Tooth and Claw (The Harry Russo Diaries Book 2)

BOOK: Tooth and Claw (The Harry Russo Diaries Book 2)
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Tooth and Claw
The Harry Russo Diaries, volume 2
by Lisa Emme

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Copyright © 2016 Lisa Emme

All Rights Reserved

Kindle Edition

ISBN 978-0-9948288-4-2

Cover design by

The Scarlett Rugers Design Agency

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No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval
systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s wild and crazy imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Visit Lisa at

www.lisaemme.com

This one's for my Mom who has always been there for me whenever I needed her

I know whose love would follow me still

Mother o'mine, mother o'mine.

-Rudyard Kipling, 1891

Chapter One

“Harry dear, we’re going to need some more glads for the
funeral sprays.” Mrs. Potts’s sing-songy voice preceded her into the shop’s
backroom where I sat at my work bench putting together some ‘brown-thumb’
friendly succulent containers. I had been at it all morning trying to catch
up on restocking the display shelves at the front of the store.

I own Contain Yourself, a small flower shop that specializes in container planting
and recently, business has been booming. Mrs. Potts - Mrs. P to her friends - is my
assistant. A complete role reversal since she used to own the shop and had been my boss
up until she decided to semi-retire and I bought it from her. Funny thing, I think she is
working more now than ever.

Lately, we couldn’t seem to keep up with the demand. Our
flower service, which for the most part had been walk-ups for ready-made
bouquets of the ‘get-out-of-the-dog-house’ variety, was suddenly in high
demand. Funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, you name it. Customers were
ringing our phone off the hook and filling up our inbox with orders for floral
arrangements for every occasion. The container orders had also sky-rocketed.
Suddenly businesses all across town wanted me to put together potted
arrangements for their lobbies and boardrooms.

“Ah, sure. I think I have some ready to cut up in the
greenhouse,” I fudged. I didn’t have any gladiolus flowers growing in my
rooftop garden or greenhouse, but I did have some bulbs I could hurry along
with a little witchy push of my hedge magic. I can grow just about anything,
thanks to the magical green thumb I inherited from my Gran. My mom was a witch
too, but I never knew her; she died when I was born. My father is a different
story. I don’t know where he is and well, he was never really alive, seeing as
how he’s a vampire.

“Really dear,” Mrs. P looked at me and shook her head, “we
don’t have time for the whole charade of you going upstairs to the greenhouse
to fetch some non-existent flowers. I know there are some bulbs down here in
the cupboard.” She patted my shoulder. “I won’t tell if you won’t.” She
winked at me.

“I, um…” I stared at Mrs. P at a loss for words. Witches - and vampires
and werewolves for that matter - weren’t really out of the closet
so to speak. Norms, what we supernaturals call you non-magic folk, weren’t
supposed to officially know about us. There are always a few members of each
level of government that are in the know however, so of course the secret isn’t
that well-kept. We had in fact tried to come out in the 60’s, but the
president at the time decided it was better to keep us under wraps. There was
more than one reason they called him ‘Tricky Dick’.

For the most part, norms just aren’t equipped to believe we exist.
Sure, you love your horror movies with vampires and werewolves and your popular
books with young wizards and witches, but when confronted with proof of the
existence of these things, your brains just go into overdrive making up
‘logical’ explanations or denying they saw anything at all.

“You don’t think I’m a
norm
do you?” Mrs. P asked
with a smile.

“Well, actually, I kind of did.” Of course now that I was
thinking about it, she didn’t really ‘read’ as normal to my semi-reliable
supernatural power detector, the sixth sense I seemed to have that let me gauge
the power level of vampires and werewolves.

“I’m a brownie, dear,” she replied with another motherly pat
on my shoulder. “You didn’t think your apartment was cleaning itself now did
you?”

I was dumbfounded.
Although now that she mentioned it, the apartment
was
looking rather neat
and tidy and since I couldn’t remember the last time I pulled out the vacuum
(did we even own a vacuum?), I should have wondered who was keeping the
apartment clean. I’m not saying that Tess, my best friend and roommate, and I
are slobs or anything. We do the dishes and tidy up after ourselves, but I
really couldn’t remember the last time I had to clean the shower or scrub the
toilet. I guess I just always thought Holly, our former friend and roommate
who was now dead - kind of a long story - took care of those things.

Wow, I really was oblivious. Bad enough I hadn’t noticed that
Holly actually hated me and was working for the biggest nut-bar around. The very
same nut-bar that tried to revive the Cult of Osiris by raising a bunch of
zombies using black magic and that wanted to kill me and steal my powers. I
didn’t even realize that my former employer was Fae, a brownie bound to the
building - the old converted firehall that housed both my shop and apartment –
that I now owned.

“No wonder Isaac keeps making batches of oatmeal honey bars,”
I said, mostly to myself.

Brownies love honey and oatmeal. And, since you never
thank a brownie unless you want to insult them and have them leave your house
to fend for itself, small gifts of tasty treats are a way to show your
appreciation. Good thing Isaac was on the ball and on a baking binge.
Otherwise it would have been an inexcusable amount of time since we last showed
Mrs. P our gratitude.

Isaac is my...well, I really don’t know what Isaac is. After
three weeks as roomies - he moved into Holly’s old room - I certainly felt we
could be called friends. That is, if your definition of friend was someone who
compelled you to act as your personal bodyguard using their rare necromantic
powers over the dead and undead. Despite having done just that to Isaac,
completely by mistake and under coercion I might add, I’d like to think that we
were actually becoming friends. He did seem to be enjoying his new life and
freedom to express his love of cooking. He was also my mentor in all things
vampire, helping me to use and control my burgeoning dhamphiric powers.

A dhamphir is just a fancy word for a human-vampire offspring.
They are always the result of a vampire male and human female mating and are extremely
rare. Necromancy is even rarer than being a dhamphir, so I guess you could say
I really hit the genetic lottery. I have yet to determine if that is a good
thing or a bad thing.

“I do love his baking,” Mrs. P replied. “Have you tried his
lemon bars?”

I had. And his peanut butter crunch bars and his chocolate
chip coconut bars and his caramel pecan fudge. It was a good thing that Tess
and I both had crazy metabolisms that had us eating double the normal number of
calories every day or we would be four sizes bigger than we were a month ago.
As it was, Isaac was baking so much that we couldn’t possibly eat it all, so I
had started to bring trays of baked goods down to the shop for customers to
sample. The baking was such a hit, I was seriously thinking of selling it in
the store or maybe even renovating the extra storefront next door and opening a
coffee shop.

“I loved the lemon bars, but his butter tarts are my
favourite,” I replied.

They had been so good, Tess and I had almost come to blows
over who would get the last one. We ended up deciding things by arm wrestling,
something that until a few weeks ago would have put Tess at an unfair advantage
with her being a werewolf. But, with my powers growing more vampire-like every
day, it was pretty much a toss-up. Although Tess won, I had her worried for a
few minutes.

The bell on the shop’s door rang, preventing further
conversation. Mrs. Potts returned to the front to see to the customer, while I
went to work coaxing a handful of glad bulbs to grow and flower so that we
could finish our order for a funeral later on that afternoon.

It really wasn’t that difficult, for me at least, to
persuade a plant bulb to grow. I just held each bulb, which in the case of the
gladiolus it’s called a corm, in the palm of my hand, muttered a Latin
incantation that was absolutely unnecessary, but helped me to focus, and then
gave it a little push with my powers. The bulb burst open, a tiny green sprout
pushing through the corm. In seconds, the sprout became a shoot, then the
shoot became a stalk, and finally the stalk grew buds. I gave another little
push of magic and poof! Flowers burst open all along the stalk.

“Oh! That’s so cool.”

Surprised, I dropped the now flowering glad spike and turned
to find Christina Nash, a werewolf and the sister of a certain annoying police
detective, Cian Nash, standing in the doorway.

“That was totally amazing. I didn’t know you could do
that,” Christina said as she approached my workbench and picked up the fallen
flower spike.

“Hey Christina, I didn’t know you were there,” I replied
somewhat lamely.

“Sorry, Mrs. Potts just told me to come on back.” She
smiled and shrugged. “Can you do it again?”

“Sure, I guess. I have a couple more to do.” I had never
really practiced my magic with an audience before. I picked up the next corm
and held it up in my hand for Christina to see. “
Crevisti,
” I said
while I waved my hand dramatically over the corm. Might as well put on a show
if you have an audience.

The corm trembled then a small green shoot poked out. I
handed it to Christina. “Here, hold on tight.” I gave the shoot a little
magical push and the stalk burst forth almost flying right out of her hand.

“Whoa!” Christina looked like a kid at her first magic
show. “That’s incredible.” Small buds began to appear with tiny red tips and
then the flowers began to slowly unfurl. In seconds she was holding a fully
flowered gladiolus spike.

“Thanks. I’ve always had the knack.” I gathered up the
flowering spikes and cut them from the now ruptured corms and put them in some
water for later. “So, is there something I can help you with? Do you need to
order some flowers?”

“No, no flowers today,” Christina replied. “I actually came
to talk to you. To see how you were doing after everything that happened. I
thought you might come by the Lodge.”

“Oh, you did?”

“Sure, you can come any time you want, you know; now that
you’re out of the closet so to speak.”

“I am? Yeah, I guess I am.” I hadn’t realized it, but Gran
and Christina’s mother, Eleanor, a member of the werewolf Triad, had
tried to keep my abilities under wraps, protecting me and giving me time to
come into my powers. For years I had denied my true nature, but that had all
changed in the last few weeks. My powers were prematurely forced to the
surface when I used them to prevent a violent overthrow of the Cimmerian, Riverton’s
supernatural governing body, by an insane, power-hungry mage. Although I had
outed myself unknowingly to the Magister, Salvador Arroyo, the leader of the Cimmerian,
there was no going back. My secret was definitely out.

“I guess I haven’t felt that much like socializing,” I said
with a shrug. For the most part, Tess and I had holed up in the apartment and
binged on movies. We felt it was our duty to broaden Isaac’s movie horizons.
Can you believe he had never even heard of
Star Wars
? Or watched the
Lord
of the Rings
?

“And so I guess you haven’t been seeing much of my
brother?” Christina looked at me, feigning nonchalance.

“Nash? I mean Cian?” I frowned at her. “Why would I
see him? I haven’t broken any laws or stumbled across any dead bodies in
weeks.”

Cian Nash, Christina’s brother, was a police homicide
detective. He and his partner, Dev, were also liaisons between the norm world
and the Cimmerian. I first met Nash when I was trying to help Bryce, a victim
of a homicide who held a clue to the identity of the leader of the Cult of
Osiris. To say we hit it off would be a big, fat lie.

Nash was overbearing and totally exasperating, even if he
did make me kind of (okay totally) hot and bothered. And, as far as I could
tell, Nash thought I was nothing more than an aggravating, helpless female who
shouldn’t meddle in police affairs. He didn’t want anything to do with me,
even if his wolf felt differently. I said as much to Christina.

“His wolf?” she asked skeptically.

“Yeah, his wolf likes me, but he doesn’t.”

“He said that?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Oh, no reason,” Christina replied with a calculating look
on her face. “Hey, do you think I could try another of those delicious macaroons
you have out front?” she asked, obviously changing the subject.

“Sure,” I replied, letting her. I really didn’t want to
talk about Nash. “Take a bunch. There’s more upstairs. Isaac has been making
them for days, or I guess I should say nights, trying to perfect his recipe.”

“Isaac made them? The vampire? Really?” She couldn’t hide
her surprise. Most people are when they learn that vampires can actually eat
real food.

“If you think those are good, you should try his butter
tarts. I’m actually thinking we should open a coffee shop and start selling
his baking.”

We headed back out to the front of the shop, chatting about
my idea for a café. After a few more minutes, Christina left with a bag of
macaroons and a promise from me that I would visit the Lodge soon, provided she
cleared the way for Isaac to come too.

BOOK: Tooth and Claw (The Harry Russo Diaries Book 2)
12.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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