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Petit Morts #11:Happily Neverafter

Happily Neverafter by Jordan Castillo Price

Happily Neverafter by Jordan Castillo Price

Series: Petit Morts #11
Release date: October 25, 2011
Length: Novelette - 18,800 words - 58 page PDF
Cover artist: Jordan Castillo Price - see larger cover
ISBN: 978-1-935540-28-1

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Buy the Bundle and Save • Petit Morts Dozen

Hue Tint & Shade, Moolah and Moonshine, Spanish Fly Guy, Pretty Ugly, One Less Stiff at the Funeral, Wishink Well, Happily Neverafter, London Eye, Spirits and Second Chances, Loose Change, Media Naranja, Immortal Coil

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Summary

Greece is full of history, so it figures that Chance’s on-again, off-again lover would find him there. Sweets to the Sweet appears in Athens during a string of riots, and the beguiling creature who now goes by the name Hunter has insinuated himself among the staff of a nearby hospital.

Milo Alexakis is a member of the Hellenic Police—and with all the protests and the rioting, he’s ruing the crappy grades and crappier finances that kept him out of university and put him in the daily path of hurled insults, spit wads and cobblestones. American Dave Shaw is ruing the fact that he never managed to learn any Greek before he embarked on the world’s worst vacation, alone.

Cop meets tourist in a brilliant conflagration—and amidst the Molotov cocktails and burning cars, Chance finds the lure of his old flame impossible to resist.

EXCERPT

The shop’s name was painted on the glass in curling, old-fashioned script. The paint was weathered, though it had been in Greece only a few weeks, and was unlikely to remain much longer. But the worn, quaint lettering fit in well with the shops in the Plaka. A souvenir stand that sold more cigarettes and condoms than T-shirts and trinkets. A souvlaki stand beseiged by stray dogs. An Internet cafe with an off-and-on connection. None of them did particularly well in the winter, nor in the current economic climate. Since the new sweet shop did nothing to attract additional customers, the row of businesses on the crumbling side street was largely ignored.

Chance stood at the window, where the fierce Mediterranean sunlight cast the words Sweets to the Sweet, painted in reverse, across his chef’s coat—the letters “ee,” anyhow. In shadow, the lettering fell the right way around.

“Eee!”

Bemused, Chance entertained the thought that someone in the crowd outside was reading his chest. But no. It was only a scream.

Across the street, a red and white protest banner fluttered against the pharmacy, revealing the lit sign with its red cross beneath it, then concealing it again. Another banner flapped at the hardware store beside it, and the tavern on the corner. At the end of the block, the crowd surged toward Syntagma Square as more protesters gathered…and more policemen, too.

From his window Chance watched, hands on hips, as a molotov cocktail arced past and shattered on the hood of a car. The flames poured out, flowed sideways, then leapt high as they gasped for oxygen.

He shrugged to himself. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as he’d thought it might be. Not if he couldn’t join in the merriment because he was stuck there in the shop, waiting for The One to present himself.

The whoop of approaching sirens began to drown out the chanting of the mob. Chance almost turned away, disappointed that even a peaceful protest gone bad couldn’t cheer him, when motorcycle roars punctuated the sirens. He paused, and lingered. The cops in Athens were delightfully corrupt…and they looked utterly delicious in their tight black riot gear.

A motorcycle cop roared past, and another, and another. Oh yes. Very nice. More screams erupted in the square—but it wasn’t Chance’s place to go out and mingle with them. Not anymore. He sighed and turned back toward the counter, tying on his apron. The pasteli cooling on the marble block wasn’t going to cut itself into those adorable little diamond shapes, after all.

Once Chance’s back was turned, the front door burst open and a blondish man darted in. He looked several years younger than he actually was, fresh-faced and vulnerable, with the air of someone whose innocence would shatter with a spectacularly resounding crack. He wore rumpled cargo shorts and a tacky blue tourist sweatshirt—evidently no one had told him that tourism in the winter left something to be desired—and his sandy hair was damp with perspiration. Not from the heat.

From panic.

“Hello? Do you speak English?”

Chance turned and stared. A perfectly good riot, possibly the only riot this tourist would ever see, and there he was, letting it go to waste.

“Because the shop name is in English, Sweets to the Sweet, and I just thought…maybe….”

Of course it was in English. It was a Shakespearean reference—not that an American would know Shakespeare if one tripped over his dusty remains. Chance narrowed his eyes, and the American’s details began bobbing up to the surface of his awareness. David Shaw was this one’s name, but he only answered to Dave. Single. Gay. Heartbroken. A massage therapist putting himself through grad school at night to earn another degree in social work. Vacationing, which Chance would have deduced from the sweatshirt alone. Plus the fact that the few customers who did darken his doorstep tended to be off-season tourists. The locals didn’t have as much money to waste on candy these days…and they hadn’t been feeling particularly sweet.

“Any English? At all?”

Chance blinked slowly, then said, “Parakalo?” Since technically the word translated as, “please,” it wasn’t as obnoxious as the American utterance, “huh?” Not unless you inflected it the way Chance just had…which was lost on Dave. But the negligible rudeness satisfied, just an iota, Chance’s longing to clash with someone.

Dave went to the window and pressed his palms, nose and cheek against it as he strained to see up the street. “I dunno where my tour bus went. My God, what’s happening?”

Since he did ask so politely, Chance answered…albeit in modern Greek. “What’s happening is the age-old dance of the oppressors and the oppressed. Beautiful and terrible and entirely inevitable. The music calls; can’t you hear it? And yet, here I am…the wallflower, languishing among the quince jellies and chocolate-covered almonds, with no one to take my hand and invite me onto the dance floor. Tell me, Mr. American, what could I have possibly done to deserve this terrible fate?”

Once Chance was done bemoaning his predicament, Dave turned from the window, frowned, and said, “What?” He patted down the pockets of his cargo shorts. “Hold on. I have a dictionary.”

While it might be amusing to see what Dave could come up with in five words or less, just as he fumbled the phrase book from one of his many oversized pockets, Chance perceived, through the mélange of sesame, honey, star anise and burning diesel, the scent of one of his ilk—an old one.

He brushed past Dave and flung the shop door open.

Chance’s old playmate stood atop a flaming car, oblivious to the fire twining around her legs, or the probability that someone in the crowd might notice that she wasn’t burning. No, such a trivial detail paled in comparison to her enthusiasm for the fight. She wore an angular body, a tattered leather jacket, high heels, smudged eyeliner, and scarlet-dyed hair with black roots. The name she was currently calling herself lit on his tongue—Cora, which meant young lady. Interesting choice, since the skin she was in could be called middle-aged, by the standards of the day.

And Cora was nothing if not interesting.

She watched the crowd with delight as a group of disenfranchised workers who’d begun their day full of earnestness and lofty ideals began to pry chunks of cracked cobblestones from the edge of a parking lot…and then take aim for the policemen.

Just watching the reflections of flames burning like two sparkling glints in her pupils lured Chance from the entryway of his shop and onto the sidewalk. He was almost upon her, as swept away by the tumult as she, when he realized how ridiculous he was being: him, Chance, in his houndstooth and apron and clogs. But before he could turn tail and slink back into his shop, Cora swung around, and her shining eyes met his. They went wider, slightly puzzled…and then she broke into a piranha-toothed smile and cried, “Well, hello, handsome!”

Chance felt a smile tug at him in return, as much as he ever smiled, at least. If it were anyone but Cora, he might think he was being mocked. But not by her, never her. They’d plucked too many overripe civilizations clean together. He spread his arms and she tumbled into them, and buried her face in his hair. “Wow…you smell like chocolate and scorched sesame smothered in honey.”

“Not scorched. Toasted.”

“If you say so.” She held him at arms’ length and assessed him more critically. “Chance? You’re calling yourself Chance? As in what, second chance? Are you trying to be ironic? Since when do you show any mercy?”

“I’m the epitome of mercy.” Or, at least, he used to be. Providing relief from the burdens of the mortal coil was certainly an act of mercy.

If anything was merciless, it was this new business of falling in love.

Cora laughed. “You’re the epitome of bullshit, is what you are. Come on, Chancey-baby, let’s go start some real fires.” She tugged him toward the square, and despite his misgivings, he began to follow—until he turned and saw the American named Dave pressed up against his window, right under the “w” in “Sweets,” stunned and ashen.

Maybe his mercy had not all drained away.

“I can’t.”

Cora swung around and stared, dismayed. “What do you mean, you can’t?”

“You expect me to wade through mud and the blood, to breathe the smoke and lose myself in the screams—and then keep my hands to myself? It would be torture.”

“But you like torture.”

Cora might have been wearing crow’s feet and frown lines, but it was Chance who felt old. “If I go with you…if I steep myself in the violence…how can I come back to this?” He tilted his head toward the shop without looking at it—without seeing that pale face pressed against the glass.

“Why would you even want to? You know what I think?”

“I imagine you’re about to tell me.”

“I think management’s fucking with you. They’ve probably started a betting pool on how long it’ll take you to snap.”

“I would never snap.”

“You wouldn’t,” Cora said faintly, “which is what makes it so pathetic.”

 

Petit Morts Set 3

The Petit Morts Series

#1: Hue, Tint and Shade by Jordan Castillo Price
Yellow is as yellow does.

#2: Slings and Arrows by Josh Lanyon
It's a fine line between "secret admirer" and "stalker".

#3: Moolah and Moonshine by Jordan Castillo Price
If you ever go to France, watch out for those ticklers.

#4: Other People's Weddings by Josh Lanyon
Pulling off the perfect wedding can be murder.

#5: Spanish Fly Guy by Jordan Castillo Price
A new twist on liquid courage.

#6: Pretty Ugly by Jordan Castillo Price
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...usually.

#7: Sort of Stranger Than Fiction by Josh Lanyon
They always say to write what you know.

#8: One Less Stiff at the Funeral by Sean Kennedy
Chocolate makes everything better. Even a eulogy.

#9: Critic's Choice by Josh Lanyon
It was a dark and stormy night. No, really, it was.

#10: Wishink Well by Jordan Castillo Price
You can't get something for nothing.

#11: Happily Neverafterby Jordan Castillo Price
All's well that ends well.

#12: London Eye by Clare London
Give credit where credit is due.

#13: Spirits and Second Chances by Sean Kennedy
The past can come back to haunt you.

#14: Just Desserts by Josh Lanyon
Pick your poison.

#15: Loose Change by Sean Kennedy
If there's one thing you can always count on, it's change.

#16: Media Naranja (Other Half) by Clare London and Jordan Castillo Price
There's someone for everyone.

#17: Immortal Coil by Jordan Castillo Price
Love is more than skin deep.


 

 

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