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Authors: Tanya Huff

Smoke and Mirrors

BOOK: Smoke and Mirrors
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for SMOKE AND MIRRORS
 
“. . . a master of urban fantasy.”
—
Library Journal
 
“Huff is one of the best writers we have at contemporary fantasy, particularly with a supernatural twist, and her characters are almost always the kind we remember later.”
—
Chronicle
 
“This latest offering is just as gothic and horror-filled as its prequel. The conversational writing is a pleasure, fitting the occasional quip into the mounting tension with ease. Huff continues to add many details of filming and life on the set of a television show while maintaining suspense.”
—
VOYA
 
Praise for SMOKE AND SHADOWS
 
“Huff's long-awaited addition to her popular Henry Fitzroy series. . . . The author's delightfully light touch lends a sense of timeliness to this effortlessly told fantasy mystery.”
—
Library Journal
 
“Lots of action and amusing show-biz detail keep things moving for a fun dark-fantasy adventure.”
—
Locus
 
“The Henry Fitzroy vampire detective novels have always been my favorite from Tanya Huff . . . has the feel of those earlier books . . . suspenseful and well written.”
—
Chronicle
Also by TANYA HUFF
 
SMOKE AND SHADOWS
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
SMOKE AND ASHES
 
BLOOD PRICE
BLOOD TRAIL
BLOOD LINES
BLOOD PACT
BLOOD DEBT
 
SING THE FOUR QUARTERS
FIFTH QUARTER
NO QUARTER
THE QUARTERED SEA
 
The Keeper's Chronicles
SUMMON THE KEEPER
THE SECOND SUMMONING
LONG HOT SUMMONING
 
OF DARKNESS, LIGHT AND FIRE
 
WIZARD OF THE GROVE
 
The Confederation Novels
VALOR'S CHOICE
THE BETTER PART OF VALOR
Copyright © 2005 by Tanya Huff
All rights reserved.
 
 
DAW Books Collectors No. 1330.
 
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
ISBN : 978-1-101-57312-9
 
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
 
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.
 
 
 
 
First Paperback Printing, June 2006
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES —MARCA REGISTRADA HECHO EN U.S.A.
S.A.

http://us.penguingroup.com

For Judith and Dave
who opened the door
and then gently shoved
me through it.
One
ABOUT A THIRD
of the way down the massive wooden staircase the older of the two tuxedo-clad men paused, head up, nostrils flaring as though he were testing a scent on the air. “We're not . . . alone.”
“Well, there's at least another twenty invited guests,” his companion began lightly.
“Not what I meant.” Red-gold hair gleamed as he turned first one way then the other. “There's something . . . else.”
“Something
else?
” the younger man repeated, suspiciously studying the portrait of the elderly gentleman in turn-of-the-century clothing hanging beside him. The portrait, contrary to expectations, continued to mind its own business.
“Something . . . evil.”
“Don't you think you're overreacting just a . . .” The husky voice trailed off as he stared over the banister, down into the wide entrance hall. His fingers tightened on the polished wood of the railing as green eyes widened. “Raymond, I think you'd better have a look at this.”
Raymond Dark turned—slowly—and snarled, the extended points of his canine teeth clearly visible.
“And cut!” Down by the front door, Peter Hudson pushed his headphones back around his neck, peered around the bank of monitors, and up at the stars of
Darkest Night.
“Two things, gentlemen. First, Mason; what's with the pausing before the last word in every line?”
Mason Reed, aka Raymond Dark, vampire detective and currently syndicated television's sexiest representative of the bloodsucking undead, glared down at the director. “I was attempting to make banal dialogue sound profound.”
“Yeah? Nice try. Unfortunately, it sounded like you were doing a bad Shatner, which—while I'm in no way dissing the good Captain Kirk—is not quite the effect we want here. And Lee,” he continued without giving Mason a chance to argue, “what's on your shoulder? Your right shoulder,” he added as Lee Nicholas aka James Taylor Grant tried to look at both shoulders at once. “Actually, more the upper sleeve.”
A streak of white, about half an inch wide, ran from just under the shoulder seam diagonally four inches down the sleeve of Lee's tux.
He frowned. “It looks like paint.”
Mason touched it with a fingertip and then pointed at the incriminating white smudge down at the entrance hall and the director. “It
is
paint. He must've brushed up against the wall in the second-floor bathroom.”
Two of the episode's pivotal scenes were to be shot in the huge bathroom and one of the painters had spent the morning giving ceiling and walls a quick coat of white semi-gloss.
“That's impossible,” Lee protested. “I wasn't even
in
the second-floor bathroom and besides, this wasn't there when Brenda delinted us.”
“Brenda delinted us fifteen minutes before Peter called action,” Mason reminded him. “Lots of time for you to wander off and take a tinkle.”
“Oh, no.” Lee checked to make sure that the boom was gone, then dropped his voice below eavesdropping range. “
You
wandered off to suck on a cancer stick, I didn't go anywhere.”
“So you say, but this says different.”
“I wasn't in that bathroom!”
“Look, Lee, just admit you screwed up and let's move on.”
“I didn't screw up!”
“All right then, it was a subconscious—and I'd have to say somewhat pathetic—attempt to draw attention to yourself.”
“Don't even . . .”
“Gentlemen!” Peter's voice dragged their attention back down to the foyer. “I don't care where the paint came from, but it's visible in that last bit where Lee turns and as I'd like him to keep turning—Tony, run Lee's tux jacket out to Brenda so she can get that paint off before it dries. Everett, if you could take the shine off Mason's forehead before we have to adjust the light levels, I'd appreciate it. And somebody, get me a coffee and two aspirin.”
Tony froze halfway to the stairs. As the only production assistant on location—as the only production assistant who'd ever remained with CB Productions and
Darkest Night
for any length of time—he was generally the “somebody” Peter'd just referred to.
“I'll get him the co . . . shkeeffee, Tony.”
The voice of Adam Paelous, the show's first assistant director sounded in Tony's ear, pushing through the omnipresent static.
“You get the tux . . .”
One finger against his ear jack, Tony strained to hear over the interference. The walkie-talkies had been acting up since they'd arrived at the location shoot. It was impossible to get a clear signal and the batteries were draining at about five times the normal speed.
“. . . out to wardrobe. The exci . . . shsquit of watching paint dry might kill us all.”
Waving an acknowledgment to Adam across the entrance hall, Tony jogged up the stairs. It had definitely been a less than exciting morning—even given the hurry-up-and-wait nature of television production.
And there's not a damned thing wrong with boring,
Tony reminded himself. Especially when “not boring” involved gates to other worlds, evil wizards, and sentient shadows that weren't so much homicidal as . . . actually, homicidal pretty much covered it.
Everyone else at CB Productions—with the exception of CB himself—had no memory of the metaphysical experience that had very nearly turned the soundstage into ground zero for an otherworld/evil wizard/homicidal shadow invasion. Everyone else probably slept with the lights out. After almost two months, Tony was finally able to manage it four nights out of five.
Lee was out of the tux and frowning down at the paint by the time Tony reached him.
“I didn't go into the upstairs bathroom,” he reiterated as he handed it over.
“I believe you.” Fully aware that he was smiling stupidly up at an explicitly defined straight boy—or as explicit as the pictures the tabloids could get with an extended telephoto lens—Tony folded the jacket carefully so the paint wouldn't smear and headed back down the stairs thinking, in quick succession,
It's still warm.
And:
You're pathetic.
He slid over against the banister to give Everett and his makeup case room to get up the stairs, wondering why Mason—who was a good twenty years younger and thirty kilos lighter—couldn't have come down to the entrance hall instead.
Oh, wait, it's Mason. What the hell am I thinking?
Mason Reed was fully aware of every perk star billing entitled him to and had no intention of compromising on any of them.
“That man sweats more than any actor I've ever met,” Everett muttered as Tony passed. “But don't quote me on that.”
Just what, exactly, Everett had once been misquoted on was a mystery. And likely to remain that way as even a liberal application of peach schnapps had failed to free up the story although Tony had learned more about butt waxing than he'd ever wanted to know.
BOOK: Smoke and Mirrors
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