Excerpt from Reason

by Taylor Longford

The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back and he was on top of me, pressing me into the cushions on the couch, ravaging my mouth with the hottest, sexiest kiss I’d ever been on the receiving end of. And after I recovered from the initial shock, I was eating it up, kissing him back like there was a limited supply of guys with lips, while a deep growl vibrated in his chest.

The guy was a quick learner.

My phone went off with a sudden scream of noise and I cursed myself for not changing my ring tone like I’d meant to. Reason jumped off me, breathing hard and staring down at me like he’d just kissed a snake…and wanted to try it again.

“What was that all about?” I exclaimed, ignoring my phone and trying to pull some air into my lungs.

“What was what all about?” he gasped.

“That…that…that kiss.”

“Nothing,” he snapped. “A mistake.”

Okay, part of me was crushed that he thought the best kiss of my life was somehow a mistake. But I wasn’t about to let him know. Instead, I went on the offensive. “Yeah, it was a mistake. You don’t even like me!”

He pushed out a few more rapid breaths. “I seem to do that a lot.”

“Do what?” I asked, struggling back up into a sitting position and eyeing him from the safe distance of one foot away.

“Fall for girls I don’t like,” he rasped, his gaze shifting away from me.

“What?” I asked, not sure I’d heard him right.

“Nothing,” he growled. “Just drop it.”

“So, I’m supposed to forget the fact that you just tried to eat my face off?”

He pinned me with an icy stare. “That’s right. And unless you want more of the same, don’t provoke me again.”

So, naturally, I immediately started thinking of things I could do to provoke him. But I didn’t get too far with this line of thought.

“Hush,” he said suddenly, his eyes narrowing into blue slits as his head turned toward the window.

I didn’t like him telling me to hush, especially since I wasn’t saying anything. I got to my feet and planted my hands on my hips. “Don’t tell me to—”

“Shut up,” he commanded, and spun around to face the window.

As I stood glaring at him, the window shattered with an explosion of noise and flying shards of glass. Something crashed into the room. Something huge and vaguely humanoid in shape. Do you know what happens when a giant something crashes in through your window? You scream. You don’t mean to scream. It’s not planned. It’s just so startling and unexpected that you can’t help it. Terror just pours out of you in a high-pitched wail of noise. My hands flew to my face, I froze in my tracks and screamed.

But despite the noise I was making, whatever-it-was didn’t appear too interested in me. It tore the hanging sheet out of its way, yanked Reason off his feet and started dragging him toward the huge opening in the wall that had been a window only a few moments earlier.

Reason clawed at the floor, the couch, the small coffee table, trying to slow down his departure through the window. His eyes connected with mine. “Run,” he shouted. “Run, Lainey!”

I didn’t know when I’d become Lainey, but I didn’t question his command. I’d already done the “freeze” part of the natural-instinct routine. Pretty effectively. Now it was time for the “fight or flight” part. I turned and ran behind one end of the counter and charged out the other side…with the cast-iron fry pan in my fist.

As the monster lifted one large foot onto the windowsill, I raced across the room and swung the heavy pan with all my strength, bringing it down on the thing’s head. The pan bounced off of its stone-hard hide with so much energy I was lucky I didn’t shatter all the bones in my wrist. The thing was armored! Like a dinosaur. Like an ankylosaurus, to be specific. And my frying pan hadn’t put so much as a dent in its massive helmet-like skull.

With craggy fingers wrapped around Reason’s ankles, the monster hauled him toward the window while he twisted on the floor, trying to get a hand on his knife, which had slid toward his back. I turned the pan and tried again. This time, the side of the heavy pan connected with the monster’s face and it howled in fury. I did it again. And again. And the whole time I’m screaming in pure 100-proof terror while Reason is shouting at me to get out of there.

A wedge of stone fell to the floor and left a trail of dark red as it bounced away. I was pretty sure it was the creature’s nose. The idea that I’d hacked off its nose was so gross that it just made me scream louder.

On about the tenth whack, the abomination let go of Reason’s ankles and lifted an arm to shield its face. I just kept hammering away until the thing ducked its head through the window. With one last screech of rage, the monster reached for me. I saw a set of sharp claws fly toward my face then Reason was there, shoving me out of the way, his knife hacking at the monstrosity’s fingers.

As I watched, the thing leapt away and disappeared into the night.

Reason’s chest heaved in a few breaths as he turned his awed gaze on me. He looked like he’d decided he’d better watch what he said to me as long as there was any cast-iron within reach.

The sturdy pan dangled from my right hand. I lifted my left and pointed at the empty window, the cold night breeze lifting the filmy white curtains and ballooning them into the room. “What was that?”

“A harpy,” he panted, clearly familiar with the thing that had just smashed into my studio apartment. “It was after me.”

No kidding. “Don’t you think you should have told me about harpies?” I exploded. “You should have warned me that they came optional with gargoyles.”

He shook his head and looked around at the mess. The bed-sheet that I’d tacked to the ceiling a little while ago lay crumpled on the floor, tangled with the broken glass. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting this. If I’d thought this was going to happen, I’d have definitely said something.”

“Something like—oh by the way, now that I’m your roommate, there’s a good chance your life might end tomorrow?”

“Aye,” he growled, “Something exactly like that.”

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