“Can I help you, mother?” I asked the old woman coming out of the department store.
“Thank you, dear girl,” she warbled from behind the stack of purchases. She was bent forward with age and backward with the weight of her cargo, turning her into a wobbly Z-shape in a shawl. I snatched off the top few packages and slung them under one arm. This revealed me in her field of vision, and she glowered, clearly thinking she’d been tricked into accepting my help. Which she had.
Rojo didn’t have anything for us today, and Cardo and I wanted to eat, so we were trying to go Smooth for the afternoon. We’d both bathed and I’d put on the cleaner of my two dresses, and Cardo had found a half-glove to hide the T branded on the back of his right hand, not that the glove was fooling anybody.
I smiled my sweetest smile and scooped a few more packages under my other arm, hoping that her old-fashioned etiquette would triumph and she’d give me a tip no matter who I was.
We wandered down the block, finally turning down a narrow alley. The woman pulled her key from a pocket and let us into a dark room. As I set down her packages and waited for my tip I heard a ferocious growling behind me. I turned to see a huge werewolf, its fangs dripping saliva.
"Here's a tip," said the old woman. "Don't follow strangers home. Don't you know how expensive pet food is these days?"
Opening: Ellie.....Continuation: Khazar-khum