Anyhoo, here you go. Enjoy!
From Chapter 8:
To say Joni was in the doghouse later that evening would be an understatement. Then again, considering how things went from A to B where a little group of non-child-bearing adults were concerned, it was also safe to say that doghouse was probably a teeny little one, especially if Joni were to whip out something she’d put together in her lab and use it on Cameron and Uncle Norbert.
“Stay here, Henning,” Uncle Norbert ordered, pointing at the sofa. He’d just returned home from the university, practically buried under all the student papers he carried around with him. He could’ve gotten himself a large bag to stuff everything in, but, apparently, his little briefcase had sentimental value or something, and he couldn’t let it go. Whatever. It was made of crocodile skin, I think, so maybe he licked it and had another psychic experience when he did.
I went all obedient on him and plunked my butt down on the sofa, a book in hand. Star-crossed romance stuff, of course. Because Ellery.
“Cameron, Joni, and I need to have an officers-only conference in the dining room. I don’t want you to hear the drama even if only for a second. When officers go at it, they really go at it, and it’s not pretty.”
“Is it about what happened today?”
“Am I in trouble, too? I mean—I kind of set off Joni’s Berserk Meter after I drank her gross concoction and had a vision of Ellery last night.”
“Well—it was bound to happen. You needed to see him, which, according to my parent instruction guide, is a natural urge for a youngster your age and a destructive, nightmarish evil for adults within fifty miles of you.” Uncle Norbert was actually serious when he said that.
“Parent instruction guide?” I echoed, blinking. “You mean—you actually bought a book on how to raise a kid?”
He nodded, still looking serious. “I read it cover to cover even with it being the size of one volume of the Oxford English Dictionary, and that’s covering all the good and bad of the mid-adolescence phase. Pretty easy stuff, really. I might not have any experience raising a child, but it looks like it’ll be a breeze, crushing out-of-control teenage impulses with impunity.”
“Thanks, Uncle,” I said flatly.
“I’m getting the hang of this child-rearing business. I look forward to many years of putting the fear of a deity in you—or more than one deity if you’re polytheistic.”
“Not sure if I look forward to that. What if I got myself a boyfriend? What’ll you do to him? I kind of want to get married someday—to a living, breathing guy, not a roasted corpse.”
“I haven’t gotten that far yet in my game plan, but you’ll find out eventually. Or, rather, he’ll find out for himself.” In other words: May God have mercy on his soul.
I sighed, watching him disappear through the door and listening to him clomp down the hallway toward the dining room. Great. Looked like I was doomed to be a virgin for the rest of my life—or at least till I got engaged to whoever survived my chaperones, which meant no one. Ever. And ever.
“If it’s any comfort,” Uncle Norbert yelled from the hallway, “your poor parents were a lot stricter than I am now, kiddo! Be thankful I’m mind-blowingly lenient toward your teen issues!”
I stared at the open door of the living room. “They were? Well, that sucks. I’d have thought being an only child and a prince to boot would’ve meant something.”
“Your parents had their heads on straight! They knew you were going to be trouble the minute you hit puberty! And they were right! See encyclopedia entry under ‘soul bonding’!” Then I heard the dining room door slam shut. It was almost like a triple exclamation point emphasis at the end of his snark.
I sighed again, this time taking my position on the sofa by stretching out on my belly and opening my book. It didn’t take long for me to be nicely buried in a long, drawn-out fantasy involving a drug-addicted vampire hunter and suicidal vampire he was chasing and falling in love with. Seriously, these writers sure knew how to channel my non-existent love life and made it easy for me to project, project, project. I was totally wallowing and sniffling after maybe thirty pages. In all that time, Ellery and I had come together, broken up, come together, broken up, and did a lot of moping, hair-tearing, and crying. We also took turns dying and being reincarnated but ending up screwing things up and dying all over again, anyway. Oh, God, the pain in my chest—I thought I was coming down with asthma. Hopefully Joni took a massive dose of that ash stuff she’d gotten earlier, or she’d be collapsing from a heart attack in the middle of their officers meeting.