**Visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Deadly Destination tour with Susan Dennard & enter for a chance to win one copy of Something Strange and Deady and swag or one copy of Something Strange and Deadly**
Deadly Destinations bring’s you an exciting exclusive short story set in the Deacon Chalk world. This story is set during the first book, Blood and Bullets, the first book in the Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series. The second book, Blood and Silver was recently released on August 7, 2012. Want to know our thoughts on this series? Read Rachael’s review for That Thing at The Zoo then read Sheila’s reviews for Blood and Bullets and Spider’s Lullaby. Two lucky winners will each receive a copy of Blood and Silver, thanks to Kensington!
This little story takes place between chapters 9 and 13 in BLOOD AND BULLETS. It’s a fun piece that gives you a tour of Polecats, a bit of insight into Kat’s character, and a bit more insight into Tiff’s. Because the Deacon books are so very first person, if Deacon doesn’t know something then neither do you as a reader. This is your opportunity to “peek behind the veil” and see what happened back at the club while he was off tracking down Gregorios.
TIFF’S FIRST DAY: A Deacon Chalk ‘between the scenes’ short
By: James R. Tuck used with permission.
“Can I help you?”
The door was open just enough to show a thin strip of the woman that opened it. A girl-next-door face, a handful of crosses over a death metal band shirt, jeans, and Doc Martens were all that could be seen.
“Hi. My name is Tiff. Deacon Chalk sent me over to see someone named Kathleen.”
The woman in the door looked her up and down, then stepped back and motioned Tiff inside. Shutting the door, she locked it with two deadbolts and a bar latch. Her thick ponytail swung as she worked the locks, pocketed the key to them, and turned. Her hand went out. “I’m Kat, the manager here at Polecats. Deacon called and told me you would come by.” Kat looked at her. “I didn’t expect you until later.”
“What can I say?” Tiff smiled. She shrugged her shoulders and reached up to flick hair out of her eyes, hair that was dyed black with electric blue tips. “I’m a go-getter.”
She started walking into the club, leaving the foyer by the front doors. Tiff followed. She watched Kat walk, not looking at her ass, but at the sleek, black gun that rode in a holster on the blonde’s generous hip. Her eyes were pulled away when they stepped into the main room of the club. The lights were still down but the place looked like it had been ransacked. Chairs knocked over, small round tables pushed here and there then elsewhere.
Glasses and bottles sat on every table, on the bar by the side wall, and around the stage that dominated the center of the room with brass poles at each end. Most of the cups were half full or more. She was used to the mess left in a club after hours, there were always a ton of bottles and cups scattered around Helletog, but this was different. This looked like there had been a room full of people who had been kicked out.
A priest with a cigarette stood beside the stage tossing the bottles into a large garbage can.
Kat walked her over. “Tiff, this is Father Mulcahy, he’s our bartender. Father Mulcahy, this is Tiff, she’s new.”
The priest took a long drag on his cigarette then flicked it into the trashcan. Smoke curled out of his nostrils, framing a heavy face. He stuck out a wide hand and smiled. “Nice to meet you lassie.”
Tiff took the hand. It was hard and rough in hers, covered in callouses not gotten from praying the rosary.
“Are you a real priest?”
He chuckled. “Bonafied and certified.”
“I’ve never heard of a priest who tended bar in a strip club before.”
“I’ve led an interesting life.”
She eyed the shotgun that lay on the stage beside them, well within reach of the priest. “I bet.”
Kat motioned with her hands. “Come on and I’ll give you the nickel tour.”
Tiff said goodbye to the priest. He smiled and lit another cigarette. She followed Kat as she walked toward the back of the club.
“We’re not a strip club.”
“Oh. I thought…”
Kat shook her head, ponytail swaying. “It’s okay, a lot of people do, but we aren’t. We’re a bikini bar for lack of a better term. The girls dance, but don’t get undressed past bathing suits. Deacon said you wouldn’t be dancing.”
“I could, but I haven’t, not professionally at least.”
“It’s fine, it’s not required. I don’t dance.” Kat opened a door, holding it while motioning Tiff through. “Most of the girls who do used to be full-nude exotic dancers. It’s what they know, it’s what they’re comfortable with.” She kept walking through the room. It was a long room with a few couches that looked soft and plush. A pile of 6, 7, and 8 inch heels lay jumbled by the door. There was a vanity and several bookcases filled with books. In front of the couches were electric, shiatsu foot massagers.
Kat kept talking as she kept moving. “This is the backstage area. The girls stay here when they aren’t on the floor. They relax, read, and talk. Actually they talk most of all.”
“Where are the girls? It’s early still.”
“All of them got sent home. We closed early.”
“Because of the stuff at Helletong?”
“Because of the stuff that led up to the stuff at Helletong.” They passed through another doorway to a tiled kitchen. It was small but all the equipment was modern and industrial, all stainless steel and chrome. “This is the kitchen. Order anything you want while you are on shift and Henry will cook it up for you. If he’s not here while you are, feel free to raid the fridge. There is always plenty of food. Deacon likes to eat.”
Kat started up a set of stairs that were at the end of the kitchen. They topped the landing and kept walking. At the top of the stairs on the left was a room that held a large conference table. A windshield-sized screen was mounted on the wall. On it was a picture of her boss.
“Conference room. “ Kat said as they walked by. They passed another narrow hallway on the right with two doors. “The closest one is storage for cleaning products, paper towels, trash bags and the like. The one at the end is off limits.”
Tiff nodded even though Kat wasn’t looking at her.
Twenty paces further was a large room. The walls were lined with steel cabinets. Each door had black letters stenciled across them. Holy water, crosses, guns, blades -12”, blades 12”-36”, long blades, crossbows, ammo, and more. A long metal table stretched from one end to the other, surrounded by chairs. Tiff stopped a few feet inside the door, taking it all in. Kat stepped up to the table and picked something up from it. When she turned around she held a rosary in one hand and a loaded pistol in the other.
“You said your name was Tiff right?”
Kat held up the pistol. “Do you know how to use one of these?”
“My dad used to go hunting and my brother was in the reserves.”
Kat arched an eyebrow. “I didn’t ask about your father or your brother. Do you know how to use a gun?”
“I haven’t shot one since I was about thirteen.”
“That’s a no.” Kat laid the gun back on the table and leaned against it. Her foot caught a chair and kicked it out toward Tiff. Tiff caught it and sat, smoothing her plaid skirt underneath her thighs. Kat crossed her arms. “Are you comfortable with guns?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Dancing isn’t required here, but knowing how to use a gun is.”
“I noticed you wear one and Father. . .McCarthy was it?”
“Father Mulcahy had that shotgun downstairs. And Deacon had several, but I remember he carried a gun when I first met him.”
Kat perked up, spine straightening. “You knew Deacon before tonight?”
“I met him almost seven years ago. He did my first tattoo.”
Kat grunted. “Damn. That’s weird.” She shook her head. “I’ve never met anybody who knew him before. . . well, before.”
“I didn’t know him, he tattooed on me. It only took about an hour.” She thought back to that day, remembering her nervousness, the intimidation factor of walking into a tattoo shop. It was an alien experience, unlike anything she had done up til then in her, at the time, eighteen years on planet Earth. “When I first walked in I thought he was going to be an asshole to me for wanting my stupid girly tattoo, but he was really nice and talked me through the whole thing. Not an asshole at all.”
Kat smiled. “Oh, he can be an asshole but he has a big heart.”
Tiff blushed, just a little. “I noticed.”
Kat’s smile disappeared like someone had ripped it off her face. “You need to drop that right now or hit the door.”
Tiff sat up in her chair. “What the hell does that mean?”
“Listen, I get it, but it’s never going to happen.”
“What. The. Hell. Do. You. Mean?” Tiff’s voice pushed between clenched teeth.
“I hear it in your voice and I see that look in your eyes. I’ve seen it before in other girl’s eyes.” Kat’s finger snapped the air as she pointed. “Deacon, well he can be a little. . .what’s the word?” Kat tapped her chin, thinking. Her eyebrows went up. “Overwhelming. He can be overwhelming. He sweeps in and rescues you from whatever situation you were in. He’s big and strong and cocky. He’s got the guns and the muscles and the tattoos and the badass car. It doesn’t work for me, but I see that it does for others. Well, give it up. He’s taken by someone you can’t compete with. Save yourself the heartache and me the headache.”
“You mean you and him are. . .”
Kat laughed sharply. “Didn’t you just hear me say it didn’t work for me? I like my guys smaller and geekier, more beta than alpha and Deacon is all alpha, all the time. No, I mean his heart does and always will belong to his wife.”
Tiff’s eyebrow’s pulled together under blue and black bangs. “But his family died almost five years ago.”
“Oh, you know about that? Doesn’t change anything. You’ll never replace her for him.”
Tiff stood up. “Listen Kat, you need to understand something. You don’t know me. At all. I don’t care what other girls do, but I don’t think for one moment I could replace his wife. I wouldn’t want to. I’m here because Deacon sent me after telling me the place I’ve worked at for the last month was closed for good. I haven’t even gotten a paycheck from there! I like Deacon, and yes, I think he’s attractive, but that’s my business. And, while I feel really sorry for what he’s gone through, I’m here for a job and a job only, not a relationship.” Fire glittered in blue eyes. “Do I make myself clear?”
Kat stared at Tiff for a long moment. “Crystal.”
“You’ve got some backbone girl. You’ll need it around here.”
“Does this mean you’re about to give me a gun?”
Kat laughed. “Not until you get some range time downstairs and learn how to use it again. And you’ll need to apply for a carry permit.”
“Downstairs? There is a gun range here?”
“Yep, in the basement. Polecats is bigger than it looks. Here.” The rosary dangled at the end of Kat’s fingers. “You will need this.”
“Ummm, I’m not Catholic. In fact, I’m agnostic, I don’t know if there is a God or not.”
“That won’t last long. But take the rosary. It’s required for the job. Doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or even if you’re an atheist.”
The roasry was heavier in her palm than it looked like it would be. The beads were silver-plated steel bearings connected by short sections of titanium chain. The cross was solid silver. A tiny figure was pinned to the crossbeam by miniscule rivets. Tiff slipped it over her head. The metal crucifix thunked her sternum between her breasts.
Kat’s phone rang. The ringtone echoed out in the big room, bouncing off the metal cabinets. Metal guitars ripped into a chunky riff, “Walk” by Pantera. Kat pulled it out of her pocket.
“That’s Deacon calling. I’m going to take this in my office. Head downstairs and help Father Mulcahy finish his clean up. He’ll take care of you from here.” Kat was already walking toward the door, fingers moving over the touchscreen of her smartphone. “Welcome to the crew.” And with that she was out the door.
Glad to be here.
Tiff followed her, turning right, heading downstairs.
Paper towels, paper towels, paper towels.
Tiff was back upstairs looking for the supply closet. She had cleared the main room of trash and glasses. Father Mulcahy had been there when she started, but Kat had called him upstairs to do something, leaving her to finish the job, which she had.
He was back now and in the kitchen, smoking and running the glasses through the industrial dishwasher. The shotgun had moved around the club with them, never more than arm’s reach away from Father Mulcahy. Now it leaned against the sink beside him.
The guns didn’t bother her. She had grown up with them in the house. Her dad had never had his rifles locked in a case, they were always in closets and even under beds, hers included from the time she had more than a crib. She had been raised to respect firearms, but not to fear them. Being honest with herself, she was a little excited by the prospect of learning how to shoot a pistol and to be able to carry one, even if she would never use it.
She found the narrow side hall with two doors. They were plain, unmarked.
The closest one or the farthest one?
She stood there trying to remember what Kat had told her.
Farthest. I’m positive it was the farthest door that is the supply closet.
Walking to the end of the hallway she turned the knob and opened the door.
James R. Tuck is the author of the Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series from Kensington.
James is a former bouncer and has been a professional tattoo artist for over 15 years. His tattoo work has been published in national tattoo magazines and he owns Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga. He lives near there with a wonderful wife, three wonderful children, and six dogs of varying degrees of wonderfulness.
Want to read more from James?
This giveaway if provided by Kensington Books
Two lucky winners will each receive a copy of Blood and Silver by James R. Tuck
Available August 7, 2012 from Kensington
About this Book:
Deacon Chalk normally has no trouble telling innocent victims from real monsters. So protecting an abused pregnant were-dog is a no-brainer…until a vicious lycanthrope leader and his brotherhood target Deacon, other shape-shifters, and any humans in their way. Suddenly, Deacon is outnumbered, outgunned, and unsure who – or what – to trust. The only edge he has left is a weapon hungry for his soul and his most savage impulses. And using it will exact a price even this hell-raising hunter fears to pay…
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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