Tag Archives: J.L. O’Faolain

JL O’Faolain’s new release: *Push Comes to Shove* (and he just says the darndest things)

Click on the cover image for a buy link at the Dreamspinner store.

Super-powered superhero Push and his human partner, Scratch, have been best friends and roommates for years. Push is the gay posterchild for the Real-Life Superhero Association. Unfortunately, Scratch is straight, which makes Push’s suppressed feelings for him problematic—but not as problematic as their next assignment.

Push and Scratch’s job: rehabilitating Wrath, a recently released supervillain, complete with super powers of his own. It’s not easy to trust someone who used to be on the other side, and Wrath’s presence creates just the wrong kind of friction.

When a bank-robbing practical joker throws a wrench in their plans and leads them on a wild chase across the southern United States, Push, Scratch, and Wrath have to leave their baggage behind and work together. But there are more secrets and danger awaiting them, and super powers may not be enough.

J.L. O’Faolain was born the youngest, with four older sisters, in the backwoods of the Deep South. Those that have braved getting to know him have attributed this to being the root of his growing insanity. A teased bibliophile in his youth, O’Faolain spent his years prior to getting published as a cook, laundry man, delivery boy, grease monkey, and retail stocker. He has a plethora of skills and abilities, none of which would work well on a job application. In his spare time, O’Faolain enjoys weightlifting, philosophy, deconstruction, reading, writing, porn, and the Internet in general. Aside from becoming a successfully published author, he would very much like to pilot a giant robot while Two-Mix’s “Rhythm Emotion” is playing in the background. Either that, or travel the world in a dirigible. In short, the general consensus by all, including himself, is that he is a mighty strange fellow.

Website:
www.manicexpression.webs.com

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: The titles of my books tend to run along a theme, or have some sort of pun to them. As for the names, they can range from significant to apathetic, depending on my mood and the story’s theme. I do like the idea of a pale sidhe with the name Cole, though.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: The Section Thirteen files are set in Manhattan, a place that I, believe it or not, have never seen outside of pictures and videos. In October of 2012, though, the first of a new, shorter series will be released, the title of which is Push Comes to Shove. This is set primarily in a small fictional Arkansas town. I liked the idea of a story about superheroes. I love comics, and the idea of a superhero team operating in a small Southern town, where they have to contend with small-town mentality, appeals to me.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I’ve learned the hard way not to argue with my characters much. If they want something, there’s nothing I can do to stop them. Watching them endure the consequences of their actions is the fun part. I’m a bit of a sadist that way.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I knew from a young age that I wasn’t totally straight, though ‘gay’ didn’t quite fit. After I got into college, I found out about bisexuality, and more of what it meant. Because of where I grew up, and the sort of family I had, it wasn’t something I could be open about or explore. When I finally got away, this was the first thing I began looking into. Writing gay and bi relationships lets me explore things from a fictional standpoint that I missed out on.

That, and I enjoy writing porn.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: I take things into account, but stories flow on their own, like streams. You can drop stones in them and see what happens, but they’ll keep on churning. Sometimes, a suggestion will stick in my head, and come out in some way.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: An ideal relationship between an author and said readers is probably best compared to a dysfunctional family unit, except the screaming takes place over the internet rather than via phone calls and Thanksgiving dinners.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Believe it or not, I enjoy reading negative criticism. Its always fun when someone enjoys my work. That’s a thrill to hear about, but knowing other people hated it has its merits. Media that no one criticizes tends to fade quickly. Fame, as they say, is fleeting, but infamy sticks like glue.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Cole is definitely one, but we may be looking at a contender this fall. I think it falls to whether fans prefer sidhe nobles to long-haired pyrokinetics from the Big Easy that have tragic back stories.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Hmm, I think you must enjoy making this difficult for me. (Lou’s note: Yes I do, absolutely!)

“I love you,” Shinichi gasped, once the hair on his boyfriend’s hair and chest was spotted with cum. “Gods, I love you so much I think it might kill me sometime.”

“You need someone to take care of you,” Allen said matter-of-factly.
“I need you,” Shinichi countered, snuggling up next to him. “You’re my hero, remember?”

Allen laughed and placed a kiss on Shinichi’s forehead. “Even heroes need someone to save them every now and then.”

Push Comes to Shove

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I’m working on the next Section Thirteen book, as well as one or two other things. Those are surprises for later.

I recently had a book released by No Boundaries Press called Blue Ninja, which is available here at the No Boundaries Press online store. Click the cover image to link to the store.

Excerpt from Push Comes to Shove

“Just like that!” the photographer called out excitedly. “Turn towards the camera a bit. Make sure your face is in the light.”

Nervous, Push did as the photographer asked while beads of sweat popped out of his forehead underneath the dusty cap of brown hair. He had never been comfortable on camera, and had to remind himself continuously that this was for a good cause while the man behind the camera clicked away. The front of his costume had been raised up slightly to expose the rock-hard abs underneath. Not that the spandex did much to conceal them. His blue uniform conformed to the contours of his body so tightly that he might as well have been wearing nothing at all.

But, he wasn’t going to argue with a professional about what looked good on a calender.

“Excellent! Now, lower your chin a bit.”

Push did as he was told. “Raise the shirt up a little bit more,” said the photographer, giving signals with his hands. “Now, Push. Give us that smile we wanna see!”

Impishly, he squinted his eyes slightly and grinned, raising the corner of his mouth into a smirk just as the flash went off. Spots swam in front of his face, but he held the pose. Next, the man wanted him to pull the front of the shirt up over his shoulders. The fabric was a new type of spandex with memory cloth woven into it, so it held up very well, both during fights and for when photo shoots demanded he look sexy.

Push felt ridiculous.

Over and over, he turned, flexed, and posed however the photographer demanded. At five feet and six inches, Push wasn’t the epitome of manly sexiness that the camera guy insisted he was. True, he kept his body in tight shape, but it couldn’t compensate for how small he looked in comparison to the average guy on the street. Adding to this, the studio was very cold. Goosebumps kept popping out over his arms and legs, a testament to the fact.

Down to his underwear, the photographer started insisting he remove the goggles. Fortunately, before he could explain, Annette came to his rescue.

“The goggles stay on,” the RLSA personal assistant said firmly. “They’re a part of his identity.”

The photographer started to object, but Annette had his contract with the studio in her hand between blinks. “It’s stated right here,” she reminded the willowy camera man. “The goggles remain on at all times.”

Annette looked over at him, then. “And in any case, I think we’re about done for today. Push has a meeting to get to, and there’s no way we can publish the underwear photos in the calender. The council was adamant that we keep things PG-rated.”

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J. L. O’Faolain’s new Section Thirteen novel: The Thirteenth Pillar

The Thirteenth Pillar

A Section Thirteen Story (Sequel to The Thirteenth Child)

Tuulois MacColewyn’s simple life performing dirty jobs for fey hiding in New York City has died a quick death. Consulting for the NYPD on a case involving child abductions, losing a friend, laying siege to a stronghold at the end of Broadway, and being chased through a hospital by animated scarecrows combined to make last month hell. This month is shaping up to be much worse.

Yet, it’s not all bad. Cole has a new place to live, a steady-paying job working for the NYPD, and the heart of Inspector Joss Vallimun, head of Section Thirteen and, incidentally, Cole’s new boss.

Section Thirteen is understaffed and overworked, trying to solve every supernatural crime in New York, including a series of grisly child murders and evidence that local fey are being enslaved. When Vallimun is gravely injured just as the investigation reaches a fever pitch while a snowstorm blankets the city, Cole will need all the help he can get to have any hope of salvaging this month at all.

J.L. O’Faolain was born the youngest, with four older sisters, in the backwoods of the Deep South. Those that have braved getting to know him have attributed this to being the root of his growing insanity. A teased bibliophile in his youth, O’Faolain spent his years prior to getting published as a cook, laundry man, delivery boy, grease monkey, and retail stocker. He has a plethora of skills and abilities, none of which would work well on a job application. In his spare time, O’Faolain enjoys weightlifting, philosophy, deconstruction, reading, writing, porn, and the Internet in general. Aside from becoming a successfully published author, he would very much like to pilot a giant robot while Two-Mix’s “Rhythm Emotion” is playing in the background. Either that, or travel the world in a dirigible. In short, the general consensus by all, including himself, is that he is a mighty strange fellow.

In his spare time, when he isn’t writing, J.L. O’Faolain reviews televisions shows that were abused by the networks, or should never have been green lit in the first place,here: blip.tv/thatlong-hairedcreepyguy

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J. L. O’Faolain—A New and Again Provacative Author Interview

LS: Welcome back to the blog, J.L.! You are the first to make an encore appearance at sylvre.com. I’m looking forward to catching up, perhaps learning a bit more about you as an author, and getting some updates about the work you have out and what you’ve got planned.

JLO: It feels good to be back. I love joining you here!

Q: I realized that during our last interview I never asked about your origins, J.L., and I’d like to remedy that. I see you were brought up in the South. What part of the country do you live in now? You’re Section Thirteen series is set in New York City, quite a ways from your original home. How do you find your southern roots influences your writing, if at all, even when your characters are at play someplace quite different?
A: I’ve lived in the same region of the South all my life. I still hang my hat in Central Mississippi, though I’ve entertained thoughts of leaving since I was around five or so! Lol

When it comes to writing about different places, I try to picture what those places look and feel like. This usually involves research, though sometimes I research things as I go, then make corrections as needed. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and used to pretend I was a world traveler. Fantasizing myself in far-off places is no great stretch for me after all these years.

As for my southern roots, I’ve never been much of what most people would call a ‘true Southerner’. I don’t have quite the same drawl that people in this area carry. I tend to enunciate carefully, and it makes me stand out. It’s something I was teased about all my life. Most people assumed I grew up somewhere else before living in Mississippi, but I’ve never been outside the state for an extended period of time.

Q: A little bit about your writing technique, perhaps: one of the things that happens when authors write in “other worlds,” be they space, or ghostly or Sidhe, etc., is that the stories require more description, so the reader knows where they are and what it’s like. Reading your work, I always feel like I’m right there, so much so that the settings begin feel familiar to me. Can you tell us a bit about how you accomplish that without resorting to long descriptive passages.
A: I tend to babble on about a subject in a conversation, so I keep that in mind while I’m writing so I get the point across without boring anyone. It’s good to hear I’ve been successful with that so far. Again, this comes back to me picturing things happening as I go along. It always feels more like I’m the narrator following along with events as they unfold. The twists and turns surprise me often enough. I’ve never deluded myself into believing that I have total control of a story, and what happens inside of it. I’m more of a cataloger than anything else. It’s just nice that my characters are willing to allow me the chance to tag along.

I’m grateful.

Q: On the fantasy aspect of your writing, you delve into a sort of Fey underground, including everything from Pixie’s to Titania’s wolves. How much research do you do—or have you done—into the old lore, ancient stories of Faerie? Do you have a favorite source? When you create one of your otherworldly characters, or settings, how close do you try to stay to the spirit of the legendary beings and places?
A: These types of things have always fascinated me. I grew up on them, much to everyone’s chagrin. Believe it or not, I’ve been so heavily involved with this kind of stuff for so long that I often just recall things as I go. If I need to do research, usually it’s just for some specific details that escaped me.

My favorite source is actually just Wikipedia, or a search on Google. I’ve very grateful to have the Internet at my fingertips. I never enjoyed having to pour through tomb after tomb for school projects. The tedium would get to me. I try to stay true to the spirit of the lore, though. Sometimes, things deviate, but no one from any gender, species, or race has ever behaved in a straight line, so when things seem contrary, it’s only because any sentient creature is contrary by nature.

Q: During our last interview, I asked about romance, and you said that it would develop in the series over time, that if readers read more books they would see how important it would be. (Also, that sex got hotter farther into the book.) In The Thirteenth Pillar, main character Cole definitely seems to be involved in romance, or at least sex. I don’t suppose I can ask whether the discarded (or departed) lover Corhagen ever makes a come back? Or was he ever really a lover? Is the current love or sexual interest long term? Well if you can’t answer that without giving away too much, how about this: how did you ever get the idea to have Corhagen summon Joss and Cole with his summoning spell just at the least opportune moment. Interestingly, Corhagen does seem to really mind…
A: Corhagen sees his past with Cole as something he’d like to forget. Cole sees them as former lovers. I do see Joss and Cole as long-term, but as I stated above, I don’t have control over these things. That will no doubt sound exceptionally weird, but I do hope for the best when it comes to them. Corhagen…

I just don’t know. Something tells me he and Cole would never work out, no matter what the circumstances. Then again, I’ve been proven wrong before. As for the summoning spell, Corhagen just has terrible timing. That wouldn’t change no matter who he slept with!
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Cover: The Thirteenth Pillar (#2 in Section Thirteen Series)

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Q: Your cover for The Thirteenth Pillar is just superb. Although I do enjoy Paul Richmond’s art in general, your covers seem to hit the nail on the head even better than most, and they’re quite graceful. Can you tell us anything about the cover for Pillar? Did you specify the elements? Have any input into color scheme, etc? What was your reaction, initially?
A: I love Richmond’s work. His art is superb, and it always feels as though we’re on the same wavelength whenever it comes time for me to describe how I would like the cover to be. When I saw what he’d done with the cover for ‘The Thirteenth Child’, I was breath-taken.

I had two different covers in mind for ‘The Thirteenth Pillar’. Both, I thought were good, but the one Dreamspinner Press went with is most definitely the steamier of the two. I try to describe something that is both eye-catching, and relates to the story at the same time. In short, both are beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what Richmond does in the future. If he just so happens to read this, I like to take the opportunity to tell him thanks for all his hard work. You rock out loud, dude!

*air guitar*

Q: You’ve written something very different in Blue Ninja, and that will be coming out late this spring, I understand. I’m going to post an excerpt, below, and here’s a blurb:

Ichikawa Aoshi is a twenty-three year old nukenin, a ninja on the run. Hiding in plain sight under the nose of the clan who wants him dead, he has managed to carve a life for himself in Tokyo working with a small band of misfit rejects. Among them is his friend and mentor, Aoi, who helped Aoshi find solace after several years of running non-stop. Together, the team of elite specialty ninja tackle jobs no one else in the criminal underworld will touch, but only for a price. Because of his youthful appearance, Aoshi’s most recent mission has lead him to a typical Japanese high school to catch a sexual predator responsible for driving a student to suicide. While there, his search leads him to make a startling discovery about himself that will affect the lives of his friends and every ninja clan across Japan.

Deep inside Aoshi’s chest beats the hungry heart of a lustful deity. Imprisoned in his bloodline for centuries, the Kyuubi-Onna, or Nine-Tailed Woman, whom his clan once worshiped, has been freed seemingly by chance. With her power steadily growing, Aoshi finds himself the bearer of a force he can barely comprehend and wield with only a minimum of control. Enraged at her incarceration, the Kyuubi-Onna only wants revenge, but the Hyakuzyu Tenko clan that Aoshi once hailed from has other plans. Hoping to appease her vessel, the shadow masters of Aoshi’s former clan offer him asylum and a promotion within their ranks in exchange for his return. Events grow more complicated, though, when a former rival swears to kill Ichikawa even at the cost of becoming a rogue ninja himself.

With enemies on all sides and rumors of a war between clans, Aoshi plays a very dangerous game, pitting his enemies against each other while his allies quickly get dragged into the front lines. Against his better judgment, Aoshi begins to feel the rush of the Kyuubi-Onna’s power as her wants and desires pull his heart in two different directions.

Aoshi has lived the life as a killer but can he survive being the servant of a goddess whose lust for male flesh is matched only by her fury?

Q: Can you give us a bit of background on how this story came to be written? Were your characters developed first, or plot? How do you see this as similar to, and different from, your Section Thirteen books? Will there be a Ninja series?<<
A: Blue Ninja is a three-part story. It was originally posted on adultfanfiction.net. During the fall last year, I went through and made a few changes and corrections, then submitted it. It’s been taken down from the site since then.

Blue Ninja is a different story from the Section Thirteen series, though they share similar themes. I first wrote Blue Ninja as a method of coming to terms with my sexual orientation. It was essentially my way of saying ‘This is who I am’ to myself. The story takes place in modern day Tokyo, and involves different clans of ninja who have maintained a delicate peace with one another for four hundred ears. It’s a mesh of mystery, urban fantasy, action, adventure, science fiction, political thriller, and even satire. If you are a fan of anime or manga, part of the fun while reading it will be spotting the inside jokes and references, but I kept those farther back for the readers who aren’t familiar with the genre, so they can still enjoy a good book without missing out on some of the subtext.

Both the characters and the plot evolved over a period of time, but the characters were there before I fully understood where the whole of the story would go. More characters followed after, until I had a whole cast of them. Balancing them all out was no small task. I’m anxious about how people will respond to this. I hope it does well. This is one book that’s rather personal for me.

Q: Well, my infamous question has rolled around—you know the one about which of your characters is the sexiest. In this case, I have to change it a little. Heck, I think we know in the Section Thirteen books Cole is the sexiest at least over the long haul (correct me if I’m wrong). But how about this: Is James Corhagen sexier, or Joss Vallimun? You did, in your last interview described Joss as “primal manliness.” Sounds pretty sexy. Can anyone compete? Anyway, this is an essay question, J.L. Please elaborate.
A: Eh, I’m still partial to Vallimun. Corhagen is far too repressed. Staffelbach has grown on me fast, though, and I see big changes for his character, and how he fits into the Section, later on.

He’s just too adorkable!

I wouldn’t mind seeing Cole hook up with both of them at the same time, to be quite honest!

Q: Finally, how about a little look into the J.L. O’Faolain crystal ball? We know we can look for Blue Ninja this spring. What else is coming up for your readers? And if you have any “appearances,” or guest blogs and such coming up, we’d love to hear about them as well.
A: I have one other blog appearance in February that I have to double-check on. Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Blue Ninja, and the first in a new storyline about superheroes. I’ve been a writing madman as of late, forsaking our mother star to lurk in my quiet den of corrupted decadence!

(That was a little too ‘purple’, I’m sure!)

I’ve had a lot of fun writing the superhero story, though. It’s about a superhero who is something of a poster boy for the organization he works with for being the first openly-gay hero to join their ranks, and also for being the only hero who supposedly has a legitimate super-power. He and his best-friend/roommate/unrequited love interest are charged with bringing on board a super-powered former criminal, and showing him the ropes.

Action, explosions, hijinks, and lots of sex ensue.

LS: Thanks for coming back to visit and let me badger you with questions. I enjoyed it, and I’m pretty sure readers will. I hope you did, too, and please come back again!
JLO: Anytime you’ll have me! It has been a privilege.

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Excerpt from The Thirteenth Pillar (The Fey at work in NYC)


Cole suspected every morgue in the world carried a chill to it.

As a sidhe, he wasn’t susceptible to temperatures the way humans were, but the subtle changes in climate were something he remained aware of regardless. It was currently February, and outside in the bleak darkness, New York City was currently facing a maelstrom of winter snow. The heavy clouds churning with white flakes had blanketed half the country, spreading out as far south as Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Cole had walked out in it alongside his partner and superior, Inspector Joss Vallimun, as the two had been called down to the morgue to inspect another body. It hadn’t bothered him to walk outside while the flakes continued to pelt the ground. Joss had been shivering the whole time, but Cole was perfectly comfortable. Then they had entere237d the hospital morgue, and for the first time that day, Cole had shuddered involuntarily.

His left hand was twitching now. It always responded when there were a number of dead bodies in the area. His Hand of Power, the Hand of Cold Death, could summon anything cold and dead up to obey his every command. It had been called a weak, shameful power in the land of Faerie, but here amongst mortals, where he now worked as a special detective, the Hand had its uses.

The morgue, of course, reeked with the stench of formaldehyde. The smell of it was making Cole’s nose itch as Joss spoke with the coroner. The man didn’t look as though he was particularly happy to see him, and Cole suspected he knew why. They had been to this morgue before and each time had needed a moment to themselves in order to “examine” the body. That was the official story, at least. In reality, Cole didn’t enjoy being gawked at while he questioned the deceased. It made him uncomfortable, a rare thing among his kind. Plus, the screaming and pointing from other humans in the room got old after a while.

Cole waited while Joss sorted things out with the head of the department, making sure all the paperwork had been filed and whatnot so they could carry on with their investigation. Meanwhile, the coroner’s assistant, a young woman with olive skin and dark hair, kept shooting glances his way every few seconds. She had pretended to be busy sorting files, but when several fell out of her hands, the facade was pretty much blown. Cole waited while she picked them up, then caught her attention for a second. As Joss came over to fetch him, Cole gave the woman a wink and smiled as she blushed.

“Having fun?” Joss’s voice carried a thread of jealousy far beneath the mirth on the surface. “We can go inside now. They’ve got the body already laid out for you.”

“Right.” Cole said nothing more, following after Joss as he led them across the room into another area, one filled with drawer after drawer of dead hosts. One was already pulled out and waiting for them. Cole felt his left hand twitch with nerves as they entered, begging for the power inside it to be released.

“Name?” he asked, as the coroner lingered.

“Aaron Hoover,” the coroner replied. “The body was found in an alley. Someone had called their landlord about a bad smell coming through their window.”

The body in question was of a young boy around the age of ten with dark hair and blue eyes, having a light-colored skin. Cole knew this because he’d read the report. Had he not, there would have been no way of figuring that out, going by sight alone. The body had been burned to a crisp. The whole surface was burned from head to toe, except in places where it looked like chunks of flesh had been torn away.

“What about the wounds?” Cole asked, looking the body over. “It looks like they were caused by teeth.”

“Official report says the same thing,” said the coroner. “It looks like the body was burned first and then torn up afterward. There’s also evidence that he was held prisoner in a very cramped space before dying.”

“Just like the other two,” Joss commented, keeping his voice even and neutral.

“I’ll leave you two alone,” the coroner said, walking away now. “Just knock when you’re finished doing… whatever.”

Cole waited until the door shut before speaking. “There may be more,” he reminded Joss. “The first one we spoke to said that he’d been held prisoner in a dark place and that he’d heard other children talking.”

“The report said that the body had been held in a cramped space before dying,” Joss mused quietly to himself. “That corroborates with what the first one said, and the second one talked briefly about being in a cage.”

“The first one said that he’d been held in a cage,” Cole reminded. “The second one mentioned a tiny space before it got really hot.”

“It fits with the killer’s MO.” Joss nodded, keeping his face relaxed. “Good thing you told me to ask the coroner to check and see if the bodies showed signs of being imprisoned before they died.”

“It was just a hunch. Shall we get on with it, then?” Cole stretched his left arm out over the corpse and let the power burst out of his hand. “It was Aaron Hoover, wasn’t it?”

Cole released enough power to summon three or four bodies at once. It was needed, however, to shift the dead body back to something resembling a human form. There was no way the deceased could speak with a body charred so badly. The Hand of Cold Death could temporarily fix a damaged body with no life in it, but this required a little extra effort. Cole took several deep breaths as the form recovered some of its former youthful beauty and blinked up at them.

“Aaron Hoover,” Cole said slowly. “I want you to listen very carefully to me.”

The corpse blinked again. “Where’s my mom?” it croaked. “I want to see my mom.”

“Aaron,” Cole said sharply. “You are already dead.”

Joss gave Cole a look, but Cole ignored him. “You’ve been dead for a few days now,” Cole explained. “I have awakened your body so that we can ask you some questions about how you died. Once we are done here, you will be laid to rest again, and your spirit can finally move on.”

The boy didn’t stop looking terrified by this news, but with each word Cole spoke, the tension in his body seemed to lessen.

“Good,” Cole said, smiling now. “Now, do you remember where it was you were being held prisoner?”

The body of Aaron Hoover tried to swallow and found that it couldn’t. “It was dark,” it whispered hoarsely. “I couldn’t see anything.”

Joss looked across the slab at him. “Just like the others,” he said softly.

“Do you remember who kidnapped you?” Cole asked.

The body shook its head slowly. “I don’t remember being kidnapped. I was walking home from the bus stop. The next thing I knew, someone had put me in a cage, and I could smell something baking in an oven.”

“Baking,” Cole repeated, looking back at Joss. “Didn’t the others mention they smelt something?”

“Maybe,” he said with a nod.

“What did it smell like?” Cole went on. “Was it a bad smell?”

“It smelled good,” the boy who had once been Aaron Hoover replied. “It reminded me of when we used to visit Grandma’s house. It almost smelled like cookies, but better. I could smell it the whole time.”

Cole took a deep breath. “Here we go,” he warned Joss. “Aaron, do you remember how you died?”

The corpse didn’t answer at first. Cole wondered perhaps if it hadn’t heard him when the body suddenly shook. It almost rocked itself off the slab and onto the floor, but Cole forced it still by pushing his will into it through his Hand.

“They came for me,” the body cried out now, panicking. “I could feel them grabbing me with their sticky hands. They were taking me somewhere, and it was small and tight. I couldn’t breathe!”

Aaron Hoover’s corpse gasped, his breath rattling like a clanging bell in his lungs. “It was too small. I couldn’t get out, and it was getting so hot!”

Cole tried to will the body to stay calm, but it was reacting like the others before had. The more Cole tried to force the panic back down, the more it fought.

“It’s not supposed to react like this,” he growled, steadying his power and feeding more of it into the body. “Aaron Hoover, I command you to be at peace!”

The body went still at once, but the corpse began screaming. “I want my momma!” it shouted, the voice echoing off the metal drawers surrounding them. “I want my momma! Momma, help me!”

“Cole, turn it off before the whole department hears him,” Joss ordered.

Cole made a fist, shutting his power down at once. The corpse rattled for a bit as the air was expelled from the lungs, making a loud whistle. Stepping farther back, Cole waited as the deceased form went back to being a lifeless burned shell.

“Just like the others,” he commented. “They all died horribly, and under such traumatic circumstances that raising them for questioning is nearly impossible.”

“Held in a cage,” Joss said, thinking the words over carefully. “Then put inside a cramped space where it got hotter.”

“A furnace,” Cole said, feeling certain of his answer. “Or an old-fashioned stove.”

Joss nodded. “A kiln could have the same effect. I’ve seen some of the bigger ones up close. You could stuff a dead body his size in there no problem. As hot as they get, it’s a wonder there wasn’t just bone left.”

“The sweet smell, though,” Cole pointed out. “They all smelled something, and this one said that it smelled like his grandmother’s house. That’s why I think it was an oven.”

Cole was silent for a moment. “Should I try again and ask if it remembers seeing her?”

Joss shook his head. “We tried that last time and the poor kid kept right on screaming. I don’t think this is her handiwork.”

“Me neither,” Cole admitted, turning away. “But it was worth a shot.”

None of the people in the main area would look at them as they left. Everyone, including the coroner, was entranced by the floor or their own shoes. Cole ignored this and marched out the front door, timing his steps to where they fell in alongside Joss’s.

“I think the sound of dead bodies screaming is beginning to affect them,” he remarked once they were safely outside the hospital.

“You think?” Joss asked, cocking an eyebrow at him.

“It’s just a theory at this point.”

Both men climbed into Joss’s car and got comfortable. The snow had let up for a few minutes, but Cole could sense it was just a temporary reprieve. Soon, something much bigger would be slamming against the city with full force. It was lucky he had the very best that money couldn’t buy in central heating. Otherwise, he might have wound up freezing his ass off like so many who lived here.

“Come over to my place tonight,” Cole asked as Joss pulled out of the hospital parking lot into traffic. “It’s warm, and you can take a hot shower for as long as you like.”

“Sounds good,” Joss replied. “I could use one after today. They’ve had us running all over this fucking town looking for leads on this killer.”

“While we’re supposed to be out looking for clues to where Naryssa is hiding,” Cole pointed out. “How did this case get dumped into our laps again? Shouldn’t it have been something for homicide to deal with instead?”

“I guess the department thought it was weird enough,” Joss said, shrugging. “I really don’t know, but my guess is they’re swamped too. Budget cuts were not kind to those people.”

“They haven’t exactly been the Spring Faerie Falls for us, either. Speaking of which, has there been any word about getting some more people transferred to our division?”

Cole and Joss both worked in the same department, a clandestine undercover group called Section Thirteen. It had originally been started back in the fifties by a group of mortal cops who specialized in occult crimes and the supernatural. The city had disbanded them sometime during the seventies after too many of their reports read like acid-rock poetry. One month ago, roughly, the city agreed to bring the Section back into business after a mad half-sidhe hag by the name of Naryssa had gone on a murdering spree and kidnapped a number of half-fey children. Cole had gotten dragged into the mix and was now working with the police as an officer of the law to bring her in.

Cole often found himself repeating that statement to himself. Even now, it sounded too weird.

The Section had started off with the two of them and one other homicide cop, a man who had been Cole’s contact when he worked as a police consultant. These days, he and James Corhagen didn’t speak with each other much. It was just as well, especially considering Cole had moved on in his life, away from James and his problems.

Working in the Section had given him a whole new set of problems, and those were more than enough. When Cole had first signed on, Joss had brought in several members of the city’s vice squad to help out. Two weeks later, following an incident in the sewers, where they had been chasing after a large gelatin cube, every member of vice had pleaded with the brass to be taken back to their old assignments.

Dealing with the supernatural underside of New York was not something for the weak of stomach.

So it ended up that the Section was stuck with the three core members and no one else. No one else wanted to come close to them, and no matter how much Cole claimed he didn’t care, they were only three men. The Section had jurisdiction across the whole city, meaning they got called out several times a day to examine a crime scene just to clarify that it had been caused by something mundane and not a rampaging orc.

“I want to take my car home first,” Joss said, breaking up his thoughts. “Since there’s no place to park outside your place.”

“Let me have your cell phone, then,” Cole said, holding his hand out. “I’ll go ahead and call a cab for us so it can be waiting when we arrive.”

Joss fished his phone out of the back pocket of his pants and tossed it to him. “We really need to get you one of those. It’s difficult enough getting hold of you when you’re not on duty.”

“That’s the whole point,” Cole replied, punching in the number. “Hey, Crystal,” he said into the phone. “Yeah, it’s me again. Can you have a cab waiting for us at the usual place? Right, we’re a good fifteen or so minutes away, maybe more now that traffic has picked up again. Just tell your man to park outside the apartment, if you wouldn’t mind. Thanks!”

Joss shook his head. “I think she’s starting to wonder.”

Cole handed the phone back to him and stretched comfortably, gazing out the passenger window. “I love it when it snows here,” he said softly. “It reminds me of home.”

“I hate it,” Joss grumbled. “Give me spring any day. Before long, summer will be here and it’ll be too hot to breathe.”

Cole kept his thoughts to himself and allowed Joss the silence he needed to make it home quickly and efficiently. Soon, they were pulling up into the driveway of the inspector’s apartment, a shabby but neat building that Cole had been a guest at several times since he had joined the police force. The cab he had called for was waiting for them with the motor, and probably the meter, running. Joss parked his car; then they both rushed out to jump in the back of the waiting vehicle. The driver didn’t so much as comment, pulling out into the street without a backward glance at them.

They reached Bowling Green Park a little bit later. Cole already had his money out and passed it up to the driver before hopping out.

“Keep the change,” he said, slamming the door shut behind him.

“I’m surprised you can afford to keep doing this,” Joss remarked as they wandered through the entrance together.

“I just have to pay for food,” Cole reminded him. “The sithen provides me with everything else.”

“Lucky bastard.”

Cole laughed as they came up to the fountain. The jets had been turned off due to the weather, yet the water inside the basin had yet to freeze. People surely found this strange but were too busy with their own lives to investigate the cause. Cole snapped his fingers, then waited as the entrance to the world below rose up in front of them. As the doorway formed from the water’s surface, Cole brought his arms around the inspector’s waist and squeezed.

“Whenever you are ready,” he whispered into the mortal’s ear.

The first time they had gone through this door together, there had been an uneven flight of stairs leading down into a dark corridor. The sithen had been under Naryssa’s control back then, but after Cole had defeated her with Joss’s help, he’d taken up living in it. Naryssa had escaped, and now her home was his to do with as he pleased. Cole had gotten rid of those blasted steps first.

There was only a step or two down now. Joss went through first and removed his shoes at the landing. Cole came in next and waited as the door slid shut, sealing them off from the mortal world.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

“Fine,” Joss replied nonchalantly. “No strange visions or unusual colors. I had worse side effects from walking into my roommate’s dorm in college.”

“I simply wanted to be sure.” Cole had brought Joss here several times already, and each time, they’d stopped before going too far in to check and make sure the sithen wasn’t playing tricks with Joss’s mind. Legends spoke of the Faerie mounds giving mortals the odd turn now and again.

The ceiling was high, held in place ostensibly by a long row of columns that had tree roots wrapped around them. Halfway down the stone path was a stone fountain, the water of which splashed merrily, welcoming them home. Cole could hear laughter coming from it and waved at the pixies playing there as he walked past. They had once lived in a storm drain in Central Park, but after he had moved into the sithen, Cole had invited them along.

Above the fountain were two ghostly figures. The bean sidhe who guarded the entrance had taken to avoiding their posts whenever Cole brought Joss home. Cole suspected they were jealous and knew what he would do to them if they tried anything on Joss.

Smart ladies.

“Welcome home, Master Colewyn,” a voice said.

Cole looked to the source as a short man with a balding head materialized. “That way,” Mal, the ghost and operator of the sithen, said, gesturing. “Right through the door. I’ve already gotten your bed ready, and the bathroom water is nice and hot.”

“Thanks, Mal,” Joss said as they entered the double doors he’d been pointing to. “He’s really taken to this whole ‘butler’ role, hasn’t he?”

“I think he finds the role amusing,” Cole replied. The sithen had already changed itself around, as per Mal’s instructions, to take them directly to Cole’s private chamber. It was just down the smaller hallway now and to the left.

“That makes me worry,” said Joss in a grave voice as they entered the expansive room. “If what you told me is true, why would the ghost of a former sorcerer condemned for practicing black magic find being a butler amusing?”

“He was trapped in a book for centuries,” Cole pointed out, directing them both to the bathroom. “Mal is probably relieved to be out and doing anything now.”

“Good point.”

The sithen, with Mal’s help, had constructed a spacious room for Cole that was decorated in brown paneling with cobblestone floors covered by thick rugs. The bed was by far the largest piece of furniture in the room, but the cabinets, shelves, and desk were all massive and varnished a deep brown color to match the walls. It was the sort of room he’d always dreamed of having.

Off to the side was the bathroom. Cole entered first and began shucking his clothes as Joss came up behind him and did the same. As usual, Cole had worn all black while on patrol. His leather pants and long vest were far from regulation, but since Joss had insisted that Section Thirteen be a plainclothes operation, there was very little the higher-ups could do. Plus, as Cole himself had pointed out, a uniform would do very little to help him blend in.

Joss, unlike him, had dressed for freezing weather. His knee-length coat was the first thing to go, followed by the cream-colored button-down shirt. Cole was already naked now and stood there enjoying the view. Joss took a moment to slowly draw the undershirt over his head, knowing how much Cole liked to watch. His abs and chest came into view, covered in a natural rug of curly hair. Cole sighed, feeling a low moan rising up from his throat. He loved running his fingers through that carpet and did so at every chance. When Joss dropped his pants, the underwear came with them, and his shaft stood upright and rigid.

It was as big as a baby’s arm.

The head was leaking precum now, causing Cole’s mouth to water. Once Joss had stepped out of his clothes, Cole wasted no time in dragging both of them into the shower. The water kicked on immediately, and true to Mal’s word, it was at just the right temperature. Joss groaned as the three showerheads above them sent jets of steaming liquid onto his back, pounding the stress of the day out of him. Each head was shaped like a theater mask: one frowning, one grinning, and one trapped in between.

Cole seized Joss by his thick mane of wet blond hair and pulled him in close for a kiss that ended with their tongues dancing around one another. His own cock was stretched as far as it would go, almost to the point of pain, as their arms encircled each other. Cole could feel Joss’s hands all over him, and he moaned his pleasure down the mortal man’s throat.

Cole began kneading the knots out of Joss’s back as he nuzzled the man’s ear. “That feels so good,” Joss breathed, kissing Cole lightly on his shoulder. “Don’t stop, please.”

“Never,” Cole cooed. “Let go. I’ve got both of us now.”

Joss went silent for a moment as Cole continued to massage his back in time with the water. “That boy,” said Joss softly as Cole worked lower. “He couldn’t have been, what? Ten years old? Somebody baked him alive.”

“We’ll find them,” Cole assured him, not letting up. “And when we find them, we put a stop to it.”

“You make it sound simple,” Joss groaned, running his own hands up the slicked surface of Cole’s back. “It’s never that simple. Being a cop is anything but simple.”

“I’m not really a cop,” Cole reminded him. Seizing the man by the hair, he gently pulled until Joss’s eyes were facing his. “I am a sidhe warrior. You brought me into the NYPD, but at heart, I will always be who I was raised to be. No amount of paperwork or procedure will change that.”

“I shouldn’t let you say things like that,” Joss mumbled. Their foreheads pressed together under the jet stream. “We’re supposed to catch the bad guys, not execute them. But after what I heard those kids say….”

“One thing at a time,” Cole said, shushing him. “For now….”

Joss looked at Cole when he didn’t finish.

“I’m going to fuck you silly,” Cole whispered into his ear before spinning Joss around.

Joss brought his arms up to brace himself against the slippery wall of the shower as Cole reached his hand out. The sithen was always quick to respond, and this time was no exception. Before Cole’s hand could touch the wall to the right of Joss, it opened up a hidden compartment to reveal a small bottle of golden liquid.

“Last time, it was under the frowning shower head,” Cole noted, pouring some of the fey lubricant onto his fingers.

Joss merely grunted and steeled himself as two of Cole’s fingers were inserted into his ass. Cole quickly flexed and wiggled the tips as he felt them brush across Joss’s love nut. Joss’s cock jumped at the stimulation and began drooling. The rough and rugged male grunted as another finger joined the others. His asshole was opened slightly, but it was still tight and snug as Cole began to gently fuck his digits back and forth.

At the same time, he managed to dribble a little bit of the oil onto his other hand by tilting it slightly. It wasn’t easy, and he wound up with more than was needed, but the glass bottle didn’t slip out of his fingers once. Cole placed it back into the slot in the wall, snapped the cap back into place, and watched as it disappeared once more. Satisfied, he used the oil smeared all over his left hand to slick his cock up as Joss began moaning with pleasure.

“Here it comes,” he warned, pushing the head of his dick up against Joss’s entrance.

“Umph!” Joss grunted as the head popped past his sphincter. “Ohhh, yeah!”

“Get ready.” Cole braced himself, getting a nice grip on Joss’s hips as he drew back slightly, then drove himself forward hard. The head of his cock plowed into Joss’s innards, tearing a path that made the rough-and-tumble man moan.

“Fuck, yeah,” Joss breathed as the steam built up around them. “Fuck me, lover.”

“You want that?” Cole began to pick up speed as he slapped his hand across Joss’s ass cheek. “Your ass is as tight as I’ve had in a long time. It’s hotter inside of you than in this shower. I’m going to enjoy fucking the shit out of you.”

“Just shut up and fuck me!” Joss replied.

Cole was a sidhe warrior, and despite his svelte frame, he had the strength of ten muscled men on crack. It was very important for him not to forget how delicate Joss was by comparison. The mortal would not have liked hearing that, but of the two of them, Cole was actually the more durable. Yet the two had been on the move for days, tracking a killer who seemed even more elusive than the one they’d come up against a month ago. In that time, they’d barely had the chance to share a private conversation that didn’t involve the more unpleasant aspects of their work. As such, Cole found himself throwing aside some of his restrictions now. As Joss’s moans filled the steamy air surrounding them, Cole’s hips picked up speed, and he began to really pound into his man.

Joss tossed his head back and howled as his canal was savaged. Water from the showerhead splashed down into his face and mouth. Even then, he didn’t stop yelling for Cole to fuck him harder.

Cole was happy to oblige. As he kicked it into high gear, Cole felt his balls begin to draw up. Cum churned inside them, ready to unload down the dark tunnel of Joss’s ass any second. Joss’s own balls were already swollen and ready to burst. Cole grunted right along in time with his lover and steeled himself. Both of his arms snaked around Joss just below his hairy chest. As Cole was getting ready to bust, a voice rang out in his ears.

“Tuulois MacColewyn!”

“Shit!”

Cole gasped and leaped backward, drawing his dick out of Joss’s asshole as the air around them swam unexpectedly. Joss glanced back in confusion, still pulling at his dick as Cole leaped out of the shower in a panic.

“What happened?” he moaned. “Why did you stop?”

“Tuulois MacColewyn!”

“Never mind that! Turn the water off and get your clothes!”

The sithen was already two steps ahead of him. The shower heads shut off immediately, and Cole suddenly found their clothes much closer than where they’d left them. Amidst the pile were their weapons, which to him was much more important. Cole could already feel the spell beginning to take hold of him.

“Hold on,” he ordered, snatching their things up off the floor and jumping back in with Joss. Joss, however, had gotten the wrong idea and seized his cock, jerking it back and forth.

“I didn’t mean that!”

“Tuulois MacColewyn!”

Cole turned sideways next to Joss and felt his cock jerk hard as his balls were drained of their essence. Joss’s own cock was already exploding in the same direction. Something was pulling both men upward through what felt like a wet rubber tube as they shot their loads into clear space. A sense of displacement followed, and Detective Corhagen was abruptly standing in front of them with two separate loads dripping down his face.

Joss still had a few good shots left in him, it turned out. A whole rope of cum landed on Corhagen’s long coat, and another from Cole splattered across his tie. Corhagen’s eyes went wide from shock to disbelief as he took in the sight of both Cole and Inspector Vallimun standing together naked inside the summoning circle he’d drawn.

“Well,” said Cole, dripping wet. “This is a new twist.”

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An excerpt from J.L. O’Faolain’s *Blue Ninja*—interestingly X rated excerpt

Hokkaido

“Are you sure about this?”

Aoshi sighed at Otaro’s persistent question, it being the fifth time he’dasked, and turned looked back towards him. The stretch in his patience must have shown on his face, for Otaro looked away petulantly. Regaining control of his emotions, Aoshi forced calm into himself and took a deep breath before speaking.

“I honestly don’t know,” he stated truthfully. “For all anyone of us knows, Shinobachi’s information was completely false. It may have even been a flaw in his chain of communication, but the fact is, I have no other resources aside from going back to the Hyakuzyu Tenko and explaining the situation to them personally.”

Aoshi did narrow his eyes, then. “And you know what that would be like.”

“Gomen,” Otaro muttered, still sounding like a child. “It’s not like I don’t get that, but why do we have to go fight the Okami clan again?”

“We’re not going to fight them,” he corrected. “We’re going to try and negotiate. If Onizuka really is somewhere in the Hokkaido area looking to steal from the Okami clan, then chances are they’ll want to know about it. Hopefully, that will provide me with some leeway once we locate some of them. I don’t relish doing this anymore than you do but bear in mind that nobody forced you to go.”

“Is that why Kibako-san isn’t here?”

“Hai,” Aoshi told him, pausing for a second. “Kibako didn’t wish to go and I had no reason for forcing her. You, however, agreed to. And for the record, if you’re having second thoughts about it now, feel free to get off at the next available stop.”

“This is the express line,” Otaro reminded him.

“Then get on the first train back to Tokyo the minute we arrive,”Aoshi hissed, losing his patience now. “And go with my blessing.”

Otaro said not a word for the rest of the trip.

They had boarded the express together. Sabane had been willing to loan Aoshi the money for all of them, thankfully. Otherwise it would have been a solo mission, and despite the emphasis he’d placed on not wanting to ask for anyone’s help, Aoshi had to admit now how much he really needed it. Aoi-san had signed on as well, which made him feel a lot better. Kuroji had agreed to come also. Aoshi had the feeling this was why Otaro had come along. The four of them made up the team going to Hokkaido. So far, the biggest trouble they’d run into was listening to Otaro moan quietly to himself in-between bouts of questions about whether or not Aoshi was really sure about what they were doing.

Truthfully, Aoshi himself was not so sure. Granted, whatever Onizuka had planned would undoubted mean trouble for the Tokujogumi sooner or later but this really wasn’t anyone’s responsibility. Even though the sword had been handed to him by the Hyakuzyu Tenko elders, Aoshi still wasn’t sure he wanted it back. He’d left his clan and the responsibilities that came with it years ago. Getting involved in something that was sure to draw him back in was definitely unwise, yet he found himself pressing onward.

Other than Otaro, everyone else was quiet during the trip. Aoshi sat near Aoi-san, though they’d hardly spoken a word to one another. It made him a little nervous to be honest. He hadn’t thought to bring something to read with him, not that there had been much time to pack. Aoshi was grateful all the same for having Aoi-san come along. Having him there was comforting. He owed the man far too much to even begin paying it back. Aoshi just prayed nothing went wrong.

Something had been bothering him the whole time, however. He couldn’t put his finger on it and it was really becoming a distraction. Aoshi had been trained to be a warrior his whole life and a distracted warrior was a dead one. Taking several slow breaths, he practiced the meditation exercises he’d learned all those years ago during his initial training. As his mind cleared, he could sense the train car more clearly now. It was more than just the mission that was distracting him. Aoshi felt restless, even a little weak. Nothing like what had been happening to him but still bad enough that it affected his concentration.

Looking up, Aoshi spotted Kuroji staring right at him. The moment their eyes met, it felt like a sharp arrow pierced right through his chest. His heart skipped a beat, making Aoshi gasped involuntarily. Aoi-san turned to look at him curiously but Aoshi quickly shook his head, feeling embarrassed. When he looked again, Kuroji was turning away, though Aoshi knew the more experienced shinobi was keeping a close eye on him.

After several minutes, Aoshi stood up to use the bathroom. “Be right back,” he told Aoi-san. “I’ll be in the bathroom. Come get me if you think something’s wrong.”

As he walked down the aisle, Aoshi could still feel Kuroji watching him. Step by step, he made his way towards the back of the train where the restrooms were. Someone was in the men’s room when he arrived,leaving him with no other option but to wait. Luckily, after a moment, a handsome older man stepped out a second later. As their eyes met, Aoshi felt the bottom of his stomach drop out from under him. The man’s smile was almost predator-like but he continued on past Aoshi without so much as looking back.

Once inside the restroom, Aoshi splashed cold water on his face before shuffling over to the toilet. As his eyes left the mirror above the sink, he thought he saw something flash behind his reflection for a second out the corner of his eye. It had probably been nothing more than a trick of the light but it was enough to make him fumble with his fly for longer than necessary. When he finally freed his cock and balls, Aoshi let out a moan of relief along with the flow ofpiss.

Done, Aoshi stood there for a moment longer, casually running his hand up and down over the skin of his dick. Sighing, he threw his head back and close his eyes, just savoring the feel. His whole body was tense with the need for release. In spite of that, his hand didn’t quicken.

“Seems like a waste to me,” said a deep voice from behind, tickling his ear.

Aoshi tried to turn, but a pair of black arms encircled him, holding him fast. “A real waste,” whispered Kuroji-san. “When there’s someone here that’s more than willing to offer something alot better.”

“When did you…” Aoshi started to ask, but Kuroji-san silenced him by placing a hand gently over his throat.

“Just after you started,” he answered. “I wanted to watch you for a moment. Now, how about you let me?”

Aoshi felt his body grow slack as Kuroji-san gripped him in his strong arms. The fingers of the older ninja dug almost painfully into his chest for a second. Aoshi’s first instinct was to pull away and fight off the heat rising up from within him. However, before he could move, Kuroji-san seemed to sense what he was about to do and bit down hard on the fleshy area of his neck. The moment his teeth made contact with Aoshi’s pale skin, it was as though a switch had been thrown somewhere in his head. One moment, he was prepared to do anything to get away. The next, all the will in him evaporated into nothingness.

A low chuckle rumbled through his body from the man standing behind him. Kuroji-san wasted no time in removing their clothes, taking to Aoshi’s surprise great care to not just tear them off. When they were both naked, Kuroji-san bent Aoshi down over the sink and began pressing his cock between his ass cheeks. Aoshi felt a sharp pain,one that caught him off-guard for a moment. It had never hurt this much going in before. As if in answer, a door in his mind swung openand flooded power through him. Something held Aoshi’s body in it’s grip as Kuroji-san began shoving the first few inches of himself in. Aoshi gasped, partly from pain, but also from a whole different sort of orgasm the pain was giving him.

As Kuroji-san began pushing the length of himself slowly in, Aoshi finally understood. He had only consciously accepted the knowledge that had been given to him. This was different, however. He could feel the Kyuubi-Onna’s power flowing out from within him in droves now. It swirled around them both, holding Kuroji and himself in a grip of sexual rapture. As the power pierced through every pore in the shinobi’s body, Kuroji-san began thrusting in and out in afast-paced rhythm, driving the air out of Aoshi’s lungs in the process.

Each time Kuroji-san’s manhood shoved it’s way through to his innards, Aoshi felt the Kyuubi-Onna respond in kind. With every thrust, she unleashed more power into the air. With such a small space, it wasn’t long before the molecules in the air practically sizzled. Aoshi began to cry out, responding to Kuroji-san’s own moans as he pounded into him. They both felt the power build, felt it swimming around their sweat-soaked bodies.

When Kuroji-san came, he let out a howl that was surely heard all the way back up to the front of the car. Aoshi screamed right along with him, feeling Kuroji’s strength seep into his form down to the dark place where the Kyuubi-Onna resided inside of him. His seed sloshed around in Aoshi’s bowels for several minutes after, slowly leaking down onto the floor. Aoshi turned around to lean forward into Kuroji-san’s massive chest as he leaned helplessly against the wall. Rather than tired, Aoshi felt revitalized now.

“Once I recover my strength,” Kuroji gasped, laying a hand on Aoshi’s shoulder gently. “My power will be stronger than ever. I will be able to protect your host much more efficiently.”

Aoshi understood then that he was speaking not to him but the entity that dwelt within him. “Thank you,” he said softly, echoing her sentiments. “You have done me well, Kuroji-san.”

“Iie,” the dark-skinned shinobi replied breathlessly. “Just Kuroji now. You are far beyond me.”

Kuroji smiled then and lifted Aoshi’s chin up. Capturing his mouth, he drew Aoshi back into his sweat-covered form. Together, they kissed for a moment in blissful silence, savoring the taste of one another. Aoshi raised up enough to where he could wrap his arms around Kuroji’sneck. Kuroji, in turn, leaned down a little to give him better access. As he did so, the train suddenly gave a violent lurch.

Somehow, Aoshi felt as though he were falling forward and to the side nearly at once. The whole restroom seemed to turn on it’s end and spin like a washing machine for a second. While this was going on, a horrible sound like metal screeching on metal rang loudly in his ears.

Aoshi forced his brain to think even as the world spun around him. Kuroji had his smaller form in a death grip, using his much larger frame to take the brunt of the damage. There was only one possible thing that could be causing this.

Thetrain had derailed, somehow. They were going to crash!

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J.L. O’Faolain’s *The Thirteenth Child*—available at Dreamspinner Press

Scroll down for an interview with the author and a showcase excerpt.

The Thirteenth Child by J.L. O Faolain

Immortal sidhe Tuulois MacColewyn is living rough. After nearly two centuries of life as one of Faerie Queen Titania’s prized wolves and a handful of years as a Roaring Twenties mob boss’s favorite enforcer, he’s now exiled to New York, making rent doing dirty jobs for other fey outcasts. He used to consult on the occult for Detective James Corhagen at the NYPD, but since their highly combustible friendship burned itself out a year ago, Cole hasn’t heard from him.

All that changes when Corhagen summons Cole right out of his shower and into the middle of a crime scene. The NYPD is facing a rash of messy black-magic murders, complete with exploding hearts and very little forensic evidence, not to mention the sinister disappearance of several half-fey children. However hard he tries to deny it—and his inconvenient attraction to the sidhe—Corhagen needs Cole’s help. A persistent police inspector rounds out the team, but when their investigation comes too close to the truth, suddenly it’s their lives on the line. With a powerful killer on the loose, Cole, James, and Inspector Vallimun must race against time to stop the monster out to claim the thirteenth child.

J.L. O’Faolain was born the youngest, with four older sisters, in the backwoods of the Deep South. Those that’ve braved getting to know him have attributed this to being the root of his growing insanity. A teased bibliophile in his youth, O’Faolain spent his years prior to getting published as a cook, laundry man, delivery boy, grease monkey, and retail stocker. He has a plethora of skills and abilities, none of which would work well on a job application. In his spare time, O’Faolain enjoys weightlifting, philosophy, deconstruction, reading, writing, porn, and the Internet in general. Aside from becoming a successfully published author, he would very much like to pilot a giant robot while Two-Mix’s “Rhythm Emotion” is playing in the background. Either that, or travel the world in a dirigible. In short, the general consensus by all, including himself, is that he is a mighty strange fellow.

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J.L. O’Faolain—a (slightly provocative) interview with the author

Q: Although The Thirteenth Child has some unique twists, it seems the book falls solidly within the urban fantasy sub-genre. Are there particular writers that influenced you?
A: I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. In my college years, I also read Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter. Urban Fantasy was always a fascinating genre for me. I never cared for traditional fantasy much growing up, but stories about the spooky and otherworldly living right next door and across the street ensnared my imagination from a very young age onward. Truthfully, it isn’t shocking to me at all that my first published work would be about pixies and goblins living in New York City. Stories about mundane and everyday life bore me as a general rule. Usually, there has to be some exotic or supernatural element to it before a slice-of-life story can grab my attention, though there have been exceptions.

Q: How did the concept for this story arise? Did your characters come first and the story followed, or the other way around?
A: The characters came first. I had been keeping an eye on Dreamspinner’s submission page for a while to see if there were any requests that were up my alley. When I saw the Bittersweet Dreams category, I knew it was perfect for me. I never write anything ‘traditional’. There has generally been some kind of twist or unexpected hiccup during one of my adventures that catches people off-guard. The friends of mine who have read my stories know to expect it by now. Half the fun for them, I think, is trying to guess where it will occur.

The story itself evolved from an incident that occurred in my life a few years back. I’d become friends with a fellow geek at work. In a small Southern town, geeks do not live very social, outgoing lives with the rest of the population, so we kind of bonded over that. When he found out I was bisexual a couple of years after that, it didn’t go over so well. He would still contact me whenever he wanted something, but it left me feeling like I was getting the short end of the deal. Then at a get-together with some other friends of his, he went around whispering loudly to anyone who talked to me, saying that I was bi like I carried the plague. I was really hurt by it, and even after all this time, it still made me mad whenever I thought about him.

The story itself just sort of grew out of that. I sometimes work well when I’m angry. Every so often, one of the people I encounter turn out to be an inspiring Muse of Rage.

Q: In your mind, who is your sexiest character, and why? Who is the easiest to love, and why? If you can’t answer those questions, why not?
A: Cole has a natural devil-may-care attitude that I simply adore. He was never human, nor was he raised during his younger years in a human environment, so human sensibilities annoy and confuse him something fierce. He really can’t grasp the concept of why attraction between the same sex is considered wrong or taboo in human society. It completely mystifies him and I think that gives his character a kind of raw, sexy edge.

Inspector Joss Vallimun is just primal manliness. He’s not attractive in the traditional sense, yet there is just something about him that will make you slightly weak in the knees when he walks past you. You can feel it whenever his character enters a scene. Just by being there, the temperature in the room goes up. Its easy to see why Cole is drawn to him toward the end.

Katalina, however, is my favorite character and the one I cherish the most. The scene near the end was one of the hardest I ever had to write. Cole needs her in his life to give him a strong link to humanity. Without her, he’s terribly alone in the world.

Q: The first line in the blurb is a great hook. Both the blurb and the excerpt we have here feature the crime-fighter element and the sidhe presence. What about sex and romance? How strong is that thread in your story?
A: One of the biggest criticisms in my reviews is that The Thirteenth Child doesn’t have enough romance, or isn’t a ‘traditional’ romance. I didn’t want the story to follow a basic romance formula where the characters meet for the first time, are attracted to one another, fall in love a few pages later, have obstacles they could easily overcome if they weren’t too busy obsessing, only to magically work things out near the end. There is a lot of tension between the guys for a long time. Cole and James have a history with each other that’s left their relationship strained and bleeding. Vallimun is suspicious of Cole at first and doesn’t want to trust him completely. There is a point where you feel the story really could go either way, or in an entirely new direction. As far as romance goes, that’s an aspect I wanted to develop over a period of several books and not just one. You’ll have to read more books in the storyline before you see just how much romance really does factor into things.

As for sex, I wanted to develop the characters and the plot first, so the first several chapters are a ‘dry’ read. Later on, though, things do steam up quite a bit.

Q: The cover for The Thirteenth Child is absolutely beautifully drawn, and very evocative. Who is the artist? How much input did you have into what would be included, or how it would be presented?
A: Paul Richmond designed the cover for The Thirteenth Child. It really is amazing. I was completely blown away by it and so were my friends. I was given the option of describing two types of covers for the book. The one that got picked was the one I was really rooting for, though. Paul managed to capture the essence of what I wanted in the cover brilliantly. I was so moved by it. My favorite part of the cover is where James is reaching around to grab Cole by the wrist. He’s simultaneously clinging to him and holding him back. The ring on James’s finger is a constant reminder to him of the choices he’s made in life and where they have taken him.

Q: The main characters certainly seem to be the types that could have more adventures down the road. Will they come back? What can your readers expect in the future?
A: Book two is already finished and was sent to the editors a couple of weeks ago. I’ve begun working on the rough draft of book three now. There will be a total of thirteen books (of course) in the series, but I haven’t entirely ruled out the possibility of doing a sequel series someday, assuming readers want more.

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Excerpt from J.L. O’Faolain’s The Thirteenth Child

It was far too cold to be working outside today.

Cole took in the dozen or so thugs standing around him with an irritated glare of contempt. If the money for this job hadn’t been as good as it was, he’d be back in his loft curled up underneath a nice, thick blanket enjoying a replay of his old copy of Blood Omen right now. As it was, the rent was due. Katalina had already reminded him of that twice this week. The first gust of New Year air had nearly been enough to make him turn around and go back inside. Only the fact that Awar the troll paid good money made him keep going Now, he was lurking underneath a trash-strewn bridge that reeked of raw sewage as members of the attacking gang closed in on him.

Cole took half a step backwards, crouching down slightly as the red-hot end of his double-headed blade, Aed Deigh, extended out from the hilt. The thug that was nearest caught a swipe across his abdomen as Cole feinted forward, and then turned into a sweeping spin that caught two more with the opposite end, the one endowed with the power of arctic cold. There was perhaps a half-second where nothing occurred, as though his attacks had missed. His first target, however, suddenly clutched his belly in pain as fire exploded all over his skinny frame, incinerating him in an instant. The others went rigid at the same time as ice crawled like ravenous spiders all over their skin.

Cole never let up, even as the remaining members of the gang began having second thoughts. Two more found themselves the victims of spontaneous combustion as Cole drove his twin-bladed weapon with the hilt in the middle down into the chest of the boy who he assumed was their leader. The shocked expression on the man-child was actually somewhat comical. Cole withdrew his blade as the ice claimed him, then tipped the frosted statue over with his finger and smirked to the remaining few thugs as it shattered on the ground. The head wound up rolling down the incline and stopped at his feet. Cole placed the heel of his boot atop it and stared his audience down.

No one blinked. They were all too terrified to move.

Smart.

“I was asked by a friend to ensure none of you harass him any further,” Cole spoke, standing with a practiced ease. “This can go one of two ways. Either I slaughter the lot of you and walk off without breaking a sweat, or you can all go back to wherever it is you came from, and leave the nice troll alone so he can finish his homework and get over his head cold in peace.”

“This is our hood,” one bravely spoke up, yet Cole could distinctly hear the rapid beating of his heart. “Freaks like dat should stay da fuck away.”

A handful nodded their affirmation. “He kind ain’t welcome here no mo.”

Cole was on the speaker in the blink of an eye. “Would you prefer to be frozen, or burned to a little pile of ash?” he whispered in the young man’s ear. “I’d be happy to oblige with either.”

There was the unmistakable sound of a hammer being drawn back from a gun. Cole waited, waited until he knew the shooter was about to pull the trigger, then moved. At the same time, he jerked the boy in front of him forward slightly, putting him directly in line of the bullet as it left the chamber with what sounded like a thunderclap. Had it been rush hour, the sound would’ve been muffled by oncoming traffic. It was with his ears ringing that Cole released his grip just as the young man’s head exploded. Turning around, he saw that the shooter was holding, of course, a .357 Magnum.

“Those things make such a mess,” he muttered as blood and other things ruined his clothes. “My dry cleaning bill is going to be outrageous.”

Everyone else was still taking in the sight of their spokesman crumbling to the ground with most of his head gone. Not one to miss an opportunity to finish a job quickly, Cole dashed forward and took out the one holding the gun first. It was made of metal, and given the decidedly high iron content, it would do the most damage to him. One swipe with the fire edge of his swallow reduced the bastard’s arms to smoldering bones. Cole stabbed him with the ice edge for good measure, then carved a path through the scattering crowd as though he were the wind and they were caught in molasses. Less than a minute later, his job was finished. Ominous footsteps pounded the ground heading in his direction as he slowly stood upright.

“That should do it, then,” he said, willing the blades back into their shared hilt. “I’d like to collect my pay now, if you don’t mind.”

“No problem,” sniffed Awar, grunting from chest congestion as he fumbled around for the opening to his back trouser pocket. “Thanks for coming on such short notice.”

“I hated to ask you to get out of bed given your current condition,” said Cole, graciously accepting the bag of gold from him. “But I wanted to make sure they were indeed the ones harassing you. It would make me look bad if I’d murdered the wrong ones.”

“It’s no big deal,” Awar assured him. “I’m feeling much better, but the runny nose is killing me. I’ve got a calculus final to study for, and my correspondence term paper for American History is tomorrow. All I wanted was some peace and quiet, but those little shits just wouldn’t leave me alone. And it isn’t like I can just phone in the police, not that it would do me much good….”

“No need to explain,” Cole assured him, counting out the gold coins. “Go get some rest. You look like hell.”

“I haven’t been able to sleep because of this damned cold,” he muttered, weakly. “I’d love to have handled this myself, but this crud has sapped all my strength.”

Cole nodded in professional sympathy as he resumed counting. Awar, meanwhile, turned his rather lumpy head to the side and let out an impressively loud sneeze, which caused the bridge overhead to shake. Dust and icy frost rained down on their heads, signaling to Cole that it was past time to go. “Here,” he said, hold up three gold pieces. “You gave me three more than we agreed on.”

“Keep it,” Awar insisted, waving it away. Cole’s long hair was swept up as Awar’s hands inadvertently caused a small wind to kick up around them. “Consider it a tip for a job well done, since I wasn’t up for handling things myself. I honestly thought you’d just come down here and scare the little bastards, but this works out much better. The lot of them should fit in my meat locker with a little extra cramming. I’ve got food for almost a month now, and the bones should scare away anyone else that tries to hassle me.

Besides,” he added, “I was getting sick of chicken soup. It gives me bad gas.”

Cole accepted his tip and, with a wave over his shoulder, left the underside of the bridge very quickly.

A while later, Cole climbed the stairs leading up to his loft, shaking his hair to remove the bits of snow that hadn’t melted yet despite the warm temperature inside of the building. It was one of the many drawbacks to being a full-blooded sidhe living in New York. No matter how powerful he was, all the metal, glass, and man-made plastics hampered his abilities considerably. It was getting to the point where the changing temperatures really bothered him. Before long, he might even suffer from sinus problems like all the other red-nosed shoppers.

Shuddering at the thought, he waved a hand idly at the door and waited as the locks on the other side tumbled open. At the same time, the wards that had been placed years ago temporarily fell, allowing him passage. Shaking the rest of the snow off, Cole hung his coat on the rack and strode idly into his home. The place was quiet for the moment, which meant that Katalina had already left for class. Happy to have the place to himself for a few hours, Cole immediately stripped out of his clothes and stood naked in the living room for a moment, allowing the muted sunlight from the expanse of windows behind him to rake across his moonlight-colored skin. Sighing, he took a few steps over to the open kitchen area, grabbed a bottle of oak mead from the refrigerator, and downed it’s contents.

Having a roommate meant he was rarely able to go naked in his own home. The loft’s rent wasn’t cheap, however, so it was a trade-off he accepted on good terms, mostly. Feeling a nice light buzz from his drink, Cole made himself a sandwich from some leftover turkey, then made tracks for the shower. The gold from the job Awar had given him was strewn across the counter. He would put it away after he’d gotten clean and, more importantly, warm. Katalina could take it to the exchange bank on her way to class tomorrow. For now, though, his only priority was to stand under a steady stream of hot water for as long as possible.

There was only one shower in the whole loft. Luckily for him, Katalina rarely left anything of hers lying around for him to step on. Today, however, he nearly fell flat on his face because of a stray bra getting tangled around both feet. Raising up, he swept his eyes across the counter top, which was loaded with make-up and used cotton pads. There were puddles of water near the edge of the shower, and a used towel hanging on the bar alongside a drawn-back curtain.

Apparently, Katalina had been in a hurry this morning.

Disregarding all of it, Cole marched into the shower and closed the curtain behind him before turning the hot water all the way to the left. Steam rose quickly up toward the rafters as the jets beat down on his backside. Cole groaned; if there was one upside to being affected by cold weather, it was warming up afterwards. For years, he’d wondered why humans made such hype over things like hot chocolate and warm soup in the wintertime. Now, it made perfect sense, though he still missed the warm climate of Avalon.

An image of it, long buried, rose up in his mind. Cole found himself thinking of the last time he’d stood on its shores, looked out at the expanse of trees and distant fairy mounds, and realized he would never be coming back. Through the decades of his time amongst humans, Cole had countered his sorrow with thoughts of not wanting to return and the memories of his last encounter with Lord Oberon. The thought of returning to Avalon now seemed almost like a joke, but that didn’t stop him from crying. It didn’t stop the tearing in his chest, like something vicious was trying to eat its way out of his heart. It didn’t stop his head from swimming.

He must have been under the steam for too long. Even after Cole managed to get hold of his emotions, he still felt light-headed.

Tuulois MacColewyn….

Cole blinked and turned around in response. It had been a while since anyone had called him by that name, but hearing it seemingly out of thin air was especially odd.

Tuulois MacColewyn….

Oh, crap.

Cole looked around desperately for something to hold on to, or at the very least, something to cover himself with. The spell, however, had already taken effect, and he was being drawn out of the shower through the very air towards the one summoning him.

Tuulois MacColewyn!

Cole felt himself being forced through a sort of rubber tunnel, starting with his head. There was a loud splash as the water from the shower that had been teleported along with him came crashing down onto the head of Detective James Corhagen, who was conveniently kneeling at the edge of the chalk circle, directly in front of Cole’s groin. A small cut from the detective’s thumb indicated the blood he’d used to activate the summoning circle. The chalk, now soaking wet, was still clutched in his other hand.

Cole couldn’t resist. “While you’re down there….”

Immediately, Detective Corhagen rose up to his feet. Noticing that Cole was severely naked at this point, he darted his eyes heavenward at the same time that his head snapped sharply to the left. “Ouch!” he grunted. “Warn me next time, won’t you?”

“You could have called first,” Cole pointed out, not bothering to cover himself. “It isn’t my fault your bad timing persists even when you’re using that spell I taught you.”

“I am sorry,” he groaned. “I guess I caught you at a bad time. Are you busy right now?”

Cole rolled his eyes at the question, but Corhagen didn’t notice as he’d just covered his eyes with the hand that had the bleeding thumb. The sight of his former friend stumbling around slightly trying to regain his sense of direction with both eyes covered was enough to make Cole snicker privately to himself. It was only then that he began to notice his surroundings, and realize that the place where they both stood was unfamiliar to him.

“Where are we?” he asked, gazing around at what appeared to be someone’s bedroom. “Have we been here before?”

“Huh?” Corhagen asked, turning almost too fast to keep his eyes covered. “Oh, no. This is a crime scene. The murder that took place occurred in the baby’s room on the other side of that wall.” Corhagen pointed just behind Cole at the carefully made bed. “I think that’s the right direction, anyway.”

“You could take your hand off your eyes,” Cole suggested, coyly.

“No, thank you. This was the victim’s bedroom, anyway. Her name was Susan Brown. She worked as a cleaning lady at some subsidiary company of Microsoft. At approximately 12:01 last night, her heart somehow managed to explode out of her chest and splatter into pieces against the refrigerator. The babysitter discovered the body this morning when she showed up to look after the woman’s daughter while Mrs. Brown was at work. We’ve got her in the living room right now.”

“I thought you said the woman was murdered in the child’s bedroom?” Cole interrupted, confused.

“That was where the….” Detective Corhagen fumbled for a moment. “Where the ‘incident’, I guess, took place. Her heart somehow achieved escape velocity after exploding from her chest, sailed out the open bedroom door, and then splattered into pieces against the fridge.”

“Ah.” Cole nodded. “Now I understand. Please, continue.”

“That’s about it,” the detective finished. “Except that the baby is also missing, and this is the third case of such an incident happening. The chief is breathing down my neck, most of my department thinks we’ve got some kind of serial murderer-slash-kidnapper on our hands, except for the fact that all three crime scenes have been swept thoroughly with a fine-toothed comb, and nobody can come up with so much as a fingerprint. There’s no signs of forced entry, no sign of a struggle at all, unless you count the mess the victims made in their last few seconds before becoming an Aliens stunt double. So I’ve got a murderer who can make themselves undetectable to all forms of modern forensics, even down to DNA sampling, and people are turning to me like the answers are supposed to just come flying out of my ass.”

Cole studied his old friend for a moment. “You quit smoking again, didn’t you?”

“What?”

“You’re always this cranky when you stop smoking,” he clarified. “It makes you stressed out. So, why did you summon me here?”

“You have to ask? I need help here, Cole. This is some serious shit going down, and I don’t know what to do about it.”

The bedroom door eased open just then. Both Cole and Detective Corhagen turned to find a very small woman look directly at James. “Sir, they’ve questioned the babysitter. She had a spare key to the apartment that was given to her by….”

The woman’s eyes finally took in Cole and widened. James turned around to face him, received another eyeful, and quickly jerked away. “Um,” he stammered, thinking fast. “Thank you, Officer Morrison. This is my…. old friend, Cole. He and I used to work on some cases together. He’s a police consultant who specializes in….”

Corhagen snapped his fingers quickly. “Unusual cases,” Cole finished for him.

“Unusual cases! That’s it.” Corhagen was blushing now, which Cole had to admit was fun watching. “I asked him to come down here and have a look at the crime scene. He might spot something the other forensics guys missed.”

“How do you do, m’lady?” Cole bowed slightly, giving her a full view of his package. “Forgive my present state. I was in the shower when the detective called.”

Cole gave the detective a knowing look, and he promptly blushed red. “He got here really fast,” Corhagen tried, feebly.

Officer Morrison had been unable to tear her eyes off Cole during the whole exchange. Cole himself doubted the poor woman had absorbed anything that was said the entire time. “I’m very efficient,” Cole went on, deciding that he might as well enjoy himself. “As Detective Corhagen himself knows very well.”

“Could we maybe get the nice police consultant a pass so that he could examine the crime scene, Officer?” Corhagen pressed, his face turning redder. “And perhaps a towel, to hide his shame?”

“What shame?” Cole teased, as the door slammed shut. “I don’t feel any shame.”

Corhagen ignored him in favor of staring daggers at the opposite wall. A moment later, the door opened again just wide enough to allow a police pass entry. The plastic-coated tag sailed through the air and smacked the detective upside the head. A second later, one mauve-colored towel crossed the barrier forming the summoning circle, breaking it. Cole caught the towel and began drying himself off at his leisure. Officer Morrison eyed him for a second more through the tiny crack, then quietly slid the door shut.

“A very dedicated policewoman you’ve got there,” Cole remarked, taking longer than necessary to dry his balls. “I’d hold on to that one if I were you.”

Corhagen thrust the pass back behind him as he adamantly continued to avoid looking anywhere near Cole. Cole finished drying off, then wrapped the towel securely around his waist and took the pass from him. This one had a clip on it, so he fastened it to his towel just to the left of where his treasure trail ended. Corhagen risked a quick peek and sighed.

“Will you take the case?” he pleaded. “I could really use your help.”

“It’s obvious you need it,” Cole replied, avoiding his gaze now. “Why else would you have used that spell after so long?”

The weight of that sentence hung in the air between them. “I think I’d like to go home now,” Cole finished dryly. “And resume my shower. Do you think Officer Morrison would be willing to call a cab for me?”

“I’ll pay you double,” Corhagen spat out before Cole could step out of the circle.

“What?” Cole was sure he hadn’t heard right.

“If I have to pay it myself, I will,” he added emphatically. “Chances are, though, the Chief would rather cough up the extra cash than risk letting shit like this continue. And that’s really saying something, if you’d just stop for a second and remember what a tightwad he’s always been. Things on the force have been sour since…. well, for a year now. It’s not getting better, and since no one wants to admit what’s really going on, the problem just gets worse and worse. I’ve managed to get a few people at my precinct to come over to my way of thinking.”

It was impossible for Cole to mask his surprise. “I know,” Corhagen nodded. “Believe me, I know. It wasn’t easy, but some of them have had bad experiences themselves that they couldn’t explain afterward, or just didn’t feel other people would believe. None of us know what to do about it yet, but we’re trying. The Chief wants this case taken care of yesterday, though. It’s way too messy and would be a tabloid reporter’s wet dream. Imagine what would happen if word of this got out to the press. It wouldn’t be an outright panic, but the end result….”

Cole thought of Awar living under his bridge, thinking that all was peaceful now that the punks that’d been hassling him were dead. “If I have to, I’ll strong-arm the Chief into paying it,” James finished. “But we need you on this one. I haven’t been having the dreams yet, but I can feel it. It’s going to get a hell of a lot worse.”

Cole nodded. “You’d better not squirm out of paying for me,” he threatened lightly. “Or I’ll have the goblins on your ass for it.”

Corhagen laughed. “Right. So, where do we start?”

“Where else?” Cole replied, adjusting his towel as he headed for the door. “We talk to the victim. She probably knows a thing or two.”

None of the other police officers at the crime scene were happy to see Cole. Though he didn’t recognize many faces in the crowd of discontent stares, Cole had gained something of an infamous reputation among Corhagen’s fellow officers. He supposed word about Lieutenant Heisen’s sudden bout of erectile difficultly had spread very fast. That had been the last time he’d set foot in James’s precinct, so it was natural, he supposed, that people were less than thrilled by his return.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Corhagen to clear the room. Most of the police officers on the scene were male, despite the fact that humans today liked to think of themselves as equals. No one seemed in any big hurry to do more than glare reproachfully at him one last time before making tracks for the door. Once they were gone, Cole turned to his former friend and smirked.

“Nice bunch. Very people-skills oriented.”

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