How do you handle stress?
Sheriff Jack Lang came to Destiny after hearing it was a normal “safe” small town – the perfect place to raise his teenage daughter after years of abuse by his crazy ex. Well, the “normal” ship sailed the day he met Tempest Pomeroy. The weeks that followed challenged him far beyond his years as a Navy pilot. He’d been both appalled and attracted to the quirky mail carrier with the rainbow shaded hair and unpredictable weather “talents”. The events of the last months had rolled over them like a tidal wave and just as he was getting used to the idea of being a human lawman in a town of supernaturals, his world had been turned upside down.
Five months ago, Sheriff Jack Lang would have sworn there were no such things as vampires, tempestaeries, djinn or dragons. That was before he met Tempest Pomeroy, trouble magnet and sexy redheaded mail lady. He’d fallen for her before he found out about her “special abilities”. But that wasn’t what turned his life upside down. No, to say Jack’s world had gone FUBAR was like saying Wolverine’s fingernails were long enough for a manicure.
Tempe had been afraid her supernatural nature would be a problem for Jack, who’d mistaken Destiny for a “Mayberry-like” small town, but that didn’t explain why he’d left her in favor of haunting the highest levees in the parish. She knew he’d received a shock, but what was it going to take to get him to return to his life and to her? A stubborn man is one thing; a grumpy, depressed twenty-ton dragon is a bit more of a challenge.
My stomach growled, again, and I caught a tantalizing whiff. What was it with this persistent aching hunger? Lately, I ate anything in my path, and I mean anything.
One thing had changed, however¾my sense of smell. I could smell a flea farting at fifty paces. I walked quickly around the building, tossing the coffee to the curb and marched like a laser beam – straight to the green dumpster at the rear of the parking lot.
The next thing I knew I was hip deep in trash, my new sniffer guiding me through an assortment of bags and boxes. My stomach thundered, but I was getting used to it, being hungry, I mean. I didn’t know what it took to fill up my dragon gut because so far it had never been full. And these pickings were slim.
What once would’ve turned Jack Lang’s stomach wasn’t bothering me, Jack Lang, Dragon Shifter, in the least. From here on, I’d be thinking of dumpsters as food banks.
I took in the chewed chicken wings, packets of catsup, smashed French-fries and hushpuppies, a bag of dredging flour and cornmeal. My mind lumped it together as energy. I squeezed the catsup onto my tongue. I couldn’t get enough, the containers and packaging were slowing me down. I popped leftover bones and followed them with handfuls of flour. Then I spotted a bucket of old grease and food sitting by the door to the dumpster. Yum!
As I reached for the handle a pair of familiar work boots and tanned legs entered my field of vision. “Jack, what are you doing in that dumpster?”
Tempe’s eyes widened when she saw my face, my hand on the handle of the bucket. I followed her gaze to the flour covering my shirt, pants and boots. I’d been single-mindedly scavenging and hadn’t had a clue that my uniform was caked in white crud, probably my face as well.
“Oh, this?” I couldn’t stop… I was on a binge. I reached for the bucket of slop, which had probably been awaiting some pig farmer, and upended it like a Super Duper 90 drink from Gatorz Grub.
While I guzzled the rich fatty mix of lard and leftovers I watched Tempe’s face turn green and she grimaced. “That is so gross!”
I stopped long enough to belch. “Hold that thought.” I finished off the bucket, let out an audible sigh of satisfaction, wiped my hands on my pants and tossed her my keys. “Do me a favor, will ya? Grab one of the duffels from my trunk.”
Her face said I needed more than just a clothing change. Well, it is what it is. I realized I was approaching midday with a different attitude, although it probably wasn’t quite the attitude Tempe had been looking for. When she returned, I pulled myself away from my delicious snack—I could always slip back tonight after they’d restocked my dumpster—they were open twenty-four hours.
I burped and cut a big gust, as we Navy pilots say. Tempe stopped a couple feet away pinching her nose shut. “Zeuus, Jack! Uu bight deed to thee a twagon toctor.” She extended the duffel to me with one finger of her other hand, as if she was afraid of getting cooties. I stripped off my shirt and pants and tugged on the clean clothes.
“Where did you come from?” I asked.
“I was on my way to Harmony and spotted your cruiser. I was just curi¾ Her voice trailed off.
“You were curious if I’d gone back to work like I said I would. You don’t have to worry, Tempe, darling.” I winced at my sarcastic tone. There was going to be hell to pay for treating the women I loved like this, but right now… “I stopped for coffee but after I meet with the ME, and have lunch with my mom, I plan to find Jordie wherever she is and let her flay my scales off. Then I have a case to solve.”
She didn’t miss that I hadn’t mentioned us. Things were not kosher in Denmark, or whatever that saying was, but I was making some baby steps toward taking my old life back. That was good, right?
“What’s up with the dumpster diving?”
I adjusted my gun belt on my hip and shrugged, “I was hungry.”
“Well, sorry I interrupted. Have you talked to Conor about this…um… hunger problem?” Tempe asked.
“Nope.” I spotted two nearly whole turkey legs lying on top of a trash bag and reached in snagging them—with two claws that shot out of my fingertips! “Shit.”
“What is it?” Tempe jumped forward, alarmed.
I held up my hand to show Tempe the drumsticks speared on a pair of five-inch claws. “How am I supposed to investigate when… claws pop out of my hands when I least expect it?”
“Um, well…” her lips twisted in a grimace. She shrugged.
“Right.” I took two chomps on the grimy, rotten legs then tossed them over my shoulder into the dumpster as I walked away, staring as the claws receded when they weren’t needed anymore. Which actually kind of rocked.
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About the Author:
Livia Quinn is a DC native who lives by the bayou in Louisiana. She believes in the power of love. To see excerpts from all her books visit https://liviaquinn.com
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