Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - His Lover's Fangs

Today's teaser is from the short story His Lover's Fangs, available for 99 cents. Logan and Olivia were Special Enforcers together, but now one of them has fangs...

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The fridge started buzzing more loudly, a reminder to Logan that he had been standing in front of it for a little while already. He finally closed the door without pulling anything out. He couldn’t think of eating, not when Olivia—no, he couldn’t think of her as Olivia; that wasn’t who she was anymore—not when she was outside, throwing threats and glares at him.

If he was honest with himself, he had known she would come tonight. Neither of them had ever cared much about holidays, but they had always made this day special. This was the day when they had graduated from the Academy together and made their relationship official. It was the closest thing they had to an anniversary.

He wondered if he should call the agency. His coworker had been nothing short of supportive for the past five days. He had understood Logan’s need to take that one assignment and offered to help him. Logan hadn’t wanted help, though. Not for this. He had made a promise, long ago, and he would get through with it. He just needed time. Time to say goodbye, to see her for who she was, to accept that it was over. Time to see her again, just a little longer.

Barely aware of what he was doing, he turned toward the bedroom door. It had been a while. Was she still in the backyard? He struggled against himself not to return to the bedroom. If he went, he still wouldn’t be able to kill her the way he should. Instead, he’d only look at her, fill his mind with her image, listen to her voice while trying not to pay attention to the actual words. He had enjoyed the reverse strip tease a little too much, enjoyed the look of raw lust that had bloomed on her face as she watched him, and while his mind knew it was crazy, his body longed for her touch. Would it be so bad if just once—

Glass shattered with a booming crash. Logan jumped. Instinctively, he turned away from the noise, away from the kitchen window, and covered his head with his arms.

“Come on, lover!” Olivia shouted in. “Let’s get on with it!”

Logan’s heart jumped with a flash of fear, instantly followed by anger. He looked at the broken glass on the floor, sparkling edges of pain lying around his bare toes, then raised his eyes to the window. Any hurried step he took now would result in blood and pain; any rushed decision he made about Olivia would only bring the same.

He felt a muscle tick in his cheek as he forced himself to ignore her and carefully picked his way to the broom and dustpan in the corner of the pantry. She continued to shout at him, her voice more angry with each passing minute, but, at least outwardly, he remained calm, even when she threw another rock and broke a piece of glass still clinging to the window frame.

Inside, he was seething. What did she expect to gain from angering him?

“Are you too scared to face me?” she called, her voice dripping with contempt. “You always knew I was better than you, didn’t you? You realize what it means. You’re next, honey. It’s just a matter of time. You can either come out or I’ll—”

“Or you’ll do what? Glare at me until I wither and die?”

She scowled, but it brought Logan no satisfaction. Despite his mocking words and the strong front he tried to maintain, something had broken inside Logan. He had known she was better than he was. He did know that, sooner or later, it would be his turn—to die or to be turned. He didn’t want to think about which it would be. But he also knew that, before anything else happened, he had to keep his promise. Dumping the glass into the trash bin, he dropped the dustpan and broom and strode over to the stove. A spark of pain radiated from the sole of his foot when he stepped on a bit of glass he had missed. He clenched his teeth and raised his foot to pull it out.

“First blood to me,” Olivia crowed. “Will you—”

He grabbed the box of matches next to the stove and threw it through the window as hard and as fast as he could, but even so she caught it easily. She looked at it, then at him, frowning.

“You want to kill me?” he said, keeping his voice at a normal level even when he wanted nothing more than to shout. “Go ahead. Burn our house, and me inside. Start a tradition for summer bonfires.”

Her frown deepened. Her jaw clenched and she pulled out a match. Logan’s body stiffened as he watched her, waiting for her to strike the match and put an end to the dreams they had built together in this home. After a few seconds, she broke the lone match and dropped it and the box to the ground.

“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of fire,” he taunted. “You’re a big bad vamp now. Surely a little bit of fire doesn’t scare you?”

Her eyes narrowed, and for an instant, Logan could have sworn they weren’t green anymore, but the color of burnt amber. Was she angry, he wondered, or were other emotions tugging at her heart?

“Or maybe you don’t really want to hurt me,” he said, his voice gentler now. “You came here to see me, but killing me? You could never do it.”

Deep down, he knew better than to believe a word of what he was saying. They had learned this lesson together in the Academy classrooms. After being turned, vampires couldn’t be expected to retain any of the feelings or allegiances they had held before changing. There were exceptions, there were stories, urban legends, but the truth was that the first instinct of a vampire was to take blood, and killing was not a concern to a hungry fledgling. Logan knew it. He had known it would apply to Olivia, too, from the second he had realized what had happened to her.

Still, he couldn’t let go of that tiny and fragile thread of hope that was wrapped around his heart. Olivia severed it with just a few words. Her scowl deepened before vanishing abruptly. She sneered at Logan, baring her fangs for just a second. “Keep telling yourself that, lover. We’ll see how long you last.”

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