A/N: This is a just a short foray into the world of the Hollows and all the standard disclaimers apply. I do not embrace these characters at the level of my normal fandom so if anyone has comments on development of characters, I would greatly appreciate the input. This short tale falls after solstice in Every Which Way But Dead and before Jenks' return to the church in the early spring of A Fist Full of Charms. I also hope that I have not screwed up the time line either.

Also of special note, if you like the image thumb-nailed to this story, it was kindly loaned by Grace10Hove on deviantart. If you have a chance, check her other works at grace 10 hove. deviantart. com. Thanks for the loan!

Now, on with the read... - me

Turning one more time to check my reflection in the mirror, I sighed before dropping my brush on top of my cluttered dresser. The black handled torture device barely had room to sit on the surface which is covered with small cut glass bottles filled with a vast variety of perfumes.

"Well, that's about bloody useless," I muttered in disgust at the tangled mess that I had made of my frizzy red rat nest that most people would call hair.

"Stupid FIB director and his stupid FIB rules," I added aloud. I was alone in the silence and I realized with some worried guilt that I had been talking to myself a lot lately. I may have a graveyard in my back yard but I hated feeling like I lived in a tomb. Unfortunately, the church had felt a bit like one lately. Without the constant giggles, games and general mischief of Jenks' almost three score pixie children skittering through the church, the large space just felt empty. My sole remaining roommate wasn't exactly the most socially engaging person. With just a hint of self pity, I figured that might be my fault too.

A flash of worry stabbed through my thoughts as I glanced through my open bedroom doorway towards Ivy's room. It was currently empty since my living vampire partner and best friend was completing a short term run. I sighed. There was reason number two for missing Jenks. She was on a run without our normal pixie back-up.

It wasn't that she had to be alone. I had eagerly volunteered to help her. To be honest, I had practically begged to back her up. In typical Ivy fashion, she had just smiled smugly, tossed her highlighters into her cup, folded up her plans and firmly informed me that I couldn't skip my previous engagement because of her little, insignificant run. The gorgeous, dark-haired vamp had then left the room laughing a bit sharply at my desperate sputtering.

I sighed one last time and then promised myself that I would not do it again. I knew that Ivy was fine. Her run was little more than a sneak and peek to get visual confirmation on an item that her vampire client believed a rival borrowed without the intention to ever return. Now, if it had been a snag and drag, then I might have insisted on being back-up. Seeing as she was having dinner at the home of someone she considered family friends with her dead vampire mother, I had no real basis for a strong argument. She was in no real danger. Any persuasive points I made would have been obvious for what they really were. They would have been an excuse. A lame excuse created solely to avoid attending the FIB event tonight.

"Even a lame excuse would be better than this torture," I complained to the empty room.

Smoothing my hands down the sides of the freely flowing shimmer of material that was my gown, I glanced one last time at my reflection. Kisten had picked out my outfit for the evening. Shaking my head as a soft smile settled on my lips at the thought of the sultry living vamp I was dating, I decided that I needed to allow him to dress me more often.

The dress was surprisingly comfortable and flattering. The shimmering dark green material appeared almost black as I flipped the light switch in my bedroom and entered the more dimly lit hallway. I forced my feet from turning to the right and taking the couple steps to the incredibly perfect kitchen and the promise of a quiet night spelling. Instead, I turned to the left and silently padded down the hallway. The whisper of flowing fabric followed my progress into the sanctuary of the previous church that we called home and office.

The doorbell rang.

I scowled slightly as I glanced at the wall clock. I stalked to the entrance and threw open the door.

"You're ten minutes early," I sharply accused the man on the steps to the foyer.

Dark brows rose at the harsh accusation even as I realized that the man standing before me was not my escort for the evening. I had been expecting a dark skinned, handsome cop in a tuxedo. What I got was a startled elf in a conservative suit with pock scarred skin.

"Good evening, Ms. Morgan," Quen murmured as smoothly as if I had happily greeted him and not just yelled in his face.

I took a step back and and put my hands up. Here was another reason to lament Jenks disappearance. He or one of his brood would have warned me of the elf's impending arrival and I never would have answered the cursed doorbell.

"No. Just no," I resolutely stated as I shook my head. "Whatever it is that Trent wants, the answer is no."

"But Ms. Morgan," Quen attempted once more as he stepped forward with his desire to enter the foyer obvious. I blocked his entry with the door by simply refusing to open it any further.

"This was not the excuse I was looking for," I grumbled under my breath at whoever in the universe had decided that Trent Kalamack really wanted to save me from being on display at the FIB event tonight.

As if reading my thoughts, Quen's lips quirked slightly and his eyes sparkled with amusement. When I yet again told him no and moved to shut the door in his face, his brief flash of entertainment disappeared. His hand intercepted my rude attempt to stop whatever his purpose was in showing up on my doorstep this chilling winter evening. His firm grip prevented me from slamming the door in his face. I was sorely tempted to put my shoulder to the backside of the door and force it closed.

"Now, Ms. Morgan," Trent's head of security tried one more time. "I just need a few minutes of your time to make a request."

"No, Quen. The answer is still no. Whatever Trent wants or thinks he needs will just have to be gotten somewhere else. I refuse."

Quen braced his hand against the large wooden door and shifted it out of his way so that he could step into the relative warmth of my darkened foyer. I scowled my fiercest grumpy expression at the intrusive elf who didn't seem interested in taking my no as the final answer. Fleetingly, I wondered if giving into the quiet, self-contained elf was going to become a habit that I would need to break. After all, I had already given into his requests once before and I ended up blown up by a bomb, frozen in a river, and insulted by a nasty-tempered and spoiled elf. The only positive thing had been the strawberry waffles. Well, the waffles and not actually dying.

"We need your services for this evening," my uninvited guest explained.

I couldn't help the slightly vindictive grin that cracked my lips as pure joy welled up inside me as I realized that I had the perfect excuse.

Quen's eyes shifted from the top of my head down to my feet then rose quickly to meet my gaze.

"You are even appropriately dressed for the job," the elf continued as if I had not already told him no enough times to even convince a hormonal teenager that I meant what I said.

"Sorry, but I already have plans this evening," I explained as I turned slightly and grabbed my tiny black purse that matched my black slipper-like shoes. Kisten had valiantly insisted that I needed to wear heels but there was no way I was attending the FIB's event without comfortable shoes. It had been a losing battle for the living vampire from the beginning. If I was reduced to having access to nothing magical for protection, I sure as hell was going to have shoes that allowed me to protect myself physically without breaking my ankle. Although I would have preferred a pair of my boots, Kist and I compromised on the slippers. They were comfortable and would allow me to run if nothing else.

"I am sorry if it will interfere with your date, but we truly need your assistance," Quen tried again. "We will make it worth your time."

I sighed again. It seemed like it was the evening for it. Once more, I offered a denial. This time, I explained that I already had a job this evening. I didn't have a choice. Edden had threatened to arrest me if I tried to avoid the event. He expected me to arrive on time and on Glenn's arm like the perfectly innocent little trophy I was supposed to be tonight. When I mentioned attending the FIB event, Quen's eyes widened just slightly.

"If you didn't wish to arrive as the trophy prize of the enforcement agency, I am sure we could do something about it," he attempted to bargain as the security head still tried to angle for my agreement.

A horn blasted from the front of the church.

I shook my head one more time as I grabbed the thick, green cloak trimmed with some dark animal fur that Kisten had insisted went perfectly with my gown. I swirled the warm garment around me and pulled it closed. I felt silly in the cloak. It was like I was little red riding hood going off to see grandmother. I chuckled as I imagined how truly pissed Edden would be if I got waylaid by a wolf along the way. With my luck, it would never be a simple wolf. It would more likely be a rabid Were out to eat not only me and my grandmother but half the town too. Now there was an excuse I could appreciate. It was definately preferable to whatever elf issue Trent wanted to spring on me.

My doorbell rang.

I all but shoved the now silent elf from the church sanctuary before he tried one last time to convince me to at least listen to his request.

"No," I repeated firmly one last time as I pulled open the door to reveal my startled escort and keeper for the evening.

Quen nodded his head once and swept down the front steps. Even a cop on his time off, Glenn's dark eyes followed him suspiciously as I closed the door and headed towards the officer's dark sedan. I opened the passenger door and slid onto the fake leather seat. I was soon joined by my smartly dressed FIB friend.

"That was Trent Kalamack's chief security officer," my escort stated with obvious interest.


"You going to tell me what he wanted?"


Now it was Glenn's turn to sigh.

We sat in the uncomfortable silence as he attempted to determine how to convince me to spill my guts on my mystery visit. He knew me well enough to believe that anything that involved both me and Kalamack was sure to come back to bite him and the FIB in its collective ass. I was silent because I was still trying to decide if it was a good thing that Quen had given up so easily. For some reason, it bothered me. Trent and his lackeys were normally a lot more insistent in getting what they wanted. It made me suspicious. The silence grew until Glenn couldn't stand it any more. He started his car and turned the still warm heat to full blast to beat back the chill that had already settled into the car during his short trip to my door.

The FIB officer smiled as he decided the best way to lighten the mood. His white teeth flashed in the darkness as his grin grew.

"By the way, Ms. Morgan," Glenn intoned. "Cute freckles."

Oh yeah, that improved the mood.