Tag Archives: #shortfiction

Silently Watching Before The Sturgeon Moon – three days later…

Gale force winds and rain lashed the beach hut, the waves from the high tide reaching the outside edge of the high courtyard wall. Thick dark storm clouds blanketed the area and had done for three days.

They had been three long tense days as the occupants of the beach hut had watched and waited, taking it in turns to sit with the dark angel day and night. Those seemingly endless hours keeping their vigil had given then time to talk and time to formulate a plan.

During the first long night, Meryn had sat with her son watching him almost as closely as she watched the angel. Gradually, she began to tell him about her past, told tales of her youth spent in both Spain and in a small village at the southern most tip of England. He listened closely as she told him about her parents, both true blooded vampires. With tears in her eyes, Meryn spoke about her Spanish mother, her adoration for her evident from the emotion catching in her voice. Her father had been Italian, from one of the oldest vampire families and been one of the founding members of the Court of the Elders. When she spoke of her late husband, her tears flowed freely. He had been her true soulmate and, despite her family’s misgivings, had happily sacrificed her wings to enjoy a “mortal” marriage. Reaching out to touch her son’s knee, she said, “You are my greatest love. You always will be. Despite what this creature has done to you, I am so proud of the man you are. Never forget that.”

The next night, she sat with Trine. For hours they sat in silence before the younger woman began to reveal the depth of her feelings for the runner, voiced her fears for their future and, after some gentle motherly encouragement, spoke of her hopes for that future too. Recognising the signs from the younger woman’s words and from the look in her eyes, Meryn saw that she’d found her soulmate in Jem.

Huddled together in the living room, listening to the raging storm on the third night, they all sat in silence.

“Time to bathe that wound,” Meryn announced shortly before midnight. “I want to try something different. Let’s heat the solution and see if that helps to drive out the last of the poison. Make it hot.”

Without argument, Trine poured some of the infusion into a pot and set it on the stove. The initial hot poultice had drawn most of the poison from the wound; the twice daily washes of the alcohol-based infusion seemed to be drawing even more from it, but the swabs had not come away clean yet.

When the liquid began to bubble, Trine lifted the small pot from the burner and carried it through to the runner’s bedroom. Meryn had already removed the soiled dressings from the dark angel’s back and was gently running her fingers over the open wound, muttering under her breath. Taking care not to burn herself or to touch the liquid, Meryn took the pot from Trine and soaked two square cotton swabs. She applied them to the wound, added a dry dressing on top then pressed down hard.

“Her eyelids flickered,” whispered Trine.

“I’m surprised she didn’t scream,” commented Meryn. “We’ll repeat this in an hour. I added an incantation to draw strength from the storm to add to the cleansing forces at play here. If we need to, we’ll repeat it a third and final time an hour after that.”

An hour later, as Meryn pressed down on the wound again, the dark angel’s eyelids flickered again. The fingers of her right hand clawed at the bedcovers.

“A promising sign,” said Meryn calmly.

Another hour later, Meryn showed Trine how to apply the hot infusion, taught her the healing incantation and where to press down on the wound. As the ice maiden applied the force as directed, the dark angel let out a hoarse cry of pain. Looking down on her, Trine saw that her eyes were open and filled with agony and hatred with a hint of fear there too.

“Welcome back, Anna,” said Meryn coldly as she moved into the dark angel’s line of vision.

Silently Watching under the Corn Moon

dark-angel

Feeling sand under his feet, the runner sensed he was finally home. He felt the chill wind blowing across the river as the Ice Maiden retracted her wings. Blinking to adjust his eyes to the dim light, he gazed round.

“Home sweet home,” said Trine with a smile.

“Sure is,” he replied as he gazed up the beach towards his humble home. “Nice to know where I finally am again.”

Ignoring the hint of sarcasm in his voice, Trine began to walk across the uneven rocks towards the stone steps that led up to the hut. Without another word, the runner followed her, taking care not to turn his ankle on the loose rocks.

There were leaves and piles of debris blown into the corners of his small enclosed courtyard. It didn’t escape his notice that there were several vodka bottles and discarded fast food packaging among the debris. It seemed that the local youths had discovered his home was empty. Fortunately, they hadn’t broken in and the stout door remained securely locked.

Pulling the key from his jeans pocket, the runner unlocked the door then stepped aside chivalrously to allow Trine to enter ahead of him. The air in the cabin smelled stale and slightly damp.

“Give me a minute or two to get the stove lit,” he said, laying his key on the table. “Soon be warmer in here.”

“Can I do anything to help?”

“You could light the lamps,” he suggested, reaching into the basket beside the woodburning stove for some kindling, “Matches are on the table.”

Once there was a fire burning in the stove and the lamps had been lit, the beach hut felt more homely. Having closed over the curtains on the two small windows, the runner rummaged through the small cupboard under his bookcase and found a bottle of red wine and two glasses.

“Not quite up to your father’s standards,” he apologised as he handed Trine a glass.

“Thank you,” she said softly. “I should ask him to send some to us. Keep out the chill.”

“Sorry I can’t match the luxury of his castle.”

“Nonsense. This is perfect. Cosy.”

“Very,” he commented, glancing round. “I’m not sure how we’re going to make this work. I’ll see what I can sort out tomorrow. You can take the bed tonight though. I’ll sleep in the chair.”

“I can’t take your bed from you,” said Trine simply. “You rest and I’ll explore. I need to stretch my wings and I also need to hunt.”

“Be careful,” he cautioned warmly. “Head inland over the hills if you’re ok with a dinner of sheep or cow.”

Trine nodded, “I just want to get a feel for the area.”

“If you’re planning on looking for her, you won’t find her,” cautioned the runner calmly. “She’s an expert at staying out of sight.”

“Do you have any idea how you intend to kill her?”

“No,” he lied, gazing down into his glass. “I’ll work something out. I need to regain her trust. We didn’t exactly part as friends last time.”

“Do you even know how to summon her?”

“No” he lied for a second time.

 

After Trine headed out to hunt, he washed the two wine glasses then got himself ready for bed. It felt good to be home. Good to be back in his own space. Lying on his side in the comfort of his own bed, he gazed at the photo on the bedside table and smiled. He’d missed seeing his family before he fell asleep at night.

Tired though he was, sleep refused to come, His lies from earlier were gnawing at him. In his heart, he hadn’t decided when to kill the dark angel, but he was in no rush to take action. Killing her in cold blood felt wrong. Summoning her would be easy. All he needed was a white pebble to leave on the bench in the graveyard. However, if he requested any audience, how would he explain his renewed interest in her? They hadn’t spoken since she’d told him he was on his own. He would need to work out a believable excuse for asking to meet with her.

His eyes finally grew heavy and he drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep.

 

The sun was rising as Trine returned to the beach hut after a successful night’s hunting. She had flown into the hills to the north across the river and stumbled across a herd of deer. Before the herd and noticed her presence, she had drained two does dry and harvested the blood from a third into the leather flask she carried in her pale blue cloak.

Instead of heading straight indoors, the Ice Maiden took a walk along the water’s edge, watching the sky to the east turn from red to gold as the sun broached the horizon. She slipped her hands into the deep pockets of her cloak. Her right hand found a small crystal ball hidden in the depths of the soft fabric. It had been a parting gift from her father; it was a way of communicating with him should she need to.  She had an almost overwhelming urge to hurl it into the dark depths of the river beside her but, on second thoughts, decided to keep it for now.

The gentle lapping of the waves soothed her as she walked along the shoreline. Gazing out across the river, she could understand why the runner had chosen to settle here. It was so peaceful. It felt safe. For the first time she was completely free of the confines of the castle. Freedom was something she craved. This was the first time in her life that had father had removed the enchantment on her that bound her to the castle. He had removed it as a precaution in case she fell foul of the dark angel and she used it to trace her way back to the Court of Elders. Trine realised if she chose to, she could disappear for ever; if she left the crystal ball in the hut, Stefan wouldn’t know anything was amiss until she was long gone. With a small smile, it dawned on her that she could become as elusive as the dark angel if she chose to. However, if she messed up this assignment, she would never be invited to joint the Court of Elders. Trine felt torn. Glancing up at the beach hut she sighed… then there was the runner himself. Just thinking about him sleeping inside made her smile and lit a little flame of affection inside her. As she climbed the rough stone steps up to the courtyard, Trine prayed that he wasn’t in a rush to kill the dark angel.

 

Feeling the cold blast of air as Trine opened the door, the runner looked up from fastening his jeans. The Ice Maiden felt her cheeks flush as he turned his back to her. Spotting the Celtic tattoo across his back for the first time she said, “That must have hurt.”

“What must have?” he said as he lifted his shirt from the bed.

“The design on your back.”

“Nipped a bit,” he confessed. He paused to put his shirt on, shaking his shoulders to ensure the split fabric settled neatly between his wings. “She designed it for me.”

“Why?” quizzed Trine, her curiosity getting the better of her.

“She gave me a box of phials of some concoction to pour into the wing buds to stop them forming. There was some weird moss in the box too. The two centres of the design marked the spots I needed to pierce every month to pour the stuff in. Worked too until those little bottles ran out.”

“What was in them?”

“No idea. Some kinds of flowers and herbs. Lavender and Thyme and shit like that. The bottles, the moss and the design all formed part of some trinity spell or something. They were all connected.”

“And no one questioned why you’d suddenly got a huge back tattoo?”

He shook his head, “No. I already had a couple anyway. My wife actually really liked it.”

“How did you pierce your own back?” quizzed Trine as she watched him fill the kettle.

“You don’t want to know,” he replied as he set the kettle on the stove. “How did you get on last night? Successful hunt?”

“Very. Found a herd of deer about thirty miles north of here. Satisfied my thirst,” she answered with a yawn.

“Coffee?”

She shook her head, “Sleep.”

“Bed’s all yours,” he said with a grin. “I’ll give some thought as to how we can rearrange things in here. There has to be a way to give you some space of your own.”

“Waken me at sunset,” said Trine as she slipped off her cloak. “I want to teach you something.”

“What?”

“Patience, Son of Perran. You’ll find out at sunset.”

 

While the Ice Maiden slept, the runner sat at the small pine table attempting to redesign the layout of the beach hut. It didn’t take him long to work out that he would need to extend his hut to add on an extra sleeping space. Quietly, he slipped outside to measure up the courtyard.

By late afternoon, as the sun began to sink lower in the sky, he had worked out a plan. He still had some spare building materials stored in the garage of the family home that should be sufficient to extend the hut out into the courtyard. If his memory served him right, there was a small window frame in the garage too. The next puzzle was how to transport it all down here.

“Hello,” said a sleepy voice behind him.

“Hey! I never heard you come out,” he said, turning to face Trine. “I think I’ve figured out how to create more space for us. Going to take me a week or so but I think I can make this work.”

“What did you have in mind?” she asked, drawing her cloak about her to ward off the chill wind.

“I can extend the hut out into the courtyard at the west side,” he explained pointing round to the far side of the cabin. “I’d left space back there to build a woodshed and maybe a small workshop, but I can pile the logs up round here. I’ve some building stuff in the garage at my old house. I just need to work out how to get it down here.”

“Sounds like a lot of work just to give me somewhere to sleep.”

“Sounds like a fun project to me,” he said with a grin. “Keeps me busy.”

“Well, what I was going to teach you might actually help,” revealed Trine softly. “There were limits to what I could show you back at the castle, but things are different here.”

“What are you talking about, girl?”

“I’m going to teach you how to transport from one place to another,” she declared, smiling at him. “My father forbade that lesson at the castle but he’s not here now. Once you get the hang of it, we can both move whatever you need down here.”

“Cool,” he said, feeling slightly apprehensive at the thought. Being transported wrapped in another vampire’s wings always made him feel a little queasy and left him with a dull headache.

“Don’t look so nervous,” she laughed, “It’s easy once you know how.”

 

Patiently, Trine explained the theory behind transporting from place to place. She explained that the key to its success lay in the ability to focus on the vision of where you wanted to go. If concentration levels wavered, things could go off course, so a clear mental image was crucial.  Suggesting that they start off small and with short distances, Trine proposed that he attempt to transport then across the path behind the beach hut and into the field beyond.

“Ok, put your hands round my waist then draw your wings round me. You need to make sure your wings overlap slightly. No gaps. You don’t want to drop me,” coached Trine calmly. “Once you are happy with where your wings are, focus on where we are going and keep that image in your mind. Do not let that image move. Then say, “rape ad locum oculo meo”.”

“What does that mean?”

“Take me to the place in my mind’s eye,” she translated. “Ready to try?”

Reluctantly he nodded.

“Ok. Concentrate on the field,” said Trine.

He placed his trembling hands on her slender waist then drew his brown wings round her, trying to focus on the image of the field. Quietly he repeated the Latin phrase then felt the world go still and dark.

Seconds later he felt soft grass under his feet. For a brief moment, his concentration wavered, and they tumbled to the ground in the field across from the hut. A rather startled looking sheep was staring at him.

“Not bad,” laughed Trine as she got to her feet. “Concentration is the key.”

“Yeah I get it,” he said as he brushed some damp grass from his jeans.

“OK. Take us back,” instructed Trine. “Perhaps aim for the beach behind the house rather than the space outside, Gives you a little more wiggle room for the landing.”

Nodding, he focused on an image of the stony shoreline behind the beach hut, wrapped his wings around them, recited the phrase and waited for the darkness to descend, At the last second his mind wandered to the water’s edge.

“Agh!” squealed Trine shrilly as they landed knee deep in the river. “It’s cold!”

“Sorry. Kind of overshot that one,” laughed the runner.

“At least you didn’t drown us,” laughed Trine as she walked ashore, her wing tips dripping. “Try again. Back to the field.”

Darkness had fallen by the time the runner could successfully transport then back and forth from the field to the beach.

“Well done,” praised the Ice Maiden as they headed back indoors. “You learn fast.”

“Thanks. Sorry about the wet feet,” he apologised following her into the hut. “How does it work for moving objects?”

“You hold onto them tightly and follow the same process,” replied Trine, reaching into her cloak for the leather flask. Pouring some of the doe’s blood into the open bottle of wine, she said, “Tomorrow night we can fetch whatever you need from your home.”

“Sounds like a plan,” he agreed, accepting the glass of blood-infused wine from her. “Does that trick work for getting food and things?”

“It works for anything and everything,” she replied. “Why? What were you wanting?”

“Some fresh bread and maybe some cheese to go with this,” he said, raising his glass.

“As you wish,” said Trine, setting her glass down on the table. “You’ve earned it.”

 

The clouds parted to reveal the bright full Corn Moon. Its light swathed the fisherman’s hut in a soft welcoming glow as the dark angel landed softly in the small courtyard. There was smoke drifting out of the chimney and light in the windows. Silently, she stepped forward to look into the cabin. Her blood ran cold at the sight she saw. The runner, her runner, was sitting at the table enjoying wine and cheese with a stranger to her. That stranger had wings. That stranger was another vampire but who?

This was not a welcome sight. A sour taste in her mouth, the dark angel turned away from the window, spread her wings and soared up into the darkness.

 

“What was that?” asked Trine, turning towards the window. “I thought I heard something outside.”

“Let me check,” said the runner calmly. “Probably kids looking for somewhere to get hammered or laid.”

Crossing the room, he opened the door and stepped out into the darkness. The courtyard was empty. All around was silent apart from the gentle noise of waves hitting the beach. Then he spotted something. Bending down, he picked it up. It was a small black feather with a purple tip. He slipped it into his pocket.

“No one there,” said the runner as he closed and locked the door.

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

Silently Watching On A Mother’s Moon….one week later

dark-angel

Faced with no alternative, he took a seat at the table. His glass was already filled with Stefan’s favourite wine and the runner drank deeply to fortify himself for supper with his mother. Like himself, she hadn’t aged and still looked like the same mother he remembered, occasionally with fondness, from his childhood. It also struck him that he couldn’t see any sign of wings….

“Well, this is the last place I thought I’d be sharing a meal with my son,” she commented brusquely. “All those years trying to protect you, shelter you from this life and you are stupid enough to end up in this mess.”

“As loving and caring as ever, Mother,” he replied, staring her straight in the eye.

“You have no idea, child!”

“Well, how about you explain it to me?” he suggested, his tone acid filled.

“I was born to this life,” she revealed calmly. “When you were born, I went to great lengths to hide you from this existence. I sacrificed my wings for you among other things. There’s too much of your father in you. You’re too gentle in nature to survive successfully as a vampire. Too easily led.”

“Bit late for that lecture,” he commented. “About thirty years too late, Mother.”

“And don’t I know it,” she said with a sigh. “And I blame myself. Your father wanted a son. I’d have done anything for him then. I risked everything giving birth to you and when you arrived, you were perfect and human. All the pain I put myself through to ensure of that had worked. NO blood for over seven months. Can you imagine how much of a challenge that was?”

“I explained my absences to you as business trips,” she continued, her food growing cold on the plate in front of her. “I tried to be gone no more than a week or two at a time as you grew up. Once you were older and I’d divorced your father, life became easier. You could stay with him while I attended to things. Allowed me to earn back my place at court.”

“Do you expect me to thank you?”

“No!” she snapped. “I expect you to listen. Listen well and understand. You’re set to appear before the Court of Elders in the morning. Do not play games with them. No bargains. No deals. Just do as they ask, and you’ll be able to live out your days in that beach hut of yours if that’s what you desire.”

“But I’ve already made the deal, Mother.”

“Fool! You made your bargain void when you agreed to learn our ways from Stefan. He has played you. Played to your youth and your weaknesses and he’ll do it again tomorrow. No more games.”

“So, what would you have me do, Mother darling?” he spat, his blood rage simmering inside him.

“Just agree to kill the bitch for them then agree to return here when summoned.”

“And if I still want Stefan to keep his end of the bargain?”

“If you expect that to happen then you’re a bigger fool than I thought you were,” she hissed as she got to her feet. “For once in your life, listen to me and do as I ask, son!”

Without a further word, she swept out of the room.

 

Next morning, her words were echoing in his mind as he stood outside the Court of Elders beside Trine waiting to be summoned inside. With a smile, she took his hand and said, “Be sensible in your choice of words in there, Son of Perran.”

Rolling his dark brown eyes, he said with a smile, “You sound like my mother.”

Before either of them could continue the conversation, the large oak door swung open, inviting him to step inside.

As before, the room was lit by flaming sconces and candelabra and was dominated by the large intricately carved table. For the first time, he noticed the pattern on the floor – runes- and took note that the table was in a different position in the large circular room.

“Welcome, Son of Perran,” greeted Stefan warmly. “Step closer, please.”

Instead of four seats, there were now seven seats behind the table. As before, Stefan, Michael and Alessandro were seated but to either side of them were two more seats. Three of those were occupied by women, one of whom was his mother. The last seat was occupied by a child of no more than ten or twelve.

“We’ve called the full court together,” explained Stefan as if reading his mind. “Last time we only afforded you a partial hearing, so all agreements struck on that date are void now that you have voluntarily appeared before a full court. Do you understand me?”

“Perfectly,” replied the runner, realising his mother had been correct and that Stefan had been humouring him.

“We’ve invited you back to discuss our request that you kill the dark angel who broke our code when she created you. Over the years, she has repeatedly broken the golden rules of our code of conduct but so far, we have been unable to catch her. Will you do as we ask, Son of Perran?”

“I will,” replied the runner, hoping he sounded calmer than he felt.

“No conditions this time?” quizzed Stefan raising one eyebrow.

“Only that I be allowed to return home.”

“That we can agree to on one condition,” replied Stefan. “My daughter accompanies you to continue your education. Is that agreeable to you?”

The runner nodded.

“Then we have reached an accord, Son of Perran. You may leave.”

With a last glance across at his mother, the runner turned and left the room.

Silently Watching at the Bone Moon- Beyond the Door…..

dark-angel
As the large oak door swung open, his heart was pounding in his chest. Beyond it, he could see a dimly lit room dominated by a large alter-like table.
“Go on,” whispered Trine anxiously. “Don’t keep them waiting.”
Pulling himself up to his full height, he took a deep breath and stepped inside.

The room was circular, suggesting it formed part of a castle tower and was much larger than he’d anticipated. Behind the large table sat three male vampires. There was an empty seat to their right.
“Welcome, Son of Perran,” greeted the gentleman seated in the centre. “Come closer. We don’t bite.”
The vampire’s dark humour caused his companions to laugh.
“My name is Stefan. I am the head of the Court of Elders. To my left is Michael and to my right, Alessandro. We’re delighted you could join us at such short notice.”
All the runner could do was nod silently. His palms were clammy, and he could feel a trickle of sweat running down his back between his wings. Facing the three large male vampires was intimidating but, more worryingly, where was his mother? Trine had assured him that she was one of them.
“She’s not here,” said Alessandro, his accent revealing Italian roots. “We agreed it would be easier to talk if she weren’t here.”
Again, the runner nodded.
“My daughter has told us a little of your history,” continued Stefan. “The Court owes you an apology. Our errant sister should never have brought you into our ways. I am sincerely sorry she has damned you to this life without your full consent.”
“Apology accepted.”
“Most gracious of you. Thank you,” said Stefan with a slight bow of his blonde head. “Please tell us your story, Son of Perran. Start at the beginning. Start with your very first meeting with our wayward sister.”
Fighting to keep his voice steady, he told the Court of Elders about his first sight of the dark angel all those years ago on All Hallows Eve, about the bite and the broken fang on mid-summer’s night then the offer of a partial transformation. He could feel himself becoming emotional as he relayed the tale of how the partial transformation failed, about his Rabbia Sanguigna then the dark angel’s trip to Spain to acquire some of his mother’s blood. As he told how that too had failed, he grew angry and, by the time he was telling the Elders of his final meeting with the dark angel, he could feel his Rabbia Sanguigna rising.
Stefan raised a hand to pause him, poured something from a pewter jug on the table into a goblet and passed it across to him.
“Please, drink,” he instructed softly. “It’ll still that anger, son.
Without protest, the runner accepted the glass and drank deeply, tasting a strong, gamey blood mixed with alcohol.
“And then my daughter found you,” prompted Stefan calmly.
The runner nodded.
“And how do you feel about your vampire existence now, Son of Perran?” enquired Michael. It was the first time he had spoken, and the runner was mildly surprised to hear he was an American.
“I hate it,” he replied honestly. “Don’t get me wrong, the flying’s kind of cool but I don’t enjoy this life. It’s cost me everything I love.”
“That we can understand,” sympathised Stefan with a wistful smile. “You were tricked into it by that woman’s selfish obsession with you and her total disregard for our code of conduct and our rules.”
“She’s been a thorn in our sides for nigh on two centuries,” revealed Alessandro. “We tried to work with her, but she too was ill-conceived. Her creator was a fool. A drunken womanising fool. She’s always been head strong, self-centred and obsessive in her desires.”
“We welcomed her here,” interrupted Michael. “Tried to integrate her into the wider family but she wasn’t interested. She’s been a loose cannon for too long.”
“Trine said you want me to kill her for you,” he said, fixing his gaze on Stefan, brown eyes locked on blue. “Is this true?”
“Sometimes my daughter says too much,” sighed Stefan, a hint of exasperation to his tone. “She is, however, quite correct. We hope to enlist your help in ridding the world of this evil creature once and for all.”
“Why should I help you?” he challenged, suddenly finding a level of confidence he rarely felt.
“You can name your price, Son of Perran. Put simply, if we could kill her ourselves, we would but we can’t. You, however, have a distinct advantage over our centuries of experience. She’s bound to you. That gives you the upper hand here.”
“And I can name anything as my price?”
“Within reason, yes.”
Silence hung in the air between them as the runner considered his options. Pushing any last doubts to one side, he said simply, “I’ll do it on one condition.”
“And that is?”
“Once she’s dead, you kill me.”
The head of the Court of Elders looked to his two companions, who both gave a small nod of consent.
“Agreed,” said Stefan simply.

From the shadows behind the table there was a small barely audible gasp of “No!”

Silently Watching at the Bone Moon

dark-angel

Gazing out at the snow-covered hills across the river, he reflected on the barren winter he’d endured so far in his isolated beach hut. It had been almost two months since he had moved into his new home; it had been two months since he had seen the Ice Maiden.

“Sit. We need to talk,” she had said.

Doing as instructed, he had taken a seat on the bench beside her. For several minutes she had studied him intently then, much to his surprise, she had bowed her head and wept. Her emotional reaction caught him off guard and, tentatively, he had reached out to put a comforting arm around her cloaked shoulders. Even through the thick blue velvet of her cloak, he could tell there were wings folded beneath it.

“Son of Perran,” she had begun, once her sobs subsided. “We have failed you. We should have prevented this from going so far. We should have stopped her. I am truly sorry.”

Somewhat confused, he had asked, “Who is this “we”? Who are you and how do you know me? How did you even know I was here?”

“You must have so many questions,” she had acknowledged as she dried her eyes with the soft edge of her cloak. “So many questions.”

“I do,” he had replied bluntly. “And I’m hoping for some answers.”

“My name is Trine,” she had introduced. “For nigh on a century I’ve been tracking her, trying to stop her, but she’s clever and she’s strong. I almost caught her about a quarter of a century ago. She was returning from Europe. She was weak. I almost had her, but I was summoned back.”

“I’m confused.”

“Oh, there’s so much she hasn’t told you,” Trine had sighed as he felt her probing into his mind.

“Stop that! Get out of my head!”

“You sensed that?”

“Yes, I did, and I never gave you permission to go poking around in my memories,” he had retorted sharply. After taking a calming deep breath, he had suggested, “Now, how about you start at the beginning and answer some of my questions.”

Trine had nodded, “I have been sent by the Court of Elders. We are all, well they are almost all, pure blood vampires. I was tasked with tracking and capturing the dark angel who created you. Over the centuries, she has broken so many of the rules so many times. Like you, she should never have come into being. She’s been a rogue vampire for too many years. She’s out of control. Impulsive as she is, the Elders never suspected that she would be so selfish nor so foolish as to create another. The Court of Elders had no idea that you even existed. I stumbled across you by chance, Son of Perran, about five years ago. Just a fleeting glimpse but I recognised what I saw. I just didn’t know who I had seen.”

“Where? When?”

“You were running. You thought you were alone. It was late at night. You were running through the forest behind the village near here. It was the unnatural speed that caught my attention. No human could have run so swiftly nor so soundlessly nor so gracefully in the dark on a moonless night,” Trine had explained slowly. “I lost sight of you in the trees. I’ve been searching for you ever since. I spotted you earlier tonight as you passed the graveyard near the village church.”

He remembered the night Trine had just described vividly. It had been the night his wife had died. The pain of his grief had almost driven him insane and, needing to escape, he had waited until his children were asleep then gone for a run in the wee small hours. The trails had been pitch black but he had raced them sure-footedly at full pace, stopping when his emotions had overwhelmed him, dropping him to his knees in tears. He had knelt on the rough muddy path and wept until he thought his lungs would burst and his heart would break then he had collected himself and run home, arriving just as the sun rose over the horizon.

“Son of Perran,” Trine had begun, her voice soft and calming. “The Court of Elders want to meet with you. They need your help with an urgent matter.”

“Who are these Elders? Why should I help them?” His angered had been blooming and he remembered the fire of his Rabbia Sanguigna simmering.

Sensing it, Trine had said simply, “Rabbia Sanguigna.”

“That’s what she called it too. Gave me a potion to try to control it.”

“I had guessed as much. A potion that contained the blood of your mother.”

“How did you…….”

“Your mother is a member of the Court of Elders,” Trine had revealed, hoping that she hadn’t revealed too much too soon.

“My mother vanished years ago,” he had stated. “Are you telling me she’s still alive?”

“Yes. Very much alive.”

“Fuck!” he had roared into the darkness, hardly believing what he was hearing from the Ice Maiden.

“Son of Perran,” Trine had spoken in soothing tones. “You need time to adjust to this new phase of your life. I need to leave soon. I need to report back that I have found you, but I need you to make me a promise first.”

“Why should I?” he had spat angrily. “I am sick of this! I hate this life. I hate what she’s made me. Why should I promise you anything?”

“Fair question,” Trine had agreed. “I need you to promise to do something that only you can do. The Court of Elders will be eternally grateful.”

“What?”

“I need you to…the Court of Elders needs you to kill your dark angel.”

“Kill her? And just how am I meant to do that, pray tell?”

“I have no idea,” she had sighed wearily. “I’m sorry. I’ve asked too much of you.”

He had simply stared back at her.

The Ice Maiden had left a few minutes later promising to return in two full moons for his answer. When she had risen to leave, the runner had been surprised by her height. He had gasped aloud as she had spread her pale blue wings and disappeared into the night.

 

Now, it was the day of the second full moon since Trine’s visit. He had used the intervening weeks to think, to reflect on everything the dark angel had ever done or explained. The breathing space had given him time to become accustomed to his winged state and to learn to fly.

Much to his surprise and, despite his initial hatred of his wings, he swiftly fell in love with flying. It had taken him a few days to figure it out. There had been more than a few bumpy landings but, once he had mastered it, he had savoured the freedom it gave him. Seeing the world from above, enjoying a bird’s eye view, was breathtaking.

As the weeks had passed, he grew more comfortable in his own skin and had grown in confidence.

Over the winter, he had fallen into the habit of sleeping for most of the day, rising in time to watch the sun set over the hills. There were improvements he wanted to make to his new home but most of those needed to wait until Spring. Time had passed easily though. There were logs to gather for his stove. He had to hunt regularly but pickings were slim during the first few weeks of the year. He’d enjoyed many long late-night flights over the area, exploring the hills on the north side of the river. He’d passed some of his time reading. He’d spent countless hours sitting on the bench beside his hut, gazing out across the river lost in thought.

He had Trine’s answer ready for her.

 

The last rays of light were stretching across the sky when he felt a subtle shift in the air behind him. He was standing down on the beach in front of his house watching the waves.

“Son of Perran.”

Turning at the sound of her voice, he smiled, genuinely glad to see her, “Hey.”

Returning his smile, she walked daintily across the rocks and pebbles to stand beside him. It didn’t escape his attention that the Ice Maiden stood taller than him.

“So peaceful,” she commented, her voice barely more than a whisper. “So quiet. If I lived here, I’d never leave.”

“It’s nice,” he agreed, tossing a pebble into the water.

“We need to talk,” began Trine, sounding a little anxious.

Silently, he nodded and gestured towards the hut.

“Let’s go indoors,” he suggested. “There are usually dog walkers about at this time of day. I’m guessing this isn’t a conversation you want to risk being overheard.”

“No, it’s not.”

 

The hut was warm and cosy, two antique oil lamps illuminating the small space. Picking up two logs, the runner added them to the wood burning stove, watching the spray of sparks.

“I’ve been sent to fetch you,” said Trine simply

“Fetch me?”

Trine nodded, “The Court of Elders are demanding that I bring you back with me immediately.”

“And if I don’t want to go?”

“That’s simply not an option.”

“Didn’t think it would be,” he sighed.

“Have you considered your answer?”

“Yes, and I have an answer for you.”

“Don’t tell me,” interrupted Trine, her tone sharp. “Save that for the Elders.”

“Are you one of them?”

“Not exactly,” she revealed, her gaze landing on the framed family photograph that sat beside his bed. “My father sits on the council. I’ve not earned my place yet.”

“Ah, so I’m your way onto the council?” he surmised with a smile.

“Yes,” confessed the Ice Maiden. “That’s why I need your co-operation as much as the Court of Elders does.”

“If I agree to come and to help them, will they listen to a request from me?”

“Perhaps.”

Noticing that she was still staring at the photograph, he reached over, lifted the picture and handed it to her. “My wife and kids. That was taken on our last holiday together.”

“They look so happy.”

“Good times,” he said wistfully, replacing the frame on the shelf. “But your dark angel friend has cost me all of that.”

A cold silence hung in the air.

“I’ll come.”

“Thank you,” breather Trine, her relief obvious.

“How do we get there?”

“I’ll take you.”

“Where exactly are we going?”

“I can’t tell you that. It’s forbidden.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Sorry. The Court’s rules are strict. Very strict. Are you ready to leave?”

“How long will I be gone for?”

“As long as it takes.”

“Fine,” he muttered, knowing it was pointless to even attempt to continue the conversation.

As he felt her pale blue wings envelop him, he prayed that the Elders would agree to his terms.

 

The world around him went black.

 

When the world came back into focus, he was standing in an icy cold stone corridor. Flickering flaming sconces lit the passageway, their shadows dancing on the walls and vaulted ceiling. There was a large studded oak door at the end of the corridor. It was closed.

Suddenly, he was overcome by nerves but, taking several deep breaths, he followed Trine along the corridor without complaint.

She paused outside the door and turned to face him.

“Ready, Son of Perran?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

 

The door slowly swung open.

 

Sun’s Dying Light (150 word flash fiction)

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It had been their last day together. The magic was failing. Silently,,they had walked along the deserted beach, savouring the sun’s warmth as it began to set. They reached their tree at the end of the beach beside the picnic area. Wistfully, she traced her finger over the initials he had carved in its bark after their first kiss. With his back to the tree, he drew her into his arms. The golden light of the setting sun shone through her gossamer wings. He bent to kiss her. Slowly and passionately their lips met for one final moment. He held her hands and gazed into her violet eyes, wishing the moment could last forever. She started to speak but he stopped her. Silence said it all. Beside them, the sun had almost reached the horizon. At the first touch, the spell broke. He stood there alone. She was gone.

 

(credits to the owner of the image- photo is tagged)

Salt And Sand In Her Heart (a short story)

 

 

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Closing her eyes, she stood gazing out over the waves, breathing in the tangy salty air.
Standing at the top of the sandy path, she could see a shimmer of heat rippling over the sand and knew that the walk down to the water’s edge was going to burn her soft bare feet. A flash of colour to her left caught her eye. It was a dragonfly, a sparkling teal green dragonfly. Smiling, she watched as it rested on one of the fence posts momentarily before darting off on its travels.
As quickly as she could, she crossed the soft Sahara hot sand, breathing a sigh of relief when her toes touched the harder packed damp sand closer to the water’s edge. Pausing for a moment, she recalled her first visit to Rehoboth Beach and smiled.
It had been the blistering hot summer of 1980 amid an at the time record breaking heatwave. A clear memory of arriving at their rental house for the week was of a nearby sign declaring that it was 98F and six thirty at night. Hot……damn hot. When her uncle had opened the side door of his VW bus, the heat had hit them all like a blast from an oven.
Their rental had been a stunning wooden house on the outskirts of town somewhere between Rehoboth and Dewey Beach. Its exact location long since lost to the memories of days gone by. Nights in that house had been hot as hell – no AC and beds as hard as boards. There hadn’t been much sleep on that trip for anyone.
Days, however, had been idyllic and were the days that had started her life long love affair with Rehoboth Beach. At only ten years old, she had loved the freedom of the beach and the ocean. Hours and days passed by building sandcastles, digging holes in the sand, gathering seashells and playing in the waves. Her pale white Scottish skin had swiftly taken on a healthy golden glow. The family’s picnic lunches had been supplemented by Thrasher’s French fries, carried so carefully back from the boardwalk.
Afternoons slipped by as she explored the beach, taking care not to stray too far from the family’s beach towel and umbrella oasis. Even back then she had enjoyed people watching as she wove her way between the other families, noting the different scents of their sun tan lotion and the different sand toys their kids played with. She had looked on enviously at the older kids playing in the waves on their boogie boards. Inwardly, she was desperate to join them but she couldn’t swim. Instead she had to settle for an ice cream from Kohr’s before they headed home for dinner and a much-needed shower.
Evenings meant a return trip into town to stroll along the boardwalk. After the daily scramble among them to round up enough quarters to feed the parking meter, she would finally be allowed to explore the shops on Rehoboth Avenue and along the boardwalk. Her favourites had always been the T-shirt stores where they printed whatever you wanted onto a shirt. They were shops that were a magical Aladdin’s cave to her ten-year-old self. The coloured hermit crabs in cages had fascinated her. Her meagre allowance was spent on pens and a snow globe with a dolphin inside.
One store, a shop on Rehoboth Avenue, caught her eye every night. It was a small jewellery store. Her attention had been captured by a tray of silver rings. There was one in particular that she had her eye on. It was smaller than the rest and was a delicate heart shape- half onyx; half mother-of-pearl. Nightly, she had begged her mother to buy the ring, pleading and promising that if she could borrow the money to pay for it, she would pay every cent back when they got home. On their final night in town, after a farewell pizza dinner at Grotto’s, her mother caved in and took her back to the jewellery store. The window had been rearranged and she recalled panicking when she couldn’t initially spot the ring. However, her mother spied it on display on the opposite side of the window before suggesting they enter the shop to try it on. The ring was a perfect fit for her middle finger. The perfect memento of the town that had captured her child’s heart.
Time and circumstance meant that thirty-four years passed before she was able to return to Rehoboth Beach. Over the years she had written essay after essay in school based of a now seemingly mythical beach. She’d drawn numerous pictures of beaches with dolphins playing in the waves. She’d almost driven her mother insane asking when they would go back to America. As she’d grown from child to teenager to woman to a wife and mother, she’d still dreamed of returning to the beach someday.
When that day finally came in 2004, the weather was a far cry from the blistering heatwave she remembered. A thunderstorm had blown in and the rain was lashing down as they’d run from her cousin’s beat up truck into Hooters for lunch. He had declared it was most definitely not a day for the beach! Not one to be thwarted, she’d stated plainly that she’d waited twenty-four years to walk on that sandy beach and a little rain wasn’t going to stop her. She’d also reminded him of the Scottish blood that flowed in her veins and of the fact that a little rain never deterred a Scot. He’d surrendered, knowing it was pointless to argue with her.
In the end, accompanied by her own two small children, she hadn’t stayed long on the beach – just long enough to run on the sand and paddle in the ocean. As the storm closed in again, she’d been granted a few brief moments to walk the boardwalk and relive her treasured childhood memories. To escape the mid-afternoon deluge, they’d sought sanctuary in Funland and whiled away the storm watching her young son and daughter play. As ever though, the quarters ran out and the meter ticked down until her precious “Rehoboth” time ran out.
Over the next few years, she’d returned annually with her children, savouring the moments on the sand and in the ocean. Making memories with her children was beyond precious. Every memory was filed away, stored carefully in her “memory bank” to be drawn out on cold miserable Scottish winter’s days. Her heart had swelled as her own children developed the same bonds that she felt with this tiny town some three thousand miles from home.
Now though, as she stood on the cool wet sand watching the waves, things were different. Her children were grown up and living their own lives. She’d finally seen her own literary dreams come true. Writing all those stories of the beach had finally paid off. Reaching into her pocket, she wrapped her fingers round the bunch of keys that she’d just collected from the realtor and smiled. She brought them out and stood looking at them lying in the palm of her hand. The keys to her new beach front apartment; the keys to her new dream home.
With a smile, she gazed at the ring on her pinkie, its band worn thin with time. She still wore the small onyx and mother-of-pearl heart shaped ring from all those years before.
Finally, in her heart, she knew she was home.

Silently Watching One Week After The Buck Moon

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One week later the air was heavy and muggy, a thunderstorm gathering overhead. As he jogged up the hill towards the graveyard, it matched his own mood. The first drops of rain fell as he climbed the steps into the cemetery. As he approached the tree, a bright flash of lightning lit up the dark sky, revealing the dark angel herself who was standing in the shadows.

“Well met, Son of Perran,” she greeted him formally as she stepped forward.

“Hey,” he replied forcing a smile. “Looks like we’re about to get wet.”

“Not at all,” she said stepping forward. “We’re leaving.”

Before he could protest, she swept her wings around him. The world went black and everything felt still.

When the world cam back into focus, he wasn’t surprised to find himself in the dark angel’s mausoleum home.

“Is this the way I’m going to have to exist?” he asked as he sat up and looked round. “This place feels different. Smells different.”

“It’s the oils,” replied the angel calmly.

“Oils?”

“Lavender and geranium,” replied the angel lifting a large box from a previously unnoticed niche by the door. “Take your shirt off.”

“Pardon?”

“Remove your shirt,” she said slowly and deliberately.

Without argument, he removed his running top, tossing it onto the stone bench. As he stood in the middle of the tomb, stripped to the waist, he was acutely aware of the angel’s gaze on his lean toned body.

“Enjoying the view?” he teased as she walked behind him.

Her green eyes dark and intense, she stared at him, the gaze boring into his soul. She moved round to stand directly behind him. She studied his back for a few moments then ran her cool hand over his shoulder blades. Tiny sparks of electricity pulsed through him as her cold fingers caressed his warm skin. He felt her pause and run her thumbs over the tips of his shoulder blades.

 

Taking a step back, the angel studied his smooth skin, tanned from the summer sun. At first, she couldn’t be sure and she thought for a moment that his luck had held then she noticed a slight circular discolouration. There were two patches of skin about two centimetres across that were a darker shade than the rest of the runner’s bronzed back.

“The buds are there,” she said quietly as moved round to face him.

“Buds?” He looked at her with a face filled with confusion.

“Your wing buds are forming.”

“Ah!”

“I have worked out a way to slow their development but you’re going to have to work out a way to administer the treatment on your own,” she explained, her tone serious. “How are you with pain?”

“I’m tough. I can take it,” he replied, sounding calmer than he felt.

“Each of the phials in that box contains an oil that you are going to have to use once a month. I can only stall the development for so long. This treatment had to be prepared in a single batch. I cannot make any more. There are three hundred phials in the box for you. Do not break any. Do not drop any. These are the only ones in existence.”

Glancing into the cardboard box, he saw that it was filled with slender phials containing a dark liquid.

“I’ll administer the first dose,” the dark angel explained pointing to a larger phial that lay on a black velvet cloth on the bench alongside her ornate knife. “I need to ensure that I treat the centre of the buds. I’ll make the first cuts. You will then use the same holes each month.”

“Holes?”

The angel nodded, the white streak of her hair almost shimmering in the candlelight.

“Wait a minute,” he stalled sounding anxious. “What’s the plan here?”

“The phials contain an infusion of horse chestnut bark, lavender oil, geranium oil and thyme plus a few other items. The oil needs to be poured into the centre of each bud once a month and the wounds covered with the moss that’s at the bottom of the box. The moss has been treated with the infusion. You’ll only use a couple of strands at a time.”

“And how a I going to explain two holes covered in moss on my back to my wife?” he demanded sharply.

“You like to decorate your body. You’ll get another tattoo across your upper back. The holes will be lost in the design,” explained the angel calmly.

“Oh, will I?” he retorted. “And I assume you’ve picked the design for me too?”

“I’ve designed it for you,” she replied calmly. “The design is part of the enchantment. It needs to be identical to the drawing inside the box.”

Before he could protest further, the angel reached into the box and pulled out a single sheet of paper with a Celtic design expertly drawn on it. Looking at the detail in it, he wasn’t averse to having it inked across his back. There were two points in the design where there was an obvious cross over and he deduced that those would mark the spots that matched the holes.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll get it done. I’ll get someone at work to recommend a place. That won’t be cheap to get that inked.”

“There’s money in the box to cover the cost.”

“Thought of everything, haven’t you?”

Lifting the knife, the angel said, “I hope so.”

With the knife poised over his smooth skin, the angel asked, “Are you ready?”

“Go for it.”

“This is going to hurt.”

“Just do it.”

As the sharp tip of the blade bit into his skin, he flinched but never utters a sound. When she pierced the second hole, he was ready for it.

“This will burn,” she said as she picked up the large phial. “Really burn.”

“How am I meant to get tattooed if the skin is burnt?” he asked.

“The skin won’t be burnt. This will burn inside you. It will feel like fire.”

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists as the angel poured the liquid into the two open wounds on his back. Pain ricocheted through him as the liquid worked its way around the nubs of his wings.

“Christ!” he yelled as the heat intensified.

“Almost finished,” promised the angel rubbing some strands of the pale green moss into the wounds. Instantly the pain stopped spreading and began to ease. “Done.”

“Whew!” he said rolling his shoulders stiffly.

“Well done. You handled that well,” she praised with a smile. “Guard that box with your life. One phial is enough for both buds. One phial once a month. When the phials run out then we have to last nature take its course.”

Pulling his running vest back on, he nodded.

“These should last you about twenty-five years if you don’t smash any.”

“I’ll be an old man by then,” he joked lifting the box.

“No, you won’t, Son of Perran,” she countered. “You’ll look exactly the same as you do just now. You’ve not aged one day since your transformation. Time will be kind to you.”

“Ok so how do I pour that stuff in on my own?”

“You’ll find a way. Pierce the holes open first then pour in the infusion.”

“Not quite the DIY I had planned but I’ll figure something out,” he muttered. “And I’ll get that ink done.”

“Get it done this weekend. It should then be healed before the next full moon if you can.”

“Fine,” he agreed bluntly. “Any more orders?”

The angel smiled and shook her head. “You can find your own way home from here.”

She pushed open the door of the mausoleum to reveal the dark stormy night outside. “Follow the path to the right.”

“Till next time,” he said as he headed for the door.

“Soon, Son of Perran. Soon.”

 

Over the years the box had sat on the second top shelf at the back of the garage. Its contents steadily dwindling as the months and years passed. In the box, wrapped in an old t-shirt, was apiece of wood with two nails driven straight through it, their tips sticking out proudly. Those tips had been filed until they were needle sharp and had been sterilised until they now shone silvery in the light of the garage.

Carefully he hung the piece of wood on the nail on the garage wall, making sure it was level. He unbuttoned his short and laid it on the bonnet of his car then lifted the last glass phial out of the box.

With well-practiced ease, he stepped back and leaned his full weight against the piece of wood, feeling the nails piercing their target for the final time.

 

(Image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

 

 

 

Silently Watching At The Buck Moon

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Blind fury surged through his veins as he pounded out some long, angry miles along the trails behind his village home. He could feel the blood burning through his lean body. By running hard and fast, he was trying to distract himself from the cries of the Rabbia Sanguigna. His changeling soul was screaming for blood.

It had been an infuriating day from the moment he’d opened his eyes. Breakfast has been beyond chaotic as the kids had been fractious, each squabbling with their siblings over nothing. The family cat depositing a live bird in the middle of the kitchen hadn’t helped matters. He’d left with his daughter’s shrieks of hysteria echoing through his mind.

A white pebble had sat on the wiper blade of the car when he’d left to go to work. He was being summoned. His intention was to end his evening run with a visit to the graveyard.

A long hot day in the office hadn’t helped. There were new members in his team and his boss had buddied him up with one of them. The guy was a “know-it-all” who knew nothing and talked crap all day. Despite his best efforts to calmly walk him through the correct processes, his colleague knew a better way to do everything. After lunch, he’d adopted his “fuck it” approach and left the guy to it. He’d emailed his boss to express his concerns over the less experienced team member’s attitude to following documented processes and his understanding of the importance of complying to regulation then left for the day.

Over the months, he’d noticed that it proved more challenging to control the urges associated with the Rabbia Sanguigna around the time of the full moon. For four or five days his already heightened senses were on edge and the least little thing sparked the urge for blood. The dark angel had tried to teach him how to control the desires and how to prepare for them to lessen the effects but, four months down the line, the blood from his mother had long since worn off and none of the techniques were working.

Up ahead, at the side of the road, he spotted a cyclist standing beside his bike studying the front wheel. His sensitised nasal passages caught a whiff of blood in the air.

“Hey, everything alright?” he asked as he approached. It looked as though the cyclist had crashed. Blood was trickling from cuts on his arm and thigh and he was holding his arm protectively over his ribs.

“Car clipped me,” explained the cyclist through gritted teeth. “Think I’ve broken my collar bone and some ribs. Bike’s wrecked. Wheel’s twisted.”

Glancing round, the runner noted there was no one in sight. His blossoming vampire urges seized control. In a split second, before either of them had had time to think, he stepped towards the injured cyclist, reached out as if to help him then sunk his teeth into the ripe throbbing vein in his neck.

The clean vibrant human blood flowed into his veins tasting divine. He drank deeply.

It hadn’t been his intention to drain him dry but, before he realised what he was doing, the cyclist crumpled at his feet. His eyes were open and glazed.

He’d killed him.

He’d made his first human kill.

His satiated blood ran cold. What had he done?

 

 

A crimson sunset was lighting up the sky as he ran up the steps into the quiet cemetery. His earlier blind fury had been replaced by blind panic and he prayed the angel was waiting by the tree.

“Care to explain yourself, Son of Perran!” she hissed in his ear as he walked towards their usual meeting point.

“Jesus!” he yelped. He hadn’t heard or felt her approach.

“Careless! Messy! Sloppy!” she berated him angrily. “Have you learned nothing from me? What were you thinking about? You never even attempted to cover your tracks!”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled staring down at his feet.

“Too late for sorry!”

“I lost control. My blood’s been burning all day. I hunted last night but I was so thirsty. He was bleeding…” he faltered. “I didn’t mean to kill him. I meant to stop like you explained. Leave him alive.”

“But you didn’t!” raged the angel, her green eyes blazing with fury. “Fortunately for you I was nearby and smelled the blood. I’ve covered your track this time. Heed me well, Son of Perran, this is the only time!”

“I’m sorry,” he repeated quietly, feeling like a child being chastised by its mother.

“You will be,” she muttered, her voice a little calmer. “Think! Was the moon visible while you drank from him?”

“No idea.”

“Oh,” sighed the angel, her voice ringing with exasperation. “What have you started?”

“How’d you mean?”

“There is no going back for you now.”

“No going back where?”

“You may have just made your first human kill under the rising of the full moon. The Buck Moon at that, you fool!”

His dark brown eyes suddenly filled with fear, the runner stared at her.

“Sit,” instructed the angel, indicating their usual bench beside the tree.

Without complaint, he sat down and watched as she took a seat beside him, angling herself in such as a way as to prevent there being any damage to her majestic wings.

“The full moon always acts as a catalyst. It strengthens the effect of things. It speeds up the changes. It enhances the desires. It heightens the senses,” she began calmly. “Some full moons have different effects. That’s why I wanted to speak to you. To warn you about the dangers of tonight’s full moon. I knew you’d hunted last night. I thought there was time….”

“Time for what? What dangers?” he interrupted.

“The Buck Moon is powerful, Son of Perran. Have you drunk your mugwort today?”

A realisation dawned on the runner. He hadn’t taken his mugwort tea for three days.

“No,” he confessed. “And I might have missed a day or two.”

“Missed a day or two?” echoed the angel sharply. “Golden rule, Son of Perran. That was one of your golden rules!”

“Sorry.”

“Stop apologising,” she snapped. “It’s too late for apologies. If there’s been damage done, it’s too late to stop it.”

“Stop what?” His tone was sharper and more demanding than he’d intended.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, the angel said, “By making your first human kill under the light of a full moon, you have increased your body’s need and desire for human blood. Animal blood may no longer satiate your thirsts. You, Son of Perran, have made yourself a killer.”

With his head in his hands, the runner sat trembling. What had he done?

“That’s only part of it,” continued the angel. “The Buck Moon is so named as it’s the moon that marks the time when young male deer start to develop their antlers. For our kind, it’s the moon when wings are most likely to bud. I had been going to warn you to double up on the mugwort for the next few days but it’s too late for that now.”

“Fuck,” he muttered.

All of his worst nightmares were gathering in front of him and becoming a cold harsh reality.

“Now what do I do?” he asked when he was finally able to speak.

“For a start, double up on the mugwort for a week. If your wings are going to bud, you’ll feel it by the end of the week.”

“I can’t grow fucking wings!” he growled. “How will I explain them?”

“There may be a way to slow their growth,” she said slowly, “If they bud.”

“Great! More hocus pocus!”

“Quiet,” she cautioned sternly. “How you feed is now a more pressing issue.”

“Why?”

“Have you listened to a thing I’ve said?”

Gazing at him with almost motherly concern, the angel wanted to reach out to reassure her fledgling at the same time as she wanted to scream and yell at him for his stupidity. Her own anger was rising and she knew if she didn’t hunt soon, she’d lose her temper with him.

“Son of Perran, I’ll be blunt. Your impetuous meal tonight has ensured that you’ll need human blood at least once a week to survive. You might want to work out a plan on how you are going to find the source of your sustenance!”

“Once a week? I’ll need to kill once a week?”

“Not necessarily kill if you can master the art of restraint,” she said.

“I’ve really fucked this up, haven’t I?”

“Succinctly put,” she said getting to her feet. “Go home. Drink your mugwort then drink some more. Keep your temper in check. Meet me here one week from tonight.”

Before he could reply, she’d spread her majestic wings and vanished from sight.

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

A Little Christmas Eve Tale…

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Happy Christmas Eve, folks. Amidst the chaos of shopping and wrapping and cooking I hope you find time to enjoy this festive tale.

When I was seeking inspiration for this week’s blog I decided to use a writing prompt and to come up with a festive short story instead of a blog moaning about the mania that surrounds Christmas shopping. The prompt words I chose were  “a party dress and an ugly sweater.”

And here’s the result….    happy reading and a very Merry Christmas when it comes.

love and hugs to you all

Coral

 

A Party Dress, An Ugly Sweater And A Christmas Surprise

“How did I let myself get talked into this?” she asked her reflection in the mirror.

She hated Christmas parties, hated corporate Christmas parties even more. She hated getting all dressed up. She hated feeling as if she was on display. And boy when she walked into that function suite would she be on display!

Amid flurries of snow, she had arrived deliberately early, checked into her room under an alias and then spent all afternoon sitting gazing out of the huge picture window at the view of the beach and the ocean. How she longed to walk along the sand but she daren’t risk bumping into anyone who would recognise her. She had procrastinated all afternoon until at five o’clock she surrendered that she had to start getting ready.

Now, two hours later, she was sitting at the dressing table gazing into the mirror.

Her midnight blue dress was a perfect fit, it’s empress line flattering to her figure. A narrow diamante outline accentuated her full breasts, the deep V of the neckline revealing just enough cleavage. Her long sun-bleached hair had been coaxed into soft ringlet curls. Her make up natural, the eyeshadow emphasising the blue of her eyes.

Behind her on the bed lay her silver evening purse and her phone. A green flashing light indicated she had a least one message. Her heart told her it was from him.

Lifting the hem of her dress, she slipped her feet into her silver ballet pumps. Common sense had overruled her love of spike heels and she had reluctantly packed her flats in her suitcase that morning.

Taking a deep breath, she gazed one last time into the mirror.

“It’s now or never,” she said to her reflection.

As she crossed the room to lift her phone, her gaze fell on the chair by the window and the ugly sweater she had been curled up in all afternoon. His ugly sweater.

She’d had it since Easter. She’d had it since the last time she’d seen him before he left to go on tour. She’d had it since they had spent a blissful week together in this very hotel, spending most of it in bed together hiding from the paparazzi. Every time they had left the hotel to enjoy a walk along the beach, they had been followed. Every time they had gone out to dinner, they had been followed. After three days they had given up and stayed in their hotel room, a penthouse suite, and lived off sex and room service.

On their last morning together, he’d wakened her before five, instructed her to wear his big ugly sweater then, with baseball caps pulled down low to hide their faces, they had crept out of the hotel to walk along the beach to watch the sunrise. They had sat snuggled together on the sand watching the first light of dawn and marvelled together at the splendour of the colours of sunrise. They had kissed. They had promised to keep in touch daily. They had promised to meet up at the record label’s Christmas party.

He had left a few hours later to tour Europe, Asia and Australia for eight months. She had re-joined her band, finished their US tour then headed into the studio to record their fourth album. Closeted away in a remote mountain studio she had kept out of the public eye. It had kept her out of sight of the paparazzi who hounded her.

She had kept her promises to him. They had messaged daily. They had spoken most days as their schedules and time differences allowed. There had been a few brief Skype calls too. Every call ended the same way.

“Counting the days till December 23rd.”

Now, here she was back in the hotel keeping her final promise.

With her hand trembling, she picked up her phone. The message was from him. In fact, there were six of them. The last one read “It’s December 23rd. Where are you? I thought we had a date, angel?”

Guilt washed through her for ignoring her phone all afternoon.

“On my way down. See you in a few minutes. X” she typed quickly before nerves got the better of her.

She slipped her phone and the key card into her purse then glanced round the room. Her eyes lingered on the ugly sweater and she smiled anxiously, wishing she was still wrapped in its warmth.

Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she smoothed out the soft fabric of her dress and left the room.

 

The hotel’s main function suite was crowded, a veritable sea of tuxedos and ball gowns of every shade. Wearing his own newly purchased tux, he stood at the bar keeping an eye on the doorway, hungry for his first sight of her.

With a smile he remembered the last time he had visited the hotel, recalling the days secreted away in his suite. His loins twitched at the memory. The key card to the same suite was in his pocket and, ever the optimist, he hoped they could pick up where they’d left off. In his other pocket his fingers played anxiously with a small token that he had bought for her. In his mind, he had the entire weekend mapped out, including Christmas morning.

Suddenly he saw her.

For a few seconds she paused in the doorway, her sapphire blue eyes scanning the room. She looked stunning. Unlike the other celebrities that filled the room, her beauty looked natural. He caught a glimpse of her bare tanned shoulders, nothing fake about her skin tone.

Setting his drink down, he made his way through the guests to greet her.

 

A wave of anxiety swept through her as she entered the crowded room. Already around her she could hear the whispers and feel all eyes on her.

Where was he?

She turned her back on the room, ready to retreat to the hotel foyer when she heard his voice.

“Anna.”

Taking a deep breath, she turned round and found herself face to face with him.

“Anna!” he exclaimed.

“Ben,” she whispered, forcing a nervous smile.

“You’re….” he began lost for words and struggling not to state the obvious. “Pregnant.”

“Just a bit,” replied Anna with a nervous giggle.

“Pregnant?” he repeated loudly no longer able to hide his shocked expression.

Around them their fellow guests were staring. A small space had opened up around them.

“Eight and a half months pregnant to be exact,” said Anna struggling to remain calm. “I didn’t know how to….”

“No!” he yelled sharply. “No. No. No.”

“Ben?”

“This wasn’t meant to happen, Anna.”

The words were out before his brain had thought them through.

Her blue eyes filled with tears. Without another word, she fled from the room.

 

The crowd closed in around him and before Ben could push his way through Anna had vanished. Pacing the foyer, searching for her, he cursed himself for being so stupid, so insensitive. She was nowhere to be seen. Knowing that she wouldn’t have returned to the party, he figured she’d have gone to her room but which one was she in? Hoping that his celebrity charm would work, Ben approached the reception desk to check which room Anna was in. His enquiry was met with a strict “guest confidentiality” reply. Resorting to the “don’t you know who I am?” card, Ben tried to coerce the information from the receptionist.

“Mr Storm, I know who you are but I still can’t tell you which room a guest is staying in. I suggest you call your friend and have her meet you.”

Angrily he turned away from the desk before he vented his frustrations on the girl.

A flash of colour caught his eye over by the entrance. He’d know that pattern anywhere! It was the sweater Anna had pinched from him. By the time he reached the front steps of the hotel, she’d vanished from sight into the cold dark December night. He had to find her! Slowly he walked down the white polished steps of the plush ocean front hotel, trying to decide which way she would have gone. Beach? It was the obvious answer but would she venture down there in the dark? Would she risk going down there alone and pregnant at night? In his heart he knew she would.

 

Tears were blinding her as she stumbled along the beach in the dark. Cold sand had filled her silver pumps within seconds of fleeing from the hotel. She had known Ben would be surprised but she had never imagined the horrified look on his face that she had seen when he saw her bump. She knew she should’ve come clean and told him about the baby months ago but she hadn’t been able to find the right words at the right time. Their relationship had barely been four months old when she’d fallen pregnant; their schedules for the year had already been packed with work commitments leaving little room to spend time together.

A sharp pain in her side caused her to stop. Breathing heavily after practically running from the hotel, Anna carefully lowered herself down onto the soft sand. She’d been lucky to enjoy an easy healthy pregnancy so far but with less than two weeks to go to her due date her baby bump was huge and low and heavy. At her last pre-natal appointment earlier in the week she had been warned that the baby could come at any time. Sitting cross legged, facing the ocean, Anna focussed on her breathing in an effort to calm herself down. Stress and anxiety weren’t good for her or the baby. She could feel it shifting restlessly and a few strong kicks thumped into her already tender ribcage.

Rubbing her swollen belly, Anna whispered, “Sorry, little bean. Daddy wasn’t exactly thrilled to see us.”

Fresh tears flowed down her cheeks as she listened to the waves crashing in onto the beach in dark.

 

There she was! He breathed a sigh of relief, marvelling at how far along the beach she had come in such a short space of time. In the pale moonlight, she was a picture of fragile beauty. Even from this distance he could tell she was crying. He knew he was the cause of those tears and he felt consumed by guilt. Stress couldn’t be good for her or the baby and he hated that he’d caused it. She looked cute wearing his ugly sweater over her chiffon dress. With a smile forming on his lips, he gazed at her large baby bump. It looked like a leftover Halloween pumpkin resting in her lap from this angle. Then it hit him…. that bump was his baby, his son or daughter. In a few days he’d be a daddy. Subconsciously, he found himself hoping it was a little girl.

He was going to be a daddy…. if Anna would let him.

 

“Anna?”

She hadn’t heard him approach and looked up like a startled rabbit.

“I’m sorry. I acted like a total jerk back there,” he apologised softly. “Can we talk?”

Silently, she nodded.

Gracefully, he sat down on the sand beside her then reached out to touch her hand that was resting on top of her firm belly.

“You ok?”

“Not really,” she replied, her voice barely more than a whisper. “I should’ve told you but I didn’t know how. Everything was so good between us. I didn’t want to ruin that. The longer I left it, the harder it got.”

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“I don’t know. I never asked.”

“Guess we’ll find out soon,” he said putting his arm around her shoulders. “I am so sorry about earlier. I had this whole holiday worked out in my head. Had it all planned. That plan’s been what’s been keeping me going these last few weeks. The tour’s been tough. Seeing you. Seeing you pregnant… well, I guess I panicked. Over reacted.”

“Are you still mad at me?” asked Anna gazing up at him with tear filled blue eyes.

“No, angel, I’m not mad at you. I’m pissed at myself for not realising, for upsetting you, for embarrassing you back there.”

With a giggle, she said, “I’m guessing our social media feeds have lit up like a Christmas tree.”

“Probably,” agreed Ben. “But I don’t care. Let them talk. I just want you to be ok. Want us to be ok.”

“You sure you still want to be seen with me like this?” she asked, her hint of sarcasm not lost on him.

“Forever.”

“I don’t want to be pregnant forever,” she said, smiling at him. “I’m about done with carrying this little bean around.”

“How does it feel? I mean, isn’t it strange to have a little human in there?”

Taking his hand, she pressed it to her belly then moved it a little lower. His eyes widened as he felt the baby, their baby, kick for the first time.

“Wow!”

“Quite something isn’t it?”

He nodded as the baby kicked out again.

Together, they sat in silence, listening to the waves.

 

Beside him, Anna began to shiver. A quick glance at his watch told him they’d been sitting there for hours. It was after eleven.

“Let’s head back,” suggested Ben. “You’re cold.”

Reluctantly, she nodded then allowed him to help her to her feet. As she shook the sand from her dress, he smiled at how beautiful she looked. Everything about Anna was always perfect and it didn’t surprise him that she had grown a perfect, if larger than average, rounded baby bump.  In the moonlight she looked like a goddess.

With his arm protectively around her waist, they walked slowly back towards the hotel.

As they had both feared, the paparazzi were still swarming about the front of the hotel. Hand in hand, the celebrity couple stared straight ahead and walked purposefully through the sea of flashbulbs, ignoring the cries of “Anna!”, “Reuben!”, “When’s the baby due?”, “Anna, is it Reuben’s?”

By the time they crossed the foyer and reached the elevator, there were fresh tears in Anna’s eyes and she was trembling.

“You ok, angel?” asked Ben as the doors of the elevator closed. “You’re safe now.”

“I just hate getting caught like that by those guys. I can just see the headlines now,” she said forcing a smile. “Comes with the territory though I guess.”

Anxiously Ben watched as she placed her hand under her bump as if she were holding it up.

“You sure you’re ok?”

“I’m fine. Baby’s fine,” she assured him. “You might be surprised to hear that this bump is quite heavy to carry around. I’m tired. It’s been a long day.” She paused then said, “We’ve passed my floor.”

“Have we?” said Ben trying to act innocently. “Guess we’ll just need to go to my room then.”

“Ben, I’m exhausted,” protested Anna softly.

“Spare me an hour, angel. Half an hour even. Please?”

“Half an hour then I’m going to bed.”

“Deal.”

As if on cue, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Slowly Ben led her along the short corridor to the door of his suite. He slipped his hand into his pocket to check if his gift for her was still there. It was. Chivalrously, he opened the door then stood aside to allow Anna to enter first.

She gasped when she saw the room. It was beautifully decorated in silver and red. A huge Christmas tree stood by the window, several small beautifully wrapped packages stacked underneath it. Beside the couch sat a champagne bucket and two crystal champagne flutes.

“Did you have this all planned?” quizzed Anna as he guided her over to the sumptuous cream leather couch.

“I had something planned,” confessed Ben sitting down beside her. Resting his hand on her belly he added, “I think you win for surprises though.”

“You sure you’re ok about…” her question was lost as Ben’s lips me hers.

He kissed her slowly and passionately, trying to ignore the hardening bulge in his pants. Sex would have to wait he suspected. She tasted so good though. Seeing her in the glittering fairy lights of the room made her even more desirable. All he wanted to do was make love to her on that leather couch.

Digging deep for some restraint, Ben said, “Champagne?”

“I shouldn’t,” replied Ann, rubbing the side of her bump. “Oh, what the hell! Half a glass can’t hurt, right?”

“I’d say it was medicinal in the circumstances.”

Glancing at the time, Ben noted he was right on cue with his original plan. Expertly he opened the chilled bottle of Moet and part filled both glasses.

Right on the stroke of midnight, he handed her the flute.

“Happy Christmas Eve, beautiful,” he toasted, raising his glass to hers.

“Happy Christmas Eve,” she echoed, aware of a sudden sharp tight feeling across her stomach.

Taking a sip from the glass, Anna noticed something at the bottom of it. Squinting through the bubbles she saw it was a diamond ring.

“Ben?”

Moving to kneel in front of her, Ben cleared his throat, took her hand in his and said softly, “Will you marry me, Anna?”

Tears filling her eyes, Anna said “Yes,” as she felt a weird popping sensation then a wetness spreading between her thighs. Just as a contraction began to build, she added, “But I think we’re about to have a baby first. My waters just broke.”

“What?”

“Ben, we’re having a Christmas baby.”

Laughing, Ben raised his glass, “Who needs wise men with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We’ve got gold, champagne and sand.”

“And your ugly sweater,” giggled Anna.

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