Arc 1, Episode 3
“Happy one year anniversary, sweet pea,” came the southern Mississippi accent from behind me.
“It’s JP, Haruto. Not sweet pea.”
I bent over to pick up my lunch. I remembered how much of a pervert Haruto was only after I had leaned down. The smack on my ass didn’t hurt, hell, it was more of a caress. It was just plain degrading is what it was. I stood as quickly as I could move and felt the heat rush to my face. Haruto was a kitsune. A Japanese fox demon.
He was old enough to remember the fall of Rome like it was yesterday and easily the most flamboyantly gay motherfucker I’d ever met in my life. He had been working for Benn the Jinn for as long as the hotel had been open. Haruto was the graveyard shift bartender, cook, and the unofficial handyman of the Benn-Jinn Inn.
“Dude. What have I told you about sexual harassment? That shit ain’t cool, man. Why don’t you go pick on Ghillie and leave me the fuck alone?”
Haruto looked down at his manicured fingernails and sighed. “I would, but ever since he got into that stupid show, I just can’t stand the way he looks or talks.”
That made sense. Ghillie Dhu was a member of the Seelie Court. The good guys of Faerie, though that really isn’t saying much. Faeries look at good and bad differently than humans do. Ghillie lived in a grove of birch trees behind the hotel. The legends claim that he’s shy. The truth was that he actually had a social anxiety disorder. And it’s bad. For the first three months I worked here, every time I tried to talk to him he shit all over himself. We’re cool now, though…thank Creator.
He had a deal with Benn the Jinn. Ghillie did all of the gardening on the property and in return he could watch as much TV as he wanted to in the lobby. I know it sounds like Ghillie was getting the short end of the stick, but in his defense, it was a really nice TV.
After coming across Jersey Shore, Ghillie Dhu found himself enamored. He chopped off his hair, blew it out, bought some new clothes and a gold chain. He used his magic to spray tan his entire body and lately had even gone so far as to speak with an accent. When the whole thing started, we thought it was good for him. He seemed to get a little more confident. But now we’re pretty sure it’s all a facade.
I entered the hotel and Yvette, the second shift half-angel/half-human, gave me the low down. She was one of those middle aged, “I’ve seen it all, I’ve done it all” types. That was an angel thing. They thought they were awesome. I blame Della Reese.
We had five people in and only one left to check-in. Slow night. Even for us. Of the five rooms currently sold for the evening, there was only one human. Dammit. That meant I had to keep a watchful eye on him or her. Luckily, most non-human people aren’t a threat to humans. There was of course one major exception. Vampires. Sons of bitches loved to fuck shit up. And I have little tolerance for such tomfoolery.
Maybe I’m just biased. I don’t know. But I do know that in my admittedly limited dealings with them, my magic has saved my ass half the time. Silver bullets saved me the other half. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got my own issues. I’m forgetful as hell. I have a hard time trusting people. But there are just some things that I absolutely hate.
4. Major metropolitan areas
Pretty much in that order.
Luckily, Yvette was smart enough to put the human on the first floor and the rest of the people on the floors above. The Inn had fifty seven rooms. Fifteen normal rooms on the first floor. Twenty on the second. The next three were made up of a total of seventeen suites; seven each on the third and fourth floors. The fifth floor was all VIP and only had three rooms: The Presidential Suite, the Penthouse Suite, and the Britney Spears Suite… Benn’s a really weird guy.
Yvette left shortly after I arrived. She always kept a book at the front desk. Usually it was some shitty vampire love story, but it helped to pass the time and I planned on buying a lap top with my raise. My last check-in showed up at 1 AM. I’d been at work for two hours and was now having my first major crisis. Goddammit. The family of four centaurs walked into the hotel with back-packs. They had obviously been hiking and were worn out. The father of the group approached the desk.
“Hi. I’ve got a reservation for Deersmith.”
“Yes, sir. I’ve got the reservation in my computer. But we’ve gotta problem.”
“And what’s the problem?”
I pointed to the sign behind me. Most of the humans that stayed here thought it was a joke. It wasn’t.
No pets of any kind. No centaurs, minotaurs, or shifters in animal form. No angels with wings unsheathed. No nudity in the pool area. No exceptions.
“But I’ve been an acquaintance of Benn the Jinn’s for as long as I can remember. He’s the godfather of my oldest child. Would you be so kind as to call him for me?”
Fuck. This centaur seemed like a really nice chap but I hated calling Benn, especially late in the night, when I was almost certain that he was up to shady shenanigans. I sighed and stared at the phone. I started to reach but then hesitated.
“Don’t worry,” said Mr. Deersmith. “Once he knows the nature of your call there won’t be any anger.”
I picked up the phone and dialed. It rang twice.
“If this is about your raise, you little half-Jew shit, we’ll discuss it in the morning.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Benn, I’ve gotta Mr. Deersmith here. He’s a centaur gentleman.”
“Yeah. So. He’s gotta reservation don’t he?”
“Well, yeah, but I just wanted to clarify. Ya know, because of the rules.”
“Never mind. Have a good night, Benn.”
I hung up the phone and checked Mr. Deersmith into his room. They were in the family suite. Triple the size of the average room at this hotel. Perfect for a family like them. I handed him the room key and paper work.
“Enjoy your stay, Mr. Deersmith. I’m sure you’re aware, but there’s plenty of space out back for the kids to play and graze. The woods are protected.”
“By whom? Benn?”
“No sir. By Ghillie Dhu.”
“Ghillie Dhu? He’s here?”
“Yeah,” I said, pointing towards the lobby. “He’s probably watching TV over there right now.”
The group of four walked into the lobby. After speaking with him for a brief moment, they bowed and headed for their room. I walked into the lobby and sat beside Ghillie, who was polishing his all-white Nikes.
“What was that about?”
“They just came to pay their respects, bro.”
“Centaurs are faeries?”
“You some kinda royalty or somethin’?”
Ghillie looked up from his task and smiled. The fae edition spray tan almost sparkled in the glare off the TV. “Somethin’ like that.”
I heard a scream. The blood-curdling kind. You would be surprised at how often I heard that around here. I took a quick peek at my cell, it was 1:15 AM. The evening seemed to be running right on schedule. A human man, wearing only his boxer shorts and an under shirt, came sprinting down the hall, wide eyed and not paying any attention to his junk being out and flopping around.
“Is somethin’ wrong, sir?”
“Th-th-th-th-there’s a ghost in my room.”
“Sir. There are no such thing as ghosts. I assure you.”
“No. It was real. So real. She touched me. Her hands were as cold as ice.”
“Want me to go take a look for you sir?”
“You some kinda ghost hunter?”
“Nope. Just your friendly neighborhood night auditor. You sit out here in the lobby, relax, maybe tuck your cockles back in, and I’ll go check out your room to make sure there aren’t any ghosts. If there are, then I’ll be happy to give you another room or a full refund.”
“Ok, man. I appreciate it. I’m in room number–”
“I know what room you’re in, sir.”
I headed down the hall. I knew what room he was in because he was the only human in the hotel and the only person on the first floor. Hell, I had even Googled the guy. I like to know as much about the humans that stay here as I can. Their lives and my pay check depend on it. Using my master key, I opened the room and looked inside. The air was definitely cooler in here than it should have been. That guy was not lying about what he saw.
“Elena. I know you’re in here.”
An apparition appeared in front of me. Beautiful, with perfectly maintained blonde hair, a sad but pretty face and petite figure, and eerie blue eyes that gazed right through me. She wore a flowing white dress, as she always did, because…you know, she was a ghost.
“How many times do I have to tell you to stop fuckin’ with the guests?”
“I only haunt the single male humans,” said Elena defensively. “They deserve whatever terrible things happen to them.”
“I’m a single male human. Why don’t you just haunt the front desk?”
“Because you don’t fear me.”
“You’re a goddamn ghost. What’re you going to do to the poor guy, nag him to death?”
“My husband used to say that I nagged him too much.”
I nodded my head in affirmation, “You nag. It’s true.”
She started crying. Goddammit. Tact: something else that I’m not so good at. I felt bad for her. Really. That didn’t give her the right to treat every man like they were her husband. Just because one man kills his wife doesn’t make us all assholes. I’m pretty sure I’m not an asshole. Actually…I think that depends on who you ask. I put my hands behind my head and looked at the ceiling. I sure could use some guidance right about now.
“Look, Elena, these people pay money for a comfortable place to sleep at night. It’s my job to protect them. Just come hang out with me at the desk and leave this poor guy alone. Please?”
“Ok, Jean-Pierre. And I’m sorry.”
“Don’t sweat it.”
I left the room, shutting it behind me and trekked back to the lobby.