Chapter Four


"Dammit, stay still!"

"That tickles!" Brooklyn retorted, glaring down at me. I glared back at him just as harshly.

I quickly turned my glare to Broadway, Lexington, and Elisa, who had gathered on the sofa for the amusement of watching Brooklyn get ready for the convention. I'd left the company booth at sunset to help Brooklyn with his "costume," glueing thread onto his body to mimic seams of fabric. Elisa had made popcorn.

"There, done," I said, putting the brush back in the tub of skin glue and closing it tight. "Now let's go, or my boss is going to kill me for being gone so long."

"Aww," Elisa said sarcastically. "Now what are we supposed to do for fun?"

"There's this new thing called a 'television,'" I quipped, walking with Brooklyn to the balcony. We took off a moment later and headed to the convention center.

I handed Brooklyn his badge that I'd picked up earlier that day when we landed on a rooftop about a block away. "Okay, remember not to move your tail much, since it's supposed to be fake," I reminded him as we walked aalong the street.

"Yes, Mother," he said with a grin. He was so excited to be going tonight, it radiated off of him.

We split up after I introduced him to my new coworkers, him going shopping at the various booths, and me staying at the company booth, signing the obligatory autograph. What happened only a few minutes later smacked me upside the head with a cast iron skillet. No, not literally.

The most gorgeous man I'd ever seen walked up to the booth. "Hi," I breathed.

"You're Riley Maza?" he asked.

"Guilty as charged," I said.

"You're much more... Female than I thought," he said with nervous laughter.

"Um... Thanks?" I giggled back.

"Can you sign this for me?" he asked, producing one of my first comics from the company.

I stared up at him, startled. "Wow, talk about rare," I said. "There's only been 500 copies of this printed - and I have six of them. Wow." I repeated.

"This is one of my favorites," he said. "I might be a big nerd for saying this, but I own at least one copy of every issue you've ever had printed. And the whole time I thought you were a man."

"Well, let me sign that for you," I said, now considerably giggly. I reached out for the comic and my fingers brushed against his. I pulled back in shock, his fingers were like ice. Trying to smooth out the moment, I uncapped my Sharpie. "To..."

"Michael Wallace," he said.

I glanced up at him a second before signing. "Your whole name?"

"That's more flirtation than autograph request," he said with an embarrassed chuckle. Then he slid me a scrap of paper from his pocket that he had written his number down on. "Thanks," he said, taking his comic and walking away.

"Hey, Riley," John Milke, the writer of my series, said with laughter. "More signing, less drooling."

At the end of the night, Brooklyn was laden with three goodie bags, one filled with the stuff he bought, the other two with free swag, when he came back to the booth at the end of the night. "I think we'll need a taxi," he mumbled to me.

"How about a free ride?" Elisa said as she walked through the emptying hall towards us. "Figured he'd buy too much stuff to get home," she said.

"Thanks!" I said for the both of us. I turned to grab my backpack so we could leave, and I froze when I saw the guy - Michael - at the end of our row. He wasn't looking back at me, so it gave me the perfect opportunity to check him out on the sly.

Brooklyn started sniffing the air, making John-the-writer stare at him funny. "Knock it off, Brook," I said.

"I smell... Something that isn't right." He sniffed again, this time at least attempting to disguse it by rubbing his nose a bit. "I smell... Death."

"Like rotting flesh death or a recent murder death?" Elisa asked, getting her serious face on.

"No... Just the sense of... Not living." Brooklyn shook his head. "I can't explain it. It doesn't smell like a body. More like... Someone that hangs around in a graveyard too much."

"Yeah... And what could smell like that?" I asked.

Brooklyn looked at me. "Something on you has the scent on it."

"What? What could I have that - Hey!"

Brooklyn started sticking his fingers in my pockets. Good thing I wasn't holding any change in them, because his talons ripped right through the front two and the coins would have slid right into my shoes. I smacked his hand away when he reached for the back. He still got he was looking for. He held up the little scrap of paper. "Ick," he said, then handed it back. "Whoever gave that to you, this Michael," he growled the name slightly, "He's tainted with death."

Puck: Hey, I'm not in this chapter!

Me: There wasn't any need for you at a comic book convention. And who wants Owen Burnett sucking the life out of a comic con?

Puck: You know how much I hate you right now?

Me: Aww, but I love you! *gives kisses*

Puck: Just review the story already!