Flash Fiction: Chilly Weather, Bloody Sweater

SPOILERS FOR MARJORIE DIAZ BOOK ONE

You’ve been WARNED.

It was just starting to get cold, long sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes making their annual resurgence.

Marjorie Diaz walked down a crowded street in New York, slipping past several people and some friendly (mostly unfriendly) ghosts. It had taken some getting used to, living on this side of whatever insane magical veil the supernatural creatures of old had erected over the natural world. Especially considering her ex-boyfriend’s family basically ran the place.

The Watkins were supernatural royalty. Had been for generations. Something Lucian had neglected to tell her when she mentioned him a billion times in their late night half-asleep gush sessions. Now she’d pissed off an entire family of bloodthirsty vampires or whatever supernatural being this part of the Watkins family was. Probably vampires.

Though Patrick had seemed so normal. Then again, so had Lucian. And her entire family. Yet they had all been necromancers. For their whole lives. For as long as she’d known them. It was so strange to think about. The key Lucian had given her had unlocked so many things she hadn’t been able to see before.

Still, some part of her thought she should have known.

She was meeting Lucian downtown for Dim Sum. It had been awhile since they’d spent any time together. Lucian had moved back home after school to “complete her training” and Marjorie had moved to some dump in Brooklyn with a bunch of roommates. She didn’t mind them much, they were mostly nocturnal (werewolves).

She settled into a booth in the back of the restaurant and looked over the menu. She already knew what she wanted, but Lucian was late as always. She checked her phone just as Lucian settled down across from her.

Marjorie glanced up to greet her, but the words died in her throat. Lucian’s sweater was covered in blood. She nervously glanced around the shop, wondering if anyone else noticed.

“What?” Lucian asked, glancing up from her menu.

“Um,” Marjorie motioned to her sweater, eyes wide.

Lucian glanced down. “Oh,” she said, “I keep forgetting I gave you that key.”

Marjorie’s eyes nearly bugged completely out of her head. “How often do you do this?”

Lucian glanced at her sheepishly. “I’m literally always running late, sometimes I forget to change. It’s only chicken blood.”

“Still,” Marjorie said.

Lucian rolled her eyes. “Don’t make me regret granting you entrance to the ‘magical realm’.”

Flash Fiction: Stitches

From mine, 13’s, and Ariel LeAnn’s story asylum wolves. 

“If you don’t hold still it’s going to hurt worse,” Daciana barked.

Faizeel whimpered under her touch and flinched away when she pressed the needle into the skin of his arm. He had been cut by a silver blade infused with wolfsbane by one of the local wixen.

Daciana had warned him not to get too close to the magical folk. They could easily sense creatures like them and they were NOT friendly.

“Why is it not healing?” Faizeel asked with a yelp when she threaded the needle through his arm and finally began to sew up the wound. It was rare she would ever have to give any of her pack stitches. Mainly because it was only her and Areynn (before Fai) and Areynn wasn’t an idiot.

“Because wixen carry silver,” Daciana growled, “Like I warned you before. Normally silver wouldn’t do this much damage, but this one was particularly smart and infused her blade with wolfsbane.” She bit the suture off with her teeth, severing it from the needle.

“I warned you, Faizeel. I told you they were dangerous. You’re lucky you got back to the asylum before it started festering.” Daciana just barely resisted the urge to hit him.

“She didn’t seem so bad,” Fai argued.

Daciana rolled her eyes. Sometimes she regretted turning him. “I hope you’ve learned your lesson.”

Fai’s face flushed and he glanced at the mess of black sutures on his arm. “I don’t really understand,” he said, much to Daciana’s dismay, “I wasn’t even doing anything other than talking. She seemed lost, I wanted to help.”

Daciana’s hard expression softened and she patted Faizeel’s shoulder. “I know, pup,” she said, using hers and Areynn’s nickname for him. In many ways Faizeel was similar to a youngling. He was too trusting, not yet hardened by the world in the same ways she and Areynn were. It was frustrating, but also heartwarming in small doses.

Fai smiled weakly at her, leaning forward and nuzzling his face into her neck for a brief moment to show his gratitude.

Daciana froze. This was the first time he had expressed any sort of pack intimacy towards her. He had been with them such a short time there hadn’t really been any cause for it. She patted the back of his head. He was going to fit in just fine.

Flash Fiction: A Different Kind of Graveyard

SPOILERS FOR MARJORIE DIAZ BOOK ONE

This is a re-imagining of the iconic ending scene. You have been WARNED.

“I wasn’t going to show you this,” Lucian said the moment she and Marjorie had come home from dinner with her parents after graduation, “but considering you managed to piss off the entire Watkins clan, I feel like I sort of have to at this point.”

Marjorie looked at her as if she had lost her mind. “Um, okay. But I’m really exhausted after today and whatever so can it wait until I’ve slept?”

Lucian crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. “No.”

Marjorie let her head fall back and she groaned. “Lucian, please.”

“It won’t take long and I’ll sleep better knowing you know and everything is right with the world because holy shit has it been hard not to tell you.”

Marjorie groaned again. “Fine, but can we at least have coffee?”

“We’ll buy some on the way, my treat.”

“On the way?” Marjorie asked, “You mean we have to leave again? I don’t think either of us is okay enough to drive.”

“I’m fine.”

Marjorie eyed her suspiciously.

“What? I am.”

“Fine, whatever, but if we die because you fall asleep at the wheel I’m going to come back from the dead and kill you. I don’t care if it isn’t possible. I’ll make it possible.”

“How do you know it’s not already possible?” Lucian said quietly with a wan smile.

*

Lucian drives them to a graveyard. It’s thick with trees and shadows and almost impossible to see from the road.

Marjorie looks absolutely pissed. “A graveyard?” Her voice is almost shrill, hands clenching and unclenching by her sides as if she isn’t sure whether she should punch Lucian or not.

“Yep,” Lucian said, “a graveyard.” She parked the car. “Come on.”

Marjorie complained, but she followed anyways. She was too tired to argue.

Lucian led her through a thicket of trees to a closed off area at the back of the cemetery. There were only a few gravestones. A few giant concrete angels, a few bronze plaques on the ground, with the rest of the space made up by a mausoleum.

“Why are we here?” Marjorie asked. She looked exhausted and annoyed. After the week she’s had, Lucian can’t really blame her.

“I’m going to show you a different kind of graveyard,” Lucian said, pulling a small black skeleton key out of her pocket.

“Please tell me you’re not going to unlock that mausoleum,” Marjorie deadpanned.

“No,” Lucian says, offering the key to Marjorie, “this is for you.”

Marjorie stared at her blankly. “Why?”

“Just take it,” she said, offering the key more insistently.

Marjorie rolled her eyes. “If I take it, can we leave?”

“Yes.”

“Fine.”

Marjorie takes the key and the entire world transforms around her.

In her hand the key morphs from the simple black skeleton key to an enormous golden sword. The cemetery was no longer empty. Ghosts floated all around them, friendly smiles on their faces.

“Huh. A sword,” Lucian said at the same time Marjorie flung it onto the ground.

“What. The. Fuck!” Marjorie shrieked.

Lucian smiled at her. “Welcome to the magical realm.”

Flash Fiction: Summoning Demons and Other Bad First Date Ideas

From my upcoming novel: A City of Glass & Sand

“Jonas where are we going?” P asked, struggling to keep up. Jonas was standing just ahead of her, holding both her and Willow by their wrists and dragging them along.

Both women exchanged a glance, Willow’s golden eyes were squinted, her thick lips pursed, and P looked pissed.

“I’m taking you two on a date,” he said excitedly.

“What?” Willow and P asked in unison.

“A date!” Jonas said again, turning over his shoulder to flash his teeth at them in a quick smile. “We’ve been together for forever and we’ve never really been on a date what with all this Efeara bullshit that went down and I think that right now immediately is the perfect time for us to do this.”

“Jonas have you lost your mind?” P asked.

“Plus the moon is full and the book I read said the moon needed to be full for this,” he continued on, ignoring P and Willow’s protests.

“Why does the moon need to be full for us to go on a date?” Willow asked, sounding skeptical.

“We’re going to summon a demon.”

Both Willow and P stopped at the same time. Jonas nearly yanked their arms out of their sockets pulling them forward again.

This was probably the absolute worst idea ever, but they both loved him. So they allowed it. 

When they managed to summon the evil spirit of Efeara and she destroyed the whole town, they instantly regretted it, but in the end it was probably the best first date any of them could have asked for. 

The Incredible Origins of Suzie Q, Demon Hunter Extraordinaire

Suzuka Chiba was late making it home. She’d gone to town that morning to sell a few of their unwanted items for extra money. This had now become her job since her eldest sister, Yuki Chiba was married off last year.

Suzuka was eleven this year, which meant she was ready and willing to take on more responsibility. Even though she was currently late.

The sun was nearly set over the horizon only a sliver of red remained where it burning orb used to be. Suzuka picked up the pace, running down the enormous hill she’d just climbed up.

The ocean to the left of her roared and beat the cliffs, some of the spray shooting up into the air and raining down on her. The satchel of old items she held, the ones she couldn’t sell at the market, banged against her hip and rattled.

She was still too far from home.

After dark, the hills were nothing short of terrifying. Shadowy creatures came out and hunted the grounds for anything left outside in the dark. Suzuka had never seen any of them up close, but she didn’t need to. She’d seen the way they roamed the night and she was desperate to stay away from them.

However, she’d been foolish. Instead of returning to her home earlier, she’d been stuck in the market, desperate to sell everything she could. Yuki had been so much better at this and Suzuka didn’t want to disappoint her family by bringing back a nearly full satchel of things she couldn’t sell.

Now, though, her pride would be her undoing.

Her father had always warned her that no one was good at anything they’d just begun to do, but she was sure she would be better than this. She’d been so much better at all of her old chores. Now, she felt like a failure and, of course, her family wouldn’t say that outright, but when there was no way for them to buy extra food from their neighbors and they had to eat eggs and one of their own chickens, her failure would be there right in front of her.

She hung her head and pushed herself to run faster, lest the shadows gobble her up. Yuki never would have done something like this. She was always prompt, showing up to their home with an empty satchel and plenty of food or money for their family to survive.

Suzuka’s chest ached with shame. She would never be her sister.

Short Stories: Apple Orchard

From my upcoming novel, Tranquil.

Lysan had saved her from obscurity. He had whisked her away from a life inside of a tower, protected her, watched over her when her brother could not. He was good to her, but this life never truly felt like hers. She was constantly being painted and plucked and shown off to the public.

“Did you see?” The news often said, “The Lord’s son is dating an elven woman. The Windsor family cannot possibly be as racist as everyone claims.”

Every time the media claimed that it made her chest ache, her inside squirm. She was nothing more than a prop for Lysan’s father Leonard Windsor to win the upcoming minister election.

“Lady Avalon?” Lysan’s bodyguard, Faron says, rapping on her doorframe. Avalon sucked in a sharp breath.

The man was so gorgeous he was almost hard to look at. He wasn’t conventionally handsome, or so she thought. He was sort of hulking, muscular with short brown hair that sat atop his head in a mess of curls if he let it grow too long. His body was covered in scars, including several deep ones on his neck and face. Avalon was head of heels in love with him.

Lysan had his place. She was grateful to him for saving her. Or for at least thinking he saved her. But Faron actually saw her. She was more than a prop to him and maybe that’s how it started with Lysan too, but that isn’t the way it is now.

“Faron,” she said, her whole body softening as he looks at her. She could live in those brown eyes forever. “Are you here to take me to the apple orchard?” She asked.

He quirks a smile at this, making the scar on his upper lip more noticeable.

“Apple Orchard” had become sort of a code between the two of them. There was no apple orchard on the grounds of the Windsor mansion, not really. There were a few apple trees and the first time she had seen them, she’d thought they were an orchard. Lysan and his father had gotten a good laugh out of this, but she had spent her entire life in a tower with other magically inclined people, what was she supposed to think?

This was the first place she had actually spoken to Faron. After living in that tower for so long, she spent a lot of time outside. She was an elf after all, it was sort of their thing to commune with nature (and unfortunately, be magical). He’d been picking some apples from the tree, a soft smile on his face. When he turned and looked at her, his face open and soft she knew she was done for.

The “apple orchard” was the first place she had ever spoken about the tower. Where she talked about all of her resentment for her mother, for her brother, and how she’d felt so caged her whole life. She even felt caged now. He felt caged too.

It was the first place he had touched her hand, ran his fingers all the way from her wrist to her shoulder. Where he cupped her face, their voices lowering to whispers, eyes half-lidded. Where he kissed her.

He offered her his arm, that same coy smile still on his lips. “Let’s go to the apple orchard.”