Once Upon A Time…Has Never Been This Hot.
Daniel jerked up his head, blinking the room into focus as he dragged himself back from the edge of sleep. Sunlight streamed through the windows, highlighting the specks of dust floating through the air. Another thirty minutes before the damn sun set and things really got interesting. The microwave beeped off to his left, the number pad flashing zero. Third damn time he’d reheated his coffee, and he had yet to remove it. He rubbed the back of his neck, tracing the scars that crisscrossed his skin, ignoring the way the marks seemed to burn from the simple contact. It was just fatigue getting the better of him.
His stomach tensed as the ghostly voice played in his head, again, the eerie sound openly mocking his sanity. Three years—today—and she still haunted him. Awake. Asleep. It didn’t seem to matter. She merely waited until he’d managed to put himself back together before drifting into his life.
He pushed her parting words out of his head, grabbing his mug. It was just his mind fucking with him. He’d vanquished her ghost. Burnt her damn remains and anything remotely connected with her. Done everything to send her spirit across the veil. Her presence was nothing more than a faded memory. An itch he couldn’t quite scratch enough.
“Hey, Garret, look who it is?”
Daniel spun, clenching his jaw as two men entered the room. Garret Weston and Tanner Hastings. Partners who worked in the were division down the hall. They had more than a chip on their shoulders and had been riding Daniel’s ass since he’d first arrived. Something about him being an ex-cop seemed to rub them the wrong way. Though, Daniel suspected it had more todo with them being massive douchebags than anything else. Fuck, he wasn’t catching any breaks today.
Garret crossed his arms over his chest, giving Daniel a cocky grin. “Wow, Danno, you look like you haven’t slept in a while. What’s wrong? Casper giving you a hard time?”
Daniel bit back his usual retort at the nickname—just another dig against his previous life. He arched a brow. “Is it the full moon again already? Must be tough working three nights a month.”
Garret’s expression fell. “Doesn’t work like that, asshole.”
“Really? When’s the last time either of you bagged a wolf other than during a full moon?” He snorted as he pushed past them. “We all know you only hunt the newly turned. Seasoned werewolves are just too damn smart for you boys.”
Tanner hooked Daniel’s arm as he moved past him. “At least we don’t waste our time chasing a fucking mist. Your unit’s a joke.”
Daniel yanked away his arm, drawing himself up, when boots clicked on the floor behind him. He turned as Arrynn entered, auburn hair bouncing behind her in a ponytail, amused smile tilting her lips.
She hitched out a hip, giving the men the once over. “Ah, what’s wrong, Tanner? You boys get caught with your pants down, again? Feeling a bit inadequate, now?”
Tanner muttered under his breath, openly gawking at her. “At least we get to drop ours, honey. From what I’ve heard, yours hasn’t seen any action in years.”
Daniel fisted Tanner’s shirt, slamming him against the wall. “It’d be wise not to insult my partner.”
Arrynn cupped his arm, giving him a tug. “Let it go, Daniel. He’s not worth it.”
Daniel huffed, bringing Tanner’s face closer before shoving him away. Tanner chuckled. “You ghost types are such a bunch of pussies.”
Arrynn tightened her grip on Daniel’s arm, half dragging him down the hall.
She didn’t speak, just headed for their office, her lips still curved into a smile.
Daniel rolled his shoulders, gently easing free of her grasp. “I don’t know why you’re smiling.”
“Because, even after two and a half years, you still let them get to you. They’re assholes with more arrogance than sense. Boys playing dress up.”
“Yeah, well, if they keep running their mouths off, someone’s going to see they end up being wired shut.”
Arrynn stepped in front of him, blocking his way as he tried to get through the door. “What’s up with you tonight? I know these full moon nightshifts suck, but you’re not normally this easy to goad.”
Isabel’s voice played in his head, again, a tattered reflection of her flickering to life behind Arrynn before vanishing. Daniel stared at the vacant spot for a few moments before exhaling.
He shook his head. “Nothing. I’m fine.”
Arrynn glanced over her shoulder then back at him. “You don’t seem fine, Daniel. You don’t normally get this touchy unless...” Her voice trailed off as she pulled out her phone, glancing at the face. “Shit.” She tucked it away, her expression softening. “You should have taken today off.”
He snorted, gently pushing past her as he walked though the doorway and headed for his desk near the far window. “I’m fine.”