Bite Me(8)

By: Shelly Laurenston

Livy immediately pulled her hands back. “Oh. Sorry.”

“He’s just helping with the luggage,” Toni explained. She patted Livy’s leg, trying to get her to remove her foot from the bag. When Livy didn’t move fast enough, the patting became a hard slap.

Livy moved her foot and the driver quickly took her bag and headed to the waiting cab.

Toni glared at her, which just made Livy chuckle. Then Toni smiled up at Vic. “Hello, Victor.”

“Hi, Toni. How are you?”

“Fine.” Toni patted Vic’s arm, waved at Shen, since she didn’t know him well at all, and headed to the cab.

“I gotta go.” Livy smiled at Vic. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“You still working at the Sports Center?” he asked.

Livy sighed. “Of course. Where else would I be? In Paris? Milan? Perhaps in the middle of some great war? Why would I be there when I can take pictures of giant guys who balance on thin skates and charge around an ice rink, chasing after a little black puck? Because that’s fascinating.”

“So work’s going well?” Vic asked with a straight face.

Livy smirked. The bastard. “See ya.”

Livy got into the taxi beside Toni and closed the door.

“Huh,” Toni said.



“Explain to me at what point in our friendship where I ever expressed having any tolerance of girls who play that particular game?”

“Fine,” Toni said. “I just noticed that Vic watched you until you got into the cab.”


“His friend was busy staring at the football cheerleaders or dancers or whatever they are who’d just passed by. But Vic watched you.”

“And? Your point?”

Toni shrugged and looked out the window. “Just sayin’.”

“Again,” Livy felt the need to make clear, “little tolerance for those kinds of girls.”

“I feel bad,” Vic told Shen as they headed toward the car he kept in long-term parking at the airport for when he came into town.

“About what?”

“Livy. I had no idea her dad passed away.”

“Doesn’t seem like they were close.”

“So? He’s still her father.”

“Not everyone is as close to their family as you are.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you and me are close to our families. My father dies? I’m sitting alone in my house for a few weeks, sobbing and eating bamboo stalks in his honor. But not everybody deals with death the way I do.”

“Still . . . I feel like I should do something.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. I was hoping you had some ideas.”

“You know what helps me have great ideas?”

Vic sighed. “A free dinner?”

“At a steakhouse that’s not afraid to include raw bamboo on the menu.”

“You want me to pay for us to go to the Van Holtz Steak House?” A shifter-run establishment that catered to all species and breeds and was the only restaurant Vic could think of that offered raw bamboo as a side dish.

Shen raised and lowered his hands in the air before digging another short bamboo stalk out of the pack he kept in his denim jacket pocket. “You want ideas, don’t you? My ideas ain’t free.”

Livy walked into her apartment, leaving her bag by the door. She didn’t bother to turn the lights on. Not much to see. Some crappy furniture she’d bought on sale. A TV she left on when home as background noise. And piles of books. She liked to read. Something her parents adored about her when she was only three, but became less a fan of when she’d rather spend time reading than taking the family’s fun and informative “How to remove wallets from back pockets without getting caught” tutorials, held every couple of weeks for the youngest kids.

But the reality of Livy’s apartment couldn’t be avoided. It was set up to make it easy to abandon at the first sign of trouble. And she only had this place because Toni kept insisting, “You have to have your own place. You have to live like a normal person.” Apparently Toni didn’t think a series of “safe houses” set up all over the world by Livy’s family was living like a normal person.

So Livy had plunked down money on this one bedroom that didn’t actually have a bed. On the rare times she stayed here, she slept on the couch and used the bedroom as an office slash art studio.

Yet as soon as Livy stepped inside that particular room, she had to walk out again. The reality was that although Livy had been doing photography, she hadn’t been doing any real “art.”