           Devon Monk
 
Gods and Ends (Ordinary Magic Book 3)


  Table of Contents

  Title page

  Gods and Ends

  Dedication

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Epilogue

  MORE ORDINARY MAGIC? YOU BET!

  Acknowledgment

  About the Author

  Books by Devon Monk

  Gods and Ends

  Ordinary Magic – Book Three

  Devon Monk

  Copyright © 2017 by Devon Monk

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-939853-059

  Paperback ISBN: 978-1-939853-06-6

  Published by: Odd House Press

  Art by: Lou Harper

  Copy editing and formatting by: Indigo Chick Designs

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.

  Keep your gods close and your monsters closer...

  Police Chief Delaney Reed thinks she knows all of Ordinary, Oregon’s secrets. Gods on vacation, lovelorn ghosts, friendly neighborhood monsters? Check.

  But some secrets run deeper than even she knows. To take down an ancient vampire hell-bent on revenge, she will have to make the hardest decision of her life: give up the book of dark magic that can destroy them all, or surrender her mortal soul.

  As she weighs her options, Delaney discovers she can no longer tell the difference between allies keeping secrets and enemies telling the truth. Questioning loyalties and running out of time, Delaney must choose sides before a kidnapping turns into murder, before rival crochet and knit gangs start a war, and before the full moon rises to signal the beginning of Ordinary’s end.

  Dedication

  To the dreamers and mischief makers. And to my family, who are often both.

  Chapter 1

  There was a vampire in my kitchen unpacking a box that had once contained Big-n-Tasty Bananas if the advertisement on the side was to be believed.

  It was an unexpected sight–the box, not the vampire. The vampire, I’d known all my life. Old Rossi was the leader, the prime of all the vampires who lived here in the sleepy little coastal town of Ordinary, Oregon.

  He was also an old friend of the family.

  But I had no idea what that box was all about.

  “Who let you in?” I didn’t cross the threshold to the kitchen. A small knot of fear settled in my stomach, stalling my feet. I hated that seeing a friend in my house set off new warning bells in me just because he was a vampire.

  It had only been a day since I’d been attacked by another of his kind, though comparing the ancient evil that was Lavius with Rossi was like comparing the plague to a field of poppies. Not that Rossi was harmless and sweet as flowers, but because I’d never seen an evil as horrific as his one-time brother-at-arms Lavius. Also because I wasn’t all that great at clever comparisons.

  Rossi turned to face me, a tea kettle in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. “Your door was open because you never lock it, Delaney Reed.”

  “Ryder let you in?” I guessed. Not a hard guess. Someone had been standing watch over me since I’d been attacked and bitten by Lavius yesterday, and I was pretty sure both my sisters, Jean and Myra, had only left me to either get some sleep, or deal with the actual job of policing that we all shared.

  “He’s going out for food. Pizza, I think he said.” Rossi hadn’t moved. He stood there as if he knew any sudden movement would startle me, the little teal teapot in one hand, the little wooden box in the other, waiting.

  He could probably sense my fear.

  I hated being afraid of him. Because I wasn’t. Never had been. He was not Lavius. He would never hurt me. I took a deep breath and tried to get my wobbly emotions under control.

  “Uh…what are you wearing?” I asked.

  One eyebrow arched in faint amusement. “An apron.”

  “It has lace.”

  “Yes?”

  “It’s sort of a pineapple yellow.”

  “Pale daffodil,” he corrected.

  “And very fluffy. Is that chiffon? Tule?”

  He sighed.

  “I didn’t know you went for that kind of thing, Rossi. It’s like I’m suddenly seeing a side to you I wished I’d known to exploit.”

  “I look amazing in pale yellow. You aren’t making judgements on assumptive stereotypes, are you?”

  I grinned. “I think it’s cute you have a lacy apron. Aww…there are little butterflies on the pocket. The more I look at it, the more I think it suits you. You should really wear it more. Maybe when you’re teaching your yoga classes, or when you’re busting heads at vamp meetings.”

  He gave me a long, tolerant look. “Are you done?”

  I shrugged. And yes, this felt good, felt normal between us. Well, not that he was in my kitchen wearing a frilly apron, but that he was there and I was teasing him and we were okay.

  “Where did you get it?”

  “Maybe I bought it.”

  No way. “Who gave it to you?”

  “A woman I knew, years ago.” He turned back around and continued placing things on my countertop: cups, several tins, spoons, a delicate pot that might hold sugar, tiny silver tongs, and a little pitcher. “She had a wicked sense of humor and liked to make me uncomfortable at public events, like charity tea parties.”

  “Bertie?” Bertie was our resident Valkyrie and had a thing for organizing every community and charity event in town. I was sensing a story here, so I walked into the kitchen. Just like that, everything in me settled and I was here, home, where I was safe and warm and cared for by my friends and family.

  “No. Nicole. Your mother.”

  Just hearing her name again after all these years gave it sort of a charged quality. As if the echo of it, said so many times here in the house where I’d grown up, suddenly hummed out from the walls like a struck chime.

  “I don’t remember charity tea parties.”

  He made a small hmm sound. “It was before you were born. Bertie was behind the organization of the event, but your mother took care of supplying the waitstaff, which I volunteered to be a part of, and the uniforms we would all wear.” He plucked at the hem of the apron as if it were proof of the event.

  “She had originally told me it would be black slacks and shirts with plain black bibbed aprons, which I told her was boring. Then when she found out I was going to be hers to boss around for a few hours, suddenly there was chiffon and lace and lemon yellow puffiness everywhere.”

  He smiled, a tiny flash of fang. “Since then, it just seems like the thing to wear when serving tea.”

  Which brought me to my next question.

  “Why are you serving me tea? I thought we were getting together to talk about how to track down Lavius and save Ben, not to reminisce over oolong.”

  “For one thing, you don’t like oolong,” he said.

  It wa
s weird and nice that he knew that. He didn’t stop with his preparation, his movements practiced and graceful as if he had unpacked tea parties from banana boxes on a regular basis.

  “For another thing, we are going to talk about our plans at the meeting later today. And for the last thing…” He paused, turned to me. His glacial blue eyes warmed, carrying the pain, the apology, the deep patience that only hundreds of years could create. But there was more in his gaze. Something that looked like affection. “I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I care for you, Delaney. I’ve never had a child. A granddaughter.” He stopped, swallowed. It didn’t look like he knew how to go forward from there.

  I nodded, unexpected tears prickling at the corners of my eyes. I heard him. Heard his caring, his kindness, and so much fondness for me and my family and my mixed-up life spent policing this town filled with gods and creatures and mortals and monsters, that it almost seemed like love.

  No, it was exactly that: love.

  “Great, great, great granddaughter, at least,” I said with a sort of croaky whisper.

  He shook his head. “Well, yes. At least. So.” He waved a hand toward the living room behind me. “Sit down and let me pour you some tea.”

  I smiled as he went back to his ritual, filling the pot with water, and doing something with the cups and saucers. Then I left the kitchen and curled up on the couch with the afghan my sister Myra had made for me. I waited for my tea.

  I fell asleep instead.

  ~~~

  “Who’s watching the shop?” I asked.

  “Roy. Ryder,” Jean, my youngest sister, said while she pretended to pay really close attention to driving. We were winding down Jetty, the street that paralleled the Pacific Ocean and gave us glimpses of the stunningly blue water and sky. “And we all have our radios. If there’s police work that need to be done, we’ll get it done.”

  “I don’t have a radio,” I complained.

  She smiled sunnily. “No, you don’t, do you? And do you know why?”

  I mumbled under my breath.

  “Say it louder for the class, Delaney.”

  “Because I got bit by a vampire. How many times do I have to say I’m sorry about that?”

  “You don’t have to say you’re sorry. It wasn’t your fault. But you do have to let your stunningly gorgeous little sister get you out of the house for some sunlight and fresh air. You also have to tell your stunningly gorgeous little sister thank you. And pay for her lunch.”

  “And I’m doing this because…?”

  “Because you want ice cream?”

  Thor had finally given up on his rain-a-thon protest. It was warming up to the mid-seventies today, and was supposed to be ten degrees hotter tomorrow. Summer that had skipped the little beach town of Ordinary, Oregon was back on, full throttle.

  Months and months of rain evaporated in rising columns of steam off the roads, roofs, and sidewalks, making the still air thick and sticky.

  “I don’t want ice cream.”

  “You only ate half of your lunch. You need ice cream, stat.”

  By the time Ryder had arrived with pizza, I hadn’t had much of an appetite. The unproductive conversation we’d skirted around of how we might find Ben and what we might use to fight Lavius had ended any remaining desire for lunch.

  We were running out of time, Ben was running out of time. We needed a plan.

  “Taking me out for fresh air is really some kind of secret pact between you and Myra to babysit me, isn’t it?”

  “Wow,” she said. “It’s like you’re a cop or something. Nice work, detective. You caught us. Your reward for breaking the case wide open is chocolate sprinkles and a waffle cone.”

  I grinned despite myself. She was a pain in the neck, but I knew she loved me. “I am your boss, Jean. I can take care of myself. Without ice cream.”

  “Weird. That didn’t sound like ‘thank-you, Jean, my stunningly gorgeous sister’.”

  “Listen to your bossy old sister, Jean. Take me home.”

  “No way. I want caramel corn.”

  “What happened to ice cream?”

  “I changed my mind. Want something crunchy now because someone was harshing all over my ice cream buzz.”

  “I just want to go home.”

  “So you can pout in the dark? Nope.”

  “I don’t pout.”

  She laughed. “Right. Hey, when we get the caramel corn, I’ll let you ring the lucky bell.”

  She sure was set on keeping me away from my house.“Why aren’t you taking me home, Jean?”

  “How about some music?” She pressed a few buttons and classic rock spilled out of her truck’s speakers.

  I turned the volume down. “That’s not suspicious at all. What’s really going on? What aren’t you telling me?”

  She turned the volume back up, but not as loud as before. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

  “Nice dodge.”

  “Not a dodge. There’s a lot going on, Delaney. Which thing are you talking about?”

  “Whichever thing you’re not telling me about.” Okay, this was getting a little ridiculous. Maybe it was time for some leading questions. “Are you and Hogan okay?”

  “Stop it.”

  “What?”

  “Worrying.” Jean’s blue eyes seemed darker with the new hair color. She’d gone for white with pale orange tips this week. It was gorgeous and a little wild, just like her.

  “Why can’t I be home in my pajamas?”

  “We agreed you needed fresh air.”

  “You agreed I needed fresh air, then bullied me into the truck before I even got a shower.”

  She flashed a gleeful smile. “The sun is shining, you big grouch. Enjoy it.”

  It was an order. Still, it made me smile. “I know you’re up to something.”

  She laughed. “Always.” Then she cranked up the radio so any chance at conversation was drown out by her clapping loudly about how “so fine” Mickey was.

  Dork.

  The ocean appeared and disappeared between scrubby pines as we followed the highway that was tacked along the edge of the world like some kind of unspooled ribbon.

  I fought her for the radio control once, because I hated that song about the world ending with an earthquake, no matter how fine the singer felt fine about himself. She, having fast reflexes, won, and sang every word while she leaned toward me, which was super annoying.

  Finally, she parked facing the sidewalk and a short, uneven stone wall. Beyond that were the craggy rocks of the jetty and the endless stretch of ocean. Waves shrugged up onto the rocks, sending white spray to hang in the non-existent wind. No fishing boats were coming in or out of the jetty, and the foot traffic was maybe half a dozen locals getting late afternoon coffee.

  “Let’s pop this shop.” Jean was out of the truck and waiting for me on the sidewalk.

  I got out and fell into step next to her, angling for the crosswalk. “I’m okay,” I said as we waited for the signal. “I don’t need you to cheer me up.”

  “Who said I’m trying to cheer you up? I’m in it for the free popcorn.” She punched at the crosswalk button even though she knew it didn’t really do anything.

  “So there’s really nothing wrong with you and Hogan?”

  It wasn’t the sunshine that put that blush on the top of her cheek bones. “No. We’re…it’s fine. And we are so not talking about him.”

  “Do I need to put on my uniform and threaten to tase him? Did he hurt you?”

  I didn’t know her eyes could get any wider. “You are not allowed to tase my boyfriends ever again.”

  “It was the one time. And it wasn’t even a real TASER.”

  “He didn’t know that.”

  I smiled. “I know.”

  She smacked my shoulder and I giggled.

  “Still haven’t heard that thank you for putting up with you today,” she reminded me.

  “Talk about your boyfriend and maybe you’ll hear it. Wa
it.” Something else occurred to me. “Did he propose to you?”

  “No!”

  “Did you propose to him?”

  “Why would you even…no. It hasn’t been…long enough.” She pulled her fingers back through her hair, sending white and orange to swish and swirl like vanilla orange ice cream.

  “You always get twitchy and bail before things get too serious. So is that it? Is it getting serious?” I waited. Put on the big sister eyes. The ones that made her think I could see what she was hiding from me.

  Finally, she caved. “I didn’t, haven’t bailed. It’s more the…opposite. I wanted to tell him. About. Everything.”

  Everything meant the supernatural creatures who lived in Ordinary and the gods who vacationed here. About our jobs as Reeds to keep the peace and see that mortal law and much, much older laws were observed.

  It wasn’t something a lot of mortals knew about. It was best kept that way.

  Hogan had moved here when he was in middle school and his mom had decided to travel. He’d come back after finishing up his degree in business and opened the Puffin Muffin bakery.

  His business was thriving, and apparently, so was their relationship.

  “Telling him Ordinary’s secrets is your call, Jean.” I said. “If he’s important to you, we’ll support you no matter how it goes down.”

  “I know.” That, with absolutely no conviction.

  Was she that worried about his reaction? “Do you want Myra and me there with you?”

  She bit her lip then lifted her chin like she wasn’t bothered by any of this. Liar.

  “I think, maybe I won’t.”

  “Won’t tell him about the gods?”

  “About anything. Gods. Creatures. The whole thing. Just. Nothing.”

  “Why are you changing your mind?”

  “I don’t think it’s a good time. I only wanted to tell him because I hate keeping secrets.”

  This was true. She was terrible with birthday gifts and surprise parties. If it meant keeping her mouth shut and her excitement locked away, she could only handle it for short periods of time.

  “You like him. You want to keep him in your life.” I made a rolling motion with my hand, trying to get a response out of her. She finally nodded. “You want to tell him all about your life, which includes…well, everything. I don’t see the problem. You should tell him.”

 
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