QSFer Angel Martinez has a new MM comedy paranormal book out:
Hoax animals and a consulting vampire on the prowl—Jason never thought having a cop boyfriend would be this hard.
All Animal Control Officer Jason Shen ever wanted was a quiet life of rescuing lost kittens and helping animals in need. Having a paranormal cop boyfriend guarantees an end to the quiet part. What at first seems a random encounter with jackalopes in the park might be more than chance and when State Paranormal sends a handsome, charming vampire to consult with the Seventy-Seventh, he finds his relationship with Alex on shaky ground.
Officer Alex Wolf hoped his humaning skills were improving but now he can’t unravel the strange politics at State Paranormal or why Jason’s family seems to hate him. There’s no time to puzzle things out either. Bizarre animals are loose in the city, Jason’s acting strange, and is the vampire captain from State flirting with him? Wolf’s going to have to keep his head in the game if he’s going to have any chance of putting the pieces together and keeping the city safe from the strange critters terrorizing its streets.
Offbeat Crimes Book Five
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The alarm went off a full hour and a half earlier than normal. Wolf snarled and buried his face against Jason’s naked shoulder.
“That was a legit Big Bad Wolf sound,” Jason murmured as he rolled over and wrapped his arms around Wolf. Two seconds later, his eyes shot open. “Crap. You have to get to State today. Up. Get up.”
“But it’s nicer here.” Wolf turned his head away for a yawn-whine, conscious of unbrushed teeth.
“I’m not gonna give your mom a reason to say I’m a bad influence.” Jason, on the wall side of the bed, shoved hard enough to push Wolf to the edge.
“Fine. I’m up. I really don’t want to do this.”
The pip-tick of the central air starting up whispered from the vents. Great. Just great. Beginning of October and it was still hot and humid enough to kick the air on at four in the morning. Jason’s hand stroking his back was both a comfort and a temptation, but just as he’d resolved to lie back down for one more snuggle, the muted thunder of tiny paws came galloping up the stairs.
Audacity careened around the corner, meowing like a miniature air raid siren, her black tabby coloring nearly invisible in the darkened bedroom. She’d heard the alarm, of course, and was coming to scold him for still being in bed.
Wolf scooped her up to prevent her from setting her claws against his bare legs and carried her to the bathroom, where he placed her on the vanity. His kitten insisted on supervising his showers and would cry bloody murder if he locked her out. She seemed convinced he might drown if she wasn’t there to watch him.
The whole squad had been dreading this day. Going up to State Paranormal to answer the board’s questions about a case was never fun—not that it happened a lot. Unless Wolf’s squad had interesting specimens to send, State usually acted like the 77th wasn’t worth the attention a mosquito would rate. Every so often, they’d call someone up to answer questions about a weird case, like when Carrington had made the trip to Harrisburg to answer questions about the word-spitting books.
But this? This would be a board of inquiry and one of the 77th’s best officers was in the line of fire. Wolf found he resented that.
Just as he had finished rinsing off and was letting the hot water pound against his knotted shoulders, a black paw batted its way around the end of the shower curtain.
“All right, little girl, I’m coming.” Wolf shut off the faucets, wiping water from his eyes. “I don’t get an extra couple of minutes today?”
The answer was short and prim. Mew.
“That sounds like a no.” He reached over her for the towel while she swiped at the drops falling from his arm. When she stood on her hind legs to try to lick at the shower curtain, he pointed at her. “No shower curtain water. You have nice water in your dish.”
“I don’t care. It’s gross. And probably soapy.”
She sneezed and sat down on the bathmat to wait for him, not at all distressed as some cats might have been at the drips falling on her. When he got out his electric razor, she jumped onto the toilet lid and from there back to the vanity, where she purred as if encouraging the shaver while he ran it over his face.
“You can’t come to work with me today, you know.”
He didn’t think she understood everything he said but he still talked to her as if she did. Just in case. She certainly seemed to understand a lot.
Downstairs, Mom was already in the kitchen with a pot of coffee and eggs and bacon on the stove. Jason, in a T-shirt and pajama bottoms, puttered around setting the table and handling all the non-cooking parts of breakfast like toast and juice.
The domestic scene was so peaceful and cozy, so like family that the backs of Wolf’s eyes stung. It had been just him and his mom for so long… Well, it was wonderful. That’s what it was. Even though he felt guilty since Dad wasn’t there.
“Mom, you didn’t have to get up this early.”
She half-turned to give him a look. “And have you two eating cereal for breakfast? No, you need something fortifying today. I wasn’t sleeping anyway.”
Jason gave him a swift kiss and handed him a glass of orange juice. “Miriam’s afraid I’ll make a disaster area out of her kitchen if I try to cook for you.”
“I never said that,” Mom said with mock-severity.
“You were thinking it and you wouldn’t be wrong,” Jason chuckled. “Alex, you’re not in trouble, are you? With this hearing?”
Wolf shook his head as he took his seat at the table. Audacity climbed into the chair beside him, watching proceedings with her ears swiveling. Mom had already fed her or she would have been batting at the fridge for her breakfast. “Not directly. No. I have to testify, though. I hate this.”
“I think Kash did the right thing,” Mom said as she scooped eggs and bacon onto three plates and broke up one small piece of bacon into tiny pieces on a fourth. “And if those snooty people at State think they could’ve done better, they should come and help out here once in a while. Not that they care what I think, of course.”
Audacity started on her bacon as soon as Mom set the plate in front of her. She was meticulously polite, only putting one paw on the table and taking a piece at a time. Jason had frowned at encouraging a cat to eat at the table but Mom had said her granddaughter could have something with the grownups if she behaved. So Audacity did.
“Kinda wish I could take you with me, Mom,” Wolf mumbled around a bite of toast.
“I wish I could go too, sweetie. But then all the other officers would want to take their moms and the poor board of inquiry members at State probably wouldn’t survive.”
“Makes me shudder thinking about it,” Jason said with a laugh. He turned the conversation to a new restaurant and Wolf was grateful for the distraction, reaching across to cover Jason’s hand with his.
Warm. Loved. Staying right here all day would suit him just fine.
He couldn’t, of course. Breakfast over, he trudged back upstairs to get into his summer uniform, all crisp and sharp from being ironed the night before. It wouldn’t be a fun trip, but he was determined not to be an embarrassment to his department.
Jason let out a low wolf whistle when he came back down, so he knew he looked good. Or maybe Jason was trying to make him feel better. Mom held Audacity in her arms, explaining once again that she could not go to work with Daddy that day, while Jason handed him his hat and keys and gave him a soft kiss for the road. Even that brief kiss melted the ice lodged in his stomach so he could manage a smile for them.
Everything felt backward and upside-down. On days when Jason had stayed over, it was usually Wolf and his mom seeing him out the door so he could get home, let the dogs out, feed all his animal friends and still make it to work on time.
The warm light from the doorway and his little cobbled-together family waving from the top step only served to heighten his sense of dislocation and isolation. All his instincts screamed at him that this wasn’t going to be a good day.
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, gave birth to one amazing son, and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.