Cherry Bomb_ A Siobhan Quinn Novel - Caitlin R. Kiernan



Jump cut.

I met Selwyn Throckmorton five years after I’d left Mean Mr. B and Providence behind me and arrived in Manhattan, three years after that whole mess with the Maidstone sisters and those two demon whoremongers from an alternate reality, all four of whom were scrabbling ass over tit to get their hands on a magical dildo carved out of a unicorn’s horn. No, seriously. You may have heard about that kerfuffle. Or not, but it’s something else that didn’t go so well for much of anyone involved, all those greedy assholes out to screw each other over just to get their hands on this totem of purportedly unimaginable power, blah, blah, blah. And when it was done and the dust had settled, I told B I’d had enough and he could find himself another bulldog to fetch and heel and do his bidding. All I wanted was to disappear.

I went south to Florida, then New Orleans (bad, bad idea), then west all the way to LA. But every city was a new hassle. For example, the crazy albino kid in Jacksonville who went all Seven Samurai on my ass. Or the job I took in post-Katrina NOLA, putting down a cult of Cthulhu-worshipping alligator women. Or the swank gig in Hollywood working for a couple of agents at WME who’d made the mistake of accepting shitwit baby vamps as clients.

Fun fucking times.

Finally, I came back east and took up with a mortal thrill seeker in Brooklyn, this lady who was willing to give me a place to hang my hat in exchange for a sip from my wrist every week or two. Her very own pet vampire. She had no idea about me also being a werewolf. I never told her. Didn’t really care if she found out; the subject just never came up. Actually, I got more than a roof over my head. I also got a decent meal off her once a week, which mostly kept me from having to hunt. So, my very own pet human. Probably as unhealthy a mutually beneficial, symbiotic psycho fuckfest as you can imagine.

Her name was Barbara O’Bryan, but she called herself Eve when she wasn’t at the office counting other people’s money or doing whatever it is that accountants do. She was ass deep in the local BDSM scene, and I played the top to her bottom at clubs and whenever the leather-and-latex crowd threw a soirée. Sometimes we even had sex, but not as often as you might imagine. She really, truly wasn’t my type.

Anyway, it was at one of those clubs—a sweaty Chinatown cellar below a shop that seemed to specialize in the unlikely pairing of Hello Kitty tchotchkes and leather daddy porno—that Selwyn spotted me. I was busy with a riding crop, keeping up appearances and keeping Eve happy, and Selwyn had probably been staring at me a long time before I finally noticed. Selwyn Throckmorton knew enough about nasties to know right off that she was looking at a vampire (though, as with my sugar mama, the loup part of me was flying somewhere below her radar). She waited until I was done beating Eve, until I’d sent her off to get me a beer, and then Selwyn just walked right up to me and said, “I know what you are.”

Normally, someone pulls that sort of stunt, they may as well have just signed their own death certificate. Normally. But, you see, Selwyn Throckmorton was a lucky girl that night. Because she was my type.

“Is that a fact?” I asked her, and she just smiled and sat down next to me on the ratty leather sofa where Eve and I had settled after I administered her thirty lashes.

“It is,” she said and smiled.

“That’s a fairly strange pickup line,” I said and lit a Camel.

“It’s kinda obvious, what you are, if someone knows what they’re seeing. Not like you’re trying very hard to hide it.”

“And it’s kinda goddamn stupid, you mouthing off about it.”

She just kept smiling and held out her hand. I shook it. What the hell else was I gonna do? I was already wet. The possibility that she was working some sort of voodoo sex–magick shit on me very briefly crossed my mind.

“I’m Selwyn,” she said and sat back, making herself right at home. “You’re not the first one I’ve met. In fact, I’ve met several. In my line of work, it’s not all that uncommon.”

“And just exactly what is your line of