Island ran away from his past and settled into a new life as a bar owner in Melbourne, Australia, with a quietly promising relationship with Faith, his manager. The past hasn’t forgotten Island, however, which is obvious when Schröd! inger, the talking cat, arrives at the bar. Island’s allegiances to his ex-lover, Trouble, draw Island and Faith to the City and into a territorial dispute for a small corner of the universe.
Faith’s willingness to trust Island and Trouble, and her innate sneakiness, are all that stand between their team and a clan of ambitious and hungry vampires.
If they survive the fighting, Faith, Island and Trouble will have to figure out what to do about their relationship. And who gets custody of the cat.
Some houses were in darkness, closed and boarded up, with grass growing out of cracks in their walls and ivy falling down off their roofs. Others were insubstantial, nothing more than woven mats of reeds held together with string and good luck, giving their occupants only cursory privacy and no protection from the weather. Some were solid stone, untouched by moss or weed, with iron-barred windows and padlocked doors.
All of them opened directly onto the street so that Island, Faith and Trouble were stepping around their doorsteps each time a cart or motorbike veered too close on the dusty road.
Faith hung onto Island more tightly because the road they were on was becoming crowded, with pedestrians pushing past them and street vendors sitting in front of mats on the ground, in front of the houses.
The vendor’s mats were loaded with odd things that Faith had trouble identifying.
Marbles, only larger and prettier, and moving by themselves? Pincushions? Blocks of something dark and pungent, smelling of fire smoke and orange peel?
Faith paused, in front of a squat table laden with fragments of glass that twinkled in the lamp the vendor held out.
“What are they?” Faith asked Island. “Jewelry? They’re beautiful.”
“Candy,” Trouble said, shaking his hand at the vendor and nudging Faith along, away from the young woman behind the table, who held out a sample in impossibly long fingers.
“You thought the cake was good,” Island said, pushing Faith along as well. “The cake is nothing compared to the candy here. Don’t eat the candy.”
“I didn’t want to eat it,” Faith complained, looking back longingly at the table, at the woman still holding out a piece of turquoise toward Faith. “I want to wear it.”
“Sure, that’s what they all say,” Trouble said. “Just want to wear the candy, won’t even lick it, then before you know it you’ve got a full-blown corn syrup habit and no teeth. The alcohol-containing candy is the worst.” Trouble waved away a man who held out a gown of lace for Faith to admire. “Anything that gives you a sugar rush and gets you smashed is evil.”
Laney Cairo is an ex-pat Londoner, who’s settled in very comfortably to the cheaper and warmer Australian lifestyle.
She tried monogamy a couple of times and found it problematic, and has been in a polyamorous relationship with another professional writer for seventeen years. During that time she spent twelve years with a wife as well, possibly the ideal arrangement for a queer woman who is fond of company. Her ex-wife, notably, is not a writer.
Conventional employment proved as tedious as monogamy, and Laney experimented with several career options, including working as Petals the Fairy. She has also been an artist’s nude model, and many years later people still approach her and say, “You look really familiar.” She and her partner wrote and ran murder mystery dinner parties for a hotel chain in the Nineties, the most lucrative gig possible for a couple of writers. She was once accosted by a Wilderness Society Koala who recognized her from a safe sex workshop she had run. She has managed two bookshops, an employment option otherwise known as “subsidised reading.”
Laney is passionate about food, despises bread-making machines as ungodly, makes her own curry paste and is not a vegetarian. She’s politically so far to the left she’s fallen off the edge of the screen. She’s never been arrested, despite years of political activism, and is inordinately proud to be a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence (black veil). She has a spotless driving record, sings atrociously and has a Bachelor of Science.
The trials and tribulations of routine employment have palled with time and Laney now writes full-time, belonging to the Dirty Bathrobe School of Writing. She is owned by one small cat.