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Copyright © 2019 by Arizona Tape
All rights reserved. No part of this publication or cover may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
The Case Of The Night Mark is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Individuals depicted in the images are models and used solely for illustrative purposes.
“Where have you been?” Melissa’s sharp voice cut through the silence in the hallway.
Samantha sighed as she threw her house key in the designated bowl. “Out.”
Even if she wanted to explain, she had no idea how without sounding like she was making up lies. She wasn’t even sure if she was allowed to talk about the Nocturnal world.
“Out?” Her wife echoed.
“Yes, out.” Sam tipped her boots off, making sure to balance herself against the wall so she wouldn’t drop the small pup.
Melissa crossed her arms, making the flour on her apron flutter up. “Why didn’t you come home last night?”
“I didn’t feel like it after you dropped that bomb on me,” Sam countered, the events beyond the Nocturnal flooding back to her. What made her flee the house in the first place. That unwelcome stack of divorce papers she was presented with.
Her wife frowned. “I— I realise I didn’t bring that up tactfully.”
“Tactfully?” Sam raised her voice. “You didn’t even talk to me about it.”
“I tried! You’re always so busy with work, even after you were let go. You kept going through old cases as if you solved something, they’d take you back.” She threw her hands up in the air, huffing with exasperation. “Also, what are you holding? Did you get a dog? We talked about this.”
“It’s a long story, alright?” She stroked her puppy, holding it as careful as a newborn baby.
Her wife glared at her as she followed Sam into the kitchen. “You know how I feel about dogs. I don’t want that in our house.”
“My,” Sam emphasised. “My house. You moved in here.”
“That’s low,” Melissa hissed.
Sam shrugged, not in the mood for another argument. “What’s that smell? Is something burning?”
Her wife exhaled loudly. “Ah, fuck.”
She yanked the oven open, introducing a plume of smoke into the spacious kitchen.
The bitter and harsh smell hit Sam in the nose and instinctively, she darted back. “Eww, what’s that.”
Melissa pulled a tray from the oven and dumped it on the counter. “Potpie. Your favourite. I was making it as a peace offering, but never mind now.”
Before Sam could say anything, the other woman stormed out of the kitchen, leaving her with a burned pie and a belly full of guilt. Maybe her anger had got the best of her, maybe she shouldn’t have been so mean, but she was hurting. Her pride was bruised, her heart broken.
She took a whiff of the burned pie, staring at it regretfully. Microwave dinner for one it was.
She looked at the dog in her arms. “Welcome home, eh?”
The puppy whined softly, not at all in a fashion that Sam would expect from a hellhound. She imagined them to be fierce, proud, aggressive. This tiny pup was mostly helpless and cute, not anywhere close to ripping heads off and devouring the flames of hell. Or whatever they did.
Lilith hadn’t exactly explained that, but then again, how different could they be? The pup looked just like a regular dog, except with silverish fur and blue patterns that glowed every now and then. Totally normal.
“Let’s find you a bed and go from there,” she said to the dog. “I think you’ll like my office. Lots of sun in the morning.”
She carried the pup across the hallway, crossing Melissa who refused to look at her. There was a coldness to her that wasn’t even that unfamiliar, Sam realised. Perhaps the divorce request hadn’t come that out of the blue, Sam had just been too pre-occupied to notice the rift that had grown between them.
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