Brett Wescott has a talent for creating quick sketches of people from verbal descriptions. Ones that looked exactly like the subject -- at least according to the tourists who find him either in Jackson Square or one of the bars along Bourbon Street. It helps that he is telepathic.
Kylian Dubois is a powerful elf who runs a covert agency he formed in the late seventeen-hundreds to stop paranormals from preying on and killing humans. All of his employees are elves or shifters -- each one with their own reasons for wanting to work with Kylian.
When a particularly vicious shifter killer, known as the 'Phantom Slayer', begins stalking New Orleans, Kylian recruits Brett to help find him -- even though Brett is only human.
Slowly a bond forms between Brett and Kylian. A bond that could turn into something more, providing they can deal with their differences.
After Kylian pulled the car out into what was now early morning traffic, Brett studied him. Then he blurted out what had been at the top of his mind since he'd overheard Kylian's mental conversation with Emile. "What are you? What is Emile?"
Kylian looked at him with apparent surprise. "What do you mean?"
Brett barely smiled. "You and your brother ... I heard what you said to him." He tapped his forehead. "I guess you forgot to block. Or maybe you couldn't when you were talking to him?"
"Forgot," Kylian admitted wryly, keeping his eyes on the road. "So I can mentally talk to my brother. Why is that so surprising?"
"It's not that you can. It's what you said to him. To the best of my knowledge, and I'll admit it comes from watching werewolf movies and TV shows, a shifter is someone who can, well, shift from human to animal and back. I've always thought they were the product of someone's overactive imagination --" Brett looked hard at Kylian, "-- until tonight."
Kylian sucked in a breath. "I wish I could tell you that is all they are."
"But you can't. So --"
"Let's put this on hold until we get to your place."
"Aren't you supposed to be meeting your brother at his house?"
"Damn, you overheard everything. Kind of nosy of you."
"It's not my fault you were broadcasting loud and clear."
"Okay. I'll give you that," Kylian replied. "I'll call him to let him know I'm going to be late." He glanced at Brett. "You seem to be awfully calm about all this."
"I guess I'm still taking it in." Brett barely grinned. "I'll panic later."
Kylian nodded as he pulled up in front of the building where Brett lived and turned the car off. After they were on the sidewalk, Brett took out his keys to unlock the front door. "I'm on the second floor," he told Kylian, leading him up the flight of stairs at one side of the lobby.
When they were inside Brett's place, Kylian commented, "I'd say you have the whole second floor, from the look of it."
"I do," Brett agreed.
The space was broken into three areas by partitions that stopped a foot and a half from the ceiling. One area contained the living room and kitchen. The second was Brett's studio and the third, his bedroom. "Have a seat," he said, waving to the sofa and chairs in front of a fireplace. "I'd offer you coffee but this isn't a social situation."
Kylian chuckled, taking one of the chairs. Brett sat on the sofa, unsure how to proceed. Finally he said, "Am I right in thinking you're ... maybe a shifter?"
"No," Kylian replied succinctly.
"But you're not human."
"Quit playing games," Brett retorted, wondering if he was going insane, or if Kylian was the crazy one -- which for some reason he doubted.
"Sorry," Kylian replied, sounding as if he meant it. "I'm an elf."
Brett almost laughed. "Uh-huh. Where's you cute little hat and pointed shoes? And speaking of points, what about your ears?" He realized as he said that, he hadn't actually seen Kylian's ears. They were always hidden under his long, black hair.
With a smile, Kylian pushed his hair back. While his ears didn't look like those depicted in books and movies about elves, they were definitely much more pointed than a human's.
Brett hissed in a breath. "They're real? I mean, not the result of some sort of strange plastic surgery."
"So both you and your brother are elves? What about Todd and Ronnie?"
"Emile is half elf, half human, since his mother was human. Todd's a wolf shifter and Ronnie's a fox."
Brett snorted, saying, "She's definitely foxy," even though what they were discussing wasn't funny. "I think I'm glad you're an elf. I don't know if I could handle watching someone turn into an animal in front of my eyes."
"It can certainly weird you out the first time it happens."
Brett nodded, trying to absorb everything. Is he really telling me the truth, or is this some sort of sadistic game?
"It's the truth, Brett. I swear it is."
"Damn. How do I learn to block my thoughts from you?"
Kylian laughed. "Practice. Lots and lots of practice. Maybe sometime we can work on that."
"I'd appreciate ... what do you mean sometime? Do you really plan on keeping in touch after tonight -- or I guess morning, now."
"Perhaps. I'll have to think about it. Of course, you might wish I wouldn't."