are really dead and
She took another look. More than merely dead,
Mick’s beloved plants looked scorched, as a nuclear explosion had
ripped through the yard. The grass too had gone brown and
“Mick’s gardens.” She felt stunned. “Those
were his pride and joy. There’s not a single bloom left
“Maybe that has something to do with that
awful smell.” But he didn’t sound convinced. Maybe he knew, as she
did, such an odor could only come from a decaying body – human or
She could only hope it wasn’t Mick.
From the set line of his mouth, she guessed
Cenrick hoped the same.
Carefully, they skirted the side of the
house. The motion sensor light in the front of the garage clicked
on, but no one came outside to investigate.
The ground felt damp and spongy underfoot,
despite the dead grass, or maybe because of it. Like some horrible
chemical had seeped into the soil, polluting everything within
The smell grew stronger. Waves of nausea and
dizziness made her head spin. She could only hope Cenrick was all
Taking a deep breath and fighting not to gag,
she leaned on the brick for a moment. Every instinct screamed at
her to leave. As a cop, she’d learned to trust her instincts. “I
don’t like this,” she told him.
Making a sound of frustration, he reached for
the back door. “Look, quit worrying. Last time, that thing –
whatever it is – took me by surprise. Now, I’m better prepared.” He
tried the knob with his gloved hand. To her surprise, it
“They left it unlocked.” Shaking her head,
she swallowed her trepidation and followed him inside. “This is
beginning to feel like a trap.”
She’d barely spoken when the light flared,
Sickly yellow-green flooded the kitchen,
bathing Cenrick’s face. Immediately, he staggered.
“Everything’s spinning.” He spoke through
clenched teeth, sounding like a man in pain. He inhaled deeply,
once, twice, the rasping loud in the quiet.
“That’s what I was afraid of.” Dee grabbed
him. “You’d better hope your theory about my touch shielding you
As soon as her skin touched his, the
cloudiness vanished from his eyes.
He grinned at her. “I think it does.”
With her hand on his arms, he was able to
stand. A moment later, he slid his fingers through hers,
“Don’t let go,” he told her.
“You seem better.” She squinted up at him.
“Just because I touched you. What’s up with that?”
He flexed his other hand. “I’m capable again.
I don’t understand why, but you protect me.”
“Either that or they’ve turned off the
But the evil, pulsing glow still filled the
“If you’re okay now, let’s see what we can do
to get to Mick. I’ll make sure not to let go of you.”
Side by side, they moved forward.
Despite the glow, the place appeared
deserted. In fact, the house was so silent they could hear the
ticking of the kitchen clock on the wall.
“Mick’s bedroom is this way,” Dee whispered.
“This still feels… off. Wrong.”
“Bad,” he finished for her. “I agree. But we
have no choice.”
Hand in hand, down the eerily lit hall they
went, peering in rooms as they passed. They saw no sign of the
bodyguard who’d been left behind, nor of the Fae they’d seen
Worse, when they reached Mick’s room, the
unmade bed was empty.
Cenrick cursed. “He’s not here.”
“No, but I am.” Another voice, from the hall
behind them. “She said you’d come.”
Dee spun, pulling out her gun. In her haste
to draw her weapon, she yanked her hand free of Cenrick’s.
Immediately, he fell to the floor, gasping.
The man rushed her. Pivoting, she danced
away, bringing up her revolver to bear on him. “Freeze.”
He laughed. “Point your gun all you want,
lady. I’m not sure how a Fae like you can hold metal, but I’ve got
the machine amped up full power. She wanted him. You’ll be an
David Alastair Hayden, Pepper Thorn