Authors: Gayla Drummond
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Mystery, #werewolves, #urban fantasy, #Shifters, #Vampires, #Magic, #Paranormal, #psychic
"Which isn't a bad thing. Is it?"
Logan agreed it wasn't, before saying, "It's not as though I'm in charge anymore. Terra wants to go. She'll want to more once she knows you'll be there too."
"Should I apologize?"
He grinned. "No. I like it when the people I care about care about each other too."
"Makes life easier, huh?" Personally, I liked knowing I was one of the people he cared about. I took a bite before saying, "Anything you can tell me about gargoyles would really help."
"What do you know so far?"
"Not much other than they're guardians, and choose who they'll be that for. Petra told me Tase shouldn't have picked anyone yet. He's too young. I have to go see him every week, to strengthen our bond."
"Okay. They can't help you during the day unless you're on the verge of death. But at night, there's practically nowhere you can go that they can't. They're proficient magic users, skilled in warding, healing, and charms for all occasions." Logan gestured at the Tear then his bowl. "This is good."
"Gargoyles are feared warriors. It's nearly impossible to kill one, because they can turn from stone to flesh at will, at least at night. Even if you get a lucky stab in, no guarantee you'll hit anything important." He touched his chest. "Their insides move around."
I swallowed a bite. "That's kind of gross."
Logan grinned. "But useful."
He had a point. Hard to stab something in the heart if it could move that organ out of the way. Or keep it tucked behind less important organs.
"Their loyalty is legendary. They'll take on anyone and anything."
"Okay, so what's the catch?"
Logan chuckled. "You've never seen a gargoyle eat. Might want to think about fencing a few acres in and buying some cattle."
Mm, steak on the hoof
," Bone said from by my feet.
"Discord Jones, future small rancher." I was going to go bankrupt. "I'll be in the poorhouse in less than ten years."
"You're clan. Anyone you're beholden to, we are."
I savored another bite, enjoying the blend of sharp, melty cheese and smoky meat. "You guys aren't responsible for my debts or the crazy situations I get myself into."
"Cordi, we're clan. You have access to whatever we have. Open checkbook. You made having our own sanctuary a reality."
Yes, I'd had a hand in that, but... "I'll figure it out."
"You don't have to. You’ve made a lifetime's worth of contributions to the clan already. You're in good standing for oh, about a thousand years." Logan smiled.
I laughed. "You did all the hard work. I only twisted Thorandryll's arm a little bit."
"We'll handle the cattle when the time comes. And whatever he's big enough to eat when Tase comes to live with you."
"Live with me?"
There went my sole guest room. "Okay. Right. Of course he'll live here."
Logan finished his wine. "Mind if I ask a question?"
"Now that you've solved part of the problem, and know what the other part is, are you going to cash in that rain check?"
"I don't know. How do you feel about dating a cursed woman?"
His cute, boyish grin reappeared. "Does 'I'll take you anyway I can get you' make me sound desperate?"
My brain wouldn't let the "I'll take you" pass without tossing up some suggestions on the subject. Heat began to spread up from my throat, and I hoped my face didn't turn bright red. "Desperate, no. Tired of being put on hold, yes. And I'm really sorry about that. I just didn't..."
Logan put his hand on my knee. "No apology necessary. You had something going on. Still do, so if I'm being pushy here, say so. If I'm not, how about dinner tomorrow night?"
"Dinner sounds great, but I may have to postpone if something comes up on the case we have."
He nodded. "I know that's a possibility."
I kind of wanted to yell "Wheeee!" but managed to keep from sounding like a complete idiot. "Okay, we're on for dinner tomorrow night. What time?"
"Yes. Meet or?" His hand was still resting on my knee, the warmth of it penetrating my jeans.
"You can pick me up here, unless something happens and it's better to meet."
"Okay, cool." I hoped my smile didn't make me look stupid. It felt like it'd taken over my entire face. Looking at our bowls, I realized we'd both finished eating. "Feel like a cup of coffee?"
hanks for helping with the cleanup."
"Thanks for feeding me." He finished his coffee and rinsed the cup before placing it in the dishwasher. "I should get out of here so you can go to bed."
Slightly disappointed he was leaving, I nodded. "Okay, I'll walk you out."
"Oh, wait," I said when we reached the door. "I owe the girls a shopping trip, and sleepover. Belated Christmas gifts."
"Terra will understand you're busy."
I rolled my eyes. "Silly man, no woman's too busy for shopping. Besides, I need a dress for the party. Doesn't Terra?"
His expression twisted. "Damn, it is fancy dress. I'm going to have to wear a monkey suit."
Laughter escaped me. "Sorry. Yep, you'll have to get a tux."
"Yes, she'll need a dress."
"Great. I'll call tomorrow, and we'll plan it for the weekend."
Logan sighed. "So no Saturday night date. Okay."
It was amazing how great that made me feel, that he was already looking forward to a second date prior to even going on the first. "I must hug you now."
He held his arms out. "Hug away."
Stepping into them, I did my best to squeeze the stuffing out of him, my cheek pressed to his shoulder. "Thanks for being patient."
A chuckle rumbled in his chest. "I wouldn't call it patience as much as realizing you have a life to live."
"So do you." I lifted my head and leaned back. He didn't let go, meeting my eyes as his lips curved into a little smile.
"Mine's not as hectic as it used to be, and damn sure not as hectic as yours."
Which reminded me of something we'd talked about a few weeks before. "Did you talk to Terra about working at the office?"
Logan nodded. "I did, and she's okay with it."
"When are you going to talk to Mr. Whitehaven?"
"Probably next week. I have to decide who'll take over the garage if he hires me."
"Oh, yeah, that's an important decision." Was I hanging out in his arms too long? He didn't seem to mind. I damn sure didn't mind, because Logan's arms were a great place to be.
Even better when he bent his head slightly, inviting me to take advantage of his lips being close. I did take advantage, but only for a few seconds before drawing back again. More kissing, and I wouldn't want to send him out the door. "I'll see you tomorrow night."
"Okay." He pressed his cheek against mine, a soft rasp of a purr escaping, and released me. "Sleep well."
I spent a few minutes doing a victory dance after closing the door behind him, happy I hadn't ruined things by asking for that rain check. Bone and Diablo joined in, prancing and grinning, infected by my happiness.
After my victory dance, I went to my home office. Funny thing: The more questions I received answers to, the more aware I became of others. Many of them were vague annoyances, not necessarily important. Yet, I had a sudden burning desire to find the answers to as many of them as possible.
Sitting at my desk, I picked up a pen and dragged the waiting legal pad in front of me. "Start simple."
What questions had bugged me for a while? "Ooh, I know."
I wrote "What is Mr. Whitehaven? Why is he so important in the supe community that they call him 'Lord'?"
I tapped the pen a few times before coming up with my next question: "Where/who is the dragon?"
That seemed like a good start, and I congratulated myself while re-reading the questions. "Hey, wait a minute."
White dragon. Whitehaven. No, just because Dr. Allen turned out to be Alleryn... But I'd seen my boss's eyes glow red a few times and he had pure white hair. Dragons breathed fire, right? And fire was partially red.
Couldn't dragons do magic too? I'd read fairytales as a kid, and thought I remembered one or two where the dragon masqueraded as a human. "Holy crap."
No, wait. That really wasn't enough evidence to decide my boss was Santo Trueno's resident dragon. Was it?
Then again, when I was a dog, I'd smelled Whitehaven's scent. It had been smoky and kind of metallic. And he did have all those treasures... "You know what? I'll just ask him privately when I have the chance."
It'd be cool to learn I was working for a dragon. Maybe not so cool if Mr. Whitehaven was the dragon, and blew a draconic gasket when I asked.
Shaking that out of my head, I moved on and wrote "Talk to Moira about the ancestors."
The why of my seeing them didn't really bother me. The dream was the issue: the White Queen jumping inside of and transforming me. That bothered me a lot, because of the empty spot in the circle of spectral tigers on Solstice Night.
However she'd done it, the missing tiger had helped save Logan. I didn't feel different, but what if she were trapped inside me or something? If she were, then getting her out seemed like the right thing to do. After all, the curse could be affecting her in some fashion.
"Okay, what else?" I didn't have to think about it, because only the biggie was left: "Who the hell cursed me this time, and why?"
I doubted there'd be an answer for that one before the end of the year, with only four days left. Overtaken by a yawn, I dropped the pen and decided it was bed time.
After making my rounds to check the front and back doors—it was too cold to have to worry about having opened windows—I called the dogs and picked up the two Chihuahuas for the trip upstairs. Leglin's room had become the whole pack's room, but the hound didn't mind. He slept with me anyway, since I didn't have a boyfriend staying overnight anymore.
Also, duty. Leglin was emphatic that his duty was to protect me. Funny, when it was a dog doing the protecting, I didn't argue much. Not even after Red's death.
Not that arguing with Leglin would work anyway. He'd sleep across my threshold if I didn't let him share the bed. He was that loyal.
I tucked Speck and Squishy into their bed, covering them with a soft throw. Bone and Diablo plopped onto their over-sized, therapeutic doggy beds. The people bed Leglin had asked for was still on my To Do list. "Night, guys. Sleep tight."
Contented sighs followed me out the door, putting a smile on my face. My hound waited by my bedroom door, and I patted his shoulder as I went through the doorway. "Come on."
It was a huge relief to change for bed without Merriven leering at me. Sliding between the sheets after face washing and teeth brushing, I made certain my alarm was on before rolling over to snuggle Leglin. "You didn't say anything about having a gargoyle coming to live with us."
It will be nice to have a partner
I hid my smile by kissing the back of his head. "As long as you're cool with it, I guess I am."
His tail thump made the bed shiver. With a final squeeze, I rolled over onto my back and closed my eyes. Jogging time would come too early for my liking.
woke up feeling like a million bucks, thanks to the lack of nightmares plaguing my sleep. Or maybe because the day would end in my first official date with Logan.
Thinking about that certainly put some pep into my morning jog. I even enjoyed the cold, crisp air while the dogs and I made our way around the property line. Seriously, aside from the "cursed by unknown assailant" thing, my life didn't look awful at the moment.
I had a good job, a fantastic place to call home, and my canine family to share it with. My closest neighbors weren't only friends, but extended family.
And unless we came up with a lead, or the boss assigned us another case, I had a free day ahead of me.
The sprint from drive entrance to house didn't feel like utter torture.