Sneak Peak At Theodore From Demon Arms
Hey, peeps ^^
So I caught a cold this weekend. It’s dragging at me but so far I’m doing alright. Found myself at a party Saturday discussing Internet economics to politics to PTSD (because no, I don’t give a fuck about your kids) and somehow it’s Sunday night—Monday morning—and I’ve just slept the weekend away. So, for this week’s newsletter, I’m doing something random. I’m sharing my stuffed mushroom recipe that I just made cuz I wanted some decadent stuffed mushrooms (but are gluten, egg, and mold free unlike the ones at that party,) and I’m going to give you a sneak peek into the Demon Arms rewrite.
Now that my brain is, you know, ‘functioning’ XD I wanted to rewrite Demon Arms to ensure it matches the many novels that are to follow. The other novels do a lot of character changes as we go along. We see different aspects through different characters because these peeps are hanging around long term and even if their love story isn’t in the particular novel of the moment, they will be later. I wanted a kind of soap opera/community feel with the Academy guys. Which means, the dual perspective in Demon Arms needed some expanding. Which means, we need some grumpy as fuck Theo!
Wylie is never really going to know the shit Theodore goes through to ensure he isn’t picked off by sorcerers the moment he ends up in jail, but the readers are now going to get a clue. I love Theo, and I think he’s the perfect Academy caretaker to really feature for Demon Arms, cuz hey, dragon buddies. <3
But first, a recipe of delicious decadence
It’s one of my favs; Paleo, no carb, high fat, and perfect now that the weather is getting cold where I am—aka 3 days ago it was a heat wave and too hot to turn the oven on and now it’s cold and autumn. @[email protected] And just so we’re clear, I’m not someone who really ‘sticks’ to recipes. I change shit up when I have different stuff on hand, so this is all adjustable. I like diced kalamata olives instead of the crab, feta instead of goat cheese, scallions, almond meal for a little crunch, that sort of thing. It’s all good. Oh, and the love of my life can’t stand the texture of mushrooms, so this stuff does make a great dip too. I’ve made different versions all at the same time just to switch things up too. Stuffed mushrooms can be time consuming, so it’s nice to play when you do take the time.
- 1 Vidalia onion, chopped finely
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pound of bacon, crumbled
- 8 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 can of crab meat
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 2-4 packages of baby bello mushrooms, washed with stems removed (I use the baby bellos cuz I like the mushroom/stuffing ratio better this way, and they’re damn filling, but your choice.)
- Salt, pepper, whatever seasoning you prefer. (I usually just salt stuff cuz of my mold allergy, but I’m sure there are a million ways to add some extra zing.)
Cook and crumble bacon once cool (I cut it for ease.) Melt butter in a pan and saute onions and garlic together. While that’s cooking, mix the goat cheese with the crab meat and bacon in a large bowl. Then slowly mix in the onion and garlic that’s still hot/warm from the stove so the cheese melts down. Prep mushrooms, and preheat the oven to 350 F. Stuff the mushrooms with a small spoon (I pile it on high) and place on a buttered pan or oven safe casserole dish. Once the oven is preheated, pop the mushrooms in, and if you have an oven safe bowl, put any leftover stuffing in there to make a nice dip. Cook for @25-30 minutes until the tops are browned, and voila! Deliciousness! <3
An unedited sneak peak into the Demon Arms rewrite, aka, a peek at Theo being, er, homicidally emotional…
The October morning was just gaining heat when Theodore stalked out of the police station. The sidewalk was empty of everything but slowly dispersing mist, and the side street the station was located on was free of any Thursday morning commuters.
Redham was the suburb over from the sparsely populated town Collin had chosen to build his house. The police district covered the entire area, but were more used to dealing with traffic accidents and personal property damage than anything paranormal. The peaceful streets and friendly faces of the town had the opposite of a calming effect on Theodore as he sought a place free of interruption. Everywhere he looked, he saw only potential victims and gaps in security so wide, there would be no way to effectively fill them.
Theodore had arrived the moment the station allowed visitors in, but not before a sleepless eight hours as he and his colleagues worked to keep Collin McPherson alive. He was tired, cranky, and more than aware his magic was not responding as it should. The young man who was following doggedly after him was proof of that.
Theodore eyed the police intern as he paused by a decorative, black metal gate and patted down the pockets of his long coat. The intern stopped short when Theodore did and held out a plastic wrapped sandwich in offering. He couldn’t have been older than twenty and had a hopeful shine in his eyes that refused to fade no matter how much Theodore scowled.
“Get lost,” Theodore ordered.
The intern whimpered and knelt down on the concrete sidewalk. Theodore rolled his eyes when the man lifted the sandwich above his head and held it out like a ritual sacrifice.
“Damn it.” Theodore sighed heavily and did his best not to make eye contact. Short of spelling the guy to fuck off, there wasn’t much he could do. Hexing a human in broad daylight right outside a police station probably wasn’t the smartest of moves, even if he was seriously contemplating it. His power was fluctuating from all the stress of this insane situation. Although he’d only been there less than an hour, Theodore was already fed up with having to socialize with so many people. He hated people.
Theodore dug through his coat pockets while muttering under his breath each time he failed to find his goal. He only wore the long, black despoiler jacket when he was in the mood for battle, and the many hidden openings within the layers of fabric had saved his life more than he could count. In his current mindset and with only the basic of tasks required, Theodore discovered having so many pockets to be annoying as fuck.
He patted through a multitude of daggers, razors, wands, and a small sword made of diamond the metal detectors always failed to notice; vials of poisons, sedatives, excitatives, hallucinogenics, paralyzers, purifiers, and anesthetics all in uniquely shaped bottles just in case his sight was impaired; wards for all occasions, mostly for the killing and shielding kind; and deadly, impossibly strong wires and nets, some so thin they were nearly invisible to the human eye. His fingers caressed a particularly painful but nonlethal weapon the same moment he looked at the intern still kneeling like a fool. Theodore resisted the urge to see what a swarm of metal chiggers—spelled to burrow into the thickest of pelts and cause excruciating pain short term, and insanity long term—might do to human skin.
“Found you.” Theodore smiled grimly as he slipped his fingers free from his breast pocket and withdrew a slim, gold compact that fit into his palm. He clicked it open with his thumb and revealed an ordinary, circular mirror within. “Show me Michael Whiteheart.”
In seconds, his reflection faded and the mirrored glass grew misty. Theodore tapped his foot impatiently as the seconds ticked by. He glared down at his handmade, goatskin shoes dyed the color of blood with a shine so bright he could see his own reflection. They went with the suit, a bespoke number he had tailored to ensure he could move naturally—and more importantly, unnaturally—without destroying his clothes while also remaining professional in appearance. He’d once taken out an assassin and only had a wrinkle in the left pant leg to show for it, even with all the blood.
There was a soft whimper and Theodore glared sideways. The intern was still trying to entice him with the disgusting, premade sandwich riddled with carbs. He might have missed breakfast, but he was hardly desperate.
Theodore fixed his attention back to the mirror when a man’s face began to appear. He had a square jaw, strong, Roman nose, and piercing blue eyes that were currently sharp with agitation. “Michael,” Theodore greeted simply.
“Sorry for the delay. The guys are off the walls this morning. They know something is up but haven’t gotten wind of the details yet.” Michael’s eyes darted up, and by his exasperated expression and the sound of something crashing in the distance, he was still at the Academy. “Did you find our shifter punk?”
Theodore nodded and looked around to make sure he wasn’t being overheard. He scowled at the intern and turned fully. With a few quick words, he spelled up a cone of magic around him to absorb any vibration of the air and prevent sound from escaping. “Collin was right. The kid’s a dragon.”
“Fuck,” Michael growled. The mirror immediately emptied of his face, and Theodore was left to stare at a curtained window dripping in green and purple ivy while he listened to Michael rummage through his office for something.
“I got a call back from Doe’s detention house in West Bristol,” Michael explained. “He’s flagged. They’re going to have him on a bus to Daiker by this evening. I think my questions must have tipped someone off, because when I last checked, the Redhem cops hadn’t even classified him.”
Theodore pursed his lips and ignored the growing urge to walk the perimeter of the station and ensure it was free of danger. “It was only a matter of time,” he reminded gruffly. “Once the Lifecare paramedics identified the mark, we both knew it would be less than 24 hours before someone came around looking for dragon blood. Right now, Doe is in the safest cell this backwater precinct has until I can get him out of this death trap.” Theodore glanced over his shoulder at the intern and shook his head in disgust. “This place is a joke. They have no defenses in place that can impeded a sorcerer of our caliber.”
Michael reappeared in the mirror with his golden curls of hair askew. He squinted at something behind Theodore. “Who’s your friend?”
Theodore grimaced and moved the compact so Michael had a clear view of the kneeling intern. “They really need to work on their hiring process. He has no magical shielding, and I can’t shake him.”
Michael raised an eyebrow and focused on Theodore’s defensive expression. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Theodore muttered. Michael’s eyes bored into him and Theodore avoided his gaze.
“Here, pass me over,” Michael said abruptly. “I’ll take care of him.”
Theodore scowled at the idea of having to get that close to the intern. “Fine,” he huffed. He took down the sound dampening spell with a wave of his hand, and turned on his heel. The intern had his head down, and his arms were shaking from the strain of holding his hands above his head for so long. Theodore shook his head at the stupidity of it all and pointed to the spot right in front of his shoes.
“You. Come here. No, put down the disgusting sandwich.” Theodore held his hand up warningly when the intern jumped up and rushed toward him. “Small steps. Touch me and I’ll decapitate you.”
It was clearly a strain for the young man, and Theodore watched his every movement warily. The last time he lost control of his allure like this, he ended up with three very rude sets of hands trying to tear his clothes off.
“No, don’t kneel,” Michael said quickly when the intern stopped in front of Theodore. “Come on, Theo. Hand me over, then walk away. You know how your power gets.”
Theodore rolled his eyes but did as Michael asked. He placed the compact into the intern’s hands, who immediately held it close to his heart like it was a precious gift. Theodore took two steps back, and held his finger up when the intern went to follow. “No. Stay. Listen to him, That’s an order.”
Theodore stepped swiftly down the sidewalk, his ears straining to hear what Michael was saying. Michael, as usual, was unbearably calm and compassionate when it came to the magically enthralled.
“Greg, was it? I don’t think you can tell what you’re doing right now, so I thought I’d help you understand the situation you’re in. You see, you’re stalking my associate.”
“Wait, what? He loves me. I mean, well… What?”
“Yeah, I get that you believe that, but you don’t even know his name, right? He definitely doesn’t know yours. Can you remember when you first met him?”
“Uh… I saw him. He was walking down a hall and… and he left. I didn’t want him to leave.”
“Idiot,” Theodore muttered down at the leaves scattered on the pavement. “Stupid, punk idiot.”
“Yeah, not really something to build a relationship off of,” Michael said cheerfully. “The thing is, Greg, you’re coming on really strong, and my associate is starting to feel uncomfortable. You don’t want him to feel uncomfortable, right?”
“No, I… what? Who are you?”
“Let’s go for a walk, Greg. Turn, and start walking. In a few blocks, you’re going to start seeing things more clearly.”
“But… but he’s…”
“He told you to do as I say. You’re not going to ignore the magic man in the mirror, right, Greg? Come on, let’s go find some coffee.”
“For fuck sake,” Theodore growled when Greg started walking back toward the police station with Michael clutched in his grasp. With a flick of his finger, the compact sailed out of Greg’s hands and landed in Theodore’s palm. “Go!” He pointed down the street. “Get me a coffee from a shop more than four blocks away, then sit there. Do not return to work today.”
The intern blinked owlishly. “What kind…?”
“Black, no sugar. Now!” Theodore barked.
Greg was torn between his unnatural wish to stay in Theodore’s presence and the compulsion to do as he was told. Theodore’s glare won him over, and with a beaming smile, Greg turned and quickly jogged down the street to comply as readily as possible.
Theodore watched him go while wondering what fifty magically enhanced metal burrs would do to human flesh. It was probably irresponsible to not test them out on a human, really…
“Theo, you’re growling,” Michael spoke up from the compact. He draped a tie around his neck and efficiently twisted the knot in place.
Theodore only growled louder, then sighed abruptly. “He’s an idiot.”
“Who, Greg?” Michael shot him a sardonic grin. “You know what your allure does to humans. Hell, you can seriously mess up anyone when you actually try.”
“No, the kid.” Theodore combed fingers through his hair roughly. His scarlet locks fanned out and fell perfectly around his shoulders. “Fuck, he is such a stupid kid. He was joining a gang!”
Theodore spelled up another sound absorber and didn’t miss a beat. “Do you know how quickly Doe would have been hunted down if anyone in the underworld got wind about the ‘new kid’ who could tear through metal with his bare hands? I saw Collin’s door. Anyone with a fucking brain would know a dragon came through that mess.” Theodore cut his hand through the air in frustration. “If he was spotted even once pulling some kind of shit like that, it would be all over. Dead, he’d be dead! He’s not even an adult, and he’d be fucking dead.”
The compact sparked in his hand. Theodore snarled and glared at Michael, who peered back pointedly.
“Calm down. Your power is growing erratic.” Michael looked around the limited view his vantage gave him. “There are no wards where you are. Don’t make yourself a target by freaking out at the kid being an easy target.”
Theodore opened his mouth to tell Michael off, and his eyes burned with power. “Shit.” He raised his arm to block his gaze from Michael’s view. He took a deliberate, slow breath.
Michael pursed his lips. “You alright?”
“Fine. Pissed off,” Theodore added sharply. He bared his teeth and after a quick look around, stalked over to a maple tree surrounded by a metal grate. He ducked behind it where the bright red and orange leaves hid him from above. “Michael, if Collin hadn’t told us, that kid would already be…”
“But Collin did tell us,” Michael interrupted smoothly. “Even if he hadn’t, either you or I would have seen the healer mark and the door and put it together in moments.”
Theodore huffed up at the leaves above. “Only because you’re listed as Collin’s emergency contact. In one night we nearly lost two. My fuck, I can’t get over that. It was a 911 call, for fuck sake!”
Michael nodded calmly and shrugged into a suit jacket. “Yes, and now they’re allowed to deny service to paranormals. We knew this was coming.”
Theodore gritted his teeth and growled up at the sky. “It’s starting so quickly.”
“I’m surprised it wasn’t sooner,” Michael said flatly. “The precedent was set in that court case over a month ago, yet we’re only just seeing the first of private companies ignoring basic human rights for paranormals.”
“Because we’re not human, remember?” Theodore spat bitterly.
“Don’t repeat that disgusting drivel. Paranormals are absolutely human. Everyone should be treated with a basic level of dignity and respect no matter their appearance or abilities.”
“Yeah, good luck convincing the human race who still commits genocide on each other.” Theodore’s eyes sparked with rage. “Same but different might as well be asking to be murdered by these trigger happy, heartless fucks.”
Michael sighed. “Theo, I can’t believe I’m the one saying this to you, of all people, but you need to get your emotions under control. I don’t think I’ve seen you this shook up since, well, since Alex passed away.”
Theodore winced at the mention of his brother. “Don’t.”
Michael frowned sympathetically but didn’t push the subject. “We’re on top of this. Bear is here and he’s promised to stay the night if needed. I’m minutes from meeting with the governor to get Doe transfered. Everything is under control. You just need to keep your cool and remember why you’re there.”
Theodore closed his eyes and took another slow breath. This one seemed to take, and he followed it with a second and a third.
He didn’t want to think of Alexander, or how Wylie Doe was just a little too similar with his foul mouth and stupidly big heart. It wouldn’t matter who Doe was if he ended up dead. He wasn’t even nineteen, and Doe was going to have every homicidal sorcerer in the area looking to murder him before the day was out.
The gruesome reality was what Theodore needed after his difficult interview with Wylie. He had a job to do. He was going to do what the police couldn’t and keep Wylie Doe alive at all costs.
Theodore opened his eyes and fixed on Michael’s patient expression. “Any news on Collin?”
“Rob says he’s going to be fine. He had to put him in a magically induced coma for the energy transfer.”
Theodore raised an eyebrow. “He agreed to that? Seriously?”
“Of course not,” Michael said with a smirk. “Collin wouldn’t agree to anything until he called the governor personally and demanded Doe be released. Then he made me promise to make it happen.” Michael’s eyes grew stern with the responsibility he was carrying. “Listen, I don’t think the kid understands his healing comes with an energy drain. You might want to explain that to him. Collin said he’s new to healing in general.”
Theodore shook his head as he was hit with a fresh wave of frustration at the thought of Wylie. “He has no clue. I’m serious, Michael. He has no idea what he is and even less of a clue of what’s coming for him. The kid is ignorant as fuck. He’s lucky he’s alive because I have no idea how he made it under the radar this long.”
Michael was silent for a long moment. His voice was solemn once he spoke. “Good. That means he hasn’t lived his life in fear.”
Theodore sneered, his fangs sharp. “Don’t use that optimistic, silver lining bullshit on me, Whiteheart. The kid doesn’t know how to defend himself. Every asshole with a wand will be looking to bleed him dead and he doesn’t know fuck shit about anything.”
Michael fought a chuckle. “Sorry, forgot who I was talking to for a moment.” The mirror shifted as he grabbed a briefcase. “Have you gotten any sleep at all? You’re more bitchy than normal.”
“I’m awake enough to hex your ass through this portal,” Theodore warned. He pushed himself off the trunk of the tree, relieved to feel more like himself. “Get on that asshole governor and remind him how paranormals are actually human.”
Michael snorted. “You mean spell him stupid. Trust me, if I didn’t know that place was locked down with magical detectors, I’d use everything I have. The guy is bigoted as fuck.” Theodore’s frown turned grim at the reminder, and Michael caught the change. “We’re going to save this kid, Theo. We both know the odds if Doe ends up in Daiker.”
“He’ll be killed and dissected before he even gets there,” Theodore said tersely. He squared his shoulders and his eyes darted to the police station he needed to defend. “This is the only warning you get, Michael. If you can’t fix this through the proper channels, I’ll deal with it my way.”
Michael’s eyebrows drew down sharply. “Do no start killing…”
“I need to make a phone call.” Theodore clicked the compact shut without a goodbye and stuffed it in his breast pocket. He patted down his jacket and fished out a cell phone, saw it was Diego’s, and stuffed it back into the pocket.
“Fuck this day,” he muttered under his breath as he searched through his array of hiding places. “Winchester… Diane Winchester of Social Services… Ah ha!” Theodore held the phone up, only to frown when it refused to turn on. “Fucking magic!”
Theodore rummaged through his pockets again and pulled out a stack of small, heptagon wards. He sifted through and flipped each one over to discern which spell was which. “Stupid Michael. I’ll kill whoever I want to kill, Mr. nosy, overly ethical, bleeding Whiteheart who thinks he’s everyone’s knight in squeaky clean armor…” Theodore suddenly grinned, his teeth sharp, and slapped a buffer onto the back of his phone. The machine immediately chirped to life and the signal connected.
Theodore paused as he glared at the phone and exhaled heavily through his nose. He just needed to make it through the next hours and hope no one showed up to capture and kill his eighteen year old, ignorant as fuck, smartass dragon shifter. One day. After that, everything would be golden.