I glared at my waterlogged desk, grimly picking up soggy pieces of paper. "Damn water nymphs." I muttered. I grabbed a hair dryer out of my bottom drawer and painstakingly tried to save some forms. Bailey, my supervisor, stuck her head in my cubicle, wincing at the mess.
"You're smoking" she pointed out, glancing at my face as she squished inside to help. I clapped my hands to my face, smoke spiraling out between my fingers. "Go ahead and take a break, I'll call maintenance." she said turning towards me and grinning.
I flashed a smile at her "Thanks. It's not my fault she didn't file her claim in time, but you know nymphs." I said, rolling my eyes. I grabbed my coat and ducked out of my cubicle as she chuckled. Sometimes it’s good to have a relaxed boss like Bailey. Sure, she might be a stereotypical Selkie, obsessed with water and all, but she was just the kind of management I needed.
I figured I could use a coffee, so I started towards the elevator, narrowly missing a messenger pixie dashing to his next delivery. I waited for the elevator to arrive, waving to Simon, our resident Cyclops and head accountant, standing by the water cooler. The elevator dinged open and I stepped in, hitting the button for the ground floor. "Hold the elevator!” someone called out. The doors began to slide shut as Bentley, the regional manager, squeezed in.
He brushed off his jacket, leering at me. "Meredith. How are you today?"
I plastered a fake smile on my face, inwardly cringing. "Hello Bentley."
Not only was Bentley the northeast regional manager for the United States, he was also the sleaziest vampire to ever walk this earth. Turned before he had quite finish puberty, Bentley was permanently stuck with teenage male hormones and looks, acne included. He was completely happy with it.
Anything remotely female was fair game in his opinion and, unfortunately for the female population, he thought he was quite the catch. Bentley didn't understand the meaning of no. If it weren't for his father on the board of directors, Bentley would have been one too many sexual harassment charges past losing his job.
Bentley also had no sense of self preservation, as he failed to realize I was literally snorting fire as he stood on tiptoes, trying to look down my shirt, the short little bastard. Before I blasted him to wherever vampires believed in the afterlife, the elevator opened.
"Meredith, before you leave, make sure the completed registration forms go to filing today. I noticed yesterday's weren't submitted." Bentley waggled his eyebrows at me. "We might even have to have a....private...meeting".
I gagged. God, he was so obvious. And gross.
"No...no. They'll go to filing tonight, don't worry.” Thankfully, the elevator doors closed before he could think of another excuse to continue ogling.
I heaved a sigh of relief as I finally left to get my coffee. There's only so much Bentley a dragon could take before she just gave up and burned everything to the ground. Well, half dragon to be honest. My mom fell in love with what she thought was a dragon male. Turns out he was....well, we're not sure exactly.
After the requisite mating rituals, my father flew off and no one's seen or heard from him since. Instead of having a brood of beautiful hatchlings, my mother got me. Oh, don't get me wrong I'm dragon where it counts. Breathing fire? Check. Magic? Check. Flying? Double check. Compared to other dragons though? I'm not exactly a prodigy, if you get my drift.
To top it all off, I didn't even look right. Dragons are metallic. You know platinum, gold and silver. I'm a red. You can probably guess how well that went over. My human form is even different. Dragons are tall, slender people, with hair matching their scales. I'm middling height with decent curves and red hair. Not exactly prime dating material amongst a model-esque race.
My mother booted me out of the house the second I turned fifty (about eighteen in human years), because I was proof of her failure to reproduce thriving children. Dragons are pretty picky about reproduction and bloodlines, since we're such a small population. Sibling rivalry and adolescent idiocy tend to weed out most of our race.
I opened the door to the coffee shop, letting a group of giggling teenage witches walk out. I stepped in, breathing the pure scent of java nirvana from the busy shop. I ordered my latte, picking up random conversations from other customers. Apparently mandrake costs were through the roof, and the president signed a new environmental preservation bill into law today. He is a werewolf after all, what did they expect? He wanted someplace to run when the moon was full.
I paid for my coffee, thanking the cashier and turned to leave. A man stood at the window, staring at me. He was decent looking, with black hair and a long, square face. Something about him set my teeth on edge, but I couldn't say what. I hadn't even met him before. Realizing he had caught my attention, the man smirked and gave me a little finger wave. I hesitantly waved back as he broke into a grin, blowing me a kiss. The window imploded.
Glass shards shrieked through the air, cutting everyone in the coffee shop. Customers screamed in pain and started scrambling for cover. I threw a shield up around them and raced out the door, looking for the man.
A massive black dragon stood in the street, at least a hundred feet long. His needle sharp talons dug at the asphalt, leaving deep cracks. His wings buffeted bystanders, knocking them to the ground. Holy shit. Black dragons didn't exist. Who the hell was this guy? He hissed as he saw me. Dragons claimed territory, and only one could live there. I had claimed Bellmore years ago, and had fiercely defended it since. First this guy invaded my space, blew up my favorite cafe, and then hissed at me? Oh, no he didn't.
"I've claimed this city!" I shouted to him. Fire spit with each word, I was so pissed. "You know weyr law. Now get the hell out!”
He laughed. "What makes you think I'd follow weyr law, little hatchling? Your weakling emperor has no power over me."
"I don't give a rat's ass who you are. Leave!" I exclaimed, stomping my foot. There was no way this guy didn’t listen to the emperor. There was a reason the emperor of dragons was the freaking emperor of dragons.
The black dragon chuckled. "Temper, child. It is an admirable quality in the young, but you are getting older." I gaped at him, astonished. Who was he calling old? His smile grew wider. "You will do, I believe. I will see you again, little hatchling." He vomited black fog from his mouth, letting it seep onto the street, condensing into a writhing shadow.
The black dragon winked at me, then took off into the air. Before I could change shape and give chase, the shadow sprouted tentacles, shooting across the street to grab my arms and legs. It burned on my upper arms and thighs, frost forming on my skin where it touched. I began sweating with fear as I recognized the shadow.
Impa Shilup was only found in the deepest, darkest regions of Hell. Native Americans thought it to be a soul-eater, a kind of super devil. No mage had been able to work it without dying. Even dragons wouldn't touch the stuff, it was so dangerous. Impa Shilup could only be contained and thrown back into the depths of hell. The shadow began oozing towards my face. I could hear med-mages and other emergency responders yelling in the background. Good, hopefully they had gotten to the coffee shop customers in time.
I kept trying to free my arms so I could cast something, anything to get this crap off me. I had exhausted all the defensive spells I could with my hands immobilized, so I tried shifting into dragon form. The shadow squeezed, forcing me to struggle to breathe. So flying out of here wasn't an option. I heard chanting in the background as the Impa Shilup crawled into my mouth and nose, choking me.
Bentley was going to freak when I didn't submit those forms.