Thursday, June 30, 2016

Safe ... ?

Zhere Ghan rolled aside. The pointed stick pierced his expensive carpet instead of his underbelly. He tried to rise, but the sheep assassin kicked him in the head again. Ghan lashed out blindly with his claws, a clean miss. The sheep tut-tutted. “Game over,” he said.

Dizzy and blinded by banana cream, Ghan tensed for the death blow. Seconds ticked by. Nothing. Then a bleated yelp, and a crash within his indoor jungle.

Sensing reprieve, Ghan shifted to human. Fingers wiped the cream away more expertly than paws. He blinked his eyes against the sugary sting.

Half the plants by the window had been knocked askew. A lanky form struggled among them, trying to right itself. Then a huge shadow loomed between Ghan and the window, blocking his view.

He recognized the coat before the scent penetrated his reeling awareness. The coat, and the immense height. Sergei.

The Siberian was already moving, toward the remains of the mini-jungle. He plucked the assassin from the ruins of several dwarf bamboo and held him aloft by his shirt collar, like Frankenstein’s monster lifting a kitten by the scruff of the neck. The man kicked futilely at Sergei’s legs. He might as well have been attacking steel girders.

Sergei regarded him with mild curiosity. “I don’t know you,” he said, “but you are one of Seven, yes?”

Flat, grass-chomping teeth flashed in the weak streams of moonlight. “Bite me.”

“In time. First we talk.”

“No. We talk.” Ghan struggled up onto his elbows. “He’s mine.”

The sheep-man looked from one to the other. Unexpectedly, he bleated a maniacal laugh. “Oh, no. No you don’t. Not the two of you at once. Maybe another time, after I’ve had a chance to set up the playground. Until then, arrivederci, gents.”

On that note, he shifted. The shirt collar tore loose in Sergei’s hand as the sheep dropped to the floor. Before either tiger could stop him, he gathered his hooves beneath him and bounded clear over Zhere Ghan, out the open door to Ghan’s office and into the hallway beyond.

“Stop him!” Ghan bellowed at Sergei. “What are you just standing there for? Go after him! Bring him back!”

Sergei gazed blandly after the escaped assassin, then down at Zhere Ghan on the floor—naked, bloody, panting for breath, with smears of banana cream on his cheeks. Helpless. Then he bent and picked up the pointed stick the assassin had abandoned.

One stride set him looming over Ghan. His eyes flashed like the ice of deepest Siberian winter. An even deeper chill flashed through Zhere Ghan’s blood.

He dropped the stick to the floor. It bounced on the carpet next to Ghan’s hand.

“Life for life,” Sergei said. “My debt is paid in full.” He tipped his black slouch hat to Ghan and strolled out of the office.

Ghan lay on the floor, shuddering. He couldn’t stop himself. When the lights abruptly snapped back on, he yelped.

So his guards found him shortly afterward, still on the floor of his office. Fortunately the shudders had stopped by then. The guards spread out to cover the office. Two knelt beside him with their knives out. Another inspected the wrecked mini-jungle for possible hidden danger. “Are you unharmed, my lord?” asked the guard by the door.

Ghan shoved the two beside him away and climbed to his feet. His knees shook. Pride and years of discipline helped him still them before the underlings noticed. “I am,” he snarled. “No thanks to my expensive security system. The assassin may still be in the vicinity. Gather a team and search the grounds. You’re looking for a sheep.”

“A sheep, lord?” the guard said, incredulous. Ghan pierced him with a glare that would melt titanium. The guard bowed low. “Yes, lord.”

The other continued to poke at the plants. His nose wrinkled against the reek of ovine urine. “What happened in here?” he muttered.

I nearly died, Ghan thought. I. Zhere Ghan, lord of tigers. He recalled the look in Sergei’s eyes. Twice.

The shudders returned. He was able to hold them in check until the guards filed out and left him alone again.

# # #

“Well, that was a wash,” Cloyd muttered as he scrambled over the fence. He loped through the forest, putting distance between himself and the compound before he circled back toward Talbot’s Peak.

Sergei. Son of a freakin’ gun. The Big Bad himself. That was one feather any killer for hire would love to add to his cap. Stefanya had declared him off-limits, but …

“Accidents happen,” Cloyd whispered, and tittered. He picked up his pace and added a few twists and turns, in case of any pursuit.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mick and Trina's Story Chapter 2 Part 2

“Ask me something?” Trina wrapped her arms tighter around her. What could Mick want now?  Her mind went off in different directions.  Her heart skipped a beat as he moved closer.

“Yes,” he said, stopping a foot away. “Better to ask than assume, don’t you think?”

Mick’s smile reached inside her into a place she hadn’t planned.  A place where warmth sparkled more than she dared hope for.  Hope sprang up, bubbling forth.  Most males didn’t ask they assumed, demanded, and took.  Those who tried mimicking their alpha role models sucked at it.  Horribly sucked at any sense of decorum and what leadership was about.  Trina inhaled slowly, and let go a deep sigh.  She couldn’t let fear rule all of her judgments and decisions, could she?

“Okay,” Trina replied, unfolding her arms.  She shook her hands and laid them in her lap.

“You sure?” Mick reached for her hand closest to him.  

Trina looked down, back up at Mick.  She lifted her hand and held out to him, palm up.  “Yes, I am.”

Mick took a hold of Trina’s hand and stood.  He stepped down on to the bleacher seat below him.  He turned so he faced her and kneeled.  He waited until her gaze met his, the he spoke. “Will you run beneath the full moon with me?  Dance under the starts with me? Allow me to show you a different side of life?”

Trina pulled back, her eyes going wide.  He didn’t let go of her hand.  He held on firm.  He leaned forward, nodding.  “A life that allows joy, happiness, and understanding of who you are.”

Trina licked her lips.  He wanted to lean closer still. Close enough to press his lips to hers.  Hold her to him and calm the fears he smelled and sensed.  Would she accept the gift he offered?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jarod Black, Chapter 5, Part 2

Happy Wednesday. Just a very short bit today. I have been working on smoothing out a scifi WIP lately and that makes writing about anything not scifi related difficult. But I didn't want to miss yet another week, so I did make myslef sit and write more about Jarod. Have a great day!


* * * * * * * * * *

Alarm, almost to the point of terror, flashed over Lady Mildred’s face. It didn’t look good on her. “What is going on?” the courtier demanded.
“Specifically? I don’t yet know,” Morgan replied calmly. “We should know shortly, though. More tea?”
“How can you drink tea at such a time?” one of the unintroduced bodyguards demanded harshly. Morgan smiled pleasantly at her.
            “I heard the growl of some great beast,” her lady said, shuddering. “I would not have thought you would be so cavalier about a monster in your castle.” Morgan shrugged and topped off everyone’s tea cups anyway. Judging by the sounds, Black was herding his quarry this way. They would have their answer soon enough. Considering how the knight had ended up in his service, he already had a good idea of what they’d see.
“What game are you playing?” Lady Mildred snapped. Their eye’s locked. Morgan allowed the humor in his gaze to bleed away. The lady looked away first, ceding the challenge to him.
“I don’t play games,” he said softly. “I never have. It would seem that someone needs reminding of that.” He forced himself not to rant about the rash of break-ins at the castle in the past week.
She may know something about it and she may only know about her part in it. Judging by the look on her face, she did know that a member of her entourage was supposed to have planted something in the State Rooms, the wing of the castle kept for royal visitors. That’s what Black had been hired to do, though he didn’t know the identity of the person who had actually hired him. He’d picked up the job from a third party broker who specialized in mercenary contracts. There hadn’t been any point tracking down the broker to find out. Morgan had suspected whoever it was would try again.
“Are you implying that I have anything to do with the monster?”
“It’s coming this way,” the other body guard murmured softly.
“You have nothing to fear from him so long as he doesn’t find you someplace you have no business being,” Morgan said, still watching Lady Matilda closely.
Lady Mildred gasped. The gasp was because the “monster” and his quarry had arrived in dramatic fashion. A dark haired man dressed in her lady’s livery stumbled into the room, frantically trying to get away from the four-hundred pound black tiger that was stalking him. Morgan noted that Sir Orlo, the captain of the castle’s guard, was a few paces behind Black. Sir Orlo was not making any attempt to hide his smirk

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Mayor Gil sat at his desk in his darkened office at City Hall, with a glass of scotch and tired thoughts playing through his head. It was past time to head home, but he didn’t want to subject Chloe and the kids to his sour mood. Better to sit here and work through his issues before he packed it in for the night.

Pack it in, yeah. Am I doing any good here? Has me being Mayor made a difference? Maybe I should just retire before the next election. Let some other poor bastard put up with the crazy. He sipped his scotch. I could use a sign.

A bat flew in the open window.

Gil leaped up and grabbed a broom, but stopped himself before he started swinging. For all he knew, this could be one of his constituents. Sure enough, the bat reformed itself into Brandon Fledermaus. Gil set the broom aside. “Jesus. Call first, willya?”

“Sorry. I wanted to keep this meeting quiet.” He eyed the broom. “You keep a broom in the Mayor’s office?”

“In case of messy accidents. You’d be amazed how often those happen.” Or maybe he wouldn’t. This was, after all, Talbot’s Peak. Gil returned the broom to the closet and pulled out a robe, which he offered to Brand. “I get a lot of unexpected visitors, too. It pays to be prepared. Drink?”

“Thanks.” Brand pulled on the robe while Gil poured a second glass of scotch. They both took chairs before the desk.

Gil thought, Now here’s a guy who’s got it all. Handsome, powerful, rich. A rodent shifter, yeah, but one who commanded respect. People were afraid of bats. Nobody was afraid of a squirrel. “So what can I do for you?”

“I’m mostly here for information. Giving and receiving. I was attacked last night, by people who claimed they were sent by Damien Hancock.”

Gil didn’t miss the phraseology. “Claimed?”

“They weren’t pure wolf shifters. I’ve never heard of Damien using anyone who wasn’t pure wolf. He doesn’t believe in mixing species. The incident as a whole didn’t have his stamp on it, so I’m poking around.”

“This happened last night?” Gil paused thoughtfully. “You may not have been the only one. Something got Hancock all stirred up last night. And apparently there was some kind of power outage at the Ghan compound. Hamsters,” he explained. “They run the electric company.”

“All three of us?” Brand studied his drink. “That’s not coincidence. Sounds like somebody wants to stir up trouble between the Peak’s movers and shakers.”

“Shit,” Gil said. “Not again. I do not need this.” He polished off his scotch. “How’d you like to be Mayor?”

Brand frowned. “You’re not resigning, are you?”

“Been thinking about it. I mean, it’s not the best job in the world, especially in a town like this. The pay sucks—I still work at Rattigan’s to make ends meet. The people elected me to lead them and then bitch about how I do it. I get chased by wolf cubs and cats on a regular basis. And nobody, I mean nobody, respects a squirrel. You want the job, it’s yours. You’re a local. People know you. They’ll listen to you. You’ve got the looks, the money and the brains to make it in politics, and the guts to lead this zoo. Nobody’s gonna chase you to the top of the Christmas tree, that's for damn sure.”

“Sounds exciting,” Brand said dryly. “Did I mention the attempt on my life?”

“Only one? Welcome to my world.” Gil sighed. “I’ll talk to the bunnies. They’re everywhere, they hear everything. I can drop by the diner when Louie’s not looking. Anything the bunnies didn’t hear, I’ll bet Elly did. Anything you find out, you keep me informed. This whole town is a freakin’ circus, but I guess it’s still my circus. Besides, us rodents gotta stick together.”

“Thanks.” Brand finished his drink and got up. “You’ve got more support than you realize. You wouldn’t have won two elections if this town didn’t want you as their Mayor. You’ll either hear from me directly or through my man Jerboa.” He smiled. “Next time I’ll use the phone.”

“Appreciate it.”

Brand shrugged out of the robe and prepared to shift. Then he paused. Gil glanced around. Brand was studying the photo on his desk, the one of him with Chloe and the munchkins. Gil only sort of liked the photo. He’d been up half the night dealing with feedings. Photo-Gil looked ready to nod off.

“Your family?” Brand asked. Gil nodded. Brand sighed. “You have no idea how lucky you are.” He shifted and flapped out the window.

Gil sat with his empty glass a little longer. He looked at the photo for a while. Then he got up, shut the window, locked up the office and went home.

# # #

“I was just about to call you,” Chloe said as he walked in the front door. “You weren’t home and nobody’d seen you. I was getting worried—” She broke off on an oomph when Gil caught her up and hugged her tight. “Well!” she gasped when he let her get her breath back. “What was that about?”

“You know that old saying, about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence?” Gil said. “Well, I just realized I’ve got the greenest damn lawn in Talbot’s Peak.So what's for dinner? Whatever it is, I guarantee it'll be my favorite."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Strike Three, You're Out

As Yuri made his way down the side of Talbot’s Peak, Zhere Ghan made his way to his office. There’d been some kind of snafu with the security system—alarms silenced, lights malfunctioning. His team was working on it, but they insisted their lord retreat to his office until they issued an all-clear. A threat of attack by the Seven was nothing to sneeze at. The sanctums of Ghan and Tasman were considered the safest rooms in the manor.

With the exception of the women’s quarters, of course. Ghan snorted. “Safe” was a relative term where Kali and her moods were concerned. He’d rather face the Seven than deal unnecessarily with his senior wife.

He stepped into his office and shut the door. He didn’t bother locking it. Bad enough his guards insisted he hide like a woman just because the alarms had gone dead. If an enemy made it this far he’d dispatch them himself, and then deal with his staff’s carelessness.

The room remained dimly lit by whatever moon- and starlight could squeeze through the curtains. The lights should have come on automatically. He tried the switch and got no better results. The power in general was probably out as well. So much for getting anything done.

What was that odor? It smelled like … lanolin?

Not so unexpected. The butchers had made a delivery just this afternoon. Along with the sides of beef and venison the driver had presented the kitchen with a live sheep, and produced the proper paperwork to account for it. Someone must have had a yen for mutton. One of the women, no doubt. The girls did so enjoy playing with their food.

Odd that the smell of wool should be here in his office, however. Unless Guri had discovered the sheep and decided to play one of his infantile jokes. Time for yet another stern talking-to. Would his youngest cub never mature?

Someone giggled in the room, and not in Guri’s voice.

Ghan went still. As his tiger’s eyes rapidly adjusted to the gloom he became aware of a hunched silhouette that didn’t belong among the clean, straight lines of his mini-jungle by the window. It spread its legs slightly. He heard a familiar tinkling sound, and smelled the plant-edged stink of herbivore urine.

“About time you got here,” the figure said. “My own fault, really. I came up early. It’s no fun being a sheep in a kitchen, let me tell you. The way the cooks kept looking at me … ” The top of the hunch turned toward Zhere Ghan. The weak light glinted off unnervingly bright eyes. “Sort of the way I’m looking at you right now. Fledermaus said I was just supposed to deliver a warning, but I was hoping we’d get to play.”

The tinkling stopped. The figure’s arm moved.

Just in time, Ghan dodged aside. A kitchen knife whizzed by his head. The assassin ducked between the plants and lost himself amid the fronds and leaves.

“And who might you be?” Ghan said coolly. He slid behind his desk. “You’re definitely not Stefanya.”

A titter answered him, with only flecks of sanity in it. Now his office smelled like pissy wool. Pinpointing his attacker’s scent would be difficult. No doubt what the assassin intended.

Wanted to play, did he? With a tiger? Very well. Ghan quickly shed his clothing and shifted. Member of the Seven or not, the intruder was as good as dead.

He padded toward his jungle in a silent hunter’s crouch. An herbivore. A sheep. They’d sent a sheep to kill him. Had Stefanya lost her mind? And Fledermaus. Stupid little rodent. What had he been thinking, to challenge the Ghans?

His ears picked up the whisper of a rustle in the leaves. He leaped.

Right into a banana-cream pie.

The assassin’s maniacal laughter rang out over Ghan’s outraged roar. “My compliments to your dessert chef,” the sheep said. “Come on, little kitty cat. Catch me if you can.”

Ghan swiped cream from his muzzle. The dratted stuff had got into his eyes and nose. He had only his ears to guide him now. I will shred you like a cheap sweater, he vowed. His claws came out. And then the other six.

For fifteen tense minutes he hunted the assassin. Several times he came close, missing by inches. “Kitty kitty kitty,” the sheep taunted him. “Puss puss puss.” The voice came from among the plants again. Hah! Got you cornered now, Ghan thought, and rushed the dwarf bamboo.

Again the assassin was ready. He clouted Ghan on the skull with a heavy earthen pot. The tiger reeled, snarling, disoriented.

“Bored now,” the sheep announced. Ghan heard a crack, one of his trees being snapped in half. Then the sheep kicked him in his throbbing head. Ghan stumbled and fell on his side with part of his belly exposed.

He felt more than heard the assassin approach him. “We weren't supposed to kill this time around,” the sheep told him. “Screw that.” The silhouette that stood over him now held a length of slender broken tree in his hands. “Not as pointy as I wanted it, so this is going to hurt. Tough titty, kitty. Say g’night.”

To be continued …

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Mick and Trina's Story Chapter 2 Part 1

Trina smiled as she walked back toward the bleachers.  Two weeks had come and gone since the dance and Mick asking her out twice.  Both times, he’d picked her up at Phil’s and brought her back well before midnight.  Tonight, he sat on the bleachers looking up at the night sky.  They’d walked to the middle of the football field after the game and the crowd dispersed.  Mick had looked at her, held a finger to his lips and pointed upward.  The clouds parted and the nightlight show began as if it waited for Mick’s signal.

Shooting stars crisscrossed the heavens, sending arcs of bright light in various directions almost like the fireworks for the upcoming Fourth of July celebration Gill and Vernon talked with Louie about. Many of the stars twinkled like the lights on the carnival rides she remembered from her youth, the few fun moments of her childhood.  Learning how carnies talked and tried to hoodwink people out of their money hadn’t set well with her.  The summer spent with her Aunt and Uncle on the road hadn’t agree with her and still didn’t. That set of bad memories faded with each passing year unless someone from her past showed up.  Now a new set of memories was quickly filling that slot and expanding.
Trina stopped as she reached the first step leading up to the second level where Mick sat.  He looked up and then back at her. He smiled each time he glanced at her; a smile that poured forth and washed over her like a waves upon the shore.  He motioned her in a come-hither wave as he stood.

“The view up here is fabulous.  It’s hard to believe that we’re the only life in the universe.” He pointed to a star almost over their heads.  “I wonder if there’s a couple gazing at the stars and wondering if life exists out there.”

Mick held out his hand.  Trina took it.  He curled his fingers around hers savoring the warmth and closeness. He hadn’t thought beyond enjoying the here and now with her.  Tending to the pieces of joy and positivity he felt.  It’d been a while---a long time since he wanted to spend time with much of anyone of the opposite sex. Buddies didn’t require the care and upkeep that friends and lovers did. 

After his last heartbreak, he’d sworn off anything more than close acquaintances.  Now, here he was pondering if he dared let someone closer.  And a female too.  

He glanced at Trina.  She smiled as she moved closer.  “I’d missed this if I’d gone home like I planned and curled up with the rest of the book I’m reading.”

“Astronomy is a hobby that takes patient and curiosity. Not many I associate with have much of both.” Mick chuckled, squeezing Trina’s hand.  “My mother said I got my father’s wander lust.  I’ve enjoyed my travels and seeing new places.  Even a few revisits.”

“I moved around so much, I dreaded the next move.  Roots are important to me.”  Trina let go of his hand and sat down on the bleachers close to him.

Mick sat down a bit away from Trina, and turned toward her.  “I’d like to ask you something.”

Happy Weekend Gang!

Have you had a positive week? One filled with joy and loving life.  The small choices we make daily add up to influence and affect our effect on the world at large and ourselves. Be compersive-joyful for someone else's joy.  Help the world be a better place and at peace with all who inhabit our world.