Tuesday, April 19, 2022

"Face in the Mirror" in Mothers of Enchantment


Check out my self-improvement centered take on Beauty & the Beast, "Face in the Mirror," in this enchanting anthology! What would have happened to Beast if he hadn't waited around for Beauty to find him?

We remember her best as the generous fairy who dresses Cinderella and handles transportation while she’s at it. But that’s just the most famous fairy godmother’s tale. With a little imagination, you’ll find that fairy godmothers and godfathers appear in many varied forms. The authors in this anthology have crafted new tales that re-imagine the fairy godmother and her role.

A young fairy grapples with imposter syndrome as she takes up her new appointment as godmother. Immortal sisters bestow blessings and curses on princesses as a way to battle the patriarchal fairy godfathers. A struggling artist receives a godmother’s help to impress at her high school reunion. Sparing the life of a moth leads to magical help from an unexpected protector.

Retellings of Pinocchio, Rumpelstiltskin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Frog Prince show the magic of these stories in a whole new light. Infused with modern sensibilities but honoring the tradition of fairy tales, these dozen stories will enchant and inspire you.

Available Now In

Print & eBook

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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

“New Normal” in BLE Vol6


Check out my kinky, women-loving-women, erotica story “New Normal” that explores how the pandemic has changed even our most intimate moments.

Reaching far beyond the confines of traditional erotica, prepare to explore the intersections of ace and kink, of pan and submissive, of exquisite torment and explicit consent.     

In the sixth stunning and representative volume, Sinclair Sexsmith once again offers a dazzling array of voices, perspectives, and persuasions navigating boundaries and identities in truly inventive narratives. These twenty-three steamy stories are meant not just to titillate, but to validate—spanning past the pulsing power of desire to make pleasure and trembling release both a healing and radical act.   

Find and then lose yourself as you traverse the complexities of full-spectrum sexuality, one delectable story at a time.  

Available Now in

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Friday, October 22, 2021

Show Me, Sir - A Patreon Novel

 

Small Magic
A Patreon Donovan's Door Novel


He shrugged, his gaze softening and sharpening at the same time with a confusing awareness that she didn’t even want to know how to deal with. “I like knowing about you. And, as I've already said, I’d like to know more.”

Cute. “So ask me.”

He shook his head. “I find that people are much more honest about each other than they are about themselves.”
She snorted. “So you prefer gossip.”

“I prefer being prepared in advance, don’t you?” He tapped the file again. “Kat has some amusing stories about Googling the men you date.”

Max pursed her lips. She was going to kill Kat.

“Google has some interesting things to say about you.”

She snorted. Didn’t she know it? As one of the heads of the campaign for more ethical and empowering porn that had led to her partnership, in addition to finding new voices to better fit their new image, it’d been her responsibility to contact all the authors, sellers, and marketers who didn’t fit the company’s new aims and either work with them on alignment or execute out-clauses. She had quite the colorful internet reputation. Phrases like “a femi-nazi on a Crusade” had quickly become synonymous with her name. She took it to be the highest praise. Even so. “Didn’t anyone tell you not to believe everything you read on the internet?”

He let out a laugh. “Believe me, I don’t, but I do like to know what I’m getting into.” His face tipped down, his sly, slanted lips coming close to hers. “And I’m always willing to dig deeper.”

Whoa. Wait. “Excuse me?” She sputtered, quickly laying halting hands on his shoulders. There would be no getting into or deep digging here.

Even though her touch was barely restraining him—more of a warning than anything—he stilled instantly, not backing off but not pushing further either. “Why did you come here? To this,” he chuckled softly, “meet-market, as you called it?” He pivoted his head from one side to the other, invading her space without ever moving closer. “If not for this?”

Not liking his provoking proximity, she countered, “A woman should be able to go to a club—even one such as this—without it being assumed that she’s looking to get hit on, hooked up, or hijacked.” She pushed him back, putting some distance between them, a little surprised when he allowed it without force or fight.

“Your gender, Max,” he told her definitively, “has nothing to do with it.” He shrugged. “Or, at least, very little to do with it. I don’t know if I would go so far as to label Donovan’s a meet-market, but we are a social club where people are invited to meet, mingle, and play. Even under yes means yes rules, surely, it’s not inappropriate, in this setting, to ask the question.”

Max pursed her lips and gathered her thoughts. A harder task with him still standing so close. She stepped to the side for a little much-needed distance. “One,” she said, “we’re in your office at the moment, not the club. Different setting, different rules. And, two, I never actually heard the question. If one is going to argue that the clarity of answers is necessary, shouldn’t the question also need to be just as clear?”

He smiled and nodded in admiring concession. He stood straighter and, even though that put him a step further from her, she felt his presence pull on her. “I want to kiss you.”

Tsk, tsk. She fought to hide a small smile. He was leading the witness. “That wasn’t a question, counselor.”

His grin widened. “Do you want me to?”

And that was the question, wasn’t it?

And, frankly, it was one she was more than willing to put off. Unlike him, she didn’t feel prepared in the slightest for this encounter. “At the moment, what I want,” she said, standing up and walking away from the desk, “is my file. Now.”

“I’m not giving you this file.” He shook his head. “It’s not yours and I won’t give it to you.” Cocking his head to the side, he smiled and reached for the file again. “But,” he said gamely, “I’d be willing to make a trade for it.”

Yeah, she bet he would be. “I’m not having sex with you.” She scoffed. For a folder? He was deluded, if that’s what he thought.
His lips lifted into an amused half-smile. “As you said yourself, I haven’t actually asked you to.”

Oh. Right.

“I just wanted to be clear.” She felt relieved and, if she was honest, foolishly disappointed when he nodded. “What do you want then?”

He crossed his arms over his chest, tapping the file’s edge against his arm, effectively dangling it in her face...



To read the rest, check out my Patreon Novel "Show Me, Sir!" 

Max Wells is a ball-busting, ass-kicking testament to female empowerment, who’s yet to meet the person who can push her down.
Until she meets a man she only knows as Sir.

Shamelessly deviant, Hayato knows exactly what Max thinks of Dominants like him. So ready to dismiss his lifestyle, she’s the type to assume she knows everything about it and him after one cursory glance from the outside in. But, looking at Max—at her intelligence and passion—he can see more in her than the misconceptions she’s deliberately blinding herself with.

And, determined, he plans to show her more.
Max finds herself fascinated by this man who insists on challenging her every belief as he leads her into his world of dark desires. Matching his clash of wit, will, and seduction, Max begins to question all she knows about what it means to be empowered. 

Used to being unquestionably on top, Hayato is intrigued by Max's formidable delight in playing games and striking deals that shifts his usual power dynamics as they negotiate roles and rewrite rules.

But, just as their game heats up, it gets used against them. Seeking to punish them with their play, someone threatens to drag their private lives out into the public spotlight. 

With high stakes and bitter scandal looming over their heads, Max and her Sir will have to work together to show that what the world thinks they are does not define who they are.



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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Small Magic - A Patreon Novella


Small Magic
A Patreon Faere Trade Novella


Len Williams stared at the lamp in his hands, the tarnished copper heavy and almost iridescent against his darker, sepele-shaded skin. It really was a beautiful piece, catching his eye amid the mounds of memories left in his Aunt Dottie’s old attic now that she’d moved to her new assisted living apartment.

But nothing compared to the man now standing with his arms crossed over his broad chest.

No. Not a man.

“Genie?” Len eyed him up and down, his skin as brilliant and multi-hued as his lamp—flashing copper, gold, bronze, and even burnished green in the low light. “Do you mean a djinn?”

The genie rolled his shoulders and looked at Len, his eyes dark as night. “Nah, my magic’s not that old. Not of that time or place. ” He shrugged casually, his shoulder-length black hair falling into his eyes. “Magic is always born out of belief. Mine’s only a few decades old. Born right here in the states, because of some 1960’s sitcom,” he said, nodding at the old, rotary dial television sitting dust-covered and broken in the corner, “but made strong from a 1990’s cartoon.

Len arched an eyebrow. “A sitcom gave birth to you?”

The genie huffed. “Do I look sixty to you?”

Len blinked, unsure of what to say. How was he supposed to know what a sixty-year-old genie looked like?

“Strictly speaking, I’m ageless; I was born this way and will die this way. But I’ve been around for about forty years.” He waved that off dismissively. “My magic—or species, if that’s easier to understand—is around sixty years old.”

“Birthed by belief?” Len tried not to smirk.

The genie shot Len a smug, superior look. “Everything, not just magic, exists because someone believed it should, willed it to be so. My kind is just young enough to remember it.”

“People were willed into existence?” Len shook his head. “By whom?”

The genie shrugged. “I couldn't tell you; I wasn't there. But creation is always an act of magic, wouldn't you say?”

Len didn't know what to say to that, so he just pressed his lips together and thought about it.

The genie studied Len and frowned. “Usually, my magic only works on children; adults tend to have a hard time believing.” He shook his head. “You have no idea how many perfect stray puppies, kittens, and ponies I’ve magicked up in my time.” He raised a curious, arched eyebrow. “How is it that my magic works on you?”

Len gave a musing grin. “I’ve seen some weird things in my life. Rags to riches stories. Men on the moon. Devices that can both fit in your pocket and connect people halfway across the globe.” He held up his hands, mystified. “None of it makes sense to me; who am I to judge what’s possible or not?”

The genie narrowed his dark eyes. “So you believe anything’s possible?”

Len just chuckled. “Well, you’re here, so it would seem so.” He tilted his head and jutted his chin at him. “So what do I call you?”

He bowed his head. “We don’t really get names. What would be the point? It’s not exactly a long-term relationship. You get three wishes, then it’s back to the lamp for me.”

“Well, until then, I’ve got to call you something.” And he couldn’t call him Genie, not without thinking of Robin Williams. “I know you said you weren’t one, but what about Jinn.”

“Whatever you want.” He stretched out his arms and cracked his knuckles. “Speaking of which, it’s wish time. What do you wish, Master?”

Len frowned. “Yeah,” he said with a grimace, “not that.” He knew there were people out there who did—and, hey, Len always figured you do you—but it was hard to be a black man in this country and play those kinds of Master/slave power games. “Let’s stick with Len and Jinn.”

He bowed his head. “Very well, Len.” He waved his hand dramatically. “What is your wish?”

“Oh no.” Len shook his head and turned to pace the attic. “I’ve read this story before. Djinns or genies, or whatever you want to be called, are tricksters by nature. Quintessential be careful what you wish for creatures.”

Jinn lifted a noncommittal shoulder and gave a small, but intriguing smile. “Don’t believe everything you read.”

Len snorted. “Like I said, I’m a believer.”

Jinn rolled his eyes and flopped down on the antique fainting couch, a cloud of dust kicking up under his weight. “Well, you’re the Mast—” He caught himself on a cough. “You’re in charge. I’ll just enjoy stretching my legs until you decide.”

Len shot him a skeptical look. “You’re really going to follow me around until I make a wish?”

Jinn kicked his feet up on the cushions and put his arms behind his head, the corded muscles stretching and flexing, causing the light to play across the man’s burnished skin. “That is the deal.”

“You must have something better to do.”

“Really don’t.”

Len paused. His gaze narrowed and his nose wrinkled. “That’s sad.”

Jinn blinked before staring off at the plank wood ceiling, the cocky light in his dark eyes dimming a bit. “Kinda is.”

Sounded pretty lonely too. “What if I wish you free?” Wasn’t that what the heroes did in those stories?

He shrugged. “Genies and our lamps are intertwined; our stories—the magic and belief that keeps us alive—rely on them. Like turtles and their shells, we can’t really survive without them. Wish me free and there’ll be a lot of flash and sparkle from all the noble, warm fuzzies you’ll have, all so I can wait for the next person to rub-a-dub-dub and start the whole story over again.”

Len sighed and sat down on the wood floor. “So we’re stuck together until I make a wish?”

Jinn held up his fingers and waved them. “Three, to be exact.”

“So, if it’s not to be free,” Len asked, “what would you wish for, if you were me?”

“Telling feels like cheating.”

“Think of it more as a consult.” After all, who would be better to ask? The genie had to be an expert by now, after decades of seeing what made a good wish and what didn’t. “Or I could just ask for some stray pets and be done with it.”

“Anything but that.” Jinn chuckled before thinking about it. “Don’t ask for things. We aren’t conjurers by nature.” He gave a sly smile. “Tricksters. Thieves. Liars. Our power is great, but it’s far easier to steal than to create.”

“No things.” Gottcha. “What else?”

He tilted his head one way and then the other, his loose, black locks swaying around his face. “Nothing big. Nothing world-changing. Or even life-changing; things can get complicated and run astray. The bigger the ask—the more I have to tinker with or alter the wider world—the more likely it is for things to veer off path and go places neither of us intended. Wishes are changes and change is always hard and not always good.”

Len bit his lip and nodded. Wise words. Okay, then what should I ask for?”

“An experience.” Jinn looked off into the sunlit afternoon through the tiny attic window. “That’s what I’d ask for. Some fleeting moment that can’t last, but that you can keep forever.” He turned to face Len. “I’ll let you in on an insider secret.” He smiled mischievously. “The shortest-lived magic is always the hardest to screw up.”

An experience. “What kind?”

Jinn shrugged. “Whatever. Ever want to skydive over the Gold Coast? Or trek through the Amazon? Or be in the middle of an orgy of Hollywood starlets? Whatever your little heart desires.”

Len shook his head. “I hate heights. And leaving home. And starlets...” He gave a small laugh, feeling his face flush. “Not, uh, really my thing.”

Jinn raised an eyebrow and held out his hands in the universal sign of indifferent neutrality. “Whatever your heart desires.”

Len hung his head and gave a tense chuckle. “I wouldn’t even know what to do in the Amazon or the Gold Coast.” Or at an orgy. Knowing what to do with only one other partner never came terribly naturally to him, much less multiple ones. Hell, he’d only ever had the one.

It wasn’t always easy being the only openly gay person in a small town. It’d been, by far, harder when he’d been younger. When neither he nor anyone around him had really had the words to talk about it. But Len knew, because of those more brave and prominent than he was and the shift in culture they’d moved like a mountain or a miracle, that he’d been lucky. His aunt may not have always understood him, but she’d always loved him enough to try. To find the words and ways to let him know that he mattered more to her than beliefs that helped no one and hurt people like him. And the same was true of most of the people in town. His friends. His neighbors.

It hadn’t always been easy and might never be perfect, but this was and would always be his home. It was where he belonged.

But it could be lonely too sometimes. To watch his friends date and marry and have kids. To know that wasn’t and might never be possible for him here.

His aunt had told him, when she’d decided to move into the assisted living home, that he should leave. Live. Go to some metropolitan hub and find a life—and a love—that, no matter how amazingly accepting this town was, he could never find in such a remote place.

But he was, by nature, a homebody; how did someone like that leave his hometown? And did he even really want to?

Len scrunched his nose in thought. What did he really, really want? Sighing, he looked about the room. Well, if he was honest with himself. “What I really want is help cleaning up this place.”

Jinn smiled and leapt to his feet. “Is that your wish?”

“Sure.” Len shrugged. “I guess.”

Jinn’s dark eyes sparkled impishly. “Then say it…”

Len tilted his head one way and then the other thoughtfully. It was just a little housecleaning. What could go wrong? “I wish for your help to clean up my aunt’s house.”

Jinn clapped his hands excitedly before giving a little whoop. He crossed his arms over his chest dramatically and bowed his head. “Your wish,” he said with a gleeful nod, “my command...”



To read the rest, check out my Patreon Exclusive genie romance novella “Small Magic.”

Be careful what you wish. 

When Len Williams finds an old genie lamp in his aunt’s old stuff, he knows better than to mess with magic. But that won’t stop this handsome trickster from messing back! 

Jinn’s been stuck in that stuffy lamp for so long, all he wants is to do a little magic and have a little fun. But what’s a genie to do with a Master that literally wants nothing from him? And why does that make him even more determined to grant his every happiness, sure that in doing so maybe—just maybe—Jinn can find his own.



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Friday, September 3, 2021

A Thing of Beauty - A Patreon Novel

  

A Thing of Beauty
A Patreon Faere Trade Novel


Brindle Davis ducked her head and shut her eyes, feeling far too large for the café booth. She did not want to be doing this right now. There was nothing more humiliating than having an intimately awkward argument with her girlfriend in public.

“Well?” Bloom Fairfield scooted forward on the pleather seat to press against the table, expectantly. “Talk to me.”

Brindle shrugged, her hulking shoulders tense. “I don’t know what to say.” Bloom was dumping their most personal and private issues out on the lacquered table for everyone to see; frankly, what Brindle wanted to tell her was to stop.

At least they were at Faere Trade, a magical café that was used to seeing far stranger things than a couple bickering. Not that that made it much easier for Brindle.

Bloom huffed. “Could you please look at me, while we talk?”

Brindle couldn’t. She wished she could. But she struggled to lift her head, when she swore she could feel the weight of other people’s stares. She tried to tell herself that no one was looking at them, but it felt as if everyone was. Bloom’s gaze alone made Brindle’s shoulders slump in a useless effort to make her massive body small. As someone who did not like to be stared at, Brindle wanted to shrink and disappear into the booth’s creaking cushions.

“Brin?”

Shaking her head in a silent shush, Brindle coughed and sat up straighter when she saw the waitress approach with their drinks. Part of her was grateful for the small reprieve. But, as the waitress set their drinks in front of them, Brindle’s gaze caught on the café’s window and her own reflection haunting like a specter there. Not her reflection. Her glamour. The magically applied face she presented to the world. Leaning back, she sat on her large, awkward hands and stared at the strange, petite woman in the window.

Most women—most people—she knew hated their reflections, wishing they could change this and that about their appearance. Brindle wanted nothing more than to look like the rather ordinary-looking brunette she saw staring back at her.

But, staring down at her large, fur-covered body, Brindle knew no amount of magic could do that.

———

Bloom looked at Brindle, who sat across from her in the booth, fiddling awkwardly with the straw in her large, mostly undrunk root beer float. “Well, let’s start with, what do you mean, I’m too beautiful?”

Brindle shook her head. “You know exactly what I mean.” Bloom tried to meet Brindle’s gaze but, no matter how she tried, the other woman wouldn’t. “Look at you.” Brindle shrugged. “Then look at me. You want to know why I don’t really take our relationship seriously?” Brindle pushed back in the booth, the pleather squeaking under her sliding weight. “Well, that’s why.”

Bloom was beautiful.

She’d grown up knowing this. Often—especially in that awkward transition between girl and woman—had cursed it, knowing she had this odd and seemingly irrational power but had no idea how to use it, much less to have it not used against her.

She remembered a boy her age in town who’d professed his love for her every day for a year. He would go on and on about the brilliance of her eyes and the silk of her hair. He’d tell her that her skin was like cream touched by the sweetest honey and her mouth like the lush petals of a rose.

At first, it’d been flattering to go from the knock-kneed girl the boys teased to a woman adored. It’d even been a little bit fun. She’d asked him for favors and gifts, which he would eagerly give. He would do anything she asked, except accept that she didn’t return his affection.
It’d quickly become less fun, when he began to demand her attention and to jealously snap at anyone who threatened to take it from him. Without warning, it’d felt less like he appreciated her beauty and more like he’d assumed he possessed it. Not even her, he hadn’t wanted the whole of her. Just it. That beauty. Even now, she couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment his attention had stopped being flattering and began frightening her, all she knew was that it had.

In the end, it’d taken a pretty ugly act involving his best friend, a kiss, and a black eye to convince him that she wasn’t the girl for him after all. It was a lesson Bloom would never forget. For all the many gifts and privileges having a pretty face provided, there were always drawbacks.

She just never thought this would be one of them.

Bloom shook her head. She was so sick of this argument. “I don’t care what you look like!” She looked at her partner.

No, not her partner, not the real, non-glamoured, no-spells Brindle.

Bloom’s lips thinned at the pretty, but not-too-pretty brunette sitting across from her. She stared into her brown eyes, hating that those weren’t Brindle’s real eyes. Wasn’t even where her face was. She stared at the small woman’s frame sitting across from her, knowing that her girlfriend’s body looked nothing like her glamour’s. Bloom shook her head.

It was all a lie. And Bloom hated it. She didn’t get what the big deal was.

Okay, well, that was a lie.

She did know.

Without her glamour, even among the magical community, Brindle always attracted stares. Bloom knew that the startled gasps and instinctive recoils that were most people’s first reaction tolled on Brindle’s soul. Brindle was well-aware that people took one look at her and saw the embodiment of every monster, every nightmare, every demon, they feared.

Bloom watched the avatar’s head shake. “Do you have any idea how much magic it takes to glamour myself every morning, just so I can walk down the street without being stared at? Which is still better than when I was young and we couldn’t afford to pay for the spells, making it so I couldn’t leave the house at all. I’ve lived my entire life terrified that someone might touch me and discover my secret, since glamours might change how I look but not what I am.”

Bloom knew all that already. They’d talked about it. But damnit! “I just want to be able to hold my partner’s hand!”

Brindle’s eyes rolled. “That’s not all you want.”

Bloom sighed. She wasn’t wrong. “So I want to be able to kiss you and hold you and, yes, make love to you.” Bloom already knew what Brindle really looked like—though getting her to drop the glamour had taken months of building trust too—how could touching change anything? Bloom already knew Brindle’s secret; she longed for a different kind of discovery. “Is that so wrong?”

Arms crossed, Brindle made a disgruntled sound. “We talked about this, when we first started dating. I told you that touch is hard for me.”

Bloom sighed and reached out her hand to Brindle. “I really like you, so hard I can handle.” But they’d been dating for seven months now with nearly no physical contact. “But impossible…I don’t know if I can do that.”

Brindle’s eyes widened, even through her glamour, hurt shone clear in the brown depths. She stared at Bloom’s outstretched hand with distrust. “Are you breaking up with me?”

Bloom’s jaw tightened. “No.” That wasn’t what she wanted. But… “Even if we go slowly—as slowly as you want—I just need to know that it’s possible.” That, together, they’d get there. Someday. “I just need to know that there’s reason to hope.”

Brow furrowed and gaze lowered, Brindle nodded. “I’m good with hope.” The sounds of the café, the hum of tens of different conversations and the buzz of the espresso machine and the clink of cups and plates, filled the space between them. Brindle sighed. “But I don’t know if I can guarantee anything.”

Bloom hated the despondent tone in Brindle’s voice. Almost to the point where she wanted to just laugh and tell her to forget the whole thing. To assure her partner that what they had was enough for her.

But it wasn’t.

She wished it was.

But she knew that, if she put her own needs aside for Brindle’s sake, she’d start resenting it. Bloom looked around, seeing the other couples there, some cuddling in booths or kissing over coffees. She wanted that. For herself. For Brindle.

She knew that Brindle couldn’t understand—couldn’t even imagine—why anyone would want to touch, to love, her body.

But, when Bloom closed her eyes at night, that was all she thought about. How would their bodies fit together? What would Brindle’s mouth on hers feel like, taste like? What would it be like to make love? Could they even do that? She wanted to know. However long it took, she could wait.

But, if she could never know, if it ultimately wasn’t something Brindle ever wanted, Bloom knew it would be better for her to walk away now. Before she fell too deep. Felt too much.

Before it would break her heart to leave.

If it wouldn’t already.

Bloom instinctively touched her chest as if anticipating that pain.
She shook her head. Maybe this would end and she’d be left with nothing but regret and loneliness. Nothing was guaranteed in life, not even in magical ones. But they weren’t done yet.

So she reached out her hand again. “I’m willing to try, if you are...”




To read the rest, check out my Patreon Exclusive monster love novella “A Thing of Beauty.” 

If it looks like a monster & moves like a monster, it must be one, right?

Then why does the human world seem so much more frightening to Brindle? Built like a beast, she never felt like she fit in the world she was born in.

Until Bloom.

Can she and Bloom find a way to live and love together in a world that refuses to see them as they are?

My VGP monster love story is free (for now) on Patreon. A wlw Beauty & the Beast story, it focuses on the realties of loving a monstrous body, from toxic gossip & body issues to defiantly following your bliss & discovering the joys of pervertable sex toys!

Hope you check it out & enjoy!



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Checking In - A Patreon Novel

  

Checking In
A Patreon House of Glass Novel


Rowan Drury carefully restrung the violin laid lovingly in his lap, running his hands over the sleek, shiny wood marred only by the long scratch along the side of the instrument from when he’d tripped over one of his cousin Jack’s skateboards. The violin had been forever marked and he’d spent six weeks with his arm in a sling.

Rowan had been sad about the Drury heirloom that had dated back to who-knows-when and about all the worry he’d caused his mother and the rest of his family but, in truth, the whole situation could have been worse.

He stood, clutching the violin by the neck, and stared out the conservatory window at his brothers, sister, cousins, and other assortments of relatives who dwelled in the Drury castle. They were all dressed up, grouped together on the twisted driveway that led down the hill from the castle to town. They were going out tonight. Good night for it.

It was the Midsummer’s Eve and there’d been rituals all day—feasts and gatherings, prayers and parties—all to celebrate the year’s longest day. Rowan loved the Midsummer because he got to spend the whole day with his family outside of the castle. Still on castle grounds, true, but the gardens were beautiful this time of year—all blooming Irish roses and towering ivy. And, in this one day, he would spend more time out under the beautiful Irish sun than all the other days combined. And despite the layers of sunscreen his mother would smother his too fair skin with, Rowan would soak it all in, knowing this rare treat would have to hold him for a very long time.

He lifted the newly strung violin to his chin as he watched the others pile into cars, ready to make their way into the city and make the most out of the year’s shortest night. He nodded as his sister, Willow, and his cousin, Jack, turned to wave at him. Rowan smiled at his mother who—still as pretty as any of his cousins—blew him a kiss as she held his father’s hand. Rowan raised the bow and played a fast and rowdy tune in their honor, closing his eyes as he remembered planning the night with his cousins during supper. They’d have fun in Waterford City. There would be dancing, drinks, and music. With his eyes closed, Rowan could almost imagine it.

There’d been a time—when he was much younger—when he’d longed to go with them. But he was older now. And he understood that he was Widdershins.

He sighed and laid the violin back in its case. Feeling restless, he walked about the stands and cases and shelves of instruments lining the room. Finally, he slipped onto the bench and ran his fingers over the baby grand piano’s keys. The tinkling notes eased the tension inside him.

As his family’s newest Widdershins, Rowan really didn’t get out much. He didn’t go out at all. It wasn’t allowed.

And for good reason.

The people of Redeshire called his family cursed. And they were, Rowan supposed. In a way.

While most of their Drury ancestry—that had inspired many of the myths and misconceptions of Druids, wizards, and witches—had died out a long time ago with the rise of science and the convenience of modern technology—for God’s sake, his father was an investment banker and his mother a software engineer—there were legends and legacies that still lingered.

There was a story his grandfather used to tell him. One of a Drury elder who—for the good of his people—had stopped the hand of fate. This powerful man—a witch, he’d be called today—had cast a protection spell that would pass down through blood. It was the Drury blood that bound the curse and repelled all evil. All those that carried the family name carried with it magic in their veins and a life filled with luck. And, even now, centuries after the spell was cast, the Drury family possessed wealth, success, great love—everything most people wished for and few ever got.

It wasn’t that they got everything they wanted or never had to work for what they had. Just that the little uncontrollables in life, like being at the right place at the right time with the right people, just seemed to happen more frequently to the Drurys. It was as if the invisible hands of destiny were a bit more clear to them. A Drury learned to listen to the way the wind whistled or to track the sun’s progression. A dove in the sky boded well for one’s current plans. Strong sea air brought with it change. One simply learned to be patient and wait at a crossroads for fate to eventually tip its hand.

For the Drury family, there were always signs.

But with every spell comes a price and every Drury knows the balance that rules the world must always be maintained. So, to safeguard the whole family, the elder had sacrificed himself and become the first of the family Widdershins, vowing that another would be born into every generation. That person’s fate—their duty—was to keep the balance. If every other Drury member knew only good luck, then the Widdershins knew only the reverse.

Rowan was the family’s latest Widdershins, his destiny sealed from his first breath. And though he couldn’t say that every breath since had been an easy one, he’d long since made peace with his lot in life.
And so, as the year’s longest day came to a close, he played a song he’d only heard in the farthest parts of his mind, not quite sad but in some way longing. He marveled at the way the music flowed from heart to fingertips to key to air. It was a type of magic. And it was his.
But just as he moved into the coda, Rowan jumped at a loud crash coming from somewhere down the hall. His knee smacked smartly against the baby grand, causing the keys’ heavy cover to slam down hard onto his fingers. Hissing between clenched teeth, he shook his hand vigorously before sticking it in his mouth to suck the throbbing digits.

Rowan looked toward the direction of the noise he’d heard. Everyone should be out of the castle by now, leaving Rowan and his grandfather—the eldest Widdershins—alone.

Poking his head out the door, Rowan peeked into the empty hallway. Knowing Grandda, Rowan figured the old man had probably just knocked something over or tripped on something. He was probably all right, but Rowan couldn’t get it out of his head that something was wrong.

His grandfather, though proud to serve his family as a Widdershins, wasn’t known to suffer quietly. Rowan’s knowledge of Gaelic curses came entirely from his grandfather’s mouth.

But the large stone hallway that usually echoed the slightest sound was silent. “Grandda?” Rowan murmured, the sound reverberating through the now twilight-tinged house. “Grandda?”

He heard scrambling—the slightest squeak of shoes across the waxed tiles. Stepping from the smooth wood and soft cream-colored room and into the lofty gray stone and glass halls, Rowan headed toward the noise and hoped his grandfather wasn’t terribly hurt.

Pausing by the windowed wall that overlooked the castle gardens, he noticed a large crow perched hungrily on one of the eastside windowsills. Its black feathers gleamed a strange green in the sun as the bird pecked viciously at the glass, its beak half-opened in mid-caw as its talons clenched and released in anticipation.

Carrion in an in-between. A bad omen.

Rowan held his breath as he headed east. He turned into the courtyard foyer, opening the door cautiously. “Grandda?”

At first, there seemed to be nothing wrong. Just a feeling that something bad hovered on the edges. Though the room was exactly as it should, an ordered mess of Aunt Gilly’s gardening supplies, Truman’s summer reading, and various bottles of Bella’s tanning oils and screens, the orange hue the setting sun cast made the familiar room seem foreign. He turned toward the tapping on the window and the crow that still beat its beak furiously against the glass.

Every Drury knew a bad omen at an entrance or exit—a suspicious sign within the spaces between one place and another—meant danger close at hand. The in-betweens were places, where if one wanted to know what the future held, warnings waited.

Forcing his eyes from the crow, Rowan tried to convince himself that sometimes a bird was just a bird. But as his gaze swept the room, he took in the overturned pottery and the cracked bottles. He could smell the slight metallic scent of blood mingled with the spilled fragrances mixing together on the floor.

Rowan shivered at the small signs of struggle and knew omens never lied. He turned to face the bird’s hungry, beady eyes as its head tossed back and forth in frustration. He could hear the crow cawing raucously as its wings flapped, desperate for balance, and its talons viciously scratched at the window pane. He turned away.

And there on the scuffed, slightly dirty hardwood floor, Rowan saw his hands first. Burned, scratched, and oddly disjointed—the hands of a Widdershins. His grandfather had always loved to cook despite the obvious and many dangers a kitchen held for his kind, causing scars—from knife-cuts, grease splatter, and burns of every kind—that patterned those recognizable hands.

As Rowan peered forward in the messy foyer, his boots clicking against the now marked varnish, he followed the broken lines of his grandfather’s battered hands to his stretched-out body lying in a cluttered corner among several large, now cracked potted plants. He gasped.

Kneeling at his unconscious grandfather’s side, Rowan cut his hands and knees as he pushed aside some of the mess. “Are you all right?”
This was why Rowan avoided this part of the castle, too many things to trip and fall on. His grandfather ought to have known better. Rowan could see a bit of blood on the shards of terra cotta that littered the floor. He hoped the elderly man hadn’t cut himself too deeply. Groaning with effort, he turned his grandfather’s prone body over.
With a choked cry, Rowan jumped back, bumping into heavily laden shelves, causing more pottery to fall and shatter at his feet. Rowan cringed and curled in on himself.

A crow at the window meant one thing. Death at a doorway.

The crow’s caws grew wild as his grandfather’s body fell face-up on the floor. Rowan squeezed his eyes shut but he couldn’t wipe the image of the dead man from his mind. The body was untouched, just pale and so cold. From the right angle, Rowan could have almost believed that his grandfather was simply passed out. But his grandfather’s face, that in so many ways looked much like his own only many years on, oozed blood, dark and thick as it streaked down his tattered cheeks and around his opened, silently screaming lips. He could still see where the trail of blood met and mingled both into and out of the long, deep slash across the old man’s throat.

But the worst of it—the part that had Rowan panting and pleading to his God—were the empty sockets where his grandfather’s eyes gaped open, bloody and hacked.

Oh, Merciful Mother of God. Who did that kind of thing?

But Rowan knew exactly the type of person who would cut out his grandfather’s eyes.

Most myths, legends, and old sayings had origins in truth. And eyes were in-betweens too. Windows to the soul, as they say. And with no doorway, no exit or entrance, his grandfather’s soul—a Widdershins’s soul—was trapped inside his impossibly still body, unable to pass into the next generation.

Jesus, son of God. Crawling shakily to his knees, Rowan crossed himself quickly and bent his head. He wished he could close the old man’s lidless eyes. Rowan prayed as he draped a towel over his grandfather’s form. May God bless on your journey, Grandda.

Rowan sank down and fought back fear and sadness. He couldn’t afford to mourn long. He had to think.

This was an assault not just on Paddy Drury, but on the entirety of the Drury family. With one Widdershins dead, the balance of luck was tipping. Rowan wondered if his family could feel the change already. He hoped that they were all right, even as he feared the dangers that now seeped into their once impenetrable lives. One Widdershins dead, murdered and mutilated—his soul stuck. Who knew what damage could be done now?

Rowan gasped as a thought dawned on him, for a second drowning out the worry for his family.

One Widdershins dead. One left.

Rowan backed away from his grandfather. Rowan was now the only Widdershins left. Left alone. Left defenseless. With shaky panic, he called the first number on his mobile phone. His nervous fingers fumbled on the keys, but no matter what number he dialed, there was no answer. Rowan looked down at his phone, appalled to realize that his phone’s battery was too low to place a call. Shit. Damn. “Fuck!”

He clapped his hand over his traitorous mouth as he caught that same slick slide of rubber coming from somewhere in the hallway.

The mobile slid to the floor.

Someone was still in the castle and was now headed his way.

Rowan took one last look at his grandfather—hating to leave him—before easing the garden screen door open and stepping soundlessly outside. He could see the woods that bordered the Drury property. He’d never been in them—too dangerous—but his siblings and cousins had said that the hill the castle grounds sat on was flanked by a town and a motorway.

That meant people, right?

Lots of people. Most of whom weren’t ritual killers. Right?

Rowan paused at the large hedges that bordered the gardens about six meters from the forest and wondered what he should do. The shadowed trees looked harsh and unforgiving as their branches twisted in on each other, strangling the light that tried to break through the thick canopy. He began to hyperventilate as he took a tentative step back into the familiarity of the castle. But as he heard the door to the foyer creak open, Rowan took a deep breath and ran.

He turned as a loud flapping flutter of feathers swooped down, its talons and beak aimed for his head. He screamed as he waved his arms above his head, trying to beat the crow away, but it just kept coming. Ignoring the pain as the bird scratched and clawed at his skin, he headed into the trees.

Rowan rushed past low branches and jumped over fallen limbs and when finally the crow’s ravenous caws sounded distant and muted, he slowed, panting and wheezing. He looked around, confused and lost. He had no idea where he was or whether he was even closer to the castle or the road. His body ached, his arms torn and his legs tired, but he had to keep going. He looked around and sighed before limping ahead in a random direction, hoping it led him somewhere safe.

Rowan spun as he heard the leaves rustle behind him before jerking around again at the sound of a snapping branch. He tried to slow his breathing and listen. He could have sworn he heard whispers, but the wind was whipping them in every direction, making him feel cornered.
Trapped.

He started to back away uneasily before tripping on the rocky ground. Grunting loudly, he landed hard on his side. He scrambled to his feet as he heard the leaves shift. Choking on panicked sobs, Rowan ran.
He could hear the rustling and footfalls catching up to him. He peeked over his shoulder and tried to figure out where they were, but he couldn’t tell in all the darkness. All he knew was that they were close and getting closer.

Pumping his legs, he checked his back again. He yelped as his foot slipped on mulching leaves, his knees buckling beneath him as he tumbled down the rocky hill. He held out his hands, trying to catch himself before he crashed to the ground. But he couldn’t stop himself from falling.

The last sight he remembered was that of the hungry, black bird perched on a branch above him before his head smashed against rock and pain and blackness brought him down...




To read the rest, check out my Patreon Exclusive fantasy novel “Checking In.” 

The Elysium Hotel is not exactly your average B&B.

Rowan Drury, cursed from birth and chased from his home by killers, awoke at this supernatural haven for the lost and lonely.

But something dark is growing under the seemingly serene surface.

The Elysium may look like an Eden safe from the troubles plaguing the boarders’ pasts, but even protection comes at a price.

And staying at this parasitic paradise costs nothing less than your soul.

Rowan, with cursed powers he doesn’t yet understand, can see the trap hidden beneath the hotel’s flourishing beauty, but can he and the other guests escape before it’s too late? Will they even want to?

Or, for those already damned, is a taste of heaven worth the loss of whatever’s left of your soul?



Listen to an Excerpt  

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Show Me How to Love You!

WHAT PUCKS LOVE

Tasha sat up straighter. “There’s something I should probably tell you too.”

Ro held her breath, knowing what was coming next. Some Midsummer Night’s Dream fantasy. Or some humanity-first philosophy. It was the world she lived in as a Puck and she’d long since learned to brace herself for it.

Tasha’s grip on the teacup tightened, her long, teak fingers tapping against the vibrant green. She took a steadying breath. “I like to take relationships slowly.” She looked up at Ro, her dark eyes wide and impossibly vulnerable. “Like, really slowly.”

What did that mean? Ro couldn’t even guess. “Explain that to me.”

Tasha shifted in her seat, her long, thick side braid swaying a bit against her shoulder. She bit down on her bottom lip, worrying the full flesh. She sighed and shot Ro a clear fuck it expression. “Since we’re laying it all out there, I guess you should know that pretty much every relationship I’ve ever been in has ended because I never feel comfortable getting... physically intimate with someone until I know them well.”

Ro huffed, steeling herself a bit. “Look, I know that there’s a stereotype about pucks and sex.” She waved her hand dismissively. “The whole ‘you know what pucks like’ thing.”

“What thing?”

Was she kidding? “That pucks like to...” She felt her cheeks flush. Surely, Tasha had heard the saying before. Ro had certainly grown up with people — classmates, friends, lovers, strangers — teasing and taunting her with it. She’d spent her whole life being the punchline of a lazy, rhyming sex joke.

“Oh!” Tasha’s face paled as she shook her head. “Oh, no, that’s not what I meant at all. I didn’t mean that you —” She swallowed hard. “I just mean that I —” She took a breath. “It sounds bad, but this really is a case of ‘It’s not you; it’s me.’” She looked so awkward, her jaw clenched and her hands tucked tightly in her lap, that it was hard not to believe her. It wasn’t judgement Ro felt radiating from her; it was shame. “Truth is, I’ve never really felt like I’ve known anyone, so, you know, intimacy — all kinds, not just sex — and me just...” 

Ro fought to freeze her face, not wanting to show her shock. “So.” How to phrase this? “You’ve never...”
Tasha gave a humorless laugh. “I have; it was just...” She wrinkled her nose. “Uncomfortable.”

Ro sat back thoughtfully. Okay. “So how well do you need to know someone before you feel comfortable?”

Tasha leaned on the table, resting her face in her hands as she stared into the tea pensively. “Well, the idea of sex never really sounded all that appealing to me. Truth be told, I often wonder what possessed the first people to even try it. It just sounds... messy and awkward and, if everything I’ve heard is true, often more work than it’s worth.”

Ro frowned. She wasn’t the stereotype people thought pucks were, some sex-crazed creature constantly in heat. But she did like sex. A lot. And intimacy in general. She enjoyed kissing and cuddling and holding hands. She couldn’t imagine being in a relationship without those things. 

Tasha looked up, her dark eyes a little hopeful. “But the idea of making love...” She lifted her shoulder a bit, smiling sweetly. “That sounds like it could be nice. Like a physical manifestation of that feeling.” Then her shoulders slumped. “But making love kinda necessitates that you be in love, right...”


To read the rest of my story “What Pucks Love” that explores the often magical possibilities of love in this anthology from Speculatively Queer

It Gets Even Better: Stories of Queer Possibility is an anthology of speculative short fiction about queerness as it might be. These stories are about identity, relationships, and community. They're about hope, acceptance, affirmation, and joy. And most of all, in a time when uncertainty feels inescapable and overwhelming, they're about taking one another by the hand and choosing together to embrace the unknown. 

The possibilities are endless.

This anthology is full of uplifting, affirming stories by an outstanding line-up of speculative fiction authors: Charlie Jane Anders, Phoebe Barton, Zen Cho, Sonni de Soto, Ben Francisco, Amy Griswold, S.L. Huang, Jaxton Kimble, Rafi Kleiman, Kristen Koopman, D.K. Marlowe, R.J.Mustafa, Aimee Ogden, TS Porter, Lauren Ring, Swetha S. Ziggy Schutz, Nibedita Sen, Leora Spizter, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Nemma Wollenfang, & Xu Ran.

Available Now in Print, ebook, & Audiobook On 

Listen to an Excerpt HERE