I asked on Facebook if anyone would like to read the original beginning to Darkness Taunts. After receiving a positive response, I decided I’d post it here for those interested. I will warn you now that it is has some disgusting and naughty elements to it, but I admit to giggling the whole time I was writing it and still can’t read it without laughing (my mind is much dirtier than what I allow myself to publish). Some of my beta readers felt I might have gone too far by putting this scene at the beginning of the book. Needless to say, it got cut out. A friend read it later and said I should have kept it. She thought it was great, so I decided it would become a deleted scene to post later.
If you’ve read the first chapter of Darkness Taunts, you’ll recognize the first few paragraphs (which are mostly the same), but it will deviate once the dialog starts.
I stiffened when my latest customer came through the door. She had long orange-red hair pulled back in a braid and a pudgy nose that flared every time she breathed. Surprise reflected in her brown eyes when they met mine. I’d only worked here a few months, but not all the supernaturals, or sups as I preferred to call them, in the area had seen me yet. Their reactions made me wonder if they pictured me as some kind of monster. I could say the same of them.
This woman was from a particularly nasty race that had all my instincts screaming to run. Trolls were carnivores and not picky about their meat sources. This was the closest I’d ever been to one. My senses, which could recognize a sup’s race as well as their emotions, weren’t picking up anything hostile from her, but for all I knew she could kill me as easily as lick a lollipop.
Working in a shop that catered to sup needs went against everything I’d been taught growing up, but my funds were starting to run low and jobs weren’t easy to come by in this economy. Felisha, a fairy and sort-of friend had offered the position after her business picked up. We’d rid the area of a controlling vampire-witch hybrid with maniacal tendencies five months ago and many of the sups who she’d driven away had returned. I couldn’t throw a tombstone without hitting one these days, and that was saying something, considering I wasn’t stronger than any regular human.
I shifted my weight to the balls of my feet, wanting to take off. Troll or not, I couldn’t leave the store unattended no matter how much I wanted to. My former military training wouldn’t allow me leave my post unattended—or herb shop in this case. I glanced below the counter in front of me. My fully-loaded gun rested safe and within easy reaching distance. One wrong move and I’d blow her head off. No questions asked. Felisha could yell at me later for the blood stains on the floor.
I smiled. “Can I help you?”
In a sort of waddle she made her way toward me. Herbal fragrances permeated the room, but the troll over-powered them all with a scent comparable to a sewer line. It took every bit of my control not to plug my nose. She stopped a couple of steps from the counter. Her head barely topping its four feet.
Her eyes shifted to the doorway leading to the back storage area before leveling on me. “Where’s the fairy?”
“Gone for the day.”
She frowned. “Do you know what you’re doin’?”
Probably not as much as she’d like, but I’d learned enough to fake it. “Yep,” I said.
She grunted. “Well, I guess you’ll have ta do then.”
Nothing like rating second best. “What do you need?”
She jutted her chin out. “Me husband ain’t performing like he should. You’ve gotta give me somethin’ to fix him.”
People never did spit out their problems right away. I always had to pry it out of them. “What do you mean?”
She put her hands on her hips. “His wee one, ya know. It’s ‘avin troubles. Me husband’s head might be gettin’ thicker with age, but his willie is softer than butter most times.”
Okay, this was the one time I would have preferred she keep things in vague terms. My fingers curled on the counter. “You’re telling me you need something to help with your husband’s erectile dysfunction problems?”
“His what?” She looked at me like I’d grown horns.
“His…” I shook my head. “Never mind. How often is he having this problem?”
“Well,” she tapped her chin, “most times since a few weeks ago. He’s down ta maybe getting’ his self up ta perform once a day.”
Seriously? I was beginning to envy a troll for her sex life. “Once a day isn’t enough?”
“Course not! I’m in my prime. Just got the last of the youngins outta the house and I’m wantin’ ta enjoy me golden years. We been doin’ the deed at least five or six times a day ‘til now. Then Carl—that be me husband, couldn’t keep up no more.”
I looked at the clock. Emily would be getting out of school in twenty minutes. I had to get this woman and her issues taken care of before then. My fifteen year old charge did not need to learn about troll sexual habits.
“Was there any particular event that might have sparked this?” Felisha insisted I ask a certain round of questions before handing out any specialized herbs. They could do more harm than good if taken for the wrong reasons.
“Let me think.” She crossed her arms and tapped her foot. “We was under our favorite bridge the first time it happened. Ya know, the one for University Avenue that goes over the Chena River?”
I nodded, wondering if it was possible to avoid that bridge for the rest of my life.
“He had me skirt lifted over me head.” She pinched the thick brown one she had on now. “He can be such a brute, but a fine one. Anyway, he had his mouth ‘tween me legs lickin’ up a storm. It was heaven, let me tell ya. Carl’s tongue is a bit on the nubby side…and it has those kinda furry warts on it, but it’s pure magic.” She sighed with a blissful expression on her face.
Felisha didn’t pay me enough for this. “How about you get to the part where the problem started.”
Her eyes glazed over in memory. “Well, after he got his fill, he moved ta position his self ‘tween me thighs but his willie was havin’ none of that. I’ve seen spaghetti noodles with more spunk, let me tell ya. I tried everythin’ to help him. Even slapped him around a bit, which usually does the trick, but it didn’t faze him. We finally had ta give up and now he’s lucky if he can manage once a day.”
I cleared my throat. “Um, okay. How about his diet? Has that changed at all?”
She shook her head. “We ain’t changed a thing in years. It’s nothin’ but worms, frogs, and rats for us since we ain’t allowed ta feast on anything bigger these days. Beans mixed with maggots if we can’t get anything else.”
I’d be lucky if I managed to eat anything tonight…or tomorrow for that matter. “Let me see what we have in the back. Just give me a few minutes.”
Me and my stomach needed a break from this crazy woman. Felisha had a small library in the storage area that covered treatments for most of the different sup races. Thankfully, she kept it organized so I could find the one on trolls without too much trouble. I flipped through the small notebook until I found what I was looking for. A sigh of relief escaped me. The treatment was simple and had nothing that would require graphic details to explain.
I moved over the storage bins, scooped out some seeds from an herb called “Devil’s Guts” and bagged them up. It took another minute to create a label with instructions, but with herbs too much or too little could have bad consequences. The female troll hadn’t moved since I’d left her. She eyed the bag in my hand with raised brows when I returned.
“Will that work?” she asked.
I nodded. “This is what he needs. Steep a tablespoon full of seeds in some hot water for about thirty minutes and have him drink it twice a day. Don’t let him eat the actual seeds. He just needs to drink the water. Don’t take this yourself or let anyone else use it.”
You had to spell these things out because different species of sups had different reactions to various herbs. What would cure one of fever would kill another. Working here was a lot like being a veterinarian because of all the different races we catered to—except I got all my training on the job instead of at a formal school. I’d learned to be extra careful before selling anything to anyone. No need to make the locals want to take a pitch-fork at me. They already wanted to do that anyway.
After this, the troll brings up the demon problem and it went on mostly like the first chapter that got published.