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We Investigate Zebras – Excerpt


I finally finished a short story set in my second series that I started 5 years ago.  I know!  What can I say, I had to get some new stuff out of my system to get me up and running on writing again.  But I’ve missed this character.  She’s so much fun to write because she’s a perky blond cheerleader who’s naive and optimistic.  Sooooo, here’s Ariana Ryder.


Something shook my shoulders like a three point oh earthquake. Did we even get quakes in Nashville? I shrugged and snuggled under my covers more. Strings of textured cloth slapped my cheek like a miniature cat-o’-nine-tails. Sure it was holding back, but it still stung.

Wait. What the…?

Lucidness struck me harder than the tassel that hit me again and I blocked my face without opening my eyes.

I have blackout curtains that’d keep a vampire safe at high noon, so I wouldn’t be able to see my “attacker” anyway.

And I was tired, darn it.

My comforter was yanked off me and I curled into a ball, shivering like a baby just exposed to the world.

“Pyrooooo,” I whined. If Pyro was still “alive” it meant it was still dark outside and therefore wayyyyy too early for me to be awake.

It was Saturday for crying out loud!

A faint rustling was the only warning I got before light stabbed through my closed lids. I flinched and grabbed my spare pillow, shoving it over my face as I pointed towards my bedroom door.

“Go away. And turn off the light on your way out.”

Pyro grabbed my pillow and yanked it away.

His tassels are far stronger than cords of magically animated strings have any right to be.

I’m serious. I’ve seen Pyro carry two-hundred pounds without shedding a thread and he’s maybe ten pounds of six by four feet finely woven Persian rug.

The pillow bopped the side of my head and I opened my eyes.

Pyro hovered over me, holding up my pillow with his two front tassels like it was an ax. He’s a pretty rug. A black, gold, and red Persian with a little extra shine when he’s alive at night, and a very sweet disposition.


“Pyro, you better have a darn good reason for waking me up,” I growled, sitting up.

He held up his bottom tassel. My phone was in it.

“You want me to call someone?” I yawned, stretching so hard my spine popped. “Pyro, the only person you know is me.”

You wouldn’t think a carpet with no eyes or mouth could glare, but Pyro pulls it off.

Pyro chucked the phone at me and I barely caught it before it would’ve smacked my chest. He settled on my bed, crossing his tassels over his front like I do my arms whenever I’m getting annoyed.

I slide the phone on. One missed call four minutes ago from my boss.

I’d forgotten to turn my ringer back on after the movie last night.


“How long were you shaking me?”

Pyro flapped his tassel four times. Four minutes.

“What are the odds Grant just wants to have breakfast?”

Pyro bent towards me, somehow conveying his ‘What do you think the odds are?’

I couldn’t keep from flinching as I hit the message.

“We have a case,” Grant said. His low, smooth voice always makes me think of rocks at the bottom of a deep river, where the water moves fast and cold. He said the address, not bothering to tell me what it was about, and finished with, “You don’t call me back in ten minutes and tell me you’re on your way, I’m waking you up myself.”

I called him back.

“Hi General,” I said. (General Grant. Ya get it?)

“You better be on the road, Ryder.”

“Ughhhhh.” I grinned so hard I was surprised my lip didn’t split.

“Possible demon attack. Get your ass here five minutes ago.” Grant hung up.

“Last time I checked, time travel hasn’t been invented yet,” I said, sticking my tongue out at the phone. Not exactly fair of me. Demons always make Grant cranky. It wasn’t anything to do with me really.

I bolted out of bed and Pyro dove into my closet as I pulled on the first pair of panties my hand found in my drawer and a bra. I could’ve used a shower, and some mascara, and a flat iron on my waist-length ball of frizz.

But while I was wishing for things I may as well have wished for a weekend on the beaches of Nice in that cute little Gucci bikini I saw last week, my hips sans five pounds of cushioning so I’d fit in it, and Gerald Butler rubbing SPF 50 on my back while we sang Point Of No Return.

Pyro tossed me a black suit skirt and my pink Gucci sweater and I figured that was as close as I was gonna get.

“Thanks,” I said, yanking on the skirt. “And thanks for waking me up.”

Pyro wrapped my shoulders in a quick hug before he flew to my bed and settled at the bottom.

“Is it almost dawn?” I asked.

Pyro slumped into a dead pile, his sheen disappearing like a light had been turned off inside him.

“I guess that answers that question,” I said, running into the bathroom as I pulled on my sweater. “No wonder you resorted to slapping me.”

If he’d fallen to his day-deadness before I woke, I’d have woken up to Grant tossing me outta bed.

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