What do writers do when we’re bored or seeking inspiration? We do what any self-respecting sports fan would understand: we challenge each other to duels!
Originally posted on the Romance Divas forum, one of the top writing-related forums on the internet, this challenge came about because I failed to step backward fast enough when the Captain asked for volunteers.
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!
Well, okay, this is my story, but hope you enjoy!
Original Challenge, issued by Jess Granger, Thursday, January 07, 2010:
“Your hero/heroine just got a job working in supernatural law enforcement. Lately they’ve been having some trouble with Leprechauns running a money laundering scheme for a bunch of investment bankers/vampires. Your hero/heroine is just about to meet with a new partner for the undercover operations when she/he suspects someone is following…
Please include a feral cat with a notch in his ear, a wedding invitation, and the phrase ‘sweet butter on a biscuit.’”
“Thank you for calling Chicago 311 Emergency Response. Please state the nature of your emergency.” Calysta, the nametag read, sounded heartily bored.
I resisted rolling my eyes. First week on the job and it didn’t do to make waves, particularly about employee attitudes.
“A what, ma’am?” Calysta blurted, interrupting my train of thought.
I met her eyes and she moved the gum in her mouth over to one cheek, like I wouldn’t be able to tell she had it in her mouth.
“Jessup! In here!” my lieutenant shouted from her office.
“Yessir!” I answered automatically.
Crap. ‘Sir.’ I called her sir! Nothing for it. Just getcher ass in there, Jessup, but sweet butter on a biscuit was the Lieutenant sensitive about her rank and place in a male-dominated department. Even if I was female, I’d cut no points for calling her ‘sir.’
I felt the presence the minute I stepped in the room and froze in the doorway.
“Della Jessup, this is your new partner. Wiggins, say hello to Della.”
“Hello…” The voice whispered and hissed through the room like a nineteen fifties bad monster movie ghost voice, eerie in all the right places. I felt a shiver travel up my back, around my neck, and down my front, tightening both nipples on its way by.
Gods I hate that!
“I want you to take Wiggins to the meetup, Jessup.”
“Lieutenant, there’s nothing here!”
“Oh?” a voice asked. And it wasn’t the Lieutenant.
Frickin’ ghosts. Never should have allowed them on the force. Damned ADA regulations stipulated no discrimination on account of any disability, including the bodily challenged.
“All right, Wiggins. Come with me. We have to meet –” I broke off, mid-sentence, because I saw it again. The same black-haired waif I’d been seeing everywhere since yesterday, following me in Trader Joes, following me to LA Fitness, following me to my carport, following me!
“Jessup?” Wiggins murmured.
“Do you see it?” I realized the second it left my mouth, how is a ghost supposed to ‘see’ without any eyes, but I let it stand.
“The kid, there…” I pointed, but of course, poof, no black hair. No waif. No stinkin’ kid! “Come on,” I snarled instead, leading the way back out to my cruiser, first stopping to pick up my sidearm from the security lockup.
“Sign here, Della,” Sergeant Whiska ordered.
“Sergeant, when did you get an earring?” I scratched my nose. Earrings were non-regulation on duty, just like gum, but…
The feline grin that appeared after my question startled me and I had to resist the urge to step back. His teeth looked sharp! “Like it?”
“Beautiful,” Wiggins susurrated.
Whiska flicked all of his fur in a wave down his back. The glossy reddish brown flashed in the light and I had to physically put my hands in my pockets to avoid petting him. After the evolutionary jump that let cats speak, they now had equal status with humans. One did not pet a fully accredited Sergeant of the Chicago Police Department.
Not if one wanted to keep their hand, anyway.
Whiska handed through another piece of paper and I took it automatically. Then I looked at it; the loopy calligraphy beautiful. And pink. Pink? “What’s this?”
His grin widened. “Jezebel agreed to marry me! That’s your wedding invitation!”
“When’s the shower?” I asked curiously, eyes on the invitation.
He hissed. “I don’t like water.”
“No, silly. The wedding shower?”
“Oh. I don’t know yet.”
“Maybe we’ll throw one for you,” Wiggins put in.
On that note… “I have to run, Sergeant. Thank you for this. I’ll see you later!”
My car had chilled to ice in the hour it sat in the lot, thankfully free of the snowstorm. First Blizzard of the New Decade, the news called it. I rolled my eyes.
“Where are we going?” Wiggins asked once we sat down.
Uh, once I sat down. Wiggins… wafted, I guess. “National City Bank, then the Bank of Ireland. Seems the regulators want some police presence. We’re close to an indictment.”
“Mmm.” Wiggins sounded thoughtful, though I still couldn’t see anything in the car with me. “Perhaps you should not tell them of my presence.”
“How come?” I asked.
“I could be of some use, perhaps.”
“Sounds good.” I shivered as I pulled onto the main street, clogged with new snow. Here’s hoping Wiggins didn’t give the bankers the… well. What was I supposed to say now? Willies?
Yeah, I did that, and Lieutenant would find me a trained ape by that name for a partner.
Nevermind. Forget I thought it.
We turned onto Columbus Drive, both lost in thought.