The Woods: Chapter 5

Keffer caught her arm and yanked her off the bed, pushing her against the wall.  “Enough, Ileana.  You’re killing him.”

She started to protest, and his hand touched her breast.  A wave of sensation flooded through her, driving all else from her mind.  Ileana staggered when it stopped, catching and holding Keffer for support.  It took her several tries to catch her breath.  “My father was not a traitor.”

“I am well aware of who and what your father was, Ileana.”  Keffer pulled her into a hug, holding her tightly.

“He was lying.”  She clung to him.

“He told the truth as he saw it, precious heart.”

“Kef—”

“Is it his fault he was deceived?”  Keffer looked down at her.

“That doesn’t excuse that he lied to me then.”  She glared.

“No.”  Keffer nodded.  “It does not.  You were his wife, and should have been his first loyalty.  He broke the laws of sacred hospitality.  You are not wrong to be angry.”  He tilted her head up.  “But some of your anger is misdirected.  Tell me, precious heart, is it the knife or the one who wields it that holds responsibility for the cut?”

“Why would they…”  She shook her head, and let Keffer guide her to a chair.  “Why would anyone seek to hurt my father?”

“Greed for his lands.”  Keffer shrugged.  “And sheer ignorance.  How few among the mortal realm would believe such as I still exist?  Your family has performed its sacred duty well these past centuries.”

“And now it’s his family holding the castle.”  Ileana sighed.  “Nicolas.”

“The man who tried to save your sister.”  Keffer raised an eyebrow.

“I…”  She sighed.  “I need to think.”

“Take your time, precious heart.”  Keffer rose, then bent and picked up Thomas, slinging the unconscious man over his shoulder.

“Where are you…”  Ileana frowned.

“Forgive me, dear one, but I do not think it is in his best interest to be within your line of sight.”  Keffer shrugged.  “I will return him to you when your rage no longer controls you.”

Ileana sighed, then nodded.  She took a deep breath, and then rose and began to pace.

(more…)

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Mental Illness in Stories

Look, I know it’s apparently ‘trendy’ or something right now to have your angsty character have a mental illness of some kind.  But please, please, please, if for no reason other than so you don’t look stupid, if your character is going to have a mental illness make sure you actually learn what the hell it is first.

Your character with Tourette Syndrome?  Yeah, there is a lot more to that than random cussing.  In order to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, you have to also have at least two motor tics.  In fact, Coprolalia?  The cussing thing?  Yeah, only about 10% of the people with Tourette Syndrome have that.  It’s not limited to Tourette Syndrome.  Also, it’s Tourette Syndrome, not tourettes.  And if you, anywhere in your writing, call it turrets syndrome, your readers get one free punch at your face.  Each.

If your character has epilepsy?  Then they probably do not drive, especially when they are in any part of the world with actual driving regulations.  Why?  Because it’s a goddamn seizure disorder, that’s why.  They are not legally allowed to drive unless they’ve been seizure free for a variable number of years.  Not months.  Years.

Also, if your character has a severe neurological disorder for which they are on medication (such as schizophrenia) and they go off their meds for any reason?  Yeah, it’s not going to be just a bit of a hangover.  It’s going to be ‘let’s take a trip to our good friend Mr. Emergency Room’.  It could KILL them.

It would also help if you learned the difference between ‘feeling depressed’ and ‘having clinical depression’.  Hint – Only one of those can be helped by going for a walk in the park or ‘just trying to cheer up and put a brave face on it’, and it’s NOT the latter.

If you are in the US, your character cannot be involuntarily medicated without a court order, and getting such a court order is NOT an easy thing.  If someone gives medication without the consent of the patient or their legal guardian, they can go to jail.  A doctor is not going to walk up and sedate someone in the ER for shouting.  They are going to call security and security is going to walk up and taze them in the ER for shouting.

And if you are in the US, a psychologist, a therapist, a counselor, and a psychiatrist are NOT the same thing.  Learn the difference.  Only one of those is also a medical doctor able to legally prescribe you medication.

Gabriel : Chapter 4

“You alright?”  Gabriel put a hand on Micheals’ shoulder.

“So…”  Michaels nodded.  “Werewolves are real.”  He shrugged.  “That one I sort of expected after the whole…”  He gave a small shiver.  “Whatever that other one was though…”

“Michaels?”  Gabriel crouched next to him.

“She was in my damn head, Gabe.  I couldn’t fucking move.  If Erilon hadn’t…”  He exhaled.  “Holy shit, I never thought I’d be grateful I let a demon ride shotgun sometimes.”  He shrugged.  “Thanks Erilon.”

Nobody fucks with my pets.

“What was she?”  Gabriel raised an eyebrow, glancing around to make sure no one could hear them.  The corpse had already been loaded.  As far as their boss knew, all that had happened was Michaels had rounded the corner just in time to see the woman get hit.  He’d given Gabriel permission to take Michaels home and deal with the paperwork later.

A witch.  Not just a little spark like Laura is now, but full on.  Real deal.  And that’s not something we need to go playing around with, pet.

“And the other one?”

Michaels is right.  Werewolf.  One of the little ones, on par with a thrall, or maybe a younger vamp at most.

“Those things get…”  Michaels blinked.  “That was a little one?”

Think about investing in some silver.  I can probably walk Laura through the process of making them effective against the big ones.

“Shooting them works?”  Michaels raised an eyebrow.

Done properly, yes.  Actually, it works on witches, too.

“Alright then.”  Michaels grinned.  “Finally.  The pawnshop sells silver, and I’ve got a casting kit already.  Handgun work, or should we go for rifle?  Or shotgun, cause pellets would be easy.”

“You sound a bit more enthusiastic about this than I would have thought.”  Gabriel stood, and pulled Michaels to his feet.

“I can’t leap buildings or throw cars at people…”  Michaels shrugged.  “But I was a Marine.  Shooting the fuck out of something I can do.”

“Sidekick Man to the rescue.”  He chuckled as he headed toward their car.

“Damn straight.”  Michaels fell into step with him.

(more…)

Wren and Adam : Chapter 10

The massive werewolf simply picked up one of the cars and tossed it aside as it kept moving toward Stasya.  Stasya was cornered.  In the form of the tiger, Adam leaped down, landing a few feet in front of her and between her and the werewolf.  He roared, startling the werewolf back a step.  Unfortunately, rather than retreat it roared back and kept coming.

He leaped, prepared to rend with tooth and claw.  The werewolf, however, countered with a blow that sent him flying.  He shifted a heartbeat before he would have hit the water, spreading seagull wings to change direction.  Alright, tiger not sufficient.  He switched forms a foot off the ground.  The werewolf turned in time to see the rhino charging straight for him.  It leaped clear.  There was the crack of a rifle as Patrick took that opening to start shooting.

As a human he slid in next to Stasya.  It didn’t seem all that long ago he’d have found being completely naked next to a woman in public in broad daylight rather embarrassing.  Werewolves apparently could shift without losing their clothes, but he had absolutely no idea how they pulled that off.  “Patrick called for extraction.  Let’s get you clear.”

“I’m out of…”  She cursed and pointed at where the werewolf had leaped onto the boat Patrick was using as a position.  “It’s after him.”

“We can —”

“It takes silver to kill an alpha, Baby Bear.”  Stasya got to her feet.  “We can’t do enough damage without —”

“Dammit.  I’m not leaving him.”  Patrick was his friend.  Hell, Patrick was his best friend.  Adam started to stand.  He’d already tried shifting into a werewolf form, but all it had done was shoot agony through him without changing him at all.  Whatever a werewolf was, he couldn’t duplicate it.  “Get moving, I’ll…”  There had to be something he could…  His eyes widened.  “Get it to the other side of the boat.  Close to the water.”

“You have plan?”  She blinked at him.

“I have plan.”

“Go, Baby Bear.”  She nodded and hefted her rifle before running toward the boat.

Adam shifted into a bird and took flight.

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 5

He glared.  Ash made a whining sound, then pawed at his leg.  “Mine.”  Ash whimpered.  “You ate your share already.”  Ash stuck out his lower lip, then nuzzled Stephan before whimpering again.  “Fine.”  He handed the rest of the container of fries to Ash, who grabbed them and immediately retreated before Stephan could change his mind.  “Butthead.”

Magda just rolled her eyes.  “Ash, it’s your turn for cleanup duty and puppy eyes are not going to get you out of it.”

“Okay,” he said around a mouth full of curly fries.  “Dibs on the TV.”

“No.  We’ve watched Star Wars three times already this week.”  Stephan shook his head.

“We’ve watched Star Trek five times.”  Ash glared at him.

“There are like eight Star Wars movies.  There are hundreds of Star Trek episodes spanning several different…”  He narrowed his eyes.  “Don’t you growl at me.”

“I’m pulling rank.”  Magda shook her head.  “We’ve got a clear signal, and I’m watching something that does not involve space ships, lasers, or people in rubber masks.”  She laughed as they both turned to growl at her.  Then she picked up the remote and turned on the TV.  The signal from their little satellite wasn’t quite good enough to get every channel, but she was able to find a comedy.

As soon as she sat down on the couch, both men joined her.  Ash curled up with his head in her lap as Stephan sat down next to her on the other side.  She put a hand on Ash and petted his hair.  before leaning against Stephan.  Stephan’s arm went around her shoulder as they settled in for the evening, and it was all she could do not to let out a contented sigh.

(more…)

Wren and Adam : Chapter 10

Wren sat down on the patio chair, looking out over the view.  Ordinarily she’d call the building a villa, but since they were in France there was probably a French word for it.  Whatever it was called, Sima had excellent taste.  And better yet, she knew how to actually get what she wanted.  Last night the werewolf had taken her to an exclusive club.  She’d actually met two movie stars, even been able to dance with one of them.

She’d felt just a little guilty afterward, though Adam apparently hadn’t minded not getting to come.  He’d gone sky-diving with a couple of the mercenaries.  Considering he was capable of shifting into a bird, she completely failed to understand why he’d found that so entertaining.  Then again, his other hobby involved wandering around old buildings with a camera and a sketch pad.

Sima offered her a glass of wine.  “Pondering your next move?”  She raised an eyebrow.

“Assuming this thing is going to operate on the same timetable as a human infant, it should be born within the next week.”  Wren shrugged.  “Though that also assumes no complication.”

“A risky assumption, considering the host just turned thirteen a short time ago.”  Sima nodded.  “Silly plan.  They could have easily kept the girl properly contained until she reached a healthier age.”  Sima made a vexed noise.  “And that would have given them time to insure she was properly…”  Sima took a sip of her wine.  “Conditioned.”

“Her abilities seem to include some sort of mental magic.  It’s possible they felt conditioning wouldn’t take.”  Wren leaned back.

“It is merely a matter of finding the proper stress points.  The right mix of punishment and reward.”  Sima waved a hand.  “My last pet wiggled with joy at no reward more than my smile.  He was happiest when he pleased me.”

“She and her brother both have power…”  Wren nodded.  “If they can’t be reasoned with, then they will have to be…”  She smiled.  “Convinced.”

“On that, my dear, we agree.”  Sima nodded.  “There are too few gifted to allow any to escape us.”

(more…)

Wren and Adam: Chapter 9

“Your pet is…”  Sima poured wine before offering Wren a glass.  “Fascinating.”  She took a sip of her own wine.  “I had thought such as he was…”  She shrugged.  “Impossible.”

“My Adam is special.”  Wren smiled proudly before taking her own sip.  Even having gone through Renee’s journals, she still wasn’t sure how much of what he could do was him and how much was the talisman.  As long as the talisman was intact, she need not worry for his safety, at least.  A healing spell focused upon it would restore him to as good as new, even if one of the mercenaries had managed to shoot him.  Renee had used such talismans to create near-mindless, unstoppable killing machines utterly subservient to her will.

“I had a pet of my own until he was stolen from me.”  Sima gave a wistful sigh.  “As soon as I learn where he was taken, I intend to get him back.”  She smiled.  “He was such a sweet thing, a rare beauty.”

Giroux came in a moment later, and smiled at Wren.  “Matters are settling, ma chere.”  He took the glass of wine Sima offered.  “Tell me, what else do you know of the, er, project?”

“That what the girl is carrying is not something that can simply be recreated.”  Wren sat.  She had no real idea why, or if it was the girl that was special.

“Sadly true.  Which means it must be recovered at all costs.  I would prefer the children be recovered as well.  They are gifted, and such individuals are precious and rare.”  Giroux nodded to Sima.  “Madam Sima has some skill at convincing individuals to be…”  He smiled.  “Compliant.”

Sima laughed before raising her glass toward Wren.  “Pajari hired me to make you…”  She smirked.  “Compliant.”  She sipped her wine.  “Considering your nature, it would have been an interesting challenge.”

“Not really.”  Wren gave Sima an appraising look.  “You’d look lovely in a silver collar.”

“You…”  Sima laughed again.  “I like.”  She twitched a shoulder.  “I was also hired because I happen to be acquainted with the wolf accompanying the children.”

“We have identified him as a mercenary.  Earliest known identity was Matthias Ahlgren, and he uses the name Matthias often enough that it may actually be his.”  Giroux set a piece of paper on the low table.  It showed a sepia toned photograph of young men in military uniforms.  The largest of the men was circled.

Wren frowned.  The uniforms looked like something out of an old movie.  “When was this taken?”

“World War II.”  Sima smiled at the expression on Wren’s face.  “Matthias and I are fairly close in age.”

“You look good for a century.”  Wren nodded before turning to look at Giroux.  “He is why you needed the silver bullets?”

“You called him the most dangerous werewolf currently alive.”  Giroux took another sip of wine.  “I am not inclined to argue with that assessment.”

“Tell me about this chosen one.”

(more…)

Wren and Adam : Chapter 8

Wren frowned when she realized the other half of the bed was empty.  She picked up the robe and drew it around her before heading into the next room.  The apartment they’d been given was high up, allowing them a wondrous view of Paris.  From the balcony, she could just make out the Eiffel Tower.

Adam was there.  He’d set up an easel and was making a picture come alive with delicate brush strokes.  Despite his chosen location, the painting wasn’t of the city below.  She swallowed at the image of James and Coraline on the canvas.  His siblings were posed on a porch, both wearing letterman jackets.  James had been wearing his when he’d died.  “Adam?”

“Wren.”  He kept working.

“Couldn’t sleep?”  She smiled as she joined him on the balcony.

“The sounds here are different.”  He shrugged as he added a bit more color to the flowers next to Coraline’s image.  “Smells.  Air tastes…”  He sighed.  “Different.”

“I know.”  She leaned out over the balcony and took a deep breath.  “I like it.  The little cafes and the colors.  Paris is…”  She smiled.  “Everything I dreamed.”  She glanced over her shoulder.  “We could go to the Louvre again tomorrow, have lunch by that pyramid thing.”  Their contact with the cabal, Edward Giroux, had given her a credit card and told her to just charge anything she wanted.  She’d only had to give a small demonstration of her powers.  She turned toward Adam.  “Or we could do Disneyland Paris.  We haven’t done that.”

“You have a meeting tomorrow.”

“Oh.”  She sighed.  And it wasn’t something they could put off.  “That’s right.  After?”

“I…”  He looked out to where the sun was starting to peek over the horizon.  “I wouldn’t mind seeing Notre Dame.”

“Alright.”  She laughed before going over and kissing him.  “After the meeting, we’ll go wander around old buildings.”

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 4

“So can you like arrest people again now?”  Daniel tilted his head at Stephan.

“No.  I can however, turn over information to the police and let them arrest people.”  Stephan shook his head as he looked over the paperwork.

“I want one.”  Daniel pulled the private investigator’s license closer to him.

“Excuse me…”  Stephan raised an eyebrow at him.  “Raise your hand if you aren’t a wanted fugitive.”

“Arf.”  Ash raised his hand.

“You’re wanted…”  Stephan reached over and petted him.  “Just not a fugitive.”  Ash leaned into the petting.  “So I get to be the legit one.”

“We need a case.”  Daniel budged over on the couch to make room for Matthias, then immediately snuggled back into him.  Matthias draped an arm over his shoulders before taking a sip of his coffee.  “Oh, and a logo and catch phrase and —”

“And capes.”  Anna piped up.  Ash immediately woofed in agreement.

“No capes.”  Matthias shook his head.

“Oh come on…”  Anna put her hands on her hips, a pose that made her belly protrude even more.

Only Stephan still used his real name, though he had a second identity set up as well, just in case.  The ID in Daniel’s wallet made him, Ash, and Anna all siblings with the last name of McNamara.  There was enough resemblance that they could pull it off pretty convincingly.  At least, when Ash was being a human.  Magda and Matthias remained mother and son, but they were now using the last name Savatier.  A set of already prepared IDs was going to make Anna’s child the child of a sadly diseased mother and Ash’s real identity.  That way, in a worst-case scenario, the child would be insulated from the cabal and hopefully end up in the custody of Ash’s maternal aunt.  It wasn’t a good plan, but if things actually did get to the plan Z point it was the best they could do.

“Capes are impractical.”  Magda brought Stephan a cup of the coffee.  “They hamper, catch on things, get grabbed by opponents, and can off balance you at a critical moment.”

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience.”  Daniel grinned up at her, then when she just gave him a look, he blinked.  “You’ve fought somebody while wearing a cape?”

“I was born in sixteenth century France, Daniel.”  She chuckled.  “The only thing worse than fighting in a cape is fighting in a corset and petticoats.”

“So I guess adding a corset to the ensemble is out of the question?”  Daniel raised an eyebrow at Stephan.

“Depends on how drunk I am.”  Stephan chuckled.

“We still need a case.”  Matthias finished his coffee.  “Not a lot of call for private dicks way out here.”

“Hoping Anna will flash something, get us a lead.”

“Okay, the words ‘flash’ and ‘private dick’ are never again to be uttered in the same conversation.”  Magda shook her head.

“I did already.”  Anna rolled her eyes.

“A slightly less metaphorical lead.”  Stephan glanced at her.

She made a vexed noise.  “Not my fault none of you know where to find an angel.”

(more…)

The Woods: Chapter 4

He was no longer certain how many days he’d spent hanging from the tree.  At least a week, maybe more.  Time seemed to pass strangely where ever it was they were.  At seemingly random intervals he’d take his meals with Ileana and her strange companions.  He was becoming somewhat inured to their taunts.  The delicate winged woman had even expressed disappointment in the fact he no longer blushed just by sitting at the table.  The satyr, however, could still make him turn red, though at least half the time it was anger rather than embarrassment.  It would whisper to him when it put him back in the tree, of things it would like to do to him.  Ileana seemed to find it amusing, though she never let the creature go beyond words.

The few hours he was given to sleep were never quite enough.  He’d be woken, and set out to be displayed in her garden again.  Her silent trophy.  She never let him speak, save to make him beg for basic necessities.  And to make him ask the satyr to be put back in the tree.

They were plotting against his brothers.  Ileana viewed Nicolas as a threat, and rightly so.  Nicolas would have known what all these creatures were.  If anyone could get this blasted collar off, it was him.  There had to be some way to get a warning to him.  With warning, he could prepare, could…  Do something.  Thomas had nearly forgotten what it felt like not to hurt.

She was waiting for him outside the privy door.  Waiting to put him back in the tree.  Thomas took a deep breath.  The satyr had suggested a collar for Nicolas, and Ileana had laughed.  Said it was only fair that the beast have a pet prince of his own.  He couldn’t stomach the thought of his brother at that thing’s mercy.  If she would just listen…  He looked up, and met his reflection’s eyes.  Then he took another deep breath, and went to the door.

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 3

Daniel sat down across from Ash.  “Alright, Ash, I’m going to have to touch you for this.  Is that okay?”

The guy tilted his head and gave him a quizzical whine.  He knew the guy could talk, because he apparently talked to Magda and Stephan.  But around anyone else, he just acted like a dog.  He’d spent half of yesterday playing fetch with Anna.  It occurred to him that probably should have weirded him out more than it did, but the last few months had completely thrown off his definition of what qualified as ‘normal’.

Ash was a kid not much older than he was, who’d been through hell.  He didn’t know if this would work, but it was worth a try.  He reached out and put his hands on either side of Ash’s head.

Nothing happened.  He concentrated, trying to focus on the stir of energy he’d felt the times he’d healed Matthias.  There was nothing.  Ash looked confused, and Daniel frowned.  “It’s not working.”

“It was worth a —”  Magda started to let out a dejected sigh.

“No, I mean…”  Daniel shook his head.  “I mean my power.  It’s not working.”

“The wards shouldn’t be interfering with that.”  Matthias frowned as he turned toward Magda.

“They shouldn’t.”  She nodded.  “That doesn’t mean they aren’t.”

“My powers don’t work in the house.”  Anna spoke up from where she was sitting.  “I can’t look into any of your heads in here.”

“Which implies you’ve been trying…”  Matthias gave the girl a look.

“I figured it was the wards.”  Anna shrugged.  “I mean, that’s why we came here, isn’t it?”

“Let’s try outside.”  Daniel stood.  Ash followed, crawling after him as they headed for the porch, and the others followed as well.

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 2

“I like your mom’s boyfriend.”  Daniel stripped off his shirt.

“He tazed me.”  Matthias glared at him.

“Yeah.  That’s one of the things I like about him.”  Daniel chuckled when Matthias picked him up and set him on the countertop.  He wrapped his legs around Matthias’s waist and his arms around the big man’s neck.  “I like your mom too.”

Matthias rested his forehead against Daniel’s.  “Feels weird.  Being home.”

“You grew up here?”

“I grew up on the move.  This house was the first place we ever stayed longer than a few months.  We came here just after my father was killed and the pack broke apart.”  He sighed.  “I was angry, and she…”  He shook his head.  “She managed to keep me from being stupid for a long time, but eventually the stupid won.”

“Don’t worry.”  Daniel kissed him.  “I’m here to do the thinking now.”

“Look outside.”  Matthias smiled evilly.  “See how it’s dark out?”  He grabbed Daniel’s arms, then pinned them above Daniel’s head with one arm.  “That means I’m in charge now.”

“Yeah…”  Daniel returned the grin.  “But there isn’t usually a lot of thinking involved with this —”  He cut off with a gasp.

“You were saying something?”  Matthias pulled Daniel’s pants off almost casually.  Then he removed something from his back pocket.

Daniel blinked at the sight of the handcuffs.  “Where’d you get those?”

“Swiped them from Stephan.”  Matthias shrugged.

“What if he wanted to use them tonight?”  Daniel tilted his head, then couldn’t stop himself from laughing at the look on Matthias’s face.  He was pulled off the counter, spun, and then his hands were cuffed behind his back.

“You’re gonna pay for that.”  Matthias’s voice was a playful growl.

(more…)

Hunting: Chapter 1

“Mother?” Daniel stared.  He couldn’t help himself.  There was a resemblance between Matthias and the woman now starring daggers at him.  She was a tall, imposing figure of a woman, with a rather blunt face and graying black hair.  If Matthias was over a hundred and could pass for under thirty, how old did that make his mother?  The black man on the porch still had his hand on his gun, and hadn’t relaxed despite the presence of the woman.  If anything, he looked even more on guard.  Matthias was staring back at his mother.

“Yeah, um…”  Matthias took a deep breath.

The woman turned to look at him and Anna, and then her eyes widened a little.  She whirled back on Matthias.  “Matthias Jarlson, why is the little girl pregnant?”

“I can explain.”  Matthias immediately held up his hands in a defensive gesture.  When the woman folded her arms, he winced again.  “That is, uh…”  He sighed.  “Shit.”

“Language.”  She glared.

“It was a cabal, I…”  Matthias started shaking his head.

“A…”  The woman blinked, then her eyes slowly began turning golden.  “Matthias — ”

“I’m protecting them.”  Matthias hurriedly interrupted her.  “From the cabal, which are the ones that impregnated Anna and are trying to get hold of her again.”

“Where are their parents?”

“In the cabal.”  Matthias lowered his hands.  “I’m protecting them from their parents.”

“So why not go to the police?”  The woman tapped her foot.

“You know cops are all a bunch of assholes.”  Matthias shook his head.

Both his mother and the man on the porch straightened and renewed their glares.  “We…”  The woman’s voice was low.  “Are cops.”

“Fuck.”

“Language.”

“Because their stepdad was a cop and a police chief and part of the cabal and…”  Matthias winced again.

“Was?”  The woman took a step forward.  “Matthias, you killed a cop?”

“No.”  Daniel stepped forward.  “I did, when he was going to kill Matthias.”

“And they’d have killed Rosa to,” Anna spoke up.

“Rosa?”  The woman raised an eyebrow.  “You went to Rosa?  After what you pulled I’m shocked she didn’t sell you out…”

“Well…”  Matthias rubbed his forehead.

“She sold you out.”  The woman sighed.  “And you’ve got a cabal after you.”  She lowered her hands.  “So you decided to come here, to my home.”

“I didn’t realize you’d be here.  I thought you were dead.”

“You thought I was dead?”  She blinked.

“I sent flowers!  And I killed the —” Matthias cut himself off.

“Killed the?”  She lowered her head.

“The terrorist group responsible for the bomb that I thought…”  He sighed.  “Look, they were assholes anyway so it’s not like it was a big…”  Matthias turned toward Daniel.  “Please for the love of god help me stop talking.”

“Anna is standing out in the rain.”  Daniel shook his head.  “And that’s not good for her.”

“Right.”  The woman gestured at the man on the porch, who promptly vanished into the house.  Daniel caught a glimpse of a curtain moving, and realized someone else was inside.  “Anna, was it?  Come in, let’s get you something warm to drink.  I’m Magda and that was Stephan, since my son couldn’t be bothered to make introductions.”

“I’m Daniel.  This is my sister, Anna.”

(more…)

The Woods : Chapter 3

Refusing to let him dress had been petty of her, she knew that.  Yet the look on his face when he realized he was going to have to be stark naked in front of a dozen of her dinner guests had been hilarious.  Her friends weren’t making it easy on him either.  He sat next to her, hunched in front of the table, trying to keep what modesty he could.  Janna trailed a hand across his shoulder, leaning in behind him as she poured wine into Ileana’s cup.  Then she ‘accidentally’ dumped half the flagon of iced wine into Thomas’s lap.  He yelped when the cold liquid hit him, but managed not to jump out of his seat.  Several of her guests made disappointed sounds.

The slyph produced a towel.  “Here.”  She grinned.  “Let me get that for you.”

He caught the towel.  “Thank you, but I can manage.”

“No, really.”  Janna licked her lips.  “I insist.”

“I have the matter under control.”  He tugged at the towel, but Janna didn’t release it.

“It is a big mess.”  On the other side of him, Keffer picked up his napkin and started toward him.

Thomas immediately released Janna to catch Keffer’s wrist.  “I appreciate the…”  He trailed off when Janna started reaching into his lap again, and caught the towel with his other hand.

“Maybe he just likes being wet and sticky.”  Tsara laughed.

“Well, then…”  Keffer pulled his wrist free of Thomas and set the napkin back down.  “If that’s the way he likes it.”

“Hmmm…”  Janna shrugged, then pulled the towel away before going back to her seat.

Ileana hid her smile behind her wine cup.  Then she set her glass down.  “Thomas.  Would you be so kind as to go to the sideboard over there…”  She pointed.  “And fetch me another roll?”

His glare was luminous.  Then he shoved his chair back, stood, and stalked toward the sideboard.  Several cheers accompanied the action.  He grabbed a roll and brought it back, holding it out to her.  She smiled.  “And could you put some butter on it?”

(more…)