Moon - 1
For Ken -
Who read the short story and convinced me there was a book to be written.
I love you!
“I’ll have an Intimidator with extra bacon and two baskets of Cajun fries.” I handed my menu to the waitress, who raised a judgmental brow.
“That’s an awful lot of food for a tiny thing like you.”
I was actually twenty-five, but without ID to prove it, a truant officer would probably haul me right back to high school.
“Yeah, well, I’ve got a big appetite so…” I kept the fact that even though I looked small I could probably wrestle the big guy at the counter to the floor in a heartbeat to myself. I could also eat fast. With any luck, I’d be out of there before the creeps in the matching jumpsuits tracked me down again.
The waitress glanced over to the ladies room and back again. I rolled my eyes. “Look, I’m not binging and purging. Can I just have the burger and fries? Please?” I debated asking for dessert, too, but my order should’ve been enough food to keep me from getting blood on my hands later.
“Of course.” She snatched the menu from me and hustled away before I could give her my drink order.
Great. Oh well, I wasn’t thirsty anyway.
After fidgeting with the silverware, unfolding the paper napkin, and placing it in my lap, I glanced around the restaurant. I was running out of things to keep myself busy, and my paranoia grew with every passing second. Sighing, I peered out the window across the parking lot and then up at the dark night sky. No followers. No moon either.
I shivered. The new moon hadn’t been my friend in years.
Each new moon night meant waking up someplace I’d never been before, without any memory of how I got there. The sleepwalking started around the time I turned eighteen. At least that’s what I hoped it was—it
Over the years, I learned to deal with “it,” but not so much what “it” might be. And last year after a visit to Bellevue, I thought I might finally be getting closer to figuring out this odd monthly cycle of mine, but it only made my world unravel even further.
Then there was the squirrel incident.
My gut retched at the memory, and I checked over my shoulder. New moon nights made me tense, but this one seemed different. Something felt off.
I faced the table again, shaking my head. Nothing looked suspicious. No men in white coats armed with sedatives in the next booth.
Maybe I’d finally lost them.
It wasn’t like Bellevue Hospital in L.A. would find me here in The Hot Rod Cafe in Reno and lock me up while I waited for my bacon cheeseburger and two baskets of fries. They wouldn’t come this far. At least I hoped not.
So why did my heart race like crazy?
The bell on the door jingled.
The hair on the back of my neck prickled, and my muscles knotted with adrenaline, aching to run, to escape. Cold sweat beaded along my spine as I fought stay in my seat. Forcing my lungs to breathe, I made a conscious effort to keep from hyperventilating and did my best not to let the panic show on my face when I turned around.
A tall, dark-haired man filled the open doorway, wearing blue jeans and a black Aerosmith concert tee. His bright green eyes scanned the restaurant, and I caught myself staring. I couldn’t help it.
He was maybe six feet tall, but I sucked at guessing heights. His black leather boots were scuffed—more like hiking boots than biker boots—and he wore a heavy silver chain around his neck with some sort of pendant hanging in the center of his chest. His very well-muscled and very broad chest.
When he looked my way, my jaw snapped shut. His dark hair was messy in that way that looks dangerous on a guy but sloppy on a girl. From under his stray locks, his gaze connected with mine. I was pretty sure I started gnawing at my lower lip. It was a bad habit, but I usually did it when I got nervous. Either way, he took it as an invitation of some sort.
I didn’t have a great grasp of what guys considered a “come hither” look, so maybe I gave him one. I’d thought it was a “leave me the hell alone” look, but who knew.
When he got to my table, my gaze caught on the pendant around his neck—a bullet. Or at least it looked like a bullet. Weird. My eyes moved farther up, to see his face. The right corner of his mouth twisted into what might have been a smile, but my alarm bells rang inside.
“Aren’t you going to invite me to sit?”
I frowned and rubbed my moist hands against my jeans. “I wasn’t planning on it. There are plenty of other tables open.”
He glanced around the cafe and then at me again. My pulse shot up in response.
“You’re not at any of the other tables.” Even with curls of hair hanging in his face, his emerald eyes bore into me.
“That’s the point.” Hopefully my voice carried more conviction than I felt. Stupid hormones. Gorgeous or not, I had no idea who he was or why he seemed so intent on my company. I had to get rid of him. “I wasn’t looking for company.”
He shrugged his broad shoulders. “Neither was I.”
“Good, then go sit someplace else.”
Oh, thank God. The waitress headed over with a huge tray piled high with my food. Saved by a burger.
He stepped aside to let her work, and when all the baskets were on the table, the waitress straightened and looked at tall-dark-and-handsome at twelve o’clock. He stood there shamelessly while she gave him a slow once- over.
She glanced at me with a wry smile. “Is this gentleman with you?”
I opened my mouth to answer, but he beat me to it.
“Yes, I am.” He plopped down across from me in the booth and winked. “Thanks for ordering fries for me, doll.”
The waitress seemed satisfied and sashayed back to the kitchen. I glared at my unwanted dinner guest and picked up my one-pound bacon cheeseburger. “I’m
“You’ve got quite an appetite for a little thing.”
“Yeah, so I’ve heard.” I shot an evil-eyed glare toward the waitress, couldn’t help it.
“So what’s your game?” He leaned closer and lowered his voice. “What the hell are you doing here during new moon?”
I almost choked on my burger.