Maelstrom Extra: Incidental Expenses

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 reviews (Comments): 6
“You embarrassed me, Ricky.”

“I’m sure you’ll get over it.”

“It wasn’t vanity; I needed that jacket.”

“All twelve of them? And what about the bracelets, and the boots, and—

“I needed them, too.”

He waved the bill at her. “You’re a djinn. Why don’t you conjure these things, instead of putting it all on plastic?”

“You said you wanted us to do things like humans, did you not?”

“Yes, but this is difficult to explain to the accountant, as you just saw. Can you at least tell me why you ‘needed’ three new guitars in one month?”

“They’re fun to collect.”

“Like the Baccarat crystal eggs? What the hell was that about? Are you collecting those now, too? Are you going to incubate them?”

Kalila snatched the bill from Ricky’s hand. “You’re out of line, human. It’s my band, my money, and you have no right to criticize me.”

“You asked me to manage every aspect of your career, and your finances are a nightmare.”

“The entire economy is a nightmare, in case you haven’t noticed.” She incinerated the bill and smiled at Ricky’s expression of dismay. “Now come on, mortal, lighten up. No need to get worked up over incidentals.”

Maelstrom Extra: All About the Girls

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 reviews (Comments): 6
Vic sat in the dressing room sipping from a blood bag while Bo lounged on the sofa with a girlie magazine. Nevin cradled a cup of tea and listened while Kalila picked out a new tune on her acoustic guitar. In the corner, Lazaro tapped out a rhythm on a small table.

Calvin poked his head into the room. “Girl out here to see you, Vic.”

Before Vic could answer, Bo set the magazine aside and swung his feet to the floor. “You mean for me.” He stood up and stretched.

“No, for Vic. She seems kind of obsessed.”

Bo stared. Girls usually only had heartache for him.

On the other side of the room, Vic sucked the last drops from his bag and tossed it aside. “It’s about time we had a fan with good sense. Tell the young lady I’ll be right out, Calvin.”

As he headed toward the door, Bo jumped in front of him. “No way, bloodsucker. He got it wrong. She wants me.”

“Not every mortal creature wants you, sleazy.” Vic shoved him in the chest. “Get out of the way.”

Bo shoved back. “Forget it. She’s mine. It’s for her own good.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You remember what Ricky said. You’re too reckless. You leave the girls unconscious and anemic.”

“I’ll be careful this time.” Vic picked up one of Lazaro’s wooden drum mallets and brandished it. “Now get out of the way.”

Bo flung himself at Vic and the mallet went flying. In a jumble of arms and legs, they fell against a table, knocking an assortment of accessories and small jangling items to the floor, and then they were on the floor themselves, fists flying as they punched and grappled with abandon.

While Lazaro retrieved his mallet, Nevin and Kalila exchanged a shrug and returned to what they had been doing before. It was just another demon fight, like many before.

Several minutes later, Calvin opened the door again. “You guys coming out for the next set? Ricky’s on his way. He’s pissed.”

Vic and Bo stood up and dusted themselves off. “Oh, sure,” Vic said. “But first, the girl.”

“Definitely the girl first, then music,” Bo agreed.

Calvin shook his head. “She’s gone. Got tired of waiting.”

Kalila brushed past them with Nevin in tow. “That’ll teach you,” she said in her smug djinn way.

“Stupid demons,” Lazaro agreed, following Kalila out the door.

Vic and Bo looked at each. “Try again after the show?” Vic said.

“Sure. But it’s me they want, you know.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Calvin rolled his eyes. “Just get out there, before Ricky throws a fit. By the way, I think I got the feedback problem corrected while you were on break, and I taped down that cord again – the one you guys kept tripping on.”

“Great.” Vic grinned, showing the tips of his fangs. “Now we’ll be able to concentrate on our music.”

“That’s what we’re here for,” Bo agreed as he followed him out the door. “That and the girls.”

“Oh, definitely,” Vic said. “It’s all about the girls.”

Maelstrom Extra: Indecent Exposure

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 reviews (Comments): 5
Ricky paced the living room floor, jingling his keys. What could be taking so long? He stopped at the coffee table and tapped on the brass lamp. "We're going to be late."

He jumped back as the lamp shot blue sparks and smoke started pouring out. It took only a few seconds, but seemed like forever before Kalila appeared, hazy and clearly unhappy. "You mortals need to learn to be less particular. Time is an artificial construct."

She went on to say a few things about the sun and its position in the sky relative to the rotation of the earth, but Ricky was in no mood to listen. "Please tell me you're not going dressed like that."

She looked at him in bewilderment. "Is there a problem?"

Was there a problem? Only that her skirt was the size of a handkerchief and the gauzy blouse was so sheer it left nothing to the imagination. "We're going to dinner with an important backer for your next tour. What you're wearing is not only inappropriate, it's indecent."

Kalila blinked. "I don't understand. I thought--"

"We don't have time to think." Ricky glanced at his watch. "Just change into something else."

With a sigh of annoyance, Kalila vanished back into her lamp.

"Less skin, okay?" he called after her. He sat down on the sofa to wait.

A few minutes later, she emerged again, this time in embroidered crimson silk that reached from her neck to her wrists, clung tightly to her waist and fell in cascades to just above her ankles. "Better?"

Ricky struggled against the heat rising within him. How was it possible that she was even more enticing than when she had everything on display? Did she do this just to frustrate him?

Well, he only needed to get her to the restaurant; he didn't have to understand. He stood up and held out his arm to her. "You look amazing."

Maelstrom Extra: Six-String Dreams

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 reviews (Comments): 5
The studio was too quiet. Ricky checked the shabby rooms one by one, but it was clear the band wasn’t around. Everything was set up for rehearsal, though. If he hadn’t known them better, Ricky would’ve thought they stepped out for a pizza.

He brushed his fingers across a cymbal and frowned at the drums, amps and electrical cords. There was never any telling what a group of demons might do next. He should try to track them down before they committed some act of mayhem.

Ricky started toward the door, but the red and gold gleam of Kalila’s new Stratocaster caught his eye. He hesitated. One didn’t handle someone else’s instruments. He picked it up anyway. It had been a few years since he held a guitar and its weight felt unfamiliar, but after a foolish glance over his shoulder as if someone were watching, he strapped it on and picked out a few notes.

The metal strings vibrated under his fingertips, a soft, shy sound that stirred Ricky’s long-fallow ambitions of being something more than a promoter. He wasn’t without ability, but he understood his limits; he lacked the spark of real talent.

He picked out a chord, then a simple melody from a favorite song, fumbling the progression. Well, his abilities had always been more toward keyboards and vocals. The guitar and all its sex appeal had never come naturally to him.

Still…he tried the progression again. Maybe if he worked at it, practiced…

“Thinking of joining the band?”

Ricky looked up in embarrassment.

“No auditions today.” Kalila made a small gesture and the guitar pulled itself from Ricky’s grasp and returned to its stand.

“I’m sorry.”

Kalila watched him, a glint of laughter in her amber eyes. “You could play with us sometime, if you like.”

“I’d be wasting your time.”

“Time means nothing to immortals. But as you wish.” She motioned him toward the door and turned out the light. “Go home. No rehearsal tonight.”

Ricky walked out of the room, grateful for the reprieve. She should’ve been angry, but one could never predict what a djinn would do. He was waiting for the elevator when he heard footsteps.

“You forgot something.” Kalila came up to him and set a battered case at his feet. “It’s one I don’t play any more. Someone ought to get some use out of it.”

Before Ricky could speak, she vanished in a curl of blue smoke. The elevator dinged and the doors cranked open. Ricky picked up the guitar case. “Thanks,” he told the empty air.