The backdoor of the Elephant didn’t have a bell. That was probably the reason I nearly jumped out of my own skin when one rang back there. I set down the stack of old comic books, brushed off the front of my shirt, and silently reminded myself to be careful with the metaphors. Especially the ones that were becoming dangerously close to possible.
“Be right there!”
There wasn’t room to run between the haphazard stacks of knick-knacks, brik-a-brak, and curios. So I walked as quickly as I could, skirting around the large dog bed where Spots lay sleeping. I preferred not to wake the guard dog if I could avoid it. My musical skills were only just starting to take shape and were certainly not enough to calm him back down.
When I finally did reach the back door, I was startled to find a young man there who looked to be about my age. He was tall and handsome, thin in the sort of way a distance runner is where he’s almost entirely made of muscle. Twined around his left arm in white ink that shone starkly against his much darker skin were two serpents that immediately caught my attention. The detail work was gorgeous. Every individual scale seemed to be there and the twin snakes seemed to writhe. He caught my eye and grinned wickedly, his eyes dancing. Then he spoke with a voice much lighter than I would have imagined.
“Like it? I’ve got the card for the place I went to get it done, if you’re interested. Or I’ve got my number if you’re interested in something else.”
My jaw dropped open and I tried to remember how to form words. He was already laughing and it sent a shiver up my spine.
“I’ve got a package,” he hesitated for just a moment, that grin dancing around his eyes again. “For your boss. It’s right here. I just need you to sign for it.”
I snatched the electronic pad out of his hands and signed it quickly, glaring at him despite the heat I could feel rising to my cheeks. He was still grinning as he took it back and slipped it into the pouch on his belt.
“I hope I see you again, pretty servant of my sister. You seem like a lot more fun than her usual.”
The startled exclamation was out of my mouth before I could stop it and he leaned forward just slightly to poke the tip of my nose.
“Didn’t realize, did you? We’re all related.”
Then he reached up to adjust the baseball cap I hadn’t noticed before. Did it have wings embroidered on the sides? Then he was gone. Just like that. Here one moment and gone the next. My knees buckled and I willed them to iron. Where was that damn package? I would figure out which one of my boss’s siblings was trying to flirt with me later. First, I had work to do.

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