Darkness gathers around Maggie as doubt creeps into her mind. She wonders if Adrian truly loves her, or if he’s only using her for his own carnal lust. Her doubts lead her to avoid him and join her father for a quiet, normal dinner, but the paranormal world comes knocking in the form of her boss. His demand leads her into more trouble, and the sudden arrival of her lover.
Now she must confront her doubts, and her fears, as together they learn what happened to her boss. Their search leads them from the darkest parts of the city to the brightest lair of their foe. The answers they find lead to more questions, and in the end Maggie learns the truth about herself, her lover, and her role in her new life.
The night was long and dark when a short black limousine pulled up to the curb in front of an old three-floor brick building. There was a large window on one side that showed off cheap jewelry, and to the left stood the wooden door with a long, tall glass in the center. The worn sign over the front of the building read ‘Cotio’s Curiosities.’
The driver hurried out and opened the rear passenger door. A handsome young man with gold eyes slipped from the vehicle and gazed up at the old sign. In his hands he carried a pot in which grew a small plant. A single yellow flower like a rose grew from its single stem.
The young man looked to his servant. “Park a few blocks down, Albert, and wait for me to call you.”
Albert bowed his head. “Yes, sir.”
Adrian carried the pot and plant into the small shop. A bell above the door chimed his entrance. The old musty building smelled like the pages of dried books and herbs.
Shelves lined the walls on either side of us and center, and didn’t stop until they reached the wall halfway down the shop. The shelves were covered in jars, boxes, and tins full of food, dolls, kits, and other stuff the average person couldn’t quite identify. Some of the clear bowls looked like they held pickled heads, and some of the dolls stared at Adrian with a little too much intensity.
Adrian strode up the center aisle to the central rear wall. A long desk ran along half the wall and behind it was the only door to the rear of the building. A mess of fabric, dolls, tins, and what looked like dirt was piled high on the desk. There was also a small silver bell like those seen in a hotel.
Adrian set the pot on the desk and rang the bell. A head popped out from behind the rear door. The head belonged to a short man of some five feet who wore a black suit and red tie. His fine short hair was slicked back and he looked at Adrian with piercing black eyes.
Those same eyes widened and an eager smile slid across his face. He hurried through the door, careful to shut it behind him, and slid up to the desk.
The short man clasped his hands together and bowed to Adrian. “Good evening, my dear Mr. Forrest. What can I do for you?”
Adrian smiled and gestured to the plant. “I have a unique plant which is in need of your appraisal, Cotio.”
Cotio leaned toward the plant and squinted his eyes. He pursed his lips and shook his head as he straightened. “I’m afraid I can’t help on such simple matters, Mr. Forrest. I am a man of the curios, not a botanist.”
Adrian wrapped one hand around the pot and pulled it close to himself. “But this is rather a unique plant. You see-” He transformed his free hand into a long paw with sharp claws.
Cotio’s eyes widened and he leaned back away from Adrian. The proprietor watched the werewolf brush his claws against the leaves of the flowers. A soft glow of yellow light burst from the green leaves. Adrian drew his claws back, but the tips were caught by the edge of the light. The ends were blackened by the touch and small wisps of smoke rose from the dark tips. A smell of singed bone wafted between them. The light in the leaves faded to nothing.
Cotio glanced from the flower to Adrian and back. “My goodness.”
Adrian reverted his hand back to its human form, though the tips retained their singed appearance. “An underrated sentiment, but it is extraordinary, isn’t it?”
Cotio looked the plant up and down. “Does it react to all stimuli with such defensiveness?”
“No, merely the paranormal kind,” Adrian told him. He reached out with his other, undamaged hand and stroked the leaves. Nothing happened.
Cotio’s eyes widened at the lack of damage. “Fascinating! Where did you come across such a rare find?”
“A close acquaintance created it with a simple gardening spell,” Adrian admitted.
Cotio scoffed and shook his head. “A simple spell could not produce such a flower as this.”
Adrian leaned on the desk and studied the short man. A sly smile slipped onto his lips. “What sort of flower is this?”