Posted in Character Stories

An Arrow at his Behest

Three different outfits, a compact bow hidden in an alcove, and a single arrow tucked into the seam of my tights. There’s been weeks of planning in order to get to where I am tonight. I can last a few more minutes. 

Sweat drips down the back of my neck. There’s leaves in my braid. My shoulders tremble from the weight of the taut string in my hands. 

I have one shot. 

It’s meant for the lord of the castle. 

Women in pastel dresses twirl along the floor. He’s been out there dancing for over an hour. A servant took his suit jacket a few minutes ago. In only a white shirt and tie, the blood will be quite prominent when I let go of my arrow. 

When… If… I still can’t believe I’m up here. 

It started as a passing joke. The lord himself put the money up. Should anyone be capable of stealing his heart, they would be given a bounty. 

Over a hundred men have attempted this particular job. Some were brutes who crashed through the front door and were shot down before they could make it to the Lord’s chambers. Others were sneaky. They crept along the outside of the castle, pulled themselves up to the highest windows, and snuck in during the earliest hours of the morning only to be caught in traps and sent scurrying back to their hovels with tales of horror to recount to any who would hear. One person tried to lace the Lord’s food and accidentally killed a passing serving girl instead. He was sentenced to death by the same poison. 

Every entrance to this castle has been monitored since then. The windows are rigged with bells and spikes to deter assassins. The lord doubled his prize, tempting anyone else to try their hand at his death while also testing out his security. 

Of course, no woman has attempted before me. 

The men posted at the doors hardly glanced my way. No one saw me change out of the maid’s outfit into that of the kitchen staff. None still caught me pulling off the apron to stand in this tight suit at the balcony. I climbed the rails, pulled myself up towards the ceiling, and made my camp above the ballroom while all of the table settings were still being placed for the guests. 

And then I waited. 

I’ll continue to wait, my muscles straining and breath barely gracing my lips. This has to be perfect. I can’t hit anyone else. I must strike him in the heart. 

I’m going to be the lady of this castle. I’ll never eat out of the garbage again or have to slink through the alleys behind the bar to collect the change dropped by drunken customers. I will have his riches and his home and the freedom I’ve chased since I was old enough to realize that being born a woman was a prison I couldn’t escape. 

A servant rings a bell, quieting the band. The women in their pastel dresses do a final twirl and then leave the dancing area. Together with their assorted chaperones, they cling to the edges of the room, looking towards the center for whatever is planned to happen next. 

This is it. He’s alone. There’s nothing between us. I have my arrow aligned with his heart. 

That prize is going to be mine. 

My new life is one breath away. 

Before I can release the arrow, he looks right at me and winks. 

No. No, no, no. I can’t get my fingers to let go now that his eyes are on mine. This isn’t how this is supposed to go. 

I can’t breathe. Can’t swallow. Can’t think. 

Why has it never been mentioned before that Lord Durinhan has green eyes?

“Esteemed guests,” he calls out to the gathered crowd, that penetrating gaze never wavering from mine. “I’d like to introduce you to the lady of the night.”

Me. No. How could he have known?

When I don’t move, he clears his throat. “You may come down now.”

This is a trap. It has to be. I’ve heard the rumors of people punished for attempting to take the Lord’s life. Leaving the safety of the eaves could be my last voluntary action on this earth. 

I don’t know what to do. I could still let the arrow go. The prize would be mine. 

Or he would move. The arrow would pierce his shoulder. He would live and have me executed for this attempt on his life. 

“We’re waiting,” he calls from the lower level, his deep voice stern. 

I could make a run for it. They can see me, but I’m quick. No one knows who I am. I’ll retrace my steps, jump down onto the balcony and find a window to leap through and not stop running until I’m back…

At the bar. Where I rent a room that takes most of my pay. A place where assault and violence and mishap live hand and hand with strife and despair and the loss of innocence. 

“Miss, you can come down or my men will bring you down. Your choice.”

I don’t really have much of a choice, do I?

I’m not going back to the bar. This was my chance to get a new life. Taking a deep breath, I let the string loosen and pull the arrow away. 

“How would you suggest I join you?” My voice is trembling, containing none of the power his does. 

There’s a mischievous gleam in his expression as he lets his lips pull into a grin. “Since you’re so far up, I could catch you.”

He’s asking me to fall for him. Ridiculous. Disgusting. Lame. 

“You could drop your weapon first,” he offers as I try to figure out how to slink off of the wooden beam. 

Never. Not an option. Looping the bow string around my left shoulder, I hang onto the shaft of the arrow in my right hand and then swing my legs over the side. It’s a far drop. My shoulders tremble from my weight as I lower myself down and dangle from the beam. 

If he doesn’t catch me…

There’s no time to think about it. My palms are slick with sweat. My shoulders scream from the exertion of waiting with my bow for so long only to be forced down in this show of authority. I can’t hold myself.

I’m grabbing the beam and then there’s nothing between me and the floor. Air whooshes by my face as I fall. A gasp rings through the room. There’s no time to cover my face or catch my breath and ready myself for the impact. 

Lord Durinhan keeps his promise. He snatches me away from the air’s greedy fingers. Letting out an oof, he crashes onto the ground with me on top. 

Guests run from the corners of the room to help us up, but I’m already moving. On my feet, I brandish the sharp end of my arrow like a knife, daring them to come closer. These rich, spoiled people with their thick makeup and frilly clothes let out exasperated cries, stumbling over each other to get away from me. I’m too busy focusing on them to realize that Lord Durinhan has gotten to his feet. 

He clamps heavy hands onto my shoulders and lets out a chuckle, speaking over my head to the gathered people. “What an entrance! I believe this will be a story for all to tell for years to come!”

While they titter at his words, he leans down to me, the stubble on his chin grazing my ear. “Come quietly. We can talk in my office.”

“Why not just make an example of me out here?” I snarl back. 

He tightens his grip on me. “You’re the closest to winning. Don’t you at least want to discuss a portion of the prize?”

Yes. Of course. This can’t be real. 

“But, I didn’t take your heart.”

A shiver shakes my spine as he lets out a low laugh. “You still have time, Miss.”

Author’s Note

Happy short story Saturday, readers!

This one was such a fun dialogue prompt to start with. Just two characters. One with a bow and arrow, the other knowing their life was on the line and smiling up at them. I read it on Pinterest and immediately had a spark for the woman who would climb into the rafters and try to win her freedom with violence.

I hope I’ve left you wanting more. Tension and a spark for a story that could be developed into a bigger novel is my specialty here. It’s fun to take breaks from my regular projects to do these little scenes and even more fun to get feedback from all of you!

Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed this story!

See you next time 🙂

Posted in Character Stories


“Why can’t you ever pick someone normal?”

Pulling my hood further over my head, I hiss my reply to Tiffany. “I fell in love with him the first time he spoke.”

Seated next to me on the church roof, she goes back to picking her fingernails with one of the twenty knives stashed on her body. “Yeah. When you thought he was a poet. You can’t be in love with the prince who just signed our death warrants.”

She’s not wrong. I’ve already gone and over thought this a hundred times since he was escorted out of the pub last night by the royal guard. My plan had been to break him out of jail. I was quite surprised to find that he knew them personally and merely got a slap on the wrist for being out past curfew. There are others who didn’t make it out of the pub with their lives. 

King Richmond decreed the curfew two months ago to keep ruffians from organizing within the city limits. Ruffians. The word always makes me snort. He seems to think that wearing a gold crown can stop the rest of us from doing what it takes to make a simple living or have a drink to take the edge off of the endless monotony of working until we die. 

From our position behind two stone gargoyles, I can just barely make out the prince’s blond hair. It looked silky in the dim glow of the stage candles last night. Today, he barely looks at the crowd formed at his feet. His voice trembles as he reads the words scrawled onto the scroll in his hands. 

His heart isn’t in it. Not in the way he proudly enunciated each syllable of his poems last night. He memorized those words. He cared to pause and let the audience drink in the meaning before continuing to the next stanza. Once, his blue eyes caught on me and he stuttered. 

He felt it, too. 

I just know it. 

There’s a thread knotted around my rib that ties me to Prince Castyl Richmond. 

“If you don’t shut your mouth, your tongue is going to dry out.”

I snap my jaw closed. Tiffany is a good friend. She’s a better bodyguard. I’m going to have to lose her if I want any chance of getting close to the prince. 

“Whatever you’re thinking is stupid. Just drop it,” she growls from her spot, those amber eyes watching me squirm. 

I gesture towards her as rudely as possible, my left hand thrown in her direction while my gaze stays pasted onto the prince. From the corner of my eye, I see her stick her tongue at me, the silver ball pierced through it catching the moonlight. Tiffany is a good person. She has her life in order, her moral code intact, and no unjustified love interests. She’s the backbone of her clan and in charge of making sure I don’t get into anything too difficult. 

Like a relationship with the son of the man who wants us dead. 

Gods. I let my temple rest on the stone gargoyle. I can’t help it. There’s…something about him. 

Those cheekbones. The way he rolls his words. That bit of electricity that restarts my heart when he looks in my direction. 

Like he is…right now. 

Tiffany grabs my arm, tugging me down at she hisses a curse. Bad. Nobody was supposed to see us. There’s a yell from the ground level. 

“We have to go now.”

I shrug out of her hold, her sharpened nails sticking to the leather of my jacket. “You have to go.”

Her teeth lengthen as she shakes her head at me. “Non-negotiable, Quinn.”

It’s really difficult being accepted into a group of werewolves. Every argument pretty much spirals into long teeth and longer claws and a lot of saliva. I know she has a job to do. I know my place in their pack as the only mage makes me important. Nobody else can replace the wards and ensure the clan’s safety. 

There’s just something that I need to do and I don’t think getting caught by the guards would be a bad thing. 

“Let me go, Tiff.” 

She’s pulling, her brute strength enough to haul me off my ass. “We’re leaving.”

There’s more yelling from down below. I think they’ve called the archers. 

I take a deep breath and pull my ring out of my pocket, the magic stone set into it glowing red as it hums to the power flowing through my veins. “I’m not going to tell you again. You go.”

Somebody demands that we put our hands up. Tiffany is growling. I don’t really have much of a choice, do I?

It’s complicated magic to create a portal. Lucky for me, I had time before the prince’s performance and I already set everything up while Tiffany scouted our spot. It’s basically the first rule of life to come to everything with a back-up plan. 

Grabbing Tiffany’s hand, I thrust her towards the circle I created in the dirt. It’s a one stop spell. Unfortunately, she’s aware of how magic works. 

The wolf grabs a handkerchief from her pocket and shoves it into my mouth while we wrestle in the circle. “You cannot be serious right now.” 

I roll my eyes at her. Oh, I’m serious. Seriously going to meet that prince. It’s my fate. I can feel it in my bones. 

Tiffany doesn’t believe in fate or love or basically anything besides what she can do with her own hands. I don’t regret it when I stomp my heel into her foot. There’s a crunch. I wore my heaviest boots on purpose. 

Cursing, she lets me go long enough for me to stagger back while I rip the fabric out of my mouth. The magic flares to life, a red light filling in the circle. I yell my spell. Tiffany is there. She’s howling and lunging at me. Then, she’s not. 

I’ll be paying for that when I make it home. 

If I get to go home.

I walk past the scorch mark left on the roof with my hands over my head. There are indeed several archers pointing very sharp arrows up towards me. The prince is looking up here, too. 

I think my heart might explode. 

“State your business, vagrant.”

Damn. I forgot how gruff the guards could be. It’s been a whole year since I last took up a cell in a dungeon.

“I just want to talk to you,” I say, clearly and calmly, my gaze never wavering from the prince. 

There’s a question on his tongue. I don’t hear it, though. An arrow whizzes through the air. I move too late. 

Fire burns through my shoulder as I topple forward. Blood drenches my coat. The gargoyle’s wing slips through my fingertips. 

The ground is coming fast. I shut my eyes. I suppose my death will at least linger in the prince’s memory for a moment. 

Something stops my fall, though. The wind. A strong gust. I open my eyes. 

Magic is very forbidden. It’s bad enough that I have magic in my veins. It’s going to be a much bigger problem that the only person here with their hand outstretched is the prince. 

Prince Castyl Richmond just saved my life. 

And put his own on the line. 

I shut my eyes again as I gently drop to the ground and the guards start to converge.

If we make it through this, we’re going to have the most epic love story.

Author’s Note

Happy Saturday! Thank you for reading this short story. I got the dialogue prompt off of Pinterest and just ran with the idea of a character falling in love with someone based off of the first words they said.

Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Posted in wip

A Wed. Blog

The sun is setting. There’s four different cheeses in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Pop music swells within the walls of our home.

It’s been a long day. It’s been a long week. I’m tempted to already say it’s been a long year.

Since I was last here, I made it to the craft fair on Sunday. It was a terrible experience. We did manage to make one sale amidst the chaos of a disorganized event and less than helpful weather conditions. To the lovely woman who took home one of my spooky book stacks, I hope it finds the perfect spot next to your current TBR pile.

Writing has been a haphazard event. I’m stuffing words into prompts and then trying to disentangle the mess I’ve made. Some days I question whether it’s worth it to leave my job and try to keep doing this writer thing. My wife promises it is. She reads my chaotic collection of sentences and forgives me for breaking every possible grammatical error.

I read over and over and over again that being a writer is a solitary event. You MUST lock the door to your office and stare at a bright little screen until the wee hours of the morning or you’re not doing it correctly.

That’s not it for me. Sitting in my office typically leads to spinning in my chair or doodling on a scrap of paper or staring out the window at the same damn street. So, I sit at the kitchen table and make small talk while my wife stuffs that cheese into large noodles. We discuss my characters like they’re real people just in the next room over, their fates merely common gossip to be murmured over a cup of tea. I need conversation and a break every twenty minutes to dance to the Spotify playlist.

I need my writing partner who shows up to every week and continues to encourage me while I question how I managed to write nearly thirty episodes in a fan fiction for my novel. Bridgette, you’re a constant source of support and love and I couldn’t do this without you.

I need to be prepping food at work in the morning and let my Mom ask me questions about my novels. Without even realizing, she pokes around my plots and double-checks my theories, giving me the confidence I’ll need in the future to sit on a panel and talk to people about my books.

I need to see that a couple of you, readers, have shown up to my blog or my vellas or simply liked a post on Instagram to remind me that there is a purpose in putting all of my messy thoughts onto this black and white document.

Writing isn’t a solitary event. It doesn’t only happen at a desk. It takes a community to give birth to imaginary concepts and witty characters and at least one or two people to remind the supposed writer that they should, in fact, be writing.

Thank you to everyone who continues to come here and read.

It’s time for this writer to sink into a hot bath and talk to her imaginary friends for a little bit. Have a wonderful week. I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Posted in Character Stories

The Royal Bodyguard

“Would it kill you to relax?” 

The princess has a problem with quietly sitting in a room. I’ve tried giving her books and scrolls full of vivid pictures for her amusement, but nothing seems to deter the unwavering focus her lavender eyes seem to have on me. 

“Probably,” I murmur, my hands busy polishing the knife in my lap. “It would likely get you killed, too. Your parents are paying a hefty sum to keep your head on your shoulders.”

She sticks her tongue at me. I don’t respond. This is our nightly battle. Princess Iryna is a handful during the day, but she’s mostly occupied with her daily duties of patrolling the estate grounds, tasting different sweets from the kitchens, and pestering the few servants that were shipped out here to stay with us while the war wages back home. 

At night, she’s locked in a tower with me. No windows. One door that’s barricaded with a magic spell and a bookcase. It’s my duty to make sure she sees the morning sun once again. 

Clearing her throat, she slides off of the bed and claps her hands. “Make the music play, Cai.”

Cailleach is my name. Iryna is convinced its far too foreign for her tongue to work. I’ve given up trying to get her to refer to me by anything except that pet name. 

Snapping my fingers, the instruments laying on the side of the room jump to life. First, a sweet lilt of violin. A flute pipes in. Some drums are added. The music plays in a circular fashion, the intruments moving in and out of the tune while also spinning off on their own tangents. It’s something otherworldly, something jaunty enough for a tavern, but unheard of by this spoiled woman in silk garbs. 

Twirling in a circle, Iryna hums along to the tune and then holds her hand out to me. “Dance with me.”

I shake my head immediately. “You’re doing fine on your own.”

“We’ve been here for over a month, Cai. Nothing has come to gobble me up. Please,” she bats her eyelashes at me as I sheathe the knife at me side. “Please, just dance with me.”

“If I do,” I start, already regretting my decision to give into her sweet demands, “you have to go to bed after. Guests from other continents are arriving tomorrow and they need to see that you are well. It gives them hope.”

“Hope, hope, hope,” she grumbles, her higher pitched voice pulling at the edges of the word. “I’m more than just a symbol of hope, you know? I’m a person.”

I have to clench my teeth and take a slow breath to keep my eyes from rolling. These royals. They never understand how ridiculous they sound to the rest of us. My grandmother would have given her life to be remembered as a symbol of hope and love and goodness rather than burned as a witch in a world that feared dangerous women. 

That same world has asked for my forgiveness and given me a bratty princess to look after. It seems witches aren’t the worst thing on this planet. A witch that’s good with both magic and swords is an expensive kind of bodyguard that only the wealthiest clients can use. 


Ones that offered to not keep me in the dungeon for the rest of the crimes I committed before settling down with this job. 

“You’re thinking too much and dancing too little,” Iryna prompts, wiggling her fingers in my direction. 

I suppose there’s no making this go away without actually going through the motions. Uncurling from my chair, I stand and run my hands down my clothes. My red cloak is draped over the back of the chair, so I’m just in my undershirt and form-fitting pants. I’d be wearing my boots, too, but the princess has a rule about shoes in the tower, so they’re at the top of the steps on the other side of the blocked door. 

I look frumpy next to the thin woman in pink silk. She seems to float around the middle of the room. If I didn’t know better, I would think she had some magic in her bloodline, too. There’s no other good explanation for how she convinces me to do these things. 

Crossing the room, I hold my hand out to meet hers. Electricity singes my fingertips. It does every time we touch and I try my best not to think too much about it. 

Likely her parents had some other witch put a spell on her physical form. It’s that or… 

Well, I’m very sure she’s not my mate, so we’re going to leave that possibility out of this current equation. 

Spinning for me, Iryna lets out a giggle and then puts her other hand on my shoulder. We’re close. There’s mere centimeters between our chests and hips. The princess leads. She’s the only one here classically trained to do these little dances. 

I follow her moves and watch as the glow of the lamps catch her features. There. Her eyebrow is in a spotlight. It’s perfectly arched at me. 

And then it catches her left cheekbone. I think poets could fill novels with the curve of her cheek and ballads could be written about the flutter of her eyelashes. 

Another ray caresses her throat and I forget for a moment that we’re from separate worlds. 

For now, we’re two women locked in a room and only a breath apart. 

“You look quite pretty tonight, Cai.”

I shake my head. The princess delights in poking fun at my appearance. I always wear the same things. I don’t know how to apply blush with a fuzzy brush. Red lip stain has never blemished my mouth. 

“You are the beautiful one, Iryna.”

And, even if I regret those words in the morning, I mean it. She really is pretty. Pretty beautiful. 

She’s going to say something else. I can practically see the words spinning to life in her mind. Lips pursed, but not yet parted, she waits a moment too long. 

There’s a yell from outside. I drop her hands and step away. 

“So much for taking a night off,” I grumble in her direction as I hurry to fling my cloak over my shoulders. 

“You can’t go out there,” she calls as I start to push away the bookcase.

There’s a rumble vibrating the stones of this tower. Whatever has arrived is big. Too big to leave this part of the estate unscathed. 

“I can’t let it come up here, either.”

Magic skitters just under the surface of my skin. I’m ready. I’ve trained my whole life to do these kinds of things. A knife in one hand, I start to undo the spell blocking this door. 


I don’t answer. I have to keep muttering the words or the whole spell will dissolve in a chaotic fashion that’ll put both of us in more danger than we already are. 

“Promise you’re going to come back.”

It’s not a question. It’s a demand. I stumble over the end of the spell, orange sparks glittering around the doorframe. 

Glancing over my shoulder, I take in her innocent shape now trembling at the foot of the bed. “I haven’t failed you yet, Princess.”

Then, I’m gone. The door is shut and my boots are left behind at the top of the stairs as the stench of malicious magic wafts up towards our spot. It’s time to earn my wage as the princess’ bodyguard.

Author’s Note

Hey, readers!!!!

I was so excited to sit down and write the first short story of 2023! I hope you enjoyed these two and the upcoming troubles in their world. My wonderful editor put a sticky note on this one for a possible future full-length novel, so, if you enjoyed it as well, please say so in the comments below. Your views and words are what keep me coming back to the keyboard every week!

Thanks so much for being here. I’ll definitely be back Wed for our weekly WIP updates. See you then ❤

Posted in Character Stories

New Year’s Eve

“The rebranding event is going really well.”

I don’t think I’ll ever grow bored of the way Erisa Nabil murmurs every sentence. She curls up like a cat next to me, her legs crossed as she settles into the booth, her long fingers wrapped around the neck of an expensive bottle of vodka she has definitely not been sharing with the regular guests. She’s celebrating.

“We still have to make it to midnight,” I tease, her good mood already pushing away the nervous edge that has clung to me all night. 

I don’t move away when she presses closer to me, our shoulders touch as she lets her head rest on the back of the tall seat. Under the table, our thighs brush, neither of us dressed in anything that covers us. Just my bare skin against hers. 

I barely manage to blow out a stuttering breath. This. It’s… electric. 

I mentioned it to Ashby once in the first few months here in Las Vegas. He told me it was normal. Erisa has had plenty of lifetimes to create her perfectly brittle exterior. She knows how to lure her prey in by seeming demure and wanton. It’s a piece of ancient magic very alive in her amber eyes. 

It happens to everyone. 

Except, I don’t think she treats me like anyone else. There’s a purr to her words that vanishes when shouting commands to our staff. She chooses her words carefully when she speaks to me. Any other time, she’s lightning fast wit that could give whiplash to our drunk and handsy regulars. 

This, I think, is something else. 

I’m supposed to be going back to the hotel to give Ashby his midnight kiss for the new year, but I’ve come up with a thousand excuses over the last fifteen minutes to linger here. I can still make it if I leave in the next five minutes. I can just hail down a cab and hop on over to the street and meet him outside where I know he’s probably already pacing. 

I wanted to see her before I stepped out, though. See her smile. See her shimmer in the glow of success. Erisa Nabil was supposed to be a queen in her past life. I like her very much as a business owner, though. 

“Even if everyone left now instead of waiting the next ten minutes, we would be up in profits for the entire year. We’ve done as much tonight as I usually do in a month.” Her eyes are open as she looks down at me, a hidden message sitting there behind her pupils just out of my reach. “You made this happen, Lucy Lore.”

She tips her slender neck back and drinks straight from the bottle before shoving it in my direction. I shouldn’t. My head is already fuzzy and I have to make it back to the hotel. At least, I think I tell her that I shouldn’t. Before I know it, however, the hot liquid is burning the back of my throat while the lingering flavor of her dragon fruit lip gloss clings to my tongue. 

The bottle ends up on the table. Her fingers are cradling my face. I think she asks me a question. 

I don’t know what it is, just that my answer is yes. If she’s asking, the answer will always be yes. 

Leaning forward, Erisa presses her mouth to mine. She’s all demand. Her fangs pull at my bottom lip, not enough to break the skin, but hard enough to remind me that she’s more than capable of tearing me apart piece by delicate piece. 

I think I would like it. 

I think…

I’m not thinking. 

Shaking my head, I struggle out of her grasp. “I have to go.”

Her fingers form a gentle circle around my wrist. There’s a request written across her vulnerable expression. I just shake my head. 

This is getting out of hand. I have other promises to uphold. I’ll see her next time we work. 

No words pass my lips, but she lets me go. I hope she understands. I need her to understand. My heart is spoken for already and I won’t be the one to teach Ashby Carter about infidelity. 

We have a good relationship. Me and Ris. We work well together. I love my job and our time together, but I can’t offer her much else. No matter how much I want to turn around and ask her to kiss me again. 

A small voice in the back of my mind tries to reason that Ashby would understand. Syrens and vampires have always been bound together. Somehow my bloodline was always meant to find that of a Nabil, a creature old enough that it predates the science that created Ashby and his brothers. 

The rest of my liquored brain is blaring an alarm to get out now and I listen to it, staggering out on my heels against the flux of hot bodies and confetti poppers people are setting off early for the occasion. Swiveling lights meant for the disco balls near the ceiling pierce my eyes as I make my way to the door. Out. I need to get out and everyone is in the way. My success is now my downfall as I grumble apologies to the three hundred excited participants of our little rebranding event and shove towards the exit. 

Finally. I suck in a huge gulp of air as I pass the door. 

And then realize that I didn’t grab my purse or my coat. 

Rain splashes onto the sidewalk. I linger in the overhand of the building and stare at it. Water has never bothered me before. I used to live by the ocean and swim in its frozen waves. 

I can handle a brisk walk in the rain. 


I have to because there’s no way I’m heading back into that club and chancing another intimate moment with Erisa. I don’t have my phone, so I can’t call Ashby. I don’t have my wallet, so there’s no way to pay a cab. My feet work fine, though. 

I can do this. I can do this. I’m pretty sure I can do this. 

It’s only two blocks to the hotel. 

I make it out from under the awning. The rain finds me immediately, reveling in the low cut dress that leaves my chest and most of my back open for its icy touch. Three steps into my journey and I already have my arms crossed in front of myself to ward off the cold as my jaw clenches in an attempt to stop my teeth from chattering. 

This is a bad idea. I’m not going to go back, though. 

Head down, I trudge along the sidewalk. A car zooms by on my right. I barely see the wave of water it splashes my way before it dunks me from head to toe. 

Hot tears leak from my eyes as I pull the drenched scrunchie out of my leaking hair and brush it back from my face. It’s not even supposed to rain this much in the desert. This has to be karma. It’s what I deserve for getting carried away on the magic of Erisa Nabil. 


I glance up in time to see Ashby jog across the street. He has his jacket off by the time he gets to me, throwing it over my shoulders before I can protest or tell him that I’m not worth his chivalrous behavior. He’s such a good guy and I…

I don’t know what I am. 

Not good. 

My heart is too big. I have too many emotions. I think, given the chance in another lifetime, I could definitely love Erisa just as much as I do Ashby. 

Which, if I believe the common media, makes me a whore. A cheater. A bad woman. 

Ashby has me wrapped in his coat and whisked off to the hotel room in no time, his dark magic sweeping us off of the wet streets. The constant pelting of fat rain drops is replaced with numbing nothingness. It’s quiet in the room. Candles line the windowsill and rose petals cover the bedspread.

Ashby Carter is too good for me. 

I’m sobbing before he has a chance to ask me what’s wrong. Too cold, too overwhelmed, I can’t feel my legs. Somehow I end up on the ground. Ashby follows, crouching next to me with a towel to dry the water from my face. 

“Hey, it’s okay. Ris called. I’m not upset.”

He has to repeat himself four or five times before any of his words actually penetrate the grief building a fortress around my mind. “She told you we kissed?”

He offers a lopsided grin as I clap a hand over my traitorous lips. “She forgets her manners when she’s happy. It’s okay. You can’t guess how many times she’s kissed me or one of my brothers.”

A hiccup bubbles out from me as I try to swallow my heavy breaths and calm down. He knows. Ashby knows and he’s not mad. 

Somewhere down the hall, there’s cheers from other guests. It must be midnight. Ashby glances to my lips. 

“What’s your wish for the new year, Lady Lore?”

“To be enough for you,” I whisper immediately.

He shakes his head. “You are. You always will be. Promise to always come back to me?”

Forgetting my wet clothes and misery, I throw my arms around his neck as I crawl into his lap. “Of course I promise.”

He doesn’t complain about my cold body as he presses a kiss to my head. “I promise, too. Always, Lucy Lore. No matter what happens in the next year or the next ten or the next fifty if you’ll give me all that time, I will always be here and I will always love you.”

“I love you.”

My words are eclipsed by his lips. We kiss. He’s a decadent chocolate meant to be unwrapped slowly before thoroughly enjoyed. He’s the warmth of a fire when I just stumbled in from a hurricane. He’s warm and safe and mine. 

He doesn’t fill me with electricity like Erisa. And that’s okay. 

I think. 

I think that everything will be okay. As long as we’re together and honest and true to ourselves.

The new year rings in. We’re together on the floor and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Author’s Note

Happy New Year to all of my favorite readers! It has been a whirlwind six months for me, going from keeping every snippet of my writing saved in a drawer in my desk to putting a little bit of different characters onto this blog to publishing whole chapters on Lore. Every view and comment and congratulations in person has made me feel validated and loved and pushed forward on this reckless attempt to be a “real” writer.

I am nervous and excited to start this new year. Nervous that this was all a fluke and I’ll suddenly fail. Excited that maybe I won’t and that I have no real idea of what success is going to look like in the coming months. I have plans to start more published series on kindle vella as well as working out a schedule to post more frequently here. No matter where the next year takes me in my writing journey, it started here at the gentle suggestion from Bridgette to actually show people my writing. I will always be grateful for that push and for the feedback I got in these first months.

You, readers, are the reason I haven’t given up. Thank you for coming back week after week.

If you enjoyed this story, please leave a like and a comment in the section down below. If you want more of Lucy and Ashby and Erisa, be sure to check out Lore on kindle vella: Lore by Angelica Reece

As always, please take an extra minute to read Bridgette’s amazing story and follow her page to see where the new year takes her as well!

Rainy Day Recruit

I’ll see you in the new year. 🙂

Posted in Character Stories

A New Orleans Evening

Olivia clears her throat. “Do you think this calls for an apology?”

Never. I shake my head, my gaze flicking between the raspberry mush in the microwave and the body by the fireplace. “He broke into my house.”

Her laugh carries no real merriment as she paces the length of the room, her cloak fluttering around her legs. “It’s kind of his thing, Avery.”

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that. I didn’t freaking believe it. 

There’s nothing I can really do about it now. The chubby, red-suited fool got caught in my bubbling cauldron like it was a snare set out for a much more malicious entity. There was a quick shout and then he hit his head and passed out. 

I’m still learning how to become the matriarch of our coven and now I’m faced with a seemingly impossible situation. Either I finish the spell Santa Claus ruined and tide us over for another year, or I save his life and the benign magic the humans look forward to every December.

There’s no way to choose. 

“I don’t understand why you find this so hard. Send a letter to the North Pole or whatever, tell them they have to find another guy to sit in the sleigh, and use your limited magic to give back to the coven, Ave.”

Olivia is my voice of reason. I called her immediately. She arrived in a burst of purple smoke with wide eyes and a smirk, her feline expression immediately taking in the collapsed form by the fireplace and jumping into new plans. 

In rapid succession, she voiced her ideas. She suggested disposing of the body with a spell containing fireplace soot and a bottle of vinegar. She told me to save my magic and move houses, leaving him here for the New Orleans police to find sometime after the holiday. She even suggested doing nothing and focusing solely on the spell trying to bubble in my caldron, the spell that’ll give magic back to the other witches who depend on the yearly routine to be able to do more than a simple levitation throughout the long months. 

It’s a yearly sacrafice. The magic festered under my skin starting last Monday. It seeped out of the other witches and returned to me, having been my mother’s before her recent passing. I could see pink specks of it color the air as it gathered in my home and infiltrated my body, wriggling under my fingernails and burrowing into my pores. To hold all of this magic is overwhelming. It takes all of my conscious energy to simply stay planted on the ground when all of this mystical dust wants to float me away to the ceiling and then out into the great beyond. 

One witch each year holds the power to change the world and it is our duty to return it to those who dutifully released it to us. 


The microwave dings before I can get any further into thinking about what I’m going to do with ‘ol Saint Nick. Olivia wrinkles her nose as I open it, the tart smell of raspberries overtaking my apartment. 

“I do hope you aren’t planning to share a slice of that. I think it’s burnt.”

I shake my head. “That’s the sage I mixed in. It should wake him up if I hold it under his nose.”

Of course, it doesn’t. Kneeling next to the unconscious man, I wave the raspberries near him. I flap my fingers in his direction. I even conjure a little tornado to specifically carry the smell straight to his nostrils. 

It does nothing. 

Crap and fiddlesticks. Why did he have to come in here? I shouldn’t be on his goddamn list. I don’t celebrate his holiday or look forward to strangers breaking into my apartment. All of the different herbs hanging from the rafters make a point of keeping most malicious entities out of here. Mr. Claus apparently didn’t get the memo. 

Olivia crosses her arms and taps her boot heel to get my attention. “Hey. We only have the duration of the peak of the full moon. You need to finish the spell.”

I know that. I can feel the magic getting jittery along my bones, begging me to put it to good use. My job is to return it, though, not use it. 

Of course, this is a bit of a different circumstance. 

“One spell,” I whisper, so that only I and my unconscious acquaintance can hear. 

Olivia, obviously, isn’t going to go for it, so I make a big deal of crossing the room to check out my mother’s spell book. “Liv, I need you to grab me two canisters of mustard seed.”

“You mean eye of newt?” She teases, rolling her heavily lined eyes at my refusal to use the old lingo for these spells. 

“You know what I want. And grab a bushel of lavender and a sack of honeycomb, too.”

She leaves in a poof. I don’t have much time. 

I toss my spell book to the side. Mom wanted me to be a good witch. She wanted me to focus on my cauldron work and never depend on the yearly dispersal of real magic. We just weren’t that kind of witch, she would say. We’re the kind that depend on nature and its limitless gifts. 

Except, I’m not. 

I’m full of this electrifying power and I know that I saw something in this little black book I picked up at a tavern a few months ago. 

Something to revive. Something to help a body thrive. Something to help him survive. 


The book tingles under my fingerprints, humming as if it too cannot wait for me to pick the right spell and give this magic a whirl. I shouldn’t. Hesitating, I glance again to the red-suited man that this world looks forward to every year. I must. 

Of course, this isn’t entirely my fault. The guy is supposed to check his list twice before jumping into any old chimney. 

I’ll fix him up and send him on his way and, if I’m quick, I’ll still have time to share the magic with the other witches. There’s a whole six minutes left before the window for my spell. They probably won’t even notice the little bit I borrowed for this jolly fellow. 

At least, that’s what I hope as I clear my throat and clearly enunciate the words on the page. I don’t know what language they’re in. Something Latin-based. Not something I recognize, though. Hopefully, I pronounce it closely enough. 

When I’ve seen other witches perform magic, the spell usually starts at their chest, little sparks flaring like fireflies bursting to life around them. Mine, though, doesn’t. It shoots straight out of my extended fingertips. Not yellow, but maroon. 

The magic flies straight for the man on the floor. It sizzles and pops, swirling around his head and then disappearing into his nostrils. 

There’s a long moment in which I think I might have made the situation worse. I can’t see the magic. He’s not moving. Christmas is over and I’m about to be the world’s most hated witch. 

Then, he sucks in a gasp and rolls over to cough up burgundy sparks onto my antique carpet. 


It worked. Now, I just need him on his feet and out before Olivia can try to stop me. 

Crossing the room to him, I hold out a hand as he carefully pushes up to a sitting position. “Sorry about the cauldron. I really wasn’t expecting a visitor.”

He lets out a raspy laugh that sounds too similar to the “ho, ho, ho” he’s known for. “No need to apologize, Avery. It was my mistake.” The guy lets out a hefty breath as I help heave him to his feet and then hold out my hands to steady him. “How may I repay you?”

I shake my head. “Totally unnecessary. Just have a good night and a merry Christmas and get out of here. You’ve got a lot of people to help.”

“There must be something I can do,” he insists, reaching into his pocket to put on some old spectacles. 

Purple mist appears to my left. Out of time. I try to pull Mr. Claus to the door, but he’s not budging. 

Olivia drops the ingredients as her jaw falls open. “You. Did. Not!”

Oh, but I did. This is bad. 

“I can still do the spell. We have,” I glance at my watch, “four minutes. Let’s toss everything in, stir counterclockwise and get this show on the road.”

“You broke the law, Ave. You can’t use magic that isn’t yours. Do you know what will happen if the council finds out?”

I imagine it has something to do with ropes and a mighty hot fire. “The only people who know are you and me and him, so we’re fine. Let’s just do the spell.”

She shakes her head and staggers back a step, her heeled boot thudding heavily on these old floors. “It’s my duty to report this, Avery. I can’t burn with you.”

There’s no time to convince her otherwise. Purple smoke makes me cough as she vanishes. 

Toad toes and crab claws. This is bad. This is really freakin’ bad. 

I’m not alone, though. 

Turning to the big guy at my side, I blow out a slow breath. “I think there is something you can do for me.”

He nods immediately, somehow already following my train of thought. “My sleigh has enough room for the both of us.”

And so, I grabbed a bag with my emergency essentials and then fled into the night, the sound of sleigh bells covering the panicky thud of my heart.

Author’s Note

A merry Xmas eve to everyone who celebrates! I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and families and look forward to Mr. Claus’ arrival.

Thank you so much for taking a moment out of a chaotic holiday schedule to read this cute story. Leave a like and a comment in the area below to let me know if you enjoyed it 🙂

As always, check out Bridgette’s story as well, dealing with holiday traditions in a New Orleans graveyard: Christmas Eve in the Graveyard

And, if you’re looking for more from me, check out Lore on kindle vella for vampire shenanigans and a cozy romance this week.

We’ll see you next week for our official last story of the year!

Posted in Character Stories

Caller Chaos

The phone is the worst invention created by mankind. It’s a lousy waste of time and space and it won’t fucking stop ringing. 

It’s not even in this room. 

Tossing the blanket aside, I squint at the red glow of the nearby clock. Three. No. This has to be a joke. 

I should pull the blanket back over my head and wait for it to stop. It would teach these fools a lesson about bothering me so early into the day. It’s not even early. The day hasn’t had a chance to begin and whoever it is thinks they have the right to bother me with their mortal concerns. 

Three a.m. is an ungodly hour. I suppose it makes sense. I’m about as far from holy as one can get. 

Stepping out of bed, I grab my emerald robe from the back of the door and then stagger out into the hallway. I have to make it all the way to the living room. Why did I put the goddamn phone so far from me?

Because I’m a fool who thought people would be decent enough to use the phone at normal times in the day. 

This had better be important. I swear to whatever larger force gathers in the air above Manhattan that I will smite whoever disturbed me if there isn’t a good reason. Perhaps I’ll liberate their heart from their chest while it still beats. 

Deep breath. I didn’t go to the last three years of mandated therapy just to lose my cool over a phone call. It’s not a good time to get careless. There’s still some people I need to impress before I can move on with my life. 

Robe tied tight around my hips, I tread down the stairs, leaving behind plush carpets for the icy feel of the laminate flooring that came with this rental. Supposedly it’s good for the environment. I miss the feel of real wood under my bare feet, though. Wood and stone and less of this nonsensical alternative crap. 

The phone blares again. It’s louder than all of the traffic on a busy Friday afternoon. The single, shrill scream rips through the still air of the house. It must be the seventh time that thing has rattled and demanded my attention. Whoever is calling is adamant that they need me. 

I pluck the red phone from its stand and press it to my ear. “Do you own a clock?”

“Clocks are for those already running out of time,” is the hissed reply from the other side. 

Az. If I had a heart, it would beat harder for that damn voice. I take another deep breath. I don’t have a heart. It was surgically removed after the trouble he got me into last time. I’ve moved on. I don’t need my heart or any soft feelings and I certainly don’t need to worry myself with the adolescent musings of the male on the other end of this line. 

“You can’t truly want to sleep in when there’s adventures to be had, Sera?”

There he is. Waltzing back into my life after years and expecting nothing to change. Well, this time things are different. 

“Lose this number,” I snarl into the phone. 

“Wait. Wait. I’m sorry. Wait.”

The apology catches my attention more than his whining. Azazel isn’t the kind of creature to offer his condolences, not now and certainly not when something is actually his fault. He needs something and he’s willing to play nice. 

I don’t slam the phone down even though the muscles have tightened in my hand and that’s all I want to do. “What could you possibly need from me?”

“Remember the night we got engaged?”

He sounds out of breath. This can’t be a good conversation. I shouldn’t have answered the phone. 

“Humans get engaged. We made a blood pact that you weaseled your way out of.”

“Sera…” he trails off. 

This is an old argument. He doesn’t want to hear about it, but I don’t care. I got left behind. I’ve paid the ultimate price for the trouble he caused. My life has been altered. If he thinks for one minute that he’s going to get anything from me without having to politely listen to my every rancid thought on this particular subject, then he is supremely in the wrong. 

“I gave you a necklace,” he continues before I can compile my thoughts into a starting statement with the way I hate his guts and every piece of connective tissue holding him together. 

I’m aware. The red oval with a single, gold wave cut through the center of it is currently dangling from my neck. I stole it back from the surgeons the last time I was at the hospital. There’s nothing quite like a man trying to steal your memories while you rob his office. 

“You can’t have it,” I bite into the receiver. 

He blows out a sigh. “I need you to hear me out.”

I laugh. No, I throw my head back and cackle like the madwoman I’ve become since the last time I laid eyes on Master Azazel Aticulen. It seems the man has left me to go work on his sense of humor. 

“I owe you absolutely nothing.”

“I know.”

Dammit. He’s done it again. I should throw this phone across the room. I should rip the cord out of the wall and smash the rest of it to pieces. I don’t. Az has never agreed with me before in his long, miserable life.

“I’ll break you out, but I need that necklace and I need you.”

He needs me. I’m not some whimpering waif in need of his approval. That being said, that’s exactly who I was the last time this demon tempted me away from my path in life. 

I’m not Miss Sera Phim, an innocent soul captured in a never aging body. I’m just Sera. Crotchety and bitchy and tragically unimportant Sera. 

“I don’t need you,” I grumble into the phone. 

It topples from my hand. The stupid thing clatters as it lands. I don’t bother picking it off of the floor and putting it back in its stand. I have no intention of answering it again tonight or any other night. 

I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed. Three o’clock is for demons and devilry. It’s the hour of mischief away from the omniscient view of well-minded beings. I stumble up the first few steps as my throat tightens. It’s the hour of hope and I cannot, I will not, allow myself to hope that Az is going to keep his word after all these years. 

He probably tried to get this necklace from the hospital just after I retrieved it. It’s the only reason he called. Likely, it’s more than a relic containing our blood and resolution to stay with each other. It’s probably a key for some hidden treasure he located. 

Too bad. He’ll have to find a spare or give up on his incessant need to uncover the Earth’s secrets. 

I’m at the top of the stairs before I realize my bedroom door is closed. 

The phone is downstairs. I could walk back down there and call for help. 

I didn’t shut that door. 

There’s only one pesky man with enough magic to get past the wards surrounding this estate. 

As if entranced by his presence, my feet move forward against my will. I cross the landing and press my fingertips into the painted white wood of the door. Az is hunched over the dresser in the corner, his hands very much in my underwear drawer. 

“Looking for this, then?” I snarl, pulling the amulet out of my nightgown to flash it between us. 

He straightens immediately, letting his phone fall from his ear and bounce across the floor as he looks at me. There’s no words to be had. He looks the same and I…well, time has been unkind. Time and the torture. Both are quite stressful on the stained soul. 

Az looks like he always does, though. Broad shoulders and black hair that frames his piercing eyes. He still has that obnoxious lip ring. 

“I really do want you to come, too.”

“And if I refuse?” 

He shrugs, his beautiful figure stuffed into a suit jacket that has to be a size too small. Stolen. He probably needed something with a specific scent to get by the bloodhounds stationed on the lawn. “I’m not against playing the villain, Sera.”

“I think we both know you don’t just play the villain, Azazel.”

He winces. I don’t usually call him by his full name. Today, things feel a bit different. It seems like the kind of day I stand my ground and fight back against the man who ruined my life. 

“Please,” he extends one hand towards me, each of his fingers ringed by silver jewelry, “I’ll make everything up to you. Give me a week, Sera. To use the necklace. You can keep it when we’re done and I’ll even hide you on a personal island if that’s what you want. You can’t possibly want to live out this morbid attempt at banality. White was never your color,” he murmurs as his eyes touch the blank walls. 

I should say no. Just to be stubborn. 

He’s right, though. No promise in the world could convince me to stay here for any longer than necessary. 

“Five days and I pick the island.”

His lips twitch upwards. “Six days and I’ll throw in the cat.”

“You still have Nyx?”

He nods. “Couldn’t let the bugger go. He reminds me of you.”

If I had a heart…

His words make me feel warm, but I brush that aside. 

“Deal. Now, get me out of here.”

Author’s Note

Thanks for reading this week’s prompt about a call at three a.m. This was a tough one! New characters, new tension, and new dilemmas. Let me know in the comments below what you liked and if you want to see more of this story!

Please make time to read Bridgette’s story here:

As always, check out Lore here: Lore by Angelica Reece

We’ll see you next week!

Posted in Character Stories

Midnight Moon

“Callisto, come on down, honey bear.”

I blow out a sigh. This is temporary. I have to keep reminding myself over and over again that tonight is no longer than every other night of my life. It might drag itself out for as long as it can, clawing at the remnants of time as it makes every single second unbearable, but I’ll make it through like I have each day since the beginning of my life. 

I survived last year when Niko decided to play by the dam that inevitably burst and sent him careening into the next village. His stunt probably shaved off six years of my life. If we were closely related to cats, I would still have plenty of time. Since we live our lives connected to the moon and the beasts that came before us, I really can’t afford anymore scares or infirmary stays. 

I survived three years ago when dad went out to an inventors’ meeting and never came back, throwing me in charge of this entire farm while mom took to the streets looking for any little sign of him. 

I’ve survived and that is all that really matters in getting me down the stairs and out towards the group that’s gathered for tonight’s event. 

We don’t have any typical farm accessories here, I think, as I stand at my window and look out at the expanses of fields that belong to our family. There aren’t horses or cows or sheep. There’s enough human farms that can take care of those needs. We don’t use traditional pulley systems or build silos to hold grain for the next year. The Hati family farm is a special place. 

“Callisto, it’s nearly time.”

Grandmother’s tone is not to be trifled with tonight. She’s more on edge than anyone else. This means more to her than to anyone else, too, I suppose. 

It’s an old tradition. I thought it would be one that I skipped completely, but my life has fallen out of my hands since both of my parents disappeared. No longer a woman fiddling with the pieces on a chessboard, I’m merely a checker being moved about the simpler game with ease. 

Go here, Callisto. Make your family proud. Hold your chin up when you speak to these men, Callisto, and know that someday it will not matter that you managed to keep your family alive for years without help because you’ll still be expected to marry one of these under-qualified oafs. 

I should have gone down earlier when there were less people and attempted to drown myself in the punch bowl. Grandmother is going to be at my side every step of the way from here until the dawn’s first lights. My fingers curl around the windowsill. There’s a crack in the next moment. I stare down at the dark claws extending from my hands and then glance at the splintered wood scattered over the floor. 

I’m supposed to be able to trust my instincts. Instead, they seem to be getting the better of me. I sweep the bigger pieces under my bed while Grandmother calls for a third time. 

I really have to go down there. 

Soon, the clouds will pull away from the sky and the full moon will wink down on our lush fields and we’ll know whether or not the Midnight Goddess is going to bless us for another year. If I miss an appointment with the lady of the sky, my grandmother will never forgive me. 

Here goes absolutely nothing. 

Trudging downstairs in the lavender, silk gown Grandmother had designed specifically for this night, I tilt my chin up and assume the haughty expression demanded on eldest daughters. Grandmother is at the foot of the stairs. She’s unconvinced by my stiff shoulders and casual movements. No matter. The point is to trick the people into appointing me to this annoying council. Grandmother is stepping down and her vote has already been cast for me. 

“Took your sweet time, honey bear,” Grandmother grumbles as I curl my fingers around her elbow and allow her to lead me into the greater part of the house. 

I’ve known this place my entire life. It’s my home, my shelter, my forever and always if the council has their way in determining the course of my life. It, however, looks nothing like the memory of my childhood. 

The shadows are darker in each of the corners. All of my nicknacks have been removed and replaced with ancient relics meant to bring good luck and well being to the head of the household. To me. I have no idea if any of it is working as I sneeze on a breath of lavender and sage and wish that I didn’t have to go through with this entire ordeal. 

“Head up, Callisto. We cannot show weakness in front of the council.”

I know. She has told me a thousand times in the last fortnight. 

Don’t scuff your shoes, Callisto. Head up, eyes forward, keep your face expressionless. Be a leader. Prepare to be led to your doom. 

Well, she didn’t say the last part, but I feel it in every vein of my body. Something is going to go wrong here tonight. 

And it’ll probably be my fault. 

“I’m ready,” I answer instead of confiding my concerns and insecurities. 

We don’t have time to deal with negative emotions. We hardly have time to recognize celebrations and good moments. It’s incredibly hard work to keep magic alive in the world. Humans don’t even understand the importance of our work. The council takes us for granted. It’s best to keep a stern expression and shoulder the weight of reality without murmuring a complaint. 

We make it out of the den and past the dining room. I try not to think about the way my stomach grumbles. I don’t think I’ve eaten since yesterday. I forgot. I keep forgetting. There’s so much to do and so little time for myself between it all. 

I hope there’ll be some ham left over for me. 

The thought almost tips me into a fit of giggles. Almost. I’m a mature adult. I’m the head of my household and positioning myself for an esteemed seat on the council. Thoughts about food are frivolous. 

Besides, my brothers aren’t going to leave a morsel for anyone else. 

We’re outside in the next moment, Grandmother and I stepping through the large, open door as one. She doesn’t offer any final pieces of advice. Perhaps she’s just as nervous as I am. 

Little lights flit throughout the tall grass in the fields. Fireflies, humans say. Fairies, I think to myself. Evidence that magic is real and alive here in the Hati farmlands. 

A single path has been mowed through the grass. Grandmother and I enter it together, the bits of greenery seeming to lean closer and brush our shoulders. It’s a caress of good luck. It’s a warning to watch our backs. Some of them linger longer than others. All of them wish for our safe return. 

The council is erected in a large circle somewhere fifty yards away from the main house. We’re directly under the fullest point of the moon. It’s here that my fate will be decided. 

Entering the main area, I keep my chin high as Grandmother bows. I don’t dare stoop into a curtsy. It’s far too early in my life to be throwing respect to everyone around me with the kind of enthusiasm of a child tossing confetti. These men should be tipping their heads for me. Instead, we stand across from each other with tension thickening the air. 

“Callisto Hati, your arrival was predetermined in the stars.”

It wasn’t. I keep that to myself, though. Nobody knew my parents would be gone by now. These kinds of rituals are more interesting when we blame the stars rather than the people who hurt us. 

“Are you prepared to receive your share of the Midnight Goddess’ power?”

“I will take whatever she deems appropriate,” I answer carefully, heeding Grandmother’s warning to not be too excited for power in front of these hyenas. 

There are more speeches. They go over my history, my lineage, and some of my successes of the last few years. None of them truly understand who I am. To them, I’m a data sheet with a couple of major accomplishments. I’m not a person. Soon, once they know what kind of magic fills my veins, I’ll be no more than a possession. 

Run, the wind seems to whisper as it whips by my face. 

There isn’t time. The clouds begin to part. Candles around this circle are extinguished. We bask in the coming glow of the moon. 

The next moments pass by in a haze. Moonlight dances over our circle. It seems to shrink away from the men in an attempt to sidle closer to me. My veins are on fire. There’s power and magic tingling along my skin. 

Potential. Something big. 

“Are you ready for this, Callisto Hati?”

It’s a woman’s voice, but not my grandmother. The Goddess. I can’t answer. My voice is frozen somewhere with the air in my lungs. 

Yes. No. I truly hope so. 

“You’re meant for more than this world,” she murmurs so close to my ear that I feel she’s really in my head, looking at my soul and poking around in my personal bits. 

I don’t know what that means. I don’t get a chance to ask. The Midnight Goddess wraps her arms around me and chooses my fate. 

The world I’ve always known disappears with the blink of an eye.

Author’s Note

Happy stormy Saturday!!! Thanks for visiting my page. I hope you enjoyed a little family story with a little magic and a lot of potential. Callisto Hati is a spur of the moment character I crafted for this particular story, so leave likes and comments down below to let me know what you think!

As always, please take an extra moment to read my writing partner’s story on the same prompt. Bridgette White:

And if you’re looking for more, please check out Lore: Lore by Angelica Reece

We’ll see you next weekend!

Posted in Character Stories

Luna’s Library

The butcher next door sent us a pot roast for the coming holiday. Luna has it chilling in one of the employee fridges downstairs while she keeps me up on a ladder. I convinced her not to force me to decorate outside, but I have twelve boxes of tinsel and baubles and identical red ribbons to disperse through the library. 

There’s three levels for my festive obligation. Two for guests. One for us. Especially funny or slightly inappropriate signs get put in a separate pile to be used in the employee quarters. 

Stepping down, I move the ladder over another shelf and then climb back up. I would argue this as an abuse of Luna’s employer rights to have me on a ladder in the middle of the night making this place a holiday wonderland before the children and avid readers can come back tomorrow, but I don’t really mind. She’s done too much for me since my head injury. I’ve had amnesia for well over a year now with no indication that I’m ever going to remember what my life was like before she took pity on me and gave me a job and a purpose at this quaint library. 

Luna broke a lot of rules to get me in here. I didn’t have any legal identification to submit. I don’t even remember getting here, but when I told her she didn’t have to help me, she just smiled and promised that this kind of thing was what librarians lived for. 

There’s a couple of other employees who fill in throughout the week, but it’s usually just the two of us here. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. The others are fine. The readers are nice. But Luna is the best. 

I don’t know how to put it into words. I get a warm, fuzzy sensation in my chest when I look at her in her oversized, purple sweater and round golden glasses. Her hair is always thrown into a messy bun to keep it out of her eyes while she reads and bustles around this place. The library wouldn’t stand without Luna. I swear some of the books lean out of their shelves and peek at her in the same way I do whenever she walks by on a mission to another part of this old place. 


That’s her. I swivel to find her with her arms wrapped around yet another box. Through the partically open flaps, I can see that this one is full of stars in a million sparkling colors. 

“I’m so sorry, but I just found this one downstairs. Do you think you could do them across the ceiling in the children’s reading area?”

She could ask me to catch and slay a dragon and I would say yes. Nodding down to her, I give a thumbs up. The work truly doesn’t matter. I get to do it in this place with her and that makes me so bloody happy. 

“I have one more favor to ask,” she calls up to me after I turn back around to finish securing my tinsel. 

“Yes,” I answer, eyes forward on the sparkling bits of plastic that seem to bring our readers far too much happiness. 

She lets out a giggle, her simple mirth-filled sound infectious as I let myself blow out a chuckle. “I didn’t even ask it yet. How do you know the answer is yes?”

Turning back around, I grin down at her. “It’s always yes, Luna. Whatever you need.”

Her lips twist as she squints up at me. “What if I asked you to clean the toilets?”

I shrug. “Yes.”

“Or I told you I needed you to scrape the pigeon droppings from the roof?”

“Yes,” I’m barely holding in laughter as I step down the ladder.

When I’m on solid ground once more, I step over a couple of boxes to share the same small aisle with her. We’re shoulder to shoulder with the contemporary and historical romance novels. Dozen of tiny eyes stare at us from the shelves as I wait for her next question. 

She steps back a step, some of the joy of the moment fading from her eyes. “You’re too nice, Liam.”

“I don’t see how that would be a problem.”

She rakes her fingers back through her frizzy hair. “Of course you don’t know it’s a problem. That’s the whole tragic flaw in your character.”

Usually, I wouldn’t think twice about the odd way Luna speaks. She lives in these shelves and breathes the air of these old books every single day. Literature is in her veins. She makes odd comparisons to novels all the time. 

She’s not usually upset about it, though. 

So, instead of doing the smart thing and letting this go, I push her to explain. She lets out a strangled sigh and starts to walk away, muttering that she can’t tell me the truth without telling me the truth and I have no idea what that means. 

Abandoning the decorations, I follow her past the fantasy books and the horror novels and the poetry section on the way to the employee stairwell. She’s already through the door, the heavy thing thudding shut behind her before I can grab it. I watch her brown hair bob as she takes the stairs two at a time in a near jog away from me. 

I can’t leave her to just be upset. Maybe I am too nice, but she’s done a thousand tiny things for me since I stumbled into this little town with nothing except the clothes on my body. She even converted one of the office spaces downstairs into a bedroom for me to use while I try to figure out who I am. Nobody accepts the credit of a person without photo identification or a birth certificate. Without Luna, I wouldn’t have a place to stay or a place to work or a purpose in this world. 

I think it’s only right that I’m too nice in return. 

Taking my time going down the stairs, the worn handles sliding easily under my fingertips, I amble down to the employee area. I don’t have to look around for her. She’s going to be in her personal library. The little room has enough space for two shelves packed with books that are out of print or too battered to be put back out on the floor and her reading chair. It’s her place of comfort. It’s the one place she could try to lock me out of since I have a set of keys to the rest of the doors. 

As suspected, the door is shut and locked when I make it down the hall. Letting my forehead rest on the cool wood, I try to listen for any sounds from the other side. There’s some rustling. Perhaps she’s already flopped into her chair with a favorite book and she’s trying to find that one specific page that brings her joy. 

No matter what’s happening in there, we still need to talk. I’m not going back up that ladder until I know she’s okay and she tells me what exactly I did to cause this reaction. 


The door flings open before I can get her name out of my mouth. Stumbling forward, I fall into her and the book shoved my way. She’s talking before I can steady myself or get out the next question. 

“You don’t have amnesia, Liam.”

That has my attention. The old book now in my hands has no cover. It’s just a green volume with wrinkled yellow pages. Nothing special at first glance, but clearly loved by its weathered condition. 

“Of course I do. I didn’t even know my name when I got here.”

She shakes her head, her eyes too wide behind her lenses. “You’re not a real person.”

Maybe she had too much spiced eggnog. This is getting increasingly worrying. I don’t have a question at the front of my mind. Well, more honestly, I have a hundred questions, but I can’t figure out how to form any of them into words before she lets out an exasperated moan and snatches the book back out of my hands. 

Ripping it open, she flips through it until she finds whatever she’s looking for and then shoves it back in my direction. Her pink, painted nail points to a sketch with a single word caption: Liam. 

That’s my name. That’s certainly a drawing of my face. I trace the jawline and the nose before glancing towards her. 

“What is this?”

“You were so nice,” she remarks again, her voice too high pitched. “But the writer gave you a terrible end and I just wanted to help.”

I’m not following this conversation. “This is a book, Luna. Just a story. It looks like me, but I’m sure it’s a coincidence and-.”

She shakes her head. “Just listen. It is you. You don’t really think you just stumbled by my library and then I took you in, do you?”

Of course I do. That’s been my daily background for the last year. I’ve lost my mind and Luna took pity on me and I work really hard to make sure she understands that I appreciate her. 

When I don’t answer, she scrambles to continue, “Okay. I know this sounds crazy, but magic is real. Most people don’t believe it and they probably won’t ever see it, but I can and I found a spell in one of these books,” she flings her hand behind her to draw my attention to the haphazard stack of ragged volumes. “I used it. On you. And now you’re in this world instead of dying in this book.”

Oh. Okay. That seems perfectly logical. I keep my sarcasm tucked behind my locked jaw as I continue to stare at her. 

“You can say something now,” she prompts, her fingers curling into nervous fists at her sides. 

“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

She sighs. “You don’t believe me, do you?”

I shrug. “I think you think this happened, but it’s been a really long day and we should probably get some rest be-.”

Luna isn’t sticking around to hear what I have to say. Turning away from me, she grabs her reading chair and, using the full force of her petite frame, drags it away from the center of the space. I want to ask what she’s doing, but I don’t need to. There’s a hidden door. 

Opening it, she steps down onto the ladder. “I wasn’t going to tell you anything, but the magic has gotten out of hand and there’s a leak and I can’t just keep this a secret forever.”

I stay in the main room, holding the book with my face and leaning over to try to see into her secret space. She’s back up in a minute, a wire cage in her hand. “Page 67, Liam.”

I don’t have to turn the pages to know what she has trapped in that very small cage. “So, dragons are real?”

With a skittish nod, she climbs off of the ladder and sits on the floor with the scaly creature tucked onto her lap. I sink down to be across from her as she tells me the story of how her magic escaped and I’m now not the only fictional character to make my way into this world — her world. 

“I’m sure you’re upset and confused and I completely understand, but you’re kind of the only person I can ask to help me.”

She’s right. What I thought would be a typical day has now been flipped upside down and shaken around for good measure. That doesn’t change anything between us, though. 

Reaching across, I let the lizard with wings smell my fingers while I look ahead to the girl who brought a book to life. “Yes. I’ll help you.”

Author’s Note

I had no idea what I was writing when Bridgette sent me this prompt. I usually have no idea, but this vague “day in the life” prompt really threw a wrench at my personal muse. Tossing aside my usual vampires, I had to search for someone with a more interesting spark.

Liam is a character I once wrote an entire Hallmark-esque novel about ten years ago. He’s a hero in every sense of the word. Got the girl, saved the day, did everything he had to in order to fill his position. I just don’t love writing contemporary romance, so threw the book in a dark drawer to rot while I wrote about vampires and danger.

I think he’s going to be amazing in this magic filled fantasy alongside Luna the librarian/amateur witch.

Thanks for coming this week! Please leave your comments and thoughts in the section below. Reader insight is the best motivation to moving forward with these different projects.

As always, check out Bridgette’s story as well: Under the Sign

And catch up on Lore here: Lore by Angelica Reece

We’ll see you next week 🙂

Posted in Character Stories

Enemy Fire

Somewhere in the rafters above me a parakeet squawks. My father’s friend refuses to have a normal pet. She signed up instead for a service bird who has managed to escape every attempt she’s made to take him to Sunday service. 

Maybe he’s a demon trapped in the tiny body and trying to run away from this cathedral before the singing commences. 

In that sense, he and I would have some common ground. 

My heels drag with each step. There’s a pounding in my skull that gets incessantly louder the further I make it into this holy place. My skin doesn’t burn, though. I don’t feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust or puke out the virus that has attached itself to my system. 

The virus that I had hated until it saved my life.

My limbs heavy, I press forward past a handful of bystanders who pretend not to see me. Everyone says help is at the church. It sure is for the wealthy and the affluent. Me, though, in my bloodstained shirt and bare feet, I look like a dead man walking, a bad omen that they would rather avoid than face head on. 

Ash coats my tongue from laying face to face with Death all last night. Some might argue that destiny finally caught up with me. I’d argue that a coward with a hammer caught me off guard. 

There has to be cracks in my skull from the impact. At least, there were several hours ago. I heard the crunch and then laid on the cold concrete while the insidious disease I contracted a few weeks ago carefully put my fractured bits back together like they were only pieces to a simple puzzle. 

My vision wavers as I take another step forward. My right side swings forward fine. My left leg drags. I continue in that movement as wave after wave of nausea tries to overtake me. I continue anyway, my limp more and more pronounced with each step closer to the front of the cathedral. The bishop is speaking over my movements, pretending that I’m not getting closer and closer to his precious grasp on this audience. 

“Where’s my mother?” I gasp over the pain lancing from my shoulder down through my ankle. 

He doesn’t even bother to look at me. Someone nearby tries to hush me. I’m not about to be silenced. My life on the line, the life of my family as it currently stands is in danger. I won’t just be shushed and pushed aside. 

I make it almost to the first step up towards his lifted podium before someone actually gets up to stop me. The bishop never stops speaking. He doesn’t hesitate to spread lies to these gullible people. 

“Let me go,” I growl, my hold on the virus slipping as my vision turns red and claws extend on my left hand. 

I haven’t had nearly enough time to come to grips with the supposed vampire variant. I didn’t even believe it was real until a few days after my run-in with the savvy businessman. The guy who exposed me to the virus left me a number to call if the shit hit the fan. He wasn’t exactly in a place to educate me while I fought to suck in a simple breath of air. He, though, had more civilized compassion than the person who attacked me last night. 

The good samaritan who came to my side is babbling about a hospital when he notices that my eyes aren’t a normal shade. Jumping back from me, he clutches at the crucifix around his throat while some kind of garbled prayer sprays from his lips. If I was a Dracula knock off, that might have done something. Since I’m a very real, likely an invincible recreation of Stoker’s first imagined creature, it does absolutely nothing. 

I make it up the first step before another voice rings through the confused din of the audience. “Erik!”

Mom. Mother. The high heeled attacker who left me for dead in a cold alley. 

Glaring at the Bishop, I watch as his hands tremble over his text. Another time. I’m not going to forget the person who brainwashed my mother and then sent her after me. 

I am going to deal with her first. 

Staggering away from the front of the cathedral, I follow her out the side door and into a dim hallway. She’s uninjured and far faster than me. While the beast resting just under the surface of my skin wants bloodshed and revenge, I only want to talk. 

She’s nowhere to be seen.

Leaning against the stone wall, I squint into the next room. Some kind of archive. Maybe just an individual prayer room with a stack of ancient texts for every need. 

She’s in there. 

“Does Dad know?” I ask the room as I step past the door frame. 

She seemingly materializes from an exit across the room. Hiding. It’s not really the way innocent people act. 

“He knows you got into some trouble.”

Right. Dad runs a bakery. He was injured in the army a long time ago and now she coddles him from the real nasty bits of our world. 

“So, you left out the part where you tried to kill me?”

She doesn’t flinch at the statement. I thought she would show some emotion. Maybe she would take a breath to beg for my forgiveness. Instead, she straightens her shoulders and looks down her nose at me even though I’ve been taller than her since I turned fifteen. 

“When you started sneaking around with questionable men, you betrayed the family. You’re not human anymore, Erik. If you cared for any of us, you would take care of this mess yourself.”

I’m going to puke. 

“Kill myself,” I breathe, the words barely penetrating the thick air between us. 

She shrugs, her thin frame wrapped in a jacket. Like this, she just looks like the woman who used to stand in the kitchen and ask about my grades. That’s not who she is now. It’s more than the additional lines around her lips and eyes or the gray strands she can’t seem to keep covered with expensive dyes in her hair. She chose the goddamned Bishop over the rest of us, vowing her life to his secret society. 

One that dislikes anyone who strays from the traditional path and despises vampires. 

“It’s the best choice for the family.”

Of course. The family is the most important thing. We’re not supposed to upset Dad’s life or distract Malcolm from his booming security business. We’re just expected to keep our chins up and our mouths shut. 

I haven’t ratted Mom out in years. She’s been moving family funds around and going to these secret meetings with the Bishop and his followers. I open my mouth to argue with her and then firmly shut it. 

There’s no point. I dragged myself off of the ground and came here to make a statement. 

But it doesn’t matter. 

“Tell Dad I died. I’ll get out of your life.”

For the first time since we came face to face, her stern mask cracks. There’s something else underneath. Likely not sadness since she was already prepared to wipe me off the planet with nothing more than a hammer and her personal conviction. 

“Where will you go?”

That has to be a ploy. She isn’t really going to let me walk out of here. Is she?

I shrug, the action making everything on the right side of my body ache. “Anywhere that isn’t here.”

“You can’t reach out to your brother.”

“I know.”

It would defeat the purpose of faking my death if Malcolm was aware that I was alive. I’m not willing to keep playing these games. I’m mad, really fucking mad about all of this, but it’s not a fight I can win on my own. 

We’re at a standstill. I don’t know if we’re supposed to say more. There’s no way that I’ll be trading statements of love and well being. 

This sucks. 

It really, really sucks. 

But I know when I have to throw in the towel. 

I didn’t stumble through college just to die in an alleyway. 

I’ve got dreams and I know there’s places for me to follow them. There’s a mysterious number in my phone for me to call. I’ll see where that lead takes me while I buy a ticket out of town. 

Still, I don’t know if there’s something else to do. I went through all of the effort to chase her down and say something. Is this really how we’re going to leave things?

I don’t get a chance to make that decision. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out her phone, clicking through several screens before her dark eyes, the same dark eyes I inherited, pin me to my spot. 

“I can buy you eight minutes. Get out. The others are coming.”

A last minute show of loyalty or just a way for her to force me out of her life, I don’t think twice about turning away and limping down the next hall. The door closes behind me with a final thud. Half dead, rage and disgust and grief rampaging through my intestines, I keep my eyes forward. 

It’s time to see where life will take me.

Author’s Note

This writer is physically and mentally exhausted. November has been a very long month packed with keeping up with all of my usual updates and working on the NaNoWriMo challenge.

I started this prompt this morning with a vague idea that I would introduce yet another one of my characters. If you enjoyed The Last Dance a couple of weeks ago, I’m happy to introduce Erik as the stranger that whisked Miles away at the end. Erik’s story is going to play with familial tension and a resistance to religion as he tries to find himself in this terribly complex world.

As always, thank you for coming to read this blog and support my dream to write. It has meant the world to me these last few months.

Please check out Bridgette’s story as well on the theme of chasing an enemy: Chalky Hands

And if you’re reading Lore, come meet Erisa Nabil through Ashby’s eyes: Lore by A D Reece

I’ll see you next weekend, readers! ❤