Two ridiculously beautiful women hurried into the parlor, and I sighed. I often felt like the homely judge at a swimsuit competition; all the women in our house were just so pretty.
Antonia Wolfton, current werewolf and former psychic, was a lean, tall brunette (almost as tall as me), with striking dark eyes and the palest, softest skin I’d ever seen on someone alive. She was like a foulmouthed milkmaid.
The waves of her hair crashed and bounced halfway down her back. Her lips were rosebud pink, and when her hair was pulled back by a red ribbon, as it was now, she looked like Snow White.
“I thought you were gonna get the fucking driveway fixed,” she griped. “And what’d you do to my boy toy while I was gone, you rotten bitch?”
I didn’t laugh – barely – but then, I was used to it. For Antonia, that was a downright warm greeting. It was just so weird, those excellent good looks, that amazing figure, that perfect mouth… and then the words that kept coming out over and over again. It was as if God had fused a swimsuit model with a teamster.
“Oh, now, stop it,” the devil’s daughter (really!) said with gentle reproach. “The driveway’s not that bad, and I’m sure Sinclair and Betsy have lots more important things on their minds.” Laura Goodman (don’t laugh) looked like, as Antonia had put it once, “a dirty old man’s wet dream,” with long, butter-?scotch blond hair, big blue eyes, and long strong limbs. Her nose was a sculpted delight, her mouth wide and generous.
She had never had a pimple.
I think I mentioned before that Laura had a unique way of rebelling against her mother. When your mother was the devil, the devil, there wasn’t much you could do for rebellion; after all, how do you rebel against the embodiment of evil?
You go to church. You teach Sunday school. You volunteer for soup kitchens. You are kind to children and small animals. You constantly watch your language. You pray.
“What are you guys doing here?”
“Ha!” Antonia brayed. “I knew you’d play dumb. Actually, you can’t not play dumb, huh, Bets? My boyfriend called, and he’s a gibbering wreck. Something about his ‘foul behavior’ and ‘base betrayal’ and how there can be no forgiveness ‘n’ shit, then I got bored, so I kind of tuned him out.”
“And yet,” Sinclair said dryly, “here you are.”
“Shit, yeah. Apparently everything’s going to hell around here. You dummies need me.”
“You don’t especially need me,” Laura said, almost apologetically. “But I got worried when you canceled our lunch.” From anyone else, that would have sounded reproachful. Laura was too tenderhearted to pull something like that, even though it hadn’t been one lunch I’d blown off, it had been two. “I apologize for dropping by without calling, but I was beginning to worry.”
There was a method to my madness, and I wasn’t at all happy to see my sister here. Bottom line? I didn’t want her anywhere near the Fiends, especially since we didn’t know when they’d come calling again. Part of the reason they’d gotten better so quickly was because they had drunk a combination of my blood… and hers.
It wouldn’t be understating the point to say I wished she’d leave the state until this was all straightened out. I was just too chickenshit to tell her.
“It’s been really crazy around here,” I managed.
“ ‘Really crazy’?” Antonia sneered. “Oh, okay. That’s not the Betsy play-?it-?down machine getting into gear, is it?”
“My gosh,” Tina said mildly, “what happened to your arm?”
“Oh. That.” Antonia gleefully rolled up her sleeve and displayed her disgusting injury to all of us. What I hadn’t noticed turned out to be a hideous blackish red bruise running from her wrist to past her elbow. “Jumped from one of the bluffs and miscalculated the distance.”
“Antonia, you’ve got to take better care of yourself,” I scolded. “You’re not used to changing into a wolf, and besides, last night wasn’t even the full moon… what are you doing jumping off bluffs?”
“Quickest way to get where I wanna go. Anyway, tomorrow night is the full moon, and then we’ll have fun fun fun.” She was positively gleeful, and I couldn’t blame her.
“One of these days you’ll miscalculate and break your rotten little neck.”
This was true, despite Antonia’s glare. See, when she first came to us, Antonia was a very special kind of werewolf. She was born into the pack, had a werewolf mom and dad, but had never changed. Never become a wolf during the full moon.
Instead, she could see the future. It wasn’t always clear, and sometimes only after the fact could we figure out exactly what she’d been trying to warn us against. (Like most supernatural abilities, it sounded better on paper than the real deal.) But she was never wrong – just oblique.
Until Marjorie the librarian came along – in addition to giving me a cursed engagement ring and snatching my groom, she’d locked up Antonia as well – and Garrett. Do you have any idea how claustrophobic werewolves are? They dealt with enclosed spaces the way I did with knockoffs. Just a bad, bad situation all around.
Anyway, while I was busy killing Marjorie and soaking up all her evil energy, I let Antonia have a blast of it (most of the rest I saved to revive Sinclair and cure Jessica’s cancer). It was the first time she had ever changed into a wolf, and she’d been enjoying it ever since.
As I said, she had lived her whole life among werewolves while being unable to change into a wolf herself. Now she saw herself as complete, and didn’t seem to mind the loss of her psychic abilities as a trade-?off.
But, as Laura pointed out, she was taking too many risks. Nothing we would say would talk her out of it, either; she thought she was invincible even when she wasn’t in wolf form.
“So what’d you dimwits do to my boy toy?” she demanded, rolling down her sleeve. I noticed for the first time that she was wearing one of my oxford shirts, and stifled a groan. Antonia had the table manners of Boss Hog. Assuming I ever got the blouse back, I’d probably have to chuck it. “He’s practically fetal with wretchedness.”
“You could tell that over the phone?” Sinclair asked, amused.
“Enhanced senses,” she sneered, staring him straight in the eye – the height of rudeness for a werewolf. “Way better than anything a dead guy can do.”
“It’s really none of my business,” Laura said, fiddling with a lock of her hair and looking at the assembly of personalities in the room, “but something certainly seems to be going on. Are you all right?”
“As rain,” I said heartily.
Antonia and Laura stared at me.
“Well.” I coughed. “There have been a few things going on…”