Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daria's Dating Dilemma, Part Six

Daria’s Dating Dilemma, Part Six
When we left Daria on November 26th, she was sitting in the rain wondering if things would ever go right…

I sat in the rain until a passerby threw a dollar at me. Now I was reduced to looking like a street beggar. I stood quickly, hurling the wet wad at the person’s head, and shouting incoherently. Sure it made me look crazier, but I was irate. My phone was gone, my first good date was ruined, and now my lawyer friend probably thought I was a loser. What else could go wrong?
Deciding my pity party needed to be mobile, I started walking along the sidewalk. Home wasn’t a far and warm, clean clothes awaited me. Muttering to myself, I negotiated the streets and people racing out of the rain. The storm came harder and faster, soaking me to the skin in record time and setting me to shivering.
I stopped at the corner one block from home when a different large truck hit the puddle in front of me. I cried out as a deluge of muddy water and debris washed me onto my ass at the curb. The driver of the truck didn’t even slow down, the bastard. Wiping the water off my face, I shook my hands angrily and dug my purse out of the street. I was soaked and dirty, my purse was ruined—its contents probably destroyed as well—and it wasn’t even noon yet. My patience was stretched to the limit. The anger fueled my pace and I finished the trip in record time. Beat that Patrick Makau.
Digging my wet keys from the ruined clutch, I let myself in and stripped inside the door. I threw the clothes on the tile for washing or discarding—I hadn’t decided which. I carried my purse into the kitchen and dumped everything in the sink. I’d take care of it later. First, I wanted a hot shower and a pint of ice cream.  And, yes, I’d call off work to spend a day shut in with emotional chick flicks, Ben, and Jerry.

Two days later and I’d replaced my phone, the contents of my purse, and was working on my pride. There were no messages from anyone on my new cell or my home phone. Queen of horror dates strikes again, I silently cheered watching the elevator tick off floors. I strode off intent on finding my cube and hiding inside until the clock struck five. I stopped short as the crowd around my workspace registered in my frazzled mind.
“Great, I’m probably being fired on top of things,” I mumbled and pushed my way past them.
My purse, work bag, and jaw hit the floor in surprise. There, on MY desk, were two enormous flower arrangements. Not the ‘cheap bought at a gas station’ kind, but the ‘in the vase and I paid a fortune for hand delivery’ kind. From my vantage point, I was sure at least one was authentic crystal. I stared frozen in place for at least ten minutes while my gossiping co-workers took in every nuance of my reaction. Great, I’d be the office tramp by lunch.
Ignoring them, I moved into my area and mentally slammed the door. Quickly, I grabbed the note cards from each bouquet and shoved them in my bag to read once the drama calmed down. I continued ignoring the questions and whispers while I logged into my workstation and reviewed the stack of messages from the receptionist. Apparently things had been busy while I’d been out on my day off.
As the clock chimed starting time, the boss cajoled everyone away to their own office pens before heading back to mine. “Daria, I sincerely hope these flowers are not the reason you were out sick yesterday?”
I merely looked up at her. My eyes were still red and puffy from a day of crying. I was also sure the end of my nose was dry and blotchy. I looked like I’d had the cold I lied about. “Of course not and I apologize I had to call off. I’m not sure where the flowers came from. Oh, and I’m feeling better now.” The ‘thanks for asking, bitch’ was silent.
The boss nodded and walked away as I breathed a sigh of relief. Pulling the cards free from my bag, I glanced at each quickly. The first was a typed message from Keith, presumably ordered while he was in Europe.
I tried calling but didn’t get an answer. Wanted to let you know there are no hard feelings and I look forward to talking when I return next week.
“Nice, thank you broken phone,” I sarcastically grumbled and grabbed for the other. It unexpectedly was from Marcus.
Sorry I missed you the other day. I was out grabbing breakfast. As your representation, I suggest discussing my fee over dinner. Please call to schedule a time.
I giggled, swallowing the full out laugh threatening to spill over. To anyone else, it would be a very professional note. Knowing Marcus as I did, it was full of humor and innuendo. It was just the thing to cheer me up. I jotted notes in my planner to attempt to call each after work.
The rest of work passed in a blur of activity. Not used to me taking a sick day, several clients had panicked when unable to reach me the day before. One in particular had left no less than twelve messages. Toward the end of the stack, the receptionist had stopped writing her number or message all together. It had also taken an hour to convince the woman I was not gravely ill or anywhere near death’s door. Ironically, the woman chastised me for not taking more time to myself after giving me a page long list of items to be taken care of.
Standing to grab my coat and debating picking up another pint of ice cream, I looked around my office floor and sighed. Some days, I really wanted to chew my way out of our gopher den. Hopefully, my good work would be noticed eventually and I could move up the food chain. I was currently lodged solidly in the bopped-on-the-head department. I chuckled as I pictured a rubber mallet striking each cranium that emerged over the partition walls.

Grinning still as I let myself into my home, the flashing message light caught my attention. I had three messages. It was an incredible occurrence, I usually managed one message a week and it was from my parents. Their message usually entailed making sure I was alive, highlighting other people’s successes, and not so casually asking if I’d made any progress in life. I dropped my bags into the chair and raced over to press the button.
I leaned on the counter as the messages played. The first was from Pat wanting to make sure I had survived okay. I could tell by the whispered tone, he was again hiding from his wife to call me. He quickly added he’d given Keith my home number before the call abruptly disconnected. The second message was from Marcus, wanting to know if I received his professional package and if I had any plans this evening. The third was from Keith, a little fuzzy because of the connection. I could barely make anything out —something about his meetings going well and such. I saved all three just as proof I could receive calls.
Grabbing the handset free, I called Marcus back and chatted while changing. The rustle of clothes must have transmitted over the line. He mentioned it with a joke of course and sent me into a fit of laughter.
“It’s so good to hear you laugh at the end of a long day, Daria.” Marcus’ voice drifted across the quiet and I was speechless. “So, what were you thinking for dinner?”
“Pizza and a movie,” I joked, tossing a shirt over my head and zipping up my jeans.
“Funny, that’s just what I was thinking.”
My response to his odd reply was cut off by the door bell ringing. He had already disconnected the call. Racing back to the front room, I threw open the door and stared at him. Marcus stood on my steps holding a pizza from the best pie shop in town and a six pack of beer.
I tried to lean casually against my door frame. “Funny, mister, I don’t remember ordering a pizza. I’m afraid I’m not going to pay you for the pie.”
He smiled wide, his perfect teeth showing. “That’s a shame, ma’am. I’m pretty sure there’s a copy of Shaun of the Dead in my jacket.”
“I own it,” I shrugged, holding back laughter.
He stepped closer. “I think the other pocket has Princess Bride and Hershey caramel Kisses,” he whispered.
“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I moved out of the way and motioned him inside with a frenzied wave.
We both laughed as we moved toward the kitchen. He sat the goodies out on the counter while I wrangled up plates and glasses. Serving up the pizza, beer, and grabbing the bag of Kisses for later, I motioned him into my living room. My entertainment area wasn’t super high-tech but it was good quality. When you find yourself alone most Saturday nights, it pays to have a great home theatre set-up and forgiving neighbors.
We ate while watching Shaun of the Dead and quoting lines along with the movie. Once stuffed, I leaned into him while contemplating the bag of Kisses. His arm silently slipped around my shoulders and we sat in silence until the movie ended. He rose, brought out two more beers, and studied the DVD player.
“So, should I put in Princess Bride?” Marcus asked with a wink.
“Sure, why not?” I answered with a shrug.
“As you wish…”His smiled melted my heart faster than Kisses over an open flame.
My voice was huskier than I ever remembered hearing it before.  “Come snuggle and keep me safe from the ROUS’s.” I patted the cushion next to me and eagerly cuddled into his body when he complied. I truly believe it’s the only occasion I didn’t pay any attention to my favorite movie.
Just when the action in my living room was about to surpass the action on the screen for the first time in recorded history, the phone rang interrupting the moment. I let the machine catch it, forgetting I had turned the volume up earlier. Keith’s voice echoed through my open downstairs floor plan.
“Should be home tomorrow, would love to see you again. You still owe me a coffee.”
Rule number nine: Expect the unexpected, otherwise known as 'unplug the phone with you have a date over' rule.
I blushed red hot as Marcus lowered my shirt and looked at me oddly. Hell, there went another good date. He’d probably storm out and never return. Worse, he’d probably send me a huge legal bill the next morning. I sat there like a moron waiting to hear the worst.
Marcus’ expression took on a sexy, dangerous look. “Well, I guess I have twenty four hours to make you hate the thought of coffee…”
Rule number ten: See rule number nine and… 
Oh to hell with the rules…

Digital Digest is being changed to better serve our readers. But Daria’s mishaps and adventures are far from over! Watch for the full Daria novel to be available in 2012, with glimpses available on my blog and thank you for reading!

~Jennifer Feuerstein~

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Feuerstein
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Land of the Blind (Chapter 3)

Recap: In Chapter 2, General Kober Chiang, the new commanding officer of the reconstituted Praetorians, activated his special plan to bring his beloved Federation back to the top of world affairs, while also destroying Devereaux Marshall Fox, once and for all. 

                                                                        * * * * * *
“Muchos gracias, Senorita,” Fox said as the comely brunette placed a tray of hot rolls before him.

“De nada, Senor,” the woman replied, her face blushing deeply

As she walked away to serve other customers in the small, but crowded restaurant, Fox closed his eyes and tried to absorb his surroundings. Immediately, the aroma of the crisp buttery rolls assaulted his olfactory senses. He could hear the clinking of forks and knives on porcelain plates. It seemed a thousand conversations filtered into his ears – wedding news, gossip, opinions, he took it all in. This was real life to him, much better than listening out for intruders and possible ambushes.

He opened his eyes again, glanced around the eatery and watched an ethnic montage of men and women chatting while they ate their organic food. He had eaten here many times before. He liked that there were still some places in the world where he could eat real food instead of RDA shakes, and not pay an arm and a leg to do it. He needed organic food, if only so the delicious smells could arouse memories of better times, of home-cooked meals or of easygoing dinners with convivial friends.

He knew
Cali, Colombia wasn’t as exotic as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or Montevideo, Uruguay, but it was quiet. Not as busy or as corrupt as the country’s capital, Bogota, it was now a center of technology and information. Despite this, the city had still maintained its character, its mellow tree-lined avenues and the ambience of a citizenry freed of the hectic life that dominated larger population centers.

It had been decades since the drug trade had died down here and around the world, thanks to a miracle drug that killed addiction and adverse reaction almost instantaneously. The criminal warlords and violent street gangs that had infected society and had once turned
Cali into the cocaine cartel capital of the world died out along with the crippling addictions and associated brutality of illegal drug use. To this day, no one knew who had discovered and developed the wonder drug made from natural plants found in most of the world’s mountains. At the memory, Fox laughed to himself and took a big bite out of one of his buttery rolls.

None of this mattered now, though. Fox wasn’t here to interfere in anyone’s business or upset the status quo, if he could help it. He was just assessing the world situation, gathering information to make an accurate report for himself before he made his final departure. The rest of his time was meant to take in the sights, sounds and ultimate beauty of the planet and its people.

His waitress, Consuela, returned with a large tray. She carefully set a large plate of Brazilian steak and steamed broccoli before him. He inhaled deeply, letting the aroma of the broiled meat assail his senses. He liked nothing better than a well-cooked steak, no matter what the animal rights organizations felt about it.

“Excuse me, but I heard some congratulations for the couple in the corner by the front window,” Fox mentioned.

“Si, Senor, they are getting married,” Consuela answered, cocking her head in confusion that he could have discerned a conversation in the front of the restaurant from his table in the rear. “I did not think they were being so loud, Senor. I will ask them to be a little quieter.”

“People were speaking of it and it kind of came back to me,” Fox said, trying to cover the fact that his aural sensors had picked up the news. “Wish them every happiness, por favor.”

“Si, Senor, I will,” the comely waitress replied, happily. “She used to be my supervisor and he was her best customer. Oh, don’t they make a beautiful couple? If only they had the money for her dream wedding. She’s always wanted large bouquets of roses, a large church and a reception hall with food for all of her family. Maybe one day.”

He watched Consuela go over to the couple to relay his wish. He waved quickly at them and then resumed eating. Somehow, the food tasted even better than usual and he wondered if his increased euphoria at the couple’s happiness was to blame. He could certainly afford to extend a little good will. They weren’t responsible for his never marrying. He felt they deserved every happiness possible.

Consuela returned shortly with a small folder that held his charge. She walked off to check another table and Fox quickly opened the folder. He looked at the bill, but stopped for a moment. He glanced around at each table briefly, returned his gaze to the folder and made a quick calculation. He kept his head low so that no one would see his right eye flicker.

“Gracias, Senor,” Consuela said as she saw Fox leaving the restaurant.

She saw the red light flickering on the folder, signaling that full payment had been made and she picked it up. Upon opening it, she immediately felt faint and had to take a seat before she fell. Her manager walked over to her quickly.

“Are you okay, Consuela?” he asked, concerned.

She handed him the folder and he looked. He, too, nearly fainted. Somehow, Fox had figured out the costs of all the meals being consumed in the restaurant and had paid for every one of them. He had left Consuela a tip so large she would be able to pay her college tuition and keep a roof over her head for a year. Best of all, he had included a special bill item – full payment for a wedding in a large church, with lots of rose bouquets and enough money for a reception, a honeymoon and a gift to start a new life together.

The news left both waitress and manager reeling. They rushed outside, but Fox was gone. Consuela went back inside to break the news. Manuel lingered outside for a moment, his eyes focused in on the gray asphalt sidewalks and cobblestone streets. He had realized that such a monumental gift meant that, most likely, he would never see his best customer again and that made him very sad. He sighed heavily and then, putting on his best face, returned inside to join the cheering customers.

Fox was two blocks away when Manuel and Consuela had rushed outside. He hadn’t looked back. He knew it wasn’t good to look back. The engaged couple had only stirred up memories he’d buried. Memories of another time and place, of a happy couple talking merrily at an outdoor eatery in San Diego, California, by the old 32nd Street naval base. Before the Battle of Phuket changed everything, he thought ruefully.

Fox brought himself back to reality and he chided himself for bringing up memories again. He’d been doing it more and more lately. Maybe I’m just getting old, he told himself.

To get his mind off the past, he accessed his microcomputer and called up the information he’d amassed since he’d left his house. He had learned of Chiang’s promotion to head of the Praetorian Guard, but that hadn’t been unexpected; he was just surprised that the Federation Joint Chiefs had kept Mavromichalis on as his executive officer. He made a special note of a meeting of the Chiagas Board in
Montevideo, Uruguay. He’d long suspected Dainmon Chiagas of trying to bring all of South America’s criminal gangs under his control, though his moves had been constantly thwarted by a lack of firepower to cow his opponents.

Fox moved on to the scene in
Africa, Europe, Oceana, the always volatile Middle East and the rest of Asia. Nothing was amiss from the ordinary behind-the-scenes power grabs, though he made another special note of the increased pirate activity in the waters off Somalia. The government in Mogadishu had fallen again and the pirates’ main enemy in the Seychelles Coast Guard was preoccupied with reinforcing the island nation’s sea walls to stave off the rising ocean level.

His ears suddenly picked up sounds of feet scuffling on asphalt and he thought he heard a muffled voice. He turned into a narrow alley and stopped cold. Three burly men in old camouflage green army jackets and new retro black parachute pants were manhandling a girl who didn’t look to be close to eighteen. The largest had a hand over the girl’s mouth and a second man had grabbed her legs to pull her into the shadows.

“Look at what we got here,” the tallest thug said. “I get to be the first to pop that…”

He never completed his vulgar assertion, for his head pitched forward sharply, followed by his body. He dropped the girl and actually sailed over her to land face first on the pavement. The man to his left spun around just in time for Fox to slap him hard on his chest. He left his feet, sailed across the alley and smashed so hard into a brick wall that his head left a deep indentation. The girl would later tell police that it was like the man had been hit by a million-volt cattle prod.

The last thug took a huge roundhouse at Fox’s head, but had it blocked easily. He got a closed fist punch to his throat in reply. He gaggled and gurgled, desperately fighting for air as his body slid to the ground. He was lucky, though, his breathing only interrupted by the purplish bruise beneath his Adam’s Apple.

The ringleader of the rabble had recovered and he already found the space in his mouth where four of his newly cloned teeth had been. He ignored the girl scrambling out of his way, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out the laser-edged knife he’d stolen just that morning. He thrust it forward and charged at Fox, who just stood there, unmoving and totally oblivious to his immediate danger.

Fox dodged the knife easily, parrying the thrust and spinning the thug around. He wrapped his right arm around the man’s shoulder and moved his left hand to the right side of his chin. Using the man’s momentum against him, he pulled violently. He didn't need to hear the sickening crack to know the thug was dead from a broken neck, but the girl heard it and she puked even as the man's body toppled to the pavement.

After a moment, the girl jumped to her feet, wiping her mouth with her shirt and then staring, in shock, the dead body before her. She looked at the two badly injured thugs, breathing hard as she realized just how close she’d come to being violated. She wished she’d never listened to Marcos, the bouncer from the club she should never have been in. She was glad he’d have trouble breathing for the foreseeable future.

She smiled at his plight and then went to thank her savior. Something stopped her, however – his glowing blue right eye, in fact. She felt a chill run down her spine as she recalled the stories of the blue-eyed bogeyman that her mother had told her as a babe. This was no bedtime story, however. She was looking directly at The Adventurer and, far from being a monster, he’d actually saved her life.

“You know you’re not supposed to be here,” Fox said, matter-of-factly and with little emotion. “Go home. Now!”

She nodded readily, turned and ran down the other end of the alley as fast as her little legs could carry her. Behind her, Fox surveyed the damage he’d wrought. Just as quickly, though, his eye returned to its normal blue hue and Fox blinked rapidly as if coming out of a trance. His ears picked up the sounds of passing fusion cars and of a T-180 supersonic transport craft flying high overhead. He became aware of the warmth of the sun and of the coolness of the shadows cast by it into the alley.

“I guess some things never change,” he muttered with a heavy sigh.

And some things never will, right, Devereaux?  Maybe we should take your own advice and go home?

"When I'm ready, okay," Fox snarled at his microcomputer's suggestion. "Now, where was I? Oh, yes,

To be continued...

For more exciting tales, check out the latest issues of Digital Digest at Amazon.

Gregory Marshall Smith
Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror author

Copyright © 2011 Gregory Marshall Smith
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sins of the Father

Faxan slipped through the back door on shaking legs. His lower lip was numb and swollen and he tasted blood. His right eye was nearly swollen shut and he hurt in more places than he wanted to count.

All he wanted to do was crawl into his room and heal. This time had been worse than usual. He’d been jumped by a half dozen young males and they had beaten him until he couldn’t stand. Only the threat of dawn and burning alive had finally been enough to get him on his feet.

“Faxan?” his father bellowed from the front of the house. “Get in here.”

Shit. So much for making it upstairs unscathed. Shaking, he trudged down the hall to the living room. His father stood before the window, still dressed in the hated blue Wolf Guard uniform. His father was the reason he had no friends, the reason he was routinely beaten up, the reason everyone in the neighborhood hated him.

His father’s gaze swept him with open contempt. “Look at you,” his voice held disgust and loathing. “What kind of a worthless piece of shit are you that you can’t even defend yourself?”

It didn’t matter how he answered, it would be the wrong thing. His legs shook harder.

“I asked you a question.” His father’s gaze drilled into him.

Faxan looked at the floor. “There were too many of them.”

“Fucking pussy. Christ, why did your mother have to curse me with you? Seventeen years ago today. Didn’t think I remembered your birthday? How could I forget when you killed my mate? Why couldn’t you have died instead?”

Faxan couldn’t meet his father’s eyes. He didn’t need the frequent reminders that his mother had died because of his birth. His father never let him forget it and his father punished him, in one form or another, every day of his life for it.

“May I go? Please.” His voice waivered. He just wanted to escape to his room and lick his wounds.

“No. You may not. I’m not finished with you.” He stalked across the floor and Faxan backed away. His throat clogged shut and his stomach twisted into a tight knot. His father closed the distance fast and his hand lashed out, catching Faxan’s jacket and yanking him up on his toes. “God, I hate you,” his father said. Spittle flew from his lips and sprayed Faxan. His father flung him away.

He crashed into the wall then collapsed to the floor. He landed badly and pain shot through his ankle. For a moment, he thought it was broken. He moaned quietly and hoped his father was finished. He knew better than to fight back. He’d tried it once and his father had beaten him unconscious. All he could do was take whatever his father decided to dish out.

His father tromped toward him and Faxan tried to pull himself into the corner.

“You worthless piece of shit. Why do you stay here? I don’t want you. Can’t you get that through your stupid, thick skull?”

If he had one place he could go he would gladly pack his meager belongings and leave his father’s house.

“I asked you a question, you moron?”

He looked up and brushed his shaggy hair aside so he could meet his father’s eyes. “I know you hate me and don’t want me.”

“You just stay here to remind me of what I lost,” his father bellowed.

Faxan lowered his head, letting his hair hide his face. God, how he wished he had someplace he could go.

His father drew back his booted foot and kicked him in the stomach so hard that he vomited. He tried to crawl away from the mess on the polished hardwood.

“You dirty little fucker,” his father said in a deceptively calm voice. “Clean that shit up. When I come back in, I had better not see or smell anything on this floor. You got me?” Faxan nodded. His father kicked him in the thigh then spun on his heel and left the room.

Faxan curled over and let the tears fall. He couldn’t take any more. He just couldn’t. His father had beaten and degraded him for as long as he could remember. Vampires usually remained with their parents until their mid-twenties. He had no opportunities to leave. On the streets, he would have no choice but to work as a whore—there were no jobs for their kind—and he would rather die than be used like that. He couldn’t stay there any longer and he had nowhere to go.

There was no riding off into the moonlight for a happily ever after in the future for him. There were beatings, and injuries, and rejection, and humiliation, and pain, and suffering. That was his life. He’d never had a friend. He had no relatives that he knew of and no human would help him.

He lay on the floor and watched a bug scurry under the refrigerator. To his father, and everyone else for that matter, he didn’t have as much worth as that insect.

The front door banged closed. His father must be going to the corner store. He didn’t have time to go much further before dawn would break.

After a few minutes, Faxan struggled onto his shaky legs. His injured ankle gave out and he fell in a heap. He tried again and stood carefully. His ankle sent spikes of pain up his leg when he took a step but he didn’t care.

It was never going to stop. Maybe if he survived his father’s beatings and the neighborhood bullies, maybe he could get past the government’s locked down borders and make a life for himself in some other city where no one knew him. But what were the odds of that happening?

Slowly, he climbed the stairs and went into his barren bedroom. A threadbare denim jacket hung from a peg on the wall. He rooted through the pockets until he found three small capsules. He stood and held them in his hand.

He’d bought them two weeks ago. Some days, the days he was beaten extra hard, they were more tempting than others. He’d bought them to fix things, but he’d been afraid of going through with it. He slipped them into his pocket and hobbled back downstairs.

He limped to the kitchen and took a large glass from the cabinet and filled it with water. Then he measured out a generous helping of lemonade powder from the cheery yellow can. He added a bit more to cover any nasty taste. Then he took out the capsules and lined them up on the counter.

He stared at them for a moment, then twisted one open and dumped the contents into the glass, then the second one and then the third. He slowly stirred the powder into the lemonade. He gathered up the casings and tossed them in the garbage can.

The front door opened, closed.

Faxan’s gut tightened.

His father stomped through the house then he came into the kitchen.

Faxan’s gaze locked on the huge blade in his father’s hand. It was the hunting knife he carried at all times when he was on the government clock. Faxan knew exactly how it was used. The blade was serrated and slightly curved, ensuring maximum damage when it was thrust upward and then withdrawn.

He backed away from the counter.

Eyes gleaming, his father stalked forward. Light glinted off the blade. “You should have left when you had the chance you stupid little bastard.”

Faxan’s back touched cool wallboard.

His father lunged and agony tore through Faxan’s mid-section. His father jerked the blade free and stabbed him again and then a third time. His legs turned to numb rubber and he slid to the floor.

He glanced down at his t-shirt. Three patches of crimson were spreading rapidly. He tasted blood.

His father stood over him and smirked. “Fixed you, didn’t I? If there’s a hell, I hope you burn there forever.” He bent and wiped the bloody knife on Faxan’s ragged jeans. Then he turned and casually walked to the counter and picked up the glass of lemonade.

Faxan’s vision clouded as he watched his father lift the glass and drain the contents.

“Did it taste good?” he croaked.

“Son, that was the best damn glass of lemonade I ever had.” His father made a show of licking his lips in appreciation.

“That’s good,” Faxan said. His voice, like the rest of him was growing weaker. “Because that’s the last lemonade you’ll ever taste.”

His father choked, his face turned red and he strained to breathe.

“You little son of a bitch,” he gasped. “What was in that?”

“It was for me, you know?”

“What. . .was in it?”his father gasped.

“Poison.” He gave his father a lax smile and closed his eyes.

~ Nickie Asher ~

Copyright © 2011 Nickie Asher

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Story of Sebastian, Chapter Six

Story of Sebastian, Chapter Six
Features adult language.
When we last saw Sebastian in November, he’d found Paul’s target and was preparing for his first fight as an angel.

Sebastian checked them into the motel using the same ruse as before — brother and sister visiting distant relations. The woman at the desk had accommodated by giving them separate rooms connected through a doorway. He’d immediately taken the connecting doors off their hinges and stashed them in his room. No sense in leaving her an opportunity to bolt. Surprisingly, Sorcha had only laughed at the maneuver.
He’d left their departure date open-ended and paid in cash for a full week. He doubted they would stay the full week, but Sebastian wasn’t worried about the money. He’d discovered he could pull money out of thin air if it was needed. Yet another cool angel power he’d learned about while training with the redhead.
Now came the tricky part. He needed to do reconnaissance, but he couldn’t risk taking her along or leaving her behind. Sebastian was stuck and not sure how to proceed. He needed to learn if Dubhan was still being held in the same dungeon or if he’d been moved. Sebastian prayed the sadistic fucker holding Dubhan was still holed up in the same place. If he wasn’t, well Sebastian would run out of time trying to track him down.
Thankfully, Sorcha solved the problem the morning after their arrival. She looked much improved from their little boat ride after swearing off boats for all eternity. After the kindness of the Captain, she’d slept away the last day and a half of the trip in their cabin. Blissfully unaware of her discomforts, she’d yet to thank him for it and Sebastian wasn’t expecting gratitude any time soon.
“I’m bored,” Sorcha muttered, uncurling from the bed and hurling a book across the room. “Can we go look around?”
“Why not? The lady said there are great ruins just up the street. Maybe we could check those out?” She asked it all nonchalantly.
He knew it was as close to begging as she would get and it did solve his problem. Sorcha had no idea what was inside the ruins up the street— well what Sebastian hoped was still in the ruins. He was also hoping if he got close he could just call for Dubhan the way he did Sorcha and his new gifts would let him know if he was there or not.
Sebastian grabbed his recent purchase, a long black trench coat. “I think you’ve earned a field trip. Especially since you look recovered.”
He quickly ducked the pillow that flew his way. Sebastian had used her sickness as a cover for keeping her inside the previous day. Truth was, his brain had been busy planning and wasn’t up to the added task of babysitting. Now she’d unknowingly set his plan in motion.
Sorcha danced around excited as she threw on her coat and hat. Ireland still had moody weather and the humidity did hilarious things to her red hair. She’d begun hiding it with a hat the second they’d climbed off the ship. Since it helped hide her identity he wasn’t going to comment. Again, Sebastian felt the slightest nudge of guilt.

He watched as she danced around from flower to flower, smelling each of the abundant wild blooms. Now she looked like the Fae he sensed her to be. If it wouldn’t have cost him his head, he might have asked how a Fae got mixed up with Tuatha like Dubhan. Sebastian kept quiet as they neared the top of the hill. It was slow going with Sorcha enjoying the scenery, but appearing too eager would raise suspicion.
He crested the hill with Sorcha close behind. Sebastian tucked his hands in his pockets and just waited. His plan was really just to follow her lead in this. He couldn’t make her doubt his reason for being here. Honestly, he was afraid if he told her the ruins where her ‘first mission’, she run off into them. Usually not a bad plan, but he’d learned his lesson the first time around with Mr. Wizard. This time he would have a definite plan of attack first and surprise on his side. And, Sebastian seriously doubted she’d like the plan he was coming up with. Sorcha didn’t strike him as the type to enjoy playing bait.
Reeling his thoughts in, Sebastian mentally lined up his plan of attack. First things first, he needed to find out if Dubhan was still there.
“WOW! That’s amazing,” Sorcha uttered, taking in the view of the ruined old castle.
“It’s really more of a fort, but those served as castles for the Irish…”
“Who cares? It’s incredible!”
Sebastian motioned with his hand. “Go ahead, but don’t go into it. The crumbling thing is dangerous. Mind the ropes around it.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll be careful, Daaad. What are you going to do?”
Hell, what was he going to do? Sebastian smiled. “I’ll check in with the bosses.”
She nodded and took off at a full run. He knew she was armed according to his own instruction, but he still felt a chill. Sebastian’s intentions were two-fold. Get Sorcha off his back so he could concentrate on Dubhan and get Mr. Bad Guy’s attention. Hopefully the bastard was home, because a magical, pretty fairy dancing around his parameter was sure to get his attention.
Sebastian didn’t want to leave her out there too long. He broke his attention away from her and began to concentrate. He wasn’t sure it would work and, if it didn’t, plan B wasn’t going to help much. He finally closed off the sight of Sorcha twirling around the grassy field and let his senses wander.
There. He felt the tingle announcing the presence of who he was looking for. Dubhan was still inside, but the signal —if he could call it that— was weak at best. They’d have to act fast. Sebastian didn’t know the true name of the person holding him hostage, so his parlor trick wouldn’t work for finding Mr. Evil Magician. He tried to open the rest of his senses. He skimmed over Sorcha’s playful presence, Dubhan’s fading one, and found what he was after. Oh yeah, the sadistic asshole was still in residence and he was moving in on Sorcha. Part A accomplished.
He whistled loudly to call Sorcha back to him. She surprised him by coming immediately causing him to wonder if she’d sensed the danger stalking her from the ruins. Sebastian remained hidden by the trees, using another angel technique he’d stumbled on. He could become invisible and wasn’t that just a treat.
“Where the hell did you go?” Sorcha whispered.
Sebastian reappeared and chuckled as she jumped.
“You HAVE to teach me that trick!” she ordered and turned to start down the hill. “I take it you got instructions?”
He peered over his shoulder and his eyes narrowed. “I sure did.” His voice turned cold, “I hope you’re ready to fight.”
Sebastian jumped as her fist connected with his arm. “Of course I’m ready to fight! I kicked your ass last time!”
He groaned; of course she would think he’d been talking to her. “I know you’re ready to fight. I was talking to the guy we’re going after.”
“Oh… is he here?”
He shook his head. Sometimes, Sorcha showed moments of the carefree girl she probably used to be. Sebastian fought back the quick thought of leaving Dubhan to rot. She’d done nothing but complain about the guy since he’d met her. Sebastian had learned it was better not to interrupt her tirades. Of course, only he knew how much Dubhan had suffered for it. Not like he could clue her in though, it’d end their relationship in seconds. Sometimes, he had to remind himself why he was rescuing Dubhan though and, one day, he’d punch the guy for it.
“He’s holed up in the ruins. We’ll come back tonight.”
Sebastian laughed outright as Sorcha did somersaults and flips down the hill. He really should worry about her bloodlust, but it was so damned appealing right now. Mindful of her audience, he went invisible again and floated down the hill next to her. Yeah, so this angel couldn’t fly without his wings, but floating and gliding along weren’t so bad.

Sorcha stared into the fireplace, causing the flames to rise and fall. Sebastian considered it like a nervous twitch even if it was annoying in the extreme. Little flicker, raging inferno, little flicker… ugh, enough to make a guy jump out the window. He’d filled her in on his little plan and, while not completely opposed, she wasn’t very happy with him. The wound closing over his stomach was proof enough of her ire; her curses had just been the icing.
“You could have told me the plan BEFORE you decided. I don’t like playing bait and not knowing it.” Her quiet voice carried over to him.
He rubbed the now healed spot. “I gathered, but really it was just an on the spot idea.”
Her head turned, her eyes burning a hole in him. “You still could have taken five seconds to fill me in.”
Well, he had no comeback for that one. He couldn’t tell her that he wouldn’t risk Dubhan’s life on her saying no. Sebastian wasn’t willing to risk saying anything that mentioned the man’s name. Somehow he knew if he did, Dubhan would die and he’d spend a lifetime chasing Sorcha over the continents.
“Who exactly are we rescuing?”
Bloody hell, could she read his thoughts? She definitely kept him on his toes. “A powerful Warrior is all I know. And I’ll do the rescue, you’re job is the distraction.”
“Distraction,” he growled.
Her eyes narrowed and Sebastian swallowed the growl too late. “You’re Tuatha.”
“Was Tuatha I guess, but I never knew my parents,” he hedged.
“The growl gives it away.” She stood to check her weapons. “Don’t like the thought of me being bait?”
She was actually teasing him about it? Sebastian wanted to strangle her and change his plan. “Of course not. The guy is dangerous, but it’s the only option we have of getting in. Unfortunately, he knows me.”
“How?” He winced in response. “Another can’t tell me bit, huh?” She shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. I’ll take him out, you get the guy, and everyone is happy.”
“And what do you do after?”
“I wait for you here,” she answered in a monotone.
“Um, Sorcha, I have been assigned to you and I can find you anywhere. If you even think of running off…”
“You can find me?” She interrupted, punching a hole in the antique headboard. “And when were you going to share that?”
Sebastian shifted on his feet, ready for another attack. “I just did. It wasn’t important before.”
“And just what kind of danger am I in exactly?”
His head shook sadly. “I don’t know, but Gods I wish I did.”
And he meant it. He suddenly could understand why Dubhan loved this woman so much that he’d given her up. It still didn’t explain why Dubhan would actually give her up, but it gave him some understanding into his only friend. Damned if Sebastian would fail him by letting Sorcha get hurt. Keeping her safe would be something he could give Dubhan and maybe one day, Dubhan would be willing to help him in return.
“Sun’s almost down,” Sorcha interrupted, dropping the curtain and starting to arm up.
“You don’t have to do this…”
“I think you’ve guaranteed that I do.”
Her voice sent chills down his spine. Oh yes, she was resigned to playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse. His guilt grew a little larger and Sebastian itched to do something differently. He couldn’t though, even knowing he was on a dead end road, his only choice was to keep going. He would just do his best to make sure Sorcha didn’t go down with him.

I have really enjoyed writing out these chapters for our loyal readers at Digital Digest. The group is being reorganized to better deliver stories to you. Never fear, Sebastian’s story is far from over. He will be appearing on my blog and, someday, as his own novel- with quite a large role in the third book of the Tuatha Destiny series. I hope you’ll continue to love and follow his exploits. Again, thank you for all your support.

~Jennifer Feuerstein~

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Feuerstein
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.