Home > Dirty Deeds : An Urban Fantasy Collection

Dirty Deeds : An Urban Fantasy Collection
Author: Faith Hunter

 


Chapter One

 

 

I parked the Jeep and stared through the rain at my almost-uncle, Crow, who was actually the trickster god Raven. He was waiting just inside the mouth of the tent he’d set up in front of his glassblowing studio. As if he’d been expecting us.

“Ten bucks it’s all stolen.” My youngest sister, Jean, wore a beanie over her blue hair, the bangs across her forehead making her eyes sky bright. She had on a puffy jacket with her badge on it, just like me. Although my badge said Chief Reed and hers just said Officer Reed.

Crow wiggled his fingers at both of us. His smile was white against his russet-tan skin, and his dark hair hung past his shoulders. He’d braided that hair and added a feather earring to his outfit today. Crow feather, of course.

“I mean, sure,” I said. “At least some of that stuff must be hot. This is Crow we’re talking about. But what I can’t figure out is the whale.”

We both leaned forward to better see out the windshield.

The January wind buffeted the Jeep hard, rocking it on its springs. Rain hammered down on the metal roof like rocks thrown from the heavens. A storm front was pushing in off the Pacific. Torrential rain would hit by tonight. Then we’d see winds clocking in at sixty miles an hour and gusting to eighty.

Just another wet, windy, possibly deadly January day in Ordinary, Oregon.

“The whale I understand,” Jean said, as we stared at the tent. “It’s a tent, we’re a beach town. Matchy-match. But why is it that… color?”

“Lurid pink?” I suggested.

She nodded. “Don’t get me wrong, I love me some color, but there’s something about that thing that makes me want to stab it.”

The hot pink whale flapped its obscenely large mouth, flailed its flippers, and flipped its tail like it’d just heard Jean’s threat and was trying to swim away.

But no matter what Jean or I thought about the thing, there were people moving around inside that ridiculous tent. Shoppers couldn’t resist a bargain, even in this weather.

Crow, still watching us, pointed upward with both hands.

The whale’s head was topped with a blow hole, and out of that sprayed blood red streamers. An additional banner near the startled whale eye declared: whale of a sale

“Is this an exploding whale thing?” Jean asked. “Because we weren’t the town that blew up that rotting whale in the seventies.”

“I think this is a Crow thing. Which means it’s nothing but trouble. Let’s see what he conveniently ‘found lying around’ to sell.” I flipped up my hood and pulled it tight under my chin.

“Think we’ll need cuffs?” Jean asked.

“Only if he won’t show us where he stashed the stolen traffic light.”

We both pushed out of the Jeep, muscling against the wind.

Ordinary was a little beach town created by gods who wanted to put their powers down and vacation as humans. The Reeds had been chosen ages ago to be the guardians of the town, to uphold the laws, both supernatural and human.

Being the eldest Reed sister meant I was not only the police chief, I was also the Bridge—the one who let gods into the town and helped them put their power to rest. I also kicked them out when necessary and kept all the supernaturals and humans who lived here safe.

It was hard work, sometimes 24/7 work. Even though I loved it, I’d found myself a little more worn out lately. Things had not been calm the last few years.

“Delaney!” Crow called out over the wind and rattle of rain on the tent. “Jean. What brings you two out here today?”

“Where’s the traffic light?” I ducked into the mouth of the whale and quickly scanned the tables and shelves that filled its belly.

It looked like a regular rummage sale: kitchen items, small furnishings, little piles of tools, and folded clothing. Other things like jewelry boxes, vases, and carvings were scattered throughout. Pretty little red and gold cardboard boxes had been tucked in the corners and out-of-the-way spots.

“Traffic light,” Crow mused. “Hmmm. I’m gonna say… above the intersection.”

“We know you took it,” Jean said. “Hey, are those brownies?”

“Help yourself. There’s coffee, too.”

She threw me a look, and I nodded.

It was wet and cold and had been wet and cold for months. Coffee was the only way to get through Oregon’s never-ending season of gloom, otherwise known as October to June. July couldn’t get here fast enough.

“I thought you weren’t going to do a sidewalk sale in January. In the middle of a storm,” I said.

“And I thought you were going on vacation.” He looked me over from head to foot, his clever eyes missing nothing. “Boo Boo. Are you okay? Are you and Ryder fighting? You got the pre-wedding blues? Talk to Uncle Crow.”

Nope. No way. Not going to discuss my love life with a trickster god.

“How about Uncle Crow tells me what he did with the traffic light?”

The corner of his mouth rose, and his eyes curved into crescents. “Why do you think I did anything with it?”

I waved a finger at the impromptu garage sale we were standing in the middle of. “You have a thing for selling off bits of Ordinary any chance you get.”

He made a sound and slapped his hand over his heart. “Wounded. You know I do just fine with the glass shop. This is only to drive traffic to my Blow Your Own Balls class.”

“Really wish you’d rename that thing.”

“No, you don’t.” He waggled his eyebrows, and he was so much my uncle in that moment, so much the man I’d known since I was a kid, that it was everything I could do not to laugh.

“Nice record collection.” Jean strolled over, balancing two Styrofoam cups and a brownie wrapped in a napkin. “Anything valuable?”

“Couple of them,” Crow said, much to the interest of the gray-haired woman who was following Jean back from the snack station and obviously eavesdropping. “If someone had a good eBay shop, they could turn a tidy profit.”

The woman stilled, then hurried back to retrieve her companion, a woman who could have been her sister.

“You sly dog, you,” Jean said, as she handed me one of the coffees. “Look at you driving up sales. Now I know why you put up a whale tent.”

“Oh?” Crow asked, all innocence.

Jean nodded. “They’re buying this stuff hook, line, and sinker.”

“Delaney,” Crow said, “your sister is making me look bad in front of customers.”

“By telling the truth?” I said sweetly. “Also, we’re not customers.”

Crow scoffed, but I was paying more attention to the ladies who had pounced on the boxes of records and started flipping.

“Jim Croce!” the eavesdropper shouted to the other.

“What?”

“Bad Bad Leroy Brown!”

“I have cream for that!”

“Time in a Bottle!”

“Oh, no, dear. You don’t want to put it down there!”

“Croce! Croce!”

“Well, what I do with my crotchy is none of your business.”

“No. The songs! Jim Croce!” She waved the album at her friend who gasped.

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