This story is set in Kit Colbana’s world. It’s loosely connected, but can be read as a stand-alone.
Her name is Frankie. At least, that’s what she calls herself.
She looks human, but she’s no more human than she is a faith-healer. That doesn’t stop her from using her…more unique abilities to take care of certain needs. It’s those abilities that lead to a chance encounter with an unusual woman in Florida.
It’s a chance encounter with fate that will set these two down a collision course with destiny.
“It’s crowded tonight.”
I glanced up at the man who’d slipped up to join me. I stood just outside the curtain of the tent. Through the slit, I could peer inside and the darkness of the night kept them from seeing me. It was one of the few remaining moments of solitude, of peace, that I’d have for the rest of the night.
Saleel’s presence didn’t disturb that solitude.
He was as welcome as the whisper of air against my skin, as the twinkle of stars overhead.
He was a reminder of what I did have—even if I didn’t have something as simple and coveted as humanity, I had my life. I had freedom. And I had him as my companion.
We shared a moment of comfortable silence before I looked back inside.
“You’re restless,” he said after another moment.
I wasn’t surprised he’d noticed. Saleel noticed everything.
I slanted a look up at him. “I guess I’m getting bored here. Ready to move on. Have you scouted out the next spot?”
Saleel lifted one shoulder. “Yes. Montana. I tire of the heat.”
“Montana?” I grimaced and mentally shuddered. Summer was rapidly drawing to a close. That would mean cold. Snow. Worse…ice. “I hate the cold.”
I’d spent many of my earliest years in the muggy heat of America’s south—or in the heart of Africa. Some of those years that hadn’t been spent…elsewhere. Heat was simply bred into my bones. I could handle the cold, but that didn’t mean I liked it.
Saleel’s teeth flashed white in the faintest of smiles when he glanced at me. “Then perhaps next time when I ask you if you have a preference, you should give me an answer. Instead, you say, Do whatever you want, Sal.”
He managed an imitation of my voice that was almost dead-on.
I stuck my tongue out at him.
He went back to staring into tent. “Offer your tongue again, my angel, and I will make use of it.”
The two of us were like gasoline and fire and we both knew it. Combustible—and dangerous.
“Promises, promises,” I said lightly and then I eased closer, bracing my shoulder on the lightweight metal of the door frame, gazing deeper into the tent.
Saleel was right.
I was restless.
But I hadn’t yet figured out why.
A hot summer wind caressed the back of my neck. I enjoyed it while I could. Once I got inside, the air would be stifling. Already, I was dreading it. I could smell the heat of too many bodies and the air was thick with sweat. Heavy with despair.
Hope clung to many of the people who awaited me but hope was a capricious bitch. I could all but hear the cackling, gleeful laugh as she darted from one person to another, crooning…you don’t really think this will work, do you? You’re going to die…you’re all going to die…
Fans churned from all corners, laboriously whirring away. They did little to cool the temperature, but at least the air kept moving.
It wasn’t the heat, though, that plagued me. It wasn’t even the promise of death. People died. It was simply part of life. It wasn’t the despair or the misery—the hunger inside me reached for that, but that wasn’t what made me restless.
“It’s time,” Saleel murmured.
But still, I didn’t move, searching inside the tent.
“I’m going.” I took a deep breath and reached deep inside for the well of calm that would carry me through when I took another’s pain inside me. I craved pain—fed on it. That didn’t mean it was pleasant.