Coyote's Creed: Broken Mirrors, Book 1
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by Vaughan R. Demont
Category: Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: Always have an ace up your sleeve. Broken Mirrors, Book 1 If con games were taught in high school, Spencer Crain would be on the honor roll. As it is, he'll be riding the edge of failure to graduation next month. Then Spence gets the news that his long-gone father is not only dead, but was a Coyote, one of three clans of tricksters in the City. With a near-catatonic mother on his hands, Spence couldn't care less about the Coyotes' ongoing feud with the Phouka and the Kitsune--until it lands on his doorstep. Suddenly he's thrown headfirst into a dangerous world he knows next-to-nothing about. His only guide is Rourke, dashing King of the Phouka, plus a growing pack of half-siblings, a god, and Fate herself. As Spence embarks on a journey to learn the Coyote's creed, the truth about his heritage, and how to handle his growing attraction to Rourke, he wonders when his life turned from TV sitcom to real-life danger zone. And what price must he pay to survive the next roll of the dice? Warning: Contains PG-13 rated violence, R-rated language and X-rated hotel scenes. Meta-humor, pop-culture humor, utter disregard for the 4th wall abound.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: October 2011
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [423 KB]
Reading time: 278-389 min.
"Deal the cards, count to ten while you're doing it. When you reach ten, stop."
I watch her hands move, arthritis slowing her pace, but the cards slide along the surface of the desk well enough, forming a ramshackle pile. Her lips move, and at ten she looks at me expectantly. I take out my wallet from my pocket and put it on top of the pile.
"Would you pick up my wallet and look inside, please?"
She arches a brow, but opens it up, finding it empty save my student ID and a slip of paper. Taking the hint, she unfolds the note and reads it aloud. I had my mom write it, as my penmanship has been described as an "atrocious chicken scratch".
"You will stop dealing on the Ace of Clubs." She smirks gently at me. "Moment of truth, Mr. Crain."
With a winning smile, I flip over the top card, revealing the ace.
"You're not going to tell me how you did that, are you?"
My smile widens into a grin. "Sorry, that's the first rule. Never reveal your secrets. Well, I could be convinced if you let me out of detention a few minutes early."
"This isn't detention, Mr. Crain. You're here because you skipped detention for three weeks. And you have ten unexcused absences. You have over two months' worth of assignments to make up if you want to graduate."
I take out my cards and shuffle them again.
"You better not let him deal, miss, lest you find yourself owing more than you can afford."
I look up at the door, smiling already in spite of myself, as I see an older man leaning against the doorframe. He's in his early fifties, just under six feet, well-tanned with white-streaked coal-black hair tied in a simple braid, a well-groomed ebon beard that's held off traces of gray. He's wearing snug blue jeans and a black Harley Davidson shirt that emphasizes his cut musculature. An easy smile crosses his face, and my tutor is already under his spell.
"Uncle Rourke!" My grin is about as big as it can be, and then my smile fades quickly. "Oh God, what's wrong?"
I call him Uncle Rourke, but his actual name is Robert Rourke, and he owns a used-car lot. ("Have bad credit? No credit? No problem! Just come in for a test drive and Bob's your uncle!") He's not even my uncle, just a friend of my father who's been around since I was born, but he doesn't have a problem with the title. I go to see him at least once a week to pick up new card tricks.
Uncle Rourke has only come to see me five times in my life, and four out of those five times did not end well. The second time was to tell me my father had walked out. The third time was last year, to tell me my mother had gone to the hospital (the special hospital) for trying to hurt herself, and that I'd be staying with him until she got better. The fifth time was on my birthday a couple months ago. He gave me a deck of cards. That was pretty much it, but considering the previous precedent, I was happy with it.
Previous precedent... Huh. And here my English teacher thinks I'm an idiot underachiever. Shows what she knows. Idiot, my ass.
Still though, Uncle Rourke hasn't spoken yet. This can't be good.
He enters the room, takes Miss Scott's hand and kisses it gently, making her blush. I'll admit I'm relieved he's macking on my tutor, because if something dire is truly going on he'd open with telling me.
"I'm afraid I need Spence to come with me, there's some family business that needs to be attended to." He leans in close, a playful gleam in his eye. "You wouldn't mind, of course?" For anyone else, that would come across as smarmy, but Uncle Rourke is smooth enough to pull off "So, come here often?" He even did once on a bet.
Though the Irish brogue likely goes a long way in selling it.
Regardless, Miss Scott is helpless against him, and she manages a jumble of words that sound similar to "I don't see why not."
I pocket my cards, letting Uncle Rourke lead me out the door. He doesn't say a word as we follow the stairs down to the lobby, which is empty at the moment. He pulls me into a tight embrace, and now I'm worried. As he pulls back, he tousles my hair, working his charming smile.
"C'mon, Uncle Rourke, is it good news or bad news?"
He nods once and steps backward, hooking his thumbs in his pockets. "Both, though I wouldn't take a bet on which you'll say is the good or the bad."
My throat tightens. "Is Mom okay?"
"She's fine, I checked in on her while I was looking for you. She still hates me, I'll have you know."
"She doesn't hate you, she just sees through that act of yours." I manage a smile of my own, half-relieved, and Uncle Rourke nods in reply, a little too knowingly.
"I'm afraid she's been seeing through your act as well, Spence."
"Huh?" Despite all my troublemaking escapades (See, Mrs. Handel? I do have a vocabulary!) I don't put on an act around my mom. She knows everything I get into, though she doesn't approve of it. (My fair share of groundings and curfews has shown that.) "What are you here to tell me, Uncle Rourke?"
"The asshole who walked out on me and Mom, and played dead for ten years to avoid any responsibility." Yeah, it's an issue. Wouldn't you be pissed?
"He died this morning."
I fold my arms and turn away from him. "Good." I fight off the heat behind my eyes, the clench of my throat, the flood of memories of good times, and then the rare weekend visits, and then the afternoons of waiting by the phone that never rang and staring at a door he never knocked on. "The only thing that would ruin this would be having to give the eulogy."
There's a silence, and I turn to look at him. He's standing there, wordless, but I can read his face well enough. I let the moment stew, wait for him to say it's something else, like he was actually murdered and the killer's after me, or that I have a long-lost brother who will now compete with me for the inheritance by any means necessary, or...
Or anything but this.
"Rourke, I was joking."
"It was his last request."
"Then he can spend his time in hell with one more disappointment."
Rourke puts an arm around me, leading me toward the door. "You look like you could use a drink."
I don't push him away. "I'm only eighteen."
He opens the door where his black Lexus is waiting about fifty feet away. "You're old enough in my country, and your father just died. Besides, we need to toughen up that liver for the wake tomorrow night."
I look up at him. "Dad wasn't Irish. Or Catholic. How did he... You know."
"I don't have many details. I'll try to explain everything, but that will require a few drinks. Luckily I've been saving a bottle for when this day would come."
I get into his car and buckle up, look at him incredulously as he gets into the driver's seat. "You've been saving a bottle of liquor for the day Dad--"
"No!" He shakes his head quickly. "I should have, but no. I once could respect the man, but we had a falling out, which is why I'm not invited to the wake. I suppose the best way to put it is that I've been...misleading you about something for a few years now."
I don't stop staring. "Oh God, you're not my real father, are you?"
He starts laughing at that and takes a moment to wipe a tear from his eye as he starts the car. "Certainly not, I'm not the fathering kind. Tried it once and it brought me nothing but trouble. Besides, if you were the fruit of my loins, you'd have talked yourself out of your troubles instead of running to me. You'd be better looking too." He reaches over to tousle my hair again.
"Ugh!" I smooth my hair back out. "I hate when you do that. For God's sake, Uncle Rourke, I've had sex, smoked a couple times, I'm apparently going to get drunk, will you stop messing up my hair?" I give him a fake glare of indignation. "It's not like I'm ten."
He nods once solemnly. "Indeed you're not. It's something I've had to get used to. I'm not accustomed to the people I care for growing up so quickly."
I shrug in reply. "I blame all the hormones in the school lunches, honestly."
A few moments pass, the drive continuing on. I expect that he's waiting for me to say something.
"So what, Dad a criminal? I already knew that."
"Your father was a lot of things, Spencer, but it's what he wasn't that makes the tale."
I arch a brow in confusion. "What wasn't he?"
Uncle Rourke sighs softly. "Human."