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Lee Garrett

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The Lonely One
By Lee Garrett
Monday, April 25, 2005

Rated "G" by the Author.

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O Scorpion returns, taking on a punk with delusions of vampirehood!

     Cain kept his voice low, so it wouldn’t carry.  “You’re joking?”  
     “But it’s a good explanation for why you’ve been coming around so much.”  Iris leaned back in her chair, keeping a basilisk stare locked on his face.
     “You want to register me as a police informant?  Are you crazy?  If that got around--”
     “Police records are confidential.”
     “Anything can be bought for the right price.  And police gossip worse than old women.”
     “I resent that on behalf of grandmothers everywhere—-not that I’m a grandmother.  Besides, you could just tell anyone who asked that you’re working me-—setting up a contact in the police.”
     “Are you trying to get yourself fired?”  Cain raised eyebrows in inquiry.  “You’d have Internal Affairs all over you once that got back to the station.”
     “Then you’d better help me get a few major cases under my belt to prove to my Captain who’s working who.”
     “It’s not enough I let you date me,” Cain made himself keep a straight face, “now I have to manage your career too?  No.  Forget the whole thing.  I will kill you dead if you do that to me.”  He said the last a little louder than he’d intended, drawing ugly stares from across the room.
     Iris set a hand on the gun holstered on her hip.  “You LET me date you?”
     He ignored the threat, knowing that if Iris were going to shoot him, she wouldn’t do it in the homicide squad room.  “If I steer you the right direction a time or two,” he said, “It would be strictly between the two of us, and I’d expect to be well compensated-—one way or another.”
     “I could buy you a cup of that Brazilian dark roast you’re always going on about.”
     “I had Champaign in mind, to start with.”  He smiled, entertaining thoughts of carnal bliss.  “And I know few other rewards you could offer.”
     “I bet you do,” Iris’ hand tightened on the handle of her weapon.  “Well, dream on.”
     He held up a hand to stop her.  “Look, I just came by to see what you were doing.  You are getting off duty soon, right?”
     “You seem to know my schedule pretty well.”
    
“I know everything that’s important to me.”
    
“So, what’s your plan, dinner and a video?”
     “I know this great little hot dog stand over by the court house--”
     “Give me half an hour to wrap up some paperwork.  You should use the time to find a real restaurant.”
    
“There’s an Asian place I know of.  They give all knew meaning to ‘woking’ your dog.”
     “You’d better be joking.”
 
   “You Anglos are so squeamish about where your food comes from…”
     Iris leaned forward, reaching for some reports.  “Please, not another reference to growing up in the jungle, eating grubs pulled out from under rocks while beating off pythons!”
     “Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it,” he said.
     “Never mind, just get out of my face for a while.  I’ll pick the restaurant myself.”
     He shrugged and climbed to his feet.  “Fine.  I’ll be down the street at Starbucks.  You can hook up with me when you’re ready.”  She nodded and got busy.  He studied her a moment, absorbing her beauty, then turned and walked away.  Iris made things difficult sometimes, but he figured the prize was worth the game.
    
He left the building and walked toward the coffee shop.  Having found an open spot, he’d parked his Mustang there earlier.  The air was chill with a hint of rain, the sky overcast and gray.  The black duster he wore did its job, keeping him warm.  Still, a hot white mocha won’t hurt… 
    
He paused in his course outside a cigarette shop, then went in.  Waiting for the clerk to bring him a pack of smokes, he let his eyes rove over tee shirts, clocks, and lava lamps to a selection of swords on the wall.  Contempt flared up in him.  Cheap junk.  He doubted that the ornately sheathed blades were full tang or that they even had blood grooves in the steel.  Probably not even sharpened.  Two seconds into a real sword fight, and you’d be dead using one of those things.
    
The clerk returned.  “Anything else I can get you?”
    
He was about to say no when he saw a barrel with paper bags piled up in it.  They were labeled "mystery bags", a dollar each.  He grabbed one at random and set it on the counter.  “That will do it.”
    
He paid and left the store, purchases in hand.
     B
etter check the meter first; gotta keep that puppy fed until the workday’s done.  He shook his head sadly.  The city extorts money for parking and calls me a criminal?  It’s a good thing I don’t expect life to be fair.
     He entered the store and took his place in line, staring at the split-tailed mermaid on the wall wearing a crown set with a star.  Mermaids only have one tail.  Someone should have hired a better artist.  The line moved and his turn came.  He ordered his drink, matching the counter girl’s smile with one of his own.
     “Will that be all?” she asked.
     “You could give me your number,”
he suggested, “in case I think of something later.”
     “My boyfriend wouldn’t approve.”
     Cain shrugged, smile still in place.  He wasn’t terribly crushed; he’d only wanted the number for his collection.  “Well, if you ever want to up-grade…” he let the statement dangle incomplete, and headed along the counter to where his drink would be delivered.  Once or twice after that, he caught wistful glances from the girl and knew that she was open to persuasion.
     He took his drink and went to a table by the window where he could keep an eye on his car.  Like Iris, the vehicle was a beautiful creature, barely tamed and much loved.  He took a sip.
 
    Perfect!  Time seemed to suspend itself as he let his thoughts wander in strange and curious directions.  Though not an academic, his interests were varied and far-flung, touching on everything from demonology to investment banking.
     Eventually, he saw Iris drive up, taking a spot that just opened up.  He finished his drink as she entered and came over.  She sat down, and Cain noticed the cashier frowning with disappointment.  You have a boyfriend, remember?
     “I’m here now,” Iris said, still standing.  “You’re supposed to be looking at me.
     He did, liking what he saw.  “Whatever you say.  Do you want something to drink?”
     “I’m caffeined out.  Been drinking coffee all day.  Let’s just go.”
     “Just a sec,” he rose and extended the mystery bag.  “I was thinking of you earlier and got you a present.”
    
She looked at the bag with $1.00 written on the front in black magic marker.  “Spared no expense I see.”
    
“Hey,” he objected, “it's the thought that’s supposed to count.”
    
She opened the bag and drew out several items; a neon-green plastic slinky, an egg of silly putty, and a spool of kite string.  She let the items drop back into the bag and handed it back.  “Give it to some other girlfriend.”
    
“You know I’m technically faithful to you.  I may look, but I don’t touch.”
     
“Then give it to your cat.  C’mon.”  She moved toward the door.
     He caught up to her.  “Where to?”
     “There’s an Italian place I know, old world atmosphere, great food.  We just need to swing by my place first.  I want to change, and check up on my sister.”
    
He followed her outside.  “You have a sister?”
     “I thought you knew everything about me.  Yeah, she’s my twin, visiting me from out of state.”
     Cain stopped in shock.  "There are two of you?  Which one is the evil twin?"
    
"I'll let you figure it out.  Oh, and you'd better be nice to her, I'm warning you!"
    
He started moving again.  “Since when am I not the soul of discretion?”
     Iris rolled her eyes and continued on to her parked Talon.    “Just remember, what I said,” she called out.
     He followed her across town to a two-story structure with frosted mica windows.  The lights were on.  Cain parked on the street while Iris drove into her garage.  He joined her, ducking under the automatic door as it dropped into place.
    
“This way.”  Iris led him to an inner door.  Beside the frame, there was keypad.  “Don’t look,” she said.
    
He made a show of turning his head well away, then a moment later shifted it back enough to see the number she punched it to deactivated the alarm.  He memorized the code, looking away again.
    
“Okay, it’s open,” Iris told him.  They entered a monster of a kitchen and continued on through an archway to a sprawling section of converted warehouse floor—-the living room.  Cain noticed a second copy of Iris lounging on a couch, wearing bright pink sweats.  Munching chips, the stranger barely looked up from a wide-screen plasma TV that promised her happiness if only she’d use the right antiperspirant.
    
The two women should have been identical, but Cain noticed a subtle difference in the faces.  Something in the expressions and eyes—-the way the personality filtered out from the inside…
    
Iris announced the obvious, “I’m home, Ivy.”
    
“So I see.  Who’s that with you?”
     
“Cain.  He’s a famous international assassin.  I’ve been thinking of moonlighting.  Thought he could give me some tips.”  Iris flopped into a chair.
    
“Is the money good?  I might be interested.”  Ivy gave Cain a once over.  “So, who is he really?”
    
Iris shrugged.  “Just some guy who followed me home.  We’re going out for dinner.  Want to come?”
    
Cain frowned, settling on the arm of the chair.  This was not a good thing; he’d hoped to have Iris all to himself.  He sighed, knowing he wouldn’t be given much of a choice.  He chose to take it philosophically; sometimes, you have to throw a few battles to win the war.
    
“I’ll have to change,” Ivy said.
     “Sounds like a challenge,” Cain muttered.  “Umph!”  Iris rammed her elbow into his ribs.  He grabbed his side, playing for sympathy though it only got him a smoldering glare.  He whispered loudly, “that hurt!”  
     Iris stood and walked toward the stairs.  "Come on," she urged her sister.  "You'll need something semi-dressy.  You can raid my closet if you want to."
     Halfway up the stairs, iris called back down to Cain.  "Don't move, don't touch anything, don't even breath hard.  My insurance doesn't cover urban legends."
     He ignored the request, reaching for the remote.  He summoned the menu and surfed over to the movie channels, expecting to have a lot of time to kill; he’d never met a woman that could get dressed in a hurry.  Cain found a vampire movie and settled in to root for the bad guy.  The lonely ones resonated with him.  Well-dressed, powerful, amoral, they were called evil just because they survived on the blood of others.  He shrugged.  What’s wrong with that?  It’s the way of nature to kill for need rather than malice, and of course the prey has every right to fight back--if possible.
     A knock distracted him.  He went to the door.  On the other side, he found a thin man in a black suit and raincoat.  A blood red scarf of expensive silk contrasted strikingly with the stranger's lightless ensemble.  His face was pale—-as if lit only by moonlight, never the sun.  The visitor might have just walked out of the movie on TV.  Cain had the strangest urge to whip out a crucifix and yell boo!  “Yeah?”
    
“Is Ivy here?”
    
“Who’s asking?”  Come on, guy.  Show some manners.  Introduction are in order.
    
“I’m her…boyfriend.”
    
The small hesitation drew Cain’s suspicion, which was always close to the surface.  “Wait here.  I’ll get her.”  He closed the door and waited, counting slowly to ten.  He opened the door.  The guy was gone.  Just as I thought…a stalker, pinning down his target.  Question is, do I tell Iris about this or just handle it my way?  Which will make me happier?
    
He closed the door and returned to his movie.
    
One creature of the night versus another—-it’s the stuff dark dreams are made of.  I think what Iris doesn’t know, won’t cramp my style.
     Baring fangs, hissing with displeasure, an on-screen vampire lifted a struggling man by the throat and dashed him against a wall a few times to soften him up.  Hmmm.  Have to try that sometime.
     Forty minutes later, the girls returned and he killed the TV.  Ivy had slithered into a tight pair of black denim jeans, a crimson top, and a black leather jacket with a great many silver buckles and studs.  She wore this with bright white sneakers sporting pink laces.  Iris’ came sheathed in a black pinstripe slacks, and a silver blouse that peeked over the top of a teal sweater.
    
He imagined the jealous glances he’d catch while escorting this pair and grinned with satisfaction.
     “Worth the wait,” he told Iris.
 
    She drank in the expression on his face, smiled, and kissed him quickly.
    
“What’s that for,” he asked, “not that I’m complaining.”
    
“Just because.”
    
“Just because?”
     “Just because there’s hope for you.  Not much, but a little.”  She tugged on his hand.  “C’mon, let’s go.  You’re driving.”
     “Fine.  Where am I going?”
     “I’ll tell you along the way.”
    
Ivy went to haunt the porch.  He followed as Iris set the alarm and locked the door behind her.  Cold wings of wind brushed them as they hurried to the Mustang.  A minute later, they were surging down the road, headlights slashing the thickening gloom.
     At an intersection, a homeless derelict with a shopping cart stopped in the middle of the road for a heated conversation.  
He spoke into an open sardine can, using it for a cell phone.  “Can ya freakin’ hear me now?” he screamed.
    
Cain hit the horn.  The derelict tossed him the finger.
    
Cain shifted his foot to the accelerator, about to help the guy along—-to an emergency room.
    
 “Don’t you dare!” Iris said, reading his intent.
    
“What is it about gratuitous violence that you don’t like?”
    
Iris ignored the question.
    
He left the car idling, slid out the door, and produced a twenty-dollar bill that attracted attention.  “Move that thing,” Cain ordered.
    
Insane, but not stupid, the vagrant complied.  Cain got back in and slammed his door.  The homeless man approached.  He knocked on the window, eyeing the bill Cain tucked away in a shirt pocket.
     He
hit the accelerator and roared away.
    
“That was mean,” Ivy said.
    
“You want me to take you back so you can give him all the money in your purse?” Cain asked.
    
“That’s not the point.  You don’t have to be cruel to crazy people.”
    
“I don’t discriminate,” Cain said, pointing out his virtue.”
    
“Give it up,” Iris told her sister.  “You can’t argue character to someone lacking a moral center.”
    
“In my world,” Cain said, “idealism gets you a drawer in the morgue.”
    
Ivy wouldn’t let it go.  “Your world must be a terribly dark place.”
   
 “Yeah,” Cain said.  “That’s what I like about it.”
    
“Jerk!”  Ivy muttered.
    
Cain heard her.  That girl needs a bitch-slap or two.  Hopefully, she won’t be in town long.
    
“Turn here,” Iris pointed.  “You’ll see the restaurant on the right.
    
He followed directions and parked the car in front of an unimpressive strip mall.  The number of cars indicated that there’d be a delay getting a table.  He fished out a pack of cigarettes and his lighter, stopping under the awning.  “Go on in.”  He lit up.  “I’ll be along in a few minutes.”
    
As the girls entered, a light rain began to fall.  Thunder growled in the distance.  He watched a car arrive, a beat up old junker with a missing headlight.  It cruised slowly past the restaurant.  In a patch of shadow, Cain drew a cloud of carcinogenic poison deep into his lungs and exhaled slowly in pleasure.
    
It’s Ivy’s so-called boyfriend.  He won’t do anything now.  He’ll trail along until I drop Ivy off.  When he thinks I’m gone, and the house is settled, he’ll make his move.  I think I’ll arrange a little party for him.
    Cain pulled out his cell phone and ran through a long list of numbers until he found Pocket’s Pool Emporium.  A woman came on line.  "Pockets.  Can I help you?”
     “Hi, doll, it’s Cain.”
    
“Baby, It’s been so long!  Are you coming by?”
    
“Later tonight, sure.  Listen, do me a favor, will you?”
    
“Sure, Baby.  Anything you want, and I mean anything.”
    
“Check the floor for me.  See if a player named Dawg is hangin’ out.”
    
“Sure, Cain.  Just a minute.”
     He took another drag on his cigarette.  After a minute, a new voice came on line.  “Yeah, who’z this?”
    
“Remember the place down the street where you and your boys watched my mustang while I handled some…business?”
    
There was a long pause.  “Scorpy?”
    
“Right first time.  You and your friends up to making some green?”
    
“Damn straight!  What do ya need?”
    
“There’s a wanna-be vampire that will be at that same location in an hour or two, wears a black coat and red scarf, looks like an escapee from a Transylvanian boy band that's gone stale.  He’ll be staking out the house that you saw me go into that one time.”
    
“You want somethin' to happen to this dude?  Somethin' extreme?”
    
“I want him to fall down a couple times and maybe loose his wallet,” Cain said.  “That’s about all, for now.”
     “So, we’re just sending a message?”
     “You got it.”
    
“My boyz will want to know what the job pays.”
     “Besides what’s in the wallet, I’ll give you five hundred.”
    ”Make it six.  Easier tuh divide.  I wuz always bad in ‘rithmatic.”
    
Cain nodded.  “Done.  I’ll meet you later at Pockets, sometime after midnight.”
    
He killed the connection, put his cigarette out, and went inside with a light step and a smile twitching his lips.  He waved the hostess off.  “I’m meeting some friends inside.”  He entered a room that was dim, furnished in old world décor with pastoral landscapes hanging on the walls.  Iris and Ivy occupied a wooden table behind a lattice screen laced with fake grapevines.
    
He sat down, creating an awkward silence.  Hmmm.  They must have been talking about me.  He ignored the tension and grabbed a menu.  “So, what’s good?”
    
“We couldn’t decide,” Ivy said.
    
“I can.”  Iris picked up the menu and stabbed an item with her finger.  “I know just what I want.”
    
“What a coincidence.”  Cain sent Iris a tender glance veiled with lust.  “So do I.”
    
After dinner, he dropped off the ladies and refused an invitation to come in.  “I have a few things to take care of,” he explained.  “Besides, you’ve probably got a lot of catching up to do.”
    
“Not too much.”  Iris yawned.  “It’s been a long day.” 
    
Ivy entered the house.  Cain used the opportunity to gathered Iris into his arms for goodnight kiss.  She gave it willingly enough, but when his hands started to roam, she disentangled herself.  Cain expected a critical stare and a mild rebuke, but got a smile instead.  “Let’s not start something tonight that we’re not going to finish.”
    
Stunned by her response, it took a minute for him to realize that she’d gone in and closed the door without a backward glance.  Damn!
   
He went to his car, glad that the rain had died.  It made using the side window for a mirror a lot easier.  He’d parked so the curved glass could display the street across from Iris’s place.  He used the time getting the car door open, to spot the stalker under a plum tree, his face screened by dusky violet leaves.
    
Cain knew the coat and wind-twitched scarf at once.  Getting into his mustang, he shook his head sadly.  Guy’s a real mastermind.  He should be embarrassed.  The engine started with a rumble.  Headlights blazed.  Cain sped off at high velocity, making a show of his departure.  He turned a corner, slowed, and parked in front of video store.  This place should have just what I need.
     He went in and found a white shirted manager off to the side, bitch slapping a computer that had frozen up.  “Control, alt, delete,” Cain said.  Eyes glazed with confusion, the manager stared at the interruption.  Cain added to his instructions, “press all three buttons at the same time.  A box will open so you can end task you’re stuck in and continue.”
    
The manager looked down at his keyboard.  Cain heard pecking.  A moment later, the manager lifted a beaming face.
    
“Hey, it worked!  Thanks.”
     “Maybe you can help me out,” Cain suggested.
     “What do you need?”
     Cain pointed at a cardboard silhouette of a Hong Kong action star.  “That display for the new Sword of Vengeance movie, I want it.”
     “It’s against store policy to—-“
     Cain dropped a twenty on the counter.
     “I’m really sorry—-“
    
Cain replaced the twenty with a fifty.
     “Okay, but you didn’t get it from me.”  The manager scooped up the bill.  “I’ll just send the clerk to the back of the store and turn my back for a minute.  If that cutout just walks off, it’s not my fault.”
     “Of course not,” Cain muttered.
     And that’s what happened.  Outside again, he settled his prize in his vehicle’s back seat and drove off.  He parked in the back alley behind Iris’ place.  It was dark and deserted.  He gathered his equipment from the trunk, dressed in black Kevlar armor, and strapped on his favorite katana.  A proper sword is a joy foreverCarrying the cardboard poster, he entered the back of an adjoining building, taking stairs up to the roof.
    
He looked across the distance, making sure of an open landing space on Iris’ building.  He backed away, cleared his mind, built up speed, and launched himself into space.  It was not a jump that most athletes would have attempted, but he thought nothing of it.  Having made his peace with the violence of death, life couldn't scare him. 
     He s
ailed effortlessly, gravity gave up dominion of him until he hit and rolling back to his feet, still clutching the movie poster, only slightly worse for wear.  Humph!  Let’s see some vampire do better than that!
     Cain quickly found the roof access.  It was unlocked, lacking an alarm.  The best security system can be defeated with a little imagination and effort.  Usually, the stronger they are, the more likely there is to be a blind spot.  He shook his head sadly.  But this is just ridiculous.
     He passed the door and found a staircase that led down to a storeroom.  Taking care not to overturn anything, he eased past assorted pieces of furniture, dusty piled boxes, cans of paint, a ladder, and a couple steamer trunks on his way to the next door.  It was locked.  Fortunately, the lock was not that complex.  He produced a set of lock picks, knelt, and five minutes later, the door was open.
    
He stashed the tools and opened the door, listening carefully for signs of anyone stirring about.  The silence reassured him.  He got the ladder and left, walking near the baseboards of the wall, shifting his weight carefully so that creaky boards wouldn’t betray him.  Cain passed Iris’ room and several others and found the stairs to the first floor.
    
He set the ladder up halfway down the stairs, taking care not to bang it against anything.  Using it on the uneven stairs was a challenge he solved by returning upstairs to the storage room.  He’d seen a mop bucket there that would even out the footing between two steps.  Minutes later, with the ladder close to stable, he climbed to the ceiling, trusting in his finely honed sense of balance.
    
From under the edge of his armor, he drew out an egg of silly putty and the plastic slinky.  The putty went to the ceiling, anchoring the slinky that he connected to the cardboard figure.  Cain climbed down, folded up the ladder, and moved it so he could take the bucket and put it under the cardboard, taking some of the tension out of the stretched out slinky.  He didn’t want his surprise coming apart before he used it.
    
He finished up with the spool of kite string, tying cord onto the bucket’s handle.
    
As the foot of the stairs, Cain saw red Cyclops eyes, motion detectors, waiting to catch the unwary were he to take another step.  He’d seen them earlier and knew they’d be on this time of night.  Iris had lavished her paranoia on the first floor so the stalker had no chance of getting in without help.  Fortunately, O Scorpion was happy to oblige.
    
On the wall next to him was a punch pad, the control to deactivate the sensors.  He knew that many people simplify the remembering of numbers by recycling the same code for different things.  He remembered the code that Iris had used coming in from the garage earlier that evening.  He tried it out.  The indicator lights changed, as the system shut down.  He stretched out the string into the living area and then headed for the alarm panel by the front door.
     He punched in the same code once more and the alarm went off.  Then, he eased back the deadbolt and unlocked the knob.  Come, my Lonely One.  I invite you into my dwelling to feast upon hell. 
    
The guest of honor arrived as if compelled by Cain’s thoughts--a sound came through the door, someone fumbling with the lock.  The guy is probably trying the old credit card trick.  I wonder howlong it will take him to realize that the door's already open? 
    
Cain grinned and faded back into the darkness.  In the living room, he slid behind a recliner for extra cover.  This is going to be good…
    
The front door opened and a beam of light preceded the intruder.  He entered, flashlight in hand, leaving the door ajar behind him as he surveyed the sparsely furnished depths of interior.  The beam played high and was too weak to really dint the darkness, but it did help the stalker find the stairs.  He headed that way, having worked out the location of the bedrooms on the second floor.
    
Cain let him get up several steps, then tugged the string.  It went taut, rising between the stalker’s legs.  The bucket was jerked into motion.  It banged and rattled into the man’s feet, tripping him.  He sprawled gracelessly, and the flashlight played up onto the movie poster which danced in place as Cain had intended, granted the illusion of life for as long as the slinky and silly putty held.
     Unseen, Cain nonchalantly strolled toward his victim.  The man gasped, staring up at the weird flat figure in his light.  It spooked him into pulling a .38 from his waistband.  He levered himself up, extended the weapon, and jerked off several rounds.
    The poster was whisked away by the impact of lead slugs ripping into it.  Cain saluted a fallen comrade on the field of battle, then reached down and seized one of the stalker's ankles. 
“You can’t kill a spirit of the night,” Cain’s voice was gently chiding, a contrast to his actions.
    He leaped back to the ground floor, dragging his victim with him.  The gun went clattering away.  Time was running out; Cain heard mad scrambling upstairs that warned him Iris was awake and irate, driven to fear by the sound of gunfire in the house.   
    
Remembering the scene from the vampire movie earlier, Cain rolled the stalker over, picked him up by the throat, and rammed his head back into the wall a few times.  Cain then slipped the lock pick case he carried into the limp man’s waistband.  Iris won’t believe this guy’s a burglary without a little evidence.
    
Female voices blended upstairs.  The lights came on in the upper hallway.  Time to go.  Cain let the man fall on his face, then escaped out the front door, closing it behind him.

    
Iris met him for coffee the next morning.  They occupied an outdoor table.  He sipped a bitter brew, feigning surprise as she detailed the discovery of a bungling burglar the previous night.  “The thing is,” she said, “the guy was able to beat my security and I still don’t know how.  All I got outta him was a cock-and-bull story about a phantom ninja.”  She eyed him suspiciously.  “You wouldn’t know anything about that I suppose.”
     
Cain shrugged.  “What would I know about skulking through darkness, keeping the woman I love safe from ham-footed villains?”
     She didn’t press the point.  “Strangely enough, the guy’s a goth-rocker that Ivy knows from Vegas.”
     “So, he was after your sister?” Cain kept his poker face on.  “Maybe he just needed someone to share his coffin with him.  You know, I tried that once—-“
    “You’ve tried everything once or twice.”  Iris tore off a piece of cinnamon twist and chewed it.  Her eyes beamed with pleasure as she washed the pastry down with a sip of Guatemalan vanilla roast.  “Hell of a thing; the guy stops mid-abduction to steal a ladder and bucket, and set up an impromptu shooting range with a movie poster.  He shoots it twice, then he falls down the stairs.  I'd thought I’d seen it all.”
     “So, what did the guy have to say for himself?” Cain asked, watching sparrows hop closer, looking for breadcrumbs.
     “Claims to have been disoriented by a mugging.  Says he was looking for a phone to call the police, and that the front door was open.”
     “Yeah, that’s likely.”
     “Of course, the lock picks tell a different tale.  The guy’s going away for quite a while.  His lawyer will probably have him plead-out to get him into a mental health facility.”
     “Sounds like he needs it,” Cain observed.
     “If he didn’t before last night,” Iris said, “he does now.”
    
Cain picked a small piece of bread off of Iris’ pre-breakfast snack, rolled it into a pellet, and flicked it over to a couple of hopeful birds waiting in attendance.  They went after the treat with glutinous abandon.  Everybody loves Starbucks.  “How did your sister take it all?”
     “Cried her eyes out.  Seems she still had some feelings for the dirt bag.”
     Cain attempted to dredge up some sympathy.  “Gee, that’s too bad.”
     “Oh, wait a second…” she opened her purse and withdrew a plastic slinky and a lump of putty, slapping them on the table.  “I think you left these at my place.”
     He frowned at the items, then gave Iris a quizzical stare.  “Sorry, never seen them before.”
    “Hmmmm.”  She continued to stare, as if that alone could force a confession.
     He took another sip of his drink, relishing the warmth sliding down his throat.  He stole another bit of bread and flicked it to the sparrows--his good deed for the day--and gave her his final answer.  “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
     Iris nodded, more to herself than anyone else.  “Fine.  We’ll leave it at that.” 

       Web Site: Lee Garrett

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Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor 5/8/2005
Cain and Iris...what wonderful characters.

Enjoyed...

Elizabeth
Reviewed by Mary Quire 4/27/2005
Okay Lee, I have to say that O Scorpion is becoming one of my all time favorite characters--right next to Harry Dresden. I love how you've fleshed Cain out. Iris is definitely a match for him, but to throw Ivy in makes things all the more interesting. Nice take on the goth boyfriend. Also, I really enjoy Cain's thoughts, it lends even more to his character--he is sure of himself. The only thing I can think of to add to this character is creating someone who occasionly throws him off, messing up his plans and forcing him to think fast and take a different route; someone who provides him with a little agitation in life. Not someone he can easily off though. Just a suggestion.
I can't wait for the next chapter. You've got quite a Cain fan club over here.

Best wishes,
M.Rose
Reviewed by Robert Montesino 4/26/2005
Your O Scorpian Series is one of my favorites and just keeps getting better with each new installment! I love the interplay you have going with Iris & Scorpy, it is a sharp quick witted dialogue that increases the romantic tension exciting your reader with all its possibilities. O Scorpian remains true to his own character but Iris has softened him in a sweet & charming way that allows us to see a different side of him, one the begs the question as to whether or not Iris can change or mold a man like Scorpy into a suitable partner. She shares many of his characteristics, headstrong, fearless & ambitous; a risk taker who loves living life on the edge, pushing the limits... but with Scorpy shes dancing a thin line bettween light & darkness, right & wrong and she knows it! A tough tenacious broad indeed Iris is and the perfect match for Scorpy. I could go on & on with this because there are so many different elements in this story that work masterfully. You take your readers to different dimensions & levels & the romantic development with Scorpy & Iris is only one of them. Why a major publishing house or agent hasn't pick up on this incredible piece of work is beyond me! This is a tour de force Action/Thriller deserving 5 stars & Marque Lights! Writing this good will not go unnoticed for long...your Ship is coming in soon!!!
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 4/25/2005
excellent story, lee; keep 'em coming! very well done; bravo!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your tx. friend, karen lynn. :D


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