Authors: Maer Wilson
Book 2 of The Thulukan Chronicles
© Copyright Maer Wilson 2013. All rights reserved.
Editor: Jen Ryan,
Imagine That Editing
Cover Art: Ida Jansson,
Formatted by: Rik Hall,
Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared, or given away, as this is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
For my brother, Shawn Wilson, and Andrew Dolle
For all the love, support and encouragement they have given me over the years.
A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
Jim Harrison (1937 - )
Being dead has its disadvantages
. That's what Parker said later, after all the excitement was over and the blood cleaned up. Of course, he was referring to his own state and his inability to be more help.
Parker had grown frustrated a few times over the last couple of weeks, which was unusual for his upbeat personality and positive attitude. He didn’t seem to mind being dead, as much as not being able to interact with the living. However, he often followed any complaint up with an eye-rolling, “But it beats the alternative. Ba-dump-bump,” as he played an air rimshot.
For the dead, that meant gone from this world completely. Ghostdom was definitely preferable, in his opinion.
But with the return of the creatures of magic to Earth and all the new changes since the portals had opened the month before, there was a wistfulness about him that hadn’t been there before. I was going to have to chat with him about it. I wondered if maybe he was ready to move on. Or getting close anyway.
Parker had been fourteen when he died and had never divulged the circumstances surrounding his death. He said he didn’t remember, but I’d always felt those circumstances might have something to do with why he was still here. Not that their death is always the reason the dead hang out.
I liked Parker a lot and never questioned him closely about his own death. If he didn’t remember, likely it was because he’d chosen to forget. He was part of our family, though, and I owed it to him to respect his wishes. But I also needed to help him if he was ready to leave.
That night Parker had popped in to wake us at two in the morning to tell us our best friend, Reo, had been shot. The young ghost was distraught and panicked.
“They're on the back porch! You have to go help.”
“Where is he?” I asked groggily, as I jumped out of bed.
Thulu was instantly awake beside me, although he didn’t seem any more alert than I did.
“Back porch.” Parker enunciated each word in slight exasperation. “Go, please!”
Thulu looked at me, and I told him what Parker had said. Thulu can read lips, but even with a night light the room was too dark.
Thulu threw off the sheet and we both ran from the room. I was briefly glad we’d been wearing PJs.
Heart pounding, I took a few precious seconds to check on our three year old son, Carter. His night light showed him blissfully unaware of anything. Whatever happy dreams he was having made him smile slightly in his sleep. I sighed in relief that he wasn’t having another of his nightmares.
Downstairs, Thulu had turned on the kitchen and porch lights. In spite of the panic moments before, none of the three people on the porch seemed frantic when I joined them.
Thulu looked relieved, Reo was on the floor, but seemed stoic, and Sloane knelt beside him, brow furrowed only slightly in concentration as he dealt with the wound.
My heart rate slowed down and my own fear started to slowly dissipate. My heart gradually dropped from my throat back to its accustomed place in my chest. Still my hands were shaking, and I felt the slight chill from outside. The porch was screened in, and the late August day had been hot, but the night brought a cool breeze that made its way along my arms.
The scent of flowers from the backyard didn’t quite mask the smell of the blood that pooled on the porch floor around Reo. Sloane, his partner and an elf, had already removed Reo’s jacket and shirt. A bullet lay on the floor, and I could see the shoulder wound was already healing and closing up. In a few moments, only the blood would remain as evidence that he’d been shot.
Reo's face was white. The strain showed around his brown eyes and his handsome face had the sheen of sweat on it. His short brown hair that was usually spiked, lay damp and flat against his head, but he gave me a shaky smile.
“Bastard ruined my favorite jacket.”
I gave a sigh of relief as I ran back upstairs to the room Reo used when he stayed with us. I grabbed a shirt from the closet, glad he chose to keep extra clothes here.
Veering into the guest bathroom, I got a cold, damp cloth and a towel and took everything downstairs to the porch.
Reo smiled his thanks, and Sloane quickly sponged off the blood. Reo’s skin was clear, no sign of the bullet hole that had been there only minutes before.
I moved back to the kitchen and got juice from the fridge. I knew Reo would be okay. Sloane was a powerful healer, which I could attest to. I’d seen him literally perform miracles only a month before.
I set a glass of juice on the table as Thulu and Sloane helped Reo into the booth in our breakfast nook. He had the clean shirt on, and his color was already much better, in spite of still being shaky.
Parker moved inside and floated in a corner. His distress had eased once we knew Reo was out of danger, but he continued to watch everything closely.
I grabbed paper towels and cleanser and headed back to the porch to clean up. It didn’t take long. I threw away the shirt which was ruined, but brought in his black, butter-soft leather jacket.
Reo mournfully fingered the bullet hole. I figured something could be done about it. Elves were good at fixing all sorts of things. If Sloane was unable to, I was sure one of the others could.
“Okay, explain.” Thulu said. His brow was creased with a slight frown.
Watching Reo steadily, I helped myself to juice and slid in next to my husband. Thulu causally put an arm across my shoulders, and we both continued to watch Reo.
Reo exchanged a look with Sloane and cleared his throat. He gave Thulu and me a guilty grin.
“Well, we go out sometimes at night. To help. You know that. I’ve been doing it for a long time. Just finding people and doing what I can.” Reo was a telepath and empath.
I caught Thulu’s nod from the corner of my eye.
“Since the portals opened, pretty much everyone knows that there are other worlds and races out there. Things have been relatively calm because the empaths, mostly elves, have been using their abilities to keep things calm.”
I gave a sigh, “Quit stalling and stop telling us things we already know, Reo. Who shot you and where is this person now?”
He frowned at me. “Do you want me to tell my story or not?”
I didn’t give in, but simply returned his gaze. “Yes, but get to the good part. Don’t give us reruns.”
He gave me a wounded look, but I knew it wasn’t real.
“I’m getting to it, but I have to set this up for you.”
“No, you don’t. You were out with Sloane doing your bit to help keep things calm. And help anyone you could. We get that. Go on, please continue from there,” I said pleasantly.
“You have no appreciation for a good story.”
“I have appreciation for sleep, which is what I’m going to go back to, if you don’t start talking.”
Reo gave a long-suffering look to Sloane. He didn’t buy it either, I was happy to see.
“Okay, Okay,” he said in mock surrender. “To be honest, I’m not sure what happened or why I got shot. We were walking along in the TenderNob, putting out positive vibes. I’m known in the area and people are usually friendly. It’s not as bad as outsiders might think.”
I rolled my eyes and looked at the doorway, but didn’t answer, so he quickly continued. “We were walking by an alleyway when this guy jumped out. He didn’t ask for money. He screamed about abomination. Said something about ‘nice human boys should be with other nice human boys and not alien freaks.’ Then he looked at Sloane and called him a ‘damned elf.’ He pulled the trigger and I somehow got shot.”
“You got shot because he was aiming for me and you stepped in front of me,” said Sloane mildly.
Reo looked at his lover with a smile. “And I’d do it again.”
“Wait,” said Thulu. “You walk around down there and don’t bother to disguise Sloane?”
The newcomers from the portal worlds didn’t usually act the part of tourist. Not yet anyway. Things were simply too unsettled still. Many people were thrilled that elves, fairies, unicorns, genies, goblins and the rest were real and acknowledged as such by mostly everyone. But, of course, some folks were not so happy about the newcomers’ presence and felt that Earth had been “invaded.”
Sloane wasn’t one of the very tall, slender, golden elves. He was tall for a human, but not so much so that he stuck out. He had the most gorgeous long, shiny, blue black hair and indigo eyes. His ears were pointed and his large eyes had an exotic slant to them. He’d never be mistaken for human. Up close, anyone could tell at a glance that he was something
, although he could easily pass at a distance.
“No, of course not. That’s what’s so confusing. Sloane’s hair usually covers his ears and he wears dark glasses. No one should have known he wasn’t human. I don’t know how this guy knew, but he did.”
“Then the guy has to be a supe himself.” Thulu said.
I nodded in agreement. Only someone with supernatural abilities should be able to tell. And we were a very small society. Tiny even.
“Okay, so you got shot. Then what.”
“I shoved the man away, pulled Reo into the alley and teleported us here. It was the first place that I could think of. I knew we’d be safe and could get help if we needed it. It’s a good thing the wards allow us in. I shall remember to thank Jones for that.” Sloane smiled. His teeth were very white and looked sharp.
Thulu smiled. “What about your attacker? Any idea what happened after you pushed him.”
They both shook their heads.
“Well, he can’t get away with shooting people,” Thulu said. “We need to contact the police.”
“There are other ways of handling this,” I interjected.
The other three looked at me, waiting to hear what my solution was. None of them was surprised I didn’t want the police involved.
I’d had enough of the police last month when our family had been attacked and several were killed. Explaining the supernatural to the police had been unpleasant in the extreme, and I wasn’t in any hurry to repeat that experience.
Besides, I hated any contact with the authorities. Ever since I was a child, I’d been afraid that my abilities would be discovered and I’d get locked up as a research project. With good reason, too. It had happened to one of my grandmother’s friends. Nana Fae had instilled in me a healthy respect for distance from anyone who could do the same to us.
Thulu respected my wishes, but didn’t share my fears. He was a finder. Anything. Anyone. He liked helping people, and I knew he felt constrained at times by my less than helpful attitude. It had recently become a source of tension between us that still needed to be resolved, but neither of us was in any hurry to do that.
We owned a detective agency, but only worked for supernatural clients. My idea. The supernatural part, that is. After all, it wasn’t like the dead and such had a lot of options. I could see and hear them. Thulu could see them, but not hear them.
And I could understand almost any language. Even languages I’d never studied, sometimes never even heard before. I didn’t spread that around, though. It came in handy when people thought I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Now and then, even an animal’s thoughts would be clear to me, but that was a lot more erratic and happened infrequently.
My husband gave my shoulder a squeeze in understanding.
I took a breath and said, “Why not simply send someone to get this guy and wipe his memory? Maybe plant a no-violence suggestion? After finding out what the hell he was doing it for and how he recognized Sloane as an elf, of course.”
The other three looked thoughtful.
And of course, we knew who would be called upon to do that little favor.
Our “favorite” daemon, Dhavenbahtek, currently possessing the body of Tyler Jones. Assuming he was willing. It was tough to tell with him.
While daemons, even Jones, were often kind and benevolent, he could also be the exact opposite. Humans were his favorite creatures to study, and his attitude was of a master toward a favored pet, more often than not, but he could also be ruthless toward humans as well. Human life simply didn’t mean the same to him as it did to us, and he could discard it easily at times. It was one of his less endearing qualities, and I had made it clear that it was unacceptable behavior. Not that an eight thousand year old daemon should give a damn what I thought.