Alrighty, since I’m feeling pretty confident still I am going to share with you the first chapter of my novel A Mouth Full of Teeth. I encourage you to leave comments; let me know what you think of it, don’t be shy! What do you think works well? What do you think could use improvement? Is there anything confusing? Do you feel like the characters came to life? I really want to hear from you. All of you.
Ok, I have to go now because there’s a storm a brewin and I don’t want to miss it. I hope you enjoy this story. Happy reading!
I was growing increasingly irritated by the Frenchman that had been hitting on me for the last twenty minutes. I crossed my arms and stared straight ahead, doing my best to ignore his drunken ramblings. I hoped Jacob wouldn’t be much longer. I didn’t know how much more of this I could take.
Just ignore him and he’ll go away, I told myself. That’s what I was supposed to do. That’s what a normal woman would do.
What I wanted to do was grab him by the face and smash his head into the brick wall behind us. Maybe growl something threatening in French and watch him scamper away from me. However, that wouldn’t be normal. But then, I wasn’t human.
Frenchie’s come-ons were getting more and more graphic, and I was getting more and more angry. He didn’t realize I understood every word he said. He’d started out with the usual crap: you are so beautiful, you have amazing eyes, blah, blah, blah. I suppose since I had responded to that with a smile and an “I don’t know what you are saying,” he thought he could get away with being flat out vulgar. If he only knew what I was, what I could do to him…
Finally a door across the street opened, spilling light onto the dark street. Jacob walked out. I turned to my admirer and slapped him so hard across the face that the sound of it reverberated off the brick buildings. He stumbled back and looked at me completely astonished. I called him a few choice French expletives and then stormed off across the street.
Jacob merely raised an eyebrow.
“Took you long enough,” I mumbled as we walked up the street together.
“It took some convincing to get any information out of him.”
I tried not to envision what he had done to get that information. “What did you find out?”
“Only where Donovan was last seen. Mutt wasn’t all that useful, really.”
Jacob was an enforcer for the Alliance of Supernatural Powers. I was, among other things, his partner. The ASP was a sort of government organization created about a century ago that set up a truce between werewolves and vampires, and by whose rules we all had to live under. The rules were simple really, the golden one being to keep ourselves a secret. Humans could not know of our existence. The rest stemmed from that; no killing humans, unless it was to protect the secret, and no biting and changing of humans. Anytime someone broke one of the rules, specifically anytime someone killed too many humans, Jacob would be sent out to hunt the rouge down and bring him to justice. This for Jacob meant ripping the werewolf to shreds.
Jacob loved his job, and was good at it. Every werewolf around the world knew of Jacob Masters, and they all feared him. No one ever called him out or encroached on his territory, because to do so would mean a certain and violent death.
Now we were trying to track down our latest criminal: Eric Donovan. Donovan had become quite a nuisance to the ASP as of late. He was responsible for the deaths of two politicians and a high-profile attorney back in the States. For whatever reason, he had hopped a plane to Paris. Donovan had drawn too much attention to himself, which put our entire species at risk. He needed to be dealt with.
“So, now what?” I asked Jacob.
“We’re going to Montmartre. I want to speak with Henri Beauchamp.”
I had come across Henri’s name many times while doing research on different renegade werewolves. Henri was a guy with connections. If you needed anything – passports, place to lay low, a dead body taken care of – he was the werewolf to see. Since he was the guy with connections, he was also the guy with information. Henri would know where Donovan was hiding.
Montmartre was the seedy, red-light district of Paris. It came alive at night. People were everywhere, spilling out from the sidewalks on to the streets; laughing, drinking and dancing. A thick, gray layer of cigarette smoke hung above the crowd. Techno music boomed from the open doors of the strip clubs. Neon lights advertised lap dances and topless dancers in English and French. Prostitutes smiled and flirted with passersby. Dealers lingered near the clubs, doing their best to advertise their goods without being too obvious.
Jacob grabbed my hand as we pushed through the mob of bodies. I had to squeeze between hot, smelly, human bodies to make my way through the crowd. My patience was growing thin.
At the corner of the street Jacob stopped and pulled me close to him. His deep, earthy, smell was a relief on my senses. He pointed across the intersection to another street lined with clubs. “Henri owns that bar, there. The third one down.”
It looked no different from the other bars in the area. A blue, neon sign hung in the window and people filtered in and out of it. The fact that Henri owned it meant that it was geared towards our kind, but of course money-spending patrons of all species were welcome there.
We ran across the intersection to our desired street. Once across Jacob looked around our surroundings for anything suspicious. Seeing that everything was as it should be, he put his arms around my waist and pressed his forehead against mine. Appearance was everything.
“Alright, here’s the plan,” he said in a low voice, too low for anyone mortal to possibly hear.
I looked up into his bright, blue eyes. My relationship with Jacob was complicated. He was a friend, a lover, and a mentor. He was my alpha male, if you will.
I was the only female werewolf. Ever. I had been bitten and somehow survived the infection and the first change all on my own. The trauma of it all had left me with no memory of my past and not a clue about who had bitten me or why. All I had were a few disjointed memories about a cemetery and the day Jacob found me there. That’s when my life, as I have known it, began.
Jacob found me seven years ago naked and completely out of my mind in a New Orleans cemetery. He had been sent to investigate a pair of murders that looked werewolf related. He was supposed to kill the werewolf who’d committed the murders. He was supposed to kill me. Obviously, he did not.
Jacob claimed that when he saw me for the first time he instantly fell in love with me. So he ignored the rules of the ASP and took me home and nursed me back to health, and eventually brought me out of my insanity. I had been with him ever since.
“You go down the alley to the back,” Jacob instructed, “I’ll go in through the front. If Henri is there he’ll make a run for it out the back door. He won’t be expecting you; stop him. Hold on to him till I get there.”
“Simple enough,” I said. I started to move away but Jacob held on to me.
“Jade. Be there.”
I rolled my eyes and pushed him away. Of course I would be there; it was just down the alley. It wasn’t like I had a long way to go. An irritated growl escaped my throat. Be there. As if I had never done this before.
I turned the corner into the dark alley. I could still see the red bricks of the buildings and the maze of metal fire escapes just as well as if it were day. I trudged past the reeking dumpsters towards the desired back door. This would be too easy.
“Well, fancy meeting you here,” a high-pitched voice cooed from above.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I froze and looked up to the right and saw a woman standing on the fire escape about three stories up. Only it wasn’t a woman. It was Malia, a vampire.
Anger boiled inside me.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I demanded.
“I like to travel. Is that a sin?”
My blood turned hot and my muscles tensed. The monster inside me rumbled. I’d had many run-ins with Malia before. She always wanted a fight. Apparently my existence was personally offensive to her.
Malia folded her arms on the railing and leaned over. She was dressed in black, tight leather. Only a vampire would try to pull that off. Her blond hair fell about her white face in loose curls. Her eyes were glowing red.
“Shall I come down, or are you coming up?” Malia asked casually.
My knees bent. Oh, I’m coming up, I thought. I prepared to jump. But then I remembered Jacob, the plan, be there.
“I don’t have time for this,” I snapped. I focused on the metal back door of the club and continued towards it. Even as I walked away my inner monster was coming up with a scenario for how I could kill Malia and still be at the back door of the bar in time.
“Awww. The puppy doesn’t want to play?”
I took deep breaths, clinched my fists. Now was not the time to lose it. I closed my eyes and continued walking down the alley.
“Fine. But I’ll be watching you,” Malia sang.
I turned on my heel and looked back up at her. She was smiling, highly amused with herself. I opened my mouth to tell her what she could go do with herself when –
The back door was kicked open so hard that it slammed against the brick wall. Henri came running out of it. He saw me, slid to a halt and started running the other direction.
Damn it. I took off after him, running full out.
Henri glanced over his shoulder and saw me closing the distance. He took two long strides and jumped into the air. He caught the railing of another fire escape, swung out and did a back flip onto the landing.
He wasn’t going to get away that easily.
I launched myself in the air, grabbed the railing and brought my legs over in one fluid move. Henri scrambled up the ladder. I chased. He climbed two stories then abandoned this escape route and flung himself down to the ground.
Without hesitating I threw myself off the fire escape. I fell four stories before landing solidly on Henri’s back. The impact knocked him to his face. Got him.
“Bon soir, Henri,” I greeted through gasps of air. I looked back and saw Jacob sauntering toward us. He wouldn’t be happy.
Jacob came up to us but didn’t even glance at me. Without a word he motioned for me to get off and grabbed Henri by the back of the neck. He picked Henri up with one hand and slammed him into the brick wall.
“Shouldn’t have run, Henry,” Jacob said.
Henri’s eyes were open wide. His disheveled hair hung in his face and he pressed himself up against the wall as if he were trying to shrink away from Jacob.
“I have done nothing wrong,” Henri said.
“Really? Your actions are not those of man who has done nothing wrong. In fact, they’re quite the opposite,” Jacob said very casually.
“You hunt your own kind. I hear the stories about you. I thought you were going to kill me.”
“I’m looking for Eric Donovan. Where is he?”
“Never heard of him.”
Jacob paused for a moment, studied Henri closely, and then threw him across the alley into the opposite wall. There was a loud crack when Henri crashed into the brick wall. He fell to the ground.
Jacob was there in an instant. He took Henri’s left arm and held it out strait from his body. Jacob lifted his foot and positioned his heavy boot above Henri’s elbow.
“Do not lie to me.” Jacob brought his foot down.
Jacob’s foot stopped a hair away from Henri’s elbow.
“The name… What was the name again?”
Henri closed his eyes, pretended to think. “Yes, yes I remember about him now.”
Jacob pulled Henri to his feet.
“He’s only just arrived. I think he is staying somewhere near Saint Germaine. He said he was here to meet someone.” Henri spilled everything he knew about Donovan, which wasn’t much. He told us about an underworld night club that Donovan was likely to be.
When we’d gotten everything we could out of him, Jacob let Henri go. Then Jacob turned his attention on me. He crossed his arms over his chest and frowned.
“I know,” I explained, “but Malia was here and she distracted me.” I pointed back down the alley to where she had been, as if this would help.
“Malia?” Jacob asked flatly. He started to walk away.
He didn’t believe me. I followed after him. I was determined to make him believe me. I would have been right where I was supposed to if it hadn’t been for her.
“I swear. I don’t know how she found me. But there she was, and well, you know how she is. She wouldn’t leave me alone.”
“It was a simple order, Jade.”
I stopped and watched Jacob continue to walk away from me. He was right. It was a simple order and I had messed it up. Things were really off to a great start, here. I sighed and caught up to Jacob.