SPG: January, Part 4/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

St. Paul Grimoire is a weekly urban fantasy serial.

“We have to do something,” Pete gasped. Dakotah and Eyerusalem tore into each other again. She had barely regained her breath after seeing Dakotah’s throat slashed.

“What do we do?” asked Phin. He bounced Leal pointlessly. The baby wailed and the animal sounds of the fight weren’t calming. “Get a stake? Wait for sunrise?”

Their parents would murder them first if they didn’t come back until sunrise, Pete thought.

“I don’t see a stake,” Val said. “And sunlight doesn’t hurt them. The only light that hurts vampires is the Divine Light.”

“What’s that?”

Val managed to take her eyes from the fight. “It’s something Heroes can make. But I don’t know how.”

Pete and Phin shared a look.

“We can try,” she said.

“How? What if it’s dangerous? What if it hits Dakotah and kills him, too?”

Pete reached out and grabbed Phin’s hand. “We’re Heroes. We’ll figure it out.”

Phin watched his sister close her eyes and concentrate. Her lips mouthed the words “Divine Light.”

Maybe because of Dakotah’s magic-inducing presence, or because they were in the fey world, or in danger, Phin swore he saw Pete start to glow. A light flicked on in the middle of her chest and started to spread.

“Jesus,” Val said.

Phin knew why it worked for his sister. She believed in being a Hero. She wanted it more than anything, to earn that title.

A sound from the fight distracted them all. Eyerusalem had sent Dakotah straight through a door. As he crashed out of view, she turned toward them.

Her eyes locked on Pete and the faint glow on her skin.

Eyerusalem screamed and ran straight for them.

Val screamed, Leal screamed. Phin squeezed Pete’s hand and yelled, “Divine Light!”

The blaze started in his chest and flared from there, filling the rest of his body. He felt Pete’s flame next to him, and Leal’s, too. He even had a dim awareness of Val and Dakotah.

Val threw up her hands to block the light that shone from her friends. It lit the room as bright as a summer day, hitting Eyerusalem.

The vampire screamed. Her skin boiled and lit, and in moments she was ash.

Pete opened her eyes. Her light faded as she stopped concentrating. Phin’s faded, too. Soon the hallway was filled with the same dim light as usual.

Dakotah came out of the room he’d been thrown into. The door had ripped off one hinge, and he touched the damage as he went by.

“That was cool,” he said.

“That was batshit crazy,” Val said.

“How did you know to do that?”

Pete gestured to Val, still holding Phin’s hand.

“I told you we needed to read the grimoire,” Dakotah said. He touched his eyeteeth. They were shrinking back to normal. The rest of his face was filling out, too.

“Don’t celebrate yet,” Phin said. “There’s another vampire.”

“–Who?”

“–Where?”

“His name is Inkar.”

Dakotah’s mouth dropped open. “No, he’s…”

He stopped at the look on Phin’s face.

“He spent a long time deciding whether to kill us or not.”

Val had never seen Dakotah look so angry.

“Stay here,” he growled.

They didn’t listen, following a few feet behind him.

But the room Phin and Leal had been held in was empty. They searched the corners with lights from their phones, but Inkar was gone.

“Coward,” Dakotah spat. “If I ever see him again…”

Pete’s phone rang. She checked it. “It’s Dad.”

Phin looked at his coat, shredded where Eyerusalem had grabbed him. Underneath his skin was bloody.

“Leal doesn’t even have a coat, or hat, or anything,” Pete said. “How’re we gonna explain this?”

Dakotah looked at his jacket. It was beyond shredded. He was going to have to buy a new one with some of his profits from the shop or his mom be all over him.

“I got it,” he said. “The shop has antique baby clothes. Text your dad. Tell him you’ll be home in half an hour. We’ll find something for Leal. Phin can take my hoodie.”

They used the Lake to Everywhere and were back at the shop in no time. They dug up a knitted sweater, handmade coat, little gloves and a knitted cap. The whole thing was nothing like the coordinated outfits their mom liked to dress Leal in, but it would pass. In ten minutes they were all out the door again.

They walked Val right up to her door. Everyone checked all around but no fey made themselves known.

Next, Dakotah dropped the Abe siblings off at their place. The moment Adolfo and Violeta rounded the corner he could see Pete and Phin were going to be in a lot of trouble.

“Ok, night!” he said before he could catch a scolding, too. Plus, he couldn’t let them see the blood still covering his clothes.

Dakotah was off the porch in seconds. He walked quickly around the side of the Abe’s house and through the landscaped backyards. His muscles ached from the fight and he hadn’t completely wound down yet. He could barely remember the details of fighting Eyerusalem. She had moved so quickly all he had had time to do was react.

Steps from his back door, Inkar appeared out of the darkness.

Dakotah sprang back. He shifted into Other St. Paul and bared vampire fangs.

Inkar put his hands up. “Wait. I am not here to hurt you. I wanted to warn–”

He did not get to finish. Inkar’s hands went to his chest and his whole body seized. His eyes rolled back into his head and he fell to his knees, revealing a girl standing behind him. Inkar pitched forward, landing face first in the ground. Then Dakotah saw the stake in his back.

“Are you all right?” the girl asked.

Dakotah couldn’t answer. He watched in shock as Inkar’s body shriveled and turned to ash.

“Guardian,” said the girl. She was tall and white with long straight brown hair. She spoke with an Irish accent. “Did it hurt you?”

“I’m fine,” Dakotah snapped. He glared. “Who the fuck are you?”

“I’m Caitlin,” she said, retrieving her stake. “The Northern European Guardian.” He still didn’t say anything so she went on, “From Belfast?”

“Belfast? No, I’ve been there. The Sanctuary is destroyed. They said you were dead.”

Caitlin spread her arms. “Surprise.”

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Turquoiseblood-300x200

When the dangerous rogue dragon Anya crash lands in an isolated mountain village during a snowstorm, Kiri saves her life. Anya awakens seemingly cured of her madness and in thanks offers to show Kiri the country outside her village.

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SPG: January, Part 3/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

St. Paul Grimoire is a weekly urban fantasy serial.

Val and Dakotah took a minute to put on their coats, but Pete was out the door. She kept the cell phone extended in front of her. A loose grip was all she needed to feel the pull. Val and Dakotah caught up moments later.

“We don’t know what we were walking into,” Val said in low tones to Dakotah.

He kept his eyes on Pete’s back. “We gonna figure it out like always, V.”

Val sighed.

As they walked, the pull on the phone got stronger. In Dakotah’s pocket, the necklace’s pull got stronger, too.

Eventually the pull of the magic caused Pete to start to jog. Dakotah and Val picked up their pace with her. Snow had begun to fall lightly. Val pulled up her hood and dug her fingers into her pockets. She ran that way, a little awkwardly. When she took her gaze up from the icy sidewalk, she frowned.

“Are we going to Central?”

Their high school rose into view as they approached the busy intersection of Lexington and Marshall.

“Can’t tell yet,” Pete answered. She tapped her foot at the red light. The stream of cars surprised her, reminding her it was only eight at night. She wondered what other dramas were happening in those cars. If anyone looked at her and could tell she was missing two siblings.

The light turned, and she sprinted across the intersection.

The pull of the phone led her right up to Central’s front doors. The massive building had lights on all around, but she didn’t hesitate to run forward and grab at the door handle.

Locked.

“Fuck!” she yelled.

“Chill,” said Dakotah.

She whipped around to glare.

“I’m gonna get us in. But once we’re in,” –he met her eyes– “you gotta slow down. We don’t know what the fuck fey fucker’s gonna be waiting.”

“Yeah, fine, whatever.”

Dakotah took a deep breath and switched them all into Other St. Paul. The effect was immediate: streetlights became dim and blurry, the snow fell in slow-motion. Most noticeably, the cars vanished from the street.

Dakotah reached out and pulled the doors of the high school open.

They moved slowly through the halls, made unfamiliar by the silence, the gloom. The seeking charm led them into a back area of the school where students weren’t allowed. In the back of the pump room, they finally came upon an ancient door, cobwebbed shut and barely noticeable behind some pipes.

“It looks like part of a castle,” Val said.

Dakotah put his hand on the handle. “We ready?”

“Do it,” said Pete.

He pulled the door open.

~*~

“Are you going to try to fight me again, Hero?”

Phin had stood with Leal in his arms. The memory of the last fight—the two seconds of it he’d been conscious—were clear.

“You can’t have Leal.”

Eyerusalem laughed. “Do you know how long I’ve been alive? I have been taking human babies since before this country existed. The murders of people trying to protect them—that’s just been icing on the cake. Please, do put up some fight. It’s always laughable when untested Heroes try to use their powers on my kind.”

She took a step toward him and Phin scrambled back—but a sound caught them both off guard. The door creaked open.

Out of the shadows stepped–

“Inkar?” Eyerusalem said in surprise.

The vampire came fully into the room.

Phin frowned. He’d heard that name recently. Then it clicked. The vampire staying at Dakotah’s shop.

“Eyerus,” Inkar said with a formal head nod. “I did not know you were in this area also.”

“No Seelie Court for years now,” she explained. “An easy hunting ground.”

Eyerus surveyed Inkar. The two vampires seemed familiar but not close. “And you? Still searching for your less bloody fountain of youth?”

“I have been staying with the young Guardian. He has been helping me.” Inkar nodded toward Phin. “I am afraid you have overstepped, Eyerus. You have taken his friend. They have your necklace, the one from Toledo. He’ll be here soon.”

Eyerus laughed. “Icarus’s replacement, you mean? The boy? One so young is no threat to us, Inkar, why could you never see that? Look there–” she pointed a finger at Leal. “See that child? Look, and remember how it could revive you from this pitiful state you’ve sunk to.”

“No, I–”

But Inkar had stopped and was looking at Leal. His tongue flicked out over his fangs.

“Stop fighting your nature, Inkar. This is what you are now. Tonight is the perfect night to reclaim your power–”

Phin leaped for the door, slamming it shut behind him. He hadn’t expected the darkness of the hall outside and had to slow down, jogging with one hand outstretched and one hand around Leal.

Behind him, the door banged open and Eyerusalem’s voice called, “Can you see in the dark, Hero? I can…”

Phin cursed Dakotah and Ike and every fey he’d ever met. His heart was racing and Leal was wailing, leaving them no chance of hiding. In desperation, he tried to shift Other St. Paul. It worked, surprisingly, the first time he’d accomplished it without Dakotah’s presence. The shift actually made the hallway lighten, and he spotted a door just ahead.

Unfortunately, he didn’t hear Eyerusalem’s approach. She grabbed him by the shoulders, fingernails raking across his collarbone.

“Stop!” someone screeched.

The arrival of Dakotah, Valene, and Pete was enough of a surprise to Eyerusalem that Phin was able to sprint forward and join his friends. When he turned, Eyerusalem was standing with her arms folded.

“Senora…?” Dakotah said, confused.

“Eyerusalem,” Pete finished. “You’re Phin’s teacher!”

“I’m not surprised to see that Icarus’ Heir has also taken to meddling outside the Sanctuary,” Eyerusalem said. “But really, Guardian, you have all the magic of the fey available to you, and all you brought to this fight was more kids?

She moved then, not waiting for an answer. Her leap was at quantum speed, claws outstretched, straight for Leal.

Dakotah blocked her, moving at the same speed and hitting her with his shoulder. The force slammed her into the wall.

“Run!” yelled Dakotah. The others took off. He moved backward quickly, flexing his fingers. As before, he was flooded with the same abilities of the fey he was nearest to. That meant he had all the abilities of a vampire. Unfortunately, getting all new abilities was never very helpful because he never had time to learn them all, or figure out the best way to use them.

Eyerusalem sprang from the ground. She hit him hard, and they both tumbled backward into one of Central’s main halls.

They fought viciously. Dakotah managed to scramble to his feet. Eyerusalem rolled to a squat and hissed at him. Her eyes were wild.

Dakotah drew back his own lips and hissed in return.

She lunged again, and this time her nails ripped into Dakotah’s neck. His blood sprayed over his clothes and over Eyerusalem. She laughed victoriously.

Pete and Val screamed.

Dakotah stumbled back a few steps, head down. He looked at his bloody hands.

Then he reached up and wiped the blood from his neck. The savage wound was already healing with vampire magic. His skin stitched itself back together as they watched.

“You’ll have to do better than that,” he said.

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SPG: January, Part 2/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

St. Paul Grimoire is an urban fantasy serial that updates weekly. Each month will cover a self-contained story told over four parts.
It will not be overly edited, and character arcs and plotlines could be adjusted with your feedback! Let me know what you think!

“Phin?” Pete’s dad called out as they entered the house.

Pete was following behind, so she didn’t notice at first the strangeness. All the lights on, Phin’s homework on the table, Leal’s swing chair– but no Phin, and no Leal.

“Phin?” Adolfo called again, this time sharper. His footsteps picked up and took the stairs to the bedrooms quickly.

Everything’s fine, Pete thought, forcing down a weird feeling. She dropped her bags and as she did, spotted a necklace. It had a heavy black metal chain and a huge square-cut red stone surrounded by spikes.

Such an intense piece of jewelry definitely wasn’t hers or Phin’s, but that wasn’t what made the weird feeling in her stomach spread to her limbs. The necklace glowed with fey glamour, and when she focused on it, it no longer looked chintzy and fake. It looked ancient, expensive, and loaded with magic.

Something vibrated. She grabbed the necklace and shoved it into her winter coat. At the kitchen table, she saw Phin’s phone vibrating. Her dad was calling him. She snatched up the phone as well.

“Pete?” her dad said as he came back down the stairs. “Did you see Phin? Or Leal?”

“I just texted him,” she lied. “But actually, I think he said earlier that he was going to work at Dakotah’s shop.”

Adolfo frowned. “With Leal? He didn’t ask me for permission.”

“I bet he checked in with Mom.”

“Maybe…why’s all his stuff here though?”

“Want me to run over to the shop and check?”

Adolfo considered. “It’s freezing. I’ll drive you.”

“No, no, that’s fine!” she insisted. “I’ll run right over and text you when I get there. I mean, where else would he be?”

She was already moving toward the back door.

“Fine,” Adolfo said. “I’m calling your mom just in case. Text me right away!”

“I will!” she shouted over her shoulder.

Her house and Dakotah’s were back-to-back, the yards in the middle landscaped into a rolling garden meant to show off her mom’s landscaping business. Pete ran through, leaving the windy little path and stepping on the dead, snow-covered flowerbeds in order to run in a straight line. A quick sweep of the duplex showed no lights on in Dakotah’s part of the house. She’d expected that and kept running, barrelling through St. Paul streets until she arrived at the House.

Only once she crossed the gate did she feel the weird feeling ease a bit. This didn’t have to be a disaster. Phin probably <was in there, sitting with Leal and talking incessantly about college applications.

Her face fell as she reached Dakotah and Val at the back of the shop. Another man was with them–but no Phin. She clapped her hands over her ears, so cold they burned.

“What’s wrong?” all three people asked at once.

“Have you seen Phin?” she asked. Her voice came out a little unsteadily from her sprint.

“He didn’t come today. He wanted to work,” answered Dakotah.

“Shit,” said Pete, the weird feeling flooding her whole body. She recognized it now– panic.

“He wasn’t at home, all his stuff’s there, Leal’s gone, too–” Val gasped. “–and I found this.”

She tossed the necklace onto the table.

Dakotah picked it up. It glowed, and they saw its two forms with double vision, until the glamour fell away completely and the ruby caught the light.

“This looks familiar,” Dakotah said, half to himself. “Where’d you find it?”

“On the floor.”

He turned it over in his hands.

“Well, what do we do?” Pete snapped.

“Let’s use magic,” suggested Valene. “I bet something in this shop can find him.”

Dakotah stood. “I’ll get the inventory.”

“What do I tell my dad?” Pete asked, following behind him. Thank god someone else is in charge. I don’t know what to do.

Dakotah spoke over his shoulder. “Just say they’re here. This is fey business, we don’t want them to call the cops or something.”

“I’ll leave you to it,” Inkar said as the three humans made for the front of the shop. “I hope you find your friend.”

“Thanks,” Pete said distractedly, already busy trying to sound as normal as possible in her text to her dad.

Watching Dakotah sift through inventory was the longest half hour of Pete’s life. Every time he found an entry that looked promising, it always ended up being too specific. Val kept saying she was sure everything was going to be fine, but none of that helped Pete relax.

“Got it,” Dakotah finally, finally said. “Potion. We drip it on something of Phin’s and that thing will lead us too him. Its glamour is a purple perfume bottle…”

He dropped the inventory and walked into row of shelves.

The shop wasn’t what you’d call organized. Small things were stacked on shelves and big things placed against the walls. The Victorian-style house had small rooms, but with the magic imbuing the place, the rooms seemed to go on forever.

Dakotah, however, knew just where to go. Within minutes he was picking up the bottle.

“I need something of Phin’s.”

Pete produced his cell phone. When Dakotah had spritzed the phone, it started to glow in Pete’s hand. A slight pull moved her hand toward the door like a magnet.

“Lemme see that necklace, too,” Dakotah said, raising the perfume bottle again.

~*~

Phin opened his eyes. Leal’s wailing had pulled him out of unconsciousness.

Through the dim lighting, he made out the dimensions of a strange room. The stone floor, walls, and ceiling made him feel like he was inside of a castle. There were even tapestries on the walls.

He was cold. Not outside-in-a-Minnesota-winter cold, but cold enough to tell there wasn’t any heat. The only light came from an old camping lantern set on the ground. It gave off a pale light.

Just beyond, he saw Señora Eyerusalem. She smiled, looking as she had right after he’d said “Yeah, come on in.”

The moment her foot had crossed the threshold her glamour had dropped. Without it she was gaunt, her jaw more pronounced. She wore all-black, except for a necklace of black spikes around a ruby pendant. Her eyes bulged in her face.

He’d ripped off the necklace when he’d thrown his hands up to defend himself. That was about the only thing he’d been able to do, since she moved faster than anything he’d ever seen before. Now they were–where? Did St. Paul have any castles? His head spun at the thought that he and Leal had been taken across the Lake to Everywhere, and now they were in Europe or somewhere else his family would never find him.

“You’re awake,” she said in Spanish.

“Fuck you,” he said in English. He had no idea where that bravery had come from.

She laughed. “Un héroe,” she said. “I noticed the moment you walked into class.”

Her Spanish wasn’t like the Spanish she’d spoken in class, he noticed. It sounded old, stilted and formal.

Never had the title “Hero” sounded more ridiculous to him than it did then, kidnapped in a castle. Leal started wailing again. He reached out automatically and picked up the baby.

“What are you?” he asked, though he had a guess.

She bared her teeth. “An ancient creature. I must drink the blood of innocents to stay young forever.” She inclined her head toward Leal. “Unfortunately, they cannot invite me inside.”

Phin gathered Leal closer. “You’re not gonna hurt us. I’m friends with the Guardian.”

Eyerusalem laughed. “Alas, my young friend, you are far from Sanctuary.”

 

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SPG: January, Part 1/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

St. Paul Grimoire is an urban fantasy serial that updates weekly. Each month will cover a self-contained story told over four parts.
It will not be overly edited, and character arcs and plotlines could be adjusted with your feedback! Let me know what you think!

“I have two siblings actually,” Phin explained. “My sister Pete is one year younger, a sophomore. Then there’s Leal, the baby.”

Senora Eyerusalem’s eyes lit up in the way that Phin had noticed all adults did when he mentioned Leal. They loved babies. He liked Leal fine, but not any random baby he came across. Adults always got all excited about every baby they heard about.

“Leal? What a nice name. I don’t think I remember a Pete from my sophomore class, though.”

Senora Eyerusalem was a substitute teacher who had just taken over when Phin’s regular Spanish teacher went on maternity leave. She was tall and lean with dark skin and a close-cut afro.

“She’s in Senor Michaelson’s class. We’re both in Spanish IV because our mom wanted us to learn properly.”

“What a good idea,” said Senora Eyerusalem. “You’ll have to introduce me.”

The bell rang.

“Oh– I’m gonna be late,” Phin realized.

“Let me write you a pass,” Senora Eyerusalem offered.

~*~

Phin spent the rest of the school day with a million other things on his mind.

Unlike Pete, he wasn’t that into sports, but he had a lot of other clubs to keep up with. Lately he’d been spending so much time at Dakotah’s shop he hadn’t been keeping up, hence the need to run over to check in with Senora Eyerusalem about the Latin Club. He was glad things had calmed down at the shop. Winter break had come and gone peacefully. January was going through fits of severe cold, which just motivated him all the more to stay in an buckle down. Halfway through junior year and it was time to start thinking about college applications. He should really see his counselor next…

Dakotah would have to do without him at the shop. The shop was getting more regular customers now, so sometimes Phin ran the register so Dakotah had time to research Guardian stuff. You’d think with the lack of supernatural occurrences (besides the usual visits from goblin accountants or fey houseguests staying the night) would’ve calmed Dakotah down, but he’d taken the opportunity to start learning more about being a Guardian.

Well, he’d have to get Pete to help him again. Phin sat down with his planner to map out the rest of his day.

~*~

“Oh my god!” Val shrieked.

“Sorry, sorry.” The man back quickly away from her, holding up his hands.

Dakotah glanced up at Val’s scream and then immediately went back to his book. “Val, this is Inkar. You’re up early, Ink.”

“THIS is Inkar?” Val asked incredulously.

Inkar arched a brow. He was a short, broad-faced man of Asian descent, though Val knew from Dakotah his original nationality was Kazakh. He looked painfully ill, his skin waxy, hair limp, eyes puffy. But his haughty look brought a little dignity back to his features, making him look more like the vampire he was.

“Yes, I am Inkar,” he said unnecessarily, long eyeteeth showing.

“Sorry,” Val apologized. She closed the grimoire she’d been reading and held out a hand. Inkar shook it delicately.

The vampire went on morosely. “I could not sleep, Guardian. What more have you learned about my situation?”

Val and Dakotah traded a look. Inkar had been around for a few weeks now, and unlike other visitors to the House, he wasn’t in any danger. He didn’t need protection of any kind from Dakotah. What he wanted was information.

“I’ve been trying, man, sorry.”

“I’ve been reading the vampire grimoire,” Val added. “But I don’t think it’s going to tell us anything different.”

Inkar sniffed. “I’ve read it. Grisly thing. The whole book just accepts vampire nature as profoundly backward. Not a word in it to suggest there may be another way.”

Val shot Dakotah a glare for not telling her that Inkar had already read the grimoire.

We still had to read it,” he pointed out. “Inkar can’t tell us everything.”

She pushed the grimoire away. “Why not? Inkar, give me some clues where to look. What exactly do you want from us?”

“It’s simple,” the vampire said stiffly. “We vampires must drink the blood of innocents or die. I want a way to stay alive without having to kill another human.”

“When was the last time you drank blood?”

“Twenty-five years ago.” Inkar gestured to his sickly disposition. “As you can see, the effect is wearing off. My youth is the first thing to decline. Afterward…well, who knows? I’ve never gone more than 25 years without killing someone. But I imagine I have less than ten years left.”

“So we have time,” Val said with a half-laugh.

“It passes in the blink of an eye for a vampire,” Inkar rebuked her.

She grimaced at Dakotah.

“Inkar has already tried animals, plants, non-innocent humans…nothing seems to work,” explained Dakotah. “But I haven’t been able to find anything either. And…”

“I know,” Inkar interrupted. “If there were a vampire who had figured it out, he would still be alive today to tell us about it.”

The three fell silent.

Val tried to think of what Pete would say. One thing was sure, Pete would try to keep things positive. “Dakotah has lots of rules that he has to follow as a Guardian,” she said, not sure if this was the right thing to say. “But we’ve always been able to work it out, and I think we will for you, too.”

Inkar heaved a sigh. “Our powers are curses, are they not? But to be a Guardian is better, for you still own your soul. And I? I cannot even enter a building without invitation.”

~*~

Phin was home alone. Pete had a meet and their dad had taken her out to eat after. His mom was having her big monthly meeting with everyone who worked for her landscaping company, which included Dakotah’s mom.

So it was just him and Leal. Outside, the Minnesota night had already fallen so it was pitch black outside by five PM. It didn’t bother him. He put Leal in the swing and sat at the dinner table to get more work done.

A knock at the door interrupted him. He wiggled his fingers at Leal as he got up.

Upon opening the door, he was surprised to see Senora Eyerusalem on the stoop.

“Phin,” she said. Her broad smile revealed long eyeteeth. “May I come in?”

 

My novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is available now on Amazon! Check it out here!