“Levi, I don’t want to go out on a date. Let’s just stay home and bump pretties,” Riley protested. She refused to say bumping uglies because she said that both of us were too good looking for such a phrase. I didn’t disagree. She was a goddess. Everything about her screamed sex appeal. Long legs, long auburn hair, and the boobs. I was completely addicted to her. “All that dating is for show. We aren’t fooling nobody, honey.”
“But it’s Valentine's. I want to buy you roses, stupid boxes of chocolates and take you out to dinner,” I groaned. We’d discussed Valentine plans for several days, but she wasn’t having it. I just figured somewhere along the way, Riley forgot about romance. She generally moved from one fuck to the next. I was just the next, but while I was, I wanted to treat her right.
“Levi,” she said sitting down on my lap naked from head to toe. Damn, she was beautiful. “I know that you have that little bit of human in you, and you have urges to do things that just aren’t necessary. Hell, thanks to Brock, more than half this town are fairies. Nobody cares if we date. Let’s just skip all the foreplay and fuck each other’s brains out.”
How do you argue with that? I couldn’t think of a way. Especially when she eased off my lap on to the floor. Her deep eyes darted up to me, and she licked her lip. I knew that look in her eye. It was the look that would leave me limping for the next few days, but it would be damn worth it. She ran her hands up my thighs. My jeans bunched under her palms as she pressed down hard stopping just before she got to my crotch.
“Riley, please. Just this once for me,” I begged.
“You are about to beg for something else, Levi Rearden,” she smiled. I couldn’t win. I mean swapping gravy with her was phenomenal, but the ticking of my human heart needed a little something else. Something she didn’t or couldn’t understand. I didn’t protest when she unzipped my pants. I had no willpower when it came to Riley. So damn beautiful.
As we laid, mingled together in sweat and other juicy things, I stared at the ceiling. “You won’t let it go,” she muttered.
“I didn’t say anything,” I said.
“You didn’t have to say anything. You brood, Levi. It’s downright ridiculous if it weren’t so adorable,” she said as she kissed my cheek. I grunted. “If it means that much to you, then plan us a Valentine's date. However, if it’s a flop, I do not ever want to hear you ask for one again.”
“Awesome,” I said, throwing off the covers. I darted out of the bed, then hit the floor hard. My legs were jelly after the marathon sex session. She would be the death of me. Oh, take me, sweet death.
“She’s right. Why are you doing this?” Grace asked.
“Because I treat my women they way they should be treated,” he said.
“It’s because of your father,” Grace said.
I spun around on Grace as she stood in the kitchen drinking coffee while I paced the floor. “It has nothing to do with my father. The father that did nothing other than giving me an unquenchable thirst for sex and good looks. He never loved me. He only loved my mother, and forgive me if that should be enough for me, Grace, but it’s not. So, I’d appreciate it if you would never compare me to my father,” I yelled at her. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t say she was sorry either.
“Okay,” she responded simply.
So fucking frustrating. “Are you going to help me or not?” I asked.
“Not,” she replied. Ah, I knew now that she intended to punish me by making me figure this out on my own.
“I hate you,” I growled. “I’ll find help somewhere else.”
“Perhaps you should listen to what she wants and just do it,” she suggested.
“No, she agreed to it,” I protested.
“What? After you pouted for an hour?” she asked.
“It was more like several days,” I returned. I hated that Grace knew me so well. From the moment she plopped down in front of me the day Jeremiah dropped me off at her trailer, Grace knew me inside and out. I knew her, too. Even more, now than I did before she took on her father’s powers. The connection between us was overwhelming. At least for me, it was. When I was around her, it was like I knew exactly what she was going to say before she said it. I was going mad around her. It didn’t affect her the same way, and I didn’t understand why. Just a part of fairy servitude that I didn’t understand. She looked tired. She felt tired because I felt it too. Grace’s strength to endure things always amazed me. After what Brock did to her during the election, I was sure she could survive anything, but the power that her father gave her ached to her core. I felt bad for being such an ass to her. Then consciously I realized she could probably feel the whole thing working itself out inside of me. I didn’t know exactly what she knew and what she didn’t. “Get some rest, Grace.”
She kissed me on the cheek sending chills down my spine. “I’m fine, Dublin,” she said, her voice turning soft.
“You aren’t,” I said.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ve got things to do. Winnie has a school valentine party today, and I promised her that I would be there. Her teacher expects me to be there to help. I have to go,” she said as she washed out her coffee cup.
“Where is Dylan?” I asked.
“Planning a Valentine’s date that I don’t need,” she smiled.
I shook my head at her. “What is it with you women?”
“Fairies,” she corrected.
“I’ll go to Winnie’s school,” I offered.
“Nope. You have a failure of a date to plan. Good luck,” she said as she closed her bedroom door on me. I felt her moving around on the other side. The power surging inside her. It amplified her senses, and her brain never stopped. I’d tried to explain it to Dylan because he knew she was struggling, but he couldn’t feel it like I could. He wanted to know these things, but it bothered him that I had the connection that he would never have with her. I didn’t understand because he had everything with her. Feeling her pain would drive him mad because I knew how much he loved her. I knew because it was driving me mad.
While riding my motorcycle through town, Grace’s presence faded. I knew if she forced her will to me, that I could hear her as clear as day, but for now, she drifted into the back of mind. I notice a bright red Camaro parked at The Hot Tin Roof bar. Maybe Mr. Sandy Hair (Ugh, I hated that I knew that name for him) could give me advice on a Valentine’s day date.
“Levi!” Nestor welcomed me into the bar.
“Hey, Nestor. What’s up?” I asked idly.
Dylan turned to look at me entering the bar. He raised his eyebrows at me, then looked away.
“What?” I asked.
“She just called,” he laughed.
“You know, Grace is the most frustrating woman on earth, right?” I said.
“Yep,” he replied, as Nestor refilled his cup of coffee.
“May I have a cup too?” I asked.
“Sure,” Nestor said as he grabbed a cup for me.
“What did she tell you?” I asked Dylan.
“Not much. She’s tired,” he muttered. She had been tired a lot lately. I knew it was taking a toll on Dylan as much as it was her.
“You planning a Valentine date?”
“I’m trying, but I can’t think of anything. What are you doing for Grace?” I asked.
“I’d like to tell you, Levi, but I have no idea what I’m going to do. She needs as much rest as possible, so I can’t really plan anything big,” he said staring at the cup of coffee.
“I’m sorry. We have to do something about it before we lose her completely,” I said.
“We? Levi, no offense, I know how you feel about her, but we won’t be doing anything. I will handle it,” he said with a huff. He nodded to Nestor and stalked out of the bar.
Nestor and I sat in silence for a few minutes. He wiped the already dry glasses, an obsessive compulsion that he had. Finally, he cleared his throat and spoke, “You know he isn’t mad at you, right?”
“I know,” I said.
“He cannot possibly understand the connection that you have with her,” he said, which I didn’t expect him to say. “But, Levi, you need to stop reminding him of it.”
“He asks me about her. She clams up and won’t talk to him,” I protest.
“Then you tell him you are staying out of it. The best thing for them right now is to communicate, and they can’t do it through you. It’s not fair to you or them. Keep out of it,” Nestor warned.
“I have my own issues,” I growled.
“Riley giving you a hard time?” he asked.
“I stay hard with her, but that’s not the problem,” I said as Nestor gulped at my boldness. I didn’t care. I’d been around Grace too long. Her unfiltered mouth was contagious, especially when I was frustrated. “Part of me wants to have a real relationship. A partnership like Grace has with Dylan. They go on dates. They curl up and watch tv together in the recliner. Riley has no interest in those things.”
“There was a time when Grace didn’t care about those things either, but she opened her heart to the people around her adapting to the human views of things. In fact, most fairies don’t need that kind of thing. Do you love Riley?” he asked.
“Of course, we are together,” I answered immediately.
“You sure? Because it’s easy to get lust and love confused with royal fairies,” he said.
“Royal fairies? Riley isn’t royal, is she?” I asked.
Nestor dropped his head. He spoke a truth that he wasn’t supposed to reveal. “I shouldn’t have said that. Look, Levi, first of all, you need to realize that there is no fairy like Grace. Secondly, your connection to her makes you want her or someone like her. Third, you’ve got to decide what’s important to you. Do you want the relationship you have with Riley, or do you dare to try to find a Changeling like yourself that will have enough human in them to want to go on dates and curl up in a recliner? Riley is a great woman. I really like her, and I think you do, too.” He paused to let all of it sink in.
“I don’t want Grace,” I said.
“You sure about that?” he accused. “Wanting her and knowing she belongs to someone else is two different things.”
“Two different things that don’t matter because the result is the same. I need to know what to do about Riley. Grace isn’t my problem,” I said.
“Grace is and always will be your problem, Levi,” he said.
I took a deep breath. “So, I should forget the Valentine date with Riley?”
“No, you just need to approach it differently,” he said.
“Help me, Nestor. Please don’t be vague. I’m desperate,” I whined. Oh, good grief, I was getting broody. I hated my life. I hated my emotions.
“You have to find a way to fulfill her desires and yours at the same time,” he said.
“So? A sex date?” I asked.
“Ugh. Seems like a cop out,” I groaned.
“A cop out is forgetting about it and not trying, but you need to listen to your heart, Levi, while you still have one in your chest,” he said.
“I hate my heart in my chest. It makes me different from all the rest of you,” I moaned, brooding deeper.
“What do you think I don’t have a heart?” Nestor asked.
“Well, I mean you do, because you care,” I said.
“I do. Riley has kept herself separate from the rest of us. There are reasons for that which I suppose she will never reveal to you, but she doesn’t have the same sensibilities as we do,” he explained.
“I suppose you won’t tell me what those things are either,” I said.
“Bartender privilege,” he grinned.
“Thanks for the coffee,” I said. When I stood up to leave, my eyes met a pair I hadn’t seen in a while. Kadence Rayburn sat across the room on the lap of Caleb Joiner, but her lips were locked with Malcolm Taggert. Her eyes widened when she saw me. I’d heard rumors that she had hooked up with both of them. I didn’t realize it was at the same time. For a human, she acted like a whore fairy. For a moment, I saw guilt in her eyes, but then she winked at me. Malcolm realized her attention wavered from his kiss, and he looked back at me. I nodded to the threesome and left the bar. I thought of all the time I’d spent brooding over Kadence. A waste of time. Grace told me she wasn’t the one. I didn’t listen. Grace was probably right this time too. I should give up on this date business.
I climbed on my bike to go for a long ride and try to think things over. Shady Grove nestled in the heart of Alabama saw mild winters and steaming summers as a rule, but since I knew that the local fairy queen was also a winter queen, things tended to lean toward the cold side. Not to mention, most of the fairies in town were Unseelie and from the cold depths of Grace’s father’s kingdom. It had been almost a month since Brock took over that part of the Otherworld. We were starting to see so many new faces in town. All of them seeking asylum from Brock’s murderous ways. I needed a break from fairy chasing.
Dylan and I roamed the town putting out small fires and trying to build relationships with the new citizens. He was like the older brother I never had to the point I’d considered getting my private investigator’s license, but he said it didn’t matter that I could work with him without it. We were doing most of this without Grace.
I missed my best friend. She spent most of her days in bed. When she got up, she tired herself out with the council, trying to keep the peace. For all her inspiring words during the election, the tensions were high on the council. This wasn’t Grace’s fault. It was Brock who turned the Otherworld upside down.
I drove out to Dylan’s old land. After his house disappeared, he sold most of his livestock and moved to the trailer park permanently. He said he had no intentions to rebuild the house. I thought it was because he knew that his ex-girlfriend Stephanie would just destroy it too. Besides, Grace loved having him with us, and he knew she needed him.
Walking out on the concrete slab where the house once stood I listened to sounds of the outdoors. I needed my guitar. My music always settled my soul. An outlet for all the emotion that swirled inside of me. No one was here. I supposed I could sing.
“Hello, Bard,” a voice interrupted the first breath I took just before I started to sing.
I spun around to see a figure leaning against a tree. The bright flare of fire at the end of a cheroot illuminated the face of Chris Purcell. I hadn’t seen him since I first came to Shady Grove. “Chris, how are you?” I asked approaching him.
He popped open the snap on his leather pouch offering me a smoke. “Looks like you need one of these,” he said.
“No, thanks. Grace would ring my neck if I started smoking,” I said.
“Grace. How is she?” he asked.
“She’s fine,” I replied. We didn’t speak about the problems she was having. We knew it might put her in danger if someone knew of her weakness.
“I think she isn’t. From what I hear her father laid his entire power upon her. That would be more than most of us could take,” he said taking a long drag off the brown stick.
“She’s handling it,” I lied. “What brings you out here?”
“Ah, well, Dylan kept the grass out here so well fed that my harem and I spend time here grazing. What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Brooding,” I replied.
His raspy laugh echoed through the trees. “I see that. What’s got you upset, Bard?”
“It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I’m trying to do something nice for my lady friend,” I said. I wanted to smack myself for saying lady friend.
He chuckled again, “I’m surprised Riley MacKenzie cares about such a thing.
“You know Riley?” I asked.
“Yep, I do. She and I have had dealings before,” he replied. The thought of my Riley with Chris Purcell curled my skin. He must have seen my face turn green. “Whoa! Not like that Levi. I’ve had business dealings with her much like I do with Grace.”
“Oh,” I replied. “Well, she doesn’t care about it. She just wants to swap gravy.”
“Beg your pardon?” he asked. When he raised his thick eyebrow, his handlebar mustache raised, too.
“Fuck. She just wants to fuck,” I said.
“Right. Yes, well, that should make you happy, right?” he asked.
“It should, but it doesn’t,” I replied. I’d said more to Chris than I should have.
“Well, I suggest you be happy with what you have. I’m glad my girls don’t give a shit about it. There are too many of them to take to the movies and buy popcorn. That shit is expensive,” he said.
I huffed. The thought of Chris Purcell and his wild hog harem inside a movie theatre was an interesting thought. One I decided to file away and never think of again. Before I knew it, Chris transformed into a winged werehog and flew off into the woods.
“Bye,” I muttered. I climbed back on the motorcycle and headed back to town.
“Strawberry milkshake, please,” Ella said as she stood at the counter in the diner.
“Coming right up,” Betty replied. “Howdy, Levi. Be right with you.”
“Hey Betty,” I said. “Hello, Ella.”
Ella Jenkins and I had one date. It was one date too many. She was nice, but she couldn’t stand children. Outside of Riley and Grace, little Winnie Jones was my favorite person on earth. Winnie was Grace’s adopted child, and she called me, Uncle Levi. I could never be with a woman that hated Winnie. Riley and I had never spoken in depth about Winnie. I wondered if she felt the same way as Ella.
“Hello, Levi, how ya been?” she asked. Ella always wore the most provocative outfits. Today it was leather pants with a tight red t-shirt. Her nails and lips matched the shirt. The boots she wore had 4-inch heels. At least she didn’t try to hide her slut.
“I’m good. Thought I’d grab something to eat,” I said.
“That’s usually what people do in a diner,” she smiled. No, it was a leer. A very seductive leer. Damn. She was pretty, and my pants tightened.
“You having your usual, Levi?” Betty asked.
“What? Oh, yes, ma’am,” I said. Betty looked at me then back at Ella.
“Down girl,” she said to Ella.
Ella flashed her teeth at Betty. “Levi and I are just having a conversation, Betty. I haven’t touched him,” she said. She mouthed the word “Yet” and I gulped.
“I’ll get that to go, Betty,” I called out to the back.
“I got ya covered, Levi,” Luther said through the window.
“Thanks, Luther,” I said with my eyes locked on Ella. She took two steps toward me. The heels of her boots clacked on the floor.
“You know, Levi, you and I never got the chance to spend a lot of time together. I do regret that. Perhaps you would be interested in joining me for Valentine’s Day,” she purred.
“Um, no, thanks,” I stammered. “I have plans with Riley.”
“Oh, she isn’t tired of you, yet?” She asked, walking toward me now. Clack. Clack. Clack.
I didn’t realize I was backing up until my butt hit the jukebox. She ran a red nail down my cheek. The tingle of touch between two fairies fluttered down into my bones. Ella was a Changeling, but I doubted she had a heart. “No, she and I are doing very good,” I muttered.
“Get your hands off him, Ella,” Betty scolded.
“Levi, do you want me to take my hands off you?” she asked, hooking her nail into one of my belt loops pulling herself to me.
“Get off him!” a new voice echoed through the room. The windows shook, and Ella froze. She released her hold on me, backing away.
“Yes, my Queen,” she muttered.
As she backed away, Grace came into view. Ella snatched the milkshake up off the counter to rush out of the diner. At the last moment, Grace grabbed her arm and yanked Ella toward her. She spoke quietly in her ear, and Ella shivered, then nodded. As she slipped out the door, Grace turned toward me.
“You should be in bed,” I said.
“Yes, well, my bard was in a panic and still doesn’t know how to use his power to stave off the attack of a whore,” she said.
“I’m sorry. You should be resting,” I muttered.
“Levi, I’ve had a few talks with Miss Ella. She’s on a bit of a binge right now. I wasn’t going to stand by and allow her to wrap you into it,” Grace said.
“A binge?” I asked.
The anger left her face as she approached me. “Yeah, sometimes a changeling gets overwhelmed with the desire to mess around, and can’t be satisfied. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Well, Ella’s on a binge. I stopped her from doing something she would regret,” she said.
“I could have stopped her,” I said.
“Sure, but you didn’t. Still too shy to use what you have.”
“Grace, go home,” I said.
“Winnie is home from school asking for you,” she said.
“Okay. I’m on my way back. I promised to watch cartoons with her today,” I said.
“Here’s your food, Levi,” Betty said.
“Thanks,” I said taking the box from her. I flipped out a few bills. Grace watched me pay for the food. “You going home?”
“Yes, but I’m walking,” she said.
“You did not walk here,” I said.
She looked at her feet. “Not exactly,” she muttered. “Come on.” She walked out of the diner, expecting me to follow.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Daddy had a way of getting from one place to the other without shifting through the Otherworld,” she said.
“Grace! You can’t be doing those types of things!” I protested. She shot a look at me, and I promptly clammed up. She didn’t have to command me to do it. One look and I was shushed.
“Do not presume to understand fully what is going on in my head, Levi Rearden. I know you are connected. I know you know far more than is good for either of us. You just keep in mind that I know your thoughts, too. I suggest you get on that motorcycle and go see that little girl,” she growled.
“Grace,” I started to say.
“Now!” she laid the command.
I snarled at her. My body obeyed climbing on to the motorcycle and firing it up. This isn’t finished. I flashed my words to her through our mental link.
She narrowed her eyes which twinkled turquoise. The tattoo on her arm flared to life, but suddenly, she growled, “No.” The power died out as quickly as it rose up in her. Her emotions flooded over me. My smart mouth would have been removed from my face if Grace were her father. Thankfully, she wasn’t. Just because she had his power didn’t mean she would wield it that way.
My body still forcing me to pull out of the diner. I looked back her pleading her to release the command. I heard her in my head. It will never be over, Levi.
Parking in the drive behind Dylan’s car, I wondered if he knew Grace had even gone to the diner. My bet was that he didn’t. He would be livid. I should probably stay out of that because they were both on edge since she took on her father’s powers.
As I entered the trailer, tiny arms latched on to my pant leg. “Uncle Levi!” Winnie squealed.
“Hey, munchkin, what’s up?” I asked as I balanced my plate in my hand.
“You promised to watch cartoons with me!” she said, backing up and putting her hands on her hips. Even though she wasn’t Grace’s real daughter, they were very much alike. Sassy, as hell.
“I’m here now. Aren’t I?” I said sitting my plate down on the kitchen counter.
“You are, but you are late. I’ve got plenty of things to do without waiting for you,” she said.
I chuckled, then realized another laugh joined mine. I peered over the counter to find Dylan under the kitchen sink. “Dylan, what are you doing?” I asked. His position confirmed to me that he had no idea that Grace had stepped out.
“The damn sink is still leaking,” he grumbled.
“Leaking like a sieve,” Winnie said.
“You don’t even know what a sieve is,” I said back to her.
“Sure, I do. It leaks,” she replied.
“Can’t argue with that,” Dylan said.
“I guess not. You need some help?” I asked.
“Nah. Just tightening it up now,” he replied. “Grace is sleeping.”
“Yeah, okay, we will be quiet,” I replied. I reached out to feel her, and she was in the next room sleeping soundly. I should scream in her head or something as payback, but I decided to let her rest. Then I saw the outrageous display of flowers on the kitchen table. They weren’t florist flowers. I didn’t know how far Dylan had to fly to get wildflowers, but he had. A ton of them. Grace would love them despite her protests because she would know that he went out of his way to get them.
“Flowers are nice,” I said.
Dylan grumped as he climbed out from under the sink. “Wild ones. Like her.”
“For sure,” I replied. Then smiled at Winnie who showed me all of her Valentine cards from school.
She shared my cheeseburger and fries, then she altered our plans. She wanted to make a Valentine for Cletus and Tater. She drew a big red heart on a piece of paper, and I helped her spell Valentine. We walked it over to them. Those two idiots melted when they saw it. They each gave her a stick of gum, which I thought was probably the only edible thing in their trailer. Winnie didn’t care. She loved them and the gum. I swept her up into my arms as we walked back to the trailer.
“Uncle Levi, are you giving Miss Riley a Valentine?” she asked.
“I was, but I didn’t know what to get for her. She has a lot of things,” I said.
“She has you,” Winnie said innocently.
I smiled. “Yes, but you are my number one girl.”
“Oh, I know, but I let her spend time with you,” she said. I chucked at her easy logic. “What’s so funny?”
“You are precious. I love you, Winnie,” I said.
She wrapped her little arms around my neck. “I love you, too. Will you play me a lullaby on your guitar?”
“Of course!” I said, entering the trailer with her. I stopped in my tracks because Grace and Dylan were lip locked in the kitchen. I guessed the flowers worked. I cleared my throat.
“Get lost, Levi,” Dylan growled. Grace chided him quietly. I stalked off into Winnie’s room, grabbing my guitar as we went past my room.
She laid down on the bed, and I tucked her in. She smiled up at me as I started playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Her eyelids fluttered. I was always careful not to push power as I played for her. I hoped that I’d never need to put her in a deep sleep. I would never use my magic on Winnie unless her life depended upon it. Ever since I concealed us to get away from Demetrius Lysander, she accepted that I would keep her safe. I would never fail her. When I thought she was asleep, I stood up from the bed.
“Uncle Levi,” she said sleepily.
“Yeah, Winnie?” I said, leaning over to kiss her forehead.
“You should play a lullaby for Miss Riley. She would love it like me,” she muttered.
“Sleep. I’ll see you in the morning,” I said.
“Night, night,” she said.
Flicking off the lights, I stepped into the hallway. I slipped the guitar back in the case. I had to go see Riley with nothing to offer. All the pestering her about Valentines, and I’d come up empty. All she wanted was the physical contact. I could at least give her that if it was what she truly wanted. I just wanted to make her happy.
The lights were off in the main room, but Grace stood at the kitchen counter watching me. She put her finger to her lips. “I’m sorry,” she said.
I shook my head in response. Grace, as always, was just protecting me.
“Winnie is right, Dublin,” she said.
“About what?” I asked.
“The power you carry can seduce even me. And if you were going to give me a gift, I mean, if I was Riley, I would want you to use that thing on me.” She nodded to my guitar.
My eyes widened. Even in the dark, I saw the dark blush cross her cheeks. “You are saying I should force her?”
“She already wants to fuck you. There is no force in it. You are just taking control. Doing it on your own terms. Trust me. It will drive her wild.” A devious smile crossed her face, and a light twinkled in her turquoise eyes. The tone flickered in the darkness. I loved it. I hoped that she never changed them back to brown. She knew my thoughts and smiled.
“Thank you, Grace.”
“You are welcome, Dublin.”
“I did.” Her eyes darkened. “It’s okay. Go enjoy your date.”
Dylan and Grace always fought. Most of the time it was joking, but sometimes, it wasn’t. I felt it in her tone. I saw it in her eyes. He was pissed at her for leaving the trailer without telling him. Deeper than that, I imagined he would keep a closer eye on her from now on, but he knew as well as I did, that Grace did whatever she wanted. I hated myself for being mad at her, too. There was no need for both of us to be angry with her. She’d left the trailer for me.
Each day that went by, my power grew, but I was even more hesitant to use it. She knew it but urged me on. Grace trusted me more than anyone in this world. Even more than Dylan. Part of me hated that, but there was a part of me, deep inside, that relished it. She watched as my mind flowed through all these thoughts. Her gaze never wavered or faltered.
In that moment, I wanted to say so many things to her. About how much she meant to me, because it was Valentine’s Day, and Dylan shouldn’t be mad at her. They should be making love.
“Dublin, it’s fine. Go!” Her voice rattled through my bones. It wasn’t a command, but for a moment, I thought it was. She laughed, covering her mouth.
I nodded, taking in what she said about Riley and the guitar. It was true that Riley was always in control, and I was happy to give it to her. Even if I used my guitar, she was powerful and could deny my use of magic on her. I’d felt it between us so many times. I sucked in a breath, determined to follow Grace’s suggestion. She was always right whether I liked to admit it or not.
When I arrived at Riley’s house, the windows were dark. I slipped in the front door. She wasn’t home. I had a few minutes to psych myself up for this. I’d know pretty quickly if she was into it or not. I didn’t turn on the lights but made my way up the stairs to her bedroom. Sitting in the chair beside her bed, I lit a couple of candles on the nightstand and drew my guitar out of the case. I tested a few tunes on the strings focusing on the things I wanted to sing to her. No written song would do, but I sucked at lyrics. In what may have been the best or worst decision of my life, I decided to wing it.
Riley’s car pulled into the garage, and I heard the familiar rumble of the garage door closing. I listened carefully for the kitchen door from the garage to open. When it did, I ran my fingers across the strings. Tension filled the air in the house. As the sound reverberated around the rooms, it echoed around her body like a sonar. I could see her clearly through the music. She stiffened, and her keys dropped to the floor. A smile crossed my face as I began to play.
"Come to me, I’m waiting in the dark for you."
Slowly she began to take steps toward the stairs. I focused on her breathing which sucked in and out heavily.
"Did you expect anything else?
What did you think I would do?"
Her feet hit the steps one by one as the sound of my power caressed her skin. I burned my will into her desire, and she lit up like a candle in the darkness. As she reached the top step, her eyes glittered with passion.
"You wanted to play a game,
And not take my heart to be true.
So, I’ll play, but you’ll be mine to tame."
She lowered her eyes to me in a mock protest. Her body betrayed her as sweat formed anticipatory beads all along her skin.
The dress she wore slid to the floor.
"All you have to do is protest
if you don’t want me.
But I see your eyes, you are obsessed."
Long arms wrapped around the bedpost, arching her back and swaying her hips for me. Her auburn hair cascaded around her shoulders. My own little striptease. A smirk crossed her face, knowing I was getting everything I wanted out of her. My words sang the song, but my power gave the direction. She willingly gave in to me.
"This way we both get what we desire,
But my needs are fulfilled by your consent,
In turn, I will set your body on fire."
I sat the guitar on the floor next to the chair but kept the music flowing in the room picking the notes from the previous ones I played as they floated around the room, which was very visible to me. She sauntered up to me, trying to kiss me, but I turned my head from her.
"No, I’m not done with you, yet,
Lick your lips, and prepare for me,
I’m going to make you sweat."
A low animal groan escaped her lips as she quickly worked the buttons on my shirt. She ran her nails down my chest. The sensation almost caused me to lose my concentration on the magic. I spun her around against the wall, taking her hands and pinning them above her head. I held my body away from her. She whined, rolling her hips to try to make contact with me. I laughed at her efforts and the intense sparkle in her eye. Leaning into her, I took her bottom lip between my teeth and pulled. She tried to jerk her hands out of mine, but I gripped her tightly.
“Levi,” my name passed her lips, and I couldn’t hold back anymore. I scooped her up over my shoulder throwing her on the bed. I climbed up over her and gave her the last verse.
"I have the power to do what I want to do,
You will comply,
I whispered the last line.
Come for me, I’m waiting in the dark for you."
Without even touching her, she came undone beneath me. She bit her lip as her hips shuddered with the release. “Oh, fuck,” she muttered. Her breasts heaved. It was a beautiful sight.
I traced my finger across her cheek. Her eyes hazed with the sexual high. “Good?” I breathed in her ear. Chills erupted across her skin.
“Did you just command me to orgasm?” she asked.
“If you have to ask, perhaps you need another demonstration,” I said.
“Yes, again please,” she begged.
In the early morning hours, Riley lay asleep on my chest. I watched dawn break across the field next to her house. The warm colors filled the room. I calmed my mind from the power I’d used. It surprised me at the strength within me that it took to control her. I knew in my heart that this was just a fun game with a willing partner, but in the grand scheme, I could force anyone to bend to my will through music if I wanted. It felt like a corruption of something pure. I vowed not to use it in a way that would harm the innocent. I needed someone to hold me accountable for that, and I knew exactly who that would be.
I didn’t fully understand our bond until that moment.
“Well done, Bard,” her voice echoed through my mind.
“Thank you, Grace,” I returned.
“Levi Rearden, you would never hurt a soul. You don’t need me to watch over you,” she said. It astonished me that even over the distance, she knew. Perhaps she always knew my hesitation was in the fact that the sheer magnitude of what I felt I could do scared the living crap out of me.
“Maybe not, but I’m glad to know you are there just in case,” I replied.
“I will always be here,” Grace replied. I felt her presence pull away from me.
I looked at the beauty sleeping in my arms. Enjoying every moment with her while it lasted. I knew that one day Riley MacKenzie would tire of me. It wasn’t love, but it was enough. For now.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Swapping Gravy: Fairy Tales of a Trailer Park Queen, Valentine Short Story
©2018, Kimbra Swain / Crimson Sun Press, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.