Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Girl with the Red Umbrella
She was the girl dancing in the rain with the red umbrella. She was the girl dancing in the rain with the red umbrella tripping over the curb and falling in a puddle. She was the girl sprawled in a puddle with the red umbrella splashing like a toddler and laughing drunkenly at her own antics. Snorting, I leaned back deeper into the shadows of the alley’s mouth and shook my head derisively. For three weeks I had been watching her, following her when I could, but more often than not her bouncing about like a five year old on a sugar rush left me to track after her in more ways than one. And, hey, don’t give me that look; I know how that sounded but, no, I am not some crazy stalker. Incidentally, I’m not a private detective or guardian angel either, although I was keeping an eye on her, per my, shall we say, boss’ instructions.
Are you confused? I’ve confused you, haven’t I? Sigh. Okay, let me start from the beginning. My name is Darien Adams and I’m a werewolf. I feel like I should pause here for a chorus of “Hi, Darien,” so consider pause duly inserted. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a werewolf. Provided I don’t get myself killed, I’m going to live for freaking ever – heck, I’ve already got three centuries behind me. I’m better, stronger, faster with no need for technology, thank you very much. I can turn into a wolf which is, hands down, my favourite part of the package. Second best part? Unlike all my other wolfish brethren, I don’t need to be bound to a Pack or, more to the point, leashed to an Alpha. I am a free man, yes, sir. It’s one of the perks of being an Omega.
…You have no idea what an Omega is, do you? Excuse me a moment while I lament the sorry state of today’s education system. If it’s all the same to you, I’ll just skip the crash course on werewolf Packs and hit the highlights. There are thirteen Packs. Seven belong to the Winter Fae Court, six to the Summer, no I’m not explaining why. Each Pack has an Alpha who is connected to the Royal of their respective Court, but each Royal only has one Omega. In essence, I represent the Winter Queen of the Fae and the job comes with a lot of nifty perks. Like being able to host more than one wolf soul and being answerable to my Queen alone, so no Alphas for me.
As an extra bonus, I had the added bonus of serving a pretty swell Queen. Granted she’s outcast from her Court at the moment and just a little too far on the wrong side of insane, but that’s just circumstance. You can’t help circumstance. Blaze has all the characteristics you want in a Queen in spades and firm grasp on the fun concept; what more could you want in a boss?
Which brings us to my current situation, standing in the shadows of an alley watching as my Queen’s roommate, Rochelle Newberry, aka the girl dancing in the rain with the red umbrella, sat in a puddle and drunkenly splashed about. The “drunkenly” part would be the reason for my presence. Ro was Magic Born – a human from a bloodline whose latent Magical abilities had woken with the return of Magic. Her ability was psychometry; she touched inanimate objects and saw flashes of its past. Unfortunately, since she had no control, she got to enjoy the fun of being almost constantly bombarded by semi-comprehensible visions. Needless to say, she had decided to find escape in the tradition of rich girls everywhere; she drank hard, she was heavy into the party scene, she was big on serial one night stands, and occasionally she even indulged in popping and snorting. In other words, she was a train wreck just waiting to happen.
Small wonder Blaze was worried. She had asked me to keep an eye on Ro, make sure she stayed alive and out of as much trouble as possible. Unfortunately, train wrecks aren’t so easy to prevent as you might think. In the twenty-one days I’d been tailing Ro, Blaze had had to send her mate to collect Ro’s unconscious, danger prone ass nineteen times. It’s how this worked. Ro went out, Ro imploded, Ro got collected. In a perfect world, Ro would have gone to rehab months – if not years – ago but, as Blaze put it, free will was a pesky, pesky little bugger and intervention wouldn’t tell Ro anything she wasn’t already aware of.
Thus, Ro got followed and saved from herself whenever possible.
My cell suddenly sprang to life, emitting a series of high pitch beeps only my sensitive wolf ears could hear. I answered without bothering to check the ID; I already knew who it was. “She’s in a puddle, but still conscious. Make of it what you will.”
Blaze sighed, relieved. “Thank the gods. Listen, I think I have an idea. A better one than our current plan which, let’s face it, sucks.”
I snorted. “You think? I mean, hell, Blaze this girl needs a babysitter not a shadow.”
I could almost hear her wincing. “I know, I know, hence my new idea. I think I might…suggest…that she check out the Fox tomorrow night.”
“Oh, hell, no!” The Fox and the Hound was my bar, my pride and joy, my escape. No way was I turning it into a daycare centre.
“D, please. I know what I’m asking – you know I do – and if I had another choice…but I don’t and Ro…D, Reapers have started to lurk about and...and I’m starting to get scared. Please?”
One day, someone will come up with a way for men to resist tearful pleas and damsels in distress. This was not that day. Sigh.
Moments later, my phone tucked away, I watched as the girl with the red umbrella lurched to her feet and, miracle of miracles, managed to hail a cab. As I watched the car pull away, I sighed again. Tomorrow was going to be a very difficult day.
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