Excerpt from The Hairy-Legged Girls Club

            Heleema felt overwhelmed, surrounded by her family as they exclaimed over the news of her engagement to Brint. At one point, Ralasia fanned herself, pretending she was about to faint at the sight of the man standing inside the doorway.

            "I knew it, Hel. I knew something like this would happen the moment I saw you couldn't keep your eyes off the guy all during our gig last night. And all those songs you had us play, with all those suggestive lyrics, and the way you moved your hips... Damn, sis, you almost got me believing in love at first sight."

            "Not quite first sight, Rala, but close," Heleema admitted. She glanced over to see Brint lay his helmet on the side table by the back door, and realized she was still wearing his borrowed shirt from that morning.

            A hell of a lot had occurred in the past few hours.

            "Hey, Aunt Joslin? Do you mind if we use your washer and dryer?" she asked the woman entering from the kitchen with a tray of glasses. Varandon, her youngest brother, trailed behind their aunt with a bottle of blackberry wine they'd made last summer.

            "Go ahead. I think there's a load of sheets in the dryer, but you're welcome to it."

            Heleema looked over to where Brint had taken a seat at the end of the couch, like he had earlier that morning. She started to ask him if he'd go get their soiled clothing so she could throw them in the washer, when her cell phone beeped loudly. Its final warning that it was about to die.

            Grabbing it from her back pocket, she turned abruptly. "'Scuse me a minute, y'all. I need to plug this in while I'm thinking about it."

            The bullet plowed through the window. It grazed Heleema's upper arm, hitting the rock fireplace and sending stone shards flying through the air like shrapnel. In the split-second between that shot and the second, Heleema realized that, had she not turned, the slug would have hit her.

            Her animal reflexes took over, as did those of her family, and everyone dove for the floor as a second and third round busted through the glass. One bullet hit the wood mantel; the other smashed the front of the flat screen TV.

            "Brint!" She couldn't see him with Ralasia hunched down in front of her, and she was too afraid to lift her head to see if he'd been hit.

            "Are you okay?" he called back.


            "Everyone hush." Her father's voice sliced through the tension, calming them almost immediately. "Anyone see where the shots came from? Brint?"

            "My back was to the window, but we can't stay here."

            "Why not? We've had to dodge stray bullets before."

            "I don't think these are stray bullets, sir," Brint said tersely.

            "What makes you think that?"

            "What does your gut tell you?"

            "If you think this is deliberate, how come they don't keep shooting?" Demios spoke up from the other side of the couch.

            Heleema bit her lip. He was right. After the first three shots, it seemed to be over. Feeling more assured, she started to rise when a shadow passed near the front windows. The outline of the rifle was unmistakable.