JULY 23, 2019
Norma Mae Rollins leaned against the steering wheel of her van. Her window shades were drawn. No sunbeams would touch her deathly white flesh which was slathered with SPF 100. Her flipflops lay on the floor. It was too hot to turn off the engine. She needed air conditioning, and so did her homemade blood crackers with sundried tomato and basil goat cheese filling. Her canapes were in a cooler, but it crept toward a hundred degrees out there.
Human movies always showed vampires rising at sunset and going to sleep at sunrise. Maybe that schedule worked in an equatorial region, but not in Seattle. The sun wouldn’t set tonight until 8:56 pm. Norma assumed there were vampires — like the ones from movies—who were so wealthy, they didn’t need a job, but Norma had never met a one-percenter. Even the most ancient vampires in her coven could not afford to keep themselves and their enthralled humans in modern comfort without employment. Sure, compound interest helped, but Seattle was an expensive city.
Her friend and employee, Carlos Fisher Perez, lugged groceries up the stairs to an elderly werewolf’s townhouse. It wasn’t the most exciting job, but not all jobs were exciting. While Norma’s Cleaning Service was originally for vampires when hunting got a little messy, her company now ran all types of errands for the supernatural community. By hiring a shade, Norma was able to expand her hours and service list. A shade (sometimes also called a zombie or revenant) had a slow, uneven gait, but even as his body slowly decomposed, Carlos was gifted with unnatural strength.
Their client ultimately planned on getting a ramp installed but was waiting on insurance and approval from his HOA. The old werewolf could no longer control his turning. It was not safe for others if he left his house with a senior’s group. Delivery people sensed a monster lived in the house and refused to climb the steps. They left packages on the sidewalk to be stolen before the old werewolf could collect them.
Carlos lifted the werewolf and his wheelchair and transported him securely into his home. He bounded down the stairs and scrambled into the passenger seat of the van. He tugged at his shirt to signal: “Damn, it’s hot” and tapped on the clock.
“Let’s see if we get one more job.”
Carlos shrugged and texted her a single word: buffet which echoed through her Bluetooth system in the phone’s robotic voice.
Norma had promised Derrik Miller — her former guardian, mentor and the vampire who made the vampire who created her — she would come home for the Sabbath Mass and Fellowship this week. However, that meant she was leaving money on the table. Something about sunshine made people stupid, especially when twilight was incapable of eliminating the heat of the day.
Still Mass didn’t start until eleven. Afterward, they’d spend the night with Derrik, his enthralled human, Hugo, and Hugo’s elderly mother, Maria. Since the nights were so short, Carlos would take the van home, andNorma would spend the coming day with Derrik. Then, Carlos would pick her up tomorrow at twilight. There was no reason to hurry.
“Don’t worry; we’ll make it.”
Hope they have that shrimp again.
“The ones Marion made? Don’t know, but Derrik made ceviche. He asked if there was anything, you’d especially want in it.”
Hmmm. Maybe Maria is the reason Derrik asked me to come home this week? “Hey, did I mention she’s moving into a studio apartment down the hall from them once her lease is up?”
Carlos shook his head.
“There’s an empty enthralled studio for rent. Wait. You don’t think this is a trap to help her move, is it?”
If so, they better have beer.
Thinking she might be asked to do a favor for Maria and Hugo made her more willing to go, not less. She didn’t mind spending time with her vampire family as long as something was going on. Norma always attended the annual meetings and important Sabbaths such as initiations and weddings, but often skipped July when all everyone did was complain about the lousy sunshine. She was just happy she could bring Carlos, and everyone liked him well enough.
Norma’s phone rang.
Frightened, fast English spilled through the van’s Bluetooth system from a haunting melancholy voice. Possibly male.
“I heard you help everyone. I didn’t mean to do it. This woman won’t stop taking my picture. She claims she loves mermen. I don’t want to hurt her. I’m trying to help, but she won’t stop touching me. What do I do?”
“One job,” Norma mouthed and said, “First of all: who are you?”
DEATH PULLS A STAKE OUT
A Norma's Cleaning Service Mystery #1
Norma Mae Rollins never chose to be a vampire, but she enjoys her undead life. She runs a profitable cleaning service which assists Seattle’s paranormal community by straightening up messy interactions with humans or each other. She loves her condo in Capitol Hill with very little natural sunlight, going to vampire friendly clubs, and playing board games with her ancestors at The Paper Flower Consortium, Seattle's largest coven.
However, when a vampire is found staked in the coven hallway, panic sweeps through the community. When a second body is discovered, the coven’s chief of security is pressured to solve the case as quickly as possible. A vampire from her bloodline is implicated. Can Norma clean up this mess and find the real killer before they strike again?
Norma Mae Rollins is a character from The Paper Flower Consortium Universe. She was first seen as a secondary character in Immortal House.
Published by ZB Publications
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-950708-00-0
Ebook ISBN-13: 978-1-950708-01-7
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