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I had a handle on things, then the dragons showed up.
On the average day, I juggle the human and magical worlds with a reasonable amount of skill. Based on the dude exhaling sparks in front of me, today isn’t most days.
I’m Cleopatra O’Keefe, a one jigger juggernaut holding the line between the worlds while slinging drinks and using a symbiont book to help me parse these human, magical and omnipotent miscreants. I’m one woman, people. Reality much?
Dragon-human hookups are impossible, but Sparky is as real as I am. Poseidon and his ratty red speedo are MIA, and the incoming info all points to the dragons. My question is, are dragons the bad guys or are Olympians pulling my chain? Their track record kinda sucks.
The Speedo is down. Day 6,935 of the weirdest job on the planet.
Drago’s recliner listed, which wasn’t surprising. The entire trailer was in full-fledged defying gravity mode, but it didn’t leak, yet, and the offer to purchase, for ten puny acres in the Ocala National Forest, lay on the beater coffee table in front of the mustard yellow couch that reeked of feet and bean farts. Lots of them.
“Four hundred, twenty-five thousand dollars,” he grinned at Daisy, the mid-sized mutt of a long ago girlfriend. She stomped off and left him and the dog, hauling ass out of the forest after a memorable full moon.
“Not everybody’s cut out for forest life, girl,” he’d told the panting dog as the woman’s Taurus bumped along the dirt drive doing forty. “But that was one helluva moon. A-roooo!”
Drago picked up the contract and rubbed under Daisy’s chin; her tail thumped and sand bounced off the floor in enthusiastic counterpoint.
“Lots of steaks for me, and hell, you can eat the good kibble, plus we got a shot at a better trailer someplace. Sweet deal, considering the state of the world. Daisy girl, that’s twice, maybe three times more than this patch is worth. I’m not a stupid man. Where’d those wolf people get their money? Bet there’s a sight more than this here paper says.”
Drago grabbed a Busch beer and sucked down half, reading through the fine print and nodding, satisfied.
“And that blond chick, the Keeper, who the hell died and made her queen? She’s a bartender. Shit.” He reached into the warm twelve pack carton beside the chair and pulled the next to last can. “A road trip’s happening, girl. And once this money hits, I’m thinking we’ll grab us one of those motels my biker buddy Rooster told me about on A1A and see what’s what for ourselves.”
Daisy woofed low.
“Yup, I know. I heard’em. They’re coming for this contract. I always hear’em, that’s why we do OK in the forest.”
A quick double knock sounded on the door. Drago shifted his weight and sidestepped out of the recliner, whose mechanism for the foot part kicked off a year back.
“I’m here to pick up the paperwork, Mr. Drago.”
Daisy’s hackles were sky high, and a low growl rumbled through the trailer. Drago scritched the pen across the paper and rolled it into a tube.
“If ya eat my dog, the deal’s off.”
Drago eased the door open three inches while keeping Daisy pinned with one skinny leg. A guttural snarl answered her bark; with a whine, she backed up and crawled behind the couch.
“I wrote that on the paperwork. Y’all keep off my dog and me. Hey you!” Drago gestured at the wolf on his tailgate. “Get your furry butt off my truck. This ain’t your place, yet.”
The wolf in human form, dressed in jeans, work boots, and a denim shirt, spun toward the truck, unleashing a snarl of displeasure that shook Drago, and he was used to it. The smaller wolf hunkered, then leapt over the truck’s rail and shifted, resembling a pissed off skater boi, sans board.
“Please accept my apologies for my son’s manners.” The young man crossed his arms. “You. Wait for me at the edge of the yard. What were you thinking?”
The wolf flicked his gaze to the paper as Drago passed it, noticing his steady hand before lifting his eyes to Drago’s. “Thank you, Mr. Drago. Our lawyer will be in touch to close the transaction and confirm your wire transfer in two weeks. Be prepared to vacate immediately. Overstaying would be unwise.”
“We’ll be ready.”
The only thing in the entire dump he wanted was his books. Along both sides of the single-wide, bookcases, stuffed with volumes, ran from floor to ceiling. Occult, paranormal, supernatural, mythology, and the just plain weird filled the shelves.
Drago’s fingers ran over the spines, pulling every title he thought he’d need to figure out how the hell human beings ended up as roadkill in this new, unappreciated world order. These he tucked into two suitcases. In a big tote, he stuck Daisy’s bowls, a second stack of books, his guns, and his other jeans.
“Fuck the rest of it; I’ll buy new shit. Those wolves can burn this trailer to the ground. For the other books, I’ll hit the dumpster behind Publix and grab banana boxes. We just leveled up, old girl.” He scratched under her chin, calming her back to her normal, happy self. “If I figure out this Keeper chick, might be there’s more for ol’ Drago’n Daisy. Might be way more than a bit. Time to get ours.”