Tat needed space to think. For weeks she'd been restless and moody. Finally, in a fit of irritation, where she told pretty much everyone to fuck off, she'd hopped back to L.A. It was hot, smelly and noisy, just as she'd remembered.

     She ran her hands through her short hair, then pulled a cell phone from her back pocket. When she'd returned to her time, she'd demanded to keep the phone and the number and to keep it active. She leaned against a light post and waited for an answer.

     “House of Shadows,” a familiar, quiet voice said.

     “Hey Ben, it's me.”

     “Tat? You're here?”

     Tat rolled her eyes and glared at the few people who thought to come near her, “Nooo, this is just one hell of a long-distance call.”

     “Sorry, I'm just surprised to hear your voice I guess. Need a ride?”


     “Usual location?”

     Tat glanced around and sighed, “Yeah. Hasn't held up too well looks like.”

     “Be there in ten,” Ben said softly and hung up. 

    Tat grimaced and tucked the phone away. Probably should have timed it later, but, whatever. She arched a brow slowly at the drunk in the alley, then smiled a cold little smile when he shuddered and looked away. That never gets old, no matter when.

     Forty-five minutes later had Tat sprawled lazily in one of the huge leather armchairs, sipping a rum and coke and trying to explain herself, “I just needed a change for a bit Wolfgang, sheesh.”

     “And your father is aware?”

     “I left him a note,” Tat flashed the elder vampire an impish grin, “Yes of course he knows. I'm not twelve any more in case no one had bothered to notice.” Tat knew she was safe with sarcasm with Wolfgang. He'd heard it from her for years.

     “Oh, it's been noticed Tatiana,” came the dry reply, “So what do we owe this visit to hmm?”


     “Ty again. When you get bored small animals suffer.”

     Tat blinked and then laughed, “You remember that huh? Okay, fair. I-I need space to think through some stuff.”

     Wolfgang raised a brow and cocked his head. He had indeed known her since she was small. He also knew of many of the recent events. Think through stuff she says. So she comes here? Perhaps it is easier here for her, with no blood to interfere with her deciding whatever it is she needs to decide. He nodded slowly, “Very well. As long as you give me your word that your father is not going to descend upon my house in a fury.”

     “I promise,” she killed off the drink while sitting up and standing all in one smooth movement. Setting the glass down she went over and hugged the elder vampire, “Thank you Uncle Wolfy,” she whispered. She couldn't help but grin when he cringed.

Excerpt from Courtney, in Porcelain Dragons: