Year of the Ghoul by PythonPrincess

Summary: David and the Boys are called in to lend their support for Shelby Frog's campaign to be re-elected as Mayor of Santa Carla. But an old enemy shows up to make this campaign a real pain. Meanwhile, Marko's past and present become entwined when a mysterious stranger comes to town.
Categories: Lost Boys
Characters: Alan Frog, David, Dwayne, Edgar Frog, Frog Parents, Laddie, Lucy Emerson, Maria, Marko, OC: Female, OC: Male, OCs: Multiple, Paul, Sam Emerson
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Horror, Humour, Mystery, Romance, Supernatural, Suspense
Pairing(s): Withheld
Warnings: Adult Themes, Blood play, Drug Use, Heavy Violence, Mild Violence, Other potentially disturbing content, Smut (graphic sex scenes)
Challenges: None
Series: Sweet Justice, First Families Series
Chapters: 3 Completed: No Word count: 11301 Read: 4376 Published: 23 Jan 2009 Updated: 31 Mar 2009
Story Notes:
New! Part I of the First Families Series...but fear not, gentle readers, this picks up where the Sweet Justice Series leaves off. It just has a new focus.
This series interweves the 'First Families' of Santa Carla-
The Vampires,(the Boys & Pack), The Werewolves, and The Mortals.

1. Chapter 1- Someone To Watch Over Me by PythonPrincess

2. Chapter 2- Voter Registration by PythonPrincess

3. Chapter 3- Frog Juice by PythonPrincess


Chapter 1- Someone To Watch Over Me by PythonPrincess

Author's Notes:
Warning- Steamy Stuff ahead!!!!!
September 2008



Chapter 1- Someone to Watch Over Me


A pleasant evening breeze wafted in through the open window, cleansing the room of its stuffiness. Shelby Trammel-Frog lay stretched out on the bed, watching the oncoming dusk claim the sky as the sun set. She had left work 45 minutes ago and was still wearing her business suit, sans her hose and her shoes. In another hour and a half, she and her husband Edgar were due at a dinner engagement. But she couldn’t will herself off the bed to get ready yet.

A cramp seized her abdomen, migrating around to her lower back. Shelby winced, and curled her fingers and toes. True, the IUD she’d had inserted a couple of months ago was supposed to give her peace of mind against unplanned pregnancies, but it sure made her monthly cycles a living hell to get through. She’d taken three Motrin’s 45 minutes ago, and they had yet to take effect.

“Son of a bitch,” she muttered to herself. This was no time to get laid up with cramps. Somewhere beneath the bed, there was a heating pad. As soon as her cramp abated some, she rolled over and fished around until she found it. Then, she plugged it in and turned it on. Just as the next cramp started up, she felt the heat begin to radiate through the pad. Hopefully, this would help.

“I know what you need, Shelby. I can help you, you know….”

Shelby had just closed her eyes and let her head sink back on the pillow, but she snapped them open at the sound of an all too familiar voice. Hovering right outside her window was David!

“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded in a voice just a fraction above a whisper.

David smirked at her in his all knowing, ever annoying way.

“I hear you have a big, important dinner at your Uncle Ghoul’s house. Got plans to discuss your re-election campaign?”

“Why should you care? You don’t vote.”

“Just being nosy. As usual.”

David sat himself on the window ledge, which was as far as he could get in without an invitation. He lit up a cigarette, but was careful to blow the smoke outside.

“You should leave before Edgar comes up here,” Shelby warned him.

“I’m not afraid of Edgar. You should know that. Now, why don’t you let me help you?”

“Help me? I don’t understand. Help me with what?”

“I know you’re in pain,” David said, maintaining eye contact with her as he spoke, “You have an important night tonight. You have to be in good shape. I can fix it for you. Let me help you. Let me in. Just this once. I promise…no tricks…”

“But Edgar…,” Shelby hedged.

“Edgar can’t walk through a locked door.”

As David spoke, he extinguished his cigarette on the side of the house and dropped it down in the bushes. Then, he waited silently for Shelby’s cue. She hesitated for a few breathless moments as she debated. Finally, she nodded.

“Okay. Just for a few minutes. And just this once. You’re not invited after tonight,” she told him firmly.

David smiled and climbed in through the window. He was utterly soundless as he pulled Shelby into his arms and planted hungry kisses along her neck. His hands tugged at her blazer, quickly removing it and tossing it on the bed. Shelby tracked its movement out of the corner of one eye, and as David worked to unbutton her blouse, she pushed him away.

“What is it?” he asked.

“I don’t know about this. It’s…um…that time of the month for me…”

David snickered.

“So? I’m a vampire. I couldn’t give a flying fuck at a rolling donut…”

“GROSS!” Shelby wailed, struggling harder against him.

David only laughed harder.

“What’s gross about it? If it bothers you that much, we don’t have to use the bed. Why don’t we take a bath? You’ll stay nice and clean there. It’ll relax you, too…be good for the ol’ cramps.”

Shelby stopped struggling at this idea. It had merit. She allowed David to take her by the hand and lead her into the master bathroom. Before they proceeded any further, she shut the door and clicked the lock. Then, she started the tub filling.

David gazed at Shelby in the dim light of the bathroom; his eyes sweeping over her deliberately as she slowly removed her clothing.

“Tell me what you’re going to wear tonight,” he said.

“Nothing fancy…just a black dress…,” she answered a bit awkwardly.

David smirked at her.

“High heels with it?”

“Yes. A pair of peep toed black pumps. And panty hose.”

“MMmm, sounds nice. How are you wearing your hair?”

“I haven’t decided,” Shelby answered.

David approached her slowly.

“I think you should wear it up. Right here…”

With a firm touch, he placed his palm to the back of her head to indicate where she should wear her hair knot. Then, he continued to apply pressure to bring her face closer to his. His lips pressed to hers, and he kissed her hungrily while he rubbed the crotch of his jeans against her body. Shelby moaned against his lips when his erection pressed up against her. She felt her stomach seize up as her body responded to her desires. Her fingers dug into David’s shoulders.

“Don’t worry, baby. I’m going to make it all better,” David panted in her ear. He looked over her shoulder at the level of water in the bathtub and smiled. Then, he broke from their embrace long enough to turn off the tap.

Shelby whimpered impatiently and tugged at the fly of David’s jeans. He allowed her to unfasten the buttons and slide his pants down his legs while he kicked his shoes off. Then, he stepped out of his jeans and stripped off his black T-shirt. Their bodies were pressed tightly together. The heat and heaviness Shelby now felt in her most sensitive regions was almost overwhelming. She wriggled against David, desperately wanting him inside of her NOW.

David cupped her buttocks, massaging her smooth skin and pulling her in even closer to him. He rubbed his cock against her excited nub, causing her breath to come out in ragged, hitching gasps. Shelby’s pulse sped up beneath the delicate skin of her neck, and David lowered his lips to her throat and traced the tiny veins he could see with the tip of his tongue.

“Oooh, yes,” Shelby moaned in a low, keening voice, “Bite me. You know you want to…”

“Don’t tempt me, baby,” David whispered to her.

“I want you to,” Shelby pleaded.

“I can’t. You know I can’t…”

But it didn’t stop him from teasing her some more, applying pressure to her neck with the tips of his fangs. Shelby groaned with frustrated delight. David’s lips traveled down to her breasts, where he aroused each nipple with his tongue and his teeth, biting each one lightly, but not enough to draw blood. Shelby pressed the back of his head into her breasts, feeding them to him eagerly. David teased each pink nipple until they were inflamed, hardened peaks. Looking at them excited him. He felt the head of his cock throb with his desire. Finally, he tore himself away from the pleasures of Shelby’s buxom chest. It was time to take to the water before it cooled off too much.

Quite unexpectedly and literally, David swept Shelby off of her feet. He deposited her into the bath, and climbed in after her.

Warm water enveloped Shelby, and any residual soreness she felt in her belly began to fade. David reclined her against the back of the bath tub and stretched himself over her. His skin began to warm up as their bodies slid together. Water swirled and sloshed around them as David positioned himself and grabbed a firm hold of Shelby’s wet buttocks. He brought her hips beneath his pelvis and ground his engorged cock into her throbbing clit, watching as her breasts swayed in the water with his movements.

“Oh..oh, David, now! Please!” Shelby pleaded, wiggling her hips in an attempt to reposition David so that his cock would slide into her hole.

David gave a low, throaty chuckle.

“No, baby. It’s got to be my way. Sorry ‘bout that.”

Shelby made a small mewling nose, and David smiled. His fingers gripped her ass even harder, and the tip of his rod circled her clit in more concentrated movements. Just when he knew she was at the point where the fire was about to explode inside her belly, he raised her legs up over his shoulders and slid himself into her heated depths clear up to the hilt. A heavy moan escaped his throat, but he forced himself to remain still for just a moment with the head of his cock far up inside of her. Shelby panted and groaned; bucking wildly. Her come was just a thrust away.

David leaned forward and pressed his forehead to hers; his amber eyes staring directly into her green ones. Shelby moaned again as all of his weight shifted internally, causing more delicious pressure inside of her. Then, he pumped slow and hard, gradually building up speed until his thrusts were fast and furious. Shelby felt the spasms beginning, telling her that she was losing control. But when David pressed his lips to her and filled her mouth with his tongue, completely filling her, she was shook with orgasmic tremors that were so hard, she nearly fainted. She only floated back to some sort of cosmic awareness when she felt David’s cock jerk inside and felt his arms tighten around her as his come spurted deep within her.

They lay together in the tub for some time, quietly enjoying the afterglow and the warm water. Shelby’s eyes were closed, and she was drifting off, but she was still half awake. David wiped the light sheen of sweat from Shelby’s brow and smiled.

“I told you I’d make you feel better, didn’t I?” he said.

“Mmmm. You did,” she replied drowsily.

“One of these days, you’ll stop doubting me so much.”

“Hmm. Never.”

They fell silent for a few minutes, and Shelby felt herself falling into a light doze. It was disturbed all too soon by a loud rapping on the door.

“Shelby! Shel? You in there? Honey! We have to be at dinner in half an hour! Are you okay?”

Shelby awoke with a start when she recognized Edgar’s voice outside the bathroom door. She sat up in the tub. The bathwater was tepid. She was alone.

“Shelby! Damn it, answer me!”

“Edgar..um, yeah..I’m in here.. I…just fell asleep. I’m sorry..hold on. I’ll be out in a second,” she answered hurriedly.

In a state of near panic, Shelby looked around the bathroom. All she could see was the clothing she’d been wearing earlier, a bath towel for herself, a clean pair of undergarments, her robe and her slippers. It didn’t look like there had ever been anyone else in here, or even any intent of anyone else being in here. Had she sleepwalked? Dreamed the whole episode? Or had it really happened? She didn’t know which idea was more disturbing.

There wasn’t time to ponder much. Edgar was waiting right outside the door, and there was a dinner to get ready for. The killer cramps had subsided, at least for the time being.

Quickly she donned her robe, slid into her slippers and unlocked the door. Edgar had changed out of his customary camouflage pants, dark t shirt and ever present head band, and was now wearing a button up shirt and a pair of slacks. His hair, that was usually rather unkempt and scruffy looking, was styled with gel and well groomed looking. Shelby had to admit, when he had the wherewithal to dress up, Edgar could be handsome, even if he still looked a bit awkward.

“I’m surprised you’re not ready yet. You’re usually nagging at me,” he said gruffly.

Shelby shrugged silently and went to the closet, pulling out the black dress she planned to wear to the dinner that night. Her shoes were neatly laid right below it, and she grabbed those too.

“What’s wrong? Are you mad at me?” he asked.

“No. I just…don’t feel good,” she responded as she brought her clothes back out and laid them on the bed.

“I thought you looked pale. The flu?”

“No. Cramps.”

Edgar made a face.

“Maybe we should take a rain check.”

“We can’t. I’ll just have to grin and bear it. I’m good at that.”

There wasn’t much time to spare. Quickly, Shelby struggled into her panty hose and dressed. Then, it was time to apply fresh make-up and fix up her hair. By now, she was used to attending multiple functions in one day, and needing to prepare for them hurriedly, so it didn’t take her long to make her preparations. But she frowned when she finished and looked in the mirror. Something wasn’t right with her ensemble. Finally, it occurred to her that the amulet that Alan had made for her to ward off ghouls looked awkward hanging from her neck suspended from a black cord. For the occasion she’d be attending tonight, she’d need something more sophisticated looking.

“Edgar, I need the silver chain. Could you get it from my jewelry box, please?” she asked.

“Ah, yes. Silver. Good choice,” he remarked, “It will keep any werewolves eating with us tonight at bay, too.”

“I doubt any of them would dare try anything.”

“If Erickson is there, I wouldn’t put it past him,” Edgar warned.

Shelby’s smile was a little on the patronizing side as she changed her amulet over to the silver chain and worked to clasp the fastening around her neck.

“Erickson won’t be there. This is a dinner for campaign supporters and sponsors only,” she said.

At last, it was time to say good night to the kids and check out with Edgar’s mom, Jeannie, who would be watching the children while they attended their dinner tonight. Tyler and Kirsten were doing their homework at the dining room table, and Owen was bouncing in his exerciser that was mounted in the doorway while Jeannie put the finishing touches on the supper they’d be eating.

“I don’t know what time we’ll be home,” Shelby said.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll be in late. No offense, dear, but when a bunch of politicians all get together in the same room, they all want to blow off a bunch of hot air,” Jeannie replied knowingly.

“I’m sure you’re right.”

Edgar rolled his eyes. The only reason he had any inclination to go was for the supernatural factor. There certainly would be ghouls and werewolves in attendance. He wanted to keep his eyes on them.

Together, they kissed their kids goodnight and headed off for the house of Shelby’s uncle, where the dinner was being hosted. The Sigmund residence, home of Shelby’s uncle and one of Santa Carla’s former mayors, was a stately house situated on the cliffs not far from Lighthouse Park. Cars were lined up and down East Cliff Drive. Yet Shelby knew that her uncle had a spot reserved just for her, so she was able to pull right into his driveway and park her Town and Country next to his Mercedes. On the other side of his vehicle, Shelby recognized the SUV belonging to her Lieutenant Mayor, David Martinez. Once again, he was her running mate on her ticket. She was glad to see that he was already here. But then again, he was always very punctual.

A butler was waiting by the door to help them with their jackets. Then, they were greeted by Shelby’s uncle.

“You’re just in time for cocktails,” he said warmly, offering a hug to his niece. He then shook Edgar’s hand. Edgar tried not to wince, as he knew he was shaking hands with a known ghoul.

In fact, Edgar was not surprised to find that the guest list comprised of many people that were ‘registered’ on his and Alan’s unofficial ‘who’s a ghoul’ list. He would make certain to have the names of those that weren’t by night’s end. Almost all of the others were fleabags. Edgar was reasonably certain that only he, Shelby, the wait staff and possibly a small smattering of the other guests were morts. It gave him the creeps.

Dinner was announced shortly after Shelby and Edgar began to circulate among the guests with their cocktails in hand. Everyone was escorted into the dining room and seated at an impeccably set table. Shelby was seated beside her uncle on the right, and David Martinez to his left. Edgar was seated next to Shelby, and across from him, next to her husband sat Martinez’s wife, Carmen. The other guests were arranged down the table accordingly, with Edgar paying close attention to the name labels artfully displayed in front of their plates.

As the first course was being served up, Frank Sigmund wasted no time with idle chat.

“I’ve been paying close attention to the polls Shelby, as I’m sure we all have been. The good news is, you still have a sizeable lead. Of course, there is still plenty of time for things to change, and we all know what a shady character Vic Erickson is. I’m sure he’s planning a smear campaign as we speak,” he announced.

Others murmured their assent. Even Martinez, a fellow werewolf of Erickson’s pack, was quick to agree.

“His track record in his past couple of years has been less than stellar,” Shelby pointed out.

“How much of that can be brought to public scrutiny if the need arises?” Frank asked.

“The deaths of two of his detectives on New Year’s Eve of 2006 is public record, even if the circumstances surrounding it are somewhat classified. I’m also having a review of his police force expenditures done on the quiet. The economy is such a concern these days. I expect the report to be ready by the beginning of next week.”

“Nail him on every little thing you can. I see him parked in the drive thru at Tia Maria’s an awful lot in his unmarked car…at all hours of the night and day. And, I’m sure if he’s doing it, his whole damn department is!” Frank growled.

Shelby took a deep swallow of wine. Like she should talk. How often had she used her City issued Town and Country for unofficial business? However, the difference between her and her competition was that she took pains to hide her affairs from the public eye. She squirmed in her seat, wondering just what sort of dirt Erickson was trying to dig up on her. Lord only knew, he could have detectives tailing her 24/7. The thought made her more than a little uncomfortable. However, if she learned it was true, she could also write it up in her ‘wasteful uses of county money’ report and throw it back in his hairy snout.

Conversation continued much in this vein throughout the main course and through dessert. By then, Shelby had quite forgotten about her bathroom visitation as she concentrated on keeping up appearances in a dining room full of ghouls and werewolves. It was imperative that they believe she was still inhabited by the entity that she had been possessed with as a child, even though she had been rid of it for two years now.

After the table was cleared and conversation was breaking up into small talk, Frank stood up to convey to his guests that the evening would be drawing to a close. Though he was loathed to admit it; he had just passed his seventieth birthday, and he was starting to slow down some. Already, it was past ten o’clock. However, before Shelby and Edgar could retrieve their coats from the butler, Frank summoned Shelby to him.

“I would like to speak with you in the study briefly,” he said to her, “Edgar can wait here. We’ll just be a few moments.”

Shelby nodded acceptingly and followed her uncle into his well appointed study. He closed the door behind her while she took a seat in a one of the matched, hunter green wing back guest chairs placed in front of his massive mahogany wood desk.

“Firstly, I just wanted to tell you that I’m very proud of the job you’ve done in the last four years you’ve been in office. You’ve upheld the standards that I worked very hard to instill in this town when I was in office. Frankly, I don’t think anyone else could possibly come close to running this town like you do, and I will do everything in my power to see to it that you continue to do so for the next four years,” he told her with an approving smile on his face.

“I’m very grateful for your confidence,” Shelby replied, “You’ve always been an inspiration to me.”

“You know, your aunt would be very proud of you, too. She knew you and I were cut from the same cloth. It’s true, what they say…behind every great man is a great woman. I do miss her terribly. It’s a shame, Shelby. A terrible shame…”

Shelby cocked her head to the side and declined to comment. The door creaked open, and the butler stepped inside. From his fingers dangled Shelby’s amulet. Her uncle gave an amused smile and folded his hands on his desk. Shelby felt a lump form in her throat that she was certain was her heart beating there. Quickly, she forced it down when she noticed her uncle’s eyes growing bright. He was feeding from the fear he sensed growing in her.

“I meant what I said when I told you I’d do anything to see to it that you remain in office. But, I have certain conditions that must be adhered to. This is a unique town with a delicate balance, Shelby, as I’m sure you know. I’m not sure how long you’ve been pulling the wool over my eyes, but I can assure you, when you enter your second term, you will enter it properly, and you will run this town properly, just as you did when you started your first term. It’s not polite to fool the voters, now is it?” Frank asked.

“H-how did…,” Shelby stammered. Her eyes were still fixed on the butler with her amulet.

Then she remembered how he conveniently helped her with her coat. He must have unclasped it without her knowledge when he slid her coat off and pocketed it. It must also mean that the butler was an unaffected mortal, because if he was a ghoul, he would be unable to touch the thing.

The door opened again, and a table server stepped inside. Shelby gazed into her bright hazel eyes and realized at once that she was possessed. The woman smiled stiffly at her. Then, the maid turned to Frank and favored him with a warmer smile.

“Now, Shelby, you’ve been rather unkind to my companion spirit. Considering the degree of success and security she has founded for you, I would say your treatment of her is rather unfair. Please see to it that you foster a more hospitable environment for her this time around. It’s the least you can do. I’ll be watching you.”

“I can run this town just fine without being possessed! I’ve been doing it for two years without you or anyone else knowing I wasn’t!” Shelby insisted, rising from her seat.

“Perhaps you think you can, but that’s not entirely the point. The point is this. You were the custodian of a precious gift. It is the only thing of your aunt that you have…her spirit living inside of you! You WILL take it back, I insist!”

“But it wasn’t HER spirit…it’s not a SPIRIT! It’s a…DEMON!” Shelby argued.

But her argument fell on deaf ears. With a nod from her uncle, the maid was summoned forward. She lunged at Shelby. Shelby made an attempt to jump out of the way, but she was soon overpowered by the butler, who grabbed her from behind. He held her with her arms pinned at her side. Shelby struggled and yelled out, but as far as she could tell, no one was able to hear her through the thick walls and the heavy door of her uncle’s study. Where was Edgar when she needed him?

The maid’s glassy eyes bored into her own. Shelby tried to slam her lids shut, but suddenly, a blue electric light arced towards her with dizzying speed. She remembered this from so long ago. With a rush that felt like the force of an oncoming train, Shelby felt all the air from her body being knocked out of her. Because she knew what was happening, she tried vainly to fight it. But the demon coiled up its strength and pushed again, only harder this time. She was no match for its power.

Two minutes later, Shelby no longer needed to be restrained by the butler. She emerged from her uncle’s study looking as though nothing had happened.

Chapter 2- Voter Registration by PythonPrincess

Chapter 2- Voter Registration


Business had been brisk all evening at the voter registration table set up outside a prominent coffee shop at Santa Carla’s out door Downtown Mall, but it was beginning to slow. Most of the shops at the mall closed at 9 pm on weeknights, but this coffee shop was an exception.

The table was occupied by two temporary employees with a stack of voter registration sheets, a pile of clip boards, a box of pencils, and a slotted, locked box for the registrants to drop their completed sheets into when finished. One of the employees was a fellow in his mid twenties or early thirties that looked like his previous job involved holding up a cardboard sign at an intersection, begging for change. At least he managed to clean himself up some and look presentable as he passed out clipboards to perspective voters. The other employee was also male, had just passed legal drinking age, and was the bearer of multiple piercings. His skin was a shade paler than most, which made his hazel eyes stand out startlingly. A backwards baseball cap was perched over his curly, light brown hair.

“Hey, that guy I just registered said he’s in a band. Maybe I can jam with him sometime.”

The first temp smiled at the now completed card from the customer who had just left the table, folded it, and dropped it into the slotted box.

“That’s great, Jerry. The next one that comes up is mine,” Ryan answered, with an imperceptible roll of his eyes. Being the next greatest rock star was all Jerry knew how to talk about. Ryan doubted he even owned a guitar. Oh, wait. He’d said he did over one of the limited conversations they’d had while manning the registration table over the last week and a half. But he’d had to hock it. What a shame. Ryan thought that maybe when their employment gig was finished, he’d let Jerry rock on to the Stairway to Heaven with a quick chomp to the neck…to shut him up forever. Was twenty six cents a signature worth this punishment?

Ryan’s mental question was answered just a few brief seconds later when a young woman approached the table with a steaming cup of coffee in her hands. A smile crossed his lips. Jerry began to move registration papers towards the front of the table, and Ryan elbowed him sharply in the ribs.

“I just got finished telling you the next one is mine,” he hissed at him. His hazel eyes almost betrayed a hint of the feral amber that could come out at the most unexpected or inconvenient times. Jerry held his hands up in mock surrender.

“Chill. Just chill out. I’m making things more presentable is all…”

“Yeah, right,” Ryan grumbled.

“Hi, uh, I was just wondering what I need to register?” the girl asked, regarding the paperwork on the table with a slight air of confusion.

“We have everything you need here. All you have to do is fill out the form,” Ryan answered cheerfully, putting a form on a clipboard.

“Well, see, I just moved here not long ago. My license is from out of state. I don’t even have a utility bill yet, but I do have a rental agreement….”

“That’s fine. We just need to know what address you’re living at now, so you’ll get your voter confirmation card and your election materials at your current address. You’ll also know which poll to vote at when the big day comes.”

“Oh, that’s great.” The girl said. She pulled up one of the guest chairs and signed in on Ryan’s clipboard. He smiled triumphantly. Ka-ching; another twenty six cents.

“Do you have your picture ID with you? We need to verify that you are of legal voting age,” Ryan told her.

“Oh, yeah, sure.”

She looked more than happy to produce her driver’s license from her wallet and hand it to Ryan for his inspection. Her name, ‘Marin Elizabeth Morrow’ matched the name ‘Marin Morrow’ she’d hastily scribbled onto the sign in sheet, and she had turned 18 in July. He also noted that her license was one from the state of Colorado, and that her previous street address was in Denver.

“You’re a long way from home, Marin. What brings you this way?” Ryan asked casually as the girl poured over the registration sheet with her thickly lashed blue-green eyes.

She didn’t answer for a moment, but Ryan noticed that her hand stopped scribbling answers on the sheet.

“Oh, travel. And some research,” she finally said. Her answer was cryptic and vague. Ryan could tell she intended it to be that way.

“Travel’s cool. Been anywhere exciting? I’d like to climb Mt. Everest someday. And go on tours with my band,” Jerry interjected from his seat.

“Tours? You have a band?” Marin asked, her voice betraying a hint of disbelief.

“Uh, no. He would just like to. That’s Jerry for you. I’m Ryan.”

“Yeah, Ryan thinks he’s the next Tony Hawk,” Jerry sounded with a depreciating chuckle.

Ryan felt a dangerous flame building behind his eyes. That did it. Jerry was definitely toast.

Marin shook her head lightly. Her hair was a cascade of dark blonde curls that bounced down around her shoulders as her head moved. Ryan wanted to reach out and lightly tug on one. She’d make some pretty damn good fast food, even if she wasn’t much of a morsel. Her frame was fairly petite, and she barely hit his chin. But she had a nice set underneath her tight sweater, and her jeans hugged some excellent curves. Maybe she’d be good to stave off some other itches he’d been having first. Then she’d feed his other appetites. Then, she’d feed the fish.

But not before Jerry would. Jerry was the shifty sort that just might be expected to walk off the job and forget about his last paycheck. It would simply mean more business for Ryan in the last couple of weeks of his stint as a voting registrar. This location was a hotbed of activity since it was conveniently located near the bus station. The mall was always busy, too. With such an important presidential election looming ahead, lots of people were making certain they were registered. For once, Ryan found he had some pocket money.

Marin went back to filling out her form, stopping occasionally to sip on her flavored coffee. Ryan could smell wafts of cinnamon coming from the cup. The Roman numerals of the illuminated clock face mounted at the down town bus depot was just visible from where he sat. It was quarter to 8. Soon, he and Jerry could close up their little kiosk and transport the materials back to the small office building at City Hall. Afterwards, Ryan could do in Jerry. Or not. It depended on what would be in store for the rest of the night.

“So, how long have you been in Santa Carla?” Ryan asked.

“Not long. Just a couple of weeks,” Marin replied. She signed her name with a little flourish at the bottom of her form and handed the clipboard back to Ryan with a smile.

“I’ve only lived here a little over a year myself. But it’s a great place. Maybe I could show you around…”

Marin smiled again, dazzling him with her even, bright teeth.

“I’d like that, but I’ll have to take a rain check for tonight. I have an appointment with my new landlord in half an hour to sign the lease agreement. In fact, I’d better get going,” she told him.

“Sure, any time in the later evening works for me….I finish up with this stint at 9. Is that okay with you?” Ryan asked.

Marin gave a casual nod. Then she selected a pencil from the box on the table and scribbled something on a piece of scratch paper she found in her purse.

“That’s my cell phone number. Give me a call some time.”

With a quick wave, Marin took off, leaving Ryan with her contact number and a silly grin on his face. He wiped it off as soon as Jerry nudged him back to his senses.

“It’s about time to start folding up,” he said.

“Right. You got it, dude,” Ryan answered with a hint of a predatory gleam in his eyes.

After they loaded up their cargo into the city issued van, Ryan took the driver’s seat. It was a pretty straightforward drive back to City Hall, but tonight, Ryan decided to take a detour along a stretch of nearly deserted coastal road.

“Where the hell are you going?” Jerry asked, raising his eyebrows in curiosity.

“Land’s End,” Ryan replied, pulling the van over to the shoulder of the road.

Jerry only had time to open his mouth and issue out a noise that sounded like the beginning of a protest before Ryan clamped his hands around his neck and squeezed him like a boa constrictor. Jerry’s eyes bugged in his head as the shock of what was happening started to hit home. Bu the real shock came when Ryan pulled him out of his seat and through the driver’s side door. Then, still holding him by his neck, he slammed him down on the ground, fell atop him, and bit into his warm, throbbing jugular. Jerry jerked violently and thrashed around for a few minutes. He tried to get up, and nearly succeeded in pulling Ryan’s fingers away from his throat in one last bid for freedom. But all strength quickly ebbed from his body as his blood was drawn from his veins. Soon, he fell limp against the ground.

“What a shame I’m getting stuck unloading all the registration forms tonight, you slacker,” Ryan chastised his dead partner as he deftly went through his pockets. The effort wasn’t a total waste. He was rewarded with half a pack of gum, two guitar picks, and fifty seven cents in change in one of Jerry’s front pockets. The other held his cell phone. One of his rear jeans pockets carried his wallet, while the other was empty. Ryan combed through the wallet and pulled out eight dollars and two rolled up joints.

“I’d call us even. Not bad for a night’s work,” he said with a satisfied smirk. Then, he pocketed the money, the joints, the gum, and the guitar picks; and stuffed the cell phone and the wallet back into the dead man’s pockets. Finally, he drug Jerry’s stiff around the other side of the van and dropped him over the edge of the cliff and into the ocean below where the tide would carry him out to sea.

Ryan was officially off for the night when the voter registration forms were unloaded back at the City Hall office and locked up, and the van was parked at the City Garage. It was after ten. He considered a future date with Marin. They’d be meeting up around this time. Would it be too late for her?

A mortifying thought shot through his mind as he flew back to the hideout. How the hell would he take her anywhere if he had no car or motorcycle to pick her up with? It wasn’t like he could just fly her around town!

The solution to his dilemma was floating down at the bottom of the sea where Ryan’s latest meal was now heading. What a shame there would be no salvation for that Harley Chopper he and David had filched from a group of bikers last summer. Unfortunately, it had attracted the attention of the Mayor when the biker the Harley belonged to had been reported missing. Ryan would have to come up with another solution to get himself a set of wheels.

Ryan swooped into the hideout just as Paul was sparking up his pre work joint, and Marko was on his way out to start his shift at the bar. David looked like he’d already been somewhere and come back already. Perhaps he’d been on a kill…but he was oddly unsoiled, and his hair was still slightly damp. With David, one never knew of all his comings and goings, and it was best not to ask. The same was true with Dwayne, who was sorting tools in the corner of the room. Laddie and Alex were engaged in some quiet snuggle time that Ryan didn’t particularly care to intrude upon. It looked like Laddie would be going to work in a little while, too, but Alex was dressed as if she had the night off.

“So, how did Voter Registration go?” Paul asked, passing Ryan the hooter.

“Groovy. I offed my partner. He was annoying the piss out of me. Here, have some guitar picks.”

“Hey, right on, bud! I could always use some more of those!” Paul crowed happily, placing the picks in his stash.

“You offed your partner? Great…so how are you going to explain his absence?” Alex asked, tearing herself away from her liplock with Laddie.

Ryan shrugged.

“I won’t. The guy was a bum. If anyone asks, I’ll just say he didn’t show up for work. No skin off my hide.”

“Suit yourself. Just make sure that every kill you make is gotten rid of completely, especially now that Erickson is running for office. All our activities will be scrutinized carefully,” David warned him.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I didn’t even kill him in the van so there wouldn’t be any forensic evidence in case Erickson suspects anything and fingers me. But I doubt he will. Jerry’s not the sort of guy that would be missed,” Ryan said. Then he gave a deep sigh.

“I guess getting a bike any time soon would be out of the question,” he mused.

David quirked an eyebrow and blew out a mouthful of smoke from the joint that had just been passed his way.

“What brought this up out of the blue?” he asked.

Ryan sighed deeply. He’d been around long enough to remember how David had reacted when Paul had been hanging out with Lana not so long ago. He’d been pretty new when Marko had revealed an interest in a mortal girl named Jade awhile back, and that had ended rather tragically, but if Ryan’s memory served him right, there had been some underlying tensions between Marko and David over Jade, too.

He had only just met Marin, and he hadn’t even had a chance to go out with her yet. Frankly, Ryan didn’t David giving him any ‘tude over it.

“It’s a girl, isn’t it? You’re trying to impress a girl, aren’t you?” David asked.

Somehow, David had managed to pull the issue up without Ryan even saying anything about it.

“Uh, a girl? What would make you say that?” Ryan asked.

“It’s not what you said. It’s what you didn’t say. I didn’t fall off the stupid bus last night.”

Ryan let out another deep sigh.

“Well, to be honest, I can’t say it’s a girl…yet. I’ve only had just one conversation with her, and really, I haven’t even decided if she’s going to be anything more than an appetizer or an occasional y’know…That is I mean…if she’s even interested in me….,” he stammered, “But I have no chance in hell getting anywhere with her if a skateboard is my only means of transportation.”

“Dude has a point,” Paul interjected, “Nothing will put a guy on the ‘unfuckable list’ like not having a decent set of wheels.”

“That’s what’s great about being what we are. Mortal rules don’t apply. We get what we want,” David argued with a smirk.

“Oh, right. So I just walk up to Marin and flash my fangs. That will surely get me some tail. Right…she’ll turn tail and run!” Ryan laughed.

David shook his head, but he chucked at his youngest Childes’ humor.

“It shouldn’t be hard to get you a bike. We’ll have to make a clandestine trip to a dealership at least a few towns over; maybe as far away as Sacramento. We’ll boost you a bike, and Dwayne can file the vin number from it. Then, we’ll get a license plate from somewhere else. Whatever we do, none of this can come from local sources. At least you’re working, so if Erickson sees you cruising around town on a new bike, you can justify how you were able to afford it. You can bet we’re being watched, so you just watch your step with this girl,” David warned.

Ryan nodded his understanding. Paul whistled and grinned wolfishly.

“So, is she hot?” he asked.

“Oh, definitely,” Ryan answered.

“Tall? Stacked? Blonde? Brunette? Do you know her blood type?” Paul pressed.

“You may be my biological father, but you’re a pig!” Alex cried, interrupting the conversation from across the room. Despite her indignation, she had a half smile on her face.

“I am what I am, and I’m proud of it, girl!” Paul returned.

“To answer your questions, she’s not tall, but she is stacked, her hair is a nice shade of gold…and I don’t know her blood type yet, but I aim to find out,” Ryan said.

“Well, you’re right about one thing,” Alex said sagely, “If you want a snowball’s chance in hell with her, your skateboard isn’t going to cut it. You definitely need a set of wheels. Otherwise, you’ll come off like a slacker.”

“You may be my biological daughter…but you’re a snob!” Paul laughed.

“I am what I am, and I’m proud of it, man!” Alex volleyed.

Chapter 3- Frog Juice by PythonPrincess

Chapter 3- Frog Juice


Several ‘satellite’ campaign headquarters had been set up around town so that volunteers could work at various hours making solicitation phone calls, stuff mailers, and sort the mail that came in on a regular basis that was meant for Shelby and her staff advisors to answer. Volunteers and some paid staff were also employed to assist with designing the campaign posters that were put up around town. Running a campaign took a great deal of money, so there were also fundraisers that volunteers and paid staff helped to organize. All volunteers were well treated; and plied with free donuts and coffee during their shifts for their efforts. Edgar and Alan also threw in discount coupons for the comic book shop. Alan cleaned out his garage and opened it up as one of the satellite centers where volunteers could work.

It was an ideal space since several long tables could be set up in there, and at least 20 people could work comfortably inside. It was sheltered from the elements and had good lighting. Alan used it as a workshop, so it was wired with a phone jack and electricity. Inside the main house, volunteers had access to bathroom facilities. And Alan’s wife, Michelle, worked from home, so she could keep the volunteers stocked with donuts and coffee.

After leaving work most evenings and during the weekends, Shelby made the rounds to the satellite stations to bolster her volunteers’ enthusiasm and check with her paid staff to ensure that things were running smoothly. Edgar would accompany her when needed and bring extra supplies. Even Jeannie and the kids got involved, making goodie bags that were stuffed with campaign bumper stickers, pin badges, pencils and 25% off coupons to Frog’s Comics for the volunteers.

While the rest of the family worked downstairs, Shelby was up in the bedroom taking stock of her appearance. It hadn’t even been two years since the elemental demon had been forced out of her body, but what a difference that time had made. Shelby without her demon was a total frump. The clothes she bought after she had Owen were bland and boring as hell. Maybe she was practicing for a future career as a Federal Agent! A sea of grays, beiges and blacks stared back at her in the closet. It was relentless. Granted, one had to dress tastefully when holding a public office, but now that Shelby’s demon was back, so would her more updated, eye catching wardrobe. Especially now that she was once again running for office, it was highly important that she didn’t fade in with the furniture!

This morning’s venture was of a more casual nature, but Shelby knew that any time spent in the public eye would be scrutinized; even if she was stopping at Day’s Market for some quick groceries. She had to look good. Shelby chose a muted brick red turtleneck sweater, (and Edgar would naturally think her amulet dangled beneath the folds of the turtleneck), a pair of carefully pressed, black jeans, and a pair of her signature black pumps. Classy accessories spiced up her look, and she made sure that her hair and makeup were impeccable. That old gleam was in her eyes again, and she smiled. But her jeans were a bit on the snug side. She wondered how long it had been since ‘old Shelby’ had hit the gym.

“Negligence never pays, my dear,” she whispered to herself. Old Shelby may have tired easily, but now she found she had boundless energy….as long as she had plenty to feed on.

“Are you ready yet?” Edgar called from downstairs.

“Just about!” Shelby returned.

She was glad he had called out to her. It meant he was still down with the rest of the family. Shelby had time for one last bit of business. Quickly, she grabbed her cell phone off the dresser and dialed up her uncle. He answered on the second ring.

“Shelby, what a pleasant surprise. How’s the campaign going?” he asked.

“Just fine. Listen, I didn’t call to talk about the campaign. I have a quick favor to ask. Do you still have that amulet you took away from me?”

“Oh, I have it. I plan to have it studied. It’s in a safe place. Why?”

“I need you to have a copy made of it as quickly as possible. Just a harmless copy. For appearances only. So that Edgar will think that I still have it. Get it to me as quickly as you can!”

“Ah, yes, I suppose you’ll be needing something like that, won’t you. Yes, I’ll have someone get on it right away. It shouldn’t be too hard. Looks like the outer shell is simply made of glass. You’ll have it tomorrow afternoon. I’ll have someone messenger it to your office.”

“Fantastic. Thanks. Oh, and maybe some for the kids, too. I can swap them out while they sleep. It pains me that I can’t even get too close to Tyler or Kirsten because of those damn things. They stink like hell. But it’s nothing a dust mask, some goggles and a pair of scissors won’t handle,” Shelby explained.

“What about the baby?”

“He’s too young for an amulet. Hell, he’d just pull it off and eat it. But, he’s too young for an elemental demon to possess. You and I both know that. He’s the only one I can get close to right now.”

With that arranged, Shelby was ready to spend a Sunday morning with the volunteers at Alan and Michelle’s satellite center. She tucked her cell phone into her purse and headed down to the kitchen, where the rest of the family was stuffing the last of the goodie laden plastic bags into a box that Edgar would soon be loading into the mini van.

“I made the most!” Kirsten bragged.

“Did not! I did!” Tyler boasted, elbowing his sister.

“Honestly, you two. There’s no need to argue. Both of you beat me,” Jeannie intermediated.

Shelby looked into the box and raised an eyebrow.

“Looks like you were all very busy! That’s a lot of bags! I’ll be able to take some of those to another station too,” she said enthusiastically.

Edgar smirked and served up three glasses of some slimy looking liquid and placed them in front of the kids and Jeannie. He held his own glass and upended it, sending the contents down his throat in one gulp. Tyler and Jeannie did likewise. Kirsten grimaced at her drink.

“Drink up. It’ll give you more bag making ammo,” Edgar told her.

“Do I gotta? It’s gross!” she sniffed.

“Go on. Drink it dear. It keeps the boogey man away,” Jeannie encouraged her.

“It tastes like boogies!” the child protested.

“It looks like boogies! What the hell is that?!” Shelby asked.

Edgar grunted a response that Shelby couldn’t quite understand, so she turned to Jeannie.

“He said ‘Frog Juice’. I can’t believe, in all the years the two of you have been married, that you don’t know what ‘Frog Juice’ is!” Jeannie exclaimed.

“No, I can’t quite believe it myself! Just what, precisely, is Frog Juice?” Shelby demanded.

“I’ll tell you later,” Edgar said.

“No, You’ll tell me NOW!”

Shelby could tell that Edgar was squirming beneath her harsh words, and she loved every minute of it. The tension in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife. Shelby opened her mouth and breathed it in. Oh, it was rich and thick, like blood to a vampire.

Owen, sitting in his high chair, fingering some Cheerios, let out a high pitched squeak. Then, he began to wail, flinging cereal bits to the floor.

“Oh, now, look. The little one’s upset with all this yelling. Perhaps you two might want to take your tiff into the other room away from the children,” Jeannie suggested. She moved over to the chair and lifted Owen out and began to pat him on the back, easing his discomfort with a grandmother’s affection.

“Stop being such a baby and drink your juice already! Show Mom that it’s okay!” Tyler snapped at his sister.

“I’m not a baby!” Kirsten yelled. She grabbed her glass and gulped down the contents, making a horrid face as the liquid went down her throat. Then she settled back on her chair and pouted, angry that she was forced to drink her vile breakfast.

“That’s a good girl. I’ll fix you some pancakes as soon as I get Owen down for his nap,” Jeannie announced, collecting the empty glasses with her free hand.

Edgar gathered up the box and made for the ped door to the garage. Shelby followed hot on his heels.

“I’ll be back in a few hours,” she said, “Maybe you’d like the afternoon off, Jeannie. Reyna can stay with Owen, and the kids can come to the mall with me while I do some shopping. How does that sound?”

“Whatever you need, dear. But it would be nice to go see Alan and Michelle myself today. Lord only knows those two have been through the wringer lately…”

Shelby didn’t hear much of Jeannie’s response. She was already belted into the Town and Country. Edgar loaded the box into the cargo area and climbed in beside her. Shelby fastened a death glare on Edgar as he started up the engine.

“Now would be a real good time to tell me what the hell is in that drink you’re feeding our children,” she told him.

“Holy water, garlic and egg whites. Okay? Nothing sinister.”

“RAW EGGS? You’re feeding our kids RAW EGGS? Christ, Edgar, that’s like hand feeding them salmonella! Why don’t you let them lick the underbelly of a turtle! Better yet..let them lick up the cutting board after Jeannie’s been boning raw poultry! Are you nuts?”

“My parents fed Alan and I Frog Juice when we were kids. We never once got salmonella….”

“Your parents smoked grass, dropped acid and shot up god knows what! I’m surprised they didn’t give you and Alan baby hits off of pint sized bongs!”

“Real classy, Shelby,” Edgar growled.

“Well, it’s true,” Shelby argued.

“Just the same, Tyler and Kirsten have been fed a steady diet of Frog Juice since they were toddlers. They’ve never gotten salmonella…or if they have, they’ve built up a tolerance to it. Just like my brother and I. It’s probably good for them. Kirsten was just putting on a show since she doesn’t like it.”

“You’ve been feeding that crap to them every day?”

“Yup. Every day. Trust me. No vampire will ever want to sink its teeth into their veins and drink their blood. Our kids are perfectly toxic to any suck monkeys. As soon as Owen is old enough, I plan to start him on it, too. If you absolutely insist, I can mix it with something other than eggs. The egg is really for protein, you know. Builds strength. It’s not a necessary ingredient.”

Shelby narrowed her eyes at him.

“And when did you plan on telling me about all of this?”

“When did you plan on noticing?” Edgar fired back.

“So, it’s back to this again, is it? Gee, Edgar, you know why I’m not so keen to notice things about Tyler and Kirsten’s morning routines. My memories are a bit skewered. Must you constantly throw this in my face?”

Edgar tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he waited out a red light.

“You’ve been fine for almost two years. In that time, you’ve had your mind on other things, I’d say..,” he ventured.

“Oh, I have, you’d say. Well, why don’t you go on and say what I’ve had my mind ON!” Shelby steamed.

Once again, she parted her lips slightly, breathing in the aroma of Edgar’s anxiety, anger and discomfort. A little martial discord was good for the appetite.

Edgar remained stonily silent as the light changed to green.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I’ve had my mind on, Mr. Frog Juice. In the time since I’ve gone back to normal, I nearly lost my life giving birth to a premature child. I’ve played hell with my hormones in the time since. And if that’s not enough, every day I go to work, it’s a cat and mouse game, hoping no one there figures out that I’m not ‘normal’. It’s not easy pretending I’m not, you know. All this on top of running the town. Then, I come home, and I’m the best wife and mother I can be. And you have the gall to think that I’m not involved in my children’s lives because I don’t notice that they drink salmonella laced SNOT for breakfast? For God’s sake…I help Tyler and Kirsten with their homework every evening, listen as they say their prayers and tuck them in each night…I still pump my breast milk for Owen…How fucking DARE you!” Shelby raged.

“You know, maybe re-election isn’t the best thing for our family,” Edgar stated.

“I can’t believe this is coming out of your mouth. If I pull out now, you know who wins, don’t you. You’ll have your work cut out for you with a wicked werewolf running the City Council.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time, and it won’t be the last.”

“Well, personally, I’d sleep better at night knowing that the fleabags aren’t in control of the town this term. Trust me, darling, if you and your brother want to do this town some good in the name of Truth, Justice and the American Way, get rid of Erickson before the next election. Permanently. He’s a danger to society.”

Edgar looked at Shelby with wide eyes.

“I’ve never heard you talk this way. Are you feeling alright?”

“I’m feeling fine,” Shelby replied.

Edgar made a ‘slit throat’ motion for her to stop talking, and Shelby picked up on his innuendo immediately. Of course, they could never be too sure that Erickson hadn’t planted a bug in the minivan when she had it parked in the government garage on Friday. When they pulled up at Alan’s house, Edgar unloaded the boxes and sent Shelby in to fetch his brother so they could do a thorough sweep of the van to detect any hidden listening devices. All of this was done as discreetly as possible so that the volunteers that were beginning to arrive would not be alarmed.

Michelle was ready for the workers with a huge box of pastries from the local bakery and a pot of fresh brewed coffee. The volunteers showing up at this early hour were a couple of older women from the Ladies Auxiliary. They would also work the polls on Election Day. The women were set up with their tasks and supplied with whatever pastries they desired. The coffee was set up so that they could help themselves whenever they wished.

“You don’t look so well, Michelle. Is everything alright?” Shelby asked, eyeing her sister in law with a raised eyebrow. Michelle looked positively exhausted. Her eyes were shadowed and her cheeks were a bit sunken.

“Just tired,” Michelle responded dully. She gave an encouraging smile despite her worrisome appearance, and Shelby thought she detected a bit of a spark in Michelle’s eyes that told her that her spirit was still burning strong regardless of whatever physical ravages she might be suffering through. Then again, Michelle had suffered through a great deal in her life, and always battled back with a lion’s courage. Fear wasn’t something that backed her into a corner often, making her someone that Shelby had to pretend to like. At least when inhabited by her demon.

“Those hormones must be a bitch,” Shelby mused.

“Oh, they are. A real bitch,” Michelle agreed.

One of the volunteers cleared her throat.

“Darlings, I hate to interrupt, but Doris really shouldn’t eat this bear claw. She’s a diabetic. Her blood sugar was fine this morning, but still, we can’t afford to take any chances, now can we?”

“Honestly, Helen, a treat every now and then won’t hurt…”

“Sure, but I don’t think you need to pass out in a diabetic coma in front of the Mayor!”

“We might have a croissant here for you,” Michelle offered, lifting one of the flaky treats out of the box. As she carried it over, her face contorted into a mask of discomfort. She gave the pastry to the volunteer and quickly excused herself from the room, hurrying out as quickly as could. Shelby gave a look of concern to the volunteers.

“Here, these are also for you, ladies. Enjoy them. I’ll be back in a moment,” she said, handing the Auxiliary members their goodie bags. Her ghoulish curiosity was piqued. She found Michelle leaving the bathroom, wiping her mouth off with a hand towel.

At once, Shelby was confronted with a delicious wall of fear. She had caught Michelle in a private moment. Her sister in law was worried…..even afraid of something. Shelby knew that Alan and Michelle had been trying for another child for many months now, with little success. Michelle was a few years older than Alan, and was creeping up on 40. They wanted to have one more child to raise with their son, Cameron, before she hit middle age. A few months ago, they had turned to hormonal treatments to speed things along when natural measures had failed them. But now, Michelle’s 40th birthday was only 9 months away. Perhaps her fear that she wouldn’t succeed was rearing its ugly head, and Shelby planned to be right there to feed from it.

“Are you sure you’re up to this? We can always re-route the volunteers to another station if you’re not feeling well,” Shelby said, steering Michelle to the couch.

“No, no. I’ll be okay. It’s not like I have to do much. And Cameron’s a good kid. He comes out with his toys and behaves himself too,” Michelle added.

“Well, Jeannie plans to come by in a little while. Maybe she’ll take him off your hands for a bit. But honestly. Maybe you should give the hormones a rest. You’re not looking well at all!” Shelby exclaimed.

Michelle gave a weak smile.

“I’m not on them anymore,” she answered simply.

Shelby gazed at her and suddenly understood. Ah, yes, Michelle was simply brimming with life. No wonder her eyes had such a spark in them.

“Well, congratulations then! When were you planning on telling us?” Shelby asked, prodding further. The fear was still there, despite the good news.

Michelle sniffled and bit her lip.

“I don’t know. We haven’t really discussed when. Maybe when we know more about what’s happening. See, this isn’t the first time I got pregnant. Right after we started the treatments, I got pregnant right away. Then, I lost it a week and a half later. We hardly had any time to be happy about it. So then nothing happened for awhile. Finally, I found out I’m pregnant again. Alan and I decided that we wouldn’t get all happy about it, just in case I lost it. Six weeks went by, then eight. Then, Thursday, our doctor decided he wanted to do a preliminary ultrasound to check the placement of the placenta and all of that stuff. Alan and I decided that if all went well with that appointment, it would be a good time to tell everyone…”

“So you’re nine weeks along? And not a peep? What did the doctor find?” Shelby asked, feigning the utmost concern. The corners of her mouth twitched as she focused in on her sister in law’s fear, breathing in the sweet, rich taste of it.

Michelle shuddered and then squared her shoulders.

“He found three. And a shadow. It could be a fourth. I’m scheduled for a high resolution ultrasound next week.”

Shelby’s jaw dropped.

“Jesus! Are you kidding?!”

“God no, I wish I was. Especially after he started talking about the risks of delivering multiples to a woman ‘my age’…and how we might consider ‘selective abortion’…ugh, it was enough to make me retch! Granted, we only wanted one, and we knew what the risks of fertility treatments were, but we honestly didn’t think it would happen to us!” Michelle cried.

“Well, let me ask you a question. Answer me honestly, even if you think it has nothing to do with any of this,” Shelby said.

Michelle took a deep breath and focused on Shelby’s question.

“Yeah, sure, what?” she asked.

“You don’t, by chance, drink that horrible Frog Juice. You know, raw egg, garlic and holy all blended up, do you?”

Michelle’s face turned a shade of pale green and she made a face.

“I’ve had it before but not lately. Can’t stomach it. Ugh.”

“Good. Don’t. I’d avoid that for all your pregnancy and beyond, if I were you. Salmonella, you know. I wouldn’t let Cameron or the babies drink that shit either.”

“Well, I used to think the same thing, but honestly, it doesn’t hurt him. He’s hardly been sick a day in his life. Alan says the garlic in the juice is really good for his immune system. And, you know, I’ve read up on it, and he’s right. Go figure.”

“So, now you know the big news. Do me a favor and don’t tell Edgar. I think Alan wants to tell him. I know it’s a big favor to ask since you’re his wife and all, but maybe you could just hint to him that he needs to talk to his brother about something important if you have to….,” Michelle hedged, wringing her hands nervously.

“Oh, don’t worry. Edgar and Alan are as thick as thieves. Something tells me that Alan is out there in the van spilling his guts as we speak. If not there, he will in the shop later today. A secret this big can’t stay a secret for long if you get my point,” Shelby answered, eying Michelle’s midsection.

Shelby smiled reassuringly at her sister in law, but that last little comment caused the desired little fear spike she had been hoping for to top off her feed nicely.

“God, I’m going to be huge!” Michelle muttered as they got up off the couch and headed back out to the garage.

“That’ll be the least of your worries. Just wait til the babies are born. Three at once! Wow…maybe I can loan out Reyna. You’ll need a helper,” Shelby commented dryly.
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