Home > Strange Angels (Strange Angels #1)(6)

Strange Angels (Strange Angels #1)(6)
Author: Lili St. Crow, Lilith Saintcrow

Leave me alone. “I don’t want to deal with it today.”

“Okay. I know a place to go. You shoot pool?” He managed not to choke himself on another drag of cigarette smoke. “I’m Graves.”

When did I invite you along? “I know.” I looked back down at my boots, marking off time. “Dru.” And don’t you dare ask what it’s short for.

“Dru.” He repeated it. “You’re new. Couple of weeks, right? Welcome to Foley.”

State the goddamn obvious and bring out your suburban Welcome Wagon. I couldn’t see any way to ditch him just yet, so I just made a noise of assent. We crossed the soccer field in weird tandem, him shortening his stride out of respect for my lack of grasshopper legs. I sized him up as we walked. I’d give myself better odds in a fight, I decided. He didn’t look very tough.

Still, I was walking into the woods with a kid I didn’t know. I stole quick little glances at his hands and decided he might be okay. At least I could kick his ass if he tried anything, and the greenbelt wasn’t very big.

He tried again. “Where you from?”

A planet far, far away. Where nightmares are real. “Florida.” The question always came up, sooner or later. Sometimes, mostly when I was younger, I lied. Most of the time I just pretended like I’d always lived in the last place we’d come from.

People don’t really want to know anything about you. They just want you to fit into their little predetermined slots. They decide what you are in the first two seconds, and they only get nervous or upset if you don’t live up to their snap judgments. That’s one way the normal world’s like the Real—it all depends on what people think you are. Figure that out, play to what they expect, and it’s clear sailing.

“Yeah, you sounded a bit down-South. Big change for you, huh? It’s going to snow.” He announced it like I should be grateful to him for telling me. The strap of my bag dug into my shoulder.

I tried not to bristle. I do not sound Southern. I sound like Gran a little bit, but that’s all. “Thanks for the warning.” I didn’t bother disguising the sarcasm.

“Hey, no problem. First one’s free.”

When I glanced up at him, he was smiling under his hair. It almost threatened to eat his nose, that hair. The proud, bony nose was putting up a good fight, though, and he looked miserably cold. He didn’t even have any gloves.

For a second I toyed with the idea of telling him something. Hi. I’m Dru Anderson. My father went way-out wack after my mom died and now he travels around hunting things that go bump in the night, killing things you only find in fairy tales and ghost stories. I help him out when I can, but most of the time I’m deadweight, even though I can tell you where anything inhuman in this town is likely to hang out. I’m skipping school because I won’t be here in another three months. None of it goddamn well matters.

Instead, I found myself almost smiling back. “You should wear some gloves.”

He peered at me, shaking his hair away. His eyes turned out to be green with threads of brown and gold, thickly fringed with dark lashes, change-color eyes. Boys always get the best eyelashes; it’s like some kind of cosmic law. And half-breed kids get some kind of extra help there from genetics, too. Once he grew into that nose and his face thinned out a bit, the girls would like him a lot. Maybe it would even go to his head.

“Ruins the image,” he said. Silver glittered in his left ear, an earring I couldn’t quite make out.

“You’ll goddamn well freeze to death.” We reached the end of the soccer field and he took the lead, going to the right along a dusty footpath. Bare branches interlaced above us, and the dry smell of fallen leaves tickled my nose with dust. The brick pile of the school behind us would soon be out of sight, and that made me happier than I’d been all day.

Graves snorted, tossed his hair back as he took another drag. The smoke hung in a feathered shape for a moment as he exhaled, but I blinked to clear my eyes. “Hey, we’ve got to suffer for beauty. Chicks don’t go for guys with gloves.”

I’ll bet chicks don’t go for you at all, out here in Stepford Podunk. “How would you know?” I stepped over a tree root, my bag bumping my hip.

“I know.” He shot me a look over his shoulder, his hair almost swallowing his grin, too. “You never said if you liked shooting pool.”

“I don’t.” I felt a little guilty again. He was trying to be nice.

There was one in every school—some guy who thought his chances were better with new girls. “But I’ll beat your ass at it, okay?”

I decided I could wait to find the local paranormal hangout. Dad would probably give me another version of The Lecture if I went looking for it alone. There was that one time in Dallas when he found me trading shots of Coke with a pointy-eared goggle-eyed gremlin and about had a cow—

“Fine.” He didn’t even sound insulted. “If you can, Dru.”

I thought about telling him Dad had taught me to shoot pool when we were low on cash, and decided not to. Maybe if I embarrassed the kid he’d leave me alone.


I got home a little after five, riding the jolting, bumping bus all the way from downtown. Graves had wanted me to hang around and shoot a few more games, but the place—an all-ages pool club with a jukebox and indoor basketball and tennis courts—was loud and full of funky smells, as well as being jammed with kids who should have been in school themselves. So I bailed and had to figure out the bus. I’m used to figuring out the public transportation in just about any part of America, and this place actually had a good system.

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