Read an Excerpt
So, if I’m reading this correctly, you’re avampire now. Not a secretary.”
“Not an administrative assistant,” I correctedautomatically. I mean, jeez! I knew Cooper wasold and creaky, but what century did he think wewereliving in? (Or in my case, dying in and thenreliving?)
“The important bit,” Cooper went on, “is aboutthe vampire.”
“And how you’re the queen of them.”
I sighed and flopped into an airplane seat. I examinedthe toes of my navy blue Cole Haan Penny AirLoafers . . . not a scratch so far. “I guess some peoplewould consider that an important point. The queenthing.”
“It’s bulleted and boldfaced. Also, the date ofyour death is in italics, along with how you don’thave to urinate anymore.”
“My pee or the lack thereof is nobody’s business!”I gnashed my teeth and added, “Give me that.”
I snatched the memo away from Cooper soquickly, he didn’t see my hand move until his wrinklyfingers wereclutching air. This startled himinto a gasp, which we then both pretended I hadn’theard. That, I was learning, was vampire etiquette.Or, that is, vampire etiquette when dealing withhumans. I’d finally figured it out after three years ofbeing undead.
There should be a class, you know. Vampire EtiquetteWhen Dealing with Humans 101. In anotherfifty years, I could teach the stupid thing.
I scanned the memo, my eyes bulging so muchthey felt like they weretrying to leap from myskull. Cooper hadn’t been kidding. Jessica had senthim a memo detailing my bodily functions. Twopages!
To: Samuel Cooper.
From: The Boss.
Re: Betsy, Vampirism, and Cargo.
Cargo? My gut churned.
And the part about me being the vampire queenwas bulleted.
“I can’tbelieve she sent you a memo.”
“She always does. And I send ’em to her. Increasingfuel costs, licensing issues, route changes. Youknow how expensive fuel’s getting now that China’sbuying all the oil? The E.M. ain’t cheap, you know.”The E.M.: Jessica’s private joke. It stood for EmancipatedMinor.
“And she sends her memos to me to keep me inthe loop, don’t you know. Seems this one’s a littlelate, though,” he muttered.
“ ‘Creepy speed and unnaturally grotesque super-strength’?”Aghast, I kept reading as other blechyphrases leaped out at me. “ ‘Still obsessed withshoes but married rich and can now actually affordthe stupid things’? That scrawny traitor, I’m goingto—agh!‘Immortality hasn’t given her any interestin any topic she cannot refer to in the first person.’Why, that—okay,I can’treally argue with that lastone, but she didn’t have to highlight it. Look! It’shighlighted.”
“So is ‘extreme narcissistic tendencies.’ In anycase, I’m to fly you to Cape Cod, so you can meetwith the King of the Werewolves and make sure hedoesn’tsic his pack on you.”
“I think it’s pronounced Pack.”
Cooper heard the capital P and nodded. “Right.This Pack, they’re pretty ticked? Because of that littlegal Antonia?”
I nibbled on the inside of my lip, distressed, asalways, by any mention of Antonia. It had only beena week. It didn’t still sting, as much as feel like a lateralslice through the liver.
See, poor Antonia was making the trip with us—inthe cargo hold, as all corpses flew. In a plain woodencoffin, the lethal bullet holes all over her skull stillnot filled in by an undertaker. My husband, Sinclair,and I had no idea what werewolf funeral customsentailed, so we’d given orders that her body simplybe placed in a coffin and loaded onto Jessica’s privateplane.
We didn’t even wash her beautiful, dear face.
But that was nothing compared to what we didwith Garrett’s body.
“Look, Cooper, the important thing is now youknow what you’re getting into. So if you can’tfly usout there, or if you think you—”
“Bite your tongue, miss. Or missus, I suppose. I’vebeen flying for Jessica Wilson since she was sevenyears old, don’t you know, and we’vehad hairy daysand we’vehad hairy days.”
“Cooper, I never, ever want to hear about yourhair.”
He ignored me. It was just as well. “I’ve seenand heard things—nevermind, that’s private familybusiness.”
“Oh, come on, we’rebest friends. I mean, Jessicaand me.” I didn’t know if Cooper had any friends.“There’s no way you know stuff that I don’t—”
Cooper ruthlessly interrupted my shamelessscrounging for gossip. “This doesn’tscare me.” Henodded at the memo, inadvertently crumpled inmy fist. “But I surely wish Miss Jessica had told meearlier.”
He meant, of course, “Like, how about before Iflew you and the vampire king to New York City foryour honeymoon, dumbass?” But Cooper neither a)freaked out, nor b) quit. And thank God, becausefinding another private pilotat this hour would havebeen a bitch.
“You got a problem with the boss?” I asked.“Take it up with the boss. What I want to know is,are we still leaving at eight o’clock?”Because if weweren’t,I (and probably my husband) was going tobe in big trouble with seventy-fivethousand werewolves.I held my breath, remembered for the thousandthtime I didn’t have to breathe anyway, andwaited for his answer.