Short Story Sunday: Pixie Dust

“You have to sing to them Max.”

“I’m not singing to a demon.”

“They’re not that different from angels.”

“I don’t sing to angles either.”

“Would you sing to a lover?”

Max a slight smile with a bit of fang. “Absolutely not. They sing to me.”

Andy rolled his eyes at his elder brother. “I’m sure they do.”

A chorus of high-pitched giggling could be heard from a cross the room. Max turned around to see what it was. “My God Andy, what self-respecting Vampire allows Pixies in his home?”

“I do.”

The two Vampire brothers finished their goblets of blood in Andy’s elegant sitting room, then moved out to the garden with a bottle of wine.

The Pixies followed in a shower of multicolored sparks and sat among the twinkle lights in Andy’s  trees. They giggled and straightened out their tiny pink and silver skirts.

Andy looked over at his brother Max, the great Vampire warrior, enforcer, hunter of Vampire Hunters, and general bad ass. He was what people thought of when they thought of a sexy, powerful, alpha Vampire. Andrew on the other hand was an opera singer with a life driven by beauty and love.

“Look how cute they are Max. You really ought to make friends with them.”

Max looked disgusted. “They bite.”

“So do we.”

“I already have Selkies and Werewolves invading my life, not to mention Demons. I don’t need Pixies.”

“Everyone needs Pixies Max. And if you’re nice they won’t bite.”

The conversation moved on to other things like wine, art, gossip, and women. The Pixies listened, then went on to their own quiet conversations, then fell asleep in the branches of Andy’s trees.

And the brothers watched the sunrise, in the quiet summer morning, knowing that the fireworks the next night would be much larger than Pixie dust but not quite as charming.

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Off To See The Wizard

Druce had just pulled his toasted seed and dried berry bread out of the oven when his friend Morcant came through the door carrying a basket.

“What do you got in there?”

“Smoked salmon, a bottle of squid ink, and dried salted kelp chips.”

“Nice.”

“I see you’ve made your famous berry bread. That will win over the hearts of the coldest stone.”

“We can only hope. I’m paring it with a jar of honeycomb, and a jug of my best mead.”

Druce wrapped up the bread and took a look at his friend. Morcant wore a soft seal skin over his shoulders. His tunic was sleeveless showing off his muscular arms. Today Morcant’s black hair was worn down around his shoulders framing his handsome face. Druce never wondered why all of the women in their village and the surrounding area sought Morcant out even if it was just to look.

The seal skin was that of Morcant’s sister who’d died in the past summer season. She and Morcant were Selkies. On land they were human, and in the sea they were seals. They guarded their seal skins with their lives, for if anyone stole their skin they would be trapped as humans, and in bondage forever.

Morcant’s brother-in-law never took his wife’s skin, but celebrated the fact that as a Selkie she had come to him of her own free will. Her love was free, and her husband was devoted to her. They had that rare true love that so many seek but never find.

One day while they were out fishing, his sister still in her human form, they were overcome by a great shark and dragged to the bottom of the sea as dinner. Morcant, as customary for Selkies now wore his sister’s skin to stay close to her spirit and to have her love with him always.

Druce looked into his mirror and brushed his sun streaked brownish blonde waves with his fingers. He was smaller than Morcant, and not quite as handsome, but the ladies still liked him too. And of course he liked them more than they could imagine.

“So, Druce,” said Morcant, “when exactly did this Wizard guy come into town?”

“Last week, under the darkness of the night.”

“What’s he like?”

“Personally? I don’t know. I hear he was sleeping with his sister. Nymue told me that. She also said he used to stalk her, asking her about her magic and getting all sappy and trying to sound mystical about it. One day she showed him a sword she was going to give to the next king and he said I’ll show you my magic sword. She kicked him out and told him she’d put a bad enchantment on him if he ever hit on her again. And I mean bad, you know, guy bad, like his sword won’t work for a year or two. Like a blade of grass.”

“Sounds like a creeper.”

“A real mess if you ask me. Anyway, that was a while back so maybe he’s changed. Gotta give a guy some doubt that he has grown up since his misplaced youth chasing ladies in lakes and all of that shit.”

“OK so I don’t get it Druce. You’re the Worlock around here. What’s the difference between you and some Wizard dude, except that you’re better looking and are better with women.”

Druce laughed. “As a Warlock, I can, how can I put this so it won’t sound weird. As you know I can harness and control spirits, demons, and other’s who aren’t human. I can’t make them work for me. I also control their evil so that they can’t harm people. I take their energy and do good with it. I can also do other magic and tricks through my own will. I deal with both sides of the world, that of the dead and that of the living. That of the physical and that of the spirits.”

“And what about Wizards?”

“Wizards learn their craft. They are gifted in the ways of magic, but their magic comes mostly from the use of potions, and the channeling of their magic through a staff, or wand. They can scare spirits and demons but they can’t control them. And Wizards are giving Warlocks a bad rap. I hear that in other parts my kind are being hunted down and burned to death. They think we’re minions of Satan.”

“That’s bull shit. Then why the fuck are we going to greet this guy and bring him gifts. He sounds like a freak to me.”

“Because he is working for the King.”

“The Kings is an idiot. He is obsessed with some old cup, and everyone knows his wife is sleeping with his best friend.”

“Hey, I didn’t put him into office. Blame that on Nyume. The Lady of The Lake should have minded her own business and …”

There was a scream and in through the door came a whirl of gray, which stopped and materialized into a woman. She smiled showing lovely white teeth, but her eyes were black and crazy. No harm. Just their friend Milen, who was also a Banshee.

“Milen,” said Druce, as he blew her a kiss. “Thanks for coming. I have fresh venison stew in the pot there over the fire. I put the eyes in there for you.”

She grinned and put a long fingered hand into the boiling stew and plucked out an eye, the popped it into her mouth.

“Hey, Milen, we should be gone just a few hours,” said Druce. “I’m so glad you could watch the baby for me.”

“Ohhhhhh of course,” she said as she went over to a baby unicorn who was curled up asleep in its tiny bed made of soft sea grasses and dried fragrant flowers.

“Alright then, we’ve better get going, if we’re going to go,” said Druce, and they packed up their gifts and went to meet their new neighbor.

The new Wizard had chosen and old Roman camp on a hill as his new home. The buildings were already there and in fairly good shape. It was also about a five day journey from there to where the King lived. Or at least the king the Wizard worked for.

The two friends arrived at the home of the Wizard and were greeted by a tall man with a brown beard flecked with gray. His eyes shone blue like spring wildflowers, flecked with gold.

The Wizard welcomed them in and introduced himself as Merlin, the Wizard. There was something sort of sad about him, like someone who had a lot of friends, but nobody he was really close to. Druce wondered if Merlin could pick up on emotions and sadness like a Warlock could. Or like a woman could.

Merlin thanked them for the gifts and asked them to come sit. He led them to a room where the walls were covered with tapestries and the chairs with lush textiles and furs.

“The seal skin you wear is beautiful. The finest I’ve ever seen,” said Merlin to Morcant.

“This is my sister’s skin. She passed six moons back. I wear this skin in her honor.”

There was a pause in the conversation and a bit of weirdness.”

“Morcant is a Selkie,” said Druce.

Merlin looked surprised. He was surprised. He’d never met a Selkie before. It seemd, as they talked, that there were a lot of things Merlin had never done.

Still they visited and had polite small talk. Druce and Morcant of the village and the surrounding peoples, and those who were not people. There was also a lot they didn’t tell him. When the sun began to set Druce and Morcant bid their host goodbye.

They started the walk home in silence but then Morcant spoke.

“Merlin was nice. Not much of a bro, if you know what I mean, but nice. But dude, he has more demons than you’ll ever have.”

Druce gave a sad smile, “At least I can control my demons. Fuck, they aren’t even my demons. Merlin needs more sunshine, and he needs to divorce himself from his dysfunctional family and friends. I always tell everyone that it isn’t demons that are bugging them, it is their toxic friends and family members that are getting them down. He needs to let go.”

“True,” said Morcant. “Are you going to tell him about the unicorn?”

“Hell no,” said Druce. “I’m not telling him where the dragons are either.”

As they passed a cottage on the edge of a field of grain a woman stepped out and greeted them. “Morcant, will you stay the night with me? I could use your love, and I’ll have plenty to give back.”

“Go,” said Druce. He knew Morcant had been seeing the Widow Cath for few months. Her elderly husband had died leaving her a large farm to manage, a task she did better than most men. Morcant had always been fond of her, but now it was becoming a bit more than fond.

At home Druce found the Banshee Milen sleeping with the tiny unicorn baby in her lap. She’d taken on a physical form, that of a woman of a certain age who had a well earned beauty earned from a life well lived, at least before she had been betrayed and murdered by her husband. He put a blanket woven of the softest flax over them.

He poured a glass of beer and pulled a stool outside in his garden, out under the stars. He could hear the waves of the ocean. Maybe later he’d go down to the beach and see what spirits were among the sea shells and boats tonight.

But now he sat and thought of the sad Wizard. Then he thought of the women he knew and how it would be nice to have one of them in his bed that night, skin against skin, and a special kind of magic that came when two people came together in desire of both the body and the soul.

Then he thought about how dragons had become so endangered due to the trade of dragon bones by Wizards for their wealthy clients. Everyone with half a brain knew that dragon bones powder did nothing to make one’s manhood larger.

Then he thought of women again.

Milen the Banshee came out with a stool and sat next to him. He told her about his visit to Merlin. She said it was sad when one was so full of power and so lost. Then she said she was glad her husband had been hanged after she’d died. She always mentioned that. Druce didn’t blame her. She hadn’t planned on being a Banshee.

Then she put her hand on Druce’s. “Darlin, I’ll be in human for for another hour or two. Let’s go inside and take advantage of that.”

And like any good Warlock who knew what was good for him Druce kissed her and took her inside.

~ End

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Charade

Welcome to Short Story Sunday. I’m so happy to feature this story from 17-year-old author Adelia Hoff. Thank you so much Adelia. This is a real treat.

Charade

by Adelia Hoff

The black haired male saw her light. The white haired female saw his silhouette. His red eyes darted over her small campsite. Her blue eyes issued an unspoken challenge.
“May I join you?”
“Please do. It’s been a while since anyone has.”
He moved over, sitting opposite of her.
“Your face seems familiar. Have we met?”
“I . . . don’t think so.”
They both knew this was a lie. They knew who the other was, yet they kept up this mask of familiar newness. The silence was comfortable. The male caught her eye with a soft smile.
“If it’s not too rude, why are you here?”
She returned the smile.
“I’m looking for someone.”
“Heh, so am I. What’re the odds of that?”
She grinned, laughed slightly, and adjusted her hairband. He fiddled with the hair tie obscured by his high collar. They knew they should confront each other, take revenge, but they continued with the act of strangerdom. Neither said anything, fearing speech would shatter the illusion. He was sad, remembering the days when it didn’t take lies to bring them together. She was happy, remembering how long is had been since they were close.
“How long has it been?”
“Hmm?”
“Since you saw the person you’re looking for.”
He shrugged, a look of indifference crossing his face.
“Stopped counting a while back.”
They both knew this was a lie. They counted every year, month, day, hour, minute, second since each fight, each new parting of ways. He pursued her, they fought, she fled. They loved to hate each other.
“It’s rather nice here.”
She looked around, making no move to answer for a few seconds.
“It is.”
He looked at the moon, at its position in the sky.
“It’s late, I should go. Thanks for letting me stay.”
“It wasn’t any trouble. Good luck.”
“You too.”
And with that, he turned away and walked, transforming back into a silhouette. As he drew farther away, the masks began to fall off. She took out her hairband, freeing shoulder length hair. He took off his hair tie, short hair falling to frame his face. She pulled bundled cloth out of her shirt front, becoming male. He unclipped a band from under his shirt, becoming female. The black haired female lost sight of his light. The white haired male lost sight of her silhouette. Despite all this, a single question remains:

Which persona is the charade?

 

Short Story Sunday at Vampiremaman.com

Short Story Sunday at Vampiremaman.com

Short Story Sunday: Pixie Dust

“You have to sing to them Max.”

“I’m not singing to a demon.”

“They’re not that different from angels.”

“I don’t sing to angles either.”

“Would you sing to a lover?”

Max a slight smile with a bit of fang. “Absolutely not. They sing to me.”

Andy rolled his eyes at his elder brother. “I’m sure they do.”

A chorus of high-pitched giggling could be heard from a cross the room. Max turned around to see what it was. “My God Andy, what self-respecting Vampire allows Pixies in his home?”

“I do.”

The two Vampire brothers finished their goblets of blood in Andy’s elegant sitting room, then moved out to the garden with a bottle of wine.

The Pixies followed in a shower of multicolored sparks and sat among the twinkle lights in Andy’s  trees. They giggled and straightened out their tiny pink and silver skirts.

Andy looked over at his brother Max, the great Vampire warrior, enforcer, hunter of Vampire Hunters, and general bad ass. He was what people thought of when they thought of a sexy, powerful, alpha Vampire. Andrew on the other hand was an opera singer with a life driven by beauty and love.

“Look how cute they are Max. You really ought to make friends with them.”

Max looked disgusted. “They bite.”

“So do we.”

“I already have Selkies and Werewolves invading my life, not to mention Demons. I don’t need Pixies.”

“Everyone needs Pixies Max. And if you’re nice they won’t bite.”

The conversation moved on to other things like wine, art, gossip, and women. The Pixies listened, then went on to their own quiet conversations, then fell asleep in the branches of Andy’s trees.

And the brothers watched the sunrise, in the quiet summer morning, knowing that the fireworks the next night would be much larger than Pixie dust but not quite as charming.

~ end

 

 

 

 

Girl in the Woods: 2016 Serial Novel, Part 19

Each Friday in 2016 brings a new installment of the serial novel Girl in the Woods. If you are new to this romance/fantasy/adventure please start from the beginning. CLICK HERE for previous installments. And remember – you’re getting the unedited rough version. Have fun and happy reading.

 

Girl in the Woods

 

Girl in the Woods: 2016 Serial Novel, Part 19

Three Brothers Vineyard: The Past That Haunts

The road to the Trinity Valley turned from wooded areas that surrounded Allegory to orchards and vineyards. Dare Crow had vanished to parts unknown. Olivia could hear the younger men, Michael, Andrew, and Charles laughing from inside of the carriage. She rode her own horse alongside Alexander and Tom. The group of a dozen guards, led by a man called Captain Wallford followed.

Bob, Roy, Dan and Bob’s wife Alyssa ran the Three Brother’s Vineyards and Winery. Olivia waved at Roy who was out in the field with some workers. She looked forward to seeing her old friend later. The Three Brother’s Estate, including the main manor house, and guesthouses stood absolutely beautiful among the vineyards.

There would be several days of meetings, public appearances, and parties. But all Olivia could think of was maybe an hour or two to herself in an attempt to refocus and heal. It was difficult to feel any excitement over the upcoming events with the ever present headaches and the phantom visits from her nemesis. Such was the life of Olivia Starfire Snowhawk. She scanned the others, then tried to smile, as they arrived to the open arms of their hosts.

After a lavish dinner and a bottle of wine to toast the evening and coming days, was smiling and laughing.

In Alexander’s room was a basket containing recent magazines. There was the issue of business monthly with Simon, Olivia and Annie on the cover. The entire issue was nothing but a love letter to Universal Technologies. Logan had said that Annie was the master at public relations getting them on the cover of just about every magazine in the country a month before the River Conference. Interest in Universal Technologies had skyrocketed in anticipation of their latest breakthroughs. He’d read the article before he left home and congratulated Simon on the good press coverage.

He set his eyes on Olivia’s picture. She was the most prominent in the grouping, showing a completely secure in-charge business leader. The woman described in the article wasn’t the woman he was traveling with. “Why are you so agitated and angry? Your health? Your relationships? Your traveling companions? Don’t blame me for your bad mood Miss Snowhawk. I wasn’t the one who volunteered you for this trip.”

The last few issues of Fabulous Homes were in there as well. A few months before his own home had been featured along with a complete diary of the restoration. He made him cringed thinking of the accompanying editorial saying that the home was incomplete without a wife. He picked up the latest issue. It must have just come out. He didn’t remember seeing it before he left home. There was Olivia again, on the cover. This time she was on her front porch dressed exquisitely casual, smiling with a large black cat in her arms, as she stood in front of a massive door covered with carvings of a fern grotto. The cat could have been a double for his own cat Rufus. He stared at the image scanning Olivia’s smiling face for some resemblance to the woman he’d met just a few days before.

He ignored the rest of the features and went directly to the spreads of her home. The kitchen was warm and inviting. It was huge with high ceilings. Her own recipe for an elegant vegetable soup was in a side bar. She grew her own herbs and had a vegetable garden.

Her main living area was warm and homey, filled with shelves of art pottery and books. The rug on the floor was almost exactly like the one he’d had custom made. Large windows overlooked her famous gardens. He saw the famous crystal dragonfly chandelier in the formal dining room as well as a comfortable guest room. The centerfold out spread was of her home library. “Wow” he said aloud. It was smaller than his but equally impressive. It said that built in bookshelves also lined the upstairs hallways. He could live in that house. It was spectacular. It was Fabulous. He looked more. No pictures of her bedroom. He wondered what her bedroom looked like. No, he wondered whom she entertained there.

Alexander made a mental note to himself to ask Rich Long to dig up something. Rich knew everyone and everything in Meadow Creek. He’d know who Olivia was spending her time with.

She was quoted in the article next to a picture of her in beautiful green dress, her arms full of flowers. “This is the only place I’ve ever called home.”

He turned the next page and froze. The next article was pink. Metallic pink letters splashed across the page. Princess Candi at Home. Solid pink with touches of cream and yellow finished it off. He felt flushed and slightly uncomfortable. Beautiful Candi was lounging on a pink fur covered fainting couch in a low cut pink gown, her perfect mouth formed in a sweet smile. The sight of it was slightly childish and slightly erotic. It was embarrassing.

“She can’t actually live there in all that pink.” he thought.

The headline read “Candi Just Can’t Get Enough Pink!!!”

Alexander scanned the article.

When asked about Prince Alexander, Princess Candi replied, “Alexander is so absolutely handsome. Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.” Then the darling princess giggled in her lovely bell like little laugh and clapped her hands together.

He continued to skim the article passing over her remarks about fashion. He stopped skimming when he saw his name again.

“What sort of decorating plans do you have for after you marry Prince Alexander?”

“His musty old house is like an old hunting lodge so I’ll HAVE to redecorate. Unfortunately I don’t think Alexander will let me have pink all over so just the ball room, and my sitting room will be total pink paradise.” she pouted with her famous perfect pink lips. “The rest will be golds and whites and bright sunshine yellow. I might let him have a really masculine red and black bedroom for when he’s feeling really naughty, I mean amorous, whoops, you know, romantic, I mean a girl can wish can’t she?”

Did she really say that? First of all his house wasn’t anything like a hunting lodge. He’d have to have a serious talk about her when he returned. He made a note to have his public relations staff approve any future interviews she did. No, he’d personally approve all of her interviews for print. He could see in his mind the pout, the puzzled looks, tears, then the kiss filled apology.

Alexander let the flash of anger roll over him. It wasn’t worth getting angry about. She could be trained. He was a master of damage control. He’d dealt with all the other woman in his life, Candy wasn’t that much different. In fact she’d be easier than most. Still, he knew most of his friends would call it off at this point and start dating again. Unfortunately that wasn’t a choice he could make.

He flipped back to the pages with Olivia’s house, then back to Candi. The contrast made him almost feel sick. He dropped the magazine on the table.

 

He went downstairs to find the others. A small blue lantern was lit on the porch. Olivia sat alone in the clear cold air, bundled in her coat with several bottles of wine next to her. There were several glasses on the table and a wine opener. He hadn’t seen her all day and noticed she’s been quiet at dinner, excusing herself early then vanishing.

 

“Expecting someone?”

Olivia looked up with a slight smile. “Not really. They always have wine out in the guest quarters, this being a vineyard and all. I’ll pour you a glass.”

“What’s up with the blue lantern?”

“Old wizard’s trick to ward off bad magic.” She didn’t tell him she was afraid of the night.

“Come inside. It’s freezing.”

With a quick glance at the outdoor hearth a fire blazed up. She gave him a quick smile and unbuttoned her coat. She’d become comfortable openly using her magic around him. Alexander sat next to her on the couch. The air around them quickly warmed up.

“The heat feels great.”

She stretched her legs in front of her. “I’m so used to the cold sometimes that I forget…” She trailed off not finishing her sentence. She glanced at the fire. “I sit outside a lot at home too, to see the night sky.” She added in an attempt to break the uncomfortable silence.

“I saw your house in Fabulous Homes. You’ve done a great job.”

“Thanks, they did a nice job of the spread. I saw your home in the magazine last year. You did a great job at restoration. I like your style.”

“It’s a lot like yours.”

“We’ll have to go shopping together sometime.” She said with a smile, then looked away.

He was surprised she didn’t mention the article about Princess Candi and her juvenile decorating taste. “You live alone.” He said.

“That information wasn’t in the article.”

“I pried it out of Simon. Who takes care of your place?”

“I employ a married couple who live in a cottage on the grounds of my house. Mac manages the grounds and stable staff. Daisy takes care of the household staff. Sometimes she helps me with special projects, like party planning, organizing and domestic stuff. They’re dear folk, really and I like having them around, but not in my line of sight.

In the evenings and weekends, it’s just me and my cat in the big house, unless I have guests. I entertain almost every weekend so it’s not as if I’m not a hermit.”

He thought again about who her guests might be. “Sounds nice.”

“It is. When we get done with this, business of ours, I’d like you to come over, as my guest.”

“I’d like that.” The tension started to ease out of his neck. It would be nice to visit Olivia’s house, walk the grounds, cook with her in the big kitchen while listening to her rattle off stories in her Crystal Mountain lilt. He wanted to see her library, her art collection, and the famous dragonfly chandelier. The thought of seeing her bedroom made him slightly uncomfortable.

They opened the bottle of wine and made small talk about Freddy Green’s architecture and the events of the day. Conversation came easily.

His mind kept going back the fact that she lived alone, unmarried, away from her family. She was famous and her face in the press almost as much as his own, yet she kept her private life almost completely closed off to the public eye. He wanted to know how this woman who headed up the largest private company in the country seemed like such a mystery to him.

“What do you really want Olivia?” He asked

“More wine always.” She smiled then looked at his serious face. “I guess I don’t understand your question.”

“In life. What do you want for yourself?”

“I want that dress Roy wore the other night.” She laughed, “Actually, I have everything I need.”

“That’s not what I asked. What do you want? Worldwide domination of the technology market? “

“I’ve already got that one wrapped up.”

“Then what’s next? Power? Fortune? A castle and your own personal army?”

She wasn’t sure if he was being humorous or on the attack. “Personal army? I’ve had enough of fighting to last ten lifetimes.”

“A woman of your influence might need a bevy of well built young men to protect you, or at least keep you entertained.”

“Oh you make me laugh. As my business grows, I want Universal Technologies to be instrumental in bringing beauty and hope into lives of those who lack hope. I want to teach more. I want to continue to provide a work environment that encourages free creativity and innovation. I want to contribute to the well being of my community and give back a hundred times what it has given to me.”

“Admirable goals for someone who is insidiously self-centered, manipulative, sarcastic…”

“I am not self-centered.”

“I stand corrected, you are not self-centered. All kidding aside, what do you want outside of your work?”

She spoke deliberately choosing her words carefully. “I have everything I want. Despite what you read in the society and gossip sections of the newspaper, like you, I treasure my quiet evenings at home with my books or with a few friends gathered in my kitchen. I like a good party or a night out like anyone else, but I guard my privacy and my independence. I’m not in this for the notoriety.”

“I’ve found a kindred spirit. Olivia, marry me tonight.”

“I wish I could dear prince, but we have a busy day tomorrow. I’ll be needing my sleep.“

He had to smile. She’d made a flirtatious joke back in response to his. “Seriously, do you want a family of your own? A husband and children to share your home?”

“I want you to stop asking me questions.”

“After your interrogation of me last night you owe me. Just one more.”

“Alright, ask away.”

He looked at her comfortably on the opposite end of the couch with her feet tucked up underneath her, her hair falling haphazardly over her shoulders a slight smile on her lips. Despite their differences he found himself again oddly fascinated by her. “You are so different than anyone I know, but that isn’t a bad thing. You’re absolutely lovely. Why hasn’t some man enchanted your heart?”

Most woman would have swooned and been in his arms with that statement. Olivia stretched out her legs and leaned back into the pillows on the couch. “Enchanted is an odd word to use.”

“Don’t you want someone to share your life with?”

“I have plenty of people to share my life with.” The smile vanished from her face. He knew he’d put her on edge. He decided to nudge her over.

“What about Alaric Shadowford?”

“Oh please…” she rolled her eyes at him in disgust. “I haven’t been involved with Alaric for over a year.”

“Is it over because of Simon?”

“Simon has nothing to do with it. Alaric didn’t just want to be my partner, he wanted to dominate and own me. He kept watch on my every movement and track of every man I spoke to, yet he took other women to his bed every chance he got. I got tired of the drama and dumped him.”

The confession sat cold with Alexander. He suddenly saw her in a different light, not as the aggressive seductress of his embarrassing fantasies, but as someone he could relate to. “He cheated on you? Why?”

“Because he could. You’ve seen the man. He’s gorgeous. Then kick in the war hero mystique and women line up to be with him.” There was a pause. Alexander looked intensely at Olivia, not saying a word. Not asking a question. She looked out over the vineyard. It was obvious she had been hurt by the man. “It was horrible.” She added quietly.

“Simon told me about the Spring Ball.” Alexander said quietly, trying not to be obvious about setting her up again.

“Oh that. What else did he tell you?”

“Nothing except the fact he doesn’t want you to be around Alaric.”

“This is embarrassing. I know you wonder why I ever got involved with Alaric or stayed with him as long as I did.”

“I don’t know you well enough to even speculate. I suspect you were alone and he was available. That’s what usually gets me into trouble, you know, being alone and available.” He smiled at his own joke. Olivia gave a weak attempt at a smile.

“Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Alaric and I grew up together during the war. Our parents ran the intelligence units for the rebellion. We lived in the same, it’s hard to explain, um, the same compound, or I guess you’d call it a camp of a sorts. Justin and I moved around a lot more but we stayed with the same group of families more or less. Alaric and I always ended up hanging out together. He was one of the only kids who wasn’t all flipped out that I was a wizard, and well, different from the others. I think he took me under his wing get into my father’s good graces. Anyway, to make a long story short, when we were just teenagers I saved Alaric’s life. Then, right before I moved here, he saved my life. That makes a bond that ties us together for always, at least it does at home, in the Crystal Mountains. Stupid tradition if you ask me, but then again when it came to Alaric my opinion never did matter. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

When Alaric took the position as ambassador to the Northwestern Kingdom, we reunited. It all happened so quickly and I thought…it doesn’t matter what I thought. Now it is over and done with.” She sat for a moment not saying a word. He had her flustered and off guard. Alexander waited until she was ready to say more.

She spoke again, quietly still looking over the vineyards. “To make matters worse my dear misguided brother begged for me to make it work. God knows what sort of future Justin and Alaric had planned for me. The one thing I do know is that their vision meant I’d have to leave my life here and turn my back on everything and everyone I’ve come to love.” She turned her face to Alexander and looked straight into his eye. “I won’t do that, not for any man. I’m never going back to the Crystal Mountains. Never.” She turned away from him again and poured another glass of wine. “This wine is absolutely wonderful. I could drink an entire bottle in one sitting.” She wanted to change the subject.

“I’m sorry to hear they had such dismal plans for you. I’m sure you already know that Alaric is a distant cousin of mine. I thought it was odd that he never brought you around to meet me.”

She looked disgusted. “Alaric is too possessive. Within a day of introducing us he would have accused me of having an affair with you.”

“Like when he accused you and Simon of being lovers.”

“Simon and I aren’t lovers.”

“Not since you were young.”

“You know then?”

“It’s no big deal. It was a long time ago. So why are you still in contact with Alaric at all?”

“I told you, we have a history. Our families, our pasts are connected.”

“You were with him the night he killed Doran Nightlander.”

She crossed her legs and pulled her jacket tight.

“I was there. What has Alaric told you about it?”

“Nothing really, aside from the fact that you were there and you saved his life. He isn’t one for details so that’s all I know.”

“It wasn’t a high point in his life, or mine for that fact. We don’t talk about it.”

“I’ve always wanted to know what really happened. Seems odd that a seventeen year old boy would kill the most powerful wizard in the Crystal Mountains all by himself.”

“I understand you’re quite the historic scholar. I don’t blame you for wanting to know everything, but sometimes it is better if history is not investigated too deeply.”

“You know Olivia, it would be easier for you to tell me about how Alaric killed Doran, and how you saved Alaric now rather than to have me pry it out of you later.”

“Alexander, please.”

“Why are you protecting someone who physically and mentally abused you? Alaric didn’t kill Doran did he? Someone else was there that night.”

She squinted her eyes at him. “The official story was that Alaric killed Doran and his men. The fact is that it didn’t happen that way. You are correct in your assumption that someone else killed Doran and his men.”

“Who was it? ”

“I killed them. All of them.”

“Olivia, don’t lie to me.”

“I’m telling you the truth. ”

“Doran was one of the most powerful wizards alive. You were just a girl.”

“I’m also a wizard, a very powerful wizard at that, remember?”

“You couldn’t handle Dare Crow back in Allegory. How do you expect me to believe you could neutralize Doran Nightlander, much less a dozen other men?”

“Believe what you want. I’m so sick of the lies and pretending. If it had been my brother I’m sure you would have believed him.”

“Oh come on…”

“The truth of the matter is that the meeting with Doran wasn’t accidental. He had been searching for me for years. He planned to …just forget it. You’ll never understand what I went through much less believe me.” She started to stand but Alexander caught her hand.

“Doran was looking for you? Why would he want you?”

“Why wouldn’t he want me? I’m Jonathan Snowhawk’s daughter. One of the chief ways to get to your enemy is to take what is most precious and turn it against him.”

“Why not take Justin?”

“Because I was the rare female wizard child, in a time when most wizards in the Crystal Mountains had been eliminated by the Nightlander clan. If both parents are wizards that will guarantee their children will all be wizards. As far as anyone knew I was the only known female wizard of any power left in the country. I was the key to passing on their magic for future generations. They wanted me for breeding.”

“That’s insane.”

“Everything was insane.” She crossed her arms and leaned back into the corner of the couch. “Since you don’t believe me, just forget I said anything to you about it.”

He gently put his hand on her knee. “If you’re telling the truth then show me your memories. Memories can’t lie.”

She brushed his hand off of her leg. “Forget it. You either believe me or you don’t.”

“You don’t trust me, do you?”

“Not anymore than you trust me. I’m not letting you into my head.”

Alexander had to laugh. “We can’t go on like this. We need to have some amount of trust between us. Show me what happened.”

“No.”

“Show me. I know you’re not lying but I need to understand.” He stared into her eyes for what seemed like an eternity. The bright teal color flecked with gray was as cold as the northern sea.

“I can’t.”

“You can. You will.” It was an order cold and clear. “Olivia, do it now.”

“Dare Crow said he would lock me up if I ever did any magic around you.”

“ I will handle Crow. Show me what happened with Doran Nightlander. You know you want to, otherwise you wouldn’t have told me about it in the first place.”

“Promise on your word as the Crown Prince of the Northwestern Kingdom that you’ll not tell a soul what you see or take any action against me for what you are about to see.”

“It’s that bad?”

“Promise me.”

“I promise you, Olivia Snowhawk, on my honor as Prince of the Northwestern Kingdom that I will not speak of what you show me tonight, nor will I take action against you for anything you did that night.” He gave her a warm smile that would have melted any other woman and almost for a second melted her.

Out of control again, she wanted to smack Alexander’s face but she kept calm. “Fine, I’ll show you but don’t blame me if you have nightmares for the next year.” she said scowling at him. “Give me your hands, palm down.”

He brushed his hand through his hair and put his hands out for her to take. He’d done this with Ellie when they were younger. She’d show him her memories of places she’d been and things that had happened in school. Over the years Dare Crow and others in law enforcement and government had shared brief images of events he needed to understand. It was an odd experience to say the least but thrilling too.

“This isn’t a good idea,” Olivia said.

He smiled at her. “I know you want to show me what happened.”

She stared at him again with a slight squint in her eyes. He locked his eyes on her and wouldn’t let go. He’d rarely seen anyone holding back so much anger.

“I’ll show you everything,” she said, “Just be prepared. It isn’t pretty.” Olivia closed her eyes for a few seconds then looked at Alexander. “Don’t judge either Alaric or me for what happened. It wasn’t your battle to fight and I don’t know if you can understand yet that our lives were not the same as yours. We didn’t go to school or have carefree teenage years filled with parties and dances. We were trained to fight and survive. We wanted to be children but we didn’t have that luxury.”

She looked at his hands and rubbed the tops with her thumbs, almost a lover’s caress. Unlike her touch, the sound of her voice was cold and distant. He could feel a slight warmth moving from his hands up to his arms and shoulders. A wizard’s touch.

“Stop me anytime you feel uncomfortable.” She sat in front of him and held his hands. He felt a slight tingle in his fingertips. Olivia closed her eyes for a few moments and took a few deep breaths. He suddenly had an overwhelming wave of desire for her. He leaned over to brush his lips to hers, when she sat up straighter, away from his face, opened her eyes and spoke in the old language. “I haven’t done this in a while, so I can’t guarantee how well it will go. It is important for you not to ask any questions or talk until I’m done. Relax. Close your eyes. Don’t let go of my hands until I let go. Alright, here we go.”

 

Vivid images, sounds and smells entered Alexander’s mind. Dusk in the woods. The trees were gnarled and tangled. Snow was deep on the ground. He could feel and smell the bite of the cold winter night. Two teenagers with packs on their backs hiked along. The tall young man was Alaric, about 16 or 17 years old. The other teen was smaller, a lot smaller. Two long braids hung out from under a cap, falling a few inches below her knees. He saw the face. She was just a baby, maybe 14 at the oldest. It was Olivia, with a freckled unadorned adolescent face. A dull pain throbbed in her balled up, almost useless right hand. The girl was crippled and in constant pain.

Olivia looked at Alaric; she was in love with him. Alaric never noticed her that way.

Next he saw an ancient stone structure with a high tower. The snow fell harder. They made their way to the locked door. Olivia held her hands over the rust covered lock. It clicked off and with a glance from Olivia the heavy door opened with a groan.

Alaric removed his heavy coat to reveal the broad shoulders covered by a heavy sweater. His dark ringlets curled over his shoulders and down his back. He already had the arrogant serious look that he wore as an adult. However Alaric’s fresh young face could have been that of any teenage boy who was lost, tired and trying to hide that he was also frightened.

She lit a blue light. Dropping the big coat Alexander saw she already had her luscious curves. Those curves were a burden for a girl so young. She wore a dark well-worn and patched sweater pulled down over layers of skirts and heavy scuffed boots. An untied knit scarf hung from her neck. Her ears were already pierced with three small studs in each, two in her ear lobes and one at the top curve of each ear. She wore a dozen beaded bracelets on her small wrists that were her own handiwork made from discarded and broken jewelry she’d found and squirreled away in secret.

There were weapons in the trunks. Odd highly destructive and illegal weapons. It was unlike anything they had ever seen. It looked as though nobody had been there for months or even years.

“I’m never going to hear the end of it from my dad.” She knew what Jonathan was worried about. She’d freeze to death in the snow or worse lose her virginity to Alaric. He and his brothers already had reputations with girls. She’d told him time and again that she could take care of herself but Jonathan never listened.

Alaric went to work checking their surroundings. He surveyed the room like an experienced soldier. “Did you set any spells yet?”

“Sure, I locked the front door. I also made footprints going back out into the forest. They aren’t great but it looks like real feet.”

“Why don’t you do more magic? You could enchant everyone in the Baron’s army.”

“Who told you that?”

“I over heard the adults last week. You scare the shit out of them.”

“It scares me.”

“You’re so useless. If any other girl was here instead of you…”

“You would have been up her skirts and forgetting how lost you are. Dick head.” She rubbed the dust off of an elaborate old mirror and stuck a few poses.

“Think you’re pretty?” Alaric asked with a look of disgust.

“One day, I might be pretty and fall in love with a handsome wizard.”

“Who filled your head with ideas of romance?”

“Nobody,”

“Well, don’t get your hopes up because you’re so freaking strange and ugly only things any guy will be looking at will be your big tits.”

“Asshole.” The mirror glass exploded sending glass flying in his direction. He ducked under one the open trunks.

“Stop it.”

“Why are you so mean to me?” tears brimmed in her eyes.

“Just shut the fuck up and get some heat in here.”

“I’m not ugly.”

“You’re sure as hell not pretty.”

She already knew why he didn’t like her. He resented the fact that she was a wizard and she could throw a knife better than any of the boys in their group. He wanted to be a great fighter and ended up as a baby sitter to the weird wizard girl. Now they were lost and it was his fault. She made a ball of smokeless flames in the old fireplace. It wasn’t much but it would heat the room.

“Hands,” she demanded holding out her own to him. He pulled off his worn gloves and took her hands. Heat radiated through his body.

“Thanks,” he said, and then turned to look more at the weapons.

They talked of staying the night. It was another 5 or 6 miles to the safe house. It was already dark and snowing hard. She thought of making a snotty remark about his insistence on taking a short cut but thought better of it. She didn’t want to make him mad. Even if he was an asshole, he was the most handsome boy she’d ever met. All the girls worshiped the ground he walked on.

She started chatting away about the weapons in an attempt to impress him with her knowledge when without warning Alaric pinned her to the back of chair she was sitting on and kissed her. She tried to push him back but he continued, his hand went up her sweater working quickly to get at her bare skin. Despite her attempts to push him away he continued work on getting her clothing undone. “Relax. You’ll like it. I promise.” He kissed her again. She turned her head away from him in a panic.

“My dad will kill me if he finds out.”

He stood up in disgust. “Your first kiss and you’re worried about what your daddy will think. You want to die a virgin Livy?”

“Leave me alone.” Tears blurred her vision as she got up and headed to the door.

“You’re fucking crazy. Any other girl would be begging me to be making out with her right now.”

“Go to hell.”

As she reached the door it flew open almost knocking her to the floor.

The next image was a blinding flash of yellow light. Wizard light. Three men grabbed Alaric. Two were giant muscular men with long dark hair. Third was smaller and looked like a rat wearing a coat richly decorated in bronze and copper colored embroidery. He was obviously someone important.

A fourth came through the door, the Baron’s youngest son Doran Nightlander. He was in his early thirties. The most beautiful man she’d ever seen. His hair was the same color as Olivia’s, brown shot with auburn, long and silken flowing down his back. His eyes were golden brown like jewels. At the time he was the most powerful wizard in the Crystal Mountains. He seemed to know who Olivia was.

He approached her holding out his gloved hand. His smile was warm and inviting. His voice was calming. “So, here you are my little wizard girl. I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Do you remember me? No? I’m not going to kill you. In fact, you’re in for a real treat.”

Doran glared at Alaric. “How dare you treat her with disrespect.” Alaric screamed with pain inflicted by some invisible hand.

The wizard took Olivia aside and made her turn around for inspection. “You’ll clean up nicely,” he told her. “You have the sweet face of a girl but already the body of a woman.”

 

He took her hand and led her up the stairs and unlocked the door. “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to help. I’m your friend. Remember that.”

At the top of the stairs was a chamber with a large bed. It was an elaborate lush room made for comfort. Doran closed the door. Olivia heard the click of the lock behind her.

“This is where my mother used to meet her lovers. After her sons were born she needed assurance she was still desirable.”

He picked up a picture. “This is mother. Words can’t express how much I miss her.”

She’d seen pictures of her before, the Baroness Nightlander. The woman was stunning. Olivia had never known anyone could be so beautiful. She could see the resemblance in Doran.

“You look like her,” Olivia said, barely able to get the words out. Her heart was pounding fast. She was terrified and uncomfortable with his talk about his mother’s lovers, but trying to keep calm.

“Yes, I look like her. My dear departed brother Robbie looked more like our father. And my other brother…he was a traitor, now he’s a dead traitor.”

Olivia held the picture in her hands still looking at the lovely face. “She died in childbirth,” whispered Olivia. That much she knew of the Baroness.

“That is what we tell everyone, but it isn’t true. My mother gave birth to my beautiful little sister, who died a few minutes after her first breath. My father suspected the child wasn’t his and stabbed my mother in the heart. She was exhausted from childbirth and too tired to use her magic to defend herself. He later found out the baby was his. You can’t imagine how angry I was at him. I’ll get even with the old bastard eventually, then I’ll be the Baron of the Crystal Mountains.” He smiled at Olivia and took the picture of his mother in his hands. “One day soon you’ll be as beautiful as she was.”

He took a dress out of the wardrobe and handed it to her. “Put this on. I’d love to watch but I’ll turn my back for you.”

Olivia stood motionless clutching the dress. Doran lowered his voice in a demanding tone. “Put the dress on now.” He turned to the window with a smile.

Frightened, she quickly stripped off her worn clothes and put on the dress. Never in her life had she felt fabric so soft or touched anything so beautiful. It fit her as if it were made for her.

“Turn around” Doran told her. He gently unbraided her hair and fanned it out over her back and shoulders. It fell almost to her ankles. Look at yourself he turned her again towards a full-length mirror. “This is your future.”

She gazed at herself. Her serious face cracked a small smile. The teal color of the dress matched her eyes.

Doran lifted her chin and looked into her face. “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to rescue you my love.” He held her gaze. Everything became quiet. She was frozen as if in a trance, unable to move or see anything outside of Doran. “You’re going to be my partner. You’re going to vow to love me forever, even after death and in turn I shall worship the ground you walk on.”

Doran kissed her. Not like a hormone crazed boy but like a man, slow and sensuous. She’d never imagined how wonderful a real kiss could be. He held her close in a gentle embrace. Olivia felt so warm and safe with his arms around her. She could hear his heart beating slow and steady. He stroked her hair and gently spoke to her.

She felt something she’d never felt before – desire for a man.

“Tonight you’ll become a woman and the world will be ours.” He kissed her again making her almost feel like jelly in his arms. “Such a pretty sweet thing.” His lips moved to hers again. Olivia closed her eyes and was lost as if in a trance. He was going to take her away from it all just like the stories she’d read about Hyacinth meeting the handsome Prince Florien in the Northwestern Kingdom, and they’d live happily ever after.

From his pocket he pulled a gold necklace with a large golden stone. Purple and blue light sparkled in it.

“This belonged to my great grandmother Starfire. You know who she was, a powerful wizard, the mother of our country. One day you too will be a great wizard like her. Consider this symbol of your future.”

He put the necklace around her neck. She could feel a surge of magic tingle down to her fingers.

“You’ve always felt like an outcast, haven’t you my little wizard girl? Tonight you’ll sleep in this beautiful bed, not on an old rug on the floor. You’ll be treated with the respect you deserve.”

He gently pulled her down on the bed and kissed her again. His hand drifted to her hip.

“Doran, if my dad finds out I’m here with you, making out…”

“I know Jonathan Snowhawk. We used to be friends. I know he’d approve.” He kissed her again “Clear your mind my beauty. Clear your mind of all the pain that has followed you for so long. Close your mind of all the horrible things you were forced to do.” He unfolded her fisted fingers. She pulled back in pain.

“Let me see. Poor darling.” Doran then kissed the palm of her right hand. The raised scar grew thinner and smooth. The cruel pain she felt in it for as long as she could remember vanished. She opened her damaged hand painlessly and with ease for the first time she could remember. He smiled at her. “This is the first of many gifts of love I’ll have for you. I’ll make you whole, I promise.”

She felt uneasy, unsure of what he was feeling or her own feelings. She was too young to understand why he spoke of love to her but she knew it was wrong. She knew she was too young. There was something else about him, something familiar. She did seem to belong with him. The jumble of thoughts and emotions confused her.

She lay back on the bed, trying to read his thoughts. Then she remembered who he was. She’d been sucked into his world through thoughts and dreams before.

This was the man who had caused hundreds of thousands of deaths of innocent people. He’d started the practice of disassembly – taking prisoners of war and political prisoners apart one body part at a time until they died. This was the man who is responsible for the slaughter of 90% of the Crystal Mountain wizards,including men, women and children. This was the man who had imprisoned her father Jack Snowhawk for over a year. This is the man she’d used her own magic against to keep him from further torturing and mutilating the woman Jack loved.

Olivia locked up that portion of her mind so Doran couldn’t get to her, giving him a sweet smile. Lies came easy to Olivia. It was the only way she could survive without going completely crazy.

“I’m only 14,” she said, trying to stall him.

“You’ll be 15 in two months time. Old enough to know the love of a man.”

His voice calmed her and made her want to completely surrender to him. She kept her composure and kept his magic from touching her. “I don’t know what to do. I’m scared.”

He sat up and pulled her up too. “We’ll get to know each other better. I will teach you. This is what I offer you.” He took her hands and showed her visions that astounded her, of what life with him could be. What surprised her was that she wanted what he showed her more than anything. She belonged in the world that he showed her. She belonged with Doran. He took away her pain. He showed her love. He told her that she was lovely, when everyone else around her viewed her as plain weird wizard girl.

 

There was a noise from below. He went to the door and called down   “Kill the Shadowford brat”.

Before Olivia could shout for them to stop, she willed them to die with her mind, with her own magic. The three men lay in a heap on the floor. Blood came out of their ears and noses. The smaller man twitched as his lifeless glassy gold eyes stared in her direction. The bodies went up in flames.

A chill of pure fear ran through Alexander. He could smell the blood and burning flesh. He involuntarily shuddered.

“Stay in there, I’m not finished.” Whispered Olivia, heat from her hands radiated through his body.

Doran pulled her back up the stairs and tighter to him then laughed. He didn’t care his men were dead. He was delighted by the fact that she could kill with the power of her mind. He laughed with joy. “This is better than I imagined. Olivia my love, you are such a rare and wonderful treasure. By the gods of the stars, this is the beginning of a new age.”

“I didn’t mean to kill them.” Olivia barely got the words out.

“Of course you did my lovely beautiful perfect little wizard,” he kissed her again and then laughed.

Olivia had a sense that Alaric was dying. She could feel his life slipping out of his body She tried to get down the stairs but Doran stopped her. “Let him die. He will be nothing but trouble to you.”

“He’s my friend.”

“That resentful adolescent bastard? Tell me Olivia, will you call him your friend when he beats you and belittles you in the name of love?”

Alexander went cold. It was a vision of what was to come. He thought of Simon’s hate for Alaric.

“Don’t go there Alexander, let’s stick to this story” Olivia said out loud.

Doran took Olivia’s face in his hands.” You’ll learn our ways. You’ll learn to channel your power. You’ll learn to love like you’ve never imagined. Tell me you’ll love me forever Olivia Starfire and we’ll rule the world together.”

“I can’t do this. What if I get pregnant?” It sounded so desperate. She sounded so young.

“My precious darling little wizard, don’t worry about that. I’ll take care of everything.”

Alexander heard Olivia’s adult voice speaking aloud but saw her violent memories in his mind.

Olivia spoke out loud. “I don’t know exactly what happened except that a surge of fear ran through my soul. I wasn’t thinking about Alaric. I was thinking about all the innocent people Doran and his minions had tortured and killed. I pulled myself together and smiled, making him think that I was willing to give myself to him. I leaned into him and kissed him.

She kissed him and whispered in his ear, “I’ll learn to love you Doran. I’ll be a real woman for you.”

He put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer. The passion of her kiss intensified. A low groan of pleasure came out of him.

She looked into his golden eye,s “I don’t want to wait. I want to know what it’s like to be with a man. Please, Doran, I’ll be yours now. Right now. Teach me now.”

“ It was the most convincing lie I’d ever told. Just as his hands started to slide the dress from my shoulders I slipped my dagger out of the sleeve and stabbed him. One upper thrust through the heart just like my father had taught me. Then I stabbed him in the neck. Doran just fell limp right on top of me, with my hand still frozen to the hilt of my dagger. It seemed like I lay there underneath him forever while all his blood drained out on me. It felt like someone was running hot syrup over me. When I finally pulled the knife out of Doran’s neck and pushed him off of me the blade of my dagger blazed up like a paper knife and was gone. God, it was strange.”

Olivia said nothing for a few seconds. Alexander looked at her sad expression. She gave him a quick glance.

“Doran Nightlander, the most powerful wizard in the Crystal Mountains was dead.”

She stood and backed away from the body and stared at him for what felt like hours. Then she pulled off his rings and took the medallion from around his neck. She emptied his pockets into her own. Next she went through the trunk that had belonged to the Baroness. Olivia jammed the love letters and jewelry into a bag. She took the small portrait of the beautiful and gentle Baroness, then sat on the floor and cried until she thought she would pass out.

Alexander suddenly saw a jumble of images and feelings. A woman in an elaborate blood covered dress on the floor, her face covered in blood, her arm severed just below the elbow. A man held by chains attempting to get to her. An unseen child screaming.

Is that the Baroness? Alexander asked.

“Crystal Fox, my…dad’s partner, Doran had her tortured, years before…I killed Doran for her, because of what he’d done to her and so many others. My thoughts aren’t on track anymore,” said Olivia. “I’m sorry, you shouldn’t have seen that. “ Olivia dug her fingernails into Alexander’s wrists. He was back in the tower, seeing the scene through Olivia’s 14 year old eyes.

“I scrambled down the stairs and found Alaric on the floor bleeding from a beating and a knife wound in his neck. He should have died of internal injuries, but I was able to save him with my own wizard healing. My abilities seemed to suddenly grow stronger in my fear.

I’d never known life without war. I’d killed before, with firebombs and thoughts, but this was different. It was with my own hands. There was nothing heroic or noble about it. It was ugly and sad. I knew he was evil, but killing Doran Nightlander left a hole in my soul that I couldn’t understand. I felt a strange bond with him. In a horrible perverse afterthought I wanted to be with Doran, to be his partner, his lover, to live in his world of comfort and luxury. I wanted the pageantry and ceremony. I wanted to be in a place where I’d never be cold or hungry, or in pain.” She paused to compose her emotions.

“I saved Alaric from bleeding to death, I healed him with my wizardry, but I felt like a traitor. Then I realized that was what Doran wanted me to feel. He wanted me to feel like I was one of them, like a Nightlander or one of their true followers. He wanted me to turn against my own family and friends.”

She caressed Alexander’s hands again but her attention was on her story. “When Doran died it was the beginning of the end. The Baron died a month later. The Nightlanders were more or less gone. Within a year the fighting stopped. Alaric was the brave young hero everyone needed.

Anyway, to finish off the story, Doran had six more guards posted outside the door, watching the woods. They had no idea what had gone on inside. I killed them the same way I’d killed his other men.”

Alexander took in a breath.

“I had to kill them, I had no other choice. It was them or Alaric and me. Later than night I contacted my dad. He was there by noon the next day.”

Knowing Alexander would ask she added, “I can speak to people in their dreams or come to them as a phantom while they’re awake.”

Alexander saw the 14-year-old Olivia again, still in the beautiful dress now covered in blood. She had been crying. Tears streaked her face. A 36-year-old Jonathan Snowhawk stood next to her, tall with broad shoulders, his hair not yet touched with grey. His handsome brow was furrowed with worry. Jonathan spoke to Olivia in a gentle voice. His emerald green eyes locked on hers. “Never tell anyone what Doran asked of you or that you killed him. Let them think Alaric did it. There are men, even on our side who will hunt you down and kill you if they discover what happened between you and Doran.”

“Dad, he was so beautiful. He kissed me. He said he loved me. I told him that I wasn’t ready. I told him that I’m just a girl.” She started to sob again.

“Did he take you as a man takes his partner?”

“No, almost but no. I killed him.” She buried her head in his shoulder crying even harder now.

“Don’t think about it anymore. Forget the night ever happened.”

“Don’t let them hurt me.”

There had always been people who wanted Olivia dead, who told Jonathan he should have killed her at birth because of her wizardry and odd ways.”

He held his daughter tight and told her he loved her more than anything in the world. He made her swear she’d never use her magic again. He promised her that he would do everything in his power to keep her safe. Olivia sobbed on not caring if she ever saw Alaric again.

“I’ve shown you too much,” Olivia said, still tightly holding his hands in hers. He could hear the sadness in her voice. Without letting him answer she continued her story. “My father was afraid to let me near wizards, even good wizards. He told forbade me ever to mention Doran Nightlander again or any other members of the Nightlander family. He watched me like a hawk around boys and men of any age.”

“Was he so afraid you’d become the woman Doran had promised you’d become.”

“He was afraid I’d kill again. That’s why the wizard community watches me. They don’t think I know, but they can’t fool me. I can feel them trying to get at me through their minds and their spies. It drives them crazy that they can’t will a heart to stop. I’m the only one who can do that. I’m the only one who can kill without leaving a trace.”

“You could kill me now?”

“No. It only works when I’m protecting someone else. I take no pride in killing. I did what I had to do to save Alaric and so many more. Doran was a monster. I had to stop him. Do you understand?”

“I understand what you had to do. You were brave. Most grown men wouldn’t have been so brave.” They sat in silence for a minute.

Alexander thought about how badly the young Alaric has treated Olivia. He’d bossed her around, called her strange and ugly then expect her to put out for him. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Doran had seduced her, but then she turned on him because she recognized his evil.

“You said Alaric saved your life later on,” Alexander said, knowing she’d been attacked right before she move to the Northwest Kingdom. Now he wanted to hear what really happened from Olivia.

“What?” She gave him a blank look.

“Earlier you said that Alaric saved your life. That was the bond that kept you connected.”

“It was a lot later. I won’t show you that.”

“Nothing could be worse than what I just saw.”

She gave a low mirthless laugh to herself “Sure it can. Twelve years ago, I was kidnapped and raped by a man. Someone I knew from my past.” She paused and looked away. “When I told my kidnapper I’d never love him, he went into a fury and almost killed me. I don’t want to share that memory with you or anyone else.”

“Olivia, I’m sorry.” Alexander reached for her hands but she quickly folded her arms preventing him from touching her.

“After I went missing, Alaric headed up the search to find me. I would have bled to death if he’d not been so relentless in his efforts. Six weeks later Simon met me at the border and I left the Crystal Mountains for good.” She was tired of his skirting what he did and didn’t know about her. “It’s no secret. You already knew about it before you even asked, didn’t you Alexander?”

“I knew there had been an attempt on your life by a former lover. I didn’t know the details. I’m sorry. I promise I won’t ask about it again.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Alexander was almost numb at hearing her story, just as Tom had told him in Allegory. It changed every thought and emotion he’d had about her. He had a million questions he knew she’d never willingly answer. She looked at his concerned gaze. “I’m fine now, really. Don’t tell me you won’t ask about it again because I know you will.” she said.

“Where is he now, the man who hurt you?”

“Somewhere in the wild lands north of the Crystal Mountains, but I don’t know for sure. That’s why I keep in touch with scouts, in case he shows up at the borders, I know to watch out.” she sighed.

“Are you safe with him out there?”

“I’m safe enough. Don’t worry about me.” She took a deep breath and looked down at her hands, rubbing the scar on her right palm. Looking up at Alexander, Olivia smiled.

“I never imagined I’d be living anywhere so peaceful, sitting on a porch drinking wine with a handsome prince, telling him about the nightmares I’ve lived. Let’s stop this ugly conversation. We should be talking about wine and what books we’re reading and gossiping about our mutual friends.” she paused and took a sip of wine.

“You’re very brave,” he said taking her hand again.

“Aside from my father, you’re the only one who knows the full story of my encounter with Doran Nightlander so I’d appreciate it if you kept it to yourself.”

“Nobody else?”

“Not even my brother.” She paused and took a deep breath. “There is one other person. During his interrogation, Detective Crow, damn him, dug part of it out of my memories.” She thought of when Darious kissed her and suddenly felt almost naked in front of Alexander.

“Why tell me all of this after all these years of silence?”

Olivia stammered, “I wanted you to hear it from me, and not from Crow. But that isn’t it, not really, Alexander, I shared my secrets with you because I feel safe in your presence. You have the background and understanding in these matters not to judge me for things I had to do. That’s what you wanted after all isn’t it, for me to trust you?”

“That’s not the real reason. Come on Olivia, after what happened in Allegory, you don’t trust me as far as you can spit.”

“I thought you’d understand…” she paused and took a deep breath, almost a sigh, then continued. “Oh screw it. I hear the respect and awe in your voice when you speak of Alaric. Doran was right in what he said about Alaric. He treated me like dirt, all the while knowing that I’d risked my life to save him. Alaric knows I’d never share our secret. He knows he could live the lie forever and get away with it. I know I’ll sound shallow and self serving for saying this, but it makes me sick every time I think of women practically waiting in line to jump into Alaric’s bed because he’s a hero. He uses it to has advantage whenever he gets a chance, whether it’s for diplomatic or romantic reasons and there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it.”

“I’m glad you shared that with me, as bad as it is.”

“That isn’t the worst of it. Alaric’s plan was to come here for a few years then bring me home as a trophy. He’d tame the wild and rebellious Olivia Snowhawk and bring her back to the Crystal Mountains once and for all. It didn’t matter if he cheated on me and treated me like I owed him something. A hero should get whatever he wants, no matter if that wish is for me to become his personal property. Everyone I knew back in the Crystal Mountains thought I was crazy not to vow my love to him. He played into it too, acting like the broken hearted hero and enjoying their sympathies while living in The Capitol having more than his share of women. Damn him all to hell.”

“Do you plan on telling anyone else about this?”

“Not anytime soon. Like you, my dear prince, I don’t air my dirty laundry in public.”

“Unfortunately almost everything in my laundry basket eventually goes public whether I like it or not. ”

“No you’re wrong. What about Viola’s betrayal to you? Viola kept you out of her bed because she loved another man. She wanted your title and she wanted your name for her children but she didn’t want you. And in return you protected her and hid her actions from the public. You made it look like the break-up was your fault.”

“I still wonder why I protected Viola. I could have ruined her reputation. I could have prevented her from ever seeing her new lover again.”

“Because you chose to take the high road and be a better person than she was.”

“You took the high road with Alaric as well. Did you feel as bad as I did?”

“It was worse for you. You loved Viola with all of your heart. I wanted to love Alaric but now I know it was just wishing I could love him the way Simon loves Ellie.”

“We’ll love again, both of us. I’m sure of that.”

“You’re too sweet. Go back to being your usual rude self so I won’t have to feel so awful.”

She closed her eyes for a second. Alexander wondered if she was going to cry.

“Olivia, you didn’t do anything wrong. Not in killing Doran and his men. Not when you broke it off with Alaric. “

“Don’t tell anyone what I’ve said or what I’ve shown you tonight.”

“I gave you my word, as your friend and as your prince.”

She mouthed the words thank you, got up out of her chair and stretched.

“Where are you going?”

“For a walk. Come with me.” She reached out her hand for Alexander’s then dropped it on the sound of feet coming down the deck.

 

Michael and the boys came bounding down the steps to join them. Tom was in the house talking with Bob and Roy.

They walked down the patch and looked at the stars. She knew all the constellations and planets. She knew myths of many cultures. He told her that he’d take her to the observatory south of the capitol when they returned home.

Michael gave her a knowing grin. She swore he could read her mind as well as Detective Crow. Michael reminded her of her younger brother. It made her guilty thinking that she had missed so much of her younger siblings lives.

She didn’t know why she’d opened up to Alexander and shared her secrets.   She almost took his arm but decided against it. She noticed he was cold and suggested they go back. This was a temperate land where it rarely snowed in the capitol.

 

Five days before she had met Alexander. Less than a week. But then again she had met men at parties and fell for them the first night. But this wasn’t a party. It was business. He was unavailable and she might as well have been. She found herself telling him things she never had told anyone before. She felt herself feeling things she hadn’t felt in years.

 

What was it about him? He made her angry with his constant questions.

 

The physical attraction was clear. It almost took her breath away.

 

It was the easy way they talked. It was the odd little things like the ferns embossed on his portfolio and saddle. It was the way he was relaxed in the kitchen and how well he took the joke with Roy. She enjoyed watching the banter between Alex and Tom.

 

Alexander took her hands and kissed her cheek. She held her breath and closed her eyes for a moment. He lingered, his cheek against hers. It could have lead to more, but he let go of her hands.

“There’s something I wanted to ask you about the Crystal Mountain courting rituals.”

“We don’t get married in the way you do. Is that it?”

“No, it’s not that. Most of the really bad cases of enchantments, unbreakable enchantments of the heart, come from wizards of The Crystal Mountains. It seems to me to be almost a romantic ritual in some cases, connected perhaps to vows of love.

“An enchantment of the heart isn’t a romantic ritual and has nothing to do with vows of love, it’s a serious violent crime.”

“What do you know about enchantments?”

“I know it is extremely rare and dangerous. In most cases the enchantment is never broken. In most cases the burden of the enchantment is like a disease, eventually killing the victim by wearing him or her out both physically and emotionally.”

“Do you know anyone who is enchanted?”

“It isn’t something those who are enchanted readily share with others. Ask Detective Crow if you want population statistics. He’s the expert.”

He looked at her and smiled. “I think you and Dare would be good together.”

“Darious Crow is too much like Alaric Shadowford.”

“You’re wrong. Get to know him better.”

“No thank you.”

“Don’t give up on love Olivia.”

“Good night Alexander. I’ll see you when the sun comes up.”

 

 

Olivia went to the kitchen to fix some tea before she went to her room for the night. Michael was in the adjoining room looking at some maps. She thought about Crow for a second. The memory of his kisses still made her feel hot and nervous. Then her mind went to Alexander. She’d shared with him something she’d never shared with anyone. She had given him a bit of her heart and soul that she’d she’d never be able to take back. It was like being with a friend she would have forever.

What a manipulating charmer Alexander was, she thought to herself. Suddenly she was wracked with pain. She fell on her knees. Her head was being crushed in a vice. It was though a spear had been driven into her back. Her chest felt crushed. Michael came to her side. He knew what it was, she had never told him, but he knew. He had seen the prince kiss her cheek. He saw the way she looked at him. He put on some hot water, then he put a cold rag on her forehead. He had been through this before. Annie and Simon knew as well. Before he had left Simon told him what to do if she had a bad attack.

 

Change the subject he thought as he stroked her hair. He talked about going to the book dealer at Lockwood. That would get her attention. There was going to be a poetry reading. There were some new landscapes showing at the gallery, ocean scenes. He reminded her that she loved being near the ocean. They had to take a break. She gave him a weak smile for his efforts, then staggered to the sink and threw up. He held her hair back out of her face with one hand and rubbed her back with the other. He put his arm around her waist and got her back into the chair before she sank to the floor. She put her head on the table. He brought her a wet cloth to wipe her face. Blue light he thought.

“Olivia, can you light the lantern? Light the lantern.” He put a small lantern he’d found on the counter in front of her. “Try to light it,” he said gently.

She managed to sit up and hold her hands over it. A flood of pain came over her again. She held her head in her hands. Closing her eyes she grasped the small lantern. A small blue flame started to grow. She took a deep breath and pushed it aside. She started to shake. He put his arms around her and held her until she was still. “I’m alright now,” she said with a raspy voice. She cleared her throat “I’m fine”.

He wanted to yell at her and tell her that she wasn’t fine at all. She was going to let this thing kill her if she continued to close herself off. They shared a pot of tea.

 

“Thank you Michael” she said her eyes brimming over with rare tears.

“You have to do something about this.”

“There is nothing to be done.”

“I’m going to talk to Ellie.”

“She can’t help. Nobody can help. Just let me be Michael. ”

Tom came in. He could see her shaking and the sweat on her forehead and above her lip.

“She’s had one of her attacks,” said Michael

She glanced at Tom and staggered off to the sink again.

Tom went to her as she sank to the floor and whispered, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Especially not Alexander.”

Tom carried her over to the couch. He held her hand “Be strong.”

“I am strong,” she gasped then she closed her eyes tight as the pain shot through her body again. Out of Michaels hearing range she whispered again to Tom “Michael knows I get sick like this, but he doesn’t know why. You don’t need to tell him.”

Then she took a deep breath again, pulled herself to her feet and started for the stairs. “It’s over. I’ll be fine.”

“Where are you going?” asked Michael

“To bed darling, to sleep.”

 

After she had gone Michael turned to Tom. “She’s enchanted, isn’t she?”

 

Tom shook his head. “Go to bed Michael.”

Michael stood his ground. “I figured it out a long time ago. Every time she looks at Alexander she gets a headache. That romantic walk they went on tonight just about killed her. I’ve seen this before, but never this bad. We have to talk about it. We can’t continue on our journey like this.”

Michael wanted to talk but Tom shook his head no. “She’ll be fine. Just accept it.”

Michael knew he couldn’t accept that.

 

~ to be continued

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Girl in the Woods: Part 18. Leaving Allegory, and Business at Home

Friday is here and that means another exciting chapter of Girl in the Woods, a serial novel I’m posting right here in 2016.

If you are new here please start from the beginning (CLICK HERE). This is a novel, not the usually stand-alone blog post. And remember no editors were harmed, or even used on this post. It is your sneak peak into the rough draft mind. Warning: Twists and Turns Ahead.

Girl in the Woods: Part 17

Leaving Allegory, and Business at Home

Morning Continued…

 

After she had dressed, Olivia woke Lenora from the sweet dreams of a young girl.

The only clothing the girl had was the whorehouse dress she’d worn the night before, a low cut dress of worn cheap gaudy fabric that was cut tight across the girl’s slight chest.

They were the same height but the girl was still thin and undeveloped. Her skin was pale and blotched with red. She had welts on her wrists that looked like a rope burns. It disgusted Olivia to think how the Mayor had violated this child.

“When you get to Meadow Creek you’ll get a complete new wardrobe. I’ll make sure you have the latest styles that all the girls your age are wearing. Lavender is the big color this year. You’ll look great in lavender velvet with a touch of cream colored lace. A short jacket with matching skirt and your hair in ribbons. In the meantime I’ll give you something of mine. “

Olivia gave the girl a of brown skirt and a trendy long blue wool jacket with small flowers embroidered into the fabric. Underneath the jacket went a white shirt of the softest cotton with a blue lace collar and matching cuffs. The buttons were gold stars. Lenore stroked the beautiful fabrics and stars in awe. Olivia belted and tucked the clothing so that it fit the slightly built girl.

“I’ve seen things like this in the fashion papers along with your picture. I never imagined in a thousand years I’d ever ever meet you and be wearing your clothes.”

“You need something else.” Around the girl’s neck she put a delicate gold chain with a single pink crystal suspended in the center of a delicate golden flower.

“I couldn’t take this. It’s too beautiful,” said the girl.

“It is my gift to you.”

“I’m just an orphan.”

“Me too.”

“You, an orphan?”

“Yes, my parents died in a horrible war. My brother and I were adopted by a wonderful crazy man who had no business raising children. And do you know what? I turned out just fine. You are a bright and beautiful girl. Today is the start of your new life. You’ll have friends and you’ll be loved. You’ll go back to school and even to the University.”

The girl started to cry. “I’m not a bad girl, really I’m not. I didn’t want to do those things with those men.”

Olivia held her close. She clung to Olivia. “Nobody will ever hurt you again. You not only have my protection but that of Prince Alexander.”

Olivia looked down from the window into the courtyard. Kings Soldiers were there. She felt a sudden panic. She knew it was just a reaction to her upbringing.

There had been a raid on the town. Alexander and Tom would be the only bait to get them all in one location. Illegal arms, money and magic were being transported to fund the rebels. The cult had to be shut down.

“Why didn’t we know about this?” asked Michael

Olivia understood the reasoning behind the decision. She later explained to Michael. He had grown up in a city and town of strong women. It offended him as much as it did her.

Alexander came in. Olivia was sitting with the girl showing her needlework stitches. It wasn’t what he had expected. This was a woman he called a cold hearted bitch not two days before. He noticed that Lenore was dressed in what looked to be Olivia’s clothing. The girl’s long hair had been pulled back in an elaborate braid with golden ribbons. Not a trace of make-up was left on her pretty young face. It was a scene of domestic bliss. It could have been a mother and daughter.

The girl stood up when she saw Alexander and gave a deep courtesy. Olivia stood as well and gave a slight bow of her head.

Alexander took Olivia’s hand. “May I speak to you alone?” They went to the next room, a small cold parlor. Tea was set out on a sideboard.

Alexander closed the door behind them and locked the door. Olivia didn’t react as he’d expected her to. In fact she didn’t react at all. She looked calm and collected, perfectly groomed and ready for a day of travel.

He noticed her eyes quickly scan the room as if looking for someone else, someone other than him.

“Well, good morning, again.” He said in his most cheerful morning voice, hoping he wouldn’t annoy her.

“Good morning.” she answered with a slight smile, but her voice was cool. “So, what did I do wrong today?”

“I’m not here to chastise you.”

Olivia said nothing. Despite her anger over the previous nights events, she didn’t have the stomach for a fight today. Alexander sort of reminded her of her father with his early morning cheerfulness that made absolutely no sense what so ever. She had learned to live with her father and she’d learn to live with Alexander.

“Dare Crow speaks highly of you. He said you were extremely understanding and gracious last night. He was impressed how you cared for Lenora.”

“Lenora is a remarkable girl considering how much damage has been done to her. She’ll go far with the right care and guidance.” She poured herself a cup of tea, then spoke, again with almost no emotion. “It was an interesting evening, to say the least, with both Jet Gilroy and Darious Crow.”

Alexander gently put his hand on her arm. “Dare told me he’d met with you last night. He said he was pretty rough with you. Maybe too rough.”

She shrugged stepping away from him. “We came to an understanding.”

He took the cup from her hand and set it on the table. Then he put his hand to the back of her head. “Hold on, I’m just checking on something. ‘He stroked the back of her head. Her hair was smooth and finer than he thought. He could tell she held her breath for a moment. They stood close, her chest almost brushing his own. He locked his eyes on hers knowing it would make her uncomfortable. “You have bump back here the size of an egg.”

“I’ll be fine.” She gently put her hand on his and pushed it away from her head. Then unable to fight it any longer she turned on him. “If anything like this happens again I’ll…”

“What will you do? Send Simon after me?”

“Take me seriously Alexander. I have neither the time nor the patience for the type of stunts Crow pulled last night.” She looked down. “Under any other circumstances I could have had him arrested for assault. But I assume he had your permission to hurt me and treat me like a criminal. Be happy I didn’t kill him.”

Alexander looked serious. “I am glad you didn’t kill him.” He’d had enough of her bravado. A little questioning by Crow shouldn’t have warranted a death threat. “After the chandelier dropped I suspected it might have been your doing. Dare told me you dropped it out of spite. Then he told me he’d lock you up in the darkest dungeon he could find if you ever did anything like that again.”

“He has no proof.”

“You could have blown up the entire room if you wanted to. Why didn’t you?”

Despite Alexander’s calm demeanor she bowed her head slightly. This wasn’t going to be easy. “Your highnesses, I rarely use my magic outside if own home. What I did was wrong and I take full responsibility.”

He crossed his arms as the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. He reminded her of her father. “Relax, you’re not in trouble. In fact I wish I’d thought of it myself.”

She looked at him in disbelief. “It doesn’t bother you that I’m a wizard.”

“Not at all, that is as long as you use your powers responsibly, which you obviously do, despite what Dare Crow thinks. By the way, Lord Mayor is under medical care this morning. Apparently he had a night of graphically violent nightmares.”

“His nightmares are no concern of mine.”

“He is under house arrest and will soon be taken to a prison in an undisclosed location.”

“Don’t expect me to feel sorry for him.”

“I don’t. Did you cause his nightmares?”

“He got what he deserved.”

Alexander just smiled. “Crow said you’re the best, that is at sending bad dreams to bad people.”

“It was for Lenora. He raped and tortured her. He took a part of her soul that she’ll never get back.”

“I know.”

“Are you and Crow going to punish me for the unauthorized use of magic?”

“No, Lord Mayor was overcome with guilt which caused him to go mad. I’ve ordered Dare to do the same. Do you do this sort of thing often?”

“Of course not. Why the game with Detective Crow? Why didn’t you just tell me up front who he was?”

“He wanted to check you out.”

“He checked me out alright. He expected me to go to bed with him.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” He said calmly, hiding his surprise. Son of a bitch. He should have known better than to leave her alone with Dare Crow.

“Don’t trivialize the situation.” Olivia snapped at him.

“I’m not trivializing anything. I needed to keep you and Michael out of trouble, so I asked Crow for assistance. He reluctantly agreed, and I stress reluctantly.” The words came out sounding shallow and plain flippant. Alexander wished he could start over.

“Pray tell, what sort of trouble did you think we’d get into?”

“Case in point, your actions last night at the reception. Why were you so hell bent on crossing the room to see Dare, thus getting the attention of Lord Mayor? Was it because you knew Dare wanted to seduce you or did you have legitimate business with him?”

“That question is totally unjustified. If Justin had been here, he would have been treated with respect. Had you been open and up front with me we could have avoided any trouble last night.”

You and Justin are opposites. If I’d met you without knowing who you are, I would have never guessed you were related.”

“Spare me. I’ve heard it all before. Day and night, fire and ice, summer and winter. Justin and I are of the same mind and the same heart. But, Justin is a stranger here. Had Justin rescued Lenora, Lord Mayor would have been missing his balls and half the town would have burned to the ground.”

Alexander stopped and smiled. No little delicate female here. “Universal Technologies has a strong presence in this country, thanks to your family. Your brother would hardly be considered a stranger.”

“I head up the International Division of Universal Technologies, which means all Universal business in this country. I thought I made it clear to you at Jake’s. ”

“Still, Justin is the main force behind most of the new technology. The message would have more credibility if he presented that technology to those who can be helped by it.”

“Who fed you that line of bull? I know the technology as well as Justin. As for creating and explaining the real life applications for that technology in the six country alliance, I outshine him on every level.”

“I don’t doubt your abilities, it’s just that Justin…”

“My brother is a foreigner with an accent so strong most locals can hardly understand him. His culture and values are strange, if not somewhat unnerving to most people in these parts. I’ve spent the past twelve years traveling this road and working with the people who live here. I know how the government works. I know how the local business environment works. The people we’ll be meeting with are my neighbors and friends. This is my home Alexander.” She pulled out her dagger and slammed it into the table. “ How dare you insinuate Justin is better for this job than I am.”

“I never said Justin was better than you.”

“You might not have said it out loud but I know you’re thinking it.”

He pulled the dagger out of the table and calmly handed it back to her. “Hear me out Olivia. I have never doubted your abilities, after all you are the head of one of the most respected, successful and well run organizations in the country. I suppose that’s why I’m so shocked at how insecure and angry you are.”

“Excuse me? In the past 48 hours you’ve done everything in your power to undermine me, strip away my authority and belittle me.”

“Where does all of your anger come from?”

Olivia wished he had been accusing, but his tone and expression showed quiet concern. She wasn’t ready to answer that question or anything else. Her fingers itched to grab her dagger again and throw it at something.

“I’ll tell you where my anger comes from. Last night, it was just like being back in the Crystal Mountains. Last night I was knocked to the ground, by a strange man who then proceeded to hold me prisoner all the while hurting me for not giving him what he wanted. I thought he was going to …” she stopped short of saying she thought she was going to be raped by another wizard with powers that she couldn’t control. A flurry of blue sparks flew around her feet. “No.” she whispered, making her hands into fists. “I have done nothing to deserve this and I will not tolerate this sort of treatment from you, Crow or anyone else. Do you understand?.”

A thought flashed in her mind of when Alexander had held her hand at the reception the night before. A dull painful realization came to the pit of her stomach that he really was just like her newspaper man. She thought of the words of Darious Crow “No wonder he thinks you’re a cold calculating bitch. Not like the perfect pink fluff he’s used to.” A sharp pain shot through her head. She closed her eyes for a second, then took a deep breath. “Damn it I don’t even like him. Stop the headaches.” She tried to counter act the pain with reason.

Alexander waited a few moments in silence looking at the woman pressing her hand to her forehead. He wondered about what seemed to be constant headaches. He said nothing, but watched her trying to control her pain. Horses and wagons could be heard in the courtyard below. He’d blown it with her and wondered if he could ever gain her confidence again.

“Olivia?” he asked out of concern. The sound of his voice jolted her out of her own thoughts.

“You promised I’d be safe.”

This was heart breaking. He’d never felt so bad about anything in his entire life. “I am truly sorry for what happened last night.”

She put her hand to her side and locked her eyes on his. “My reputation and success speaks for itself. If you are unable to accept that, I’ll leave you to finish this journey on your own.”

“Work with me on this,” he answered gently.

“Believe me, I want to work with you.” Another wave of searing pain swept across her skull. She took a breath trying not to show another display of weakness. He never answered the question of why he didn’t want to work with her. It didn’t matter. She had to prove him wrong.

“I know you do,” he said in a low voice, even quieter than before.

They continued to look in each other’s eyes, neither one looking away. Neither one giving up control. Olivia knew she had to submit. “Dear God” she thought “I never thought I’d be in this situation again, ever in my life. Damn you Alexander.”

“Prince Alexander, let us make a new start.” Then she spoke to him in the old language a greeting of solidarity. “I promise I will be your loyal ally and in time a true friend.” She offered her hand. He took her small hand. Her palm was ice-cold over the raised scar. He suddenly wanted to kiss her hand to warm it up but he refrained, instead firmly held it in both of his hands as a sign of friendship.

“Thank you. I’m looking forward to the rest of our journey.” He said gently, still holding her hand. “I promise you that nothing like last night will happen again.”

She was nothing like the amusing woman Simon and his other friends had described. Nothing like the woman in the interviews and articles he’d read. She was fighting him and defiant, yet there was fear in her. His thoughts were interrupted by voices outside the door. Tom and Michael laughing about something.

Olivia glanced towards the door then back to him. “Alexander, I have a request.” she said, gently sliding her hand from his.

“What is that?” he asked cautiously.

“Stop being an asshole. I’m serious.”

“So am I Olivia. So am I.”

 

___________________________

 

Warm in Alexander’s bed, Candi lay cocooned in a warm happy drug induced state, wearing nothing but the diamond and pearl necklace he’d given her. It was a true feeling of perfection, better than a new dress, almost better than a new man.

Alexander had given her the keys and told her to take advantage of his library. Sure, like that was going to happen. She spent her time there in the big beautiful bedroom.

She purred as her lover kissed her face and mounted her. What for the third, maybe fourth time tonight? She didn’t care. She was floating in a warm sea of pleasure, oblivious to the demands of her mother and the burdens of being a Real Princess. She thought of Alexander for a brief second before sliding her hands through her partner’s golden blonde hair and pulling his mouth to hers.

He looked so much like King Florien. She reveled in the fact that her mother could only fantasize about a moment such as this – being so intimate with the men in the King’s family.

She laughed out loud as he brought her to climax. He came hard then lay next to her, his blue eyes almost glowing. God, he was so gorgeous, almost as pretty as she was. And he was so nasty. He did things to her she could never imagine Alexander doing.

“Can I still see you after I get married?” Candi asked in a childish voice.

“Sure, you can.”

“Did I tell you Alexander wouldn’t go to bed with me?” She did her trademark pretty pout, sticking out her bottom lip and furrowing her perfect brow.”

“Yes, you did tell me,” about a dozen times already. You can shut up now.

Candi ran her hands through his hair. “Alexander is such a prude. I can’t believe you’re related.”

“He doesn’t deserve a woman like you.”

“I love you Graham.”

He didn’t answer as he slipped another vial under her nose to inhale. She closed her eyes again and melted into the pillows, to a place where everything was pink and yellow and perfect.

 

Girl in the Woods

Check back next week for the next chapter in Girl in the Woods. To start from the beginning CLICK HERE.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman