Coyote Dreams - By C. E. Murphy Page 0,2

anymore, and that you’ve got a nice clean blood test in your hip pocket. I’ll think about the rest of it after that.” I retreated into the bathroom again and poked through the garbage nervously. Funny what strikes a girl as relieving in the midst of mental crisis. Having a naked guy whose name I barely knew in my bed would normally be more than enough reason to come apart at the seams, but oh no. Give me a little evidence of safe sex despite drunken revelry and it seemed I could handle the naked guy.

Pity there was no such evidence. Despite that, my hind brain announced it wouldn’t half mind handling the naked guy. More than once. Which, in fact, I could only presume that I had.


“Sorry,” he said. “Still got three in my wallet.”

Three. I stopped poking around in the garbage to stare though the wall at him. “Confident, aren’t you?”

I heard a grin come into his drawl: “Looks like I got cause, ma’am. I had five to begin with,” he added cheerfully. I lurched to the door so I could stare at him more effectively. I’d developed some unusual skills lately, but X-ray vision hadn’t been one of them.

“Are you serious?”

“No,” he said, still cheerfully. “Sorry, ma’am.”

Jesus. I didn’t remember the last time I got laid, or more accurately, I remembered in exquisite, precise detail, and now it appeared I’d missed an all-nighter of action thanks to way, way too much whiskey in the jar. That was wrong on so many levels I didn’t even know where to begin.

“Stop calling me ma’am.” For some reason I found the ma’aming kind of charming, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be charmed. I wasn’t sure what I wanted at all. All my base impulses were to throw the guy out and hide under the bed until it all went away. It’d been an approach to life that had worked pretty well until recently, but a couple of weeks ago it’d become violently clear that the ostrich strategy wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Violently was the key word: there were two people dead because I’d refused to step up to the plate when I should have. So much as I wanted to take my slipper and drive Mitch out of my apartment with it, I kind of thought maybe I should do something adult and sensible, like own up to my great, huge, flaming mistake and try to cope.

The tire iron reasserted its presence in my skull. I groaned and grabbed my head, trying to focus on a cool, silver-blue flutter of power that typically resided beneath my breastbone. A hangover, in a mechanic’s parlance, was essentially an overheated engine—dehydration in any form fit nicely into that analogy—and helping someone recover from dehydration was in my bag of tricks. I called on that power, for once selfishly glad to have access to it.

Absolutely nothing happened.

No, that wasn’t true. Reluctance happened, a feeling I’d encountered once before, when I tried healing a knife cut on my cheek. That cut had left a scar when being stabbed through the chest by a four foot sword hadn’t: my newly-awakened power’s way of announcing that it thought some things should be acknowledged and dealt with on a purely human level.

Apparently hangovers fell into that category, too.

I whimpered and dared peek at myself in the mirror while I got a glass of water and fumbled for aspirin. Aside from the sleepy eyes, I didn’t look nearly as awful as I thought I should. In fact, between the tan, the mussy hair and what could reasonably be called a rosy, satisfied glow, I actually looked sort of hot. As in sexy, not overheated, the latter of which being how I’d normally use the word. The robe was even this nice soft mossy green that played up the hazel in my eyes.

Mitch or Matt or Mark or whatever the hell his name was, appeared in the reflection behind me. He’d put his jeans on and left the top buttons undone, which was possibly more distracting than him being naked. My eyes just sort of slid right down his torso and fixated at that little flat bit of belly before more interesting things got started.

“Don’t suppose you’ve got any more of those?” he asked in a woeful little-boy voice. I flinched, slammed the aspirin with a gulp of water and handed him the mug without rinsing it or refilling it. Ordinarily I’d think that was gross,