Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Uncle Bo's Butt and The Dog-Butt Crazy Sheep



“Merle, have you noticed something has been off the last few months?” Jennifer said casually as she tallied the ticket stubs from this year’s Nativity Petting Zoo. It was pretty much exactly like their Rest of the Year Petting Zoo except that the animals were in an in-door barn that was decorated like Jerusalem rather than in a rodeo stock yard and the handlers were dressed in Jewish robes rather than Wranglers and cowboy shirts.  It was usually a money maker in both its versions but since the early fall, it hadn’t been doing so well.

“Why, sis?” Merle asked as he stomped snow off his feet at the office door. He always called her sis even though she was no blood relation to her. Jennifer didn’t take it personally, though. Merle was farther past 65 than he would admit and he had a long held affection for old school western movies, and every female of good reputation who wasn’t a romantic interest to the leading male of those flicks inevitably got called “sis” or “sister” by said lead male character. Merle was most definitely the lead character of his own life and he modeled everything he did on John Wayne’s movies on account of the fact that John Wayne had also been saddled with a horrible name.

“It’s not anything I can put my finger on, exactly,” she replied. “More like a hunch. Usually we have a strong upswing with mutton busting at the beginning of summer, at the beginning of fall, around Halloween, and then again when we switch over the Christmas program. In between, we have a fairly steady stream of kids wanting to ride the sheep. We had the expected surge at the beginning of summer, and we started to surge in early fall, but it didn’t ever peak and while it tapered off very suddenly, the number of tickets also never quite went away.”

“Ee-yah,” Merle replied, “I had noticed a change in our customer base this year. I don’t know about the ticket sale numbers, on account of you being the money handler, but we’ve had an interesting upswing in Peakers coming down from town. Sometimes, they bring kids but they’re just as likely not to.”

“Overall sales are just fine,” Jennifer said, scratching her head. But almost no ticket sales were for mutton busting and fewer ticket sales for the petting zoo than normal. Usually kids love to play with the animals after hours of being cooped up in a car for a family drive. Now, they seem to prefer Frostyland and the new mini put-put course.”

“Might be because the put-put course is new,” Merle drawled. “Kids these days aren’t like they were when we were young. They gotta have the brightest, shiniest thing that none of their friends have, or the exact same thing their friends have.” Jennifer rolled her eyes at that. She was only twenty-nine and was rather fond of playing Sims on her PC, so she was technically one of “those kids” who’d rather play with their gadgets than participate in what Merle called honest outdoors play.

“That might be part of it,” she said with a sigh. “Cleaning up that freak swamp gas explosion last summer sure was annoying but the new and improved Anime-themed put-put golf course does look nice and fresh.”

“I’m sure it’s something like that,” Merle said dismissively with a shrug as he poured himself a cup of steaming hot coffee.


**********


“So Uncle Bo,” Loki said as he quickly licked a dribble of melting ice cream from his fist. “Why do he keep coming here again?”

“Not that we mind,” Thor cut in quickly, gulping down a bite from his own double dipper ice cream cone so fast he almost gave himself a brain freeze. “Hanging out with you is a lot funner than spending all of Christmas break at the coffee shop with Mom.”

“Totally,” Loki agreed. “But why do we keep coming back here to the human kiddie park?”

“Reconnaissance,” Uncle Bo said quietly. He was his forearms on the slats of the sheep pen, staring hard at the one lone sheep in the back corner, completely oblivious to all the female attention his prominently displayed backside was generating. Loki and Thor thought it was kind of funny ‘cause Uncle Bo really liked looking at shes but didn’t like being ogled in return, as Aunt Reetha put it. She said something about gooses and ganders not being the same as rams and ewes, which made no sense to the boys but that was fine. Auntie Reetha was a grown she and she was allowed to make no sense from time to time. It was enough that Uncle Bo was so intent on that scraggly-butt sheep to not notice all the old ladies eyeing his butt. They’d have to be sure to tell Untie Reetha; she’d probably think it was funny, too. No, on second thought, they might keep that little tidbit to themselves. Uncle Bo would know who told her and then he might not take them along for ice cream the next time he came out here.

“Looks like you’re just staring at the dog-butt crazy sheep,” Loki said, trying to drop his current favorite uncle a hint about all the attention his butt was generating.

“Why do you say he’s crazy?” Uncle Bo asked, propping a foot up on the railing. Nope, he must not have caught the hint, Loki thought because now the old ladies were getting bold about checking out Uncle Bo’s butt. He raised his lip in a silent snarl when one tried to actually touch Uncle Bo, chasing the hussy away—that was what Mom called overly forward women who tried to flirt with Dad, so it probably applied. Granted, Uncle Bo could take care of himself but he and Thor were wolves. It went against grain to let some human touch one of their pack. Even if Uncle Bo wasn’t exactly pack on account of him being a big horn sheep rather than a wolf.

“’Cause he’s hanging out here, duh,” Loki said.

“That doesn’t make him crazy,” Uncle Bo said.

“Why else would a herbie shifter stick around some place where all he gets to eat is grass hay and has to let human children climb all over him?” Loki said, still silently snarling at the old biddy, who was not really getting the hint that she should maybe go ogle someone else’s favorite uncle’s butt. What was it about girls and butts anyway? Boys knew that butts were for sitting on and for farting and not much else, but girls had all these ideas about that body part.

“I don’t know,” Uncle Bo said, sounding a bit baffled. “I guess I never really thought about it. I just figured he’d move on sooner or later if we pestered him enough. He has pretty much stopped scaring kids and trampling adults.”

“Because you are funner to torment,” Thor said, slurping down the last bite of his cone.

“Yeah, Uncle Bo. If they let grownups try to ride that sheep, he’d pro’ly still be tormenting humans, but you and the other local herbies are the only adults he can pester easily. And since you keep coming to him, why leave here?”

“But that’s…” Uncle Bo began.

“Carzy,” Thor finished for him.

“Dog-butt crazy,” Loki agreed. The old lady seemed to finally realize that he saw her trying to cop a feel of Uncle Bo’s butt because she flushed and scampered away. Girls, even old lady girls, were butt crazy, too, it seemed to him.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Eve With Sherilyn, Dontoya, and Zance


Happy New Year howls and yowls, shapeshifter lovers.

I thought I'd share a chapter from my ShapeShifter Seductions Novel, HER MIDNIGHT STARDUST COWBOYS. This erotic romance was partly written with a New Year's Eve celebration at Dante's Interspecies Pleasure Club in mind. The following scene takes place at the Midnight Stardust Supperclub, an elegant affair Dante created and built for Kitty, his beloved cat-woman shifter.

Further note: I like living the fantasy with my heroines and heroes. I love their intimate interactions, the sexy nuances, the passionate dance between women and men. Thus, this scene is detailed with such moments between Sherilyn, Zance, and Dontoya. I hope you enjoy.

~~~~~~ 


Chapter Sixty-eight:
His name burst from her heart...

His name burst from her heart, softly, joyously, and with a strength that surprised Sherilyn. "Dontoya."

"Mate." His velvet purr stroked her insides, as did his potent, intimate gaze.

Cocooned in love, Sherilyn remained aware Dante continued his announcement.

"The Midnight Stardust is proud to present King Wolfman and his Romantic Swing Band, featuring the songstress, Selene Katz. They'll be performing dinner music.

"Next hour the dancing music begins, and yours truly has composed a special song to start off with. Let's just say, ladies and gentlemen, it sounded good on the guitar," Dante joked, his tone humble. "That's all from me. Let's bring in the New Year 2012, in grand style."

"In grand style." Sherilyn twisted at the sound of Zance's voice. "I'm not too late for dinner, am I?" Zance flashed one of his charming, all cowboy smiles.

"Pull up a chair, pard," Dontoya invited. "You only missed the dip."

"I plan to do some fine dipping on the dance floor." Zance audaciously winked at her, and Sherilyn smiled at him like a teenager.

She let go of Dontoya's hand, and took hold of Zance's hand as he seated himself beside her. "We haven't even popped the cork on the champagne, handsome."

"Why don't you do the honors, Donny-cat, and I'll signal our waiter. Time to bring on this fine grub."

Zance gazed at her as if she was the fine dining, and Sherilyn quivered inside. Then, he was turning away, motioning to the waiter she'd seen him speaking with earlier.

In the following dreamy whirl of moments, Sherilyn watched Dontoya expertly handle the champagne. He popped the cork with his usual understated flair, then poured the bubbly in their flutes. All while Zance quietly spoke into their waiter's ear.

When both of her men raked her with their glittering gazes, Sherilyn couldn't help but feel juicy-sexy. She sinuously moved, the gown slinking against her skin, and caressing her shivering breasts.

I do feel like their courtesan.

Sherilyn picked up her flute before she entered sex-fantasy land. One fantasy at a time, she told herself, then focused on her champagne.

"What a lovely pink color. I think I'm in romance heaven."

"NV Bollinger Rosé, darlin'. Me and Zance chose it especially with you in mind."

Dontoya lifted his flute, and Zance followed.

Overflowing with happiness, Sherilyn smiled as she saluted them both. "To my shapeshifter gentlemen. I love you. You have awakened my woman's senses in ways I would never have believed, or dreamed possible."

"We aim to keep awakening you, sweetheart." Zance clinked his glass against hers.

Sherilyn tingled deliciously inside, feeling the power of his intention. "I bet you do."

Dontoya touched the rim of her flute with his. "Tickle your nose, beloved mate. Let's get this evening rollin'."

Sherilyn did just that, drawing in the champagne's luscious fragrance. She let the delicate wet bubbles burst against the tip of her nose for several moments before indulging in a sip.

"Now this must be from an ethereal realm." Sherilyn indulged in a much longer sip, closing her eyes.

"With an irresistible bouquet." She spoke in her high-society voice. Keenly aware her tux-wearing cowboys ravished her with their gazes, she continued to sip leisurely.

"Ethereal and irresistible, you sold me," Zance drawled in a bantering voice.

Sherilyn watched as Dontoya and Zance tasted the pink champagne, immensely enjoying the scene. "Manly men," she teased, rolling her shoulder with sassy attitude.

"Only for you, Sherilyn darlin'." After a slow grin, Dontoya tipped his flute up for another swallow.

"Not bad for fizzy." Zance obliged again with a longer swallow.

"I get a kick out of champagne...I get a kick out of you," Dontoya sang along with the background music.

His smooth rumble did wicked things to her, as did the way he handled the flute, caressing it with his fingertips and twirling it slowly.

"I smell dinner on the way." Zance's smug expression, his gold flaring eyes, said he knew she'd enjoy what they'd chosen for her.
"I can't wait." Sherilyn made a show of slowly stripping off her gloves.

Dontoya and Zance pounced on her with their gazes, to her woman's satisfaction.

"Now that I have your undivided attention, 'fess up, gentlemen. Or do I have to probe your minds with my new super-powered mind reading ability?"

"Once you wrap those beautiful arms around me, probing sounds damn good, sweetheart." Zance deliberately ran his gaze over her bared arms.

"Like my pardner says, probing sounds damn good," Dontoya rasped. "Let's say it's not pheasant under glass, darlin', as superb as that dish is. That'll be for another evening paintin' the town."

"You two..." Sherilyn didn't get to finish her words.

In a polished manner, their waiter placed several covered dishes on the table. After filling their water glasses, he lit the golden taper candle set inside a crystal globe.

"Enjoy dinner, Mr. DeVulf, Shaman Zhu Vani, and Ms. Wingate. When you're ready I'll bring dessert, and the drinks you prefer."

"Thank you." Zance spoke formally. "That'll work just fine."

With hardly a whisper of sound, the waiter departed, his cart in tow.

"Oh, I can hardly wait. Pheasant, right?" Sherilyn's hunger gnawed at her something fierce, and she leaned forward, setting her flute down.

"Roasted pheasant with black currant sauce," Dontoya announced as he lifted the cover.

"That looks absolutely delish. It's been a long, long time since I've been treated to pheasant." Sherilyn's mouth watered, and she placed the napkin on her lap.

"You spoiled it, pardner. She was supposed to guess." Zance removed the cover from what looked like a gourmet rice dish with pine nuts.

"I was too hungry to guess." Sherilyn barely got the words out.

Her mates filled her plates with the sumptuous fare, including braised baby carrots with thyme, and broccoli in butter sauce. Closing her eyes, she inhaled the steamy fragrances.

"The One Spirit is bountiful," Dontoya intoned.

"Yes." Sherilyn opened her eyes, and picked up her silverware.

"Bountiful," Zance repeated. "Go on, sweetheart. The sooner you finish, the faster me and Donny-cat can whirl you around the dance floor."

Sherilyn didn't need any more encouragement. With knife and fork in hand, she daintily dived in. Glancing at Zance and Dontoya from time to time, she found herself enjoying the mannerly yet lusty way they ate.

Had she ever known men this vital, this powerfully alive?

Sherilyn savored the last bite of her pheasant, then patted her mouth with the napkin.

"Looks like we picked it too clean for the buzzards," Zance twanged.

Laughing, Sherilyn lounged against the satin-backed chair. "We sure did."

"Dessert now or later, darlin'?" Dontoya refilled her flute.

"Later, thank you, handsome."

"How about a cup of coffee for me and Donny-cat, and a chocolate concoction for you?" Zance signaled their waiter. "We'll let dinner settle. 'Sides, no one's on the dance floor yet."

"Too afraid to be the first?" Sherilyn raised a brow and smiled. Idly, she brought the champagne to her lips, waiting for her wolf cowboy to react.

"Dang, woman, if we weren't all agreed Dante and Miss Kitty would be the first, I'd be haulin' your sweet ass onto that pearly dance floor."

"Oh, so forceful," she taunted. "Just the way I like it."

"You're just lucky, sweetheart, the waiter's timin' is on your side."

"Is it?" Sherilyn batted her eyelashes until Zance was forced to place his attention on the waiter.

Dontoya laughed, amused. The sound was music to her ears--even beyond the elegant sweeping strains of the orchestra.

Embracing her hand within his, Dontoya passionately devoured her with his gaze. He pressed a kiss in the center of her palm--a long *rush her blood through her veins* kiss.

"You do know how to seduce a woman." Her voice came out as a sultry whisper.

Sherilyn fingered the slim, serpentine diamond necklace her cowboys had presented to her before she'd begun to dress.

"Both of you." Sherilyn met Zance's gaze. Consumed by his gold-blazing eyes, she forgot to breathe.

"The waiter will be back to clear our table," he gravelly drawled.

Capturing her breath again, Sherilyn decided to throw some cold water on the situation. She stroked her hand from Dontoya's, then angled herself equally between her mates.

"I'm assuming Mayor Linc had something important to say."


~~~~~~


Blurb ~

Sherilyn hides out on her small ranch near the odd town of Talbot's Peak, Montana, determined to save her prize horses from being stolen. She has no time for men. Besides she's been down that heartbreak road one too many times. The hitch: she didn't bargain on two shapeshifter cowboys who decide she belongs to them.

Zance, a timber wolf shifter, and Dontoya, a rare black cougar shifter, are longtime pardners. Having built up their immense ranch in the supernaturals community, they've settled into a cattleman's lifestyle. Now they've finally found the one woman they both want as their mate.

Blurb-Excerpt-BuyLinks: ~http://savannakougar.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html~
~~~~~~


Wishing you love and passion on the wild side in the New Year, 2015 ...

Savanna 

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Beginnings


Soft growls mingled with murmured words and breathless gasps in the dark. Stefanya arched and writhed beneath her lover. A gyrfalcon shifter, she needed the feel and freedom of air against her back. She allowed no man to top her, except those she trusted completely. Over the two years of their association Yuri had won that privilege, and more.

She announced her release with a shrill falcon whistle, but continued to move so Yuri could finish. He always saw to her pleasure before allowing his own. Afterwards they lay together, sweaty and sated, unmoving, unspeaking.

It was up to her to ruin the mood. The downside of being leader of the Seven. Yuri was her second in command. He should be told before the others that their mission was in peril.

She snuggled into the hollow of his shoulder and sighed heavily. “Sergei is here.”

He stared about the room in mock horror. “Right now? With us, watching? The old pervert!”

“No, you big pussycat. He is here in Talbot’s Peak. He’s seen me. We spoke.”

Only the twitch of his ass, the lash of an imaginary tail, betrayed his inner thoughts. “About what?”

“The mission is already compromised. Our target knows we’re here. I told our fool of an employer Dante had witches on his payroll. I gave him so many reasons why this wouldn’t work.”

Now it was Yuri’s turn to sigh. He did so while he toyed with her hair. He was almost ridiculously handsome, with a perfectly toned body and eyes that glowed like polished emeralds. His animal form was equally striking. Half Tibetan snow leopard, half Indian panther, he possessed a black pelt flecked with white, like snowflakes against a midnight sky. “So you want to talk business? Now? Very well. How deep in the muck are we?”

Stefanya caressed his dark hair. Always she was drawn to the black cats, and their fabled bad luck. “Not so deep just now, but it could go bad very quickly. Dante Hancock knows we’re here. Sergei knows we’re here, which means Zhere Ghan’s been alerted by now. That idiot sheep’s loose in the town somewhere. We should have hired a witch of our own. Someone to counter surveillance.”

“We have Alec,” he reminded her.

“This isn’t the right place for Alec. There’s next to no tech here for him to work with.”

“He’ll do all right.” Yuri grinned. His strong teeth flashed in the dark. “He’ll improvise. He lives to improvise. What’s magic anyway but a different form of technology? He has Irwin and his potions to aid him. All those aborigine spells. The witches won’t even know what hit them.”

“If we can keep Irwin with us. He doesn’t like this climate. He won’t complain, of course, but he longs for San Diego. I can tell.”

“And you,” Yuri whispered, suddenly serious. “What is it you long for?”

“An end to this mission. To all missions. No more snooping and spying and killing. What’s it brought us anyway but heartache?”

Yuri frowned. “You’d dissolve the Seven? Just fly away?”

“Why not? This mission’s doomed. I suspect even our employer knew it when he hired us. I’ll return his payment, tell him we couldn’t complete the assignment, and then we can do as we choose. This town was designed to hide and shield our kind. We could find a place here, or make our own.”

“Fly away,” he repeated. The gloom masked his expression. She couldn’t read his tone.

Stefanya nodded, her hair brushing his cheek. “It’s the perfect place, for us at least. High mountains for you, open sky for me. Castor and Pollox are sure to find a pack to join. Alec can return to the cities, and Irwin can go home. Maybe someone will finally shoot that damned sheep through the head. We’re days away from this country’s New Year. It’s like a promise, isn’t it? A chance for new beginnings.”

He said, in a rough voice, “Sergei is here.”

“Yes, but he won’t interfere with us. He—”

“Where the White Tiger is, the Black Tiger will follow. Is that why you want to stick around?”

Stricken, she cried, “No, of course not! How can you even think—”

But Yuri had already levered himself away from her. He swung his legs off the bed. “I’ll summon the others for a meeting tomorrow. We need to bring them up to speed and discuss our options. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get Cloyd off the streets before he starts slaughtering people.”

Stefanya sat up. “What happened between Mikhail and me ended years ago.”

“And yet you still speak of him.” Yuri stalked out of the room.

Stefanya hissed. Cursed cats and their cursed egos! Why was she always drawn to dangerous cats?

Sergei said she had a death wish. Perhaps at one time, but no longer. Now she wanted peace, here, with Yuri. Perhaps not children, given their disparate species, but a home for sure.

All that stood in their way was an assignment already destroyed, and a stalking tiger’s shadow, and Yuri’s insecurity. What must she do to prove her love to his satisfaction?

New beginnings, she thought morosely. But were they the right beginnings? The kind that led to happiness? That was never guaranteed.

The old year, her current life, still clutched her in its talons. She flung back the blankets and got out of bed. Nothing could begin afresh until the old ties were cut and the conflicts resolved. “A new year,” she muttered. “We shall see.”

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE NAME GAME BEGINS



Gill tried to inhale.  Nothing helped.  His hands shook as he read the birth notice section on the front page of the paper.  Headlines in bold print stood out.  Nick and Ziva’s twins along with Rachel and Tyburn’s two.  At the top of the list in italics were his and Chloe’s names.  Someone had started a betting pool on the names for all of the kids born within days of each other.  He and Chloe topped the list with the most screwball ones.   Mallard for the boy since he decided to outweigh his sisters.  Manx and Minx were the top two for the identical twin girls.  Who came up with these he didn’t know.  If this kept up, what monikers were the others going to get stuck on them?  Parents named their children.  Not the whole damn town.  He doubted though his kids would have their own names as many were already referring to them as the town’s kids.  The kicker was the list of popular puppy and kitten names some fool ran alongside the birth announcements.  Who the frack started this damn pool and why?





“Hey Gill,” Louie called out coming entering the dining area from the kitchen.  He stopped dead in his tracks.  Gill looked up from the paper.  A large sheepish grin began where Louie’s open mouth stopped gapping open.  He pointed to the paper and shrugged.

“Please tell me you didn’t?”  Gill laid the paper on the bar.  He counted to ten in every known language of the peak.  Speaking a few phrases of each helped from time to time during council meetings.

“I don’t bullshit my friends and family.  You’re both you know.”  Louie sat on the stool closest to where Gill stood.
 
“Okay, why would you do this to family or friends?”  Gill leaned on the bar refusing to look away.  Louie usually had a good reason for most things he did.  Bettina sometimes had to reel him in.

“Look you wouldn’t take our help when we offered it.  You know when Chloe announced her pregnancy.  So we—the town—decided this was the way to go.”  Louie pulled the paper to him.

“What kind of help are you talking about?”  Gill hoped he wasn’t scowling.

“Moola man.  It takes money to feed and clothes those youngsters.  Yours, Nick and Ziva’s, along with Tyburn and Rachel’s.   We want to help.  Us the citizens of Talbot’s Peak.”  Louie stood up and walked around the bar.  He reached beneath it close to the cash register.  He sat a large water bottle full of coin and loose bills on the bar.

Gill fought his mouth dropping open.  That was his tip jar.  When had this happened?  He looked at Louie and back to the jar.

Louie flung his arm around Gill’s shoulders as he spoke.  “You got friends.  Nick and Ziva too.  Even that Phoenix pain Tyburn.  Rachel is a favorite of the wives of the council members.  So stop fussing and know you split the pot with whoever wins the name pool. “


“Oh?”
“Yes and what they get is free food and drinks equal to the amount of the money in the pool all over town.  So you ready to stop fussin’?”  Louie walked back around the bar waiting for Gill’s response.

All Gill could do was nod and separate coin and bills as he dumped his tip jar on the bar.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HAPPY WEEKEND GANG!

So naming all our new babies started.  Who is going to win the name pool lottery?  Got suggestions?

Keep warm and sane as you and yours welcome the New Year next week.  We here at the Spice Homestead wish you and yours the happiest, healthiest, and safest one possible.

Until Next Week,

Solara

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Nutcracker, Talbot's Peak Style

Ok, the post is now up. For that one person who saw my place holder, thanks. ;) For everyone else, here's the story that started out as a simple bit of flash fiction before it ran all out of control. But I think I shall leave the man-candy at the bottom. Merry Christmas, everyone!

~ Rebecca

 The Nutcracker, Talbot's Peak Style



I settled on to the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and a huge mug of eggnog, wrapped up in my favorite comfy blanket, ready to begin my Christmas Eve ritual of watching the late showing of the Nutcracker on PBS. Yes, I know it’s cheesy, but I love all the melodramatic music and fantasy of this holiday tradition. I first watched it live when I was eight, and Lex took me to see it my first Christmas with him. He’d given me my first ever Christmas dress, a beautiful green velvet and plaid taffeta little girl’s cocktail dress complete with a black velvet opera cape, little black kitten heel pumps, and an honest to goodness white fur muff to tuck my hands in. He said it was a ‘proper tradition of my people, and like all traditions, it was horrible but good for me to experience nonetheless.’

It had been my first Christmas in a real home with a real bed rather than holed up in some flop house my black magic addicted mother had passed out in. There had been a lot of firsts for me that year, but there’s just something about my first Christmas with “Uncle” Lex. I remember  feeling a lot like Clara, whisked off by a strange man to a magical place. The story really resonated with me, and so I still insist on watching it every Christmas Eve.

Of course, I was watching it alone despite being grown and having a family of my own. My mate had informed me, quite pointedly, that wolves do not watch ballet. Our twin pups, both male, had picked up their father’s opinion, so here I sat, by myself and almost quivering with excitement while Mooney and the boys spent Christmas with the Ewing side of the extended family. I honestly did not mind that they were not in the room with me. Last year, Loki and Thor had decided to join me, more because they wanted to stay up late than because they wanted to share in this. No one had enjoyed it much, especially not me. Not until they fell asleep, anyway. This year, I was going to enjoy the magic of a little girl’s dream come to life in peace.

It was just after the opening credits that I began to feel something was off. I got up, carefully setting my popcorn on the coffee table before slipping out from my blanket cocoon so I don’t spill any, and I tip-toed out of the living room, the strains of Tchaikovsky accompanying me into the darkened hall. I didn’t hear anything, but that didn’t mean much. I may be a witch with wolves for a husband and sons, but I have regular old human hearing. I did have intuition, though, and that was telling me that there was magic afoot, and not magic of my own making.

I conjured a light ball in my right hand while keeping my left hand—almost all witches conjure best with their left hands even if they write with their right—and I make my way down the hall, checking the laundry room and kitchen as I go. I’m not creeping along, exactly. It’s my own house, after all, but the music behind me is slightly haunting, the part where the little baby rats are sneaking around Clara while she dances with her nutcracker. It’s not conducive to late night checking of the house.

Finally, I step into the front sitting room, which I have decked out like a Victorian parlor. It’s the only room in the house that’s got anything nice in it because Loki and Thor avoid it. It has no TV but does have a wall of floor to ceiling Cherry book shelves filled with my non-dangerous books. Right in front of the bay window is our Christmas tree, which is full of little magic infused witch’s lights my sons had conjured on their own after I showed them pictures of Old World German tree candles. I check, but those little lights are not the source of magic I’m sensing, not that I expected them to be. The boys made them weeks ago and they hadn’t pinged my intuition in all that time.

Just as I start to turn around, a slight shiver in a shadow behind the tree catches my eye. I stretched my senses out very carefully, just letting it drift where it would without pushing. I hadn’t done this earlier because non-directed searches have almost no range and directed searches pretty much signal to those you’re trying to find that you’re looking for them. I had waited until I knew I was likely in their vicinity. I was not particularly surprised when I found my front sitting room lousy with elves but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with it, either.


********************


“Ok, guys,” I said out loud as I folded my arms in front of my chest. This wasn’t as aggressive a posture as it might have been had I been addressing humans; witches use their hands to conjure and cast, so folding my hands into my body made it clear to them that I wasn’t going to be the aggressor here, even though they were in my space uninvited. “What are you doing here,” I continued when none of them came out of hiding. Still no response.

“Fine,” I said after another very short pause. I raised my hands to begin a banishment spell. Yep, that worked. Elves started popping out of the woodwork. Literally. Huh, these must be wood elves, I decide. I don’t know if they are, or if there’s even such a thing, but not all elves are the same and this was the first time I’d had any try to hide in my bookshelves, so wood elves is what I was calling them. The only ones I had any direct knowledge of were those rock elves in Iceland and there are just too many types of unusual critters in the world to know all of them.

I looked at them and they looked at me, neither side saying anything. It was a classic dominance show; who was going to break first now that I had forced them to show themselves. Everything in life comes with dominance plays. I had already been familiar with the magical variety before I found myself mated to a beta wolf, thereby marking myself as a non-wolf alpha in the middle of a shifter town. It hadn’t been much of a learning curve for me to pick up those additional skills, and learning to hold my own around creatures that could eat me had only made my natural bull-headedness even more pronounced. While I waited, I ogled my uninvited guests openly.

They were about six inches tall, about the same basic size as an average fairy, but never say that out loud or call them fairies. For starters, you’ll piss them off if they hear you. Next, they are not related to fairies in any way, even though some fairies falsely call themselves elves. Fairies can’t lie directly but they’ll bamboozle you with bullshit if you let them. Elves won’t; they don’t need to and see no point in even trying. The easiest way to tell a real elf from a fairy that’s trying to pass itself off as one is the lack of glowing. Fairies are radiant and elves are not. All elves have pointed ears, mostly human-like features and no body hair at all, other than the tops of their heads and eyebrows.  No elf has ever had a beard, full or otherwise. Santa and his helpers—yes, they are real—are fairies, not elves. Now, not all elves are tiny, but all of them are honest to a harsh degree and overly proud of themselves. My personal theory is that certain mischievous fairies called themselves elves specifically to annoy the elves. And elves, big or small, all dressed like they jumped off the fashion train about the same time Beowulf was killing Grendel and never looked back.

I could hear my program in the background and was becoming very annoyed that I was missing it, but there are protocols to be observed. Once you began a power show with an elf, you don’t stop until they give in. Judging by the way some of them were starting to fidget, I was winning, so no way was I going to push them out just to see the Sugar Plum Fairy Dance. They’d take that as a win for them because they’d pushed me into impatience and then I’d never get rid of them.

“You are a very stubborn young woman,” an older elf doe murmured. That’s another thing with elves; they were does or bucks, not male and female, at least not to their faces. They considered that set of phrases to be applicable only to humans or human derivatives, which they were not. I don’t know enough about them as a race to know where they came from, but I do know that high elves were the inspiration for the Irish tales about the Tuatha Dé Danann, which suggests they are probably descended from gods in some way.

“I am,” I agreed firmly, still standing in the middle of my front room, dressing flannel pajamas covered in candy canes with my arms crossed in front of my chest. I began tapping one slipper on the floor to show my growing annoyance with them. I’m sure that only added to my ridiculous look since I was wearing the snarling zombie slippers Loki and Thor had given me on my last birthday, not that I cared. The elves had spoken first, so I was free to show my annoyance. Oh, and I didn’t care much that I looked silly. This was my home and I’ll dress silly in comfy clothes here if I want to.

“We have a bit of a problem,” another elf said, this time a timid looking buck elf that probably was very young. You can’t always tell the age of elves by looking at them, but something about this elf made him seem less mature than the others. I nodded my head in a swirly motion, letting them know that I had already figured that out by myself and would they please get on with it.

“Our home has been overrun with rats,” another said.

“The king of the rats has taken our lady prisoner,” the first young buck continued.

“Whoa, there,” I said closing my eyes and shaking my head. “The Rat King and taken over your home and taken your lady prisoner?” I ask incredulously. In the background, I hear the strains of the music that plays during the battle of the Rat King. No, this can’t be happening, I thought to myself.

“He turned our champion into a nutcracker,” a very small, child-like elf doe said, clearly about to burst into tears.

“We need someone to lead us into battle,” the first elf doe said calmly. “We understand that you know the story these horrible creatures are basing their attack on.”

“And you want me to do it,” I said sarcastically.

“Verily not,” she said with a sniff. “We need you to restore our champion so that he can lead the battle. I understand that this transformation is done by a magician in the story. As you are reported to know the story well, you are needed to fulfill this role.”

I glance down at my plush zombie slippers. I glance around the room at the dozens of small wood elves watching me closely. And I shrug.

“Ok, I guess,” I muttered. “This can’t be any weirder than the time I turned half the town into horses’ asses.”


********************


I was wrong about that. With my words, the elf doe nodded once and then flung some kind of magical dust all over me. Between one blink and the next, I found myself transported to a large throne room that I was very sure was not located on Earth. Before me, a battle raged. Mice were nibbling on large, animated gingerbread men, which were crying with pain as they pushed a large rat back away from a little girl who was perched on top of a huge Christmas present, which was tucked under an even larger Christmas tree.

I looked about and then spotted the nutcracker I was to bring to life so that he could lead the toy army in battle. I blinked once because it really did look like a large nutcracker but I could feel the energy of a powerful elf emanating from it. How in the hell had someone managed to turn an elf lord into a giant nutcracker against his will? Never mind, I decide. It’s an easy spell to reverse. I wave my hand and push an effort of will at the figure.

It didn’t change, though. I tried again, but nadda.

“You must animate him,” the old doe elf said from beside me. I jump a bit because she’s suddenly full sized rather than knee-high. “If I’m not mistaken,” she continued, staring at an open ballet program, “It is his triumph over the rat king that returnes him to true life. You need only reanimate him.”

I shrugged and made a slight change to my spell and recast it. The nutcracker came to life and joined the battle. After a moment, I saw him wave towards a pile of life-sized toys to come join the battle.

This is where it got really weird, and really fun. The pile of toys were all family and friends. Leading the charge were Loki and Thor dressed as tin soldiers. My mate, Mooney, was in wolf form, as was the rest of his pack, and the Ewings were all there, as well. All of them rushed into battle and began chasing the mice around. Even Miss Ellie had gotten in on the fun with a strand of blinking Christmas lights wrapped around her horns as she head-butted the Rat King. All of the little elves from my front room, except the older high elf doe beside me, were now dressed as dolls and tin soldiers, also joining in the battle.

I laughed with delight, not sure if this was real or not, but enjoying it nonetheless.  The elf doe laughed with me.

“How did this come to pass,” I said with a grin as Loki and Thor dragged a struggling mouse around by its little feet. A quick check of my sixth sense let me know that the mice were nothing more than magical constructs which could not be harmed by such rough treatment.

“We owed your sons a debt of honor for assisting us in gaining an audience with Lexor,” she said with a warm smile. “When asked what they wanted for their favor, this was what they asked for, to spend Christmas Eve with you in a way that everyone would find enjoyable. I must say, I was not expecting such an enjoyable task. Most mortal who have the chance to ask anything from us do not ask for something so selfless.”

I smiled happily. Yup, them’s my kids,” I thought.














Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Oh yeah, Rudolph, you'll go down in my history...


Howliday greetings, shapeshifter lovers.

Apologies for the late post, but life got in the way... all the stuff that has to get done. I hope you are having a wonderfully tingly holiday season. Anyhoo, once again, I'm riding the coattails of Pat's flash scene from yesterday, which I adored!
~~~~~~

Oh yeah, Rudolph, you'll go down in my history...

"Empty as a glass of rum egg nog at Duff McDuff's tavern," Satriani muttered under her breath. She stuffed her gloved hands deeper into her pockets and continued her *looking at the Christmas lights* stroll through the neighborhoods surrounding her little cozy nest of a house.

She'd had her fill of the spectacular extravaganzas on previous nights, appreciating the ostentatious blasts of colored flashing lights and over-the-top creative designs. But tonight, her bleak mood directed her footsteps to those houses that had been simply yet lovingly decorated by the shapeshifter and supernatural families in Talbot's Peak.

Hearing tires on frigid asphalt, Satriana halted and half-turned. The SUV slowly progressed down the street. Recognizing Louie's ride, and what appeared to be Mayor Gil sitting beside the owner of Rattigan's, she gave a wave.

"Have a favorite this year?" Louie belted out from his partly rolled down window.

"Too many fantastic displays this year," Satriani hollered. "But I always like the Santa and his reindeer-on-the-roof ones the best."

Louie gave an acknowledging grunt. "What about the reindeer in the sleigh? He's got this hellacious whip and he's driving thirteen Santas. Kinda amusing, doncha think?"

"Yeah, amusing." Satriani giggled. "And the lead Santa has one eye-blinding red nose."

"One too many hot toddies." Louie smirked good-naturedly, and like the rat shifter he was. "Have a merry little Christmas."

"You too," Satriani shouted as Louie whirred his window back up as if the wintry frostiness was about to nip his nose, and his posterior.

Satriani continued her stroll along the snow-cleared sidewalk. What the heck? Why not head for Rudolph with the whip and Santa with the red nose? She didn't have anything better to do on this beyond-brisk Montana evening. Her Muse had gone mysteriously silent, and she couldn't put one word to paper, let alone on the computer screen. Dammit, not for the last week.

Well, her emptiness wasn't exactly mysterious. She'd been burning the proverbial big fat candle on both ends for the last five years. Ever since the last of her own oddball family had passed on to the Great Beyond, and there was a mere pittance left to live on.

Yeah, all to survive...to, at least, have a home, and enough food...she'd written steamy romance novels on the paranormal side. Oh, she'd tried to find a regular ole job in the beginning. But it had been a litany of excuses, and there'd never been one offer of employment.

Satriani blamed it on her eyes...for the most part. They were too bright, too high-strangeness spooky, as one of her ex-boyfriends said. "Like big shiny blue Christmas bulbs," another ex had stated just before dumping her.

Grimacing at the irony of that memory, given the holiday season, Satriani forced her clenched hands to open. That was another thing. No dates. Okay, to be honest, she hadn't even tried to attract any man. Too busy. Way too busy.

With her thoughts humming to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Satriani turned the corner, and moved toward the large impressive ranch house at the end of the cul-de-sac. Lead Santa's nose lit her way, a blaze of red illumination that covered the sidewalk.

To her knowledge she'd never met the owners of the mostly stone, early sixties ranch. The population in the Peak had skyrocketed the last several years, with her being one of those who now called the town home.

With her gaze captured by the reindeer driver who stood poised with his slashing-the-air whip, Satriani studied the realistic, life-size design. Amazingly detailed, Mr. Buck Reindeer wore a long Santa jacket and hat. His antlers were trimmed like a Christmas tree, the sparkly bulbs and golden trim made to appear windblown.

"What the...!" Curtains covering the huge front window snapped apart. Satriani stopped in her tracks, about twenty yards away, as an indoor spotlight switched on highlighting a beautifully dressed Christmas tree placed across the room.

Hearing "Santa Claus is coming to town" blare from speakers obviously placed outside the house, Satriani murmured again, "What the...?" Her jaw dropped, and her mouth hung open as a man... and hubba hubba! what a man... slid across the floor, wearing... well, nothing but a red satin thong and candy-stripe socks.

She froze, her eyes bulging from their sockets. Mr. Red Thong Calendar Model gyrated his hips and shook his bare booty to the popular holiday song. Hell, good effing lord! he could have danced at a male strip club with the sex-hot performance he put on.

Maybe he did for all she knew.

Was anyone else watching? For an instant, Satriani scoped her surroundings, but saw no one around. The neighbor's windows were dark, except for Christmas decorations. If someone else was enjoying the show, Satriani couldn't tell.

Heat surged from her core, spreading throughout her body until her cheeks flamed. Probably as bright as Lead Santa's neon nose, she figured... all while, her unexpected gift pranced like a rutting reindeer to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Her feet moved of their volition, closer and closer, until she stood staring at his spectacular assets from not ten feet away. "Oh how this girl loved him," Satriani sang in a whisper. "As she shouted out with glee. Oh yeah, Rudolph, you'll go down in my history... and stay in my memory."

As if he knew he had an audience, Nearly Naked Sexy Man looked directly at her, then spun around. Satriani quivered inside, and another flare of heat shot though her. What a delicious smexy ass. Not to mention his gorgeously muscled thighs... his gorgeous everything.

Her jaw dropped again as he swiftly wrapped a string of lights around his chest, then reached for the glittery silver star atop the tree. Placing it above his head, he strode toward his front door.

Oh no! Satriani turned her upper body to leave quickly. Then, she tried to twist around, but her feet refused to budge. The door whipped open. Her eyes flew open.

And there he stood, Mr. Red Thong Man, tiny colored lights blinking on his yummy, hard muscley chest, the star held over his head... held over a longish, mahogany colored mane. And over a face that was contoured to perfection... over eyes that were chocolatey brown and twinkling.

"I've tried every way to meet you, Satriani."

Enveloped in his ultra deep voice, still she managed, "Meet me?"

Before Satriani knew it, he'd grasped her wrist, and pulled her inside his house. "Just don't call me Rudolph. My name is Zrexar, and yes, I'm a reindeer shapeshifter."

~~~~~~


Wishing you love and passion on the wild side ...

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance

Monday, December 22, 2014

Let There Be Lights


“Louie,” Gil said, the strain to remain patient evident in his voice, “tell me again why I’m doing this.”

“Because you’s the mayor,” Louie said. “The mayor always judges the holiday light displays. It’s a time-honored Talbot’s Peak tradition.”

“How would you know? You’ve only lived here a couple of years.”

“I still been here longer’n you.” Louie maneuvered his SUV slowly up and down the Peak’s streets. He viewed the houses on the left, Gil those on the right. “C’mon. It’s the highlight of the year for some’a these people. Lookit this one. Nice, huh?”

“Ah yes. Yet another festive tableau of wicker wolves eating plastic reindeer.”

“Not that one. The one next to it, with the bear in the sleigh.”

“Oh yeah. That one’s okay, I suppose.”

“Don’t get all excited on me.”

Gil sighed. “I shouldn’t even be out here. I’ve got newborns. A family. I should be home with them.”

“G’wan. Chloe’s got her family with her. You ain’t getting anywhere near them kids with all them women around. You might as well enjoy the fresh air and all the pretty lights. We’ll do another circuit, pick a winner, and then you can go home. Howzabout it?”

“Yeah, okay,” Gil resigned himself. “What counts as a good display?”

“The brighter the better, I say. And creativity, don’t forget that. You’re right, we got way too many wolves eating deer around here. It’s getting old. The winner gotta show more imagination.”

“There’s a leopard eating a wildebeest with a red nose.”

“Variation on a tired theme. Anyway, the house ain’t done up enough. A string of lights around the door ain’t gonna cut it in this competition. You gotta at least do the windows.” Louie turned the SUV up a side street.

“Where are we going?” Gil asked.

“The Warrens. The rabbit neighborhood. Them bunnies go all out. It’s a point of pride with them.” He pointed at a house up ahead. “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”

Gil sat up. “Good Lord! It’s like Las Vegas exploded.”

“So waddaya think? Blue ribbon worthy?”

“I don’t know. I’m afraid if I look too long I’ll burn out my retinas. Is there even a tree under there, or is it just lights on a frame?”

“Y’know, even I ain’t sure. How d’ya like the candy cane forest?”

“Is that what that is? I thought they were carrots.”

“They are. Creativity. And nothing’s eating nobody else.”

“Why does Santa have rabbit ears?”

“Better reception?”

Gil slumped back in the passenger seat. “Okay. This is the one to beat. What else have we got?”

They trundled through the herbivore neighborhoods back to the carnivore streets. “The meat eaters sure do like red lights,” Gil observed. “But the grass eaters have more elaborate light displays.”

“That's so’s they can see the carnies coming. Hey, look. A whole family of Santa possums hanging from a tree branch. Ain’t that cute?”

“Cuter than the Santa crocodile lurking in the snowbank.”

“Where?”

“There. With Rudolph in his jaws.”

“Oh yeah.” Even Louie winced. “Well, we already decided the feeding frenzy displays are out of the running.”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Okay. We got this one other place I know about, then we’re done.” Louie headed out of town. Right at the city line, he stopped. “Waddaya think about that?”

Gil was speechless.

“C’mon. Gimme some feedback here.”

“It’s … it’s … “

“Yeah?”

“It’s Elvis,” Gil said weakly. “A nine-foot twinkling neon Elvis. In a Santa hat.”

“I know.” God help him, Louie was beaming. “Ain’t it great?”

“Where does somebody even get something like that?”

“He made it. Bozeman. Him and his wife are artists. They got a sign business down at the exit. This is their hobby. You should see this place at Halloween. Light shows, animatronic monsters, the works. I told him he should charge admission, but he does it for the kids. Gets a real charge out of it.”

“Christmas Elvis?”

“No, man, Halloween. Lemme cruise around the side. He said he was gonna add a new display, but I dunno if he had time to finish it.”

“Never mind,” Gil said. “I’m giving the prize to the bunny house. This one gets second. Third place … oh, hell, the possum family. Can we go home now?”

“Whine whine whine. I’m telling you, you ain’t getting near your kids until the women go home. You want to stop by the pub for a drink?”

“Oh sure, I’m going to walk into a house full of my wife’s relatives with liquor on my breath. Wait. You know where we can get some hot chocolate? The real deal, with milk. Then I can kiss my wife with sweet chocolate breath and all the womenfolk’ll go awwwww. And let me live another day, which is my primary goal.”

“Nice touch.” Louie nodded. “You’d’a made a good rat.”

“That’s all we are, y’know. Rats with fluffy tails. Oh my ever-loving God!”

“Holy shit! He did get it done! Boze, m’man, you rock!”

“That’s not—that isn’t—”

“KISS. You betcha. Look, there’s Paul in the Santa suit, and Ace and Peter are elves, and Gene’s tongue is lighting the way. You don’t see something like that every Christmas.”

“Thank Jesus. Now get me the hell out of here.”

“Wuss.” Louie turned the SUV for home, humming “Lick It Up” under his breath.