I was at work, for a change. Odd as it was, October was the off-season for monster politics, and raising the dead was in far greater demand. And don't forget senseless preternatural crimes. It was like a rule, if I had one, I had another.

    My client was late, that was for damn sure. I stared at the penguin poster in vain, as if my boredom would make them arrive faster.

    It had been a few months since the Harlequin left, and everything was getting back to normal. Sort of. BDSM for dummies with Asher was... awkward, to say the least.

    Knock knock knock.

    In shambled a very tall, very thin girl with far too many clothes on for the Indian summer St. Loius was having. She was very pale with frizzy hair and unfashionable clothing - the classic wallflower. She looked like the sort of girl who might shot up the school. Not that I was much better at her age.


    Ugh, if there was one thing that I couldn't stand it was people who were overly nervous. They knew who I was enough to come to me, why not brave up and just tell me what the problem was? I started to scowl when I remembered-Burt had just given the employees as speech about appearing professional. It was directed solely at me, now that I thought about it.

    Fine, I'd play by his rules. I gave her a smile. She looked like she needed it. Kids.

    "What can I do for you today, Miss Whistler?"

    She stared down at her knobby knees. "I uh... I need some information. I've been having this... problem, and I can't talk to anyone about it."

    Great, it sounded like she was getting her period. I looked at her expectantly.

    "Sometimes... when... I go for walks... these... things follow me. They're... dead. It only happens to me, I don't think it's my mom or anything."

    Anita Blake: Zombie Therapist. Somewhere, my metaphysical connection was laughing.
    However, the nervous schoolgirl had fessed up to something a lot of people might have called her crazy for. She deserved at least a brownie point and a half for that

    "I take it this is a regular occurrence?"

    Miss Whistler seemed to shrink into herself.

    "It's... I... my mom and dad are really religious and it's... I can't tell them or they'll get really mad at me and...."

    Oh boy. Here comes the Catholic guilt.

    "And you need some help controlling it, right? So no one finds out?" Dear Stepmother Judith sent me away to my grandmother for zombie taming. Jesus Christ. I really didn't want to relive this, but... I didn't want this girl to face something possibly worse. "It's... within my talents, I suppose..."

    "Really, Miss Blake?!" She was so overjoyed she didn't have to ask for anything herself.
    I glanced over at the calender. Nothing but a raising tomorrow and a "lesson" with Asher next week. Assuming I didn't trip on a werebadger and have a mass furry orgy to attend. Ah, metaphysics.

    "We'll make it a date. 5:00 pm tomorrow good? Say you've got a Scholastic Quiz meet or something if you need a lie."

    Miss Whistler blinked, then smiled at me shyly. Encouraging teenager delinquency, who me?

    "Yes ma'am!"

    Anita Blake: Role Model.

    Oh my god.