Flash Fiction Monday – No Rest for a Cowboy

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No Rest for a Cowboy

Danny’s breath steamed in the icy January air as he hefted another bale of hay and tossed it carefully over the edge of the hay loft. Panting, he stopped for a minute. His back ached from the strain and his cold, cramped fingers were sore from the twine digging in.

 Thunder rumbled through the air and Danny froze. Thunder? In January? That seemed unlikely, but if it wasn’t thunder, it was probably  …fuuuuuck

He ran to the window and saw over almost two dozen horses streaming out of the paddock and into the un-fenced portion of the ranch. He nearly shit himself. All that work. All that money. Wild horses attempting to return to the wild.

He thundered down the rickety steps and tore through the barn door, hollering for Abraham to come help. Danny was sure that their plan to buy mustangs to train for barrel racing and pleasure riding was about to go up in a cloud of dust. They’d spent every last penny to buy the ranch and the horses. If they lost the mustangs they were fucked.

Abraham caught up to him and grabbed his arm. “Hey, calm down, Danny. You’re just spooking them more.”

Danny froze and nodded tightly. “How are we going to get them back though, Abe?”

“Let’s grab some grain and a couple of lead ropes. We’ll have to try to lure them back with it, but I have a plan.”

An hour and a half later, wrung out from fear and adrenaline, Danny collapsed against his boyfriend’s chest. “I can’t believe that worked.”

“I told you.”

Danny gripped his boyfriend’s face and brought their foreheads together. Relief made him weak-kneed. “We could have lost all of the mustangs. But we didn’t.” Danny drew back to look Abraham in the eye. “Thank you. Without your cool head  …”

Abraham smiled and kissed him. “Now we know not to leave the gate unlatched.”

Danny groaned. “That was all me.”

“Hey, we’re a team, right?” A nose nudged Danny’s arm and he glanced over to see Lady, the chestnut mare who had established herself as leader of the herd.

Danny let go of Abe to rub behind her ears. “And it’s a good thing you’re in charge of these yahoos.” He gestured toward the rest of the horses who were crowding closer, searching for more grain. For a while, it had looked like utter chaos as the horses galloped, tails and manes streaming in the wind. They were gorgeous, no question about it, but terrifying as well and Danny had felt like he couldn’t breathe as he prayed none of the horses or him and Abe would be injured.

Abe’s plan to round them up had involved bribing Lady with grain to get close enough to throw a lead rope around her neck and walk her back into the paddock. The rest of the herd had reluctantly followed, the few stragglers coaxed in with a little grain.

They spent a little while checking the horses over, making sure none of them had injured their hooves or legs, but everyone appeared sound. Abe gave Marigold a pat on the rump. “Back to work, I guess.”

Danny groaned. “I just want to go take a long hot soak in the tub.”

“You have to finish getting some hay down and I have to check the fences.” Abe grinned and draped an arm over his shoulders. “No rest for a cowboy, I’m afraid.


Sorry I’ve been so intermittent about writing and posting flash fics. I was glad to be able to join in this week!

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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fiction Monday – Temptation

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“Get down from there, Sebastian,” I begged. Fear made my throat tight and quaver-y. But he didn’t appear to hear me. He was a dark figure, silhouetted against the sky. The fading sun tinged everything with a strange, surreal glow.

Sebastian wavered, almost losing his balance for a moment before he righted himself. His arms rose higher behind him, looking almost like wings as he walked along the fallen tree, so high up off the ground. Snapped off during a heavy storm, the tree had come to rest on the branches of another tree and made a bridge.

We walked these woods every weekend. Bullied and teased at school. Ignored or picked on at home, neither of us had anywhere to go but these woods. And no one to turn to but each other.

The moment Sebastian had seen the tree-bridge, he’d darted ahead of me and scrambled up to explore. Now, my heart sat in my throat, heavy with fear. Sebastian had been so vague lately. So distant and strange. More reckless than usual.

What if he  … but no, he wouldn’t? Would he?

“Please,” I begged again.

He turned to face me and closed his eyes, looking like someone about to dive from a cliff into the ocean. Only there was no ocean below. Just cold, hard earth and too far to fall in between. I held my breath. He crept forward, his scuffed sneakers reaching the edge of the fallen tree.

I whimpered, helpless terror making my voice mute, but he must have heard me because his eyes opened. Even at that distance I could see the blankness on his face.  He shook his head and seemed to snap out of the daze he’d been in.

“Come down, Sebastian, please,” I croaked.

He gave me a vague, fleeting smile, but turned and walked slowly across the fallen tree and shimmied down the trunk to the ground. I caught him in my arms the moment his feet touched the earth.

I squeezed him hard, too hard probably, but I was so relieved to see him on safe, flat ground. “Don’t fucking do that to me again,” I pleaded. “Please, you’re all I have. Don’t scare me like that.”

He mumbled something against my shoulder. I pulled back and he looked me dazedly, like he wasn’t sure what had happened. The look in his blue eyes was still vague and distant, but he nodded at me. I gripped his hand and led him away, but he turned back and stared at the tree.

“You’re all I have,” I repeated and tugged him further from temptation.

I didn’t know if I was enough to anchor him to this earth anymore. And without Sebastian, I had nothing.


That took a more serious tone than I originally planned, but

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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

 

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Monday – Whiskey and Need

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“We shouldn’t be doing this,” Rey said, but there was no conviction to his tone, just thick need, barely suppressed.

The garish light from the neon motel sign lit the side of Barrett’s face and highlighted the rugged handsomeness. Rey’s chest felt tight as he looked at his partner, Barrett. Partner in the Springfield police department, that is. Not his lover. Or at least they hadn’t been.

But their mouths were inches apart and Barrett’s grip on his shirt was tight.

They’d been skirting this moment for weeks now. Months of getting to know the man under the stoic façade, months of noticing the width of Barrett’s shoulders, the solidity and heat of his body, and months of fighting it. Weeks of wondering what his mouth tasted like. Days of being holed up in this motel together and trying not to stare at Barrett’s chest, broad and lightly furred, damp from the shower as he walked around the room in a towel.

“You think I don’t know that?” Barrett’s voice was a low rumble and Rey felt his gut clench as he imagined that sound in his ear as Rey pinned him to the bed.

No, he knew Barrett understood the dangers as well as he did: work conflict, the danger of being found out by their colleagues, Barrett’s family.

Barrett half-rose in his seat, pulling Rey toward him.

Rey’s head swam; his brain entirely incapable of rational thought anymore. The throb in his groin and the need in his chest overwhelmed everything else.  They shouldn’t  … and yet  …

Barrett’s mouth landed on his, tasting of whiskey and need.


 

This week’s flash is short, but hopefully sweet.

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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

 

Flash Fiction Monday – Earning His Keep

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I whined softly as the door opened. The familiar figure appeared in the opening, staring down at me. My eyes narrowed to slits and I felt the hackles on my back rise. Silhouetted against the yellow light that streamed from the filthy fixture behind him, all I could make out was his outline. But I’d recognize the skinny limbs and protruding gut anywhere. Not to mention the voice.

“Who’s a good boy?” he coaxed. The tone was oily and condescending.

I growled low in my throat and he flinched. He tried to cover it with an awkward laugh and a moment later the wet splat of meat landed on the steps ahead of me.

“Eat up, you mangy beast,” he snarled. “Tomorrow’s the big day. You’re going to finally earn your keep.”

I snarled and the door slammed shut behind him, leaving me in near-darkness. My eyes adjusted after a moment and the faint strip of light under the door and the glow of streetlights through the filthy basement windows was enough to help me find my dinner.

Not that I needed it to find food; my nose led me right to the dripping hunk of steak. I lunged forward, the chain connected to the manacle on my ankle pulling me up tight, but the meat had landed within my reach. It was hardly fresh and the cold from the refrigeration was off-putting, but it was sustenance. I scarfed it down in a few bites, my tongue lapping up any last trace of blood off the grimy stairs. I’d learned to overcome my squeamishness once hunger got the best of me.

The man’s words lingered in my mind. Tomorrow was indeed a big day, but he’d be sorely disappointed by the outcome.

I trotted down the stairs, the metallic thud of the heavy chain dragging behind me, a constant reminder of my incarceration. It was galling. He’d never have been able to subdue a fully grown werewolf in its prime if I hadn’t been injured when he found me.

He’d had no idea what I was; all he saw was a large, ferocious dog who could easily snap a smaller dog in two. So I’d been trapped, transported, and held hostage to take part in a dog fighting ring. I snarled at the indignity.

But I’d spent the past few weeks biding my time, healing and waiting for the next full moon.  Being injured had trapped me in wolf form, but tomorrow when I was taken to the ring to fight it wouldn’t be man’s best friend I’d rip to shreds.

It would be the man who’d captured me and all of his associates.

My claws clicked loudly on the cement floors, ticking away the seconds until the bloodbath. I pictured sinking my teeth into his gut, tearing out his innards, watching while he died a slow, painful death.  I could hear the crunch of his bones under my teeth, splintering into small white shards. The smell and taste of hot, fresh blood on my tongue and sliding thickly, richly down my throat  …

Oh yes, tomorrow would indeed be a very big day.


Well that was fun!  Happy Halloween, everyone. I went to a fun Halloween party on Saturday with friends and tonight I’ll be trick-or-treating with my best friend and her family. Hope you have a wonderful day, if you celebrate! I’d love to hear about your plans.

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics for this week!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

 

 

Flash Fiction Monday – And Owen Makes Three

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“You two are ridiculous.” Byron’s tone held a faint note of mingled annoyance and fondness.

“You love us.” Wade sat up and propped his hands on the concrete patio as he glanced up at his boyfriend. Bryon’s lanky good looks were set off by ripped jeans and a threadbare T-shirt. He was too damn good looking to be behind the camera, but he’d never liked having his picture taken. “Did you get a good shot?”

“Yes.” Byron settled the lens cap over the end of the zoom lens. “It’s adorable. And ridiculous.”

Wade turned to Owen and held out a fist. “We are adorable.” The cat head-butted his knuckles in agreement.

Byron chuckled. “I can’t get over how much that cat seems to understand. He’s so well-trained.”

The look Owen threw him was so disgusted Wade was grateful that Byron missed it. Shit, maybe he and Owen were going to have to be a bit more careful in the future.

“Cats are smart,” he said and held a hand out to Byron, who effortlessly pulled him to his feet.

“I know that.” Byron’s hands settled on his ass and squeezed, pulling their bodies closer together. “It’s just uncanny sometimes.”

Uncanny is right, Wade thought guiltily as Byron kissed him. If only he knew …

The kiss turned hot and needy and Wade’s thoughts were swept away in a haze of lust as Byron dragged him into the house and spread him out on the bed.

After, when they were spent and sweaty and sprawled on the bed in a post-sex haze that Byron brought up the subject again. “Look at that.” He pointed to Owen who sat on the dresser staring at them. “I would swear that cat is jealous. He’s always watching.”

Wade swallowed and tried to keep his voice light. “Come on, pets always do that. I had an ex whose cat used to lay on its belly and stare at us through the crack under the door when we had sex.”

“It’s weird.” Byron sounded vaguely disgruntled like he always did when they discussed this. “You know I like Owen, but the way he looks at me sometimes … I dunno. I would have sworn he was looking at my cock and licking his lips the other day.”

A snort escaped before Wade could stop it. “Seriously?”

“Yes!” Byron laughed. “It’s unnerving. I swear one of these days I’m going to find out he’s actually a shape-shifter or something.”

Wade flipped onto his stomach and stared at the wall. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

“Hey, what is it? You went all tense on me.”Byron’s hand slid across his back. “If the jokes about Owen are making you uncomfortable I’ll lay off. I know you get touchy about that.”

Wade glanced over at Owen who was still perched on the dresser, watching them intently. Wade gazed into his eyes, needing the reassurance that Owen was okay with him finally confessing the truth to Byron. Owen squeezed his eyes together tightly and gave him a quick, almost imperceptible nod.

Wade took a deep breath and let out with a shudder before he turned to Byron. “It’s not the jokes. But uh, there’s something I haven’t been honest about.”

“Okay?” Byron sounded apprehensive, and who could blame him.

“You know how I talked about the guy I was dating before you?”

“Tyler? Yeah.”

“Well, that wasn’t the whole truth. His last name was Tyler.” Byron blinked at him and a moment later the muffled thud of a cat hitting the bed. “His full name was Owen Tyler.”

Wade gently ran a hand down Owen’s soft back. “He disappeared one night and the police said Owen just vanished with a trace. For a while, they even thought I had something to do with it.A few days after the man disappeared, this beat-up tabby appeared at my doorstep. It took the cat a while to heal and even longer for me to accept the truth, but …”

Byron stared at him, open-mouthed.

“I know, it’s crazy,” Wade said weakly. “I can’t explain what happened. Owen—now that he’s a cat—and I found a way we could sort of communicate using those little magnetic refrigerator letters. He bats them around on the floor to make words when he really needs to tell me something. But the best we can figure is that he was cursed.”

“You’re telling me this whole time you’ve been in a relationship with me, you’ve still been living with your ex?” Byron gestured toward the cat. “Who is a fucking cat.”

“Yes?” Wade said. “I didn’t know how to tell you.”

Byron stared at Owen with an inscrutable expression. Wade could almost swear they were silently communicating like he and Owen did all the time.

“So,” Byron said, after what felt like hours, “Did you and Owen ever discuss polyamory? Because I think I may be able to help undo the curse, but I’m not losing the man I love in the process.”


This went over the usual word count, but it was difficult to set up and then conclude in 500 words. Big thanks to Helena for helping me figure out how to wrap it up.

Unfortunately, this has turned into another plot bunny for me. When am I ever going to get time to finish writing these stories??

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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fiction Monday -Something New

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“How do you feel?” Raul asked.

Angelo burrowed closer, his cheek pressed against the soft black cotton of Raul’s T-shirt. “Drunk.”  His eyelids felt heavy and there was a strange and wonderful lightness in his head. Tension? Stress? He couldn’t remember what those things were. “High maybe? I dunno. Gooood.”

The rumble of Raul’s laugh under his ear was as warm and comforting as his hug. “It was okay then?”

“Okay?” Angelo wanted to sit upright and give Raul an incredulous look, but he was too content to move. “That was  … perfect. More than I expected.” He rubbed his cheek against Raul’s chest like a cat.

“I was so fucking scared. Despite the classes and all the research, I was scared shitless to actually hit you.”

“I know.” Angelo rubbed circles over Raul’s heart with his palm. That was why he’d trusted Raul to tie him up and flog him. There was no one more meticulous than Raul. He’d been so hesitant at first to bring it up with his partner. How did you tell a guy you wanted him to hit you? It wasn’t like there was anything wrong with their sex life. It was already amazing. Why mess with it? But the thought, the need, had nagged at him until he’d finally caved. To his relief, Raul had listened to him and told him he’d consider it.

It had taken months to get from that conversation to this point, because Raul never did anything halfway. Once he decided he wanted to try it, he’d thrown himself into it with the fervor of a starving man. Online research, classes, getting involved with the community, he’d taken part in it all. Angelo had been starting to worry that Raul was using “research” as an excuse to not actually act on the fantasies they’d discussed. Angelo worried too that Raul was just doing it to please him.

“Did you  … did you like it, or at least not hate it?” he asked hesitantly. A part of him just wanted to drift in the sleepy bliss that kept threatening to overtake him, but he had to know. Because he wanted this again, but not if it didn’t make Raul happy too.

Raul shifted and took Angelo’s hand and settled it over the hard length in his shorts. “What do you think?”


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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fiction Monday – No Joke

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Zach paused and nodded toward the sign on the chain link fence inside of the research facility. “Ya gotta wonder what made them put that up there. Somebody’s idea of a joke or what?”

DO NOT GIVE THE BISON PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES it read.

Gary answered with a non-committal grunt like he always did when Zach made stupid ass comments.  But the moment his back was turned, Gary shuddered and leaned on his rake. It was no joke. He’d been there that night when they’d run the experiment.

He’d seen things. Horrible things. Things that haunted his nightmares.

Those were no ordinary bison. They were demonic beats. Like minotaurs, but larger. He’d seen the red glow of their eyes and the way they’d transformed into lustful half-men.

“Just don’t forget what it says.” His voice was hoarse and scratchy.

Zach turned back to him with a puzzled frown. “What was that?”

“The sign. Don’t every fucking forget it.” He carefully raked the old, soiled straw toward the wheelbarrow. “It’s no joke, man.”


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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fiction Monday – Not Like the Movies

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It isn’t like the movies.

Vampires aren’t chalk white with pointy fangs and glowing red eyes. Sunlight and crosses have no effect and people don’t go around hunting them. Truth be told, vampires and humans manage to co-exist pretty peacefully. It hadn’t always been like that, of course. There was a nasty period about thirty years back when they came out of the monster closet and we tried to kill each other, but in the end both sides realized it was in their best interest to get along. They need our blood and we need them to keep us alive after they take it.

Generally, they aren’t anywhere near as attractive as they are in the movies either—ugly people become vampires and pretty much stay ugly—but the two across the bar from me could have gotten a part in Hollywood without blinking. Since vampire charm and mind control are as much of a legend as the fear of garlic, that’s pretty impressive.

Honestly, these two are just damn good looking.

“Want another?”

I look up from the beer I’ve been nursing for the past hour and shake my head at the bartender. She’s been trying to get my attention for half the night. She’s cute enough—if you’re into the butch look—I guess.

I’m not.

Guess she swings both ways though, because I’m as male as the vampires across the room who I’ve been watching. I sneak a peek out of the corner of my eye, but they haven’t budged.

That’s how you know they’re vampires. They don’t move a lot. They can, and they’re pretty damn strong and quick when they want, but they don’t have to be. Some prefer to blend in with us humans and mimic our movements, but others don’t give a fuck. These two have been leaning against the wall of the bar for an hour and have barely stirred. Bathed in the red glow of a neon sign, they could be posing for a photoshoot. The one closer to me has on an open leather vest, his thumb in his pocket, and is vaguely reminiscent of the better looking Franco brother. Or is it the guy from the horrible Star Wars movie with that Natalie whatsherface? I’m total crap at pop culture references, but he’s a pretty boy. Lean but muscular.

The guy with his arm around the pretty boy is equally good looking and fit. But he reminds me of a model from the awful clothing store that always reeked of frat boy cologne and plastered vaguely homoerotic pictures of preppy men frolicking together on their advertisements. He’s smoking a cigarette and staring off into space.

I prefer my men rougher around the edges and not undead, but I’m not going to have a hard time pretending to be turned on by them either. I’ve been watching them for a couple of weeks now. I’m sure they’ve noticed me watching them, and I’ve dropped hints here and there that I’ve got a vampire fetish but haven’t quite gotten the nerve to approach one.

It couldn’t be further from the truth. Still, it’s a damn good cover for my real purpose: investigating the death of my best friend. All roads lead to these two and I’m not above seducing them to learn more.  The preppy one drops his cigarette on the floor and grinds it out under his heel.

When his gaze meets mine I feel my heart kick into high gear. I don’t take my eyes off him as I slide some money across the bar and stand. My mouth tastes like cheap beer and anxiety as I cross the room.

The pretty boy turns and his full lips curl up into a knowing little smile.

“Are you coming?”

I’m not sure if the surge of elation and arousal I feel is because the next phase of my plan is about to start or because I’m going home with two vampires.

“Thought you’d never ask.”


Well, I went over the word count and I’m late posting, but I think it is a story I want to tell in the future. What do you think?

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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fiction Monday – Three-Legged Stool

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“It’s impossible that Johnny’s gone.” Maureen shook her head, her voice thick. “I mean, we just left the funeral and I keep expecting him to pop up and yell ‘surprise!’.” Her laugh sounded hollow.

“No shit.” Freddie slumped on the bed and took another drink. “I wonder how many of these people actually knew him.” He gestured to the closed door that muffled the sounds of the people who filled the house he’d shared with Johnny.

Maureen shrugged. “Probably most of them. Johnny was the only person I knew who could go to the corner store for a pack of smokes and come back with three new friends and an invitation to a party.”

“Yeah, good point.”

“They didn’t know him like we did though.” She picked up the framed photo on the bookshelf and held it out to Freddie. “They didn’t know him like this.”

A lump rose in her throat as she smiled at the memory. Maureen, Freddie, and Johnny had all gone to prom together. Freddie and Johnny were already together by then, but no one but Maureen knew. The three of them had been inseparable since elementary school when the boys found her catching tadpoles in the creek and decided she was alright. For a girl. Johnny and Freddie realizing they were gay and into each other should have made Maureen the third wheel, but somehow it had never happened.  Maureen’s girlfriends and boyfriends had drifted in and out of the group, but it never shook their trio. They were rock solid.

Her eyes stung as she remembered Johnny’s muffled laugh as he pushed Maureen in the shopping cart. The three of them had been kicked out of prom for wearing giant bear heads they’d found at a flea market. With little else to do in the small town, they’d gone to the grocery store. Freddie had snapped the photo of them and the sight of it never failed to make Maureen smile. Although this time, it hurt. Because there would never be any more grocery store shenanigans. No more getting kicked out of the mall for weird photo shoots. No more drinking until the sun came up or whitewater rafting trips. No more base jumping. No more yelling at Johnny and Freddie to keep it down in their tent because Johnny was a moaner.

No more Johnny.

Her face was wet when she sank on the bed next to Freddie. He put his arm around her as she sobbed into his neck and his tears dripped into her hair.

The three of them had been rock-solid, a three-legged stool that never wobbled. Now that one leg had been ripped away, they were off-balance.

Nothing would ever be the same again.


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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fiction Monday – Queen Cecile

In June of last year, I wrote a flash called Protector of the Night Spirits. The photo below sparked an idea and I’ve continued the story.

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Cecile closed her eyes. The small boat continued to glide forward through the water, sunlight glinting off its surface. She didn’t need to see the path ahead of her to guide the craft, or its precious cargo.

The war in Lyman city had been raging for nearly a year. Even with an ocean between them, Cecile had heard stories of the horrors taking place. The ministers and advisers had warned Cecile not to get involved, after all, it wasn’t their fight.

“Why should the people of Reddick risk their lives for the Lymanites?” they’d argued.

But as reports filtered in of magical creatures being captured and tortured, Cecile had grown increasingly heartsick. How could they sit there and do nothing? How could they allow that to happen? Wizards were nothing to be trifled with, but Cecile’s magic was older. Less showy, perhaps, but more powerful. How could she, as ruler, allow these atrocities to take place?

When the news spread that The Protector of the Night Spirits had been found, Cecile knew it was the sign she’d been hoping for.

Unwilling to risk her troops, she made a plan in secret. She sent messages to The Protector, using her flock of birds. It was the only communication she could be sure was safe from wizard monitoring.

In the wee hours of the night, Cecile had cloaked herself in invisibility and made for the shore. Alone. The sky had barely begun to lighten as the wooden craft, carrying a burlap wrapped seedling, had set out for Lyman. Now, at midday, the tree had grown toward the sky, thick-trunked with spreading, leafy branches. The small portal glowed within, its magic kindling.

It was dark by the time Cecile reached the far shore north of Lyman city. A lone figure stood on the beach. She was several years younger than Cecile, but her face looked worn and weary. Physically still a young girl, but mentally far from that. She was dressed as an aviator, covered in soot, and she greeted Cecile with a short, sharp nod.

“Your Majesty.”

Cecile stepped from the bow of the boat and held out a hand to young, weary Protector of the Night Spirits. “Call me Cecile. I’ve come to help.”

She shook it firmly. “Delia Caldwell.”

Cecile had no interest in wasting precious time. “I’ve brought the portal.”

For the first time, a crack appeared in Delia’s hardened demeanor. “You’ve come just in time, then. My plane was shot down yesterday and we can’t seem to get it running. I was beginning to lose hope,” Delia admitted.

Cecile lay a comforting hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Let’s sit and make our plan then. We have much work ahead of us to save the magical creatures of Lyman City.”


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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!