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A Fistfull of Charms(103)

By:Laurell K. Hamilton

“Moon just rose,” David said, wiping a hand across his dark stubble. “It’s full. Sorry. Sometimes it hits hard. I’m cool.”
I gave him a once-over, thinking he looked different. There was a smoother grace, a new tension to him—like he could hear the clock before it ticked. I yanked open the drawer for the pizza cutter, shuffling around. “You sure you can’t stay for some lunch?” I asked.
There was the skitter of cat claws on the linoleum, then David gasped. “Oh my God,” he breathed on the exhale. “Look at it.”
“Holy crap!” Jenks exclaimed, and Ivy took an audible breath.
I turned, pizza cutter in hand. My eyebrows rose and I blinked. “Whoa.”
The cursed thing had turned completely silver, malleable like liquid. It looked entirely like a wolf now too, lips pulled from her muzzle and silver saliva dripping down to melt into the fur at the base. And it was her. Somehow I knew it. A shudder went through me as I thought I might hear something but wasn’t sure. “You know what?” I said, my voice shaky as I looked at it in its box, cushioned by David’s scarf. “You can have it. I don’t want it back. Really.”
David swallowed. “Rachel, we’re friends and everything, but no. There is no way in hell I’m taking that thing into my apartment.”
“It’s not going back into my house!” Jenks said. “No freakin’ way! Listen to it! It’s making my teeth hurt. I already get misery once a month from twenty-three females, and I’m not putting up with it from some weird-ass Were statue on the full moon. Rachel, cover it up or something. Tink’s tampons, can’t you all hear that?”
I picked the box up, and the hair on my arms rose. Stifling a shudder, I opened the freezer and shoved it between the cold-burned waffles and the banana bread that tasted like asparagus that my mom had brought over. The fridge was stainless steel. It might help.
The phone rang and Ivy jumped up, heading for the living room as Jenks hovered over the sink and shed golden sparkles. “Better?” I said when I closed the freezer, and he sneezed, nodding as the last glitters fell.
Ivy appeared in the archway with the phone, her eyes black, and clearly ticked, to judge by her wire-tight stance. “What do you want, crap for brains?”
Jenks jerked three feet into the air. I was sure my eyes were full of pity, but Jenks shook his head, not wanting to talk to his son. That Nick had romanced his son from him for a life of crime was far worse than anything Nick had ever done to me. 
Not knowing what I was feeling, I held my hand out. Ivy hesitated, and my eyes narrowed. Grimacing, she slapped the phone into my palm. “If he comes here, I’ll kill him,” she muttered. “I mean it. I’ll drive him up to Mackinaw and throw him over for real.”
“Take a number,” I said when she sat in her spot before her computer. Clearing my throat, I put the receiver to my ear. “Hello-o-o-o-o, Nick,” I said, hitting the k hard. “You’re the world’s biggest jerk for what you did to Jax. You ever show your scrawny face in Cincinnati again, and I’m going to shove a broomstick up your ass and set it on fire. You got that?”
“Rachel,” he said, sounding frantic. “It’s not real!”
I glanced at the fridge, putting my hand over the receiver. “He says he’s got the fake one,” I said, simpering. Kisten snorted, and suddenly smug, I turned back to Nick. “What?” I said, my voice light and flowery. “Didn’t your statue go silvery, Nickie da-a-a-a-arling?”
“You know damn well it didn’t,” he said, voice harsh. “Don’t mess with me, Rachel. I need it. I earned it. I promised—”
“Nick,” I soothed, but he was still talking. “Nick!” I said louder. “Listen to me.”
Finally there was silence but for the hiss and buzz of the line. I looked over the kitchen, warm with the scent of pizza and the companionship of my friends. The new picture of Jenks and me that I’d stuck to the fridge caught my eye. His arm was over my shoulder, and we were both squinting from the sun. Ivy wasn’t in it, but she had taken it, and her presence was as strong as the bridge behind us. The picture seemed to say it all.
So I lived in a church with pixies and a vampire who wanted to bite me but was afraid to. So I dated her old boyfriend who was likely going to spend his free time convincing me he was a better choice, when he wasn’t angling for a threesome. And yeah, I was alpha of a pack and the only curse I could Were with was black, but that didn’t mean I was going to. No one knew I had a Were artifact in my freezer that could set off a vamp/Were power struggle. My soul was coated with darkness from saving the world, but I had a hundred years to get rid of it. And so what if Nick might be smarter than me? I had friends. Good ones.
“Tag, darling,” I said into the receiver. “You lose.”
I hit the off button mid-protest. Tossing the phone to Ivy, I smiled.