Chasing daybreak, p.9
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       Chasing Daybreak, p.9

           Ranae Glass
 

  ***

  Shane and Mercy were gone when I got home, not a huge surprise. Mercy wasn’t stupid. Well, okay, she really was. She still must have felt my not exactly subtle I-want-to-rip-your-face-off vibes.

  Wide awake, with my body still humming with anger, I settled in to watch a movie. Afterwards, I did the dishes and then dusted. Rage cleaning, my mom called it. For me, it was more of a way to clear my head. When I finally crawled to bed at three AM, they still weren’t back. Not that I was waiting for them. It wasn’t enough that Shane had guilted me into going to the stupid vampire cotillion, but to add insult to injury, Mercy insisted I wear a traditional gown that would be provided for me by the Council. I was betting on something frilly and pink. Spiffy.

  I fell asleep wondering what pink taffeta looked like on fire.

  I was still drooling on my pillow when the phone rang downstairs. My clock blinked 10:13 AM in bright red numbers. With a groan, I pulled my pillow over my head and let the machine answer. But as soon as I heard the voice, I sprang out of bed. Still in boxer shorts and sleep tee, tangled in my sheets, I fell to the floor with a thud and a grunt. I scrambled down the stairs to the office, grabbed the phone off the hook, and answered, breathless.

  “Hello?”

  Dial tone. I’d been a heartbeat too late and the machine had caught it.

  Hitting the playback button, I dropped into my desk chair to listen.

  “Isabel, it’s Tyger. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but somebody boosted a car last night. Left it over in the parking lot behind Bojangles on 3rd St. What’s this town coming to?” He laughed. “Hope you find what you’re looking for today.”

  Click. The grin that spread across my face made me feel a bit like the Grinch.

  “And my heart grew three sizes that day,” I muttered to no one.

  I glanced up the stairs to Shane’s door. It was closed, so I knew immediately he was home. He only closed his door when he was inside.

  After a cup of coffee and a quick shower, I changed into something subtle—a pair of dark jean shorts with a faded gray T-shirt and a pair of cowboy boots. I wanted to be inconspicuous, but I didn’t want to look like a cat burglar either. With my second cup of coffee in hand, I tapped on Shane’s door. No answer. He was probably still dead to the world, pun intended.

  I tapped again, harder this time. “Shane?”

  Still nothing.

  Taking a deep breath, I turned the knob and cracked the door. I realized with a gasp that Shane wasn’t alone and slammed the door quickly. Surely, that had been an elbow, knee, or something peeking out of the messy bed covers.

  I gagged a little. Did they make soap for the eyeballs?

  Slipping back to my room, I reached around on the top shelf of my closet until my hand curled over the object I’d been looking for. It was a souvenir from a hockey game my dad had taken me to when I was fourteen, and now it was part of my private arsenal. I tossed it up in the air and caught it, hoping there was still a little juice left from the last time I’d used it. Returning to Shane’s door, I cracked it, slipped my arm in the gap, and hit the button.

  The air horn wailed, echoing throughout the entire house, quickly followed by the loud thud of two bodies hitting the floor. I pushed the button once more for good measure.

  “Hey, Count Suckula,” I hollered, “we’ve got the car. You still wanna go check it out or what?”

  Mercy growled behind the door, a feral, wild sound like a mountain lion. Shane whispered something that quieted her, and then called to me, “I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

  “You have five, and then I’m going without you.”

  I was sitting downstairs in my dad’s favorite burnt-orange recliner. It was horrifically ugly, but it smelled of Old Spice and analgesic balm—like my father—so it had a permanent place in my house. I was nestled comfortably when Mercy practically flew downstairs to do her walk of shame. Seeing me, she snarled. I waved, blowing her a kiss. Her pretty face twisted, and she lunged into my living room, eyes flashing red.

  I held up the squirt gun in my hand, waving it. “Ah, ah, ah,” I tisked. “Wouldn’t want things to get messy.”

  She stopped, looking confused for a minute, and then laughed. “What, are you going to soak me to death?”

  Now it was my turn to laugh. “I guess that depends on the type of water inside, doesn’t it?”

  For a second, she looked confused again—probably the natural resting state of her face, but then realization dawned on her. “Holy water wouldn’t kill me,” she retorted, but her tone wasn’t entirely confident.

  She was right—pouring it on her skin wouldn’t kill her. But it would burn like acid and it would be extremely painful and slow to heal.

  “True, but it would mess up that pretty face of yours, wouldn’t it, Mercy?” I drew out her name until it sounded like a curse. “Do you think Shane would still like you if half your face was melted off?”

  Ok, that was bitchy. But I didn’t really care at the moment. This was my house, and she was an unwelcome visitor.

  She snorted but took a step back, pointing at me. “You shouldn’t wound anything you can’t kill.”

  I smiled. “Don’t worry. I won’t.”

  Stuffing a wide-brimmed hat on her head, she donned a pair of sunglasses so big that they swallowed half her face.

  “See you next week, sugar,” she called over her shoulder to Shane, back to her saccharine-sweet Scarlett voice as she slammed my front door behind her.

  As soon as she was gone, Shane came trotting down the stairs, hair still wet from the shower. I laughed before he saw me. He, too, was wearing dark jeans and a gray shirt. We were matchy.

  He glared as he turned to the kitchen, pulled open the fridge, and grabbed a blood bag. Tearing open the corner with his teeth, he poured it into a coffee mug and joined me in the sitting room.

  “What the hell was all that about?” he demanded before taking a long drink.

  I smiled and shrugged, the water pistol still in my hand. Seeing it, he frowned.

  “What did you say to Mercy?”

  I gave him my best wide-eyed innocent look, “I have no idea what you mean.”

  He nodded to the gun. “Holy water? Was that really necessary?”

  I shrugged again and squirted him in the arm.

  He jumped, nearly spilling his cup’o blood.

  I snickered and tossed the gun onto the coffee table. “It’s just tap water. And watch the carpet—that stuff stains.”

  “And the air horn? That was just uncalled for,” he chastised me, wiping his arm off with his free hand.

  It was mean, I knew. Vampire senses were much stronger than humans. Everything was enhanced, making lights brighter, sounds louder, and scents stronger. It was why most people believed that vampires couldn’t walk around in the daylight. They could. Direct sunlight just really hurt their eyes. Shane had told me it got worse as a vampire got older. The really ancient ones didn’t go out during the day at all. Besides being super paranoid that they might burst into flames from a paper cut, the heat, smells, and light easily overwhelmed their systems.

  What could I say? That I was feeling jealous that my ex-fiancé was shacking up in my house with his trampy new girlfriend? Yeah, like I’d admit to that. When hell froze over.

  I took a sip of my coffee. “I tried to knock.”

  “Well, you missed,” he said flatly.

 
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