Toxic #26: Leprechaun’s GoldJul 9, 2014
The dragon swiveled his head in my direction, his very large, and very gold, face filled with laughter. “Please don’t stop on my account. I’m not one to interrupt a good flirtation.”
“Oh, my God,” I mumbled. “I was not flirting.”
Arabus’s whiskers, sprouting from his cheeks like weeds, twitched. “Damian was, and there’s no need to be embarrassed. It’s boring hanging out in a cave for centuries. I take my amusement where I can.”
I tried to gather what remained of my dignity. “I finally meet a dragon and he’s a voyeur. That is just my luck. And how do you know me? Is my name tattooed on my forehead or something?”
The dragon rested his head on an upturned paw. “I’ve heard the talk about someone new upstairs. Dragons have very good ears.”
Damian went up to him, looking about as big as a dollhouse toy. “Arabus doesn’t get many visitors. He’s Fir’s deep, dark secret. Only the people who work here and Vincent know about him.”
Damian smiled his fallen angel smile, and the fire from the griffin tears heated my cheeks. “There’s not much you can hide from a vampire. Or the son of one, in this case.”
“Not a very good secret then. Any others you know that need sharing?”
He stifled a laugh. “Probably, but it’s going to have to wait.”
I didn’t need to ask why. Someone was stomping down the final steps of the spiral staircase, already griping. I knew that gripe.
Scott burst into the cave a few seconds later. “Tizzy? What are you doing? No one is supposed to be down here. Fir doesn’t want Arabus bugged.” He came up to me and sniffed. “Are you drunk? Damn it. Come with me. Now.”
Arabus yawned and picked his claws. “What if she doesn’t want to?”
“What?” Scott eyed Arabus like he’d lost his mind. “Vin is going to have a shit fit if he finds out she was getting loaded down here.”
I stuck my hands on my hips. Why was everyone treating me like a two-year-old? “Vincent can get bent. I don’t want to go anywhere, and he’s not my dad. He can’t yell at me for drinking. And technically I didn’t get drunk down here. It was in the wine cellar.”
Damian burst out laughing, and Scott scowled at him. “Like Fir is going to be happy you two were in his booze? Let me sneak her out of here and he’ll only kill you.”
“Why do you assume we were bugging Arabus?”
Arabus sent out a soft cloud of steam from his nose. “I told Fir two weeks ago that the cable was out and he still hasn’t gotten it fixed. I’m bored. She can stay.” He yawned again, revealing huge ivory teeth framing a black tongue.
Damian strolled back to Scott and me, the motion too casual for the predatory look on his face. “Are you going to narc on us, Scott?”
Scott’s expression made it clear he really, really wanted to say yes, but he shook his head no.
Damian draped his arm over my shoulders, the challenge in his eyes fading. “I’ll let you sneak her out, then. If you get caught with her, fewer people will be pissed.” He leaned over and gave me a kiss that was all dog marking his territory, pressure and heat without emotion. Thank God he wasn’t actually a dog or he might’ve lifted a leg to pee on my jeans.
Arabus coughed, and Damian broke off the kiss. “I hate to bring reason into what’s obviously an emotional discussion, but removing her from here might not be in anyone’s best interest,” Arabus said. “Especially her own.”
Damian locked his eyes onto mine, his lips twisting up. “Now why would you say that?”
Scott grabbed my arm and yanked me away from Damian. “I’m not leaving her down here when she’s obviously not thinking straight.”
Arabus tapped his nails on the floor of the cave. “You don’t know what might happen if you take her home. She may have an unusual reaction to what she drank.”
Scott tightened his grip on my arm and dragged me toward the stairs. “She’ll be fine. What’s she going to do? Puke on herself?” He shoved me up the stairs to the wine cellar, muttering under his breath.
We didn’t talk until after he’d snuck me through the kitchen and out the back door. “What the hell were you guys drinking?”
“Griffin tears.” I burped, tasting dirt.
He rolled his eyes and gripped my arm even tighter. “He didn’t start you on the weak stuff, did he?”
“I’m a tiny buzzed. Things are a little blurry but…”
Scott raised a hand, cutting me off. “Griffin tears don’t make you drunk like beer does. You’re in for a fun night.”
I let him lead me to his car, a daffodil yellow Beatle that had seen better days. “Where are you taking me?”
“Home. You shouldn’t be out wandering when the crap you drank hits.”
“Are you going to go all parental on me too? Don’t turn into my mom, okay?”
Scott dropped my arm and sat on the hood of his car. “Okay, something is up your butt tonight. Let’s hear it.”
I blinked and tried to clear some of the blurs from the corners of my eyes. Out here in the parking lot, it was nauseating. “There’s nothing to hear.”
“No? Let’s talk about you and Damian. That was supposed to be a one-time thing, remember?”
I shrugged. Until tonight, it had been a one-time thing. I had no idea if tonight made it anything more. He hadn’t made a move on me until the end, and I was pretty sure that had more to do with making some point with Scott than anything else. Besides, I was still mad at him for the mojo.
“Vin isn’t going to be happy even if it was because of the booze. Heck, no one is going to be happy if you and fang boy hook up. Do you know what you’re doing?”
I glared at him, my eyes squinting, and my peripheral vision streaked and slid. Worse, the blur started to creep farther into my vision. “Why does everything have to mean something? Why can’t me getting drunk just be about fun?”
“Because Damian is a dhampir, and their definition of fun usually isn’t the same as anyone else’s. Did we not go over this?”
I studied my feet. They stayed still, but the pavement slid around underneath them. In bright, Technicolor streams. “Okay—is one of the side effects of this stuff having rainbows barf over my shoes when I move?”
Scott groaned. “You didn’t have just one sip, did you?” He got off the hood of the car and opened my door. “Do not puke all over my seats if that stuff hits before you’re home. Cleaning the upholstery in there is a nightmare.”
“Hits? I’m pretty sure it already did.”
“Tiz? Trust me. It hasn’t.” He shoved me in the car—not gently—and buckled my seat belt. “The good news is you’re about to find out what I mean about Damian’s idea of fun.”
© A.M. Schilling 2014. All Rights Reserved.