Been working on Athena’s Chains in my spare time (hahaha, I know, that’s funny to me, too) and today, I thought I’d treat you to a short excerpt. As you may or may not know, Pallas works in a most unusual hotel. In this scene, the Lunatics From Hell, a popular band, is checking into her hotel. As usual, Pallas has her hands full but you just don’t mess with her. Ever. Heh.
Athena’s Chains is planned for a summer release.
Bianca was a total angel. I’d asked her to come in early for the Friday Night Smackdown; once I’d organized the paperwork and entered the correct information into the computer, the worst part of the night would be the actual band checking in. I knew she could handle everything else.
She clocked in about fifteen minutes before the bus was due to arrive. “Hey Pallas,” she said. “You look a little peaked.”
“I feel a little peaked,” I replied. “Peaked and pissed and just ready to get out of here.” Harvey approached the front desk with his list of clean rooms. “Thanks, Harvey. You’re good to go.”
He nodded and said, “Couple my boys will be here, Miz Pallas,” he said. “For Miz Bee,” he smiled at her and she smiled back, “and for the Mr. J. We won’t have no trouble, Miz Pallas, so don’t you worry. Nobody’ll even see ‘em, but they be here, promise.”
I would have hugged him if he wasn’t on the other side of the desk. It really did relieve my mind, because the Lunatics From Hell – well, their name said it all, didn’t it?
“That was really a great idea, Pallas. Thanks, Harvey,” said Bee. “I really appreciate it.”
I said, “Wasn’t my idea, Bee. It was all Harvey’s.” His smile grew a bit wider and I couldn’t help smiling back. If people only gave zombies a chance. “I’ll be making that phone call when I get off my shift, Harvey. I’ll let you know if I hear anything. In the meantime, just don’t do anything…foolish, okay?”
“Never would, Miz Pallas,” he said with a straight face. “Jest like I know you never would.”
I looked at him for a long moment, caught the look on Bianca’s face, then we all busted up laughing.
“You two are freakin’ hilarious,” I said, wiping giggle-tears from my face.
Bianca snorted. Still chortling, Harvey headed to the back to clock out, and then I saw the Lunatic’s bus pull up front.
You couldn’t miss it. That sucker was tricked out like you would not believe. Midnight black, with flames licking the sides so realistically you’d swear the bus was going to blow up any minute. The headlights and grill looked sinister and evil, like the bus was not a bus at all, but some kind of hellhound ready to eat anything coming within range.
First off the bus was the road manager, Bobby. Huge guy, with massive muscles and a hard face. He looked a lot more menacing than he actually was. I heard Bee’s hiss of breath as the lead singer slowly disembarked next and sauntered in. I knew what she meant – he was hot. Oh yeah, he was good-looking, with jet black hair and a face that’d make an angel cry. The glowing red eyes were a bit disconcerting, but most girls didn’t care or thought that made him more attractive. But I meant he was actually smoking, as in, like he’d just gotten out of a fire. You know, real smoke. He reeked of it.
Bobby came up to the desk and I started off right away. “Look, Bobby, if Damon there is going to be smoking like that, you know I can’t let him stay here. It’s too big of a safety risk for the rest of the guests.” The addiction to brimstone is a difficult one to break, and dangerous. “One step out of line and y’all gotta go. We’ve had this conversation before, if memory serves me correctly.”
Bobbly growled, “You won’t have any trouble, Pallas. My word.”
Yeah. Big deal. That was supposed to make me feel better? I kept a wary eye on Damon as he slouched toward the lobby furniture, hoping I wouldn’t have to grab the fire extinguisher. Holy, shit, but he was really out of it.
“Bobby. You know I love you. But your word isn’t really all that reassuring, you know?” I pointed behind him.
Damon was licking the window between the breakfast room and the lobby. Long, slow tongue licks. So disgusting.
“If that’s any indication how the weekend is going to go, you’re really going to have to find somewhere else to stay,” I said. I was in no mood to put up with this shit.
Bobby snapped his fingers and some evil minion appeared from the bus and ran to Damon with a Red Bull, pulled the tab, and offered it up to the singer. He stared at it like he’d never seen one before, and grabbing it out of the minion’s hands, guzzled it like he hadn’t had a drink in about a hundred years. Which really might have been the case. In the meantime, the minion whipped out a bottle of glass cleaner and a cloth, and proceeded to clean the tongue marks from the glass.
Bobby said, “See? All better now.” He cocked one eyebrow.
I sighed. “Fine. But set my hotel on fire and I’ll have your balls roasting in it. No brimstone anywhere near here, and if I get even a small whiff, you’re out and NOT invited back.”
“So noted. Wouldn’t want to fuck with you, Pallas,” and he actually looked serious when he said it. I glanced at Bee but her face was a perfect mask of welcome. I just loved that girl. Nothing shook her.
Three more band members entered the lobby and man, what a stench. Totally wasted on brimstone. I glared at Bobby and he just shrugged his shoulders, signing paperwork. The Lunatics traveled on a circuit, similar to those damned mermaid divas, and I felt grateful they weren’t on the same one. What a train wreck that would be.
After his Red Bull, Damon slumped into a lobby chair and I knew it would be trashed by the time he left it. You just couldn’t get the stink of brimstone out of upholstery. Right then and there I tapped the computer and charged the credit card on file a mighty hefty deposit. Like, four-figure hefty.
“Hey, what are you doing?” said Bobby.
“You know exactly what I’m doing. Look at Moe, Curly, and Larry there. Your whole band is spaced the eff out on brimstone, and I’m just covering my ass.” I kept tapping. Not like they couldn’t afford it. “Take it up with Hades. And if I catch you guys doing that shit in the rooms, I’ll take it up with Hades.” Bobby blanched as I played my ace in the hole.
See, Traveler’s Haven was the only hotel who would accommodate these critters, and if I put my foot down, they’d have to sleep somewhere else. Like the street. Hades wouldn’t like his boys on the streets of Zombietown.
“I gave my word.”
“You know, for a big guy, you sound like a girl when you whine.”
I heard Bianca gasp. I calmly looked up from my computer to see Bobby’s face twist, and raised an eyebrow.
He sighed, relaxed, and said, “I get it. Damn, Pallas. My job is hard enough.”
“You’re not the only one who has a difficult job, my friend,” I said. “Don’t make mine any harder, and I’ll extend the same courtesy.”
Bee laid out all the labeled key jackets, and Bobby signed off on all the paperwork. By this time, twenty minions with luggage packed the lobby, milling around like they hadn’t seen the inside of a nice place in forever. Which was probably true. I knew the boys went through a lot of minions and I never saw the same minion twice even though the Lunatics stayed here every couple of months.
While Bobby handed out the key packets and ushered the band members toward the elevator the head minion, he of the glass cleaner and cloth, herded the others up the stairs. Now there was a crappy job – carrying luggage up three flights of stairs. I snorted. I reached for the bottle of air freshener – special formula for just this occasion — and stomped out to the lobby.
Bee waved her hand in front of her face with a disgusted expression on her face. “Yuck. That stench is awful.” She started filing the folios in the bucket, a metal box organized by room number. “I’m so glad Harvey is sending a couple of his friends.”
I looked over from where I was practically bathing the chair Damon vacated. “You worried about tonight?”
She shook her head. “Not really, but Denis usually hangs around when they’re in town. If something happens or they need something, I don’t want to go up to one of their rooms alone.”
Denis. I felt a pang and planned on calling the hospital the first chance I got.
I finished spraying the chair and said, “You don’t EVER go up to a room alone, I don’t care if it’s on fire. Not in this hotel, not on a Friday night, and certainly not to one of their rooms. If they need something bad enough, one of the minions can come and get it. That’s a direct order.”
“That’s against corporate policy, Pallas.”
“I don’t care. Corporate doesn’t put up with this shit, we do.” To be honest, I’d had about enough about corporate.
Bee nodded, and I finished up spraying the lobby. Now it smelled like a combination of brimstone and gardenias. Not much better.
“I mean it,” I said, as I walked over and leaned on the desk. “Not them, and not their groupies, either. Nobody. If there’s a complaint, I’ll handle it.” I reached over and snagged the phone, dialing the hospital upside down. The phone rang and rang – still no answer. I glanced at the clock and saw it was almost three.
What, is he napping? Did he go home?
I frowned and dialed Denis’s home number. Still no answer. Huh.
Bianca finished filing the folios and pulled out the check-in list and started marking off entries. “What’s wrong, Pallas?”
I hung up the receiver and said, “Oh, nothing. Just checking on Denis. He’s not picking up.”
She stopped marking the report and looked at me.
“What?” I said. “The guy almost drowned yesterday.”
I hated it when she smiled like that.
“Shut up.” The smile just got wider.
We did this all the time. You know, had entire conversations without saying a word. Sometimes it was awesome, and other times it was downright annoying.
“I didn’t say a word. I think it’s sweet.”
I glared, and she giggled. But it wasn’t really funny.
It took me a minute to figure out something else wasn’t really funny, either. My amulet started vibrating and feeling very hot against my skin. I reached into my shirt and pulled it out, and the moonstone above the owl looked like it was glowing. A sick feeling twisted in my guts, and I felt panic. Like, huge waves of panic. Something bad was either happening or about to happen.
You can find Book One of the Aegean Trilogy, Athena’s Promise, right here on Amazon.