"Actually, there are a lot of things that make me special." There were like, 300,000 of them. There were probably so many reasons that it was physically impossible to count.
Kenzi was sitting crosslegged on the dining room table in her pajamas at asscrack o'clock in the morning, eating generic cocoa crispies with orange juice and wearing a santa hat. It wasn't even close to Christmas, that's how awesome she was. She was super cool. All of the kids in town were jealous of her.
Hale was jealous of her. Or, at least he should be.
"Yeah, Kenz, you're special all right."
It was really unfair that she couldn't stomp on his foot with some spiky boots for that. She'd just have to find a way to sneak up behind him when his guard was down. Maybe pour some grog into that beloved hat of his.
"Yeah, loser boy, you happen to be talking to the only human girl in existence who has known what it is like to have a werewolf penis."
Huh, Kenzi had never thought about it like that before. There had to be something she could do with that.
Holy shit, Twilight.
Kenzi could write the next Twilight. From the perspective of a werewolf. A male werewolf. And she'd be the only author in town with real-life experience.
This required more contemplation.
Kenzi was minding her own business, eating her delicious fruity cereal and thinking of crafty metaphors for penises. Joystick of love was the best, by far. Anyway, minding her own business, and then there was a super loud crash and clanging like whatever fell was rattling around on the floor. Probably a throwing axe, by the sound of it. "Damn it!" Bo shouted.
So it was time for BFF duty. Kenzi walked in sort of sideways, trying to investigate the situation before making a judgment call. Bo was sitting in the middle of her bed, snarling at a bag of chocolates. "Heeeey, bestie," Kenzi said.
"This chocolate is evil," Bo said. Which was weird, because she was PMSing and chocolate has tradtionally almost always been hormonal Bo's friend.
"Is it?" Kenzi flopped down next to Bo. She could be cautious, or she could get snuggled and steal some chocolate. So the choice was obvious.
Bo had her scrunched up angry face on. "Don't tell me what to do, chocolate! I am the boss of me!"
"Bo, what did the chocolate tell you to do?" This could be a fae plot. Shit, actually, that did sound like something the fae would do. Get tiny magical elves to brew magic chocolate that had like, mind control powers or something. But the bag looked like regular human grocery store chocolates. Not the super cheap ones, but not the good stuff either. Actually, the ones with the super cheesy "life affirming" sayings on the wrapper.
Bo passed the wrapper to her. It said, "Have no limits today!"
"Holy shit, Bo. This chocolate does not understand you."
"When I have no limits, people die." Bo flopped over next to her.
"Yeah, limits are awesome. Good job with all of those super not sucking people to death limits, Bo. You are doing a really excellent job with that." At least Bo started smiling. Sort of. A little. Kenzi would work with what she could get.
"What's up with you, Kenz?"
Was this the right time to bring up the whole best idea ever? It probably wasn't. Screw it. "So I'm going to make us super rich."
"We are not getting into business with your cousins."
"What? Bo, of course not. I mean, it would be a mutually beneficial business arrangement, but that is beside the point."
Bo poked her shoulder. "The point?"
"I am going to write the next great novel."
"Novelists don't actually get rich, Kenzi. Especially not good writers. They sit alone in rainy cabins and mope about the burden of genius and do not get to have fancy cheeses." That was true, and Kenzi did love fancy cheeses.
"I don't mean great like "The Gatsby", I mean great like super rich." Bo's eyebrows lifted up. "Like Twilight."
"Kenzi," Bo gasped. "I can't even."
Kenzi stole a chocolate, popped it in her mouth and turned over to face Bo. Which was kind of a mistake because she was supposed to talk but her mouth was full of chocolate and Bo just kept making an awkward squinty face. "No but seriously, think about it. I'm awesome. I know a ton of stuff about shitty books that you can't put down. I know all about magical creatures." Bo looked skeptical. Time for the big guns. "I have intimate personal knowledge of what it is like to possess werewolf junk."
That got her. "You do," Bo said, grabbing another chocolate. Kenzi stole the wrapper and crinkled it up before Bo could read it. Kenzi waited for the idea to really sink in. "You have to do this."
"I know," Kenzi said. She ran over to the kitchen to get her sort of writing notebook. It was technically a day planner from 2004 that she found in a box of old random shit with some expired condoms and a stuffed cow covered in what was hopefully silly putty. Whatever, it wasn't like this was supposed to be dignified.
When she turned around, Bo had followed her. "I can help," Bo said. "You know what it's like to have wolf junk and I know what to do with it."
"We will be unstoppable," Kenzi said. "I'm making mimosas."
White wine, club soda and orange juice concentrate could totally make a bitchin' mimosa, Hale's snooty opinions could suck it. Except, crap. Yeah, it did not go well with chocolate.
"Ugh," Kenzi sighed, flopping over the edge of their couch. Well, it was more drawn out and took like 20 seconds to say and she sort of accidentally did fall over the side, but that just added to the realness of her distress.
"No giving up now, Kenz." Bo said, pulling her up. "The world needs this story." Kenzi threw her notebook dramatically across the table, just narrowly missing getting sliced open by some fancy sharp throwing star thingies. Bo sighed. "I need this story."
"Names are stupid and I hate them." They were the stupidest things. They were like, stupider than trying to play football with an American football.
"So come up with the plot instead. You can use like, numbers or something, as a placeholder."
Which, yeah, Kenzi could probably do that. That was a smart idea. "Fine," she grumbled. "The plot. I don't like plots. Plots are stupid. The plot of this book is 'they need to make out but then circumstances keep them from making out and then their feelings get in the way.' There, a plot."
"Boom, done!" Bo smiled. "Now, tell me about these characters."
Ugh, why did she have to be all helpful. This was awkward. Kenzi sighed. "Okay, so our hero is a werewolf." Bo nodded. "The whole thing has to be from his perspective, because I am super tired of reading about the girl's perspective as the creepy dude sniffs her a lot and she's oblivious. Also, because this way my readers get an insight into the inner workings of his mind. He gets to be all sexy and remote while also emotional and full of feeling. Best of both worlds."
"I'm getting wine," Bo said. "This is great, keep going. Sexy wolfman is our hero."
"And every sexy wolfman hero needs a lady to have for his very own. Except she can't suck. She has to be awesome. So she was like, raised by supernatural hunters or something. But not like when her crazy parents teach her how to be a badass fae hunter without telling her that fae exists, how does that even work?"
Bo gave her one of their big glasses of wine filled up very close to the top. Kenzi had to lean over and slurp before she could even pick it up. Just the way she liked it. "Sounds sexy. I'd do her."
"So she's a badass and he's a marshmallow. But like, a badass with a conscience. She doesn't just go around setting baby spiderfae on fire. But she will set the baby spiderfae on fire if they're eating people. That kind of thing. Well, but they're not called fae. Anyway, nobody can tell her what to do. But she's not like a dude. She likes to knit. And fashion. But the good kind of fashion." Kenzi needed more wine.
"So if she's off fighting monsters, what does our dude do?"
Kenzi gulped half of the glass, which would seem like a not terribly good idea but ended up being fine. "He's a massage therapist."
"Holy shit, Kenz, that is perfect."
"I know, right? I mean, he can protect his land if he's really forced to, but he just likes to heal people with his hands."
Bo got the bottle for a refill and plopped down next to Kenzi. Actually, sat on her feet. Kenzi glared, shoved her feet out from under Bo's muscly thighs and used Bo as a footrest instead. "Screw the rest of the world, I need this story."
"And what am I, if not a humble servant working to better the life of my best friend. And the world." Bo laughed.
So yeah, not bad for a Friday night where they weren't going to get to go to the Dal because Bo's heart was sort of smashed into tiny pieces and Kenzi had no date because literally everybody else on the planet wasn't cool enough.
"He didn't want to be her friend, Bo. He wanted to be all aloof and broody, but he didn't have a choice!"
"I've got it!" Kenzi couldn't help the spontaneous little happy dance. "Her name is Desdemona."
"I think Shakespeare already took that one."
Kenzi turned and rolled her eyes. "No, you don't understand. It's perfect. It's got 'moan' and 'demon' right in there."
"Desdemona and Ember. Sounds pretty good." Kenzi could hear the sarcasm, but she chose to be the bigger person and ignore it.
"And the other guy. You know, the other romantic tension guy."
Bo threw a sword at one of their mannequins and hit right on the heart, which would be kind of unsettling if it wasn't too busy being super awesome. "Oh no you don't." Kenzi was slightly confused. "I will not read another stupid book that says it's a love triangle and it is really a stupid love arrow. A love arrow, Kenz!"
Oh, this lecture again.
"Do these people not understand how shapes work? A lady picking between two interested dudes, which, why does it always have to be dudes? Lesbians exist and are awesome. That is an arrow. It's an arrow, Kenzi. In order for it to be a triangle, each person needs to want to bang both of the other people."
"Or they each want to bang the person who doesn't want them." She just couldn't help herself.
"Or that!" Bo threw another sword. Maybe she was trying for a Robin Hood thing where it split the sword right down the middle of the sword. Did swords even work like that? "You know, bisexual people exist. There are a lot of us and we are awesome. And honestly, what's better: trying to pick between two hot dudes when your feelings are all confused or everybody jumping in bed for a threesome? I'll answer that. It's the threesome. I have experience."
Bo had a point. A good point. "Yep, you're totally right." Bo sort of missed the next throw, like she hadn't been expecting an agreement or something. Which was weird because this was like the fifth time they'd had this conversation. "The endgame of this book is totally going to be a threesome."
Bo started grinning. "Really?"
"Yeah, of course. Love arrows are super boring. Bring on the polygamy!"
"Polyamory," Bo interjected.
Kenzi rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, same thing. Threesomes!"
"No, Kenz, they are really not."
Kenzi grabbed her writing notebook and ran for her bedroom. "Can't talk! Must work on the orgy of love!" Behind her, Bo was yelling something about the importance of labels, but Kenzi really was not paying attention. She had a threesome to plan.
So, Kenzi was technically supposed to be staking out the Tim Hortons where a bunch of fae goons were going to meet up for delicious coffee and planning whatever it was that they were going to do with the stolen treasure chest full of mystical cockroaches or whatever. But they weren't going to show up for another three hours if they even bothered to show up, so she was working upon her novel. Well, sort of.
It was weird, because she knew so much about Ember and Desdemona but the other leg of the triangle was eluding her. He was going to be a selkie, obviously. Because selkies are awesome. Who doesn't love a selkie? Also, vampires are the worst. So, a selkie. A hunky, hunky man with super great abs and a love for the ocean. Actually, he would probably make a super great lifeguard.
Boom, done! Kenzi was definitely on a roll. She peeked up over the window's of Bo's shagmobile but didn't see anything. Yeah, all she had to do was take some pictures, there would be plenty of time to write.
Selkie of loooove would totally be BFFs with a siren, too. But not a Hale kind of siren. Like, an sexy lady siren who was probably evil or maybe just very very morally gray. Like a Sherlock Holmes thing, but the good adaptation with the explosions and dinosaurs.
This was definitely the best way to spend a stakeout in front of a Tim Hortons full of delicious coffee that you could smell but were not allowed to go in and purchase just in case somebody made you and then decided you looked awesome for kidnapping. It was actually super annoying how often random fae looked at her and thought she was super great for kidnapping. Ooh, they probably felt the same way about the selkie lifeguard, because selkies are adorable.
It was a dark and stormy night, the kind of night that would remind Ember of his feelings, if he actually cared that he had any. He was too busy for feelings. He was staking out the new Hunters in town.
Not the most difficult job, but then, not everything could be. He had decided not to work for the corrupt police, so these silly cases were the closest he could get to a challenge.
Well, he wasn't close enough to his target. He could just barely smell the shampoo in her hair, and the groceries in her organic grocery sack. Lemons, chicken, and Cheez-Its, an odd dinner. But Ember couldn't think of any particular rituals that used all three. He could smell that she was four and a half days away from her period, she should've gotten some chocolate. Or maybe she didn't need chocolate. Ember didn't usually care to get close to Hunters.
She was quite good-looking, for a woman. A good height. Not freakishly tall like a giraffe, but still tall enough that she could reach the top shelves without having to climb on a box. Her hair was an almost bluish black. She had lots of freckles. This wouldn't be the worst job ever. Certainly not as bad as the time he had to go undercover in a high school. Desdemona Hunter was already clearly kinder than the average cheerleader.
This was all Bo's fault. Bo's drunk fault. With her drunk sharingness.
"You're writing a book?" Hale looked dubious. Very dubious, especially with the eyebrows. "You, Kenzi? Writing a book?"
Kenzi poked him hard between the ribs. "Of course I'm writing a book. I am a literary genius with a unique perspective on paranormal romance." That last word didn't end up sounding the way it was supposed to. She was probably drunk too.
"A unique perspective?" Ciara, bless her fairy heart, was trying very hard.
Kenzi took another swig of beer. Or was it grog? It might be grog. "I am probably the only human on the planet who knows what it's like to have wolf junk." It was probably grog.
"What?" Dyson looked like somebody had just punched him in the gut but he wasn't covered in all of those abs to protect him from it. His eyes were very, very wide. It was hilarious.
"What?" Hale did not seem to understand. Kenzi turned and pointed at Dyson, waggling her eyebrows suggestively.
"Wolf junk," she said. Then held out her stein for a refill. Trick clucked his tongue just a little bit, but his eyeroll was cheerful.
Hale grabbed her arm, gently, and twirled her around on the bar stool to face him. "I have to read this," he said.
"Buy me a refill and I will unleash some of this genius right now!" Kenzi was super great at dramatic readings of ridiculous romance novels. Lots of times, it had been the best way to calm down her cousins when there was nothing else to do. Wait, crap. She had to finish this stein of grog before somebody could refill it otherwise they were just topping her off and that did not count.
Hale got out a whole second stein full to the brim with grog and handed it to her, bowing a little bit, almost like a prince. "My lady," he said. Kenzi double-fisted it and drank from both steins at once, which most people would think she couldn't do considering how small her mouth is. But Kenzi was, as always, a drinking superhero and ended up with a super badass beer foam mustache.
She pulled out her writing notebook. The last part she had written was on, like, the fifteenth of March or something. "This is going to be awesome," Bo said.
Yeah, Kenzi was feeling pretty freaking awesome.
She opened her mouth and began to read. Dramatically. Like a fucking badass.
When she got to the end of the page, every single one of her friends were frozen in place. Well, except for Bo, who couldn't stop grinning. The Dal was eerily quiet. Hale stared at her, transfixed. Kenzi paused, waiting for a reaction.
In the corner, Dyson groaned and faceplanted on the bar.
"Another round of ale for everyone!" Hale declared. Shit, she'd been drinking ale this whole time?
After getting full permission from Bo for the sixth time, Kenzi actually got around to inviting Ciara over to their house. It wasn't that she didn't like Ciara, it was just that she liked her probably too much for a fairy who was Dyson's rebound-or-probably-something-more-serious. And also she was going to let Ciara maybe edit her precious, precious book. Maybe. Ciara had offered and she worked in a job where she had to look all professional.
And she brought fancy cheeses too? Kenzi was probably doomed. She regretted sending Bo away. Why did she have to be the kind of friend who cared about her bestie's feelings? She wanted to be seduced by the fancy cheeses.
"I hope you don't mind," Ciara said dropping a whole grocery sack of cheese on their counter. "I heard of your love for cheese and I wasn't sure which one you'd like best. And of course, I had to get fresh baguettes to go with it." Doomed. "I figured we'd start with the dessert cheese."
They made dessert cheese? "Dessert cheese?" Seriously, dessert cheese? Did it have crasins in it? "What is this alchemy? Is it fae? Will it turn me into a toad?" Kenzi broke off a chunk and stuffed it in her mouth. Holy shit, it was worth getting turned into a toad. It was all creamy and sweet and cheesy but kind of like the inside of a blintz but with crasins and pure joy.
"Human, actually." Ciara said, breaking off a dainty piece and eating like a lady. She even had her pinky raised. "One of your greatest contributions to the world."
Kenzi had planned on interrogating Ciara about her intentions with Dyson and giving her the "Don't break Bo or I break your toes, even fae have to sleep," lecture, but the cheese was just too much. She slid the notebook across the table and gave it to Ciara, who smiled, broke off a piece of baguette and passed it over. Kenzi could always give the lecture later, there was always time for a good threatening lecture.
"Your writing is truly enthralling," Ciara said. "I would love to help you edit this."
Ugh, why did Dyson have to have such good taste in ladies?
It took all of Kenzi's strength to not quote Casablanca.
Bo sighed, "You know what's awesome?" Actually, Kenzi knew a lot of things that were awesome. When her roommate decided to securely tie her kimono, that was awesome. Still, could be worse. Kenzi preferred when Bo was sex-blitzed to when she was mopey.
"Women," Bo answered. "Women are awesome. They are just the most fantastic thing. They're so soft and they smell good but they've got all of those strong muscles underneath and they taste..."
"TMI, Bo," Kenzi called over. "Hold it. I do not want to hear about anybody's ladyjuices."
"And they have boobs. Boobs are amazing." Bo grabbed her boobs for emphasis. "See, amazing."
Bo was such a succubus sometimes. And whoa, she just grabbed the sacred writing notebook right out from Kenzi's hands. "I'm just saying, you should totally add more lesbians."
She had a point.
And Kenzi had a boyfriend. A ridiculously awesome boyfriend. Who was all warm and tangible and kissed really great. Super distracting. Took away from the majority of her writing time.
And she was considering sharing her magnum opus with Nate, but. What if he asked about how she knew all of this stuff about magical creatures? Honestly, Kenzi would probably start babbling and tell him that she was an undercover archaeologist like Indiana Jones. Which was a recipe for sexytimes killing.
Nothing would kill Kenzi's sexytimes.
Okay, so. When Kenzi had first found out about how the case required her to go undercover as an employee in a Tim Hortons, she had been thrilled. Tim Hortons employees had access to all of their delicious, delicious coffee.
Maybe that was a problem. See, technically Kenzi was supposed to be looking out for poisonous pixies, but she spent most of her time stealing coffee. Sure, she got a bunch of it for free, but Kenzi was really good at taking beverages while nobody was looking.
So she might have had too much coffee and was no uncontrollably trembling. Eating donuts was not helping. Kenzi hid in the walk-in and texted Bo. "Need help. Drank 18 cups of coffee, now my heart won't stop racing. Can you OD on caffeine? Call a doctor."
Bo, the asshole, texted back: "It's love. You've ODed on love. Get used to it."
Kenzi replied: "I'm pretty sure love doesn't cause uncontrollable trembling."
Bo, the asshole, responded: "It does if you're doing it right."
Well, if Bo was going to be like that, Kenzi was just going to sit here in this cold cold refrigerator on a box of creamer forever.
Well, they were special. But not pack special. Except that if he had to choose a pack, he would probably choose them. They were sensible. They smelled good. Desdemona could protect all of them. But he was tired of the turmoil in his gut.
Ember changed back into human shape, and, not caring about his nakedness, curled up on the warm ground. He did always like laying in sunbeams. But it made the feelings worse.
There was only one thing to do, since this solitude didn't work. Ember picked up the phone and very carefully dialed the number from memory.
"Hello?" It was Maxim. He sounded good.
"I've been thinking," Ember sighed.
"About?" Maxim sounded something close to concerned.
"Desdemona's birthday." Ember sighed. "What we should do."
"I thought you were on a spirit journey to reconnect with your feelings..." Maxim sounded mildly worried.
"Feelings are stupid."
"Well," Maxim exhaled.
"I know an antique weapons dealer who specializes in swords," Ember stated.
"Mona likes broadswords," Maxim observed. "And shortswords. And throwing knives."
"Come with me to pick them out?" Ember could feel something stirring in his chest. Something tiny, but warm and kind of unpleasant.
"Saturday." Maxim answered.
This was entirely friendship, completely separate from pack.
"So, everybody's got an analogue." Hale looked accusingly at her. Kenzi rolled her eyes. Ugh, Bo and Lauren and Dyson were not finished making wounded faces and talking about business, still.
"Nope," Kenzi said. She made sad puppy eyes at Trick, but he still did not give her a free drink.
Hale punched her lightly on the shoulder. Almost like a love-tap, but slightly stronger. "Obviously the werewolf is Dyson. The sarcastic slutty incubs is Bo."
"Succubi and incubi are, by nature, slutty. You don't have to say slutty, you just have to say incubi and the point is made." Hale glared.
Kenzi stole his hat. Didn't wear it, just held it. "Now, the selkie's sidekick is a siren, like yours truly, and there are fairies running around. Sound like anybody you know?"
"Now hang right on, Hale. Maxim is sidekick to the siren. A lady siren. A dangerous, morally dubious lady siren with considerable power. This is book two stuff."
She could hear Trick huff and chose to ignore it. Just like Hale was ignoring her, apparently, "Anyway, we're all in there. And you're clearly not the love interest." Obviously, Desdemona was like Bo if Bo was a human and played keytar in a New Wave revival band. "Which one are you?"
Kenzi put Hale's hat on, ignoring his super cute outraged face. "Don't be stupid. I'm not in it." She laughed. "Duh."
Hale stole back his hat, held it super high over his head so that Kenzi couldn't grab it, and ignored all of her ineffectual lunges. Damn tiny arms. She was like a T-Rex. It was horrible. He was very clearly thinking, stroking his chin with the hand that wasn't being a gigantic jerk and lording its tallness over her. "Wait, is the evil leprechaun supposed to be Trick?"
Trick, who was clearly still paying attention to them, for all that he had his back turned. "Maybe," Kenzi said. Hale gasped dramatically. She raised her voice to be sure he could hear. "But I might be persuaded to change my mind in exchange for some discounted beer..."
Trick rolled his eyes.
Well, it was worth a shot.
Making out with your super hot and very sensitive musician boyfriend onstage at like 3am until you both can't really bring yourself to get up and have to seriously consider boning on the stage just to be able to deal with how hot everything is: RESEARCH.
"I'm just saying, Maxim's entire personality is Ariel from 'The Little Mermaid'." Hale stared accusingly at her.
Kenzi pulled her super secret writing notebook away from Hale and glared. Glared hard. "I love 'The Little Mermaid.' Everybody does. That movie is a classic."
"So you don't deny it?"
Kenzi scrunched her face up. "How would you even know about 'The Little Mermaid'? You're supposed to be not human."
"It's a classic. I know about 'The Mighty Ducks', too." Well, the Mighty Ducks had been Kenzi's fault. He was just trying to distract her with inspirational hockey stories. "There's a whole section in here where Maxim and Ember just quote sections from 'Under the Sea' and 'Paint with All the Colors of the Wind' at each other."
"So you know 'Pocahontas' too! Are you secretly a Disney movie junkie? Do you keep them hidden under a loose floorboard in your bedroom where the porn should be?"
Hale punched her shoulder. "Shouldn't you be making their personalities more original?"
"Stephenie Meyer made Jacob's entire personality: 'Bella, I care about your feelings and I have abs.' This is clearly like 700 times more awesome than that." She punched his shoulder too. Harder. And stole his hat. His stupid, stupid hat. "Don't think you're going to distract me from your secret obsession with Disney cartoons. How many times have you seen 'Beauty and the Beast'?"
"I refuse to answer that question," Hale said, turning kind of pink.
Oh, Kenzi would make him talk. She'd make him sing like a canary.
So, Kenzi's entire book was contained, handwritten, in a writing notebook that may or may not have been found partly in a puddle of orange juice and was missing the lines for half of the page in the months of July and August. However, her writing process was undoubted awesome and Kenzi refused to care about saving drafts securely on computers or having e-mailing capabilities.
E-mail did not get Kenzi access to fairies bearing fancy cheeses.
Besides, Ciara didn't actually get all mopey after breaking up with Dyson. She got all quiet and sort of trembly and looked normal until sometimes she looked like part of her immortal fairy soul was shattered and all of the chocolate in the world couldn't fix it, which was way worse than some well-deserved brooding. Ciara doesn't want to talk about it, obviously, so clearly the only thing to do is get fancy cheeses and cheap wine and work on some editing.
It was slightly weird that Ciara brought her own pillow so that she didn't have to sit straight on their couch. Their couch is fine. But whatever, the woman was clearly grieving. She'd been avoiding Dyson super hard.
"So I was thinking, instead of the shellfish toxin amnesia, perhaps you should go a different route. Something a bit more accessible?" At least she still had a mind for business.
Kenzi made one of her scrunchy judgment faces. "Ciara, that actually happens. If toxins develop in shellfish from near Prince Edward Island, it causes legit amnesia. The people need to know to avoid the oysters if they love their memories!"
"What if they go on vacation instead?" A vacation would be less angsty than sudden memory loss that she still didn't know how to cure. Hmm. Kenzi sort of liked the idea almost against her will. "What if they all went on, oh I don't know, a trip to the mountains."
"Shh." Kenzi pressed a finger up against Ciara's lips and thought very hard. A trip to the mountains, the three of them. They could go hiking, they could get snowed in. Maxim would break his leg. The cabin would be old, not insulated, didn't have enough blankets. Ember would hunt them some food and they'd have to huddle together for warmth so that they could survive the long cold nights. Lots and lots of cuddling, breaking down all of the barriers in Ember's heart.
Kenzi grabbed a green glitter gel pen from the table and began to write frantically on July 17.
"Trapped, with a fire, their feelings, some canned food, and not enough blankets..."
It had been a really long time since Kenzi hung with Dyson in the police cruiser. They used to do it all the time back when he and Bo were dating. Kenzi had kind of forgotten how much she missed it. Well, she'd probably like it better if Dyson didn't look like little bits of his soul were shattered and on fire. But still, friendship and closeness.
"So, this book that you're writing about my penis..."
Kenzi slapped him on the arm. She didn't have to be gentle, he could handle it. Stupid dude didn't even pretend like it did for politeness, though. "You know I couldn't resist. While you were gone in my body saving they day and stuff. What else was I supposed to do?"
"Keep your hands to yourself?" He didn't sound like he was actually mad, so whatever, Kenzi didn't even try to sound contrite.
"Maybe if you hadn't taken so long."
"Maybe if you didn't have tiny tiny legs with wildly impractical shoes I could've arrived in a timely manner."
That was sort of almost a smile. "Oh sure," Kenzi said. "Mock the tiny legs right up until you're the one who has to use them to run away from danger. Not as convenient as you thought, huh wolfboy?"
"A romance novel is very undignified."
It was hard to poke him on the shoulder with the gear lever in the way. "Says the man who read the entire Twilight series and then complained that Bella wasn't good enough for Jacob."
"He was a good werewolf," Dyson countered.
"Who got eternal soulmate bonded to a literal baby! A literal actual baby. Who he will marry, due to freaky magical aging, when she is like literally 4. And yet you complain about his romance with Bella." (This was probably the thirtieth time they'd had this fight.)
Dyson drank some coffee, looking kin of disgusted, "I can't help but be on the side of wolfkind, no matter how fictional." The dude probably had feelings about 'Teen Wolf'. Shit, Kenzi had to remember to ask him about that. Maybe have a marathon.
"And I can't help if the experiences I had with your wolf junk left me so profoundly changed that the only way I can deal with these new feelings is through artistic expression."
"I am so shocked that you used this knowledge for selfish personal gain."
This was clearly a joke. "Dude," Kenzi said. She reached over and stole his donut. "Have you met me? What else would I do with a magical wolf penis?"
And then Bo finished the bar fight with a random fae dude, who she threw into the side of the cruiser. So the passenger side door stopped working and Kenzi had to crawl out over Dyson, who kept just barely not laughing. She'd had worse nights.
It was easier being a wolf in the cold. He could smell things better. He could smell Maxim's discomfort, and the toothpaste he used two mornings ago. He could smell Desdemona and her hair and how she had been crying. The wolf didn't like when she had been crying.
She was wearing socks. The wolf remembered the socks, she had knit them herself. They had magic charms in them and made her feet look good. Everything smells good.
The wolf is warmer than the human. It's easier to warm the others like this, with his thoughts all condensed down, with Desdemona scratching the back of his neck. The wolf could smell the contentment in her breath.
His pack would be safe.
"I don't have enough sexual tension in my magnum opus," Kenzi sighed. "This is research."
"And you couldn't just go do research with your boyfriend?"
Kenzi punched Hale in the arm. Bo was being super loud, and Hale was kind of a prude about that sort of thing, but he was still super ridiculous. "Of course not. I need to work on dirty talk."
Bo sure was taking a long time with this random delivery guy, though. "You," Hale gasped, mock shocked, "You, Kenzi, need to work on a form of talking?"
"I do a lot of things very well, Hale. But sexy talk is not one of them. It just seems so awkward."
"That's because it is. It's awkward."
"Not when Bo does it," Kenzi said, and poked him in the chest. "When it's just me, I stick with three things." She counted them on her fingers. "Map directions: like, 'there' or 'lower.' Performance directions: like 'harder,' 'slower,' and 'more.' And finally, the classic 'Give it to me.' So I just mix those three up and see what I get."
Hale looked surprisingly uncomfortable, so Kenzi decided to give an example. "You know, like," she pitched her voice. "Right there, give it to me. More. Give it to me harder!" Holy shit, that was hilarious. Hale looked like she sort of broke him, mouth gaping open like a fish.
"I'm going to fuck you until your legs break," Bo yelled.
Ooh, that was actually a good one. Kenzi put it on the list with:
-"You want to give me everything you've got, baby?"
-"You want to prove it to me?"
(That last one is going to be hard to convey in writing, but it was too epic to leave out.)
"Nothing is working in my head!" Kenzi shouted, and then banged it against the table for emphasis. Whatever, she didn't need her head. It clearly wasn't doing anything.
"It's just writer's block, not the apocalypse." Bo did not sound sympathetic.
Bo poked her on the hip, hard. "I am dealing with the apocalypse right now. This is not worse." Kenzi glared, even though Bo was right.
It had been such a long and gloomy week. Kenzi had tried, getting super drunk, writing until something good showed up, which it didn't, getting even more drunk, watching softcore porn, making mac and cheese, getting further drunk, writing with a hangover, and bugging Bo a lot. Nothing worked.
The thing was, she knew she had to get Maxim and Ember into the gay bar, but she just didn't know how. It didn't make sense. She was ruler of the domain. She was the God of this story. The story bent to her will! Or, it was supposed to.
But no, her head wouldn't work. Everything was terrible. This called for more vodka.
Actually, the hangover solved it.
Ember prowled slowly outside of the club, waiting for Maxim. They needed this information. He dressed as he usually did. Dark jeans, black tank top, leather jacket, combat boots. Desdemona had convinced him to wear eyeliner, though, and had thoroughly messed up his hair.
Maxim, on the other hand. He looked different. It wasn't the clothes, but it was something. Maxim sort of glid across the pavement toward Ember. "So," he smiled. "We're the bait?"
"We'll have to be very distracting." Maxim looked Ember up and down, very slowly, clearly for show. He was already getting into character. Ember didn't do characters. He just raised one eyebrow.
Maxim looked almost predatory. It was a good look. However, he was no wolf. Ember was the best.
The walked hand-in-hand into the club, full of strobe lights and stage fog. Maxim's hand was cool, not clammy. He did smell a bit like clams, though. Especially ocean-like today. All of the bodies were making Ember's nose hurt.
Maxim pulled up close, so that he blocked all of Ember's line of sight. "Don't worry," he whispered, "Mona's got this. We just need to be distracting." Ember nodded. "This your first time coming to one of these?" Ember didn't bother shaking his head, just raised one eyebrow. He was solitary, not celibate.
"Good," Maxim grinned, almost too happily. He was going to ruin the character. Ember wrapped one hand around the back of his neck to focus him and watched the flush spread all along Maxim's pale skin. "Not my first time either." That looked like a dare.
A tall, tan man wearing a leather thong and angel wings walked by, giving Ember an appreciative leer. He smelled like Jaegermeister. Maxim probably expected that Ember wouldn't know what to do with such attention. Maxim looked almost amused.
Ember turned away from Maxim, placed one hand on angel wing's shoulder, turning him. "Hi," angel wings said. Ember kissed him. Not chastely, but not long enough to give the guy any ideas. When he turned back to Maxim, the selkie was blushing harder.
"So it's like that," Maxim whispered. The next man to pass Maxim, short, dark, smelling of lubricant, was on the receiving end of one of the selkie's kisses. Maxim had to reach up to his tippy toes to do it properly, his hand curling around the other man's jaw. The human immediately started smelling of lust. Maxim turned away back to Ember, smirking.
Ember's gut was tight with the challenge. "Whoever collects the most kisses wins," Maxim said. "We have until Mona shuts it down. Loser buys dinner. And if we need to make a bigger scene, just have a jealous lover's spat."
"You're on," Ember said. He grabbed the nearest available human, careful not to bruise, and placed a series of hot kisses against his surprised mouth, then shook Maxim's hand in the deal.
He was going to win.
So all Kenzi had been doing was discussing her book with Hale, which she'd done like seventy or eighty times already, and then Trick practically dragged her down into his magical lair. Such force was really not necessary.
Trick made one of his sarcastic faces and rolled his eyes. That man had seven thousand different eyerolls and they all meant different things. "Kenzi," he started, his voice serious. "I am very glad that you have conquered your writer's block and have finally stopped moping. I am happier than you know to have finally found an end to that whining. But..."
This was usually the part where somebody started talking about apocalypses, Garudas eating babies and everything setting on fire.
Trick made his voice very gentle. "This book can't actually be published." He was surprisingly nice about it. Kenzi waited for him to finish. "There are rules."
"Yeah, I know." She said.
Trick seemed to have not heard what she said. "You're a part of the fae community now. You know that our existence must be kept secret above all else. If you were to publish a book about the paranormal, no matter how many facts about fae behavior and biology you get wrong, there would be problems. Big problems. Inquests. You cannot write anything about us, ever."
"Yeah, I know," Kenzi repeated.
"The consequences for this sort of thing, Kenzi. You don't want to encounter them."
"I figured," Kenzi said.
"And not just for you! Since you are Bo's human, all of your behavior reflects upon her. And any punishment that you may receive would also be shared with her." Yeah, Kenzi had known that too. But Trick was kind of on a roll. "The punishment for this sort of thing. The mildest punishments include thumbscrews, leeches, slugs, and acid. After they sew your mouth shut."
"Yeah, Trick," Kenzi said. She tried to make her voice really serious. "I know."
"You know?" He looked dubious.
Kenzi rolled her eyes. "Of course I know. You think I wouldn't secretly tell my boyfriend about the fae, even though it would make my life a hundred bazillion times easier, but I would go and publish a book about fae culture out in the public where everyone would see?"
Trick sighed and looked a lot more relieved. "I know I'm not actually going to ever publish this, Trick. But if I say that I'm in it for the money, nobody wonders what I'm really in it for."
"Why are you really doing it?"
Kenzi shrugged. "No fucking clue." Trick rolled his eyes. "Seriously."
"You're just too tough to admit that you're doing it for the art," he sighed. While his back was turned, she stole some grog. Maybe he meant to turn his back. Maybe he secretly wanted her to have all of the grog her heart desired.
Actually, Kenzi was making such a big deal out if because it was awesome. And because it was nice to have something the whole group could focus on that wasn't immediate impending doom. But she had to protect her reputation, so she kept it to herself.
"Holy fuck, Ember," Desdemona gasped. She stood from the massage table, and from what he could see staring at her feet, she hadn't bothered to wrap herself in the modesty towel.
Ember turned around and tried to avoid the distraction of all of her oiled flesh.
"I know you said that we can't." She bit her lip. "That we can't be together. And I've been trying, I really have. But every time I touch you..."
He shifted away from her grip. She deserved to be with someone worthy, someone like Maxim. "Ember, I know that massage was supposed to relax me, get me ready for the upcoming battle. But I'm tenser now than I was when I started."
She needed to be relaxed. In order to perform her best, she needed to be relaxed. Without tension. And Ember was very good at his job. He could get past his feelings and hers and get her muscles to do what they needed. "Lay back down," he said.
"Ember," she murmured.
"Do it," he said, making sure to look straight at her face. Desdemona had a hard time saying no when he did that. Reluctantly, she turned and lay back on the table. She smelled like rose petals and anxiety.
He was going to make sure that she relaxed. For her safety. This was all for her safety. She would be safe. Ember would do anything to ensure it. Her muscles would cooperate.
So, Kenzi was technically supposed to be working on cracking a code for the case of mistaken identity among shapeshifting fairies. But the code was super boring and it was almost definitely the butler's fault.
And since she was the only code-cracker on the team, nobody would really know if she took longer than usual to do the job. It was a stupidly easy code, too. It wasn't like the shapeshifting fairies were paying well.
She had like 4 scenes left. Maybe 5 if she wanted to add in some more silent pining. She probably did. Silent pining was awesome.
-the epic battle: good supernatural hunters, rogue werewolves, our heroes and a bunch of incubi versus bad supernatural hunters, vampires and an army of zombies
-the victory party
-the plot twist
And then Kenzi would have a motherfucking book. How fucking weird was that?
"First draft is done party wooooooooooooooo!" Kenzi hollered a little louder than was probably polite. Or necessary. But whatever, it was a victory party.
As much as a party with three people could be. But they were good people! Bo and Ciara were like the most important people to the entire story. And Ciara brought rich people wine. It was good wine. It probably had extra alcohol on top of the extra flavor. Extra grapes?
And so if her boyfriend was touring and Hale and Dyson were too busy doing business for the Ash and Trick was all "I have a bar to tend" and her ladyfriends just wanted to stay inside and wear comfy clothes, Kenzi was totally cool with that. She was the coolest person ever to be near a fridge who wasn't also an ice fae. Not that she knew for sure that there were ice fae, but there logically had to be.
Anyway, it was time for the vodka.
Kenzi wrote an entire book. An entire actual book. Herself. And it was the best book ever to be a book. Which she wrote.
While she waited for her ladyfriends to finish, Kenzi put on some headphones, closed her eyes and did a super enthusiastic happy dance in a corner.
But then the anticipation got to her and she spent 20 minutes staring at Bo's face as she read, trying to figure out what each expression meant.
"Wait," Bo shouted. "Hang on. Kenzi. This isn't the end."
"Yeah it is," Kenzi replied. As the author, she got to decide when the end was. That was basic, basic knowledge.
"But they didn't kiss."
Kenzi rolled her eyes. "Plenty of people kissed. Remember the gay bar? Remember the sex pollen and the wedding reception?"
Bo grabbed Kenzi by the shoulders, hard, giving her a pretty intense case of the crazy eyes. "The threesome. The beautiful, beautiful threesome. None of them kissed. There was no kissing."
Kenzi grabbed Bo's shoulders, but actually gently, and used a good consoling voice. "Bo, sweetie, 2/3rds of the entire Twilight series is waiting for them to make out. It's how these stories work."
"They need to kiss," Bo said.
Ciara dropped the writing notebook on the floor. "Wait," Ciara said. Her eyes looked sort of crazy too. Kenzi probably should've been concerned, but she was actually super psyched about it. Well, maybe she shouldn't be considering how upset Ciara has been since the whole Dyson thing.
"Kenzi," Ciara said with a low voice. "Somebody took Maxim's pelt?" Kenzi nodded. "You are evil."
"I know, right?" Bo sighed. While they were doing a slightly creepy eye communication thing, Kenzi had another shot.
A few minutes later, Kenzi sort of stumbled reaching for the vodka and fell on top of her ladyfriends, ending up mostly on Ciara, who was laughing a little bit. "So, when are you going to start the second draft."
"I don't do second drafts," Kenzi said. "Stephenie Meyer doesn't do second drafts. That other lady who wrote the bad bondage book didn't either. And do you know what they have in common?"
"They don't understand how sex works," Bo answered.
"Terrible, terrible writing," said Ciara.
"They are both rolling around in swimming pools full of cash." She tried to sit upright, which almost worked, except her shoulder was kind of stuck in Bo's cleavage. "And my book is a hundred thousand million times better. My book's heroine was attacked by possessed flying fish and stabbed all of them to death with knitting needles."
Bo grinned. "That was a good scene." Ciara was smiling, so that was a good sign.
Clearly, the only thing to do now was get more vodka. And use some cheesy finger guns in the commemorative pictures.
"Cookie dough vodka is the work of the devil," Kenzi yelled. Or maybe she didn't yell. Either her voice or her ears were broken. "You think, 'Oh, this tastes like cookie dough. Cookie dough is good.' You don't stop to think about how they made it taste like the dough of cookies. You don't consider the dark magic."
Bo handed Kenzi a very small glass of water, and some aspirin, and her fuzzy sleep mask. "Bless you," Kenzi said, reaching for her arm, missing, and then not bothering to care wherever it was her hand wound up. It didn't feel like a boob, at least.
And then she realized it.
Kenzi couldn't help the groan that escaped.
"Yeah, Kenz, the cookie dough vodka is made of the devil and we will never get it again. Drink your water."
"No, Bo, you don't understand. My book doesn't have a title!"
Should Kenzi be blaming the vodka for this? It didn't matter. This was all the vodka's fault.
The working title of Kenzi's book had been: "My Awesome Motherfucking Book, Take That, English Teachers."
However, it didn't really fit the story. Too vague.
She changed the title to "Werewolf Junk."
So, after a long day in the seventh circle of hell (working as one of mall Santa's elves in the Christmas rush), Kenzi came home ready to set things on fire with the power of her mind. Her feet hurt. Everything was terrible.
Bo was grinning, the traitor. "So I know I owe you for when the manticore wrecked your wig." Yes, Kenzi had not forgotten. It had been such a beautiful wig.
Kenzi meant to talk about it, but she opened her mouth and other words came out. "And the hell of those children and their grabby little hands. What were their hands sticky with? What were they sticky with?!"
Bo grabbed her by the shoulders and helped Kenzi out of the awful festive boots. They were made with felt. Literal actual felt. "And for your very excellent work on our latest case."
"And it was my favorite wig." She had loved that wig.
Bo rolled her eyes. "And you are the bestest best friend in the whole world, Kenzi, just let me get to the present."
And then Kenzi kind of paid attention to their surroundings. Almost. Sort of. Bo was marching her though the apartment very quickly. To her room, actually. Where there was a gigantic cardboard box blocking her way to the bed. Kenzi loved her bed. She wanted to go to there.
Bo made some Vanna White hands but Kenzi couldn't stop thinking about her bed. The bed had pillows on it. Bo made a face and then opened the box herself. It was full of books? Did Bo realize how little they actually read stuff?
Bo rolled her eyes again, shoved the book in Kenzi's hands and pointed at the cover. It was plain black and it looked like there were little pinpricks of stars all over it. It said, "Afterglow" and "by O. O. Craven." And holy shit that was her penname. Kenzi's penname.
She opened the cover and there were sentences in it that Kenzi recognized because she had written them. "What sorcery is this?" She managed.
"That was me," Bo grinned. "I picked out the title. Well, and Hale typed the whole thing up and got supper addicted halfway through and refuses to admit it. Ciara did all of the editing, made sure there were no typos. My cleavage got us a deal from a skeevy book binding dude. $3 for each book so long as we got at least 50."
"We have 51 copies of my book?"
"Yep," Bo grinned.
Kenzi sat on the box, which was surprisingly not terrible to sit on. "I can take a bookcase, not a big one, but one of those cheap ones for broke college students, and I can fill it with copies of my book."
"Yep," Bo said. Then she sort of did a succubus lift and tackle so that they were both on Kenzi's soft, soft bed. "And we'll still have some left over."
"We should give a copy to all of our friends."
Bo gasped. "For Christmas."
That sounded like the literal actual best idea ever. What Christmas present could be better than Kenzi's book? (No present, that's what. Well, her presence was a present, but still. They got that all the time.) Best Christmas present ever. One of legendary magnitude.
"And we can put a bottle of wine with it! Make it all classy."
"No, Bo, we will not!" Kenzi didn't feel like smacking Bo, so she nudged her nose into Bo's ribs sort of violently. "They have plenty of booze. We spend all of our time in a bar. Where we have frequent customer discounts. They can clearly all afford their own hooch."
"I just think it would be nice," Bo grumbled.
Kenzi contorted, just a little bit, so she could look her best friend straight in the face. "Bo, I am constitutionally opposed to using my hard-earned money to buy alcohol for other people that I cannot drink myself. Especially when they already have the perfect gift."
"You win," Bo said. "But I want to use the adorable dancing moose wrapping paper."
"Deal," Kenzi said, and stared some more at her book.
She hugged her book like it was a very uncomfortable teddy bear and blinked until her eyes felt less teary. "Thanks, Bo," she said.
"Of course." Yeah, Bo was the type of best friend to think that this wasn't a big deal or anything. And then snuggle with her and not care that Kenzi smelled like mall Santa.
Bo kissed the tip of Kenzi's nose, grinning. "Now, get to work on my sequel."
So, no rest for the exhausted, disgruntled former mall elf, again.
Bo stopped and gave Kenzi a pointy judgment finger. "And this time, there had better be actual fucking."