Just For You
Sleeper Car by Dahlia DeWinters
☆ Clementine ☆
First of all, call me Cleo. I got so sick of that “oh my darling” crap as a kid that I don’t even tell people my real name anymore. Also, don’t be fooled by all the talk about Fae. They aren’t always sword-wielding, magic-cooking otherworldly beings. Most of them are walking the streets right next to you, but that’s not important right now. They are mail carrier, teachers, doctors and crime lords. And accountants. Like me.
Most Fae are gifted. I was lucky though. My gift is with numbers, of course, but more importantly, I can glamor dollar bills into hundreds. Only problem is, the farther I get away from the money, the faster the glamor fades. My boss used it for the small time hoods and the humans, those that wouldn’t dare complain that they’d been cheated. He was also pleased with the way I made his books work out in his favor every month.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to say I work for one of the biggest crime lords on the East Coast, or rather, I used to. Friday was my last day of work, but I didn’t have a party or a sheet cake. I simply straightened my desk, shut down my computer and pushed my chair in. The only difference was I left a little earlier than usual so I could pick up the $100k in (unglamored) cash I’d stashed in a safe deposit box at an out of the way bank. The rest of the money I’d stolen, well, let’s say embezzled, over the past three years, was sitting pretty in several offshore accounts. I just needed to get myself offshore to be reunited with them. The working gig got a little stale, and because of my gift, the boss was reluctant to let me go. That and the fact he wanted a little more than I was willing to give. So, I liberated myself.
I’m a smart girl. I didn’t pack up my apartment: no neighbor was going to report seeing me rolling a cute little suitcase out to my car. I left with the clothes on my back and my favorite mascara and lipstick, plus a little go bag that had been sitting in my trunk for at least six months.
I planned on a flight out of another state and two nights into my freedom, I was in one of those off-ramp Mom and Pop motels outside of Chicago. I’d successfully avoided Norman at the front desk and was just getting ready to settle in when Housekeeping stops by with the extra towels I requested. FYI, I was going to take a bath, not a shower.
It was a woman’s voice that followed the polite knock, but when I opened the door, there was a man standing there and the housekeeper was walking down the hallway, probably folding a twenty into her pocket. He says he’s with the FBI and that I should go with him.
I was stuck. But not that stuck. It took four determined flight attendants plus a hot pilot to haul me off the plane after I faked a panic attack. You can’t escape from a plane, and Agent Dalton was taking me to Los Angeles. So now it was the train. Perfect. All I had to do was give him the slip at a random stop, and I’d be on my own again. With my cash.
Except that it’s been a really long time, if you know what I mean, and Amtrak booked us in one of these sleeper cabins with the fold out bed and also provided those super cute sample bottles of liquor. And Agent Dalton was looking better and better as the miles rolled by.
Why not take a little detour before I made my great escape?
☆ Dalton ☆
No, I wasn’t Housekeeping. I wasn’t an FBI agent either. I’m also not human like she and the other Fae think I am. It’s always better, I think, to masquerade as a human around supernaturals. They think humans are stupid, and with me, well, they’re half right. I’m a human/vampire hybrid. You know the deal, Area 51, secret government experiments, the whole deal. Besides the fact that I have to have a dose of blood (or plasma in a pinch) every day, I lead a pretty normal life.
Beyond all that, I’m a bounty hunter, sent to retrieve little Miss Accountant from her unscheduled vacation with the key to millions of my present employer’s money. He was more interested in the hidden accounts than the measly cash she carried, and maybe whatever power she had. He wasn’t specific, but Fae always had something else going on under the surface.
I expected a stuffy, uptight boring gal with glasses and an attitude, but she was the opposite of all that. Plus, it was cute when she hummed as she gazed out of the windows as the scenery rushed by. Oh, yeah, and the cherry on this cupcake? She might be the answer to my vampire problem. A couple of pints from Miss Numbers, and I may be cured of my Type AB addiction. But you don’t go chomping on people you’re hired to protect.
Ah, but did fate intervene. Close quarters were necessary, but the second day, with the train stopped in the middle of nowhere due to a “mechanical issue” proved to be my downfall. But I didn’t bite her, though the temptation was there.
However, I still have a job to do, and from the new information I’ve gotten is that the boss doesn’t want her back, he wants her dead. What was once a retrieval mission was now a protection detail. I’m not a killer and I don’t turn people over to killers. That’s not what I signed on for. I couldn’t resist that breathy voice right in my ear.I didn’t tell her what had changed. I figured by the time we got to Los Angeles, I would gently steer her away from the people who were looking for her. With her sweet voice and even sweeter body, I started to trust her, that is right up to the moment when she led the dining car in singing “Happy Birthday”. Five minutes later, when the train stopped to restock the dining car in Las Vegas`, she was gone.
Now I had to find her before the boss’s flunkies did. Not only was her life at stake but she could be the beginning of a whole new life for me.