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Toxic #8: Why You Should Never Feed Stray Dogs

Mar 12, 2014

I dropped some cash on the bar and spun toward the door. That was enough rubbing elbows with the supernaturals for one day.

My neighbor gripped my arm. “Hey—you okay?”

I glared at his hand, not sure I was up to responding. A pale blue tattoo twisted around his wrist near the cuff of his jacket, glittering in the light. That freaked me out more than the mud guy and the vampire teacher. Coming from the city I’d seen my share of tattoos. They did not glitter.

He wasn’t human. I’d been flirting with a monster.

I drew my arm out of his grip slowly. It was time to be gone. “I’m fine.”

I managed to keep my feet slow and steady all the way to the door, but it cost me. Most of me was shaking. How many supernaturals lived in this town? More than the city, it seemed. I could go weeks without seeing one there, but in one day in this hell hole I’d seen five, if not more. I hadn’t looked back at the couple having lunch. I hadn’t watched the barista to know if the height and hair were from dwarfism and Clairol or something else.

This place was so high on the weird-o-meter scale it was completely off it. Hell, if this had been a movie I would have busted it on my blog for being overkill.

Footsteps started up on the cobblestones as I reached the mouth of the alley. I didn’t turn around. Judging by who’d been in the restaurant, there were good odds on it being a predator behind me. And no matter how hard it was, no matter how much I wanted to vomit my heart out of my throat, I wasn’t going to make the mistake of running from one again.

Screaming would be bad too, so it’s a shame that’s exactly what I did when I turned the corner back onto the street. It wasn’t every day I ran face-first into a wall of furry arms and neon-glow soccer jersey. Wet fur, no less. At least he didn’t smell like wet dog.

“Tiz! What are you doing here?”

My mouth opened and closed like a gasping fish. This was all I needed. Seriously. More monsters.

Scott’s eyebrows scrunched down until they were one furry line. “Are you okay?”

I closed my mouth, trying not to act as if two years had been scared off my life. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Because you look like crap?”

I risked a glance behind me. My neighbor from the coffee shop was standing about ten feet back, his hands shoved in his pockets.

“I have stuff to do. Unpacking, remember?”

“Funny place to be unpacking. Hey, is that Vin behind you?”

“Vin?” My tattooed distraction didn’t look like a Guido from Brooklyn, and they were about the only guys I knew who went by “Vin.” Well, that and guys over eighty.

“Vincent.” Mr. Distraction stepped up and gripped my elbow. Lightly, but still. “You two know each other?”

“Sure. She’s in my class at school.” Scott flashed me a grin, and in the semi-dark it looked like any regular guy’s.

I tugged out of Vincent’s grip. There was a bus stop a half a block away. I resisted sprinting for it, but just. “Look, I really do have to go. You two enjoy chatting in the artic chill.”

“She was in the Dragon,” Vincent said.

I didn’t hang around to figure out why that was such a sin. Unfortunately, neither did Scott. He tagged after me like a stray dog looking for a scrap of meat.

I ducked into the bus shelter and leaned against the cold plexiglass. As if to show I was chill. Not freaked out by the constant barrage of supernaturals. “Are you following me home or something?”

“I just figured we should talk. Especially being new in town and all.”

“Thanks, but I’m not much of a talker.”

“You should be. You should be trying to make me your new best friend. Want to know why?”

My shrug was a lot more casual than I felt.

He smirked and leaned against a faded movie poster at the other end. “Fido.” He lifted one finger up into the air. “The Dragon.” He lifted a second. “That’s two things that tell me you’ve got a secret. Wanna go for three?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Here’s something you should know. The Dragon? It’s protected.” He lifted a third finger and gave me a full-fanged grin. “Humans can’t see it, let alone get inside.”

© A.M. Schilling  2014. All Rights Reserved.

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