Copyright © 2014 Yolanda Sfetsos
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“You’re going to be home later, right?”
“Of course I am, Papan.”
“Are you going to be alone?”
“It’s a weeknight, so my sister will be here. But she’ll be having an early night…” A breathy sigh choked me as a wave of desire struck deep in my lower abdomen. “Besides, her bedroom’s too far to matter.”
“That’s music to my ears because I really want to get you alone. We’ve got some catching up to do.” He paused long enough to growl into the phone. “Too bad you haven’t got that trench coat yet, because I’m in the mood for some role-playing.”
I rolled my eyes. Was he ever going to let this trench coat and red high heels fantasy go? I doubted it. Papan could be very stubborn. “What’s with you and the trench coat fantasy, anyway?”
“The thought of you wearing nothing but a coat and heels gets my blood boiling. It’s a very vivid image. One I’ve had since the first moment I saw you.” His breathing echoed through the line, making my spine tingle. “Anyway, I don’t think now’s the time to be concentrating on this. I have to meet with someone and my jeans are getting uncomfortably tight.”
“I’m alone now,” I whispered into the phone. “Maybe you should come over.”
His frustrated groan echoed in my ears. “Don’t tempt me, Foxy Lady. I’m so close to cancelling so I can get over there and f—”
“No, don’t cancel.” As much as I enjoyed flirting with him, I didn’t want to interfere with his scheduled appointment. Not when this could turn out to be a new case, and our work routines had been relatively smooth for months. “Go to your meeting. We’ll talk later.”
“I don’t think we’ll have much time for talking.”
“Then we’ll do whatever else comes to mind.”
“I’m holding you to that.”
“You better,” I said with a laugh.
“See you soon, Foxy.”
“Bye.” I pulled my mobile phone away and held it for a moment so I could stare at the snapshot I’d set as Papan’s profile pic. It took up the whole screen and I couldn’t look away from his infectious smile. The corners of his eyes crinkled as he flashed the cheeky grin that always made his dimples appear. He was shirtless and the blond stubble on his face caught the sun, while the colorful sunflower patch in the background made him look like the epitome of summer. He was beautiful. Sometimes, I still couldn’t believe he wanted to be with me, but our friendship had blossomed into a passionate relationship. We’d now been a couple for over six months.
Months filled with teasing, flirting, and a whole lot of heat. But it wasn’t all fun and games. Papan encouraged me to get my gun license, become a member of a shooting club, and even taught me how to shoot. Now I could actually use the revolver Oren had given me.
Papan also trained me in self-defense. It was great to have incantations and spells at my disposal, but he constantly insisted that getting my hands dirty was a necessity. I was getting pretty good at it, and the fact most of our sparring sessions ended with us naked was enough motivation.
Jason Papan was a good man, and we’d been through a lot.
I couldn’t get enough of him.
Reluctantly, I hit the Home button and tucked the phone into the back pocket of my sweatpants.
I eyed the locked closet door I hadn’t opened for ages. My archive closet was where I stored old stuff—clothes that didn’t fit, formal gowns, photo albums, that kind of thing. But today I wanted something in particular and I was pretty sure it was in there. I vaguely remembered Grandpa giving me a khaki trench coat that belonged to Grandma. In my teens I didn’t have any need for the garment, but if I found it now…I could finally bring Papan’s fantasy to life.
The thought of role-playing with him always got my heart pumping. Making it his birthday surprise sweetened the deal, especially since it was only a week away.
In June, he’d made my birthday special and had given me a beautiful, customized boline with a moonstone handle, silver guard and straight double-edged blade. A Hecate’s Wheel symbol was inscribed on top of the pommel. I took it everywhere, and not just because it was a present from Papan. There was something else. Every time I held it, a sense of raw strength flowed through me—and it felt stronger during the full and waning moon.
“I commissioned this especially for you. No one else in the world has one like it,” he’d said. I’d wanted to ask him so many questions about it—especially why one side of the thin blade bore a key and the other said Hecate—but was taken aback by his attention to detail.
Papan’s gift fit in my palm perfectly—just felt right.
Since my biological grandfather gave me a silver dagger at the beginning of the year, I’d taken a keen interest in short blades.
I crossed the carpeted expanse of my bedroom and paused at my bedside table, habitually glancing out the window. Nothing looked out of place on this Thursday afternoon. The sun shone on the quiet street.
My bedroom was on the third story of the split-level house and directly above the garage, so I could see a long way up and down the street. This also happened to be the only room on this floor. My grandparents used it as their own for decades, but I’d inherited the room and the house shortly after escaping the clutches of the Spook Catcher Council.
My queen-sized bed sat in the middle of the room, with the beautiful antique gilded mirror Oren had given me for my birthday placed across from it—a position Papan had suggested. A small wooden desk pressed into the far corner had my laptop on top, and a comfortable armchair was positioned near the window.
I only had one destination in mind at the moment, but I needed the key I’d dumped on the bedside table when Papan called. I scooped it up and admired the ornate brass, the kind they didn’t make anymore. I continued to the closet, inserted the key into the matching lock, and turned it once. The door clicked and I opened it, sending a flurry of dust around me.
When was the last time I’d opened this?
I coughed several times and waited for the dust to settle before taking inventory. Several garments hung from coat hangers, some covered in plastic for preservation. I shuffled through them but couldn’t find what I was looking for. A pair of stretchy blue jeans I hadn’t seen since high school sat on the top shelf. They were perfect for my upcoming sewer-cross-training with my friend and demon hunter, Lavie Grye.
I grabbed them and threw them on the armchair.
Where the hell had I put the coat?
I finally stepped into the cramped interior, which was only as wide as the doorway and deep enough for one person. It was nothing like the wardrobe across the room—the one I used every day.
“Where the hell are you?” I whispered. So much for playing out Papan’s little scenario.
Like an idiot, I stamped my foot against the old wooden floor and something rattled behind the clothes. I shoved them aside like a curtain and lifted my foot to take a step, but it snagged on a box. I didn’t have enough time to catch myself and slammed my left arm into the back wall. My elbow broke the fall, but cracked the wall.
I righted myself from the awkward position, almost jumping out of my skin when the sound of my home phone started shrilling downstairs.
“Crap.” I ignored it and examined the damage. My long-sleeved T-shirt was torn at the elbow, the skin scraped underneath. Nothing big, considering I’d had my shoulder bitten and throat cut earlier this year. A little scratch wasn’t going to kill me, but the curiosity of finding out why the wall had cracked might.
Cats weren’t the only ones seduced by curiosity.