The Immortal Shifter Duet by Holly Bargo
She caught sight of herself reflected in a nearby window. Her hair looked fuller than ever, long and impossibly curly for the length and weight of it. Still the same old mink brown, though. And whoever said that a trip to Italy meant weight gain lied; she’d eaten and eaten and had actually lost weight. Must be all the extra walking that burned off those calories.
She smiled at herself and ran her fingers through the lustrous tresses. Then she turned her attention back to the stage and listened to the free public concert on the square. She reminded herself to thank her hosts for letting her in on this neighborhood secret.
She did not see the man watching her.
The band finished their set and thunder crashed overhead. With shrieks and shouts, the crowd rushed toward shelter. Rain splattered on the full skirt of her blue cotton dress as she tucked herself underneath an awning with several other people.
People called to one another in short bursts of sound. Singly and in small groups they raced to the stone building where the shelter was obviously sturdier than the awning that flapped in the storm wind and where, she understood, the concert would continue. Clutching her purse, she followed the general trickle of people inside.
People pushed and shoved, trying to get in out of the sudden summer storm. She felt a tug at her shoulder and then a sudden lightness. She gasped and shouted, trying to pursue the thief.
“Stop! Thief!” she called to no avail.
But he was too fast and her pretty sandals weren’t made for running.
She cursed under her breath. At least she’d had the foresight to keep most of her money and her identification in a money belt. Trudging back toward the building, she squeezed past several people who were nearly as wet as she. Rain pelted the pavement. She looked around a corner of a stone wall and gasped to witness a struggle, the orange burst of gunfire as lightning cracked overhead, and a man collapse onto wet flagstone. Another shot rang out, that time not obscured by the sounds of the storm. Screams erupted and people pushed and shoved—their good-natured jostling for a dry spot vanished—to flee.
She flattened herself against the stone wall in an effort to avoid being trampled. Her lungs heaved wet air scented with cordite, ozone, and panic. She yelped when a hand wrapped around her upper arm.
“My apologies for startling you,” said the man attached to that hand grasping her arm. His voice was charmingly accented. Dimly, she realized he spoke English. “You are American, yes?”
“Er, yes,” she said, wondering how he could know.