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Patti O'Shea - Paranormal Action Romance Author

 

Excerpt from The Edge of Dawn

Her expression went blank. "I don't want to talk about my glass; let's find another subject."

What had he said to shut her down? He didn't know much, but Logan had no doubt that art was an avocation someone had to be avid about in order to pursue and people always liked to talk about their passions. Usually. "Pick a topic," he said.

She took a sip of her coffee--he pegged it as a nervous gesture--then blurted, "Where are you from? Originally, I mean."

"What makes you think I'm not from Seattle?"

Her fingers tightened around her cup before she put both hands in her lap. "You have an accent. Not much of one," Shona said, sounding apologetic, "but I can hear it."

"You have a good ear; most people don't pick it up." Logan grinned. "I grew up in Naperville--it's a suburb of Chicago."

"How'd you end up here?"

"Job transfer." Logan glanced over again, but this time the losassi met his gaze and nodded. Great. Demons had the ability to sense what someone was the same as the Gineal, so it wasn't a surprise that he'd been detected, but what concerned him was the devilment dancing in the male's eyes. Logan shrugged. "I'd never even been to Seattle before being assigned here, but I discovered it's home."

The silence lasted a couple of seconds too long before Shona asked, "Is your family still in Chicago?"

Logan hid a smile, afraid she'd think he was laughing at her if she saw it. It wasn't amusement. He felt oddly proud that she was pressing on despite how nervous she was. And Shona was on edge around him; that was obvious. In some ways, it required more courage to overcome shyness than it took to fight a demon. "My parents and my two youngest sisters are there, but the rest of us are scattered."

"How big is your family anyway?"

The incredulousness of her tone did make him laugh. "I'm one of five. Let me guess. You come from a small family."

"I'm an only child. And I didn't mean to sound.... I knew you had three sisters, but..." Her voice trailed off and she waved a hand as if she was at a loss for words.

"Don't worry so much. The way I phrased things might have made it sound like there were dozens of us." Or maybe for someone who'd grown up without any siblings around, five was as good as dozens.

After a quick check on the losassi, Logan launched into some amusing stories about his brother and sisters. He didn't spare himself either and didn't take long before Shona was smiling, then chuckling at some of the trouble he and Kel had gotten into. Her laughter, the soft glow on her face, the fact that she was finally almost at ease encouraged him to keep going.

"I think we were about eight, maybe nine, when Kel and I decided to put on a mini-circus with grasshoppers as the performers. We spent a couple of days collecting them and we must have had a hundred, maybe more, in a container in our bedroom."

"Uh-oh."

Logan finished his coffee, took another look at the demon, and pushed the cup aside. "Yeah, uh-oh. One of us--Kel insists it was me, I say it was him--bumped the collection on our way out to catch more. Neither of us had an inkling something was wrong until we arrived home, opened our bedroom door, and were greeted with the insect equivalent of chaos." He grinned. "We knew we'd be in trouble if our parents saw this, so we were rushing around, trying to recapture the bugs and doing pretty good."

"Until?" Shona prompted.

"Until Iona, my middle sister, got up from her nap and toddled over to see what we were doing. Damn," he said with affection, "that girl could scream. And scream and scream."

"So what happened?"

"Grounded. Two weeks. Insects, rodents, and reptiles were forbidden in the house and this wasn't the first time we'd violated that rule." It hadn't occurred to either him or Kel to use magic to get rid of the grasshoppers, although that was the first thing his dad did when he saw what had Io in hysterics. But then they'd been told over and over not to waste their power and they'd already been in trouble--no point in digging the hole any deeper. "My mom loves nature, but she loves it outdoors."

"I'm jealous."

"If you want grasshoppers that bad, I can get you some. I think I still remember how to catch them."

Shona laughed. "I was talking about your relationship with your family. I always wished I had a sister or brother."

The wistful note in her voice took Logan off guard and made him feel guilty. She did have a brother, she just wasn't aware of it. "Yeah, it has its moments, but then there were the times when I would have given anything to watch whatever I wanted on TV without having to fight for the remote first and I had to share the bathroom with three girls."

"You don't have to sound so horrified. It couldn't have been that bad--you lived to tell the tale."

"Only because I was out of the house before they started dating." This was getting close to quicksand territory--how did he explain leaving home at twelve for troubleshooter training?--and Logan changed the subject. "Did you ever get in trouble as a kid?"

"Oh, yeah. Who hasn't?"

Logan glanced over at the demon, but he'd gone back to his paper. "Then tell me one of your stories."

Shona settled back in her chair and looked thoughtful for a moment before she said, "I had a book on art from the library and one of the chapters was on mosaics--you know where they take pieces of pottery or glass and inlay them to create a picture."

"I saw plenty of mosaics when I was in Italy."

"Sorry." Logan thought he'd kept his voice even, but her face went red again. "It's just that you didn't seem to know much about art and--"

"Don't worry; I'm not offended. I wanted you to realize that I'm not a complete philistine--just a partial one."

She smiled and some of her tension went away. "Okay, so you're familiar with mosaics. Do you also know that art books suggest finding old pottery, glass or tiles, putting them in a bag, and taking a hammer to them?"

Logan shook his head, and taking a peek over at the demon, discovered he was pouring sugar onto a napkin. Logan's eyes narrowed and he tried to unobtrusively glare at the losassi.

"My parents were out and I wanted to try my hand at making one. I sketched a pattern, decided to use my old tea party table as a base, found grout, adhesive, and the other supplies. All I needed was something to break and use as tiles."

"I think I know where this is going."

"Yes. My mom had this bowl with great colors that she never used and I thought that it was because she didn't like it."

"Which made it perfect for you to smash up."

"Absolutely. I was laying out my design when my folks came home. It took them a moment to work out what I'd hammered into a thousand pieces, but once they did, you probably heard my mom shriek all the way in Chicago." Shona smiled faintly. "I learned that not only did she love that bowl more than any other, but that it was also worth a small fortune."

Now the demon was emptying the salt shaker. "How long did you get grounded for?"

"One long month."

Logan watched the losassi put the sugar into the salt shaker and nearly groaned. Talk about lame pranks.

"Hey, am I boring you?"

"What?" Her question wasn't as assertive as it sounded; Logan heard the thread of self-doubt and the hurt beneath the bravado. "Of course not," he assured her. "Why would you think that?"

"You keep looking away, that's why."

"Sorry. Occupational hazard." Logan shrugged. "I saw someone who set off alarm bells and I've been keeping an eye on him."

"Really?" She leaned forward and lowered her voice. "Who?"

"The guy who's pouring salt into the sugar dispenser."

"Ooh, yeah. That's one dangerous character."

The comment took him by surprise and he grinned. "I know. What can I say? I have an overdeveloped sense of who's up to something."

"Way overdeveloped." Shona sat back. "What exactly does a Special Vice President of Security do anyway?"

 

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