The full moon always makes the animals unsettled. I was not unaffected by my cousin Selene’s power over earth. Instead of restlessness, I found focus with a burst of itchiness. But tonight at the shelter, all the wild energy turned me cranky. I longed to be out soaking up moonlight, and I blamed my father for my lack of ability to do what I pleased. Zeus still hadn’t answered my calls. I had begun to relax into a routine. The realization of that deepened my ennui. The one positive thing about Vegas was the place never closed.
Walking out into a blinding eight-in-the-morning was a tough pill. I slipped on sunglasses and slung my leather jacket over my shoulder. The air was saying it was going to be desert hot, so I intended to enjoy the light breeze while I had it. My apartment had a noisy window A/C unit, which made it hard to sleep. The landlord kept telling me he’d fix it, but I wore earplugs to bed so even if he showed up I wouldn’t hear him.
“Hey, Cate?” Ravi, the wiry muscled mortal dude who lived in the next building, shouted down the sidewalk to me. My shoulders clenched in annoyance at having my name called out loud, with extra cringe for the ‘mortalized’ version of it that I hadn’t gotten used to. Whatever, I kept going. Ravi was relentless in his friendliness. He sprinted over.
“Hey, guess you didn’t hear me. You coming from work? How about I take you to breakfast? My treat?”
“Take you and treat, go together—duh. I’m good, thanks.” I kept walking. He paced me. I glared at him, but he probably couldn’t see it through the sunglasses.
“Does that mean yes?” He cocked his head. If he weren’t a mortal, he would almost be cute enough to consider.
“I don’t date.”
“Fine breakfast and a chat.”
“I don’t chat.”
“Breakfast? You can pay?”
I swear his almond brown eyes were puppy-dogging and I had a thing for dogs. Besides, one of the God elixirs the mortals had managed to find was coffee. “Fine, breakfast—but separate bills and a one-time thing. Got it?”
“Whatever you say,” he grinned. “How about Flo’s Kitchen?”
“Great, you lead.” Some diners had crappy coffee, but Flo’s prided itself on fresh beans and using the right water temperature.
Ravi started right in with the questions. “So, where do you work?”
I huffed an exasperated sigh, but explained about my night job at the vet in as few words as possible.
“I work night cage at the Gilded Nugget.”
“You really don’t like to chat, do you?”
“What do you like to do?”
“What don’t you like to do?”
“Better. Talk, be out in the morning, work, not have…” I was going to say endless power but I caught myself.
“Nothing, never mind.”
“Ooo, a mystery-laden lady. I knew I’d like you.”
I raised an eyebrow at him, which he probably couldn’t see behind the glasses.
He held the door for me. I shrugged rather than fight it out. He was trying to be nice.
We ordered from the waitress, whose dark circles and mussed hair said she worked nights too, and this was her second job.
The regular life of a mortal basically sucked, which made making offerings to Gods attractive. Too bad we were fickle bastards most of the time. The mortals actually could use some help.
“Hey,” I interrupted, Ravi mid-sentence. I had no idea what he was talking about and motioned to the waitress, Darla.
Her bleached blonde hair was coming out of the ponytail. She tucked the falling hair behind an ear as she approached the table.
“What time do you get off?”
She actually looked at me this time. Her blue shadow had been applied over a darker shade she’d probably worn to another job.
“When you get off, call me, I can help,” I said offering her a card. Ravi craned his neck to read it.
“The Cross Roads? What’s that?”
Her eyes lingered on the handwritten card before she tucked it into her bra strap. I didn’t do much magic without payment, but a little extra oomph on the cards had done wonders for business. A pinch of Goddess essence in the ink did the trick.
“Sure,” I said, pushing the empty white ceramic mug at her.
Ravi was near to bursting with questions. Why do I do these things?
“It’s my sideline. You got a sideline?” I sipped my coffee, hoping he’d wander off to some narcissistic spot that would keep him talking long enough for me to finish it. No luck there.
“Nah, all work, no play for Ravi,” He leaned back on the booth, draping his hands over it. A couple of silver chains poked out of his collar. At least they weren’t gold. Talking in third person pushed my limits of tolerance. He was trying too hard.
“Right, well, maybe you should consider a hobby. Life is short and…”
“Did anyone ever tell you what amazing fingers you have?” He reached out, running his smooth brown hand over my silver-ringed fingers that were curled around the mug.
I looked at the hands and the mug as if they were part of something else. They didn’t look bad together. Two browns wrapped in silver. I could see into his heart right now if I wanted to, but I didn’t need to. Ravi was lonely and desperate to make a human connection. The thing is I wasn’t human, and I had no intention of letting him know that.
“What exactly do you want from me?” I asked, tugging the mug out of the entwined hands and tipping it to my lips.
“I think you’re beautiful.”
“If I’d had a key for every time I’d heard that…”
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