Cynthia Leitich Smith
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Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses -- or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a preeminent author of dark fantasy.
just let me know.” Johnson’s rigatoni marinara was an orgasm in tomato sauce. If nothing else, the new chef could nail the basics. After lunch, Uncle D took off to the restaurant supply store while I met with Johnson in the management office. It was bigger and cleaner than the old one we’d had before the remodel. My uncle had even sprung for a fake banana tree. I took Uncle D’s chair, and Johnson sat across from me. He’d brought an open bottle of blush wine, a ’99 Sonoma Zinfandel from the
like his affection for wine. Our best candidate: a black-and-crimson suit, unlined, shirt sewn into the pants, buttons made of plastic. A black-and-red plastic medallion hung from a frayed black ribbon. Brad claimed to already have black dress shoes, but . . . “Too chintzy,” he said. “Too chintzy,” I agreed. “And too short in the arms and legs.” Two days later, Brad’s never-ending quest for a menacing menu, well, never ended. While my fellow seniors, the ones with a parent or three,
his Econ book on my desk. “This is a class, not a slumber party. Next week, try caffeine like the rest of us.” Mr. Wu was the one teacher who hadn’t adopted The Tone since Vaggio’s death. At first I’d been grateful. Now, not so much. The bell rang, and I peeled out of there, turned into the filling hallway, and ran smack into Vice Principal Harding. “Good morning, Miss Morris.” Damn. “Good morning, Mr. Harding.” “It’s not too late for you to consider homeschooling.” Having just been
take my pulse at the wrist, the neck, and came up empty. Though Uncle D had seemed to manage church okay, I wasn’t about to experiment with the holy-water-washed windows — courtesy of Clyde and Travis — in my bedroom or the Bible on my parents’ nightstand. I kept moving. Downstairs, I inspected the family and living rooms. Peering, peeking, moving pillows, raising cushions. Falling to my knees to look under furniture. Lily on the mantel, another on the coffee table, the dining room table, the TV
like the inside of a conch shell. So, I imagined picking one up, a curved shell, and shaking it to see if the animal within had died. Then Kieren’s fingernails began tracing the pattern on my upturned palm, and it was hard to think about anything. I knew it bothered him, though, my laugh line, my love line, my lifeline. Slight and severed, all of them. This was four years ago, so we were in middle school, past due for handholding. I’d been staying with Kieren’s family, helping with the baby,