NaNo continues to go really well! I hit the 50k mark on the 10th. I am having a lot of fun. Mostly due to Aki. He’s been rolling his eyes a lot while I worked on the previous two stories in this series. Turns out, he has a lot of very important opinions, and he feels that it is about time he got to share them.
Unfortunately, he does make it hard for me to share them! Because Aki was involved a lot in the events of Thorns and Fangs and The Dead Living (he had a lot of important opinions there too), he brings that past with him to Banging the Supernatural. I’ve chosen a scene that avoids major spoilers and shows a side of Aki we don’t get to see very often — Aki playing nicely with people. Let me know what you think! (disclaimer: excerpt is entirely un-betaed or edited)
Things went much more smoothly the second time around. With a beer inside me, I was relaxed, approaching the ritual in a much mellower state of mind. The others were less impressed.
“Beer always gives me gas.”
Charlotte nudged Vazul before taking his hand. “You only had to take a sip. You’ll be fine.”
“It’s the symbolism, not the beer itself,” Ben said, as if he hoped to impress Vazul with confidence. “You’ll survive.”
“Still.” Vazul reluctantly took their hands a second time. “I still don’t understand why Grant has to be shirtless.”
“It’s the aesthetics,” I told him. “Very important.”
Grant eyed me. “If they’re that important, how come I’m the only one sitting here without a shirt?”
I leered at him. “Because you’re the most aesthetic.”
“No one’s aesthetic when you’ve got your eyes closed—“ Vazul began.
“This is Aki’s rite,” Ben said. “Better not to question it.” He looked at me. “All set?”
I hesitated. “Maybe a token of something I’d like would help my focus. Say … Hunter’s phone number.”
Ben snorted. “Find Nate,” he said, shutting his eyes. “And I’ll consider it.”
Well, I’d tried.
Grant took my hand, and I followed Ben’s example, shutting my eyes and concentrating.
Now that the room did not smell overwhelmingly of Nun and boredom, I found it much easier to drift. I’d applied some of the after shave, and the smell blended nicely with the knowledge that Grant had great arms and a chest worth serious admiration. The hair was not the negative that I’d imagined. It was a fine blond colour, that didn’t obscure the lines of his body. I was willing to bet Grant would be a great cuddler.
Not that I was likely to put that to the test. I snorted, remembering Nate’s conversation with me on the roof. Was it Nate’s fault I’d spent so much time thinking about Grant? Had Nate brought my attention to a possibility I wasn’t aware of … or had I bought into Nate’s wishful thinking?
I felt a stab of pain. I missed Nate, ridiculous ideas and all. For a moment, I’d forgotten the seriousness of what we were doing. Was Nate out there, thinking of me? Was he scared? Hurt? Alone—
The feeling came first. Cold dread, that made the hair of my arm stand up one by one. “Nate’s not alone.” I heard a sudden intake of breath, felt the fingers gripping mine tighten, but I didn’t open my eyes, concentrating on this feeling. “It’s really weird. There’s other people there too, but they’re … not really there.”
“Where are you? Can you see anything?”
“It’s just a place — wait.” Ben’s questions had expanded my attention. Now I could see. “I’m in a showroom. No — it’s a house but the living room’s been converted. There’s glass cabinets dotted around the room.” The wallpaper still had that living room feel, but the carpet had been taken up and I stood on polished wood. A long desk with an antique cash register had been set up on a long table set in front of the door to the next room. The lights were out, shadows pooling in the corners.
“I guess. There’s hangings on the wall — a collector, maybe.” A light flashed by, and I lifted my head. “There’s a road nearby. A car just went by. It’s night, there’s not a lot of traffic.”
“Is there a name in the window?”
I took a step towards it. “I can’t — wait. J. R. Reid, purveyor of—“ Awareness prickled on the back of my neck. I turned around. My mouth was dry.
“Purveyor of what? Fujino, focus—”
“He sees something else. Don’t interrupt.”
The shadow in the corner had concentrated into the figure of a man. I couldn’t see his face, but his jewelled hands rested in the light. “There’s a man here with rings on all his fingers. This is definitely the place.”
“Is there anything else?”
“The guy is super creepy? He’s just staring at me—“ I paused. “This is going to sound crazy, but he’s got Hunter’s scarf.”