Arc 1, Episode 4

“All clear sir.”
“What did you do?”
“I threw a little salt into each corner of the room. That should keep any ghosts out.”
“Wow, man, thanks. I had no idea that something like that would work.”
I shrugged. It probably wouldn’t do anything. And it was also a lie. Elena’s the only ghost I’ve ever met. All I knew was that salt could be used against them. The exhausted guest left the lobby for what I promised him would be restful sleep. Elena appeared by the front desk as Ghillie was leaving to do some gardening.
“I’ve been meaning to ask. Have you spoken with Vivian?”
Dear Creator, not this shit again.
“She was a good girl, Jean-Pierre.”
I didn’t say anything. To be honest, I didn’t appreciate the reminder. She was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. One too many drinks and the biggest mistake of my life later…she was gone.
Ghillie hadn’t made it to the door yet and her words made him stop.
“Breaking off the courtship with that girl from the Unseelie Court was the best thing you could have done for yourself, JP.”
Elena high-stepped through the desk and stopped just in front of Ghillie. These two loved to argue. I wasn’t in the mood for it tonight, not that I really was any other night.
“And when, Ghillie Dhu, have you ever been in love?”
“I told you a hundred times, it’s Ghillie-D! And I haven’t been in love. I don’t want to end up like you.”
He scurried out of the building knowing that Elena couldn’t follow. Thanks, douche-bag, that means I get to hear about it.
“That stupid, stupid, faerie. He’ll never know true happiness or sadness until his heart is bonded to another.”
I didn’t even glance up from the paperback I was reading. “Sounds like a good reason to stay single to me. One can be happy without being in love. Not everyone is co-dependent.”
She shook her head and gave me a sad smile. For a brief moment, those cold eyes warmed just a little. “Dependency has nothing to do with it.”
She was right of course. Independent people can be just as happy and in love as dependent ones. But I’m not the type to talk about my emotions. I’m not a cold person, kinda the opposite, really. I just hated talking about it. The only thing that outweighed my guilt was my own stubbornness.
Elena didn’t say anything else and that always got my attention. She’s too damn naggy to stay quiet for long. I looked up and she was gone, but came running through the wall a few seconds later.
“Pixies in the conference room.”
I ejected myself from my comfortable, cushioned chair, snatched up the closest broom and sprinted for the conference room. Benn the Jinn and his associates used that room for many of their meetings. The local gang of pixies had claimed the territory for their own. I busted through the door. It wasn’t a gang tonight. It was a horde. Fifty of the little bastards were partying in there. I looked around to see the floor littered with the little containers of coffee creamer. They were all empty. These. Little. Mother. Fuckers.
“Hey. I done told you little shit-asses before to stay the fuck out the goddamn creamer. That shit don’t belong to you. It’s for the guests who pay money to stay here.”
The room went deadly silent. They were all staring at me, their little wings fluttering quietly.
“Fuck you, JP,” came a squeaky voice from the back of the room.
“That’s it. I’m teachin’ you fuckers a lesson tonight.”
I looked up at the clock in the room. 2:30 AM. So far, a pretty normal day. I ran through the horde swinging the broom from left to right, slinging one foe after another against the wall. They attacked with their tiny pitchforks and tridents but couldn’t get close enough to strike. After fifteen or so had dropped to the ground, the rest got smart and went for my ankles. I loved hockey.
Slapshot. Slapshot. Slapshot. Each one went through a group of the others like a bowling ball through pins, letting loose angry squeals as once again, I prevailed over the pixies. Most of them were knocked out but all of them were done fighting. At least for a day or two. I returned to the desk, grabbed a couple of trash bags and then stuffed all of them inside. I didn’t tie it, I wasn’t trying to suffocate them, just get them the hell out of here. I opened the back door and tossed all the bags outside, angry squeaks erupting from the bags with each bounce they took down the hill.
Dusting off my hands I came back to the desk and it was quiet for a few hours, just the way I like it. The seconds ticked slowly by and before I knew it, I was over one hundred pages into the book, which turned out to be quite good. Elena had disappeared, Haruto hadn’t shown up at the desk all night, and Ghillie was working. Except for the human guest earlier, everyone else had been as quiet as church mice.
Fifteen more minutes passed before I heard footsteps. Haruto was walking down the hall butt-ass naked and carrying a bottle of wine. He flashed me a sneaky smile and a wink. You would think that my look of disgust would be enough. It wasn’t.
“Like what ya see, sweet pea?”
“No. And what in the fuck are you doin’?”
“The little hobgoblin upstairs ordered coq au vin. So I’m taking the vin and the coq up there personally. Wish me luck.”
“You’re gonna get fired.”
“No, sweet boy, I’m gonna get laid. Don’t be such a prude.”
“I’m not a prude, Haruto. We’re workin’, man. This ain’t a fuckin’ whore house.”
“It is tonight.”
Ghillie walked in as Haruto disappeared around the corner.
“Was he naked?”
Ghillie shook his head and headed over to the lobby. I heard the TV cut on and continued to read. Another twenty minutes passed before I felt the temperature drop ten degrees and heard a chilly whisper in my ear.
“What do you want, Elena?”
“The lobby.”
“Ghillie’s watchin’ TV. I know that.”
“No. Look.”
My eyes rose from the novel and swung towards the lobby. I noticed it immediately. The shadows were jumping unnaturally, like the kind that a campfire throws. We didn’t have any fires going on here. It was something a normal person wouldn’t even notice. But I’m not normal. I took a quick look at the computer. 5 AM. Two hours left on my shift. Tonight was starting to get on my nerves.
I stomped into the lobby, grinding my teeth harder with each step. Ghillie followed me with his eyes, confused as to what could be setting me off. How the hell did he not see it? Dude was rumored to be abnormally gifted with magic, even for the fae. I reached into the shadow and grabbed hold. The creature on the other side fought my grip with inhuman strength, but I had caught it by surprise. I gave the form a final yank and the spell exploded, black shards of fabricated shadow flew across the room before sinking back into the carpet and walls.
I dropped her on the ground; she was staring at me with piercing green, wide eyes. Her hair was like fire, her body was a near perfect hourglass form. 5’7 and about a buck-fifty. Thicker than my momma’s gravy. Just the way I like them. The woman’s face was covered in freckles that merged into her hairline and on to her lips. If I didn’t know better, I very well could have become a victim of love at first sight. But this wasn’t my first meeting with her.
“Hello Viv.”
“Hey baby,” said my ex, her lips parting into that sexy smile that drove me insane. “I tried to call you last night. You didn’t answer. I got worried.”
I felt Chris’ tail rattle against my gris gris.