Flirt - By Laurell K. Hamilton

Chapter 1
This one's for Daven and Wendi, friends who finally taught me

the fine art of flirting. Thanks for the inspiration.

For Jonathon, too, because he was there by my side when

inspiration struck. He has taught me that to be happy with

someone, first they must be my friend. Without that there can be

nothing else.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

- Anais Nin


To Carri, who, with this book, saw the process from beginning to end for the very first time. Welcome aboard. Shawn, Semper Fi. I know you both have my back. Pili, thanks for the food and the friendship. To the rest of the crew who are still hanging in there: Mary, Sherry, and Teresa. To Jennie, for all the funny and the hard work. To my writing group: Tom Drennan, Deborah Millitello, Marella Sands, Sharon Shinn, and Mark Sumner.

No one has it who isn't capable of genuinely liking others, at least at the actual moment of meeting and speaking. Charm is always genuine; it may be superficial but it isn't false.

- P. D. James


How do I get my ideas? How do I know it's enough for a book? How do I work?

I get these questions so often that when the idea for this book, Flirt, came to me, I decided to pay attention to the entire process from initial idea to finished product. You can read the novel and then read the nonfiction piece at the end of this book that tells the real-life event that inspired Flirt.

And once you've read the book and essay, you'll get cartoons. No, really-cartoons from Jennie Breeden of "The Devil's Panties." The comics are her take on the event that inspired it all. If you read the essay or peek at the cartoons you will spoil some of the surprise of the novel. So, no peeking, okay? Think of it as a spoiler alert. You have been warned.

Now turn the page and enjoy spending some quality time with Anita Blake.

"I want you to raise my wife from the dead, Ms. Blake," Tony Bennington said, in a voice that matched the expensive suit and the flash of the Rolex on his right wrist. It probably meant he was a lefty. Not that his handedness mattered, but you learn to notice primary hands when people try to kill you on a semiregular basis.

"My condolences," I said automatically, because Bennington didn't display any grief. His face was composed, almost blank, so that if he was handsome in that gray-haired, I'm-over-fifty-but-keep-in-good-shape way, the lack of expression took all the fun out of it. Maybe the blankness was his way of showing grief, but his gray eyes were steady and cold as they met mine. It was either some steely control of grief, or he didn't feel anything about his wife's death; that would be interesting. "Why do you want me to raise your wife from the dead, Mr. Bennington?"

"At the rates you charge, does it matter?" he asked.

I gave him a long blink and crossed my legs, smoothing the skirt over my thighs as automatically as I'd said my condolences. I gave him the edge of a smile that I knew didn't reach my eyes. "It does, to me."

An emotion filled his eyes then: anger. His voice held barely a hint of the emotion that turned his eyes a darker shade of gray. Maybe it was steely self-control after all. "It's personal, and you don't need to know it to raise her as a zombie."

"This is my job, Mr. Bennington, not yours. You don't know what I need to raise a zombie."

"I did my research, Ms. Blake. My wife wasn't murdered, so she won't rise as a vengeful, flesh-eating monster. She wasn't psychic, or a witch, and had never gone near any other religion that might make her more than a normal zombie. There's nothing in her background that makes her a bad candidate for the ceremony."

I raised an eyebrow. "I'm impressed; you did do your research."

He nodded, once, manicured hands smoothing his tailored lapel. "Then you'll do it?"

I shook my head. "Not without a reason."

He frowned at me, that flash of anger back in his eyes. "What kind of reason do you want?"

"One good enough to make me disturb the dead."

"I'm willing to pay your rather exorbitant fee, Ms. Blake; I would think that would inspire you."

"Money isn't everything, Mr. Bennington. Why do you want her raised from Copyright 2016 - 2024