Authors: Jessica Swan
To Live and To Love
Black Wolf Agency: Book One
2014 Jessica Swan.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.
This is a Revised Edition, Published by Jessica Swan, November 2014.
Original Edition Published by Jessica Swan, February 2012.
To my love, Sean Finn.
Thanks for all the love and support. Without you, I probably wouldn’t have gotten back into writing.
To my friends and family.
Thank you for all your support!
To all of my writer friends.
I couldn’t have gotten this far without you!
To the beautiful and talented Miss Stana Katic.
You continue to inspire me!
“I can’t believe what I just saw,” said James, still in shock and overwhelmed. Granted, he was sitting in his apartment by himself talking to himself, and could possibly be dreaming; he hadn’t figure that out yet. He kept replaying the memory of what had just happened…
Just thirty minutes earlier, he was walking home from his accounting job; boring yes, but still lucrative. He left work around sunset that day, thinking the whole time he needed to find some excitement in his life, something besides numbers. He was anxious to get home and have something to eat, so he took a short cut he normally avoided which took him through a few small, less-used alleys that were run-down and smelled of garbage.
James was not a small man, at least for a geek. He tried to keep himself in shape so he would feel comfortable walking though the alleys. He could take care of himself; he, of course, had taken a class in Tae Kwan Do. James was sure if he ever had to use it, he could kick some ass. His hair was brown, short, and kind of messy, but he liked it; it gave him an edge. His eyes were brown they matched his hair.
He was about a block away from his apartment when he entered a dark alley. The alley gave him the creeps, but he knew crossing through it would save a lot of time, so he ignored his inner voice telling him not to proceed and kept going anyway. It was the one time he should have listened, and he still wondered to this day what would have happened had he not taken this path.
As he passed by some dumpsters, he saw a movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned and saw a pair of eyes as a creature lunged at him. His expensive training did not kick in, however. Instead, he stood frozen in place, wondering if he was going to be lunch.
‘What the hell?!’
he thought, as his mind fought to think of something to do other than stand there. Then he heard a gunshot and watched the creature fall to the ground. James thought afterward that maybe he should have had some of those ninja reflexes working, because he never moved an inch, which was pretty stupid considering there was a freaking gunshot.
Frantically looking around him, he spotted his Aunt Yvonne at the other end of the alley, holding up a gun. He always thought of his forty-two-year-old aunt as the perky, cheerful blonde among the boring brunettes on her side of the family. To see this side of her now was shocking. He had to be hallucinating. Oh, my God, he had been bit by the crazy animal and was in shock and seeing shit! James pinched his arm, winced and then thought, ‘
Well, shit, this is real!
Wait, his aunt was a lawyer, not a cop. Why would she be carrying around a gun? And what was she doing here, in a dark alley? It was the last place he would have thought he’d see his well-put together aunt. James suppressed his hysterical laughter that threatened to erupt; he was going crazy.
He looked down at the creature again, and this time, he was able to study it. It greatly resembled a thin, hairless dog with glassy bulged eyes, long protruding fangs and sharp claws. He stared at it in amazement for a moment. Then Yvonne ran over and began to shove it in a large knapsack.
“What the hell?!” he repeated, this time aloud. Brilliant, James would think of himself later. Everything he could have said and that was what came out of his mouth.
“I’ll explain everything to you in a little while, but first we need to get out of here before someone comes. Follow me.”
She hurried back to the entrance of the alley, throwing the bag into the trunk of her BMW. She jumped into the driver’s seat and waited.
It took a few seconds for James to make his body understand that his mind was telling him, ‘GET OUT OF HERE!’ He finally followed his aunt and got into her car.
She drove to his apartment and followed him in; he was still stunned by what he saw. He felt like a heavy weight was sitting on top of him. He paced around his living room thinking
, ‘My aunt shot a fast-moving, unknown creature with pinpoint accuracy. What dimension am I living in?’
“I know it’s hard to take all of this in,” said Yvonne, her voice snapping James back to reality. “I know you feel like your world has been turned upside down. However, the truth is, I deal with this every day.”
James sat down with a ‘thunk’ and looked at his aunt sitting calmly and regally in the chair across from him; he wondered, if he screamed, would she actually jump?
Finally finding his voice, he asked, “What was that thing?”
“A what?!” Then he thought, ‘
Hey, I saw something about those things on The Discovery Channel. They were fictional creatures like Bigfoot. The creatures that were spotted turned out to be mangy, deformed, doglike animals in Mexico. My
aunt had to be mistaken
“It’s basically the canine version a vampire. It somehow wandered from the countryside into the city. My job is to protect people from creatures like that.”
“I thought you were a lawyer,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. “And that thing is not a… whatever-you-called-it. I saw a TV show a while back; it’s a deformed type of dog from Mexico. Right?” he asked, looking up at her. He was pretty sure he was going to be calling the nut farm, but he heard the words coming out anyway.
“That’s what I have to make everyone believe. And the television show was a plant.”
He paused for a moment, taking in what she had just said. He needed to know more. “Please, tell me more. You know you can trust me. I’m your nephew, and I am freaking out a little right now. So if you don’t want me ending up in the loony bin, you gotta explain everything to me.”
“Don’t you think I’ve wanted to tell you about this years ago?” She sat down in the chair across from him and leaned forward, making eye contact with him again. “When I was in my twenties, I discovered I had magical powers. Though they weren’t as pronounced then, I knew I was different from the others in my family. Your father, even though he was my brother, never knew I was a witch. I was afraid to tell him; frightened it would change his opinion of me. Your mother never knew either, and to be honest, when she moved to Florida, it made everything a lot easier.”
Looking at him to make sure that he wasn’t freaking out too much, she continued, “A year after I discovered my abilities, I came across a man, who was only a few years older than me, doing magic tricks in the park. I watched him for a while, noticing they weren’t just any old normal magic tricks. I waited until his show was over and confronted him. His name was Charlie, and it turned out he was a wizard. Finally, I had met someone like me.”
James nodded absently, thinking the story she was telling him sounded more like a fairy tale than real life. He tried to wrap his head around what she was saying.
“Charlie told me how he wished to start a group of witches and wizards to fight the evil creatures lurking in the city. He said he would even fund the whole project. Thrilled by the concept, I stuck with him every step of the way; buying a building, installing all the security equipment, and creating an entire facility underground for us to work in, as well as store cages for dangerous creatures that we catch."
Right, so his demure aunt, who he always thought was straight-laced and rigid, was a witch, and now she was telling him she ran a supernatural agency? This day was just getting weirder and weirder.
“Over the years, we’ve picked up a few recruits. Most of them are witches and wizards, some of whom we rarely see at the facility. They’re our street team, the ones who do most of the really dangerous work. Tyrone was the first we hired, then Lana, our tough little Hispanic chica. They were the only ones on the team for a couple of years until we hired Rocco and Angelina, an Italian brother and sister. Then we have Lin, who primarily works by herself, for the time being. She’s looking for a new partner right now.”
There was silence for a moment while James took in everything his aunt had told him. ‘
Really, who the hell could actually understand what the hell she told me? Really? This is ridiculous!
’ James had no idea if he should run from the room screaming, or sit and talk with her. His mind was having a hard time processing all of this. James finally decided he really couldn’t actually get up and stand, because his legs would not hold him. He was going to be forced to sit and listen; maybe he could just nod and make it look like he was paying attention and then he could make run for it. He needed to ask a question. One that was intelligent.
“So, what you’re telling me is that you and this Charlie guy run a secret underground organization to manage paranormal activity in the city?” There, he said it out loud. James paused, wanting to say more, but was afraid of what was going to come out of his mouth.
“Yes,” she said shortly and gave him time to grasp everything that she said. The silence in the room was deafening; if it were not for the whirl of the refrigerator, he would believe he was hallucinating.
“Wow,” he said, shaking his head. “And why did you tell me all this? Why didn’t you just lie to me and say that was a rabid dog with mange, or something like that?”
“Because we need you. You’re brilliant, James; far too good for a simple accounting job.”
“That’s very flattering, but I don’t think I’d be cut out for work like that.” He wanted to say that his income would allow him to hire the best psychologist on the planet to help her, but instead, he heard those words coming out of his mouth. What the hell was wrong with him? His brain was not communicating with his mouth.
“You’re exactly what the agency needs,” she insisted and leaned in closer.
James had to fight not to back away from his own aunt; he had no clue how to deal with this. Accounting was easy; add column A to column B and get column C, right? This was just too weird, but he could not stop himself from asking, “What would you need me to do?”
“Well, we need someone to manage the magical artifact department, as well as be Lin’s new partner. You’d be perfect to fill both positions.”
“And what would the salary be?” he asked, playing along. Soon he would wake up, and then he would be able to eat his nice boring dinner, just like usual. James convinced himself that, somewhere along the way home, he fell and knocked himself out. He probably had a concussion and wandered home in a state of confusion.
“You’d be making at least twice what you are now at your accounting job, and believe me, this job will be a lot more exciting. Don’t worry; if you don’t feel you can handle the job, you can leave at any time.” She looked so sincere and sure of herself.
He stood and walked around the room thinking the past few hours over in his mind. Left work, check. Walked home, check. Attacked by a freaky ass animal, check. Aunt shot a gun, check. Aunt’s a witch, check. Aunt works for a super-secret agency for paranormal protection, check. Aunt offered him a job making way more than he does right now, check. What would be the harm in seeing if he would wake up, if he agreed, and it turned out to be a fantasy? Subsequently, he could laugh it off. If he actually was awake and accepted this job, then he would be freaking cool and be suddenly making a lot more money.
‘Where was the down side?’
“Alright, sure, sign me up,” he said, smiling at Yvonne. "However, if we end up in the mental hospital, you have to pay for the room upgrade. I am on limited income until you pay me."
He had no idea what he was getting himself into, and he didn’t know at the time that the decision to work at
Black Wolf Agency
would be one of the best choices he would make in his life, and this new job would be what brought him to find true love.