So, I’ve been MIA for a bit, but with good reason. I just completed my first 50 mile Ultrathon in Polegridge, Montana on October 8th. Which also involved two days of driving each way to access the small, remote Montana town of Hungry Horse—where the hotel was located. Just a short (lol) hour drive from the start/finish line. And thanks to my gal pal’s need to ‘see the roads less travelled’ I think we added on more than a few extra hours. But…I can’t say enough how beautiful the scenery is between Vancouver Island and Montana. We varied the route…went via WA20 on the way there, and mostly Hwy 3 through Canada on the way back. By then, I needed my Timmy’s fix.
But I digress. It’s song flash fiction time again. Now, I’ll be honest. My brain, much like my legs, is fried. But, it’s Sarah McLachlan. She’s Canadian and so freaking talented. I had to find something to post. It might be short. It might not seem to make sense, but…here it is. I went with the theme of this song about having someone take you in, no questions asked. It’s a short insight into how Kei, my fire mage from FROM GRACE:GABRIEL, and Greyson, also from Gabriel but who plays a starring role in my upcoming release, FROM GRACE: MICHAEL, meet.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the song, here’s the video. She’s so amazing. That voice…
“Hey, asshole, that’s my seat.”
Kei groaned inwardly, the obnoxious tone from the jerk hovering just inside his peripheral vision grating on the one damn nerve he had left. He made a point of slowly lowering his beer before glancing at the guy across his shoulder. Oil-smeared jeans, a ratty tee with boots and a torn leather jacket filled Kei’s field of view, light from the bar reflecting off the man’s smooth head.
Kei sighed, looking back at his drink as his magic strummed just beneath the surface, threatening to surge forward. Now wasn’t the time to erupt into a fury of flames, not with a couple of dozen patrons milling about. He’d somehow managed to restrain from using his fire since he’d returned to the human realm six weeks prior. Surely he could keep it together long enough to have a beer then leave. Not that he had anywhere to go. He’d pretty much burned every bridge he’d ever made—literally.
He took another swig, clanking the bottle onto the bar. “Fuck off.”
A hand landed on his shoulder before he was punched off the barstool. Kei’s head snapped to the left, but he managed to catch himself on the counter before he followed the toppled chair to the ground. The resulting crash plunged the room into silence, only the lilting melody of the jukebox still playing in the background. Footsteps scuffed next to him as the guy grabbed his arms.
“I said, that’s my seat!”
Kei pushed into the man’s hold, knocking him off-balance before twisting free of the asshole’s grip. The momentum flung Kei back against the counter, scattering a few more chairs across the floor before he was able to, once again, bridge his weight. He turned, wiping at the smear of blood by the corner of his mouth. God, he hated the human realm sometimes.
“And I said, fuck off. Free world, chum. That means I can sit anywhere I damn well please.”
The guy laughed, glancing at a group of similarly dressed men gathered around a pool table. “Do you hear that, boys? Our friend, here, thinks he can sit wherever he wants. In our bar.”
Another man huffed. “Sounds like he’s looking for trouble, Gary.”
Kei arched his brow. “Gary? Shouldn’t your name be Cat? You said this was your bar, and the sign outside says this is Cat’s Calling.”
Color rose on the Gary’s cheeks. “A smartass. Looks like you’re right, Steve. Our friend definitely needs someone to put him in his place.”
The other men moved in around the guy, forming a wall of large, sweaty bodies. A couple of the jerks slapped pool cues in their hands, their lopsided grins revealing missing teeth.
Kei tipped back his head. “Bloody hell. Are you bastards really foolish enough to fight over a barstool?”
Gary shrugged. “I asked you to leave.”
“No, you talked out of your ass then punched me. That’s not asking.”
“Is it here. But now you’ve gone and insulted us, so…” He chuckled again. “Guess this is going to have to end the hard way.”
Kei held up his hands. “I suggest you all go back to your game of pool. This isn’t going to end well, otherwise. And after the week I’ve had, I’m not in the mood to play nice. So…go on. Bugger off and we’ll consider this settled.”
Gary practically growled, then lunged at Kei, beefy arms swinging, a string of curse words shadowing his every move. Kei deflected the first few blows, catching the idiot in the jaw when he overshot his uppercut. The table behind Gary tipped over as the man’s body hit the edge. Glasses shattered on the floor, spilling beer and whiskey across the hard wood. Gary shook off the impact, then charged again, ending up on his ass this time when Kei levelled him with a quick hook.
“Stay down.” Kei rolled his shoulders, shaking out his hand. He’d forgotten how much punching someone actually hurt. He much preferred to send a wall of flames at potential targets. But he got the feeling facing a few drunken bikers would be the least of his worries if he suddenly started setting the tables on fire.
Kei reached into his pocket and tossed some money on the counter. “I’m finished, anyway. No need for this to escalate any further. I’ll leave.”
Steve stepped in front of his friend. “Oh, you’ll leave. But not in one piece.”
The guy flicked his wrist, brandishing a shiny silver blade in his hand. The rest of the group raced at Kei, grabbing whatever they could curl their fingers around. Kei knocked four of them off before two of the larger men managed to wrap their arms around his, holding him still long enough for Steve to shove the knife in his shoulder.
Pain exploded through his chest and down his arm, stealing his breath. Kei blinked, trying to focus when another punch sent him to the floor. A couple of men pinned him down, the crushing weight sparking his defences. His magic burst free from his control, sending everything within a few feet of him crashing against the far walls. Fire erupted along his torso, instantly raising the temperature of the room as Kei staggered to his feet. He grabbed the switchblade, yanking it free from his shoulder before letting it fall to the floor with a dull thud, barely discernible above the roar of his magic. Blood dripped down his skin, but the feel of it on his chest faded into the background as he stared at the shocked expressions of the people crowded around the door.
Fatigue gnawed at Kei’s resolve. “Well, shit.”
He took a step forward only to recoil as bottles and plates flew toward him. His power surged forward, disintegrating the objects before they reached him. The table next to him ignited, sending the last of the patrons screaming from the bar. Even Steve managed to pick Gary off the ground and shoulder his weight out. An alarm sounded around him, followed by the sudden spray of water.
“Just bloody terrific.”
Kei tilted his head back, allowing the flames along his torso to dance higher when a bemused laugh startled him. He spun, staring at the man sitting off to one side, his long dark hair framing his face. Hazel eyes crinkled at the edges as he stood, slowly picking his way over to Kei.
The guy held one hand face up, watching the water collect in his palm. “Call me crazy, but I didn’t see that coming.”
Kei frowned. “Excuse me?”
The guy waved at him. “The flames. The way you propelled them all across the room. When you openly challenged them, I pegged you as some martial arts nut, not a mage.” He leaned in close. “You are a mage, right? Because if you’re a demon…” He whistled. “I might just have to switch sides.”
Kei brushed back the wet strands of hair from his face, cursing when they simply flopped in front of his eyes again. “Do I know you? And why aren’t you running away like the rest of them?”
“Nope. Haven’t met before. I never forget a face…or an ability. And you…” He chuckled this time. “You have quite the power balled up inside you, don’t you?”
Sirens sounded in the background, stopping Kei from answering. He glanced at the door with the stranger tsked.
“Might be best if you’re not standing in the middle of the bar—on fire—when the law shows up. Come on.”
He headed for a door near the back, seemingly oblivious to the debris scattered around the room. The metal hinges creaked as he held the door for Kei, dulling the harsh shrill of the alarm as it closed behind them. Then he walked toward the trees lining the rear of the property.
He stopped once he’d reached them, looking back. “Are you coming or what?”
Kei jogged up to where the man stood braced against a trunk. “Who the hell are you?” He leaned in, getting a closer look at the perfect symmetry of the guy’s face, the graceful shape of his silhouette. “You’re…beautiful.” He grunted. “Fuck. You’re a faery, aren’t you?”
A wide smile brightened the guy’s face before he performed a sweeping bow. “The name’s Greyson. And you’re…”
“Kei. Since when do faeries hang out with humans?”
“Says the man whose arms are still on fire. You don’t exactly seem suited for this realm, either.” He grinned. “You might want to put that out before you set the forest alight, too.”
Kei huffed, forcefully pulling his magic back inside, not that it was easy. The pain from his wounds scratched at his control, but he managed to restrain all but a slight red hue beneath his skin.
Greyson chuckled. “Fire’s a hard element to tame. It likes to breathe. Consume. Something tells me you haven’t had much training.”
“Enough to keep me alive.”
“Is that what you’re doing here? Living? Because it looked like you’d rather face a room full of demons than mingle with more humans.”
Kei speared his fingers through his hair. How the hell was this guy reading him? “Let’s just say…I don’t have many options at the moment.”
Greyson nodded, glancing at the road. Flashing lights lit up the winding street leading to the bar, as emergency vehicles raced toward them. “Well, Kei…if you need a place to stay…”
Kei coughed. “The faery realm? Seriously? Isn’t that forbidden or something?”
Greyson shrugged. “Forbidden’s a strong word. As long as you promise not to set the entire glen on fire, I’m sure it’ll be fine. And my sister, Sirena, is pretty skilled at healing. She can fix your shoulder. Maybe between us, we can help you get a bit more control over those flames.”
“You’d take me in? Just like that?”
“If you can swallow your pride long enough to accept my invitation.”
Kei snorted. “I just burned down a bar. Injured half a dozen people in the process. Granted, they weren’t exactly innocent, but… Aren’t you the least be nervous I’m not the sort of man you want to get involved with?”
Greyson smiled as a blue glow slowly illuminated his body. “On the contrary. Something tells me you’re exactly the kind of man I’d like to have as a friend.” He placed a hand on Ken’s shoulder. “Well? Are you up for an adventure?”
“Please don’t let this be one of those mistakes that comes back to bite me in the ass. Fine. You’re on. But no phase shifting…shit!”
And that’s it for me. Go have a gander at the other ladies jumping in today.