Friday, April 19, 2013
Adventures in Cooking
Adventures in Cooking
By Selena Illyria
For the last few weeks, with my computer on the fritz which is why I've been absent from blogging. During that time I've been doing a lot of reading other than that I've started to cook a bit more. For years all I've done is watch Food Network and Cooking Channel with very few experiments in the way of cooking. Watching chefs cooking food has helped me get over some of my food phobia (I'm an admitted picky eater), maybe not necessary in eating but not minding it so much visually. As of late, however, I've started to cook a bit. Mostly baking using a ready made mix but I'm proud that I made the effort.
I decided to take a risk and try to make whipped cream from scratch. At first it was frustrating as the heavy cream wasn't thickening but after mixing for awhile and then leaving it for a minute it two voila whipped cream. I tasted it and it tasted like RediWhip, but that didn't matter. I'd made whipped cream from scratch and it was so easy to do, with only a few ingredients I wanted to hug everyone! Cooking from scratch, even it was just making whipped cream, wasn't that difficult.
One of the other things I've made from scratch is griddle cakes. Basically pancakes and if you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you IHOP is my fav restaurant and pancakes are a blessing from the gods. I got the recipe from my friend Cynnara Tregarth. After a hankering for pancakes and not feeling up to going out I decided to try and make them. Couldn't be difficult right? So I dove right in and made them. So easy! Although, the pancakes were more crepes than pancakes-- I forgot to add the baking powder-- but still, I made them myself, no help, no ordering out or over indulging in IHOP goodness.
My next project was country fried steak using a recipe from Paula Deen. The prep was simple. I decided to just do the steaks rather than the gravy and biscuits. It didn't take long and the outcome was delish! But even though it was a success I began thinking of ways I could pick up the spices and flavor for next time. I wanted to make the dish again and maybe even do the gravy.
My next projects include a chocolate pound cake and Yorkshire Pudding. All this plotting and planning of course gave me a plot bunny but more importantly it gave me confidence in the kitchen, a place I'd been avoiding. Like plotting and writing cooking entails prep work (whether it research or just writing out the plot points) and then just diving in.
Even though my computer problems were frustrating in the end I not only learned something about myself but also a little bit about writing, even if I'm more a panster than plotter.
So, here's a challenge for you, I want you cook something, anything from scratch. Take a recipe that you've always wanted to cook and go for it, then let me know how it goes. If you're a member of my Offerings Yahoo Group we love to hear about cooking, getting new recipes and such, let us know what recipe you used and how it turned out and if you can find some way to improve it.
Go on, it can be scary but it can also make you feel so good and confident about food and cooking.
Here's a recipe you can try from Cynnara Tregarth:
Roasted tomato onion soup
5 plum tomatoes, cut in half and deseeded
1 onion, peeled and quartered
Olive oil and salt
Coat tomatoes and onions in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place them
in baking dish. Cook in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Halfway
through, turn pieces over. When done remove from oven and place in
food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp granulated
garlic, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp worcestershire sauce. Process another 30
seconds. If prefer thicker add 2 tbsp flour(regular or rice flour),
then process another 20 seconds. Pour into large saucepan. Heat on
medium low heat. Add 1 cup of half & half for creamy texture.
Here's a peek at my latest release: Draven's Crossing: Hidden Diversions OUT NOW!
With so many distractions, can they catch a killer before someone else dies?
Their passion may be the death of them…
Werewolf Chief of Police, Torger, is running into walls while tracking the Draven’s Crossing serial killer. No matter what he tries to do, he can’t find the clues needed to stop the terror that stalks the streets of his city. Things aren’t helped by his attraction to dragon shifter, Draven City News Reporter, Isadora Jones. With political pressure and bodies mounting, can he get through all these distractions to the truth before it’s too late?
Reporter, Isadora Jones wants to help with the investigation into the serial killer but Torger refuses to let her. She decides to do it on her own, but her world goes upside down when the killer sets his sights on her. Under Torger’s protection, they start to put the pieces together but will it be too late for them?
Things go from bad to worse when another killer appears. Draven’s Crossing just got a whole lot more dangerous
Barnes and Noble:
Torger hung up the phone feeling a bit better about their prospects of finding out more information, at least on one case.
“Bro? We don’t have anything else to eat, besides steak. Can I order pizza?” Urban continued to type one handed and didn’t look up. “Thanks, I’ll just use your credit card.”
Torger stood up. “Whoa, whoa, didn’t you just eat an hour ago, and why the hell are you using my card? What’s wrong with your plastic?”
“’Cause you’re the host. ‘Sides I think I found something.” Urban left the room without telling him anything.
Torger gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to go after his brother and beat the crap out of him. Despite the conversation with Isy he still didn’t feel too sure that they would find any leads. With deep breaths, he gained control over his temper and followed Urban out to the kitchen where his brother continued to type one handed while holding a phone with the other.
He seemed to be only ordering food for him. “Yeah, three large pizzas, the meat lovers. Extra pepperoni and sausage, sure throw in breadsticks and some of that dessert. Uh huh, fifteen minutes? Awesome. Thanks.” Urban hung up and beamed at Torger. “Don’t worry. I didn’t forget about you.”
Torger rolled his eyes. “Wonderful. Okay what did you find?”
“I called in a favor with a friend—we won’t talk about it—but anyway, some of these victims were lured here. They won a contest; hotel, airfare or gas or train fare was paid for, and they were given five thousand dollars in prize money. The ones that you found when Jackal came to town weren’t contest winners, but came of their own freewill. Muffy Evanson is the only deviation. I don’t have all the details, but this sheds some light on the case, right? The killer lured his or her victims here via the contest. I still have to find out if the latest victim is connected to the contest but we have a lead. And I’m still tracking the money on how everything was paid. Isn’t that great, bro?”
Torger’s head hurt. He couldn’t wrap his mind around what Urban was telling him. “So, this really is a conspiracy. Great. I have a headache.”
“Could be. We need more pieces to this puzzle. Check with Jagger, maybe that’s why he hasn’t heard anything. The contest wouldn’t look fishy to anyone. Cities hold them all the time to lure in vacationers. Now, all we have to do is check into the websites that they used to enter the contests and find out who’s behind them, as well as who paid out and follow the money.” Urban turned to his laptop and began to type away.
Torger tried to understand why anyone would want to do what was suggested. First Urban, and now Isy, were telling him that this could be a setup of some kind? In all his years as Police Chief everything had made sense. They’d never had a lot of crime to begin with and now this. He sank down into a chair. “And where does that leave the theory about Draven and possible assassinations?”
Urban shrugged. “Well, there are lots of VIPs in this town to begin with, starting with Draven, you and several others. We have to consider all options. It could be a heavily plotted, deeply intricate plan that involves many players.” His brother drained his coffee and held up his mug. “More. Please.”
Torger got up to make more java. “Why can’t things be simple? I’ll contact Jagger to put him on this line of thought. Maybe this time he’ll have more luck.” Torger’s phone rang.
“Torger.” He prayed that this wouldn’t be another body or more bad news.
“It’s Jagger. You got a minute. I have an idea,” the vampire said.
Speak of the devil. “Sure, just me and my brother. Come on over. We’re talking the case.”
Jagger hung up and Torger resisted the urge to swear. The vampire never said good-bye or anything. Just as the timer on the coffeemaker dinged, the doorbell sounded. “Son of a bitch.” Torger went to the front door and opened it. Jagger stood before him looking like the Prince of Darkness in leather and pale skin. Without bothering to ask for entrance, Jagger just brushed past him and headed into the kitchen. Torger resisted the urge to growl at him. “Well, come on in. Make yourself at home. Have some coffee.”
He followed Jagger into the kitchen to find the vampire doing just that.
“Already did that.” He sipped the brew slowly and looked at Torger.
“Son of a bitch.” Torger shook his head and grabbed another mug, poured him and Urban more java and sat down. Jagger continued to stand near the counter drinking his coffee and looking over both men. “You gonna stand there or join us?”
“Do you have anything to eat?” Jagger didn’t smile or answer the question. He just went over to the fridge and pulled it open. “Jesus, don’t you have anything besides meat?”
“Please, make yourself at home, look in my fridge, eat my brother.” Torger gestured toward Urban.
“Hey!” the other werewolf protested.
“That’s disgusting. I’m not a cannibal.” He withdrew a loaf of bread and last night’s baked ham. “Besides, he’s probably too stringy. All that lean muscle.”
“Hey! I can hear you, you know?” Urban uttered.
Torger stifled a laugh.
“So what are we doing besides forming a knitting circle? I can crochet a mean scarf, and I heard Draven can make some mittens,” Jagger said as he sliced the ham.
Torger tried to picture that and couldn’t. “Sorry, I don’t have any blood on hand for you,” he said instead.
“Already fed tonight. Let’s talk about the case. So what do you have for me?” Jagger put away the rest of the ham and bread and cleaned off the cutting board and knife before sitting down next to Torger.
Urban filled him in while he typed away on the keyboard. “I have to say, it’s a pretty pickle you got here. I don’t have all the pieces but at least we have a start. The question is what’s he or she doing with the blood? Clothing can be for trophies but blood?”
Jagger shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense. It does give credence to the whole vampire angle but I’m wondering about these contests. What if they’re legit but someone running them isn’t? What do you know about these contests? They’re a pretty sweet deal, too sweet if you ask me.”
Torger had a thought, although he was hesitant to say it aloud. It sounded insane. Even to his tired brain, he didn’t think it was possible but he said it anyway. “What if it is a vampire? And what if he or she is doing the contests to get a blood supply for themselves?”
He looked over at Jagger and Urban who turned to him, puzzlement on his face.
“Poor Tor, he’s going insane.” Jagger clapped him on the back. “Why would a vampire imitate its race when there is an abundance of people willing to offer up a vein for us and blood banks open twenty-four seven for us to pop in and get something to help keep us going?”
Torger decided to take a shot in the dark. “Because maybe there’s something wrong with them?”
Urban rubbed his eyes. “Okay, so there’s something wrong with them. Why the clothing change, the death, the clean up and dump? Wanna explain that, Yoda?”
Torger smacked Urban on the back of the head. “Don’t mock Star Wars. Anyway, maybe shame? They take too much, they panic and don’t want to be arrested or put to death. Newbies don’t have the control that older vampires have.”
“True.” Jagger nodded. “But, then this person is going overboard. No, doesn’t jive with what we have. It’s just too complex for a newbie to carry out. I barely remember my first few years when I was turned and I was crazed. It was eat, sleep, survive, nothing about trying to hide the bodies of victims that I’d drained of life.”
“Yes, but what if we’re not dealing with a newbie?” Torger threw out the question. It had to be said.
Jagger shook his head. “Okay, I’m going to need more coffee and food. Anyone want to order out for burgers or pizza?”
Urban’s stomach growled. “First you already ate, and we already ordered food. It’s close to the full moon and my metabolism has increased. Maybe we should order burgers as well?”
Jagger ordered some food while Torger headed out to the garage. The information about the victims was bothering him and he needed to see things on the big screen. He got a white wash board and hauled it into the kitchen.
“Urban, can you do a chart of all the victims both past and present, all the information that we know. Let’s start again.” Torger knew that he’d get groans and moans but if they had to start at the beginning to stop whoever it was, they would.
“Fine, fine and what do you want the blood sucker to do?” Urban focused on the laptop screen and tapped away at the keyboard.
“The blood sucker is going to visit the night ME and see if he has something new for me. I’ll be back. Shouldn’t take too long. It’s his smoke break.” Jagger left before either of them could say anything.
Urban threw his hands up in the air. “Okay, let’s follow our threads. We know that the first set of victims won a contest with everything paid for. The contests would have to be approved by the Tourist Board. The board is very selective about what contests are allowed to use our town name.”
Something poked at Torger’s thoughts. It took a moment before he realized what had been bothering him. “Muffy Evanson was part of the Tourist Board. So there’s a connection to the first bodies.” He wrote all of that on the board.
Urban typed away on the keyboard. “Okay, added into my notes. As for the second set of bodies when Jackal came to town?”
Torger reminisced on the time that Jackal had helped him out. “The victims from that case had been tortured. A total deviation from the MO.”
The doorbell rang. Torger answered it while Urban shouted to answer him. “Since there’s divergence, I’ll posit that the second set was from another possible killer. Someone who took advantage of what was happening at the time and built on the mythos.”
He carried the food into the kitchen and placed it on the table. The brothers grabbed napkins and ate out of the box. Urban switched his coffee for soda. Torger grabbed a beer before taking a seat. He nodded. “So now we can see that there are two sets of killers, I suppose. One that’s thought this out carefully and the second who’s using the details of the case to cover-up their crimes. Although, no evidence of sexual violence to speak of, which is interesting. There’s always something sexual about these cases.”
Urban ran a hand through his hair. “That you can see. Remember, if we’re dealing with a vampire, they can heal any evidence of torture. That makes things more difficult. One of the things that remains the same is the lack of blood and the puncture marks.”
Torger agreed and took a bite out of his pizza before he gave an answer. “True, so all we have is the contest, redressing the victims, lack of blood and the wounds. Nothing else. Okay, what’s new? What did we learn?”
“The connection between the Tourist Board, Muffy Evanson, and the first victims. Looks like we may have a reason why Muffy was killed. She may have stumbled onto information about the killer or the unapproved contests.” Urban took a sip of soda and reached for another slice.
They were already halfway through one pie. If Jagger didn’t move his ass, he’d miss out. Torger grinned in satisfaction. He refocused on the case. “Yes, we have a possible motive for her death. I suppose we can take her out of the victims of the killer category. This is a start. I can tell Draven we’re actually making progress, even though the Council won’t care.”
Urban looked up at his brother. “Who gives a fuck what the Council thinks? Let Draven deal with them. We concern ourselves with the cases. Now, as for the victims that Jackal found, they were tortured and then dressed up like the serial killer’s first bodies. Any information on that end?” He grabbed two slices, sandwiched them together, and ate them in a few bites.
Torger shook his head. “Nope, nothing. The guy we caught isn’t talking, which pisses me off.”
Urban tilted his head to the side. “Maybe there is nothing to get from him because he was just a pawn. But we can rule out those killings as connected to the serial killer. Now we only have four victims.”
Torger felt better about the case now that they had eliminated some things but there was still something that bothered him. Muffy Evanson was possibly killed because of what she discovered. This meant that the killer could be connected to the Tourist Board or worse, Evanson. Draven wasn’t going to be happy about either likely scenario, not in the least. He thought back to his conversation with Isy. She’d mentioned that her interview with Evanson had bothered her. He wanted to see exactly what the Representative had to say and what Isy was talking about, and then talk it over with Jagger and Urban.
“I’m going to go watch Isy’s latest interview. Maybe that will help.” Torger ignored the snort that came from Urban’s direction and headed to the privacy of his room. As he shut the door, Torger hoped he’d spot something in there that could help them. There was a slight throb in the back of his head that he wanted to make stop, but anything he’d take wouldn’t last for long. Instead, he decided to ignore it. The stress was back now that he was alone. He could sense that they were on the right track, but the pressure only increased now that they had a track to follow. He wanted to banish the frustration so he could focus. The only possible release he could have, he didn’t want to do. At least not like this.
Without turning on the light, he used the pale glow from the window as a guide to his armchair and sank down into the plush cushions. Patting around, he found the remote control and turned on the television. He brought up the DVR menu and selected Isadora’s Interview segment and settled in. Normally, he’d have a beer and a sandwich while watching her show but this time he wanted nothing to distract him. If something was off with Representative Evanson, he’d figure it out. Isadora riled him up and yet centered him. He couldn’t figure out why, but she had an effect on him that no other person had.
The opening of the show set his nerves at ease. The strain on his mind began to clear. His muscles relaxed as his body sank into the cushions. Her introduction of the segment continued the process until he was mindless and able to watch the show without being engaged. His thoughts floated as the interview with Representative Evanson progressed. Torger’s eyes took in the scenes without really understanding or processing what it was he was watching. It wasn’t until after it was all over that he understood what had happened. His instincts were screaming that something wasn’t right. The Representative had been too evasive and the questions had been too softball. Isy looked angry and uncomfortable. Her gaze was too hard, and her lips would thin after a particularly light answer. The Representative was hiding something, especially when it came to the murders and Draven’s handling of things. Anger boiled in the pit of his stomach.
There was also something else going on. It was as if the Representative wasn’t his usual calm, effervescent self. There was no calm, no tact. He was off center and irritable. Despite the smiles, he didn’t seem to be listening. The questions had already been run by him, and he was just on autopilot. Torger compared the Representative he’d met and interacted with versus the one during that interview. It was almost as if he wasn’t the same person. That puzzled Torger. Evanson had never acted that way. In fact, he was always a pain in the ass but took pains to be pleasant to everyone. Was he having a Hyde moment? He strode into the kitchen with the wheels of his brain turning over and over. “There’s something wrong here. Evanson is acting out of character, Muffy gets murdered, and we get a new body around the same time. Is there a connection?”
Urban looked up. “Talking to yourself, bro? That’s the first sign of insanity, you know? What are the little voices telling you this time? Gotta jerk off again?”
Torger resisted the urge to smack his brother on the back of the head. “Shut it. Anyway, I just watched Isadora Jones’ interview with Representative Evanson. Something was just off with him. He wasn’t acting like himself, like he wasn’t all there. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with what’s going on but still, something to file away. He’s not getting the same pressure that Drav does. I wonder what Jagger’s got, if anything. Have you found anything about the contests?”
Urban sat back and took a sip of soda before answering him. “Nothing concrete, but I’m thinking that these contests weren’t authorized by the Tourist Board. No one I’ve contacted knows anything about these contests. At least not on the record. Looks like you’ll need to pull some people out of bed.”
Torger groaned. He could feel another headache coming on. “The Tourist Board is running around putting things in place for the upcoming Ball and making sure that they are in line with the PR department. I’d have to look at the roster and see who I can talk to. I’ll have to move fast though.”
The stress ramped up inside of him. A dull throb started at the front of his head. He let out a sigh. His stomach grumbled as hunger pangs began. “Too bad I can’t stay and wait to see if Jagger brings back the burgers.”
“So all this new info will make a difference.” Urban’s stomach grumbled as well. It seemed like both siblings were suffering from Full Moon hunger pangs.
Torger shrugged. “Yeah, where the hell is that vampire? Did he eat the damn ME.? Anyway, I’ve been treading on a thin line since the first murders. Nothing will be different. We have to figure out what she found out and why she was killed, but also what the connection is between each of the victims, if there was any besides these contests. The vics have to have the same something to attract the killer.”
Urban opened his mouth to answer when the front door opened and slammed shut. Jagger appeared within a few seconds. “Sorry for the delay. Had to get the food.” He held up the bags of burgers and fries.
Urban’s stomach growled again. “Took you long enough. You missed the pizza.” He put the pizza boxes into the oven and ignored the last remaining full pie at the bottom of the pile. He doubted Jagger would care. The food was passed around before everyone settled at the table.
“So what have you found?” Torger asked before taking a bite into his bacon cheeseburger. He prayed that Jagger found something, anything to help them along the trail.
“Well, the ME looked over Muffy Evanson’s body and, well, you’ll love this—her throat was slit and the healing was sloppy. So we’re not dealing with a vampire. I don’t know how the hell he got the clout to get the official report changed, but she was killed. We have to keep it quiet it though.” Jagger shook his head and ate his meal.
Torger swore. His fingers itched to call Isy and Draven. “Do you think Draven knows about the cover-up?”
Jagger was quiet for far too long. It made Torger uncomfortable. Anger surged, red hot and scorching, spreading up through his chest to his throat where it came out in a growl. “Motherfucking politicians.” He slipped out his phone and speed dialed Isy. Torger didn’t care what kind of shit storm he caused. He refused to be part of a cover-up. This could endanger more lives and embolden the real serial killer.
She answered on the first ring. He ignored Jagger and Urban’s protests. “Isy, I have a scoop for you. Can you swing by my cabin?” The words came in a rush before he could get his thoughts clear.
Shit! He wanted to take back the invitation immediately. She would be meeting his brother and he’d never hear the end of it from Jagger.
“I’d love to! I have to convince Bill to let me invade the Evanson compound. I can’t wait to see what’s really going on in there.” She practically purred the words. Her excitement came through the phone loud and clear. His wolf sat up, tail wagging, eagerness showing in its eyes. Thoughts of handcuffs and spankings filled his head as blood surged to his cock. The shaft filled with liquid life as it tented his fly, pressing against the metal and denim with the need to break free. Isy hung up before he could say anything. All his words were choked in his throat as arousal took over his body.
“Why the fuck did you do that?” Jagger demanded as he threw away his trash.
“His cock was doing the thinking; so was his anger.” Urban chuckled and brought out more beers. He offered one to Jagger who took it with a nod.
Both men shook their heads while Torger got his body under control, or at least some semblance of command.
“I can smell his need; feel it on my skin. I might need to do a midnight run tonight to burn off my own arousal.” Urban’s husky voice came from a distance, and guilt threw cold water on Torger’s simmering need.
Torger swallowed, feeling like an idiot. “Sorry, bro. Really, I just got so caught up in…”
Jagger held up a hand. “No need to explain. I don’t like it either. Trust me. But Draven felt that it would be better to make everyone think that it was the killer. He hoped to lure the bastard out and end things once and for all. I can’t say I blame him. But what can you do when you’re running into walls, well, until now.”
Torger sank down into a chair. “He should have given us some time. Now, we’re really under the gun. Let me check in with Detective Santa Rosa. Hopefully she’ll have found something to go on.” He dialed the Detective’s number. It went straight to voice mail. After leaving a message, he checked in at the police station. The reporters were camped out waiting for news. He gave instructions on what to tell them and organized a press conference for around noon the next day. As much as he hated to, he had to tell the press something.
Once all the calls were done, he turned to his brother and friend. “Okay, boys what do I tell them?”
The doorbell rang and a pang echoed through his heart; it sped up and his palms became sweaty. “Shit.” Torger got up and answered the door but felt as if he was going to his doom. Isy wouldn’t give away the game but still, she was part of the problem, wasn’t she? For all the trust he had in her, she had to give her readers and viewers some information. When he opened the door, there was a sparkle in her eye he didn’t trust. Her excitement jumped from her to him; it was infectious. She didn’t bother asking for an invitation and brushed past him. Her hair was a bright neon pink that almost blinded him. Instead of commenting, he followed her and found she’d made a beeline to the kitchen where she helped herself to a mug of coffee. Her stomach rumbled.
“Don’t worry, brought my own food.” Isy made herself even more at home by pulling out a baggie of pizza slices and grabbing a plate from the drain board. She put the food on the platter and slid it into the microwave, then sat down. She held out her hand to Urban first. “Hi. Isadora Jones.”
Urban had a shit eating grin on his face as he shook her hand. “Urban, Tor’s brother. Nice to meet you, Isy.”
She blinked but didn’t comment. Isy turned to Jagger and nodded but said nothing. He returned the gesture and settled against the back of his chair. Tor grabbed a seat from the living room and settled down between Urban and Isy. He recounted what’d they’d found out and waited for her to blow a gasket. Instead, she grabbed her food when it was done re-heating and settled down, coffee close at hand. “Figured as much. The Council is shitting bricks and Muffy’s murder doesn’t help matters. I had to pull a lot of strings, but Bill’s letting me interview Evanson in his home.” This time it was her turn to have a shit eating grin on her face. “We’ll do it after your press conference to give him time to respond. It is an election year after all.”
Speech left Torger. In a matter of hours, she’d managed to setup a way to get into the house and investigate without much hassle. She continued talking. “Now that I’ve met your brother, I figure he can pose as a sound tech—ours is on maternity leave—and snoop around for the perfect room for the interview. Maybe snoop around the room that Muffy was killed in? I’m sure it’s been scrubbed spotless but still, they could be sloppy.”
She shrugged and began eating while the men stared at her. Isy’d pushed them further than they’d been yet. Torger turned his attention toward Isy, about to ask her opinion on the contests. She spoke. “As to the contests, I have to say I’ve heard of shady competitions to lure in tourists but this is new. I’ll talk to my sources in the Tourist Board to get the dirt, but I doubt they know anything about it. Which means it’s not official or from them.”
“So you think someone is…what? Forging official’s signatures and holding illegal contests to enable the killer?” Jagger sounded skeptical.
“That could happen, but not to feed the murderer’s need. It’s a byproduct. They invite tourists and the killer gets new victims. One doesn’t necessarily lead to two in this case; it just happens. Let’s be honest. If the killer is a local and he or she killed locals, everyone would know it. But if they killed vacationers, who’d identify them?”
Urban ran a hand over his face. Torger could feel the beginnings of another headache. “So what if the killer is a local and killed a local, everyone would know it? How?”
“Um, you do realize you live in the biggest gossip hub in the whole United States? No one’s business is secure for long. How do you think everyone found out about Rose and Draven after only a few hours? Gossips. I knew about them within a half an hour of her leaving his office after their first meeting. We all knew. It’s what makes this town so wonderful for info. Someone has to have seen something. The problem is if the vics are vacationers, locals don’t care. They’re more interested in what goes on with the people who actually live here. Besides, out-of-towners are too loud, get drunk and throw up everywhere, and act like star struck groupies when they meet real, live monsters of myth.” She made a face.
Torger could understand that. “Okay, which explains why no one comes forward. They’re so disgusted with all the tourists that they just don’t watch out for them when they’re here, even now.”
“Why should they?” Urban asked. “The tourists are only here for a week at the most. Unless they’re moving here, Dravenites don’t care. I can see the point. The tourists are the police’s concern.”
Torger became annoyed at that statement. “Why us?”
Jagger snorted. “’Cause you keep the peace and the newbies are raising hell, so yeah, it’s on you guys to handle them if they get too out of hand. We need a section of the Tourist Board to help show the tourists how to act. I’ve been suggesting that for years but no one cares, so I just don’t say it anymore.” He took a sip of beer.
Torger began to see the full picture. “So that’s why they’re so pissed and pressed for information. We’re supposed to handle the out-of-towners. Okay, I can see that, but what do we do about the problem now? The killer is still out there.”
“Yeah, but now you know.” Isy scooted her chair closer to the table. Her leg brushed his, sending a warm tendril up his thigh, straight to his groin.
His thoughts scattered and he ignored the sensation. Now now, later I’ll deal with my attraction to her, he told himself. Aloud he refocused his thoughts to their discussion and said, “How does this change things? Do we have to orchestrate the buddy system?” He saw that instituting this line of action would cause some issues but in the long run, it would help.
“The residents would be pissed off, having their lives disrupted, by having to find a buddy and make sure they are all on schedule. It would especially freak out the parents. Plus, the Council would find it both amusing and a show of Draven’s inability to handle the situation, which would put more pressure on him. And I really don’t need him to ride my ass any harder than he already is.”
Jagger snorted. “Let me check with my contacts in the underground about these contests. I have to check in with the old man anyway.” He rose and left without saying good-bye.
“Yeah,” Urban yawned. “I’ve got some snooping to do and then I’ll hit the hay. Nice meeting you, Isy.” He grabbed his laptop, the food, and left the kitchen.
Now it was only Torger and Isy. He wasn’t sure what to say. She hadn’t said she needed to leave. Instead, she’d finished off her pizza and had risen to refill her coffee cup. Silence fell between them. It wasn’t uncomfortable in the least. Seconds ticked by but neither said anything. He finished eating and she sipped her coffee. Torger resisted the urge to ask what she was thinking. It just seemed so stupid.
“Wanna walk me to my car?” She drank the rest of her coffee and stood up.
Caught off guard, all he could do was stutter. “S-s-sure.” He got out of his chair and walked her to the door. Opening it, the chill night wind blew against him. The soothing scents of pine, oak and night blooming flowers brushed against his face, mellowing him out and taking his arousal down a few pegs. The nearly full moon hung in the sky, silvering the forest. In the distance, an owl hooted. Torger smiled. His wolf wanted to run.
“Goddess, it’s gorgeous here. I love the woods. I have a cabin nearby, closer to the mountains.” Her lips were curled in a small grin. “Peaceful, well until my family stops by.”
Torger chuckled. “I can relate.”
“I’m sure you can.” She grabbed his hand and dragged him to the car. “You’re supposed to be a gentleman and walk me to the car.”
He didn’t argue and strode with her toward her vehicle parked close to the end of the drive. In the darkness, his protective wards were glowing even brighter than the moonlight. “Couldn’t wait until I’d brought down the wards, could you?”
She laughed, a musical, tinkling sound that caused sensation to shimmer through him, like castoffs from a sparkler showering his insides with warmth. She released his hand but the burn remained. “And what fun would that be?” Isy stood up on tiptoe and gave him a kiss on the lips. It was small peck that sent liquid heat straight to his cock and balls. “Until next time, sheriff.”
She gave a strand of his hair a bit of tug, unlocked her door and got into her car. With a wave, she gunned the engine and took off, leaving a spray of dust in her wake. All Torger could do was stand there and stare, wishing she’d stayed and given him more of a kiss.
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