Author at Work: 2nd rev of Fur and Fury

51pyz50ahdlI’m always fascinated by the editing process, by how many revisions an author’s work goes through before it’s ready for the public. I decided to share excerpts of a work in process with my newsletter subscribers over the last couple of months, from my novella Fur and Fury.

I shared the rough draft of the first two chapters. Then, I posted this excerpt, the updated/revised/editedfirst four chapters, in December.

Now you can read the first several chapters with the Amazon Look Inside previewer (the link will open a new page, directly in the previewer).

Lust in Lace, the fifth volume of the LUST anthology, was published on January 11, 2017.


Fur and Fury ©2017 by Devi Ansevi

Chapter 1

The clock’s insistent bleat woke Benton. Slamming the alarm with one hand, he gripped himself with the other, jerking off to images from the dream. Memories of Liz’s hot, wet pussy emptied his balls in half a dozen strokes.

Catching his breath, he wiped himself off on the sweat-sodden sheets, then rolled out of bed, dropping to the floor for his morning routine. Most weres didn’t bother working out, since their animals could fix anything that went wrong. That was only if you could shift, though. After throwing his back out while tackling a runner on a bounty hunt, then being stuck in human form for days, he’d rather work his core.

The cheap motel had promised free cable and heated rooms. Turned out to be shitty ‘80s porn and busted heaters with no in-room climate control.  Even stripped down to skin, he’d sweated his balls off last night. Powering through sit-ups and push-ups while sweat dripped onto the dank carpet, he thought about the dream. About the real-life memories that inspired it.

Must be thinking about Liz because he’d see her tomorrow, which was going to be awkward as fuck. Three days. That’s all he had to get through. Then he’d be gone again.

By the time he finished the last rep, even his ass cheeks were slick with sweat. A cold shower had never sounded so good.

He was about to step in the rust-stained stall when a ska punk version of ‘Jingle Bells’ assaulted his ears. Loki’s ringtone. Benton debated ignoring it, but if this call was to do with his sister…

He grabbed the phone from the bedside table with a growl and swiped to answer.

“Benton.”

“Ready to see your sister? She’s looking forward to a vacation.”

Benton’s wolf didn’t care if Loki was a god, or that he’d supposedly sired a giant wolf named Fenrir. Something about the pitch and tone of that sneering voice raised his hackles.

“Yeah.”

“Not a morning person? Ah, well. I’ll leave you to your cold shower and instant coffee. See you tomorrow.”

Benton cut off the hyena-like chuckle by hitting the End button and slung the phone on the bathroom counter. How’d that creepy bastard know he was taking a cold shower?

***

Unfolding himself from the 4×4, Benton looked around the half-empty parking lot. He scrounged in the glove compartment for cash to pay for a ticket and put on his sunglasses. Loki probably didn’t use anything like a car to get here. Transportation beam? Teleportation? Whatever. Asshole thought he was funny, setting the pickup at the Magellanic penguin exhibit in the Jacksonville Zoo.

The teenager at the ticket booth tried to flirt. Probably bored out of her skull and used to seeing retired folks and moms with strollers this early in the morning. Whatever. She was fifty percent too innocent and a hundred percent too human.

Loki had beat him there. Benton checked and raised an eyebrow at the hot chick on Loki’s right. Tall, cover model elegant, with odd silver hair that didn’t match her young face. Decked out in Renaissance clothing, she looked miserable. Another frost giant? Even in February, north Florida must seem hot as hell.

To Loki’s left was Olga. The reason he’d lived out of a backpack for the last year, the reason his mom’s health had taken a nosedive.

Maybe the girl had grown up since he’d seen her.

Not likely. She had the same sullen expression he remembered from New Year’s. Screw that whole ‘glass half empty’ thing; life had taught him that most glasses were dust-dry.

Loki waved a languid, leather-gauntleted hand at him. Black leather cloak, black jeans, black t-shirt, black combat boots. Was he going for the Goth look? Did the gods even know what Goths were?

“Glad you could join us. Did you know the zoo hatched its first baby penguins in 2015? Grateful for being safe in captivity, I’m sure. Why, when Sigyn heard I’d be here, she had to come along. Loves babies, don’t you, my sweet?” Loki squeezed the woman on his arm.

Holy shit. Sigyn? The bundled-up woman must be Loki’s legendary wife. All this gods-and-demons stuff was mind bending.

Benton nodded politely. “Good to meet you.”

“You, as well, Benton the Werewolf.”

“Ah, ma’am, that’s not—, uh, we don’t talk about shifters in public.”  He wondered if she’d smite him for correcting her. Sigyn appeared mid-twenties, but she had to be hundreds—thousands?—of years old.

She gave a graceful inclination of her head. “My apologies. I do not know the last name by which to address you.”

“Benton Havers, ma’am.” He looked at Olga. “Good to see you, kid. Doin’ okay?”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah. Thanks for getting me out of Purgatory.”

“For three days,” Loki reminded. “Same time, same place, on Monday.”

Another eye-roll from Olga. “You said that already. Four times on the way here.”

“It bears repeating, my dear. If you’re not here, Benton takes your place.” Loki slapped Benton on the back and gave him a toothy smile. “I have every faith in you both, of course.”

His wolf tried to crawl out the other side to get away from Loki’s touch.  “Understood. She’ll be here. Anything else?”

“Yes. A tiresome but necessary bit of business. No yapping about frost giants, about me, or where your sister has been.”

“No problem.” Benton started to turn away. Loki made a throat-clearing noise and he stopped.

“Not that I doubt your word, but in case undo persuasion is brought to bear, let’s ensure your silence.” Loki clamped a hand on Benton’s shoulder and leaned close to whisper in his ear. The words were inaudible. After he finished, Benton’s head buzzed, morphing from the drone of a fan to the annoying, high-pitched whine of a hundred mosquitoes. Shaking his head didn’t stop it.

Loki laughed. “Give it a moment. Your wolf is fighting, but… Ah. There.”

The whining cut off and Benton rotated his shoulders, unnerved by the experience. “What was that?”

“A geas,” Loki said. “To prevent you from, as the humans say, spilling the beans.”

“Whatever. Are we done?” What the hell was a ‘gash’? He’d have to look it up later.

“All done. Talk soon,” Loki said, and swept an arm about his wife’s shoulders. “Let’s go poke fun at animals in captivity.”

Sigyn’s “Be nice, dear,” floated back to them as he dragged her away.

Benton turned to Olga. “Ready?”

“Beyond,” she agreed, and stalked toward the exit.

 

Chapter 2

“Olga? Oh my lord, Olga!” Alice Havers screamed and rushed down the sidewalk from the porch. He’d called ahead, letting her know he was on his way, and Mom must have been watching out the front window. She hadn’t moved that fast since Olga vanished. He spared a moment to hope Olga didn’t fuck this visit up seven ways to Sunday.

“Your father will be so disappointed he wasn’t here! Why didn’t you tell me you found her?” she scolded Benton, while smothering Olga in a hug.  “Are you okay, darling?” She pushed the girl away to give her the once over. “You’ve lost weight. You’re so pale! What happened to you?”

On the way to the house, they’d agreed on a story. Now Olga trotted it out, sounding like someone reading her lines. “My family in Norway wanted me to come back and I didn’t want to leave. I was so upset. I had to get away and decide what to do with my life. I’ve moved around the United States for the last twelve months, until Benton found me.”

“What? Your family? But—“ Alice looked confused. “I thought they agreed you should stay here through college?”

Olga had lived with his family since arriving as a high school exchange student. His mom fell in love with the daughter she’d never had, Olga fell in love with Florida, and they’d agreed to continue hosting her. His parents had even sponsored her for college, which put a strain on their finances. Benton kept his opinions to himself. Their life, their money.

“They changed their mind. I was upset, and I didn’t want to put you in the middle,” Olga said, glancing at Benton for a moment with a look that said, ‘I’m out of things to say.’ She smiled sweetly at Alice. “Can we go inside?”

Alice hugged the girl close again. “Of course! What’s wrong with me, keeping you out here in the cold?”

Olga snorted. “This is very warm compared to where I’ve been.”

Benton gave her a warning look, but Alice didn’t notice anything strange. “You’ll have to tell me all the places you’ve visited,” she chattered, leading Olga up the sidewalk.

That easily, the story had been accepted, the girl was forgiven, and all was right with the world. With a soundless sigh, Benton prowled up the walk behind them, trying not to worry about his mother’s slow pace, or how thin her face had gotten.

It was difficult to watch his human mother grow more frail as her heart condition worsened. Werewolves had the same life span as humans, but their wolves kept them hale and hearty most of that time.

“We’ve kept your room just the same,” Alice said. “Let’s get you settled in. Are you hungry? You were always hungry. Let me make you some breakfast.”

“Mom,” Benton said. “Why don’t I call Dad and let him know we’re here?”

“Oh, would you, dear?” She stretched on her tiptoes and he leaned down so she could give him a quick kiss and a pat on the cheek. “Thank you.”

He pulled out his phone and saw a text message from a contact in NYC. Another missed job. That made seven he’d passed up in the last month, damn it. Rent didn’t pay itself.

His dad answered on the second ring. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah.” Answering his father’s unspoken question, Benton added, “Mom’s fine. Listen, I found Olga. She’s here.”

After a long pause, his dad said, sounding choked up, “I knew you’d find her.” He cleared his throat. “Alice going ape shit?”

Benton grinned. “Just about.”

“You kept this under wraps. When did you find her? Where the hell was she?”

“Been on her trail a while, but it took some time to retrieve her. I didn’t want to say anything until I knew if it would work out. I haven’t told Mom, but Olga’s only here a few days. She’s gotta leave on Monday morning.”

His dad gave a heavy sigh. “Fuck. That’s gonna devastate your mom.”

“Yeah. At least she’s got some time to say good-bye.”

He heard Alice’s footsteps and said, “Talk later.” She joined him in the kitchen, color in her cheeks. Patting his chest, she whispered, “Thank you. Tell your father to come home for lunch.”

Calum laughed. “Tell her I will. See you soon, son.”

“Yeah.” Benton hung up and lifted his mom in the air, dancing her a few steps around the room while she laughed and hummed a few bars of her favorite waltz. “How you been, Mom? You look tired.”

“I’m fine.” She smoothed her hair once he set her down. “I still can’t believe how big you got. How’d you ever get from a seven-pound baby to six foot six? What do you want to eat?”

***

“You going to run with the Pack on Monday night?”

While Alice took Olga shopping, Benton helped clean up after lunch.  He rinsed plates while he debated how to answer his father.

He’d known the question was coming. Calum wanted his son to find a mate and settle down, start popping out pups and carry on the family name. Every time he came home, his father dragged him to whatever event was likely to include unmarried female weres.

They’d had the “Are you sure you’re not gay?” conversation once. Unlikely to be a repeat of that question, not after the incident with Liz. Benton’s cock stirred, thinking about her riding him on the too-narrow twin bed, their clothes unbuttoned and unzipped to free up the key bits, panting and sweaty and—.

He shoved the memories away. No sense getting stirred up. She wouldn’t give me the time of day now.

“I don’t know, Dad. Not sure how long I can stay.”

“Your mother misses you when you’re gone. You noticed how thin she’s gotten?” Calum kept his head bent over the soapy water, the scrub brush looking ridiculous in his big hands.

The sink was too small for them to share space, but they made it work, falling back into the routine developed during years of Benton’s teenage clean-up duty.  He’d always been expected to help before and after meals. Now he was older, he could understand it had been his parents’ way of keeping in touch with their son. Back then? Not so much. Past time he said something.

“Dad.”

“What?”

“Sorry I was a shithead in high school.”

“We all are. Part of growing up.”

They finished cleaning in comfortable silence.

***

“Have you talked to John?” Alice turned a bright-eyed gaze on Olga, fishing for gossip.

Calum had gone back to work, leaving Benton, Olga and Alice to enjoy the afternoon sunshine on the back porch.

The girl folded into a complicated pretzel shape, wedged into the corner of the swing next to Alice. “Not yet. I haven’t talked to him since I left.” Olga hid her face against her knees. “I am sure he forgot me long ago. He will have another girlfriend. A wolf, of course.” Bitterness soured the words.

“Not last I heard,” Alice said, her eyes getting shiny. She thought John and Olga made a romantic couple. Probably reminded her of the struggle she and Calum had to be together. Benton didn’t agree. His parents had been working, paying their way, by the time they met. John was the pampered only child of the Pack’s Beta. Danny Lampert owned a string of car dealerships. He gave his son a Mercedes for his fifteenth birthday, then replaced it with an Audi when John wrecked it a week later. As long as his parents fixed his screw-ups, John wouldn’t grow up. Benton thought he’d benefit from Boot Camp. Or several weeks of ass-kicking, which amounted to the same thing.

Olga’s head lifted. “What have you heard?”

“Well.” Alice clasped her hands together over the blankets in her classic ‘gossip-ready’ posture. “He moped for months after you left.”

“But now?” Olga clutched at her knees, knuckles whitening.

“He got a job with your father.” Alice beamed at the girl. “Six months ago, when he graduated high school. John told his parents he didn’t want to go to college, or work in the family business. He wanted to learn a trade. Cal put him on a crew and he’s done well.”

“John is working construction?” Olga looked stunned. Made Benton grin. Even in the throes of first love, the girl wasn’t blind to her boyfriend’s nonexistent work ethic. John had worked hard to get exactly one thing in his life: Olga.

“Yes. He’s grown quite brawny.” Alice made air-motions, as though shaping a muscular torso. “Tanned and fit. Though of course they do tend to fill out at that age anyway.” She cocked her head to the side and considered Benton. “You were a beanpole when you went into Boot Camp. I couldn’t believe what a difference six weeks made.”

“Still got it, too.” He flexed both arms to make her laugh.

“Do you think I should talk to him?” Olga had untangled her legs and turned to face Alice on the bench.

Benton cleared his throat. “Maybe hold off on that. Pack party is Monday night.”

Olga’s cold blue eyes would have withered a lesser man. Benton shrugged. “Just sayin’. Dicey business, hookin’ back up this close to Full Moon.”

Hands clenching into fists, Olga sneered at him.  “You think this because he might hurt me?” Strong emotions tended to shift her back toward a Norwegian cadence.

From what he’d learned the last year, you kept a frost giant calm, or you ended up with mayhem. Olga was choosing to misunderstand his meaning. She had three days to tie up loose ends. Why rip the bandage off? He shrugged and dropped it. She was gonna do what she was gonna do.

Alice patted Olga’s hand. “I’m sure he never would. Benton’s teasing.” She sent a questioning glance toward him and changed the subject. “Are you going to the Pack party on Monday? Your father loves having you there. Maybe you could see Liz again. I haven’t heard she’s involved with anyone.”

“Mom, don’t. Okay? I’m not interested in marriage and babies and all that sh—, stuff.”

“I know, but you seemed interested in Liz last year. Most men say they don’t want to settle down, until they meet the right person. I like her.”

He grimaced. “How about I make us all some coffee?”

 

Chapter 3

Liz pulled a quad shot, stirred in the hot milk, added vanilla syrup, and set the cup on the counter. “Vanilla mocha double for Alan.” She reached for the next cup. There wasn’t one. Knocked out of the zone, she looked around.

Looked like the rush had died down after a busy morning. Two hours in and the cups already needed restocking. Liz grabbed a sleeve from under the counter and ripped open the plastic, careful not to pull too hard. So close to Full Moon, she tended to misjudge her strength. It was a bitch chasing after a hundred plastic lids. Not to mention, having to throw them away. She hated writing off inventory.

Time for her midmorning check-in. After letting her employee know she was taking a break, she headed upstairs to her apartment, dialing the Pack’s Alpha on her way. “This is Liz. Anything going on?”

The few days before Full Moon were about the only time her enforcement duties heated up. Mostly young pups. First couple years of puberty, a lot of wolves couldn’t handle the hormones and did stupid shit. She’d been Enforcer for less than a year, and four out of five times she got called out, it involved a male under twenty.

“Might want to pay a visit to Landon.” Her Alpha’s weary tone made Liz grin.

“Duncan’s boy? The high schooler?”

“Yeah. Kid’s on the Varsity wrestling team. His opponent claims Landon put in yellow contacts and scared him into losing his grip during a match last night.”

“Idiot. Shouldn’t be on the mat if he can’t handle himself.” Liz frowned. “Rough him up? Or scare him?” She was still feeling her way into the role, and while she didn’t have problems giving an ass whipping when someone needed it, the last Enforcer had been the ‘gut him first, ask questions later’ type. Not her style.

“Use your best judgment. He has another match tonight.”

“Got it. I’ll go see him.” If Landon was doing it on purpose, probably meant smacking him around. Otherwise, she’d put the fear of Liz in him.

“One more thing. Benton’s back, with Olga.”

Liz stiffened, her heartbeat picking up the pace. “The Havers girl? She’s alive?”

“Yeah. Shit’s already hitting the fan. Danny called ten minutes ago, breathing fire. Wants me to have you keep Olga away from John. And he wants an apology from Pack members who accused the Lamperts of killing the girl when she vanished. I could wish Benton waited until Tuesday to show up.”

Liz grinned. Only time you saw a tired werewolf was the day after the Full Moon. Hours of running and rutting did take it out of you.

He said, “Going on air in a minute. Gotta go.”

“Bye, Barker.” The Pack’s Alpha, Barker Perry—his real name, thanks to a dad with a sick sense of humor—was an on-air news anchor for a local TV station. He’d been Alpha for twenty years, almost her entire life, and he’d done a damn fine job. You couldn’t pay her enough to do it. Ride herd on a bunch of whiny, hormonal wolves? Gouge my eyes out.

But then, Barker was the right wolf for the job; and being his Enforcer suited her to the ground.

She finished up in the bathroom, splashed cold water on her face and carefully avoided thinking about Benton. In his parents’ house, three blocks away, maybe taking a shower right this minute. Water pouring over the thickly muscled shoulders, drops beading on his back, running over his tight ass cheeks—.

She glared at herself in the mirror. Damn it. Quit thinking about him. Yeah, he got her hot. He’d known how to work her. Knew how to run away afterward, too. Why couldn’t her wolf fall for someone who wanted to stick around?

 

Chapter 4

“I’ll be watching. Slip up, and wrestling is the least of your worries. Got it?” Liz held Landon off the ground, figuring a show of strength would drive home the point. Being a six-foot woman had its advantages, and in two-inch heels, she towered over him.

“Y-y-yes ma’am,” he stuttered, limp in her grip.

“Play within the humans’ rules.” She set him down. “Break a leg.”

He gave her a terrified smile and hurried away.

With their metabolism set to permanent inferno-level, young wolves tended to be either tall and skinny, or short and skinny. They also lacked the coordination Liz had gained through maturity and training. Landon was a scrawny middleweight wrestler. He’d been so clearly terrified at having the Enforcer show up at his school, she’d opted for ‘fear of Liz’ over a beat down.

Liz sighed and hoped he kept a lid on it. Enforcer policy called for one warning only.  After that, you got your balls handed to you on a plate. She’d not been required to geld anyone yet. Here’s hoping she could put that off a few years.

While she waited for Landon’s match in the gym, she people-watched. Only four werewolves in high school this year, despite the Pack numbering nearly three hundred.

Female wolves averaged a seventy percent miscarriage rate. Human women in a mixed-race couple mostly carried to term, but only half the offspring could shift. She noted how the weres born to shifter-only couples distanced themselves from the mixed-race kids and frowned, making a mental note to talk with Barker. Ostracizing the mixed-race kids increased the chances those kids would turn into loners. Or worse, go Loupe. Having to explain to a grieving mother that she’d had no choice but to gut her son because he killed a bunch of humans was not on her bucket list.

A few minutes later, a commotion by the gym doors caught her attention. She stood up in the stands to get a better look.

John Lampert and Olga Larsson had just shown up, and from their expressions, they had something to prove. John had been a big shot on the wrestling team. He’d filled out since then from working construction. Liz saw Olga put a possessive arm around his waist when girls flocked around him, saw the gratified look on John’s face, and shook her head. Gonna be fireworks.

Liz had met the girl a couple of times over the years, but she didn’t know her except to say hello. In a strange way, Liz had Olga to thank for her job as Enforcer. There’d been a big fracas last New Year’s. Several people found out Olga knew her boyfriend was a werewolf, which meant John broke Pack Law. The kid should have faced Pack Justice, but his dad, the Beta, argued for mercy. When the Alpha granted his plea, the previous Enforcer resigned his position.

The gym doors swung open again and Alice Havers came through, her son prowling behind. Benton was as mouth-watering as she remembered. He surveyed the room, caught sight of her in the stands and gave a tiny nod, like he half-recognized her.

So that was how he chose to play it? Fine.

She made her way out of the stands, determined to do the polite thing and say hello to Alice. A show of solidarity for the woman still shunned by many of the Pack, despite raising a son who had turned out to be a shifter.

“Alice,” Liz greeted the older woman, giving her a gentle hug. The human felt fragile in her arms, and an odor of sickness seeped from her skin. Still, her eyes were bright with happiness when she pulled away from Liz.

“Olga is back! It’s wonderful, isn’t it?” Alice beamed over at Olga, who was too caught up in fending off the female competition to pay attention.

“I heard. She’s okay, then?”

“Oh, yes. Teenagers, you know? Everything’s a drama. Her family wanted her to come back to Norway, and instead of telling anyone about it, she ran away.”

Liz quirked an eyebrow toward the girl. “Seems a complicated way of saying no.”

Benton snorted, drawing the women’s attention.

“You remember Benton?” Alice asked, and then color ran up under her cheeks. “Of course you do. How silly of me.”

Liz wanted to howl in embarrassment. Of course Cal had told his wife what he’d seen, and she’d been too polite to say anything before now.

Alice hurried over the awkward pause. “Benton spent the last year looking for Olga. He’s the reason she agreed to come back.  Benton, did you know Liz is the new Enforcer?” Her voice lowered to a whisper on the last word, though no one was listening to them. A crowd had clustered around John and his girlfriend, eager to find out what happened to the girl who disappeared.

Benton raised an eyebrow. “Did Pete die?”

“Nope. Enjoying his retirement, swimming with the dolphins and catching marlin.” Liz patted herself on the back for managing a normal tone of voice. Hard to do while staring at his lips moving, remembering them tugging at her nipples, sucking on her fingers and then—.

Stop right there, Liz McTavish.

“How’s the Pack handling its first female Enforcer?” Benton moved out of the crowd and leaned against a post, shoving a hand in his jeans pocket. Did an even better job of showing off his long, rangy body.

The hormonal changes around the shift took horny to a whole other level for female weres. From the amused expression on his face, he knew how he was affecting her. That kind of pissed her off, but it also turned her on. Damn it.

“I’ve proven myself.” Liz kept an arm around the other woman’s shoulders, sheltering her from careless jostling. “You want to grab a seat, Alice? There’s space next to me on the bleachers. Or I can get you a chair?”

“Thank you, Liz, I just came by to drop everyone off. Olga and Benton ran us out of food today. I’m off for groceries.” The laughter in her voice indicated she was just fine with that.

Benton patted his flat stomach. “Your fault for being such a good cook, Mom. If I lived here, I’d never fit through the doors.”

Her eyes went shiny. “I’d take that chance to have you here, son.”

When she’d gone, with a good-bye wave to the oblivious Olga, Liz turned back toward the gym and did her best to ignore Benton.

His lazy drawl came from behind her, casual, like they’d never torn each other’s clothes off. “Why are you here tonight? Got a bet on one of matches?”

Liz shrugged one shoulder. “Enforcer business.” She tensed when Landon stepped into the ring. “Someone displaying in public.” She dropped the volume, knowing Benton could hear. Humans wouldn’t be able to, not over the crowd’s racket.

“The Gomez boy? What’d he do?” She told him and he laughed, moving to stand next to her. “Pretty sure I did that once. I was running a relay race in track. Two days before Full Moon, my girlfriend in the stands screaming, the kid next to me pulling ahead…I won. Glad Pete wasn’t there. I’d have been Benton No-Balls.”

“I’m not as old school,” Liz admitted. “I don’t mind if Landon thinks that, though. Cuts down on the repeat visits.”

“What’d you do to him?” Benton was giving her the once over. The look in his eyes said he remembered her without clothes, but he’d like a refresher.

Despite every brain cell screaming at her not to be stupid, she preened under his masculine appreciation. Her shoulders straightened, drawing attention to her small breasts, the tips hard and begging for attention. “Held him off the floor and displayed.”

“Partial shift?”

“Yeah. You know that’s required to be Enforcer? I heard you can do it.” In fact, Pete had lamented more than once that Benton wasn’t around to take over the job. Liz won him over in the end, but it stung to be compared, and found wanting, to the man who dumped her.

“Comes in handy when I’m on a job.”

“I heard you’re a bounty hunter.”

“Bail bondsman. Skip tracer, little bit of private investigation.” He gave her a twisted smile. “That’s my day job. The side jobs are about the same except a gun isn’t much use.”

“Sounds exciting.” And it did. Liz loved the thrill of the chase, the adrenaline of running down her prey, cracking heads together. She’d gone up against vamps and a Loupe once in the last year, fought off Challengers a couple of times. Ass-kicking was a helluva good time.

“Can be.” Benton straightened, his attention shifting over her shoulder. A scowl dropped over his face and he muttered, “Damn it,” hurrying toward the exit.

Liz sighed and rolled her shoulders, then went back to watching the matches. Same old Benton, still walking away without a good-bye.

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