Home > Undead and Unwelcome (Undead #8)

Undead and Unwelcome (Undead #8)
MaryJanice Davidson

Chapter 1

So, if I’m reading this correctly, you’re a vampire now. Not a secretary.”

“Not an administrative assistant,” I corrected automatically. I mean, jeez! I knew Cooper was old and creaky, but what century did he think we were living in? (Or in my case, dying in and then reliving?)

“The important bit,” Cooper went on, “is about the vampire.”

“Well, yeah.”

“And how you’re the queen of them.”

I sighed and flopped into an airplane seat. I examined the toes of my navy blue Cole Haan Penny Air Loafers . . . not a scratch so far. “I guess some people would consider that an important point. The queen thing.”

“It’s bulleted and boldfaced. Also, the date of your death is in italics, along with how you don’t have to urinate anymore.”

“My pee or the lack thereof is nobody’s business!” I gnashed my teeth and added, “Give me that.”

I snatched the memo away from Cooper so quickly, he didn’t see my hand move until his wrinkly fingers were clutching air. This startled him into a gasp, which we then both pretended I hadn’t heard. That, I was learning, was vampire etiquette. Or, that is, vampire etiquette when dealing with humans. I’d finally figured it out after three years of being undead.

There should be a class, you know. Vampire Etiquette When Dealing with Humans 101. In another fifty years, I could teach the stupid thing.

I scanned the memo, my eyes bulging so much they felt like they were trying to leap from my skull. Cooper hadn’t been kidding. Jessica had sent him a memo detailing my bodily functions. Two pages!

To: Samuel Cooper.

From: The Boss.

Re: Betsy, Vampirism, and Cargo.

Cargo? My gut churned.

And the part about me being the vampire queen was bulleted.

“I can’t believe she sent you a memo.”

“She always does. And I send ’em to her. Increasing fuel costs, licensing issues, route changes. You know how expensive fuel’s getting now that China’s buying all the oil? The E.M. ain’t cheap, you know.” The E.M.: Jessica’s private joke. It stood for Emancipated Minor.

“And she sends her memos to me to keep me in the loop, don’t you know. Seems this one’s a little late, though,” he muttered.

“ ‘Creepy speed and unnaturally grotesque super-strength’?” Aghast, I kept reading as other blechy phrases leaped out at me. “ ‘Still obsessed with shoes but married rich and can now actually afford the stupid things’? That scrawny traitor, I’m going to—agh! ‘Immortality hasn’t given her any interest in any topic she cannot refer to in the first person.’ Why, that—okay, I can’t really argue with that last one, but she didn’t have to highlight it. Look! It’s highlighted. ”

“So is ‘extreme narcissistic tendencies.’ In any case, I’m to fly you to Cape Cod, so you can meet with the King of the Werewolves and make sure he doesn’t sic his pack on you.”

“I think it’s pronounced Pack.”

Cooper heard the capital P and nodded. “Right. This Pack, they’re pretty ticked? Because of that little gal Antonia?”

I nibbled on the inside of my lip, distressed, as always, by any mention of Antonia. It had only been a week. It didn’t still sting, as much as feel like a lateral slice through the liver.

See, poor Antonia was making the trip with us—in the cargo hold, as all corpses flew. In a plain wooden coffin, the lethal bullet holes all over her skull still not filled in by an undertaker. My husband, Sinclair, and I had no idea what werewolf funeral customs entailed, so we’d given orders that her body simply be placed in a coffin and loaded onto Jessica’s private plane.

We didn’t even wash her beautiful, dear face.

But that was nothing compared to what we did with Garrett’s body.

“Look, Cooper, the important thing is now you know what you’re getting into. So if you can’t fly us out there, or if you think you—”

“Bite your tongue, miss. Or missus, I suppose. I’ve been flying for Jessica Wilson since she was seven years old, don’t you know, and we’ve had hairy days and we’ve had hairy days.”

“Cooper, I never, ever want to hear about your hair.”

He ignored me. It was just as well. “I’ve seen and heard things—never mind, that’s private family busi ness.”

“Oh, come on, we’re best friends. I mean, Jessica and me.” I didn’t know if Cooper had any friends. “There’s no way you know stuff that I don’t—”

Cooper ruthlessly interrupted my shameless scrounging for gossip. “This doesn’t scare me.” He nodded at the memo, inadvertently crumpled in my fist. “But I surely wish Miss Jessica had told me earlier.”

He meant, of course, “Like, how about before I flew you and the vampire king to New York City for your honeymoon, dumbass?” But Cooper neither a) freaked out, nor b) quit. And thank God, because finding another private pilot at this hour would have been a bitch.

“You got a problem with the boss?” I asked. “Take it up with the boss. What I want to know is, are we still leaving at eight o’clock?” Because if we weren’t, I (and probably my husband) was going to be in big trouble with seventy-five thousand werewolves. I held my breath, remembered for the thousandth time I didn’t have to breathe anyway, and waited for his answer.

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