Bite Me(2)

By: Shelly Laurenston


“So you’re still hanging around with her, huh?”

Livy glanced over her shoulder at “her.”

Toni Jean-Louis Parker, in her mourning best, gave Livy a little wave and an encouraging smile. That smile said, “You can get through this!” Livy hoped her friend was right.

But Toni wasn’t here for Livy on her own. There was also Toni’s parents, Jackie and Paul. Sadly, Toni’s brother Cooper and Toni’s sister Cherise were on tour in Europe. They were brilliant musicians who got a lot of money to perform for sold-out audiences. Their sixteen-year-old sister Oriana was training—and soon to perform—with the Royal Ballet in England. Twelve-year-old Kyle was studying art in Italy. Ten-year-old Troy was getting his master’s in math . . . or science . . . one of those. Livy never really knew or cared. Eight-year-old Freddy was getting his bachelor’s in theoretical physics and, in his off time, creating video games that were seriously fun. The youngest brother, six-year-old Dennis, was studying architecture; and the three-year-old twins, Zia and Zoe, were busy learning the many dialects of most of the world’s major languages while terrorizing their nanny by just being themselves.

Oh. And there was nineteen-year-old Delilah, but no one really talked about her much. She was currently running a cult in Upstate New York that saw her as their messiah. She and her cult were also making the federal government kind of nervous, but the family liked to pretend that wasn’t happening.

And no, Livy wasn’t a blood relative of the Jean-Louis Parkers. They were jackals, after all. In the wild, their kind were enemies. Then again, HBs were enemies to . . . well . . . everyone. Lions. Hyenas. Leopards. Beekeepers. Beekeepers really hated their kind, but only because one didn’t find grizzly bears on the African plains. Yet the fact that Livy wasn’t blood had never mattered to the Jean-Louis Parkers. As far as they were concerned, she was family, which was why Toni had left her job in Manhattan and come with Livy to watch Livy’s mother deck her ex-husband’s younger sister while scuffing up the steel casket of her ex-husband.

Jake looked Livy over. “Where is it?”

“Where’s what?”

“Your camera. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without it.”

Livy shrugged. “Seemed wrong to bring my camera to my father’s funeral,” she lied.

“You brought it to our great-aunt’s funeral in Poland. Won awards for the pictures you took, if I remember correctly.”

“I think the novelty of it won that award. You don’t see a lot of knife fights break out at the funerals of hundred-and-eight-year-old women.”

Jake glanced back at Toni again. “I have to admit, she’s gotten really cute.”

“She’s got a mate now.”

“Really? Too bad.”

“Why?”

“Mates complicate things.”

Livy shrugged. “Never did for my parents.”

“Now, now . . .” He motioned to Livy’s mother and their aunt busy slapping each other like they were on an old episode of Dynasty. “Clearly your mom is going through her own form of mourning over her mate.”

“Clearly.”





Vic Barinov waited with his back to the wall. And while he waited, he thought about food. He was hungry.

Thankfully, he knew of at least two good steakhouses in this Albanian city. One catered to all shifters and the other specifically to bears. There were a lot of bears in Eastern Europe, some of the biggest in Ukraine and Siberia.

Unfortunately, Vic wouldn’t be able to have something to eat until he got this done. And he’d already been standing by this wall for the last three hours. But Vic had lots of patience. He could lie in wait for days, if necessary. Yet that sort of thing hadn’t been necessary since he’d stopped working for the U.S. government. He’d left suddenly, fed up with all the politics, but at the time, he wasn’t sure what he’d do with the rest of his life to ensure he could pay his bills, especially his food bill, which could be quite substantial.

Freelance work, however, had worked out better than he could have hoped. And being a crossbreed—grizzly bear and Siberian tiger—had, for once, been to his benefit. Plus his ability not only to speak eight different languages, including Russian, Polish, German, and Albanian, but to know and understand the culture of most of these nations, kept the money rolling in, and for the first time in a long time, Vic was beginning to feel his life had some stability. It was nice.

Ears twitching, Vic heard the sound of heavy panting. He lifted his head, sniffed the air. Scented the full-human running down the street toward him.