Chasing daybreak, p.12
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       Chasing Daybreak, p.12

           Ranae Glass
 

  ~Mercy

  I frowned. Shane took the card from me and laughed. I took the box, touching it with only the tips of my fingers.

  “It’s not a grenade, Isabel. Just open it.”

  Pushing the stack of papers aside, I set it on the desk and tugged the bow, mumbling, “It could be a grenade. Or a severed head or something.”

  The box practically fell open, revealing layers of crisp, honey-gold satin. With a gasp, I pulled the dress out and stood to hold it to my body. The bodice came down to an empire waist tied with a delicate crème-colored ribbon above a full skirt. The sleeves were small puffs designed to fall almost off the shoulder and covered in sheer lace that matched the ribbon.

  I ran my hand along the smooth gown. I hated Mercy with a burning passion, but I had to admit, she had great taste in dresses.

  “It’s amazing,” was all I could say. And it was the God’s honest truth.

  “You’ll look beautiful,” Shane whispered.

  Looking at his face, I was transported back to the day we picked out my wedding dress. I knew it was bad luck for him to see it before the wedding, but I’d never believed in superstitions.

  Maybe I should have.

  Then I remembered that the whole point of the stupid ball was to make Shane more a part of their family, and less a part of mine. I stuffed the dress hastily back into the box and tossed it aside.

  “Whatever. Listen, I’ve been thinking. All the local vamps will be at this party, right?” He nodded, frowning. “Well, so the vamp from the car might be in the mix. I think we should take the opportunity to sniff around a bit.”

  He snorted. “Oh, that’s punny.”

  I picked up the phone and hit number one on the speed dial.

  A female voice with a thick Asian accent crackled through the receiver, “House of Noodles.”

  I proceeded to place my usual order of orange chicken, wontons, and lo mien. Thank goodness for twenty-four hour delivery, I thought as I hung up. It was then I noticed a light flashing on the machine. I’d been so distracted by the file Xavier had given us, I’d forgotten to check it when we got back.

  I hit the playback button.

  “Isabel, it’s your mother. Again. We’re having a family dinner this Friday night to meet your sister’s new boyfriend and you will be there. I think they might be getting serious. If only your father were still around to see it. I expect you’ve taken care of that thing we discussed, and I also expect you to be at the house at five PM sharp. No excuses.”

  Beep.

  Well, it looked like I had plans tomorrow night after all.

  Shane laughed a you-are-so-screwed laugh. I threw a pencil at him, which he caught with two fingers and launched skillfully back into the pencil cup. Huffing, I switched on my computer and took out the scrap of paper with Phoebe’s would-be suitor’s name on it. Pulling up the people search website, I typed in his info.

  Duke Murdoch was a volunteer firefighter who’d moved to Charleston from Virginia after losing two friends in a terrible hunting accident. He had a clean driving record, no outstanding warrants, and had never declared bankruptcy. Duke looked like a solid guy. I switched off the monitor, content to give my mother the green light on Phoebe’s new beau. With any luck, they’d settle down, spit out a kid or two, and get Mom off my back.

  The doorbell rang, signaling the arrival of dinner.

  I paid the delivery boy, and then brought the order into the kitchen. “Shane, I’m gonna need you to do me a favor.”

  “Forget it,” he answered without hesitation.

  “Hey! I’m doing this stupid ceremony for you. You owe me.”

  He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Fine. What?”

  “I need you to call me at six o’clock, make that quarter till six, tomorrow night.”

  “Ah, an escape clause.” He nodded. “No problem.”

  “Thanks.” I dove into my box of chicken.

  “Whatever,” he replied in a nearly perfect imitation of my earlier remark. “I’m going to go to bed. I need to get my beauty sleep.”

  “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” I joked.

  “Ha-ha.”

  “I’m going to stay up for a while. I want to see if the number of the credit card they gave Lisa is in the file anywhere. If it is, I can put a trace on it, see if anything hits.”

  He nodded, chucked his empty paper cup into the trash, and headed upstairs.

  I finished my chicken, grabbed a fresh cup of coffee, and sat back down at the computer.
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