Peter “Bricker” Stevens looked around the table. He’d never heard of the restaurant Pammy said she wanted to go to for Valentine’s Day but he’d called for reservations and shown up in his good pants and shoes. He’d looked all over for information about the club but it was a big hush and he realized why as he looked around. It was a mobster, A-list, crazy ass club and he was a grocer, sipping crystal.
He was also surrounded by, damn he didn’t even know. The guy next to him, James, was creepy as hell. But he was with Pammy’s best friend, Sara, who was a sweetheart. They were engaged and she was pregnant and very happy from what he’d seen. Peter wasn’t sure what either was, but he was pretty damn certain neither was human. James was too eerie and Sara glowed more than even a pregnant woman could boast.
Next were Rachel and Nick. They seemed normal enough, or he thought they might have been but they hadn’t stopped making out since they sat down. Every time they got together as a group they were all over each other. If he saw either alone, he wasn’t sure if he’d recognize them without the others lips connected. They couldn’t be human. She was sex magnified and he always smelled like gingerbread and candy canes. No guy willingly smelled like those things after the Christmas season.
Last but not least were Katie and Sam. Two very fuzzy people, both with big personalities who had bypassed the champagne in favor of tequila. Red meat too, they’d each ordered a steak for appetizers. Pammy had given him a list of what everyone in her group of friends was. He was pretty sure they were werewolves, unless all the red meat meant they were vampires. But there was only one vampire and well, he was pretty sure if the ominous standard was true, it was James. Which was why he wanted to move the hell away from him.
“Okay, ladies. Darn it Rachel would you quit frenching Santa? You’re giving me the creeps.” Little Sara stood, her tiny silver dress even shorter with her belly pressing out against it. James was close beside her, keeping a big hand on her elbow since her heels were nearly as long as her legs. “I call to order the annual meeting of the freaks-“
“Whoa,” Peter said though Pammy elbowed him. “What? I don’t think you should be called a freak. You’re weird as hell, but I love you and I don’t want anyone insulting you.”
“Awe, the bag boy loves you, Pammy,” Katie, the furry one said and threw back a shot. “Damn that’s good. Okay, someone explain the freak to the normie over there.”
“The freak moniker, as I understand,” James said. “Comes from them taking back the insult from those who have used it against them in the past. They use it, embrace it so it loses its ugly connotation.”
“Though if anyone uses it against them, I put their asses straight on the naughty list,” Nick said and Peter wondered who the hell he was because he couldn’t be who he thought.
“Awe,” Sam said, a little tipsy and more bear-like than wolf-like. “Humans called you a freak, fuzzy? I’ll growl at them if you want.”
“Naw, I growl at the freak callers myself,” she said and gave him a big, sloppy kiss.
“Bricker, don’t worry about the freak thing.” Beside him, Pammy ran her finger up his thigh.
“But,” he dropped his voice and spoke just for her. “You hated being called a freak in high school. I remember you cut off some chick’s pony tail once after she told the whole tenth grade you were one. I might not be able to list anyone or growl but I can speak up for you some.”
Their first Thanksgiving together had been amazing and in the months following, Peter had fallen in love with Pammy. She was rude, crazy, impetuous and completely amazing. Every day she amazed him and he could see them together forever. She scared the hell out of him when she took off in the middle of the night and showed up at his place bruised and covered in demon goo, but she made him smile like no one ever could. His mom even said she was a keeper.
Pammy shook her head. “You are such a dork. Why the hell do I love you so much?”
“I said the same thing, word for word to you yesterday, remember?”
“Okay love birds,” Rachel said. “Let’s talk Freak business, and the lovingly freak, Bricker boy, no insults at all. Do we have recruit lists yet? Anyone standing out in the freak world?”
“Oh, I saw a miniature pixie,” Sara said, waving her hand wildly. “And I want to do the sleepover on pledge week.”
“Yeah fucking right,” Pammy said. “You’re going to have a baby vangle at home. I’ll take the sleepover.”
“Ah, pet,” James said, his voice strained. “Is this really a freak meeting? May I take care of things here with the cow or do you mind if I step out a moment.”
“You did not just call my man a cow, bloodie-boo,” Pammy said and Peter leaned back in his seat when the love of his life reached across him and held a butter knife in front of James-the vampire suspicion confirmed-face.
“O-M-G, girl, you are not holding on a knife on my man.” Sara was on her feet again and Pam rose to hers as well, Peter and James both scooting back, though Peter slid away from James at the same time.
“Uh uh, I’ll take care of this,” Sara said, holding a finger up when James tried to interrupt. She pulled a flask from her purse and handed it to him. “You didn’t think I wouldn’t think of you, did you? I am going to be a mommy, James; mommies don’t forget to feed the ones they love. This bitch though, needs a spanking.”
Peter started to stand but was stopped by an iron hand to his bicep. He looked over and found a perfectly manicured, male hand stopping him. And it was attached to James.
“Awe, hell, you’re going to bite me now, aren’t you?”
James grinned, his incisors longer but he just showed the flask. “You heard my angel, she brought me a treat. Now, I can see you’re the gallant sort, ready to rush in and save your girl, but don’t worry. These girls would never hurt one another.”
“Well he was getting all vampy, Sara,” Rachel broke in, standing also and Peter saw she was actually very pretty, even pissed. “You can’t expect her to not jump in.”
“Oh my mistletoe, she’s freaking hot.”
Peter looked over to see Nick beside them, his smile bigger than even James’.
“Hey, I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Nick Kringle,” he said, offering a hand. “Oh and Fangs, keep those damn things to yourself.”
“I’m all set here, jolly man,” James said.
“Well if Pammy wasn’t dating such a little bitch cow then James wouldn’t have been tempted.”
“Holy hell, is there anything sexier than a female growling like a feral bitch in heat?”
“Okay,” Peter said when Sam joined them. “I need a rundown of who or what everyone here is.”
“Werewolf.” Sam immediately responded, toasting with tequila.
Nick poured himself more Champagne but didn’t turn from the brewing fight when he answered. “Sainted immortal in charge of elves and Christmas magic.”
“I think you’ve already got me figured out,” James said. “And you are a scrumptious little human who fell in love with a Demon hunter.”
“He’s the one who is going to father the next generation of demon hunters,” Nick corrected and turned away long enough to wink. “I get a little precog along with the reindeer. Cute kids, but save for braces.”
Stunned, Peter turned from one to the other, trying to put them in a space in his mind that made sense but since they were all supposed to be fiction it wasn’t so easy.
“This is the day of sainted, freaking love and you were going to gut the father of my baby!” Sara screeched.
“It was a butter knife, you drama queen,” Pammy yelled. “I can gut a lot of things with a butter knife but not a thousand year old vampire.”
“So boys,” the vampire in discussion said. “I was thinking since it looks like we’re in this for the long haul, maybe we should consider teaming up. A fraternity of freaks if you will.”
“Oh hell no,” Sara said, and the men found themselves the target of multiple freak, female displeasure. “The Freak Sorority is trademarked boys. And we have no interest in branching into including penises in our official business.”
“Yeah, why ruin a perfectly good, smart, world changing club with a bunch of dicks?” Pammy asked, the butter knife incident passed since the girls had a common enemy.
“Okay, okay,” James said, holding up his hands. “Fraternity of Freaks is out. How about a brotherhood or the like? A brotherhood of freak lovers? We could help your boy here, Pammy.”
“Oh,” Pammy said and looked at him. Peter didn’t think it was a bad idea and if Santa was right, and how could Santa be wrong? He needed to understand Pammy’s world. “Well, I guess I don’t hate that idea. Girls?”
One by one they nodded, Sara looking especially pleased, but she always did. Peter wondered what she was. She couldn’t be an angel. It seemed wrong that an angel was engaged to a vampire, expecting a baby and living in sin. Right? Across the speakers of posh club where R and B and edgy dance music had been playing all night, Little Red Ridinghood poured out.
The girls squealed as one and Peter saw the men roll their eyes. It was Pammy’s favorite song so he’d tipped the waiter way too much money before they sat down to play it.
“O-M-G,” Sara cried. “Did you bloodie-boo?”
“Ah, as much as I’d love to-“
“Uh uh, my Bricker did this one,” Pammy said and Peter had never loved the nick-name more than he did when she seductively lifted him by his tie. “Come on, big boy. Let’s get Valentine’s Day started.”
He grinned as he looked back at the guys whose women were momentarily pouting or looking on him and Pammy adoringly. His demon huntress wrapped herself around him on the deserted dance floor and they were soon joined by the others.
“Wow, so far this has been a pretty great Valentine’s Day, huh?” he asked. “Fancy restaurant, we both have our dress up shoes on. No bloodshed.”
“But close,” she sighed into his shirt. “So that makes it pretty darn close to perfect. But the night is still young. Who knows what kind of trouble we can find to make.”
That’s what he was afraid of.