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Authors: Gayla Drummond

Something to Curse About

BOOK: Something to Curse About
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Oh God, oh God. Please help me
.

Eyes opening, I ran toward the Ferris wheel, vaguely aware of Logan and his group following. It was the right direction, and someone screamed just as I stopped at the edge of the loading platform. I looked up, as everyone else was, and gasped when a woman jumped from the top.

Thrusting up both arms, I called on my telekinetic ability and managed to stop her plunge to the ground. A few, slow breaths later, I was lowering her to the platform and feeling the stares of those closest to me.

She was unconscious. I rubbed my forehead and sighed as the ride operator called for help.

 

 

 

Discord Jones

Something to Curse About

 

Gayla Drummond

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Katarr Kanticles Press

Texas, USA

Edited by Tonya Cannariato 

Copyright © 2013 Gayla Drummond

Amazon Edition, 2013.

 

 

This book, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the author. The uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Acknowledgments

Huge thanks to Kate and Jo for their beta reading efforts and suggestions. You ladies are awesome.

Another big thanks to my editor, Tonya, for her suggestions and burning the midnight oil editing so that I didn’t miss my self-imposed deadline.
Mucho gracias, chica
.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something to Curse About

ONE

 

Screams pierced the air, but I’d grown used to hearing them over the past year and change. The smell of cotton candy, popcorn, and other, standard carnival fare wafted by on a warm breeze. Music played from each ride, rising over the noise of the crowd as we paused to watch inept teens try to toss rings onto bottles. I licked a bit of spun sugar from the corner of my mouth, savoring the taste of having a normal day out.

Sean, my five-year-old brother, tugged on my hand while leaning toward a nearby concession stand. “I’m hungry.”

“Again? Where are you putting everything?” We’d already purchased four different snacks between rides, and had only arrived about two hours before. “Your tummy isn’t that big.”

Nick laughed, both hands busy holding onto Jonah’s legs. My younger brother sat on the shifter’s shoulders, holding fistfuls of his hair and wearing a huge smile. He was enjoying being the “tallest” for a change.

“He’s growing. We guys are always hungry during growth spurts.”

“Maybe, but you’re not the one who’s going to get it if he gets sick from too much sugar.” I ruffled Sean’s dark blonde hair. “Let’s go find the parents and see about dinner.”

“Fwench Fwies,” Jonah voted at the top of his voice, and everyone within twenty feet winced. Even me, though I had to smile. It’s cute when little kids haven’t gotten the hang of certain letters.

“Okay, let’s go, men.” The older adults were checking out the various expo halls after deciding not to waste the services of two perfectly good younger adults as babysitters. I led the way, glancing back a few times at Nick and Jonah.

My boyfriend had leaped at the chance to join a family outing, and really seemed to be enjoying himself. He wasn’t even freaking out about all the sticky bits Jonah had managed to mash into his dark brown hair. Of course, Nick was a shifter, so maybe messy little kids weren’t a problem for him.

One of the smaller buildings, rented by the New Age center where my mom worked, was my first choice to check. As I suspected, she was in front of the table that displayed the bars of soap and tiny bottles of perfume she’d made.

She also had Betty, my dad’s second wife, cornered and was holding one of the little bottles right under her nose. Poor Betty. She’d been raised to respect her elders, and not only was Mom that at fifty-seven, but also one of Dad’s best friends and the mother of his eldest child. She was stuck, standing there with a fixed smile on her face.

“Hey, where’s Dad?” My question stopped Mom from trading out bottles. “Sean the Bottomless Belly is hungry, and I could use a meal break.”

Seeing an opportunity, Betty was quick to snatch it with a loud
Oh, thank God
flying from her mind. “I’ll go find him.”

We watched her hurry off, and then Mom rummaged through her bottles, picking one up and turning to Nick. “Tell me if this one says ‘Cordi’ to you.”

“Sure.”

I shook my head at his agreeableness. She’d latched onto him the second we’d walked through the entrance gate, and kept him busy for twenty minutes, smelling perfume after perfume. Mom said she was trying to mix the perfect scent for me, but I thought she was just enjoying sharing the fruits of her newest passion. Nick was a willing guinea pig, eager to get along with my family even though he’d suffered a major sneezing fit after one smell test.

Sean began wiggling. “I gotta go.”

“Me too,” Jonah chimed in. Anything his big brother did, he had to do too.

“Okay, I’ll take you.”

Nick lifted him off his shoulders and set him on the floor. “There you go.”

“You have cotton candy in your ear.” Grinning at him, I caught Jonah’s hand. “Let’s go.”

There was a restroom not too far away, and fortunately, it wasn’t full. After undoing buttons and zippers, I sent both boys into one stall and stood by waiting for them to do their thing. Giggles followed as they relieved themselves, and there was a bit of discussion about who could pee the most.

Boys
. Rolling my eyes, I traded a smile with a woman busy changing a diaper. “Don’t forget to flush, guys.”

“I wanna do it.”

“No, I get to. I’m oldest.” Sean won, flushed the toilet, and then both were ready for help refastening their jeans.

“Good job. Let’s wash our hands.” That went well, with a minimum of mess. Mixing small boys and water usually resulted in disaster. I led them back outside.

Sean saw something. Before I knew it, he’d shaken loose and taken off like a shot, disappearing into the crowd. “Sean! Oh, crap.”

I picked up Jonah and ran after him. Panic was setting in by the time I spotted him watching people lined up and playing ski-ball. “Dude, don’t do that. You know you’re not supposed to wander off. You’ll get lost.”

“I can’t get lost. You’re here. Can I play this one?”

Confidence, thy name is little brother. Sean sort of understood my job was to find people and things, and that I had special abilities. Of course, he thought they were magic. I guess to a five-year-old, psychic talents were magic. “Maybe after we eat. Everyone’s going to be wondering where we are. Come on.”

He pouted, but gave me his hand. Looking around, I realized we were halfway down the midway and sighed. “You move fast and far when the mood strikes.”

“I’m gonna be a ninja when I grow up.”

Laughing, I started walking. “Perfect job for you.”

“Discord?”

I stopped and turned around to find Logan a few feet away. “Hey.”

There were some people with him, and he was holding a girl’s hand. She looked about seventeen or so, very pretty with pale gold hair and light green eyes. Logan smiled. “Are these your brothers?”

“Yes. Sean and Jonah, meet my friend Logan. He can turn into a tiger.” Their eyes went wide as they stared at him.

Jonah spoke first. “I can tiger too. Wanna hear?”

“Sure.” Logan glanced at me, one eyebrow rising a bit.

“Waaaaaaaaahhrrrrrrr!”

“Ow. My ear.” I couldn’t even rub it, with him on my hip and holding Sean’s hand.

Logan chuckled. “That’s a pretty good roar.”

The girl shifted her weight, leaning against his arm, and he smiled at her. “This is my cousin, Terra. Terra, Discord Jones, the private investigator I told you about.”

A smile lit up her face as her eyes zeroed in on mine. “Hello, I’m pleased to meet you.”

“Hi. Same here.”

Logan introduced the other two with them, both men. “Soames and Teague.”

I nodded and smiled, receiving the same back. I’d seen Teague before, and remembered Logan saying he wasn’t a tiger, but a lion. About to mention we were planning to eat and invite them to join us, I froze with my mouth half-open as
I don’t want to die
resounded in my head, followed by a rush of cold, hard fear.

“Discord? What is it? A vision?” Logan took a step forward, Terra releasing his hand.

“No, it’s….”

Why is this happening? Someone help me! Please!

I shoved Jonah into Logan’s arms. “Hold him. Someone’s in trouble. Sean, stay with Logan.”

Turning, I closed my eyes and concentrated, trying to pinpoint the direction the fear was coming from. Catching hold of emotions in a crowd of people is hard. It’s like playing a game of Hot and Cold. You move in a direction and see if it gets stronger.

Oh God, oh God. Please help me.

Eyes opening, I ran toward the Ferris wheel, vaguely aware of Logan and his group following. It was the right direction, and someone screamed just as I stopped at the edge of the loading platform. I looked up, as everyone else was, and gasped when a woman jumped from the top.

Thrusting up both arms, I called on my telekinetic ability and managed to stop her plunge to the ground. A few, slow breaths later, I was lowering her to the platform and feeling the stares of those closest to me.

She was unconscious. I rubbed my forehead and sighed as the ride operator called for help.

 

 

TWO

 

At the first chance, I slipped through the crowd to find Logan and my brothers. A few people patted me on the back before moving out of my way, and I had to grit my teeth as their amazement transferred directly into my brain.

The group of shifters stood at the back of the crowd, Terra in the middle. She was holding Jonah, and Logan, standing on her left, had Sean. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Are you all right?”

I realized I was rubbing my forehead again. “Yeah, just a little bit of a headache.”

“Why don’t we carry the boys for you?” he offered, glancing at his cousin. She was cuddling Jonah while he petted her hair.

“Sure. Everyone else is probably wondering where we are. We were going to grab some food. You’re welcome to join us, if you want?” A few people were still staring and I really wanted to leave the area. It was one thing to use my abilities on cases. Wowing a bunch of carnival goers, even accidentally, wasn’t my thing.

Terra answered. “We’d love to.”

“Cool. They’re in an expo hall.” I led the way, wishing the shooting pains in my head would settle down.

I’d met Logan not long after my boss, Mr. Whitehaven, had hired Nick to babysit me. My job at Arcane Solutions has led to meeting interesting people. Some have become friends, like the witches and their familiars, while others have become enemies.

For example, vampires don’t like me very much. The feeling’s mutual.

At least one person has become more than a friend: Nick. He’s a wolf, which causes friction when Logan’s around. It’s mostly a dog and cat thing, silly as that sounds. As much as I’ve come to care about him, the fact his job is to protect has caused some friction between us more than once.

Then there’s Leglin. I kind of blackmailed a client into giving him to me after said client withheld information that resulted in my becoming favored demon prey. He’s an elf-bred, part-demon hound who has a wolf shifter ancestor.

Needless to say, he’s not an ordinary dog. For one, he’s huge. He’s also very intelligent, comes when called even if I’m stuck in a different realm because he has some magic of his own, and he can kill demons.

He’s basically awesome.

Leglin and I are still figuring things out, because I’m not really comfortable treating him like a dog. It’s only been a month since we became roomies, and things are going well. I’d taken him to spend the day with David and Jo, a couple of my witchy friends, at David’s shop, The Blue Orb.

Nick turned around before we were halfway down the table-lined aisle, his brows drawing together and a faint frown appearing. Maybe he felt out-numbered, since there were four feline shifters with us. I’m still mostly in the dark about shifter relations. His “Hey” to Logan wasn’t enthusiastic, even though I grabbed his hand and slipped my fingers through his.

Logan returned it, and then said, “Hello, Mrs. Jones.”

Mom smiled. “I remember you. We met at Cordi’s apartment. Call me Sunny.”

Right after I’d been attacked by demons a second time. I’m surprised she remembered, since she hadn’t really looked at him once Nick dropped that bomb on her.

I made all the introductions, mentioning I’d invited them to eat with us, and noticed Betty’s smile growing more fixed. Poor woman would love to pretend everyone is human, because she’s terrified by supernatural types. Including me, though she pretends she isn’t for my dad’s sake.

My dad shook hands with the newcomers. He’s about as open-minded as my mom. Then again, he works in advertising and since his bosses know he has a psychic for a daughter, Dad’s often pegged as the go-to-guy when supernatural clients hire the agency, so he’s gotten used to meeting supes.

Logan noticed Betty’s reaction, and put Sean down before nudging Terra. She followed suit, after a few seconds of cuddling Jonah with a light purr. “You’re lucky, to have such handsome sons.”

“Thank you.” Betty’s smile relaxed a bit, but she was quick to gesture both boys to her. I shot an apologetic look at Logan and company, but none of them seemed to be offended.

“I really need some food, people.” Not the most gracious way to get things moving forward, but my head was still hurting. Being around large crowds is a strain for me, and using one of my abilities hadn’t helped matters.

The strain is because I’m both telepathic and empathic. I hear people’s thoughts and feel their emotions, even though I shield myself from both as much as possible. Several hundred people in a relatively small area was draining my reserves.

It’s not like I can become a hermit though, and no way I’d miss out on my little brothers’ first fair trip. I don’t spend nearly as much time as I’d like to with them as it is; being psychic, I’m all too aware of Betty’s discomfort around those who aren’t “normal.” She tries hard to be nice to me in spite of her fears for Dad’s sake, so in return, I try to make things as easy as possible on her.

Mom looked at me, her forehead creasing. She’s the original hippie chick, even legally changed her name to Sunshine Breeze back in the early ’70s. “One of the local charities has a pizza parlor set up in a quiet corner.”

I grinned at Jonah. “If they serve French fries too, that’ll work.”

With that, we were off. Nick put his arm around my waist after easing between Logan and me. “What took you so long to get back?”

Explaining, including Sean’s excited contributions with sound effects, took the entire walk. My parents expressed their pride, which made me blush bright red, and even Betty looked impressed.

With eleven people, it took several minutes to go through the line to order, pay, and then push some tables together so we could all sit in a group. I ended up with Nick on one side and Terra on the other. My dad suddenly realized that Logan was the one rebuilding my car, which had been demolished by vampires during the same case that caused the shifter and me to meet, and resulted in my new roomie, Leglin. It gave dinner conversation a starting point.

Terra had the same calm vibe I’d noticed in Logan and my boss, Mr. Whitehaven. Calm people are like over-the-counter headache medication for me. While eating my two slices of sausage, mushroom, and green peppers, I paid attention to the other two shifters, Soames and Teague, and picked up the same vibe from them.

Soaking it in didn’t hurt anything as far as they were concerned, and it certainly helped me. By the time everyone was finished and just chatting, my headache was gone. The rest of the afternoon and evening were fun, as we wandered around, playing games, looking at exhibits, and enjoying rides.

BOOK: Something to Curse About
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