Chapter 2

A feeling of euphoria washes over me as his hand gives life to me. He usually doesn’t interlock our fingers when he takes my hand, but now, By the Queen. Lighting flashes through my body, heating up all the right parts of me. Or Wrong.
There is another feeling, however. Nerves creep up my spine. It does concern me that Andre is a Captain in the Royal Army. Word has it, to reach that level in the army, you have to be able to do some incredible things. Dangerous things. Looking at him now as I make my way my door, I’m sure his body could do those things, but I find it hard to believe that his mind could. I continue to think as he closes my door and goes to get in on his side.
Looking around in his car gave more reasons to doubt that he could be this beast that everyone makes our army out to be. His sedan is completely spotless. Air fresheners in the vents, change neatly arranged, he even has clean mats. He was too well kept. Someone capable of those unspeakable evils couldn’t be this organized and put together.
Someone that could perform the vicious acts that comes with the small talk of the Drow Army must be evil. And if I know at least one thing about Andre, he was not evil.
He finally makes it into the car, and with effortless motion, he turns the ignition, and we seem to sail. My car has never driven this smoothly before, and it’s automatic. Here he is working a stick shift with such ease. And the only thing I can think about is how good he must be with his hands.
My eyes trail his arm and admire the way the fabric hugs him. They wonder for a while admiring all there was to see. They then land to his face and notice his lips are moving. Queen’s breath, is he talking to me.
“Bunny? You okay?” his voice gives my body a little hum.
“Hmm? Yeah, why do you ask?” shaking the feeling off and paying attention to his lips. His words.
“Well, I asked you how your morning has been, and you didn’t answer.”
“It was just a morning, Andre. Nothing to it?” I lick my lips and hope that he misses that.
“Right, and that look is just a look.”
“I don’t have a look.” I turn to look out the window to avoid his gaze. “And shouldn’t you be looking at the road?”
“Okay, Bunny,” He laughs, “Well, would you please play some music for us?”
“Oh, so that’s why you brought me along? To be your copilot?” I say, turning back to him with a smile and crossing my arms.
“No, you’re my DJ. The music I listen to is trash next to yours. I wanted you to put me onto some new stuff. I have been away for five years. Not many radio stations in the battlefields of the Kelza Republic.”
“Well, since you put it that way. Can’t have your ears rotting off.” I say, not sure which way the conversation would go if I didn’t. I tease him and want to be normal, but I don’t like him thinking about the war at all. He’s been back for a little over a month now, and though I’m sure he’s had his chance to re-transition, I don’t want to bring up bad memories if I don’t have to.
“What’s your password to your phone?”
“You know what it is already.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do. If you can’t guess it, then I guess we’ll just have to sit in silence,” He says, making a turn on the highway. This major highway was the fastest way to get to the Corner Cafe, but it was still about a twenty-minute drive.
“Fine, whatever,” I say with a little more sass than usual. I sometimes forget that he can be entirely too annoying. If he’s saying I know the password, then it must be his birthday. 0712. Wrong.
“I told you I don’t know it. It’s not your birthday.”
“Try again, Bunny,” he says with a smirk.
Wait till we get out of this car. I’ll smack that smirk right off. Let’s see. How about 0918? Queen’s mercy!
“Why is my birthday your password?”
“You’re my best friend, right? Kind of hard to forget it.”
I don’t want to let him know how happy that made me. I turn myself in the seat to face him and hold his phone up to keep him from seeing my smile. “I thought you would like that. It’s nice to see you smile.” He always knows.
“Shut up and drive. You probably just changed it before you got to my house.” I say, easing into the sit.
“Seeing as how haven’t been to your house in about five years, sure.”
“Ha, ha,” I say sarcastically. “You know what I mean.”
“Doesn’t change my answer.”
“Didn’t I tell you to shut up and drive?”
“Yeah, but when have I ever listened?” he says, getting off the exit.
He irritates me so much.
With his phone unlocked, I quickly go to his music app and pull up a quick search. Once I find a suitable artist, I start a radio on them and let the smooth sounds of R&B ease its way through the car. After a lot of ‘Ohh’s’ and ‘Yeah’s’ the song begins and sets a pretty chill vibe. I place his phone back in its mount. He starts finger tapping on the wheel. I guess he’s happy with my selection.
This was nice. Not only was he doing all the driving in your typical busy Monday traffic, but I also go to chill with my friend. It has been way too long since I’ve had this kind of time with him. I skipped out on his coming home party. I couldn’t stand to be in the room with Ashley again. That and I was avoiding him.
We glide through traffic, and I find it hard not to get lost in this moment. Where I could just be with him. The only problem is that even though this is what we have always been, I’ll always want more. He made that clear very early on in our friendship, and it wouldn’t be fair to him if I take advantage of his kindness and try to push him into a relationship. Like Mammy always told me, ‘whether it be beast or man, if they don’t come to you willingly, then they aren’t yours’.
“Hey, go ahead and add this to my playlist, will you?” Andre says, floating through the maze of moving cars. He’s enjoying himself just a little too much for my taste.
“Sure thing, sir,” I reach down to get his phone and click that little plus button. As I move, I feel as his fingers slide into mine.
Why does my body heat up just as before? Will his hand in mine always cause this effect? I take a deep breath and try to calm myself and embrace his touch.
The brain takes another trip down memory lane and sends me the postcards of all the times he slept over. From the movie marathons to the late-night study sessions, it usually ended with us cuddling. My heart would race then, thinking that he would do more, but he didn’t. Ever.
Getting a delightfully bright memory of one of our tenth grade nights, when my hormones took over. Under the glow of the night in my room. I turned and faced him. He had a look of confusion when my eyes turned away from the movie and turned to him. My hand landing gently on his strong face and pulling his lips to mine. The spark I felt from his lips had been dreamy, but his actions after were not.
He nearly jumped out of his skin and started apologizing to me. Getting out of the bed and grabbing his things and leaving as fast as I had ever seen him move.
That embarrassment comes to the front of my mind, and my brain starts to remember the events that followed. The awkwardness that followed.
And here we are now.
So now he wants to show affection to me? I can’t believe this. This could possibly be a byproduct of his breakup with Ashley. If that’s the case, I don’t want to be his get over her girl. Especially when I warned him about that very same girl. If he wants to be with me, I want to be his only choice, not his second choice
If he is coming on to me now, I’m not sure I should even give in. Where was this when I needed it? Where was this affection when I needed more than a friend on all those cold nights? Andre knew my feelings for him and made sure to keep me at arm’s length. Even dating my high school rival. So if he wants to play this game now, I will get my way for once.
He will not just walk in my life after I get everything together without him. Where was he when I was working hard to raise the money for my shop? When I was doing the marketing, the hustling, the research? All the long nights I spent alone? He was laid up with a girl who only wanted a good time. It may be selfish to think, but I needed him far more, and I was pushed aside.
I want to see what happens if I give in, but this is not okay. I know I’ve wanted this man for most of my life, but not like this. If I start it off like this, I will set the wrong tempo for the rest of our lives.
At the same time, I don’t want to push him away if his feelings are hurt, and he’s reaching out for comfort. Queen’s mercy, is that all this is? Am I overreacting? It’s very possible that he just needs some physical connection to someone that he knows he can trust. That would make more sense. Oh, by the Queen, what is this? My heart can’t take this.
“One second, Bunny,” he says, shifting gears. Gliding through the clutter, we are nearly there. With all the adjustments he needed, he places his hand on the console. Girl, what do I do? His hand felt so good, but I don’t want to be used, even if it is by him.
I look out the window and pretend that I didn’t see his hand go back. Watching the people go about their day seems to ease me a little. I feel warmth creep up my thigh.
Queen’s breath.
I look down, and he has his hand on my leg, and I need more space from him. Confined to the car, there is nowhere else to go. I scoop his hand in mine and give him a gentle look. This may be bad, but the alternative is much worse.
As our palms touch, he moves his fingers to link our hands. It’s okay to live in this moment for a little while longer, I convince myself. This means nothing. Just two friends, enjoying the company of each other. That’s all. All there is.
“So how long do I have you for?” he says with the restaurant coming into sight.
“Not sure I understand? We’re just grabbing food, and you’re dropping me off, right?” I say, not realizing I was rubbing my thumb on his hand. Stop that! Well, maybe a little more. He finds a parking spot that has a clear view of the homey restaurant.
“Yeah, when have things ever been that simple with me?” he says, the smile can be heard in his voice.
“What did you do?”I turn to him, and my eyes narrow.
“I may have called our food ahead and paid them a good tip to keep us a table for a while.”
“Are you trying to kidnap me? You know I have to open the shop, right?”
“Yeah, but your shop doesn’t open until nine. We can sit and have breakfast.”
“Andre, I have orders to get ready before the store opens. I have to let my employees in, I have to drive to the shop. Do you see this traffic?”
“I’ll help you with the orders to make up for the lost time, and I’ll drop you off and pick you up today. Will that give me more time with you?”
“What if I need my car to make a run?”
“I’ll do it.”
“You have to work.”
“I called off.”
“Queen’s ass, you did. You can’t call off in the Army.”
“You let me worry about that. In case of an emergency, I will leave you my car and get one of those taxis that aren’t taxis? What are those called that you use the app for?”
“You will leave me your car and get a Zippy? Your car cost more than my shop and house combined. Why would you do that?”
“First and foremost, it’s not. I got an amazing deal on it. Secondly, you’re trustworthy enough to drive it.”
“Have you forgotten how bad I am with stick shifts?”
“Let’s do this, do I get more time with you? Yes or no? The reasons for one or the other are unimportant,” he says, leaving me speechless. I am not used to a man being so forward with me and not going along with all the back and forth. He had an answer for everything I could throw at him. I … I just.
“Listen, you can’t get your way all day,” I say and reach for the door.
“You open that door, and we will have issues,” he says and gets out of the car. I’ve never been so turned on and mad at the same time. A part of me wants to open the door just to be a little rebellious and sees what happens, but the other part of me is loving being in this fantasy where I am Andre’s woman. Quicker than I can finish my thought, he has opened my door. I get out of the car, and once he closes the door, I push him against the car and point in his face.
“Let me tell you something. You aren’t going to keep bossing me around all… ” I don’t see what happens. One second I was in front of him with my hand on his chest. The next, he has me backed up against the car. The coolness of the car and the warmth of his big body on mine. Queen’s breath, what have I gotten myself into?
“I’m not? You seem to be going along with it so well.”
“Let me go, Andre,” I want to say, but it sounds more like a whisper. He didn’t hurt me, but he did make me a little weak in the knees.
“You say that, but you’re holding on to me.” I realize that I have a tight grip on his suit sleeves. I try to let go, and almost fall back into the car, but his arms are there to catch me. He should have just let me fall; I can’t take much more of this. I regain my balance and push him gently off of me.
“You good?” By what definition here, sir?
“Yes, I’m fine,” I say and straighten myself out. “Let’s go in so I can sit down. You made me a little dizzy.” Amongst other things.
“Yeah, sure,” he responds and gets to my side, closest to the street. Always the gentleman. Of course, he opens the door for me, and we go into the humble little cafe.
The waitress at the counter does her usual questions of pick up or dine in. Andre informs her that he was the one that called in earlier, and she’s more than eager to get us seated.
She takes us to the back corner booth and asks us what we want to drink. I’m fine with lemonade, but I’m thrown a little off when Andre asks for hot lemon water. I think the waitress is a little put off too, but she jots down our request and scampers off with a skip in her step. How much extra did he pay?
“Hot lemon water?”
“It’s something I picked up from the Orcs.”
“Hot lemon water?”
“Yes, they believe that it’s healthier to drink the water hot.”
“Hot. Lemon. Water,” I say again, not really grabbing it.
“You see, they believe that …,” he explains, but I grab his hands to get his attention.
“Easy, I will let you explain everything in time, but tell me. What has gotten into you?”
“Not sure I know what you mean,” he says, taking my hands in his.
“Like this,” I say, adding attention to our linked appendages.
“Do you want me to stop?” He says, his eyes fixed on my face. He no doubt sees me bite my lip and throws out that smile again. “I didn’t think so.”
“Of course it’s not that it’s too much, just don’t know what brought this on. What made you want so much time with me? Why are you reaching out for so much affection?” I say. He lets go of one of my hands and reaches out to my face, I can’t move again, and when he brings me closer to his face, the looks into my eyes and makes sure that he has all of my attention.
“War changes a man in more ways than one, Bunny.”
“Excuse me?” I start, but he quickly answers.
“Do you think I don’t know that you’ve always wanted this. Us?”
“What about us? There has never been an us, other than friends.”
“And who’s fault is that?” His words tug at my heart and soul. This couldn’t be the conversation I’ve wanted with him for most of my known life.
“Wait, are we doing this now? Is that what this is all about? The alone time?”
“Yes, Bunny. That’s what this is all about. I’ve known for years about your crush. I was always afraid of what that would do to our friendship. I thought that if I kept you as a friend, it would be better. I started to think that if we were in a relationship, and something went wrong, it could damage us forever. I couldn’t imagine a world without being able to talk to you. Be around you. Spend time with you.”
Those red eyes of his burn with so much passion and care it can be felt in my soul. I want to look away to check if all of this is real. He must be reading my mind. His lips go forward and meet mine.
The flame of the deepest desires kicks in my as his lips pull mine and cause them to part. Driven by instincts and lust, I give my tongue to him as he shatters my curiosity about a kiss with him by being better than I dreamed of. When our lips part, he is still looking at me with a sense of belonging.
“This is real, Bunny.” He says. I catch as his eyes look at my lips and make there way back to mine. Since I don’t protest, he continues. “You know, the funny thing is, everyone has been telling me that they are sorry to hear how things happened with Ashley and me, but the truth is, I kind of broke up with her.”
“How? She was cheating on you before you even got back?”
“Yeah, about that. Sure, I was on the surface fighting, but I had plenty of time to write and call. I even had leave time I could have used to come back and spend with her, but I just didn’t.”
“Why?” I say, my heart starts to take flight. If he didn’t care about her, could… could it be.
“Because, when a person is facing the fact that at any moment, they can die, they really start to look at what’s important in their life. In all of my moments of realizations, not one of them had Ashley in it. But every one of them had you in it.”
Queen’s Mercy! Did my heart just stop? I can’t breathe.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Spark Reignited: Chapter 1

It’s a warm spring night. Good. I hate the cold. That’s why it annoys me that I have been assigned to the north, but the work is nice and steady. Tonight on my list I had to take care of some smack dealer. Easy enough. The guy is known for his temper, and a guy like that is a cakewalk. I take one final drag on my cigarette and blow a long steady stream into the night air. I flick the butt into the void of the night and make my way to the front door. 

There is a happy little guy standing there checking the guest list. Nothing like the easy assignments when you work for a mob boss.

“Evening Sir, your name?” The doorman asks with a cheerful smile.

“Erois Na’garin.”

“Ah, welcome sir,” he says letting me through. I tip my hat and make my way in.

The house was an old style two-floor plantation house. Fitted with nice white pillars, a grand hall, the big staircase, all the works. The party was one of those fancy joints with bowtie servants running about here and there. Servers tending to the spoiled upper-class and the gangsters alike.

I always enjoyed how the rich would commune with anyone as long as they have money. It was for that reason why I had to leave my homeland with all the royals and nobles running about. It is much better living in the capital, the people are more diverse and a lot more straightforward. In my homeland, you never knew what you are getting with the smiles they brought, but in the city they let you know it’s you or them.

Enough of this lounging, I gotta get to work.

Scanning the room, I am looking for a very special someone, and wouldn’t you know it, she is the main attraction. A knock out if I do say so myself.

A woman with two faces in public. To the majority of the city, she was Lady Tabitha Vrammagon. A Drow councilwoman that fought hard for the underprivileged living in the poorer outer rim of the city.

However, if you know her nightlife, she was the face of the underworld. If you needed information on any of the major players in this town or the next, all you had to do is have the money to talk to the lady.

She was tall for a Drow woman with lovely toffee-colored skin and you could almost feel her power when you approached her. Word has had it that she was an amazingly agile fighter and handy with a spell or two. But talk to anyone around town and they’d tell ya, that her most dangerous power was her smile. Brilliantly stunning and alluring. I was here for a job and still almost got caught up in it. Match that with her fiery red eyes and she was danger in a slim dress.

“Evening ma’am, pretty good show you got going here,” I say getting her attention.

“Isn’t it? And what matter of business do you have with me?” she replies flashing a charming smile.

“I like a woman who’s to the point.”

“And I like a man who can do the same,” she snaps sharply

“No need to get short, I’m here for your company. You’re an important person and it’s a good night for you.”

“Well if you know who I am, you know that I have a very short list of trustworthy people, and I’m not so sure I even know who you are.”

“You don’t yet, but I’m hoping to change that, the name is Erois Na’Garin.”

“You don’t say! The Royal Talon family from the south, Na’Garin?”

“Precisely, one and the same. I got in town a couple of weeks ago and I figured that since I’ve finally set up here, I’d come to pay you a visit.”

“And which of part of my business are you interested in?”

“Would you believe me if I said you?” I give her my best grin.

“Oh my, setting your goals high are you?”

“Well if you’re not aiming for the top then you’re wasting time I like to say.”

“I see, and if you know anything about me you’d know that I currently have someone in that position.”

“Yeah, but I figured you hadn’t met me yet,” I say noticing a small but visible smile from her. “And if you were happy with your arrangement you’d have shooed me off by now.”

“Maybe I’m only entertaining the thought of a replacement.”

“Word has it he’s not good at his job anyway.”

“Ah, so you do have sources. Mighty fast for someone who’s been here for weeks.”

“Did I say that?” I laugh a little and give her a once over to let her know my intent, “Maybe I’ve had a stake here for a little while longer than that.”

“So you’re handsome, resourceful, and a good talker. Why are you on the market?”

“I need someone to match me, and believe me doll, that’s harder than it seems.”

“Oh no, I’m finding that to be true as well. Good help is so hard to find.”

“That’s because you’re looking for help, not a man. Like I said, if you’re not aiming for the top, you’re wasting your time,”. I could tell she was taken a little with my boldness, but for a tough girl like her, that’s the best kind of bait.

“Well I must say you do have my attention now Mr. Na’garin,” she licks her lips, “Most men in this town would never talk to me this way, for fear of their life or other valuable things. Yet you have waltzed into the middle of my home, surrounded by guards of mine and my boyfriend’s, and may as well tell me that you are going to take me from him. As far as I can see, you’re not armed and you came alone. I’m not sure if you’re bold or insane, but either way, You’ve piqued my interest,”

“Well, that’s good to hear and mighty perceptive of you. And I’d have to say you’re right. Here’s the thing. A man with my talents doesn’t need much to get the job done.” I give her my best look of smooth confidence. And as if on cue, two of her boyfriend’s goons made their way to me. “Now listen beautiful, at this moment, your little lover boy is sending his goons over here to show me who’s boss, and I’m going to go quietly. I’ve already said what I had to say and I’ve already made my case. When you’re ready to have a man in your corner, you reach out to me,” I say taking her hand and giving it a kiss.

“Mr. Na’garin…,” one of the guards started

“Ah, hold your speech, I know why you’re here. The big man can’t make a scene but has to make a point. Am I right? Of course, I’m right. Let’s go boys.”

“Well it is nice to not mince words,” the other said as he gestured towards the door. We walk towards the door and I’m sure that some of the guests know what was going on, but none of them wanted to make eye contact for fear of getting involved. 

We made it out to past the front porch and the valet with a clear enough view that the boss could see.

“Well, which of you are going first?” I say reaching into my pocket for my cigarettes. I get one free of its pouch, look up and see their confused looks.  I light one for me and offer them one. Even more confused now they wave no thanks and the bigger of the two opens up saying.

“ I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never had someone as relaxed as you. You do know the boss ordered us to rough you up a bit, right?”

“You got a job to do, right?” I say before a quick drag.

“Well if that’s the case,” the smaller one starts at me but is held back by the bigger one.

“Something’s not right with this one. What’s your angle?” the bigger one says.

“You see here boys, I had a message to get across to the lady. Now I’ve done my part for the night. You can try to rough me up for the boss if you’d like, but I assure you it won’t end well for you if you try.”

“And there’s this thing about you that makes me believe you, but if we don’t try, the boss will have our heads.”

“And I get that, but if you wait about five seconds, he’s going to be too busy to notice.”

“Why do you say that,” the smaller one says starting to relax a bit. I take a long drag on my cigarette and blow a long stream of smoke into the warm night air. I just point my finger at the balcony and as if I was commanding the whole gig.

“ because of that.” Glass from the balcony door shatters from a vase being thrown out of the window following the angered words of lady Tabitha. When they turn around to check out the noise, I disappeared into the shadow realm and watch the confused looks when they turn back to where they thought I was. This was one of the many reasons why I love my job.

——————————————————————-

“What’s the big idea ya broad!” I shout at that crazy Drow dame.

“You tell me, Anthony! You send your men to scare away my guest. Who do you think you are? Do you think of me as a child, that you can just control who I talk to? I assure you, Anthony Longobardi, I will show you the true might of my power if you ever disrespect me like that again,”

“So you want me to just let the woman who is supposed to be my girl make eyes with some loser who walks right in the middle of my little shindig with the partners? What do you take me for? Some chump? I own the whole south side of town, and I’ll be damned if I let some punk run in here and screw with me.”

“Did you forget that it’s my name on the invitation? Your lowly name is not what has this house filled with patrons ready to fill your pockets, those are my guest out there. The servants that are tending to the scum that you call the ‘partners’ are my servants. The coin that goes into the coffers of the officials that look the other way while you distribute your product, is mine. Remember Anthony, you are nothing without me. You are nothing more than a pet to me, one that is quickly losing its charm. Know your place!” she says and lands a hard right to my jaw. I turn and face her gritting my teeth. For all I want to do to her, I keep my cool. Now was not the time to act. As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t take her in a fight. Not like this. Wiping the blood from my lip, here comes the harder hit. One to my pride.

“You’re right Tabby. You know how I get when other guys give you the eye. I can’t help myself,” I lean in for a kiss, but she turns her face away.

“You have to earn that right again.”

“But Tabby…”

she cut me short, “If you weren’t as entertaining to me as you were, you’d be dead by now. Don’t make me change my mind.”

“Yes dear,” I bow my head to her. I am going to make her pay for this night once I have control of the city.

“Now, I’m going for a walk and you best pray to whoever you pray to that I’m calm when I come back,” She tells me with a cold tone and proceeds to walk out of the room.

The door closes behind her and I am left in the room. I spit out a low curse. I make my way over to the wet bar, I need a drink to calm my nerves after that.

Yeah sure she has more dough and power than me, but I ain’t no one’s pet. Just wait till I’m set. I’ll show that little broad. I’ll show the whole damn town.

I slam my drink down and pour another. After the second glass of bourbon, I grab a cigarette from my pouch and look for my lighter. Now where in the abyss did I put that thing?

“Pesky little things aren’t they. Never where you remember them,” I hear a voice from the corner of the room. As I look that way, the guy from downstairs is walking out of the shadows holding a lighter towards me,” here, use mine,”. I charged him, but he was quick. Before I could take a swing, he chops me in the throat and slams me to the ground. The pain of my back crashing to the floor kicks in at the same time I feel a pinch in my neck. He injects something into my neck and I feel my whole body go numb.

“What kind of host are you? I came for a talk and you rush me? Here, this will calm you down a bit. Oh, what’s this? Just a little of your product mixed with a little something I had a friend whip up. It will speed up the OD process and seal the wound so all I have to do is replace the needle in your arm and everyone will think you died of the junk.” There has to be something to what he says, as hard as I try to fight, my body will not respond. 

“This will be the last time I come to a party hosted by you. Well, you’ll be dead in a few minutes so you won’t be able to host anymore, but that’s neither here nor there. Here, let me help you to the bed.” for this kid to be so small he had to be strong. He lifts me with ease and places me on the bed sprawled out. I watched him position me, stick that needle in my arm, and lay the tie off tubing near my arm.

“There, that’s perfect, now you can’t scream so don’t try, and with the little fight between you and the doll, no one will be coming for a minute. So don’t you worry about dear old Tabby, I’ll take good care of her. And just remember sport, it’s just business no hard feelings,” he said as he walked over to the floor where his hat fell off taking me to the ground. Waving me off and leaving through the same dark corner in which he came.

What kind of power is that? That he can use the shadows as a passage. It didn’t matter. The chump marches into my party and takes my girl, then kills me. Worst of all, he has the nerve to be polite about it.

This isn’t fair. I’m supposed to run this town and now thanks to this guy I will die with nothing. Not even my dignity. The only thing good about this poison is at least I can’t cry.

————————————————————–

I storm out into the great hall and I could feel the fear of the men around me. My rage is infamous and at this moment,  I am so happy with that. The nerve of that man, thinking he can control anything. I must really be more mindful of the ambitions of my minions. Give them too much and suddenly they think they are in charge.

They seem to forget my wrath or mistake my tending to them as a weakness. I guess they don’t remember I was next in line as the matriarch of house Vrammagon before I left for the surface.

Making my way to the grand hall, I just can’t hold my composure. I see all the smiling faces of my guest and I just don’t feel like dealing with them. I grab a glass of wine as the tray passes by and although the sweet taste of liquid fills my tongue it isn’t what I want right now. The rich smell did nothing but stir my desire for what usually comes with my indulgence of the drink. My usual fix is not an option, as I would rather kill him than anything else. What I need is a fair-skinned, silver-eyed, smooth talker right about now.

“Are you alright my lady?” Vincent, my number one, asks.

“I’m going to ignore your question, as I’m sure you know the answer. I’m going to believe that you only asked as you are willing to fix this.” He nods. “Good, at least I can always count on you. I need to blow off some steam. I’m going to take my phone, and as long as no one is dead, you don’t know where I am, and you can’t find me. Understand?”

“Yes, my lady.” With that done, I head for my car. I pull out my phone and sent a quick message to my driver to let him know to get the car ready. I send another to one of my contacts to see what I could dig up on Erois. A man with a name like that had to be easy to track.

The aromatic smell of the night air mixed with my garden annoys me at this moment. Luckily, I know that I am not in a good state of mind, or else I would torch it. I don’t do angry well. I must mind myself that I don’t do anything to ruin my daytime reputation. Council Woman sets estate on fire is not a good headline. Where in all the realms was that car?

“Would you like a cigarette?” a voice comes through the darkness. I snap to see who it is and who would be …. oh. It was Erois. Just who I was looking for. I can’t stop my lips from forming a hungry smile. Listen here body, don’t you start with me. At least let him talk first.

“Not yet, that usually comes after what I have in mind,” He chuckles

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” he says and takes my hand. To my surprise, I let him. He leads me to his car and opens the door for me. 

“You’re not going to be a gentleman, are you?” Please, that is not what I need right now.

“You’re here with me because you like what I have to offer. Now you can come with me or you can stand there asking questions. But I must say, if you come with me, we do it my way,”

The man could do so much to my mind and body with just a few words. I wonder what else he could do?

For possibly the first time in my life I let a male take dominance over me. I allow him to hold my door while I get in the passenger seat. I allow him to close the door for me. I allow him to drive me to his house.

Who knows what else I will allow him to do? But one thing I know in this night of uncertainty. I know that I have never known a feeling like this.

Chapter 1

“Good morning Underdark! This is your wake up call. Thank you for waking up, to UDRB, for your very best in RnB. Here is the number one song in the nation right now.” The DJ starts, and the room is brought to life with the rhythmic sounds of R&B – Jazz fusion of a song about first loves.
This song always gets me in a good mood. This is a great way to wake up—time to check my phone. I roll over and reach my phone, hitting the unlock button. Ugh, a lot of missed emails. Let’s skip all of these invoices and get to something else. Ah, here is one about my order.
“Good morning Lisa Phillips, we are writing to you to inform you that your order of fleur de Souci is on backorder,” It reads. Queen’s breath. Well, ruin my mood why don’t you. I need those flowers for some of my most popular potions.
I set my phone down and get out of the bed. If I’m going to be any more disappointed, I should really have coffee in me first. I hear a ding. I check my nightstand to see who’s texting me. When I look over at the notification, my heart stops.
“Good morning, Bunny.” The text reads from Andre, my ex-crush. I hit the lock screen and try to pretend I don’t see it. I will take all the backorder emails and invoices before I text him back. I dance to the radio and do a bit of a sing-along to shake this feeling. There is no need. Better motivation comes in fur.
Mikey comes in the doorway, tongue out and tail wagging. He gives me a good morning bark and his little shuffle of – come on Mom, time for my walk.
“Good morning to you too, Mikey,” I walk over and pet him a little. “Give Mommy a second.”
I get a bark, and he runs off–more than likely to his bowl. That only give me a few seconds to be out there with his leash. Mikey, much like his mom, likes to get moving in the morning. I dance over to my closet, happy that most of the residents in the Underdark only have limited dark vision. With the big window on the far side of the room, they would be able to see right into me dancing like a crazy person.
While the next song is starting up, I find a shirt and pajama shorts to wear. My wardrobe needs some adjusting. I literally have nothing in here that isn’t flowery. I mean, I guess I like what I like. After slipping on my choice, checking myself in the mirror and make sure nothing fits too tight. Not that I didn’t like my curves. Just wanted to make it’s decent. I toss off my bonnet and let my curly white hair cascade over my charcoal skin and slip into my… ugh flowery slip-on sneakers.
Old me has some explaining to do. I know that my business is mainly done with flowers and herbs, but maybe I need to change it up a little bit.
I leave my room and head left to get to the kitchen. I look out the window above the sink. Past my neighbors’ back yard, I can see the bioluminescent foliage shining clearly. I grab my coffee from under the coffee pot and relish in its rich dark Kelza scents.
Adding a whole lot of creamer and a little sugar, I stir my coffee. If Andre were here… I will keep that man from my mind. Once the coffee is the right color of tan and scent of sweetness, I find the lid in the drying rack and lock it in place. I move around my dining room table and grab Mikey’s leash off the far wall.
He is such a good boy, waiting patiently for me to finish putting together my caffeine fix. Well, I think he is patiently waiting. I really need some nature friends who can commune with animals and find out what he’s really thinking.
Bark!
“Okay, dear, here I come,” I respond–no need for a translation on that one. Mikey comes to my hand to make it easier to latch his hook, and off we go.
The morning air greets us with its mugginess. I swipe at a little at the sweat that wants to start and walk with Mikey. It still amazes me how beautiful the morning looks in the Underdark. Since opening my shop, I’ve been brought into the fold of those who enjoy its pure glow. Crafted by the vegetation and animals with the same hue it is a sight to behold.
The morning lights that I used to wake up to are pleasant, but I would like to see a sunrise like the other races talk about. I’m told it’s beautiful, but I find it hard to believe that it could be more beautiful than this. How could a clash of red, orange, and yellows in a ball beat the streaks of lights that sends a cascade of blues, purples, and violets speckled with lights of all kinds from the wildlife? I guess it will just have to be put on the bucket list.
Mikey and I take our stroll through the neighborhood, and it’s the same crowd every time. My fellow small business owners and fur parents out in about living in our cozy little homes. It’s nice to be in an area with most of us peace-loving Dark Elves. Closer to the palace is crazy with all the Drow running around.
I shake my head and try not to think about the warrior caste of our nation and how our lives are so different. Still, when I see them parade around the city, so often it’s hard not to think about it. I wish downtown wasn’t such a hot spot for them, but even the battle-hungry like to shop too. Especially when they are so loaded.
My phone begs for my attention with a vibration and a song. Looking up, I see that we are near the park. I release Mikey and let him do his running around. I grab my phone from my pocket and read the name of who wants my attention. I read it a second time as I don’t know what to do.
Andre is calling me. What do I do? I want to talk to my friend, but I don’t want to hear about him getting over his breakup with a woman I told him not to get engaged to. My body purrs to say I should.
I find a seat on one of the benches and gaze into those eyes I’ve known for most of my life. Though it’s a picture of him from before he went off to war, it feels as if he’s still looking into my soul. That smile of his always half-cocked, never showing teeth. He hates that smile, but it sends heat to my body whenever I look at it. His body is snuggly wrapped in his leather battle armor while he holds me just as tight.
Why did I keep this as his contact picture? The phone gets the message and sends his call to missed and brings back up my wallpaper. A selfie I took last week. I would notice now that my smile is not as bright when I’m not next to him. I lock the phone and put it back in the little pocket that I have.
I want to be there for him like the friend I have always been, but I don’t want to get involved because I tried to warn him ahead of time.
Never mind that I still hold a flame for him, but that part of me is tucked away in the back. We’ve always been best friends. Nothing more, no matter how much I tried to show him I wanted more. It has been like that for years, and yet he remains the gentleman he is.
There is a ding from my phone, and once again, I free it from its cozy slot.
“Bunny, are you awake?” it reads. Why can’t he call me Lisa like everyone else? Because I would yell at him if he did, I huff. He’s been calling me that ever since I would follow him around at five with my stuffed bunny.
I dismiss the notification and look at the wallpaper on my phone. I flip on my camera and see if I can recreate another photo like that one. I run my fingers through my short white curls. Good luck with that. I just woke up not too long ago. My full lips try to mimic the smile and match that same shine from my red eyes–no such luck. I take the picture anyway. I’ll post it later. Who am I kidding? I’ll just delete it like the millions of others.
Shortly after the photo snaps, my phone shakes again to let me know that I’m still wanted. Queen’s breath, what do you want? Oh, it’s a notification from my social media. By the Queen! Even it’s out to get me. Clearly, this was a setup. I follow it to the page to see that my mother has posted a picture of Andre and me on prom. Though we had different dates, we probably took more photos with each other than the people we went with.
I was so happy that day, a little thinner too. I look down to see how much more my curves have been defined since then. I am satisfied with the results. I look back at the picture and remember how good it felt to be in his arms. Him pulling me in and my arms around him, though only for the seconds it took for the flash of the camera, was still enough to leave a lasting feeling.
His scent still lingered in my mind as we danced and joked much of that night too. I’m sure our dates were more than a little jealous when our first and last dance were together. It also may have been because I participated in the drinking a little more than I should, and my actions were slightly more flirty than they should have been.
Enough of memory lane. It is not a place I have time to drive down at the moment. Locking the phone, I look up for Mikey. I whistle for him and prep the leash. Mikey runs to me and happily allows me to latch him again, and we do the walk back home.
I wish I could get Andre out of my head. I haven’t loved anyone like I loved him. Even my college boyfriend was more or less a placeholder, so I didn’t look like the dorky alchemist girl that couldn’t get a boyfriend.
Well, life goes on, and I am walking into the back door of my house. I unlatch Mikey, toss my cup in the not yet ready to start dishwasher, and make my way to the shower. When I’m having a bad morning, that always seems to cheer me up. Especially when I know precisely which potion to use.
My favorite perk about running my own Alchemy shop is trying all the new fragrances before they hit the self. I wonder if typical Alchemist do this? Probably not. Those drones got into the business for the cash and sit back and play it safe with textbook Alchemy. They may make more than me, but I’m sure they are not happier than I am.
Of course, their competition was medicine, where mine was the mega-corporations that mass-produced air sprays and the likes. For them, that’s an easy battle to win. Cure or healing in a bottle or a trip to the doctor. Doesn’t take much to see who wins that fight.
Me on the other hand, it was a little more complicated. Clean, renewable aesthetics that was a little more expensive or cheap and harmful to the environment? Most people went with the more affordable option. Much harder to make the argument about the environment when there is an entire sect of Elves devoted to making sure the planet doesn’t die.
Science wasn’t my enemy in any case. I think on my cell and computer and think how bad it would be without it, like trying to use shaman magic to communicate. I love some new technology. Most of the Underdark does too, which makes things worse.
I have some loyal customers and middle-class people that prefer magic. So I was doing okay for now.
I should save my worries for another time. In my room, I find something that will make me feel better. I haven’t worn a dress in a while. Maybe I should wear this yellow strapless dress with the green vine patterns going down the side. When I wore it the first time, I got a lot of compliments. Why not? Flowers seem to be my thing?
After grabbing my bath essentials, I make my way to the bathroom. I nab my favorite shower potion and turn on the shower. Once the water starts, I pour in the tonic, and it puffs into its cloud of multicolored smoke. Filling the entire bathroom with the smell of berry fusion.
The only downside to doing this is I don’t have all the time I want in the shower. I do still have to get down to the shop. Easier said than done.
I do my best to not stay in the shower for too long. There is soaking in the shower and procrastination. One I am okay with, the other not so much.
After finishing up the getting ready process, I grab my keys and purse. Doing another little self-check to make sure I have my phone, I walk outside and face the day.
Well, I wasn’t quite ready for this.
Stepping out on the porch, I freeze when I see Andre is leaning against his luxury pearlescent sedan in a clean, no doubt tailor-made, cream and black suit. Adorned with all manner of accessories that makes mine feel shameful. All that falls short to how sexy his smile is. That same half-cocked smile.
Seeing him in the flesh brings back all my high school crush thoughts of him. The brain is kicking in overtime, flooding my sense with him. Like I need that right now. I’m already super attracted to him. Especially when he is dressed like this. I don’t need more reasons to be attracted to this onyx colored, clean-cut, hard-as-steel abs, ex-crush of mine. Let’s not get me started on the smooth-talking part. Gathering myself, I try to escape this. Just need to reach my car.
“Hello, Bunny. You are the prettiest flower I’ve seen today.” That baritone voice reaches out and grabs me by a little more than my heart and pulls me towards him.
“Hey Andre, I was just about to head to the shop,” I say, breaking my half step to him, and start a nervous shuffle to the car.
“Bunny, you could have texted me that you didn’t want to see me.”
“I didn’t say that. I’m happy to see you.” I say, trying to be resilient.
“Really? So, you’re going to pretend that I don’t know you’re going to get breakfast, right? You know that I know your Monday ritual is to go to the Corner Cafe, get the breakfast special with bacon, cheese on your eggs, and lemonade to drink?”
He pauses to wait for me to say anything. I can’t.
“Listen, I get that you don’t want to talk to me. That’s cool. Just next time, pick up the phone and call me to say that, or better yet, come over here and tell me that you don’t want me around,” He says, and stand over there looking as perfect as ever. Damn him for knowing me so well. This is a part of his tricks. He’s just trying to get me alone with him. Well, I won’t fall for it this time.
“Fine, I’ll come to you,” He says. No! Stay over there, you sexy man. Why are my legs not working?
The world comes to a slow grind as his long strides swiftly close the gap between us. I take a step back, and my breath gets heavy when I realize that my back is against the wall. Oh, the irony.
His scent invades me, making every intimate thought I’ve ever had about him overcome me. He looks into my eyes, and I open my mouth to speak, but my brain can’t think of any words.
“I’m sorry I’ve been so distant.” My heart speaks for me. No one asked you to speak up, but I guess thanks for the assist.
“So, do you want me to leave?” He says, not moving. Not an inch. There is so much of him to take in, I still can’t think. I guess it’s up to you, heart.
“No,” I say, on a breath.
“Good, I’m taking you to breakfast.”
“Yes,” I nod.
“I wasn’t asking,” He says, taking my hand and leading me.
Queen’s wrath, why does he have to be so sexy.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I Welcome you to Drekenvold

What’s a Drekenvold? Doesn’t sound like any place I’ve ever heard of 

Drekenvold is the world in which most if not all of my stories will take place. It’s a world full of magic, but also technology. What I wanted to do with Drekenvold is create a world that would be my answer to, what if magic existed? So I took that and applied it to (mostly) how our world works and wrote what I “saw”. What I came up with is a world full of people you can’t wait to fall in love with, even if you don’t know it yet. So whether you like the goodie goodie hero or the bad boy/girl villain. I have that and everything in between.

Why do this? 

Because I was once told I’m good at crafting stories and I was told just enough times to believe it (please don’t hate my bad joke). On a serious note, I’ve always loved writing and it’s something I would want to share with the world. Taking this fantasy world and applying it to a more modern world in the likes I’ve never seen, just felt like what I was always meant to write.

What to expect? 

Well, that’s hard to explain plainly but I’ll try my best. You will get stories that are blood rushing, action-packed stories that will rival those of your favorite books and movies, but you will also get soft and romantic stories that will have your heart swooning. Then you may just get scenes of rivals or good friends comedically bantering back in forth. You could even get a horrifying thriller that will have you reading with the lights on. What I have learned in all my years of writing is that I can’t plan too much, or the reader will be able to tell. So all of these things are things that I love so they will appear here and there. Drekenvold is a place that is constantly evolving with new stories and ideas popping up all the time. As of this day, I have a story that is a love story amid a civil war, and I also have a story of one man’s road on the way to become a king. I also plan to try to create new content at least every week that will be spin-offs of what’s going on in the world. So you never know.

Content every week? A book every week? That’s Crazy!

Yes, that is crazy and that is exactly why I’m not doing that. I will try to create short one-off stories that aren’t that long or maybe ‘interviews’ with certain characters. I will take suggestions on some things and try to put it into the world. I do know that at some point I will be releasing a guide on the world, and that is going to take a while. So maybe it will just be some background and lore for those who are into that kind of stuff.

I like your writing style, but nothing you write really fits me. 

Well send me a message on messenger or send me an email. Keep in mind that I write fantasy romance in a world that has pretty set rules. That doesn’t, however, stop me from writing stories with more magic or less. It doesn’t stop me from writing stories with more horror and/or mystery or less. Dare I say it, sure I guess, doesn’t stop me from writing stories with more romance elements or less. You are my audience and at this very early stage where I have a few ideas but not much set in stone. I welcome the idea of my audience giving me ideas and collaborating with me. Because at the end of the day, I’m an entertainer and without I’m just an IT guy in Detroit.

Okay, well I hope I’ve given you a pretty good idea of what I’m trying to do and will do in the future. I hope that I can get you to stay and be able to provide you with great stories that you will want to share with your friends. Till next time.

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