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I roll those eyes behind my sunglasses, resisting the urge to knock him out with a solid punch to the left temple and be done with him. “You can’t even see my eyes.”
“No, you—” Then it hits me like a thunderbolt. My eyes.
I am such an idiot. I can’t believe I haven’t thought to use my hypno powers on him. That only proves the boy messes with my brain. He needs to be gone, now, before something terrible happens.
In a heartbeat, I flick my shades up, stare deep into Nick’s dark gaze, and say, “You have somewhere else to be.”
His brows fall and he gets a blank look on his face. Success! Finally he’ll be out from underfoot. What good is having superhypnotic power if I don’t use it for my own benefit every now and again? Consider Nick a memory.
As I turn away, ready to forget him and figure out how to face the pair of monsters outside, Nick grabs my arm.
“Nope,” he says with that annoying smile on his utterly unhypnotized face. “I think I’m exactly where I need to be.”
You have got to be kidding me. The one guy who won’t take the hint that I’m not interested, and he’s the one person immune to my hypno-eyes? Something is not right about that.
I add it to the list of recent abnormalities and then file it away. No time to dwell on that at the moment. Right now, I have a pair of beasties with hungry eyes outside playing with their party-girl food. I need to take care of them before they decide they’re ready for their meal. And Nick needs to be gone before I do.
Pushing him away doesn’t work, and knocking him out would draw too much attention, so I’m left with only one option.
“Fine,” I say with a sigh, as if I’m giving in to his advances. “You can get me a drink.” I try to think of something that will take the most time, giving me the biggest window to send my unwelcome friends back to where they belong. “A virgin strawberry daiquiri.”
Surely the mixing and the blending will take more than half a second.
With a wink, he’s gone, and I’m heading through the court-yard door.
Thanks to my hesitation at seeing double, the pair of monsters has now bracketed the two drunk girls, and the critters are practically salivating at the prospect of a juicy snack. There are quite a few other people out in the courtyard, which means strategy is going to be critical. I evaluate my targets and quickly decide that, between the two, the serpent thing—Ophis pterotus is its official name, I think—will be the easier fight. No limbs or claws to fight back with. Fangs, of course, but I’ve got a pair of my own.
What I don’t need is a bunch of teen party hounds thinking they need to break up a fight. Or, worse, stepping in to defend me. Now is not the time to let the ordinary humans think for themselves, so I fold my sunglasses into a cargo pocket and walk over to the nearest group.
“Hey guys,” I say with a bright smile. Scanning my gaze over the several pairs of eyes now looking at me, I instruct, “Whatever you see going on over there”—I gesture toward the beastie-occupied picnic table—“you don’t need to get involved. We’ll just be playing around.”
Their blank faces nod, and I hurry on to do the same to the handful of groups scattered around the courtyard.
As I move to the last, a gaggle of giggling girls in the far corner, my heart begins to race, not out of fear but out of anticipation. This is going to be a good fight.
Not that I’m thrilled about the sudden change of rules, but monster hunting has become pretty routine lately. Sniff, find, fight, bite. Go home and take a shower. Repeat.
This fight should present a welcome challenge.
Everything will be fine as long as I follow the two carved-in-stone commandments of monster fighting.
First rule, never let them bite the right wrist, or the superhealing powers of the blood in that artery will give them a period of enhanced abilities and invincibility. The last thing I need is a monster that can’t be sent home. The left wrist is fine, because blood from that artery is deadly. But because humans are so often annoying bystanders, it’s best to keep that one protected too. Hence the Kevlar wrist cuffs.
Second rule, go for the pulse point. It’s different on every monster, but there is always a critical vein, one that feeds directly to the heart—or hearts—and assures an instantaneous trip back to their murky abyss. Other blood vessels work too. Eventually. But who knows what might happen to me or the innocent humans involved in the time my monster-transporting venom takes to make its way to the pumper. One stab in the key vein and the fight is over in a heartbeat. Literally.
I’ve put in my time studying the binders full of monster files Ursula has in the loft library, to memorize the target on every creature I might encounter. But I can’t remember everything. And they must be reproducing like bunnies in their realm, creating hybrids and mutant freaks no one has ever seen before, because there are always new, unknown and unidentified monsters showing up. Keeps the job interesting, anyway.
Before tonight, since it’s only ever been one monster at a time, knowing the pulse point never seemed imperative. Now, as I turn to face the pair, I kinda wish I remembered where to chomp down.
“No!” I shout as I watch the serpent thing bite down on the blond girl’s neck.
No time for strategy. In a flying leap, I launch myself onto the serpent thing’s back. It releases the girl with a shove, sending her to the ground. Twisting to get a look at its un-welcome passenger, the serpent thing unwittingly gives me a choice opportunity to introduce it to my fangs.