Happy Valentine’s Day one and all. We hope you are all enjoying the chocolate if nothing else :).
We have two free short stories for you today, one ghostly tale of lost love from Sophie, that is too long to be in a post, so it is available to download from Smashwords, and another, a humorous paranormal romance that is below.
by Sophie Duncan
When Ben promises to show his cousin, Ellen, a ghost, the pair set in motion a series of events that lead them into a terrifying encounter. Yet, within her fear, Ellen finds a purpose, and it is to find out what Millicent Van Curren, shot by her lover, wants from them.
Phantom Love is book 1 in the Inspired By… Series, where each story is prompted by a memory.
by Natasha Duncan-Drake
“Don’t tell me you’re torturing him again.”
Dee looked over at the wolf sitting with his head on the table, balefully watching her with his big blue eyes.
“I am not torturing him,” she said, turning to Tobi and accepting a quick kiss from her girlfriend, “the puppy eyes are not trying to wheedle something out of me, he’s stuck and he did this to himself. I told him not to come in, that I was practicing complicated magic, but did he listen to me?”
She didn’t bother keeping the exasperation out of her voice.
“Oh, Will, what have you done now?” Tobi said, walking over and giving the wolf a rub on the head.
He whined in response.
“So why haven’t you turned him back?” Tobi asked.
“I can’t,” Dee replied. “I don’t actually know what changed him into a wolf. He’s part fae, the magic will wear off eventually and it’s too dangerous to mess around.”
“How long is eventually?”
“A day, maybe two, a week at most.”
“Deadre, you cannot leave our third as a wolf for a week,” Tobi said in a tone that Dee found entirely unnecessary. “We’re supposed to be going to my parent’s this weekend and, like that, Will will shed everywhere.”
“This was not my fault,” Dee defended herself. “I told him three times not to open the door, and yes, it was locked, but you know nothing can keep him out if he wants in. It’s his major talent.”
The wolf made what could almost be taken as a scoffing noise at that.
“Not the point,” Tobi said and put her hands on her hips.
Her hair had also started turning dark brown at the ends which, when it came to dryads, was not a good thing at all.
“Okay,” Dee did her best to placate her volatile girlfriend, “if he doesn’t change back by tomorrow we’ll take him to Shallaka. If anyone can figure out how to turn him back it will be her.”
The ends of Tobi’s hair began fading back to green.
“You really don’t know how?”
“Sorry, no,” Dee admitted. “I was practicing a spell for a new piece.”
Dee specialised in using magic to create art, and she was becoming quite well known in the field. Some people thought having a degree in magecraft and using it to make sculptures and paintings was a waste of power. Her parents for one. They had been horrified, but she couldn’t help what she loved doing most. She could have gone out and gone into industry, the military or police work, like most of her classmates, but she’d met a Bolshie dryad and a mischievous half-fae who liked to encourage her to follow her dream.
“I was focusing on a subconscious image, trying to get it to manifest, and Will walked in and interrupted my concentration. Unfortunately I was right on the point of casting. I don’t know if the subconscious image was a wolf, so that’s why he ended up that way, or if the magic found the wilder part of his nature and just went with that form.”
It wasn’t that Dee couldn’t turn people into animals, it was just she hadn’t done this deliberately. Will was a natural shapeshifter, so it was quite possible the spell had activated that, but she couldn’t be positive. Magic was nothing to mess around with unless you were sure.
“Damn, and I was hoping for a good hard shag tonight,” Tobi said, which made Will sit up and wag his tail. “I suppose you and I could improvise, Dee darling.”
Dee couldn’t help it, she burst out laughing. Will looked crest fallen at the idea he might be left out.
“Do you think about anything else?” she asked with a wry shake of her head.
“It’s spring,” Tobi replied, “all dryads are horny in the spring.”
“And what about the summer, autumn and winter as well?”
“My tree is very fertile,” Tobi said, doing a very good impression of affronted, “it’s just nature.”
Will yipped hopefully.
“Sorry, Sweetie,” Tobi said, “but I draw the line at bestiality.”
“Is it technically bestiality if he’s not a real animal?” Dee asked, laughing at Will’s dejected expression.
“As far as I’m concerned, yes,” was the very sure answer. “Shame, what I was after was a big hard …”
Will sparkled round the edges, there was a small explosion, a large puff of smoke and wolf became man. Admittedly a man coughing as he inhaled magical residue, but he was definitely no longer canine shaped.
“Works every time,” Tobi said with a big grin.
“Told you it would,” Dee said, she’d been texting her girlfriend for the last half an hour.
“You ganged up on me,” Will accused.
“Only because I knew the best chance of getting you back quickly was your own magic,” Dee told him and held out her hand. “You just needed the right motivation to activate it.”
Will was incredibly powerful when it came to magic, the only problem was, he had little to no control over it. Dee had been positive since the day she had met him that it was a mental block brought on by years of abuse from his fae relatives (they were not fond of half-breeds). She and Tobi were working on helping him with it. Sometimes they used less than orthodox methods.
“So, I am still a horny dryad,” Tobi said with such an innocent smile it should have been illegal, “shall we take the afternoon off?”
“One of the reasons I love you is you have great ideas,” Dee said and let Tobi pull her out of her chair. “Come on wolf-boy,” she added and grabbed Will’s hand on the way past, “you still need to apologise for interrupting my creative moment.”
“I’ll do my best,” Will promised.
A triad was not a common occurrence, a triad from three different species was even rarer, but Dee loved how theirs worked.