Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6, part 2

Posted by harmony0stars on July 5, 2010

The doorbell rang at quarter of five. Glory left the kitchen at a jog, anxious to intercept Hart at the door, not that she thought anyone else would get it before her. Despite the enticing smells of dinner, Ann had taken Edgar upstairs at four thirty at Glory’s request. Robert had followed, not particularly keen on sharing a table with the overprotective officer.

For all she knew when she opened the door, Hart would smell Edgar on her and bolt. There was no disguising the fact that all the shapeshifters had been freaked out by the ghoul in the laboratory. But Edgar was just a baby. Hart couldn’t possibly be afraid of him. Hopefully they would bond over the pot roast. Still, she wanted to talk to him about the boy before they actually met.

Glory froze like a deer caught in the headlights as she opened the door. Maybe it was her expression, or possibly he smelled her embarrassment, but Hart immediately flushed as well. He stood awkwardly, wearing civilian clothes and cradling a bottle of wine. Maybe she should have given more thought as to what he might think of the invitation.

“Oh, I, um didn’t know if I should bring anything,” he mumbled, thrusting the bottle at her.

Glory felt Phoenix snickering in the back of her mind and thought daggers at him. If past conversations were any indication, he was like the alien equivalent of a dirty old man. Even if she’d been interested in Hart in that way, Phoenix’s presence made any kind of romantic entanglements distinctly creepy. She gingerly took the bottle, unsure of how to diffuse the situation.

“Thank you, um, officer Hart… I don’t know your first name, actually,” she said, cringing and blushing at the same time. She stepped aside to let him in.

“It’s Stuart,” he replied, not meeting her eyes as he brushed past her.

“Really? I never would have pegged you for a Stu,” she said with a smile.

He frowned as she gestured for him to go towards the living room. “You can call me Hart if you’d like, but not Stu.”

“Sorry…” she replied awkwardly. “Stuart.”

“Did you get pets?” he asked suddenly, looking around the room. She could only imagine his sense of smell had tipped him off.

“Er, well, there is a cat running around here somewhere that seems to have adopted us,” she said, chewing on her lower lip. “But it’s… the other new member of the family I wanted your advice on, actually.” He raised an eyebrow at her, and she stumbled on as best she could. “You remember that bullet you checked out for me? Well to make a long story short, I went to Miskatonic University where the guy runs a kind of secret monster menagerie, and I liberated a few people under his nose.”

“More shapeshifters?” he asked, a hitch in his voice betraying his concern. Otherwise, he was decidedly cool. It was probably because he was used to keeping a tight reign on himself. She didn’t imagine it was easy being a shapeshifter cop in a world that didn’t believe in such things and who would probably just as soon have him killed if they did.

“Not exactly, no… Thankfully, he seems to think shapeshifters are just talented ghouls.”

“Talented…?” he looked revolted, then uneasy as her words sank in.

“He’s just a child,” she hastened to reassure him. “The ghouls in the city wouldn’t take him because I fed him…”

“They’re all savages,” he sneered.

“They didn’t seem that bad,” she replied, a little insulted on their behalf and disappointed in Hart. It seemed just a bit hypocritical for him to judge considering how people would react if they knew what he was. “A little… off, maybe, but not monsters. And they made it sound as if it were more a matter of him seeking me out on his own since I’d fed him than that they weren’t inclined to take him back on general principle.”

When he seemed disinclined to comment, she added, “He really is a very sweet little boy. I’m just… worried about the legality of keeping him. It’s not like he has a birth certificate. I can’t stuff him in a closet when Robert’s social worker finally decides to show up, and I’d like him to at least have the option of going to school at some point. I was kind of just hoping for your advice on what to do…”

He opened his mouth to make some retort, and the cat chose that moment to leap up onto the back of the couch and confront the new visitor. Stuart blinked in surprise and actually took a step back. The cat sat on its haunches and wrapped its tail around its front legs, the end twitching irritably. It stared him down like a king surveying a vassal for several seconds before Stuart looked away with an air of embarrassment, as if he’d been scolded. The cat stood and daintily walked along the back of the sofa until it leapt to the floor on the other side and disappeared.

Stuart stared after the cat for several seconds before he looked up at Glory with a blank expression. He blinked and said in a somewhat confused voice, “I’m sorry. I forgot what I was going to say.”

“Did that cat, um, say something to you?” she asked.

He glared at her. “You think because I can turn into a cat, I can talk with yours? It’s just a normal house cat,” he said testily. “An Egyptian mau, I think.”

“It’s just… you kind of stopped dead when it…” From his expression, he wasn’t going to admit it even if the cat had communicated something to him. “You know what? It’s not important. Never mind,” she said. “I’m going to call everyone down to eat, if you’re okay with sharing a meal with a ghoul.”

“He’s not going to sit under the table and beg for scraps, is he?” he asked, betraying more of his prejudice.

“No,” Glory replied in a sad voice. She was beginning to regret inviting him. “He sits in a chair and eats with utensils like everyone else.”

to Chapter 8, page 32

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6, part 2”

  1. here2read said

    as if it were more a matter of him seeking me out on this own since I’d fed him..

    sb:
    as if it were more a matter of him seeking me out on HIS own since I’d fed him

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