Templeton Reed, skunk shifter, is having trouble sharing a mansion with wolf shifters, even if one is his beloved Mikel, the alpha of the pack. Winter has settled over Lupei mansion and cabin fever is pushing the pack into rowdy behavior. To counter the boredom, and to instill some decorum into his fellow wolves, Mikel announces a trip to the opera is in order.
At first, Templeton is thrilled to be attending such a prestigious event. He is, after all, a lesser breed, and has never been privy to such glamorous entertainment. Sadly, what starts out as a night of opulence and refinement turns into a murder mystery when Templeton discovers a body in the cheap seats. Who, or what, has killed one of the elite of the Lake Erie shifter community? Who is the stranger that arrives to oversee the murder investigation and why is he insisting on staying at Lupei Manor? Will Templeton survive long enough to see act two?
“Our carriage will be waiting,” Mikel said. I nodded in understanding. The cold was bracing after the humidity of so many tightly packed bodies in the ship’s lounge. I inhaled to clear the overlap of perfume and cologne from my nose. We wasted no time in finding the Lupei carriage. It was a huge black and red carriage attached to four ebony steeds pawing at the cobblestone street.
“You higher breeds and your need to cling to the past,” I said with a shake of my head as I climbed inside.
“It’s not all of us,” Mikel replied, sitting down beside me on a velvet-covered seat. “I would be just as happy to use a limo, but protocol must be adhered to. One does not arrive at the Osterman Opera House in anything less than a four-horse. It is simply not done.” He mimed one of the old puma matriarchs we had chatted with during the boat ride. The way he wrinkled his patrician nose was quite adorable. I wanted to kiss him passionately, for his humor always appealed, but didn’t. Dave and Eddie had seen us exchange goodbye pecks, but nothing more than that. I patted his thick thigh instead as I chuckled at the impersonation. The Halfling driver cracked a sharp-sounding whip. The carriage jerked as the horses took off into the night.
“Where exactly is the Osterman located?” I asked as we bounced along a road much older than I was. I knew that the opera house had been named after Oliver Osterman, one of the first of our kind to settle along the shores of Erie. Aside from that, I knew little, as it was intended. If we lessers knew nothing of the excesses of the aristocracy then we would not grow envious. Or so the elders had thought. Fools, the whole lot of them.
“If I told you I would have to kill you,” the alpha replied. I turned my head to look deeply into his eyes. I quickly saw the humor.
“Funny,” I said with a practiced eye roll. I removed my speckled glasses to dry them with my handkerchief.
“I try. Actually, I’m not sure of its exact whereabouts. I do know we’re travelling north, but aside from that I couldn’t say. Personally, I never cared to find out when I was younger. My father and mother were avid operagoer’s who dragged my sister and me along to ensure we had culture to counteract our bloody natures. Thankfully, as I matured, I grew to love the classics.”
Mikel grew wistful as he always did discussing his family. I knew enough to let him work out the taking of his sister’s life in his own way. I did lean my head on his shoulder as I wiped my spectacles. He placed a kiss to my hair then fell into silence.
“So,” I said to Dave and Eddie as I inspected my lenses, “you two are rather quiet. Did one of the cats get your tongues?” I snorted at my own wittiness.
“We don’t fit in,” Dave mumbled. I squinted at the two men across from us through highly smudged glasses. They looked miserable.
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V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a steer named after a famous N.H.L. goalie, a pig named after a famous President, and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.
When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.