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A Prescription for Delirium Excerpt
Used with permission, copywrite Noree Cosper
Hampton, TX, Present Day
Not five minutes in this backwater town and I had a demon sniffing my trail. He scanned the room with the nostrils of his wide nose flaring. His hair lay plastered against his forehead in greasy brown locks. He towered over everyone, even the people standing, as he squeezed between the large round tables and the gathering at the bar. The frayed threads of his jeans and his leather vest matched the dress of the rest of the roadhouse.
I lifted my drink to my mouth and shifted to my second sight. Most people say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Those people can’t see auras. The lights on the walls dimmed, and the air took on a gray haze, like seeing things under water. Colors bloomed out from each human in the building, blending together in a rainbow. The demon was another matter.
The shaggy black dog the size of a pony stood semi-imposed on all fours over the form of the man. Flames blazed from its eyes as it scanned the room. Was there really a dog walking through a busy Texas bar? No. Demons had no corporeal form and had to possess physical bodies. This one chose a werewolf. Dio, I had a hellhound on my ass.
Talk about bad timing. Ose already had some of his minions patrolling. If it found me, it would go running to its master to let him know I was in town. My hunt was in danger of ending before it even started.
I leaned forward and let my black curtain of hair obscure my face. The lid of the salt shaker twisted off in my empty hand and I knocked it over, allowing the grains to spill on the floor. The salt should cover my scent. I slid closer to the group at the next table until I looked like I belonged with them.
One of the men grinned at me, his aura a happy yellow orange. “Hey babe.”
I nodded and raised my glass, but kept my gaze on the hellhound. He paused at a man at the bar who had caught my attention, or more his aura did. A ghostly image of a woman leaned over him, whispering in his ear. My hand tightened around the beer mug, but the mutt moved on. I relaxed. The colors around the people in the bar faded, as did the ghost woman when my sight returned to normal. The haze remained, more from cigarette smoke. I turned my head to the front of the bar. One window and one door were not much of an escape route. Fifty feet of inebriated patrons stood between me and freedom.
Two of the three men I had been waiting for walked through the door. A familiar tingle ran down my spine. For a moment, I flashed back to a dressing room, staring down another Romanian hunter. We’d come across the same prey, though he thought it was a vampire. I inhaled, bringing myself back to the present. This wasn’t the twenties, I wasn’t in Paris, and these brothers weren’t Dimitri.
Both had his chiseled features and his straight nose, though their hair was more of a burnt sienna. The one in front wore his cut short and had a tuft on his chin. He towered over his brother, which meant he would be a mountain compared to my small height. The other kept his hair tucked behind his ears. He stood with his arms crossed, wearing a smirk to let the world know he knew everything.
They cast their eyes over the room. The tall one adjusted the glasses on his face and approached the man sitting at the bar. Several women watched them as they passed. A smile touched my lips. The boys knew how to dress to make an impression. Their leather coats and slacks spoke of sophistication yet still provided enough flexibility to move if needed.
I stood and nodded at the boys who’d been trying to talk to me. Rude, but it was time to work. Besides, they were too young for me. I straightened my red tank top and brushed any wrinkles from my jeans. I couldn’t approach them looking like a guttersnipe. A stool opened up on the other side of them. I took the seat and tried to look casual while listening in on the brothers’ conversation. The bartender stood in front of me, waiting for an order.
I pointed to a beer and leaned back to get a better look at the third man. His back remained mostly to me, giving me a glimpse of his bearded cheek and a ponytail a shade darker in color than the other two. Brother number three. I inched forward to hear better over someone’s bad rendition of “Bad Moon Rising.”
“Ader.” The tall man spoke in Romanian. “Your prison sentence hasn’t ended yet.”
“I got out for being brilliant,” the man at the bar said without turning around.
“Does the warden know that?” the third one asked.
If I remembered correctly, this generation of Van Helsings had four boys. Adam, the oldest, had passed away ten years ago. So that left Esais, Adrian, and Tres. The smirking boy had to be Tres he looked the youngest. Was Ader short for Adrian?
Ader chuckled. “The warden didn’t have much of a say.”
Esais, the tall one, pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. He shook his head, letting out a long sigh as he looked at his brothers.
“Honestly,” he said. “First you end up in jail, and now you’re breaking out. You haven’t changed.”
“You expected me to?” Adrian asked.
"Why are you here?” Esais asked.
“Same reason as you. Revenge.”
Tres crossed his arms. “Why do you even care? You were never around when we needed you.”
Adrian turned to face his brothers, causing both of them to gasp. A patch covered his right eye while the other stared hard at Tres. Esais reached out to touch Adrian’s arm, but he pulled away.
“What happened?” Esais asked.
“Not important.” Adrian turned back to the bar. “Who were you told to meet?”
“A woman named Gabriella Di Luca.”
“Any idea what this woman looks like?”
Esais glanced in my direction with hesitation and opened his mouth.
I cleared my throat, raising my hand in a small wave. “Buna seara.”
Adrian and Tres turned their heads with near identical expressions of distrust. They didn’t expect someone to speak their native language here. I was a stranger invading their family circle.
“Who are you?” Adrian asked.
“Convenient.” The word dripped with sarcasm.
We didn’t have time for this. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My gaze traveled to the table-filled area further in the room. The hellhound’s wiry form had disappeared through a large door to the right. The atrocious singing wafted through there. This would be a perfect time to exit.
“We need to speak, but not here,” I said.
“We’re not going anywhere with you.”
“Ader,” Esais said.
Adrian looked back at his brother. “We have no proof she is who she claims to be.”
“He’s right. You could be a demon,” Tres said.
“Then you already revealed yourselves with your conversation,” I said. “Look, how much do you know of demons?”
“I’ve read several books on the subject,” Esais said. “That question doesn’t answer our doubts.”
“Do I fit the description you were given?”
Esais adjusted his glasses before nodding.
“Then, can we leave? I may not be one, but there is a demon here.”
Two turned their heads, their muscles tensing as they scanned the bar while Adrian kept his eye on me. The hellhound stepped back into the room and turned his head in my direction. His gaze locked on me, and he began shoving his way through the crowded tables and chairs.
I stood. “Too late.”