Pre-Order Now RRP: Print NZD $4.30 + p&h; $2.20 eBook + $0.50 p&h
Klarissa was two hours into her shift when she had a tingly feeling. Unsure what was causing it she took a moment to take in what was going on around her. The night was dark, and the street quiet, maybe too quiet. It felt like someone was watching her, but she couldn’t feel another essence in the nearby vicinity.
“Patrol One to Control; what’s the status on Avongrove?” she asked quietly into her bluetooth mobi-phone headset.
“All is as it should be Patrol One,” the voice responded in her ear.
Klarissa glanced at her mobi-phone and saw that it was almost flat. ‘Shoot’ she thought as she went back to taking in her surroundings, trying to locate what was bugging her. The silence was eerie. She was about to move on when a black shadow jumped down from above and landed in front of her.
The shadow solidified into a muscular, menacing looking man. “The Shield of Darkness needs you and your brethren to watch out for them,” he said in a husky voice, before dissolving back into a shadow and vanishing.
Klarissa didn’t have time to react; one minute he was there, the next he was gone. “Well, that was peculiar,” she muttered as she dialled Evan's number.
“Hey, where are you?” Klarissa asked when he answered; he was the first person she’d thought of after the unusual confrontation.
“Rissa? Um, Gloakberg Café, why?” Evan asked but she’d already hung up. With a shrug he put his mobi-phone back into his right shirt pocket as unlike Klarissa he didn't have an ear unit so he had to listen directly into his handpiece.
“Control, send someone to take over from me in Avongrove; I’m following a lead.” Klarissa flashed over to the café.
She arrived just as the pretty blond waitress was taking Evan's order. “I'll have a latte please,” Klarissa ordered for herself as she sat adjacent to Evan at his table.
She liked the way that the sun shined in his jet black hair. She was envious of his hair it was so sleek and shiny, glossy without being oily, and the thing that irritated her was he didn't do anything with it that she could tell. He maybe combed it once a day, yet it settled smoothly down to his chin. So unfair.
“What are you up to now?” Evan asked after the waitress had gone, all of his attention on Klarissa. He noticed that she had the look on her face that she only got when she was on the hunt. He wondered what she hunting for this time.
“Talking to you,” she replied, with an impish smile and a twinkle in her vibrant hazel eyes. She would like their relationship to develop, but she was scared of how things might turn out. Especially considering her father was constantly sending out the Elite-Chaos to harass her and the other half-beings. It terrified her to think about what her father would do to Evan if he ever found out that she had feelings for him.
“Why are you talking to me? Aren't you meant to be on patrol?” he asked with a raised eyebrow, pleased that he had a chance to talk to her, even if it was only briefly. They were slowly getting to know each other, but not as intimately or as fast as he would have liked. They were both busy in their respective jobs and for some reason Klarissa was holding back.
“Yeah, but the weirdest thing happened; a shadow talked to me,” Klarissa informed him without a trace of a smile, her expression unreadable, and her demeanour chillingly serious all of a sudden. She didn't like surprises, and the shadow people were a surprise to her. Her mind was full of questions: 'Where had they come from? How long had they been here? Were they naturally created or were they experiments as well? And why were they looking out for the Shield?'
“Oh really, how about that.” Evan tried to sound casual. “Did the shadow have anything interesting to say?” He started to fidget as he tried to appear nonchalant but he was astonished; normally the shadow people didn’t talk to strangers. Something big must be upsetting them.
“Hmm, thanks,” Klarissa said to the waitress who brought their coffee. “So, did you find out anything interesting from Finch?” she asked as though he hadn't said anything; she knew he knew something.
“Yes and no,” Evan replied evasively; he wasn't sure where she was going with the conversation.
“Interesting.” Klarissa was thoughtful, trying to figure out how much she should say. “Are you in charge of the local chapter of the Shield?”
“Heck no, that‘s Charmers!” Evan was startled into honesty. The very idea of having so many lives in his hands was a heavy responsibility and it daunted him. It wasn’t something he wanted at all.
“Okay, that's all I need to know.” Klarissa finished her coffee then got up to leave. As she was about to walk away, she turned back suddenly, “Take extra care while you are out and about.”
Before Evan could ask her what she meant, Klarissa had gone.
After she was sure she was out of Evan’s hearing she dialled Finch. “What did you tell my brother and Evan?”
“Klarissa my dear, you’ve really got to learn small talk,” Finch’s voice schmoozed down the line.
“And if I wasted time on small talk a lot more half-beings would be dead,” Klarissa snapped irritably. She had started to trust him less and less; some odd things had been happening which didn’t add up.
“Why don't you ask your friend Evan what was discussed?” Finch asked with a slight hint of jealousy in his voice. Perverted thoughts flashed through his mind; like the way he wanted to own Klarissa. She would go well with his collection as he didn’t have one like her, made up of all three beings. That was one of the things he coveted about her, the fact that all three of her beings were so strong; fairy, vampire and human. He hated being a weak human, but Doc Morgan had refused to make him stronger. One day he would show them; weak or not, he would be feared. But for now he had to bide his time until he could take the next step in his plan.
Klarissa hung up the phone without answering. She was frustrated and annoyed with Finch; she felt enormously uneasy about him. Using the link she had taken from Evan’s mind, she then flashed to where Charmers was, in what looked to be an office. He was sitting behind a solid mahogany desk doing paperwork. 'Why would he have a mahogany desk, it clashed with his ginger hair?'
“You Charmers?” she asked abruptly. She was surprised at how young he appeared, but appearances could be deceptive, especially with were-animals, and all members of the Shield were some kind of animal.
“Uh, yes?” he replied with a question in his voice. “You Evan's friend?”
Again she was surprised; Charmers might look young but he was obviously smart. But then his postion asthe leader of this chapter of the Shield of Darkness would require that.
“What can I do for you?” Charmers continued, not waiting for her to answer and slightly perplexed by her appearance in his home office.
“Have you made any headway into your investigation on the disturbances within the Shield?” Klarissa asked bluntly. Finch’s comment about her lack of small talk flashed through her mind. She thought of herself as more the ‘shoot and ask questions later’ type; but some people would just say she was impatient and stubborn.
“And how is that anything to do with you?” Charmers asked sharply.
“Well, considering that a shadow visited me today to tell me that you all need the help of the half-beings…” Klarissa suddenly realised that this might have something to do with her father. ‘Oh curse it, what has he done now?’ she thought in horror.
“Hold it! What do you mean a shadow visited you?” Charmers was surprised; like Evan he knew that they tended to keep to themselves.
“Exactly what I said. You have friends in dark places. Look, is there anywhere I can plug in? I have to research something and my mobi-phone’s almost flat.”
“I suppose you could plug in just over there,” Charmers grudgingly said pointing to the far wall where there was a small docking station. He didn’t quite trust her, even though Evan talked about her in the best of terms, but then he thought Evan’s thinking was biased.
“Thanks; so been head of this Chapter long?” she casually asked as she plugged in her mobi-phone.
“Just over a couple of months; you been one of Finch’s minions for long?” Charmers asked in return.
“Oh, I'm not one of his minions. I only occasionally do patrol shifts. Besides, he only has a reach in this realm and that's not suitable for my needs. Why, who's been saying I'm one of his minions?” She was curious; normally she let comments like that go, but she wasn't in the mood for it today, well, night really. She answered only to herself, and it really annoyed her when people implied otherwise.
“Hey Rissa, what are you doing here?” Evan asked as he came into the room. It had taken him longer to get here. He wasn’t really surprised that she was here; sometimes he wished he could flash like she could.
“Oh, just checking on what my father might be up to,” Klarissa said bitterly. “Hey, when did things start happening to the Shield?” she asked them, really hoping to get an answer. She hated having to go into people’s minds. They were generally so messy and she didn’t like intruding but this was important and she would if she had to; she wanted to get to the bottom of it.
Charmers was silent but Evan replied, “Just before you locked me in my flat back in the human realm.” It still annoyed him hugely that she had done that although he knew she had done it with good intentions.
Klarissa was silent for a moment as she realised what was going on, and why the Shield was being attacked, and why the shadow had come to her instead of one of the other half-beings.
Grabbing her mobi-phone from the docking station, she hit a speed-dial button and almost immediately said, “Hey, I’m going to need your help little brother; how far are you from the place that is hidden?”
“Umm, sort of stuck at the moment; tagged about five the other day,” came Clayton’s voice, as he used code to tell her he was under attack by several beings and he wouldn't mind some help.
“Okay, I’ll come to you; see you in a few.” Klarissa felt Evan grab her arm, just before she flashed to where her brother was.