Keeper of the Shadows - By Alexandra Sokoloff
There is nothing more beautiful than the city at night, thought Rosalind Barrymore Gryffald as she hit the freeway toward downtown.
Being that the city was Los Angeles, it was easier to feel that way late at night, the later at night the better, because traffic did let up eventually, even if it was sometimes well after midnight. But then, oh, then, the city was all hers, in all its shimmering glory.
L.A. Lotus Land. The dream machine, the end of the rainbow. Was there anything in the world more romantic?
And Rosalind Barrymore Gryffald—Barrie for short, which unfortunately she was; pixieish, people tended to say, to her eternal exasperation...a copper-eyed, copper-haired sprite of a girl—loved her town.
Oh, she knew L.A. had its detractors, the ones who were always joking that there was no there there. But those people just didn’t know where to look. She knew where to look. In fact it was her job to look.
Not only did she live in the most exciting city in the world, she also knew its most secret excitements: there was a world within the world, even more magical than the movies. And that world was her job.
Her day job...well, her day job was actually a night job, the night shift on the Los Angeles Courier where she worked as a crime beat reporter. But her secret job, her all-the-time job, her passion, her calling, was Canyon Keeper of the shape-shifters of Los Angeles.
She was startled out of her thoughts when the digital billboard on the Wilshire Grand Building suddenly loomed up in the dark, a twenty-story-high architectural lighting tour de force featuring car-size butterflies flitting across a rainbow landscape. She was at the downtown turnoffs already.
She steered her vintage Peugeot—which she’d wheedled out of her father when he’d left the country—to the right and took the Third Street exit into the island of glittering skyscrapers that was downtown. L.A. was made up of those dense clusters of tall buildings sticking up in the middle of the relatively flat residential neighborhoods around them, a landscape that was never so apparent as at night.
Downtown L.A. was the oldest and most decrepitly grand of those islands, and the Courier building was right in the middle of it.
It was always a thrill to drive up to the historic Art Deco building in the heart of downtown, lit up like a wedding cake at night, to drive under the building using her very own official parking card.
Barrie charged up the escalator from the garage and breezed past the huge decorative globe in the center of the domed lobby. Ten-foot-high murals towered above her—her cousins would say everything towered above her, but she had a long history of ignoring them.
She rode the decadent Deco elevator up to the sixth floor and felt her heart lurch a little as the ancient contraption jerked, then settled.
Something was up; she could tell from the second she stepped into the newsroom. The entire floor was buzzing.
Her reporter’s mind scrolled through the possibilities. Terrorist attack? Stock market crash? Assassination?
Or, seeing as this was L.A....Celebrity death?
She grabbed the sleeve of the nearest scrambling reporter, tall, thin, redheaded Steve from Metro.
“What’s going on?”
“Saul Mayo,” Steve said breathlessly, and yanked his arm away.
Saul Mayo, head of World International Pictures, one of the town’s six major movie studios.
“What about him?” Barrie demanded, turning to yell after him.
“Dead!” he called over his shoulder, and skittered away.
Barrie relaxed, at least as much as she ever relaxed. Not that it wasn’t big news; in an industry town, a studio head in his relative prime dying was not just big news, it was huge.
But it wasn’t the kind of news that she was in journalism to pursue. There was only one kind of story that interested her, and that was anything concerning the Others and the Otherworld.
Because Barrie, along with her cousins Rhiannon and Sailor Ann Gryffald, was a very new member of a very old tradition. They were Keepers, from a long line of Keepers, charged with an ancestral duty to guard and keep peace among the communities of vampires, shape-shifters, werewolves, Elven and all non-human beings—the Others, who lived all over the world, hiding in plain sight among mortal populations.
As anyone who knows anything about paranormal beings might guess, there was a large population of Others in Los Angeles. Just as mortals were lured by the shining promises of the city, so, too, were Others drawn here, some hoping to exercise their talents and find the spotlight as actors, musicians and