Authors: Charlotte Copper
Tags: #Demons-Gargoyles, #Paranormal, #Contemporary
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either 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.
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Charlotte Copper
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Black Rose Edition, 2013
Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-847-9
Published in the United States of America
Praise for Charlotte Copper…
is a book to tell your friends about.”
~Sarah Hoss, author of
To DKLV, without you I would just be W.
Thank you to the people at
the Writers’ Community of Durham Region,
especially Sue Reynolds.
Your experience, enthusiasm, and encouragement
helped make this possible!
Dusk was settling in. A solitary headlight approached in her rearview mirror. With a
a motorcycle passed, the single red taillight ascending the next hill. A second pair of headlights came over the rise behind Angela, advancing quickly and illuminating her mirrors. Her hands tightened on the steering wheel as a massive black SUV shot out around her, its size and speed shaking the little car.
“What the…?” she exclaimed to the empty passenger seat. She witnessed the speeding monster climb the long low hill, gaining on the motorcycle. Although night was approaching fast, she could see the larger vehicle pull alongside the motorcycle, entering into the opposite lane. The two vehicles neared the top of the hill, the SUV hidden by the rise to oncoming traffic. The black mammoth swerved and sent the much smaller vehicle off the road into the grass and trees.
“Holy crap!” she cried out, removing her foot from the gas. Surely there must have been another vehicle approaching to cause the SUV to make such a drastic move. She watched the top of the hill, but no other traffic came, nor did the huge vehicle come back to check on the ill-fated bike and rider.
She returned pressure to the accelerator and followed the deserted country hill to the approximate spot where the motorcycle left the road. The pounding of her heart echoed against her temples. She closed her eyes. Deep breath. Relax.
She grabbed her purse from the passenger seat and climbed out of the car. She rooted around in the large satchel and found the rough cut of keys at the bottom. She hurried around to the back of the car and popped the trunk, then stared at its contents. A few boxes and two suitcases, one his and one hers.
Her brother, Bobby, a park ranger, had come across his share of bears and wild animals, but instead his life had been taken by a drunk driver. She was on her way back from burying him, his few items worth keeping packed away in the flimsy cardboard. She shook off the memories and yanked forward a small metal box.
“Thank you, Bobby,” she whispered as she unlocked the safety box and removed the revolver, carefully putting it in her purse.
She slammed the trunk and hurried down the incline, the soft ground sucking at her high heels while she tried to maintain her balance on the steep slope.
“Hello,” she called out, the motorcycle’s engine her only reply.
The cacophonous engine did nothing to calm her nerves. She turned off the bike and wedged the key into the pocket of her jeans. She tilted her head to the silence. There. Movement.
The rider was trying to get up, hidden by the brush about ten feet from the downed Harley.
“Hey, are you okay?” she asked seconds before the motorcyclist collapsed into the long grass.
The rider was covered head to toe in jeans, a black leather jacket, riding gloves, and a full helmet, but sheer size suggested a man.
She dug her cell phone from her purse. “Crap.” A no-service signal flashed on her phone. “Hey, buddy, can you hear me?”
A long, low moan was the only response.
Angela knelt next to the man. “I’m not getting any cell service out here, but I passed a hospital sign about ten minutes back. If we can get you to my car, we can drive there.” She reached out a hand and pressed against the cool leather. “Hey, buddy, can you move?”
Another moan and the man forced himself up into a crawling position, and then back on his knees. His left arm hung useless at his side. She’d bet five dollars his arm was broken.
Using his right hand, the man tried to lift the visor on his helmet, but it would only go up a crack. Angela eyed the bent plastic. Another five that was broken, too.
“Let’s go,” he uttered hoarsely.
Between the slight slope of the ground, the odd-hanging arm, and whatever other injuries were hidden beneath the leather jacket, the man had to struggle to stand. Once upright, Angela maneuvered herself under his good arm and staggered with him up the incline.
At almost five feet nine inches tall, Angela was not a small woman, but this guy was huge, a good six and a half feet, and packed solid beneath the jacket he wore. She stumbled under his weight, and the two practically fell the last couple of feet to land against the car.
Thank you, God, for keeping him conscious.
“Fug,” came a muffled curse from behind the helmet’s visor.
The injured man leaned against the car while Angela opened the door, and then began to slide down the side.
“Buddy,” she said as she gave him a gentle shake, “don’t pass out yet. Come on, you need to get into the car.”
With a grunt and a long moan, the man shoved himself away from the vehicle, turned his body, and fell into the passenger seat, ducking his head just in time. The stranger let loose a string of profanities as he tried to fold his legs into the tiny car. By the time she closed the door and climbed in the driver’s side, her passenger was silent. The man’s heavy breathing inside the helmet assured her that he was at least still alive.
Oz slumped against the door. Shitty small car. Probably Japanese.
The bright light of the speeding SUV reflected in his mirror. Red eyes of the demon staring from inside the menacing vehicle.
The smell of perfume. Did she say something?
Airborne. Ground. Pain. A voice. Angel in tight jeans. Long hair. Longer legs.
Finally the car moved.
The drive back to the town seemed longer than she remembered. As Angela drove up to the doors marked
, a tall, thickset man in crisp, light green hospital attire came jogging from the parking lot. Nurse or janitor, she didn’t care which.
“What happened?” he asked. His name tag announced him as Tracy. Did he have the right tag on?
“There was a motorcycle accident, outside of town.” She got out of the car. “The rider is in the other side. He’s hurt. I think his left arm may be broken. He could walk when I got there, but I’m not sure he’s conscious anymore. He hasn’t said anything else since I got him in the car.”
Tracy scooted around the vehicle and peered in the window. “Be right back,” he said and hurried into the hospital.
He returned a minute later with a gurney and another, female, nurse. Angela met them at the passenger side door.
“Ready?” Angela opened the door on their nod. The male nurse leaned in and caught the unconscious passenger as he fell out.
Together, the female nurse and Angela lifted the rider’s legs and helped transfer the deadweight body onto the gurney. Angela followed them through the hissing doors into the cool, antiseptic air of the hospital. She stopped short as the nurses pushed their patient through a second set of doors, those ones marked
authorized personnel only
Angela vacillated in the waiting area, unsure what to do next, until the female nurse came back.
“Luckily, one of the doctors is here. He just finished stitching up a kid. Sometimes they’re on call at night. Why don’t you park your car and then come back in? We’ve got a fresh pot of coffee.” The nurse, whose name tag read Jackie, glanced toward the coffeemaker. “We’ll need you to fill out some paperwork.”
“Paperwork?” repeated Angela. “I don’t even know his name. He was in a motorcycle accident. My cell phone wasn’t working, so I brought him in.”
“Well, we’ll need you to stick around. We’ll have to call the police when we get a minute. They’ll want to ask you some questions.”
“Yeah. Sure,” said Angela, as the nurse slipped back through the doors.
Angela stepped into the cooling night air. The burden of the gun weighed heavily in her purse and she eyed the trunk. With her luck, the police would arrive while she had the gun in hand. Leaving the weapon in her bag, she moved the car to a proper spot and returned to the hospital.
The waiting area and the nurses’ desks were empty. She spied the coffee pot and several mugs behind the desk, and helped herself to a cup as Jackie suggested. It was going to be a long night.
Thirty minutes after she sat down, the front doors slid open and a man wearing a police uniform walked in. He surveyed the waiting room, and then behind the desk. When his scan proved fruitless, the officer let himself through the
authorized personnel only
doors. A few minutes later he came back out with Jackie.
“Officer Pettiworth, this is…I’m sorry, I don’t think I got your name,” said the nurse.
“I’m Angela. Angela Knight.”
“Angela is the one that brought Mr. McAvoy in,” Jackie told the police officer.
“Do you mind if I ask you some questions, ma’am?” The officer sat down in one of the chairs without waiting for Angela’s answer.
She spent the next half hour explaining what she had seen to the police officer. He went over everything, sometimes repeating the question a few minutes later. How often did people’s stories change when asked the same question twice?
When he was done with his questions, the officer asked if she would mind driving with him out to the accident scene. Once there, he asked more questions, repeating some of the evening’s earlier questions yet again. The sun had long since set, and they walked and talked in the bright beams of the cruiser’s headlights. Angela was beyond the point of exhaustion when Officer Pettiworth advised he would come back the next day with some more police and a tow truck to finish the work.
Antiseptic air prickled her nose, and her eyelids shot open. She was in a hospital! No, wait, it hadn’t been her car. She had stopped to help. Yes! That’s what happened.
Officer Pettiworth hadn’t finished his questioning until late in the evening. She had gone into Mr. McAvoy’s room to make sure the stranger was settled. She sat in the chair to rest her eyes for a few minutes. Yeah, right. She frowned at the bright morning sun as it shone through the crack in the curtains. Just a few minutes! At some point, someone had even come in and covered her with a blanket.
Quietly, so as not to wake the room’s other occupant, Angela stood and stretched her stiff back. She peeked over to the bed. Mr. McAvoy was gone.
The bathroom door opened and Angela jumped. Out stepped her mystery man.
“Good morning,” he said, his voice deep and powerful. The stranger’s gaze moved up and down her body.
Go ahead, buddy. I get that at least ten times a day back in Vegas.
“Good morning,” she replied, and took her turn to check him out.
When she brought him in, Mr. McAvoy had been a mystery, covered head to toe; the only thing she knew for sure was that he was large and male. This morning, however, was a different situation entirely. The huge man in front of her wore a tight pair of black boxer briefs and his ribs were wrapped in white bandages. Other than that, he wore nothing. She’d guessed he was a solid muscular man from the fit of his jacket and jeans, but this morning’s attire left little to the imagination. Definitely male. And large. Wow!
“Sorry, I had to ditch the hospital gown. I was getting all tangled in it. Don’t know how you women sleep in those things.”
Angela realized she was staring, and forced her eyes up from his body to his face. A small V of golden brown hair sat below his bottom lip; this and his eyebrows gave the only hint to what his hair color might be. Handsome, bald, and undeniably strong, the man was built like a mixed martial arts champion. Better in fact.