Rory Cubes #4 – A Purloined Scarab Beetle Pin

Ambrose padded across the footbridge. His bare feet slapped against the bridge’s well-worn stone walkway. If he had really wanted to, he could have walked with a little more care and refinement. But he didn’t really care about that. He wasn’t coming out here to impress anyone, hence the bare feet.

He stopped at the midpoint of the bridge and elbow-propped on the broad stone rail. He looked out into the darkened forest.

It’s all demented craziness. he thought. And I’m the demented crazy one. I don’t know why I let Anna talk me into these schemes of hers.

He reached into his bedrobe’s pocket and pulled out a small silver-painted box. He opened it.

A scarab beetle pin lay on a blue velvet cushion. The enameled carapace was an oil-slick combination of dark blue and yellow-green. Its jointed legs were silver and gold.

I’m not even sure why she wants this thing. It’s ugly.

“Oh! There you are!” Anna called out.

Ambrose startled and almost dropped the box. He turned to face her as she walked onto the bridge. “Just so you know, this is the last time I’m doing your bidding.”

She stopped in front of him. “You always say that.”

“This time I mean it.”

“Whatever.” She held out her hand.

He sighed and put the box in her hand.

Anna smiled brightly. “Thanks!” She opened the box and admired the pin. “Oh, it’s so pretty!”

“It’s a pin shaped like a bug.”

She shook her head. “You boys just don’t understand fine things.”

“It’s shaped like a bug.”

“Noooo, it’s shaped like an Egyptian scarab.”

“So?”

“It’s exotic!”

“It’s also something I’m going to get in trouble for when it comes up missing.”

She clicked her tongue at him. “I’m not going to keep it. I just want to borrow it.”

“Yeah, you’re borrowing it. Then, you’re going to lose it and will get blamed for its disappearance. You know, if you wanted to borrow it all that much, you could have asked my mother for her permission instead of forcing me to do all of this annoying subterfuge.”

“That’s true, but it makes it soo much more exciting this way.”

He shook his head. “If you don’t wind up imprisoned for wanton robbery by the time you’re twenty years old—”

“That will never happen and you know it.”

Ambrose frowned at her. “This is the last time I’m running shenanigans for you. I mean it.”

“Actually, you’re right. Tomorrow, my parents are going to ship me off to ‘self-improvement school’ or whatever it is they call it. ‘Finishing’ school? Whatever. I’m going to learn how to be a well-behaved and respected member of society.”

Ambrose burst out laughing, which earned him one annoyed Anna look.

“Gee, thanks for your vote of confidence.”

“No, it’s just…” He calmed down. “They are going to have their work well cut out for them. You will try to stay out of trouble, won’t you?”

“Of course!” She admired the pin one more time before handing the box to him. “Keep this safe for me. I want to wear it when they throw my ‘Welcome Home’ party.”

“I’m going to put this back where it belongs. If you want to wear it, you’ll have to ask my mother if you can.”

That earned him one more annoyed look. “Fine.”

Rory Cubes #4 – The Mind of Nox

Rory Cubes #2 – Preparing For Karaoke With A Fey And A Vampire

Isellta hugged the poofy sheep pillow Robin had given him for Christmas. It was lavender and chamomile scented as if someone had poured a whole cup of tea into it. He burrowed his face into it and inhaled. It wasn’t Robin’s bright tangerine scent, but it was good.

It was calming, not invigorating.

It was as tranquil as a hug before bedtime. 

It didn’t smell like Robin at all, but it made Isellta think of him anyway. He smiled and hugged it harder.

“Yes!” Robin entered the room, twirling a microphone like it was a baton.

Isellta perked up and flapped his large black feathery wings. “You found it!”

“Heck yeah!” He plugged it into the karaoke machine. “Ain’t got a clue why the heck it were under the bed.”

Isellta hugged the sheep one more time before setting it on the L-shaped couch. He walked over to Robin and lightly ran his fingers down the middle of the vampire’s messy brown hair.

Robin looked up at him and all of the love he felt for Isellta was there. It was easy to see. So plain on his face. Practically scrawled in the walls of the scar running through his eye and down his face.

Isellta knelt and traced the scar’s soft skin. “It still amazes me.”

“What?” Robin asked softly.

“That you are here and I am here. And we are together.”

He laid his hand on the side of Isellta’s face. “And we’re so happy. So in love.”

Isellta’s gaze dipped down to Robin’s mouth, to his lips.

And Robin’s lips curved up into a smile. Such an amazing smile.

Isellta couldn’t resist it. He leaned forward and gently kissed him.

Robin’s hands slid up into his hair.

Isellta’s wings flapped faster. Robin’s hands felt so good in his hair. They somehow made his blond hair feel like something fine and beautiful, like the best kind of alpaca fur.

The doorbell rang, interrupting them.

Robin swept Isellta’s bangs out of the way and kissed his forehead. “Prob’lly Ambrose and Raven.” He sighed. “Do we e’en gotta let them in?”

Isellta looked into Robin’s eyes – one a warm brown, the scarred one clouded over. But they were both beautiful in Isellta’s mind. “I guess we should.”

“Yeah. Guess so. Don’t want Am’rose to go yellin’ in my head like a freakin’ yak in labor.”

Isellta smiled and kissed him one more time. “I’ll get the door.” His wings relaxed.

“And I’ll double check all the selections.”

“Oh! Oh, are you going to include that pretty Beatles’ song?”

“What? Wait. Which one? They got sev’ral.”

Robin smiled lovingly as Isellta sang:
“There are places I remember
All my life
Though some have changed…”

He stopped. “That song.”

“Yeah. Was the first one I put on.” He smiled. “I knew you’d want it.”

Isellta’s wings fluttered happily as he went to open the door.

Rory Cubes #2 – The Mind of Nox

When A Stray Cat Meets A Vampire…

The smoke gray tabby lived alone. Any place that offered her shelter was home.

Underneath porch stairs.

Inside cardboard boxes.

Inside broken down and abandoned houses.

But when she slept, she dreamed of having a real home. 

A place that was warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.

A place where food and water was readily available. She wouldn’t have to hunt for either or fight for them. They would be there, sitting there, waiting for her.

A place with soft beds and soft perches.

A place of gentle hands and kind voices. No one would grab her by her scruff and toss her. No one would throw things at her. No one would yell profanities at her.

It would be more than a home. It would be a haven of safety.

It was her favorite dream.

***

The smoke gray tabby skulked down the sidewalk. She tried her best to be invisible. People were strange and unpredictable. The less they noticed her the better.

Venturing out for food was always a high risk, but it was one she couldn’t afford to ignore. And not just for the obvious reason. People picked on stray cats bad enough. But stray cats who looked half-starved were treated even worse.

She couldn’t afford to look half-starved.

She stayed on high alert as she skulked down the sidewalk. 

Watching for danger.

Watching for any conveniently dropped food.

Watching for any mice, birds, rats, or other prey that were stupid enough to cross her path.

Listening to the voices around her.

Getting ready to bolt if those voices came too close. If they came too close, they could accidently step on her. Or they could grab her and deliberately hurt her.

A dog broke through the pedestrians and charged right at her. She ran.

But he was bigger than her. His large feet thumped on the pavement. If he caught her, he’d eat her. She had no doubts about it. He was going to eat her.

But she refused to surrender. She ran as fast as she could. If she could just get to higher ground, she’d be safe. Needed to find higher ground. Needed to be safe.

She darted around flip-flops, sneakers, high heels, luggage on wheels, bikes, wheelchairs, and crutches.

But the dog wasn’t thrown off by her maneuvers. He stayed on her trail.

His feet thumped the pavement like a horseman of doom. His loud breathing overcame the noise of the crowd. He was going to catch her and eat her. She knew it. She just knew it.

There!

There was a tree in a bricked up planter right ahead. She ran to it and flew up into the tree. She climbed as high as she could and huddled tight to the thick branch.

The dog paced around the planter, barking.

She dug her claws into the branch and hoped the dog didn’t have any climbing skills.

He hopped onto the planter.

She bristled her fur. If he climbed up after her, she was ready to give him a good fight. The odds would not be in her favor at all, but she was willing to fight anyway.

She froze as a person ran to the dog. “Midge! You stupid dog!”

Midge barked one more time before turning her delirious attention to the human. She wagged her tail and whimpered and shimmied.

The human snapped a leash onto Midge’s collar. “You had me scared stiff. I thought I’d lost you this time.”

The cat held her breath and stayed as still as she could. She could not let the human notice her. He’d grab her and throw her and hurt her. No doubts about it.

But the human didn’t notice. He knelt before Midge and hugged her. “Don’t you ever do that again. Okay?” 

Midge chin-propped on his shoulder and seemed to smile.

“Come on. Let’s go back home.” He released her neck and led her away.

The cat relaxed, but she stayed up in the tree. It was safe up there and she needed to calm down after that whole chase scene.

She watched the people below. It amused her that she could see them, but they couldn’t see her. And it was the first time she’d seen them from this point of view. They were no longer dangerous feet and grasping hands. They were heads.

They were hats.

They were hair.

And such a variety of heights.

But none of them noticed her.

She happily tapped the tip of her tail against her front feet.

A person with black hair stopped near the planter. He looked up at her. His eyes were as dark as his hair. He smiled.

Her tail went still. Her pupils went wide. He was going to grab her! He was going to hurt her and yell at her and throw things at her! She knew it!

“Hi there.” His voice had a nice sound to it. Something like soft cushions and warm beds. But he was a person. He was dangerous. He couldn’t be trusted.

And he smelled like blood.

She clung to her branch with all of her might.

“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you. I’m not in the habit of biting animals, not even when I’m very hungry. It would take a lot for me to cross that line.”

She bristled her fur out, making her appear to be at least three times her real size.

“You don’t have to be afraid of me.”

His ignorance astounded her. Didn’t he even know what other people were like? Didn’t he know she had to be afraid in order to survive?

“I’ve seen you about when I’ve gone hunting. You’re smart. You’re a survivor. But you deserve better than to simply survive.”

Yet, he kept talking at her in that comfortable bed sounding voice. No one ever talked to her. And when they did, it was in volumes of unpleasant screeches and swears. No one ever talked to her like this.

“You deserve a good home. I can give that to you.”

What if he were just another dog waiting for his chance to eat her? But dogs didn’t talk. They barked. They chased. They nipped. They bit.

Could he be trusted? Could she surrender to him? There were so many risks in doing so. Was he worth taking the risk?

“You will be loved and cared for. You will have good food, clean water—-” He smiled. “—-and a whole house to claim as your own.”

But such words…Such wonderful sounding words…So alluring. So tempting. What if she gave in?

His expression turned serious. “If you come with me, you will not be hurt again. I promise. You’ll be safe.”

She released her death grip on the branch and climbed down the tree. It was a skill she had to learn on her own. Yet, even after having done it so many times, climbing down a tree still felt weird. She felt as if all of her blood was rushing down to her head and pooling up inside her face.

But she managed to do it successfully without falling and embarrassing herself. 

The human sat on the planter and held his hand out to her.

There was something different about this human. He was not like the others. She inched forward, ready to flee at the very whiff of danger. She stretched her head forward and sniffed his fingertips. She darted back. His fingertips smelled like claws and blood.

He was a hunter. Just like her. But he wasn’t crude and loud like a dog. He was quiet and calm. If he touched her, she knew his hands would be gentle. He wouldn’t grab her or hurt her in any way. She just knew it.

She had no doubts about it at all.

She crept back to him and rubbed her head against his hand.

He smiled at her and petted her head. His hands were gentle, after all!

She purred and she surrendered.

Ambrosia’s Afterthoughts

Yellow daffodils were Rebecca’s favorite flower, but she smelled of hyacinths and sage. Whenever she’d come to visit and whenever she chose to go, her scent followed her like a wedding veil.

Ambrose stayed out of her way, but he watched her. He longed for a look from her. A word. Even just a simple hello.

But she never saw him. She never noticed the look in his eyes. Never heard the sound of his voice.

And there was nothing he could do about it.

Until the day her sister died.

The day of the funeral, Rebecca wasn’t there. She refused to come. She stayed safely home.

Ambrose was sent to talk her into joining the mourning party. He was a mess of nerves all tied up in electric knots. Uncertain as to what he would say. Uncertain as to what she would do.

She did the unexpected.

She didn’t ignore him. She spoke to him. She wanted him….until everything was said and done.

Then, she didn’t want him anymore.

****

“I don’t understand. Why aren’t I good enough for her? Why doesn’t she want me? Why doesn’t she love me?”

“I love her. I want her. Why does it hurt so much? Why can’t she love me? What did I do wrong? Why won’t she tell me?”

“I want this pain to stop. I want it to end. I want it to go away. Why doesn’t she love me?”

“She’s so happy and she’s moving on without me. Why? What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t she want me? Why is she so happy without me? How can she move on so easily without me? Did I ever mean anything to her?”

“After what I did with her, why doesn’t she love me?”

****

Time passed.

Time healed.

Ambrose found love with another.

***

“You make me happy. I love you so. I love knowing you love me too.”

“Even though I know I’m not good enough, you say I am good enough. I love you too.”

“There is no pain anymore. Rebecca is gone. My fears are no more, because I know you won’t reject me. I love you so, my love.”

“I love you so.”

June 2020 Writing Prompts

Fight Or Flight? Which Will It Be?

Author’s Note: So, yes. I decided to do one more take on Didi Oviatt’s January WIP Writing Challenge. This time, Dave, Mick, and Hank get the spotlight.

Dave walked down the sidewalk. Mick walked beside him, but he didn’t hold his hand. He didn’t look at him. He didn’t even try to flirt with him. He was all too busy texting “his sister in England”.

Dave glanced at him. Mick smiled a closed-mouth smile that did wonderful things to his face.

Ohhh, I wish he’d smile at me like that.

Hank.

Hank smiles at me like that. No, his smile is big and real. I can see his teeth when he smiles and I love that. Ohhh, that man has the best teeth.

The best mouth.

The best lips.

The best of everything!

So, why am I still with Mick?

He quietly puzzled it over.

I guess it’s because he’s familiar. I know his moods. I know his lack of apologies.

I know his twelve million lies.

They never are anything new. Nothing different. Nothing all that surprising. But they’re always so hurtful and disappointing. Especially every time I compare him to Hank.

Dave stopped as a single thought shocked him.

I’d rather be with Hank, not Mick.

Mick stopped and looked back at him. “What now? Why do you always have to slow us down? I swear—”

“Mick. I need to—”

“Oh, you need to. You need to. You always freaking need to.”

“Mick! Listen to me. I need—-”

“What about what I need, Dave? Huh? What do you care about what I need? Do you even care?”

Dave’s mouth dropped open. “Of course, I do! Mick—”

“Oh, just. Just stuff it. I’m so tired of it. I’m so tired of you constantly whining about every. little. thing. I mean, do you even—”

“I WANT TO BREAK UP WITH YOU!”

Mick stared at him.

The words are said.

I can’t take them back. I can’t pretend I didn’t say them. I can’t say I didn’t mean it.

“I. I mean it. I.” Dave took a deep breath. “You aren’t happy with me and I don’t. I mean. I want to. I want. Mick, I’ve been trying so hard to overlook everything—-”

“Oh! As if you’re perfect. Flawless little freaking Dave! That’s what we have here, ladies and gentle—-”

“I can’t. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t deal with all of the hurt anymore.” Tears fell down Dave’s face. His legs trembled.

I should shut up and run away.

I shouldn’t go on.

I don’t want to get into another fight.

I want to run away.

I need to run away.

I can’t stop shaking.

But I can’t move.

“Mick, I just can’t. I’m sorry.”

I’m going to throw up!

Mick narrowed his eyes. “So, you’re dumping me.”

It wasn’t a question, but Dave nodded.

“For who? Who else you got all lined up in your ‘Take Me To Bed’ list?”

Dave’s face burned.

“Well, whoever it is won’t make you happy, Dave. They won’t know the right way to tie you down the way I do.”

He shook his head. “I don’t want that, Mick.” he said softly. “I want someone who’ll love me. That’s all I want.”

Mick strode over to him and crowded into his space. “You’ll miss me.” He tucked his fingers under Dave’s chin and raised his head up. “You know you’ll miss me.”

Dave’s stomach churned in unsettling ways. His legs kept shaking. His heart was beating fast fast fast.

“So, why not stay with me?” He leaned in for a kiss.

oh…

His stomach hurt. It hurt so much.

Oh.

The inside of Dave’s mouth was warm. Too warm. Too tacky and too warm.

OH!

Mick’s mouth was about to touch down.

“Ohhh!” Dave involuntarily lunged forward, clanking Mick in the face, and vomited.

He vomited all over Mick.

Mick swore and shoved Dave back. “I can take a hint as well as the next guy.” He started to go full vulgar with his next line.

Dave vomited again. All over Mick’s feet.

Mick was too furious to say or do anything more. He stormed away.

***

Dave sat at a table in his favorite pub. Mick had never liked it there. But that didn’t matter anymore.

He sighed and glanced at the nearby window.

It’s been four months. Four months without Mick.

Someone stopped at his table. “Hey.”

Dave perked up.

I know that voice!

He looked to his right and he sparkled.

Hank was there. “Long time no see.”

“Oh!” He quickly scooted out of his booth and did a quick Hank scan. “Ohh, you’re a miracle.”

Hank laughed. “Who me? Nah. I’ve been thinking about you.” He took Dave’s hands. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot.”

“And I’ve been thinking about you. Oh, Hank! So many things have happened since I last saw you. I broke up with Mick and moved out of his house. I’ll tell you all about it if you’ll sit with me. Unless. Did you want to go somewhere better?”

Hank shook his head. “I’m very happy where I am.” He raised Dave’s hands and kissed his knuckles.

Dave gasped.

“I can’t imagine a place any better than here with you.”

“Eeeeeee! You’re so romantic!”

Hank laughed again. “Just speaking the truth.”

“That’s what makes you so romantic. Ohh, will you sit with me? I haven’t ordered anything yet, but I’m so hungry.”

“Gladly.” Hank released his hands and slid into the booth. He gave Dave an expectant look.

Dave scooted right in. He looked up at the strong, handsome man at his side and his heart fluttered.

He will be good to me.

I just know it.

With him, I will never feel that fight or flight response.

With him, I am safe.

https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/jan-wip-writing-challenge-fight-or-flight/

Will It Be A Fight?

Author’s Note: So, yeah. I couldn’t help myself. 😆 This is my second story for Didi Oviatt’s January WIP Writing Challenge: FIGHT OR FLIGHT! Let’s see which option Isellta chooses… 

****

Isellta followed his parents into the store.

Their excursion into town had gone well so far. No one had said anything mean to him or to his parents. The other fey had minded their own business and left the small mal Hoven family alone.

Isellta peeked up at his father.

So tall.

So powerful.

So completely unlike his son.

Isellta felt that familiar sinking ache.

I wish I were more like you, but  I can’t be. I will never be. I keep trying, though. I try for you. I try for Momma.

I try for me. So, I will matter to you both.

“Da?”

The tall blond fey looked back at his small son.

“Can I hold your hand?”

Conflict showed on his father’s handsome face.

“Please? Just. Just for a little?”

He sadly shook his head. “Not out here, Isellta.”

It was the answer Isellta had expected to hear, but it stung as it always did.

It stung because Isellta understood.

He bowed his head. “I’m sorry, Da.”

“Isellta.” his mother snapped. “Don’t bother your father.”

His wings flittered.

“And for goodness’ sake! Pull your wings into your back.”

Isellta wordlessly nodded. He blinked quickly as he tried and tried to obey.

Come on.

Come on! Everyone else can do it! Why can’t I?

He bit down on his lower lip.

Why can’t I? What’s wrong with me?

“Isellta!”

His wings flittered involuntarily. He looked up at his mother.

“I see some friends of mine. I want to talk to them without you dragging behind me. You stay right here. Do you hear me?”

“Yes, Momma. Is Da staying with me?”

“No. There’s no reason for him to watch over you. You are not an infant who must be minded at all times.”

His father didn’t look at him or at her. “Someone might steal him away.”

She scoffed. “We don’t have that luck. Come.”

Isellta watched his parents walk away.

I don’t matter to her.

Why?

She matters to me, just the same as he does.

He anxiously twisted his fingers.

But it is all my fault. I’m not like them. I’m too different. I can’t be right. I’m not right. I’m wrong. I’m all wrong. Was I like this when I was a baby? Did I bring her no happiness even then?

Did I never matter to her?

“Ohhh, look at what we have here.”

Isellta’s feathers bristled at the familiar voice of obnoxiousness.

Rinalya mal Kineen, the youngest son of the highest family in the schie a kehn, sauntered over to him. “Isellta mal Hoven. I see you have your wings out as usual.”

Isellta tossed a beseeching glance at his parents, but they were out of sight.

“What?” Rinalya grabbed Isellta’s left wing. “You planning to just ignore me.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Or what? You can’t hurt me, half-fey.”

Isellta stopped his anxious finger twisting. He pried the taller fey’s hand off his wing. “I am not half.”

He gave him a disparaging look over. “You sure aren’t a whole. Everyone knows it, mal Hoven. Everyone. Your mother had a dalliance with some disgusting low life.”

Isellta could feel his magic race down into his palms.

“Some gross, ugly, malformed, nonsensical human.” He laughed. “They say you look just like him.”

“That isn’t true. My Da is my Da.”

“You wish.”

The magic trickled into his fingers and lined the edges of his fingernails.

“Everyone knows that it’s true, mal Hoven. Your parents are a laughingstock, all because of you and your ugly-faced father.”

Isellta’s eyes turned white. His hands glowed dangerously. “My father—”

“Isellta!”

He blinked quickly as his father raced over to him.

“Oh, I knew I shouldn’t have left you alone.” He grabbed Isellta’s glowing hands. “Stop. Please. If your mother sees you like this…Just. Please stop.”

His eyes returned to normal. His hands stopped glowing. “Da, he was saying—”

His father glared at the other child. “Rinalya. You should know better than to speak of such things. Go. Now. Or I will let Isellta hurt you.”

Rinalya scoffed, but he walked away.

His father went down on his knees. “Isellta. It doesn’t matter what he was saying about me. If you hurt him, the schie a kehn will punish you. Do you understand?”

Isellta saw the concern in his father’s eyes. He nodded. “I understand, Da.”

His father exhaled relief.

I matter to at least him.

https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/jan-wip-writing-challenge-fight-or-flight/

Fight Or….?

Author’s Note:  Didi Oviatt’s WIP writing challenge is up for this month and Oooo! It’s a good one! It is FIGHT OR FLIGHT!

To put it in Didi’s direct words: “If put in the face of a life altering/traumatic dilemma, how would they REALLY handle it?! We all like to think that we’re strong and smart and would take the best approach, but really, I mean REALLY, how do we actually react when it’s…
FIGHT OR FLIGHT?!
If confronted by surprise, be it violently or otherwise, do we fight back or retract in that two seconds that it counts. When our minds don’t have the time to fully process, what happens? Do we throw punches on instinct, or do we freeze and/or flee? Same goes with our characters! Who are they really? In the depths of our character’s souls, do they have what it takes to act accordingly? Are they passive, or are they aggressive naturally?My monthly WIP challenge is easy, you just take the characters from your WIP and plug them into a scene that fits the prompt. Give me your link in a comment here, and I’ll share it along with the others at the end of the month….”

So! Let’s see what happens to my characters when they are faced with a fight or flight situation. Wish them all good luck! 😉

****

The scents were everywhere.

No matter where Ambrose went, there was no escaping it. Every place, every person, every thing had its own unique blend of smells. Some were traces of whoever had entered the house, the room, the barn, the outhouse, the attic, the loft. Some were traces of whoever had touched the object and held the object.

Even when he tried to cover his face, his own personal scent overwhelmed him.

But he didn’t want to die.

He didn’t want to be staked.

***

Ambrose escaped the cold winter air. It hadn’t started to snow yet. But it would. It had to snow. It felt like snow.

He entered an abandoned horse stall and huddled up against the wall.

He shivered and rubbed his arms.

It smelled like snow.

He pressed his forehead against his knees and shivered again.

Wood.

Leather.

Saddle oil.

Hoof trimmings.

Dirt.

Dirty hay.

Mice.

All of these scents and more haunted the air.

He shivered again.

I wish I were somewhere warm.

I wish I were home.

He remembered the light fading from his father’s eyes.

The taste of his blood.

Claws.

Fangs.

All of the servants slashed and fallen. Their blood on his face.

On his clothes.

Staining his claws.

He shuddered. “I have no one.”

I am alone.

He quickly raised his head as a new scent filtered into the room: bourbon and dry whiskey.

Footsteps.

Light footsteps.

His pupils widened. He rose quickly into a crouch, ready to run or fight as needed.

“Come out, vampire. I know you’re in here.”

He caught the moist-dry scent of fresh cut wood and bared his fangs.

I don’t want to be staked.

The scent strengthened as the hunter came closer.

He unsheathed his claws.

I will not be staked.

But I’m trapped in here. What am I going to do?

The scent strengthened ever more.

The footsteps came ever closer.

I will not be staked.

I WILL NOT!

He stayed low. The sides of the stall concealed him, but they would protect him for only so long. As soon as the hunter entered the stall, his cover would be ruined. So, he stayed low, like a stalking cat. He walked carefully, as silently as he could.

The scent strengthened.

He could hear her footsteps.

He could hear her breathing.

She was so close.

So near.

He could taste her scent.

He could feel it sting the back of his throat.

He could almost see its almond-shaded color.

“I know you’re in here. There’s nowhere else you could be. Give up.”

Give up and be staked? How stupid does she think I am?

Not that I really want to know.

He stopped next to the former feed bin which hung next to the stall’s sliding door. Baby mice squeaked plaintively inside the bin. The mother mouse hurried back to her babies to do a quick head count/wellness check.

Ambrose trembled.

I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I DON’T want to die!

She stopped outside his stall door.

He stopped breathing.

Her fingers curved around the gap between the door and the frame. They touched down on the door. They pushed the door open.

Ambrose’s heart pounded inside his ears.

I DO NOT WANT TO BE STAKED!

He grabbed his side of the door and slammed it shut on her fingers.

She let out a pained scream.

He charged at the door, yanked it open.

She was doubled over in pain.

The wooden stake lay on the ground. He kicked it away.

She looked up at him.

He extended his claws a little further and snarled a smile. “Hello, hunter. Care to join me in a dance? Or you could just concede defeat. You are injured.” He lowered his gaze to her fingers. “They aren’t amputated, but they hurt, don’t they?” His gaze rose to her face. “Do you really think you can defeat me, pretty hunter?”

She stood up straight and went into a fighting position. “I will do all that I can. A creature as twisted and evil as you doesn’t deserve to live.”

“Am I really that evil?”

“Yes.” She charged at him.

Fear did all sorts of things to his stomach, but he raced at her.

I will not be staked.

Not tonight.

https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/jan-wip-writing-challenge-fight-or-flight/

Ruffled Feathers

Isellta fastened the buttons above and below his wings. He flapped his wings a couple of times before lying them flat against his back.

He took a deep breath and exhaled as he looked at his reflection.

The black shirt camouflaged his black wings.

A small bit of hope bloomed inside of him.

Maybe if I keep them perfectly still and hold them flat against my back, no one will notice this time.

Maybe I’ll be able to get through this day without any trouble.

He ran his fingers through his blond hair. “Maybe I should fix my hair differently. Or maybe I should just turn into someone else.”

Anyone else.

Isellta turned into the first person he thought of — his father. He flared out his father’s mature wings and marveled at how large and strong they were. They were heavier than his own immature wings. His back muscles were better developed.

And most important of all—-

He folded his father’s large black wings and drew them into his back without any difficulty.

—-no one would ever call him a half-fey.

He pulled them out again.

How long could I get away with this? An hour? Maybe a whole day?

His father’s wings flittered as Isellta thought about his mother.

Momma would be mad if she found out. She would look at me in that way. She would say mean things to me.

Her words would hurt me.

They always hurt me.

He turned back into himself. His face burned as he regarded his reflection.

His immature wings that he couldn’t put away no matter how hard he tried.

His smaller frame.

His narrow shoulders.

The soft edges of his face.

His soft, feather-like hair.

His wings flittered again.

I will never matter to Momma and I know why. It’s because I’m me. I’m just me.

I am nothing like her.

And I am not like Da.

He flattened his wings against his back. “Will I ever matter to anyone?”

December 2019 Writing Prompts

A Tree Decorating Party

Ambrose sat all huddled up in an empty horse stall. The barn was abandoned so it wasn’t likely anyone was going to put a horse in Ambrose’s hiding place any time soon.

He shivered and rubbed his arms.

There were too many close calls tonight. Too many dances with death.

Ambrose leaned his head back against the rough wood wall. He closed his eyes and took in the myriad scents.

Wood.

Leather.

Saddle oil.

Hoof trimmings.

Dirt.

Dirty hay.

Mice.

He shivered again.

Snow.

Ice.

I wish I were somewhere warm.

He pressed his forehead against his knees.

It’s Christmas Day.

I wish I were home.

He remembered the light fading from his father’s eyes.

The taste of his blood.

Claws.

Fangs.

All of the servants slashed and fallen. Their blood on his face.

On his clothes.

Staining his claws.

He shuddered. “I have no one.”

I am alone.

Completely alone on Christmas Day.

****

Raven set up the Christmas tree even though there was no one to share it with. It was all force of habit.

No one would come over to see it.

No one would come over to visit.

How could they?

They were all gone. Died so long ago. One by one, they passed away and passed out of his life, leaving him alone.

Leaving him with just his memories.

Memories of her.

May Rose Farlington. 

The sound of her voice.

Her brightness.

Her passionate personality.

Every single memory of her. Every single wish for what could have been.

Raven bowed his head as he put one more ornament on the Christmas tree.

And the house was quiet.

He was all alone.

And it was Christmas Day.

****

Robin walked the streets alone. 

He thought of the family he’d left behind.

A widowed mother.

A man who could have played the role of his father, but he had rejected it wholeheartedly.

He didn’t want us none. Mama and I weren’t good enough to make him wanna stay.

I oughta go back to her so she ain’t all alone. 

Robin raised his hands and extended his claws.

Long.

Sharp.

Unmistakable.

But I ain’t wantin’ her to see me like this. I ain’t wantin’ her to know I’ve been changed into a vampire. If she thinks I’m gone and dead, that’s all okay. It’s better to think of me dead than to know I’m a freakin’ monster.

She’ll look at me and just see a monster.

He retracted his claws and lowered his hands.

Mama, I wish I could go on back home.

But I can’t.

So, I’m just gonna wander the streets all alone on Christmas Day.

****

Isellta sat on his bed and grabbed his pillow. 

Momma.

Da.

He hugged his pillow.

I miss you both so much. Do you miss me too?

“I wish I could go home.” His voice wavered as he said, “I just wanna go home. This place is awful. I’ve seen things I’ve never wanted to see. Olessa hurting people on purpose and I don’t understand the reasons why. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

He pressed his forehead against his pillow.

I just want to go home on this cold Christmas Day.

*********

Ambrose entered Raven’s house. It was warm inside and the combined scents of black licorice and lime, tangerines, semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla beans, lemon cream pie, and apple cinnamon tangoed in the air.

He followed the scents to the living room. He stopped in the doorway and smiled.

Barbara chitchatted with Missy on the couch.

Raven directed Robin and Isellta in the right way to decorate a Christmas tree. Robin told Raven in no uncertain terms just how he felt about such directions. Isellta looked adoringly at Robin and touched his arm. Robin smiled lovingly at him.

Ambrose took a couple of steps into the room. Barbara noticed and ran to him. “You’re here!”

He embraced her and she felt perfect in his arms. “I’m here.” He kissed her head. “I’m home, love.”

***

“I’m just sayin’ it’s a freakin’ Christmas tree.” Robin said. “There ain’t no right or wrong way to freakin’ decorate it. You can just toss the stuff on and call it a day.”

Raven winced. “That is wrong in so many ways.”

“What? It ain’t like a color by num’er book.”

“Indeed, sir. It is not. All the same, there is a certain aesthetic—”

“Psh!”

Raven frowned at that.

Isellta gently touched Robin’s arm. “I’m not taking sides against you, but I do understand what Raven means. If you throw the ornaments on the tree in no particular order, it will look like a nonsensical mess. It won’t look pretty at all.”

The fey looked and sounded so earnest Robin’s annoyance melted away. “I love you so much.” Robin kissed Isellta and the fey’s wings flapped ecstatically.

Mrs. Hastings entered the room with a cup of hot apple cider in her hands. She took a sip. “mm!” She set the cup down on the nearest table and helped with the tree decorations.

“‘sellta,” Robin said softly. “You’re my home.”

“And you are mine.” Isellta replied.

***

Ambrose, Barbara, and Missy joined everyone else at the tree and helped decorate.

Raven glanced around at his small group of friends and smiled. “We are a strange mishmash of personalities and ages, but together we are a family.”

Missy hung a garland around Raven’s neck and kissed him. “My pretty shirtless Raven.”

And I am no longer alone.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/2019/12/04/dec-wip-writing-prompt-challenge-winter-tradition/