Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Eleven. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
Luke was relieved to be back at work. Though his back still itched and ached, his wounds were healing well, and he could do light labor without straining the stitches. What the doctor meant by “light labor” was probably not what Luke or his boss interpreted it to mean. Brent, a tinker creature from a long-lost underground land and a framer for the same construction company, was particularly concerned about Luke’s wounds, being more aware of what had happened than their very human coworkers. He came to help whenever he saw Luke doing something too strenuous, which was often.
The nights were more tense. To his shame, Luke had not yet worked up the courage to go back home at night. Every noise made him jump, especially since he couldn’t attribute any noises to goats, chickens, or dogs, all of which were now housed elsewhere. By nightfall, he always found himself packing up and heading out, and he only relaxed when he got inside someone else’s house, usually Orson’s.
“It ain’t fair,” he said to Orson one night. Luke lay with Sootie on his feet and his horns hooked over the end of the couch, happy to be healed enough to rest on his back again. “I got memories spanning back past the Roman Empire. Bits and pieces, you know, they never come through intact, not for any of us. But I know I faced worse stuff. I lived in Haiti in the 1800s, for Christ’s sake. I been through wars, plagues, childbirth. Why can’t I shake this terror of a hairless, spiny rat?”
“Precisely because he’s what you haven’t seen before,” Orson said. “He’s new. Folks like us, we don’t like new. But the whole world’s new now.”
“Don’t I know it. It’s not all bad. Phones have gotten really cool. And I really, really, really like modern medicine.”
Orson grinned under his bushy mustache. “Tell me about it. I might not even mind being reincarnated as a woman next go round, if it keeps up. Pain-free childbirth is on the horizon.”
“Dunno about that, but it’s at least a helluva lot better than birthing while chewing on a damn root.”
“I am immensely pleased to say that if that has ever happened to me, I don’t remember it.”
Luke shuddered. “I remember it.”
Orson stretched and said, “Back to the chupacabra, now. You can’t go on forever sleeping on couches. You’re going to have to go back home. But as long as that animal is out there, you’re not going to be comfortable at home. You’re not safe. If it knows where you are, you’re in danger. It’s obviously not afraid to break windows.”
Luke shuddered. He hadn’t thought about the chupacabra coming in through one of his windows. Now he had a brand new fear to add to the list. “I can’t go on like this. We’ve got to catch it and kill it,” he said.
“And how do we do that?”
Luke thought for a moment. “August said we hunt it like any other animal. We know what it wants–me. So we can predict it. All we have to do is elicit the response we want.”
Orson grinned, and for the first time in a long time Luke could plainly see the bloodthirsty Tuatha Dé Danann underneath Orson’s dignified exterior. “And then… we kill it.”
A plan was proposed. It was modified, tweaked, stomped, rebuilt, and at last accepted by most parties. It went into effect a week later, when Luke declared himself all but completely healed. Sally was mad. That didn’t change the plan.
She wasn’t the only one to think that taking the fight to the chupacabra was a flawed plan. The evening of the hunt, Luke sat on the porch with Orson, August, Glen, and Cormick, discussing the layout of Luke’s property, positioning, and tactics. The unexpected hum and crackle of a car coming up his dirt-and-gravel drive made Luke jump, but he relaxed when he recognized Allison’s beige Escort.
“Hey, guys,” she said as she got out. While she addressed the group, her eyes stayed on Luke. Orson, Cormick, and August muttered a collective greeting.
“Hey, darlin’,” Luke said, greeting her with a one-armed hug; the other arm cradled his shotgun.
“I hear you boys are going hunting tonight,” she said.
“That’s the plan.”
Allison took a deep breath, nodding. “Can I talk to you inside?” She hooked her thumb over her shoulder toward the house.
“Sure thing.” Luke handed the shotgun off to Orson and followed Allison up the steps and through the door, closing it before Sootie could scoot inside behind him. The door had hardly clicked before Allison went up on the tips of her toes and kissed him. It wasn’t the needful, lusting kind of kiss they’d shared in the back room of her restaurant recently. Her kisses now were full of affection, concern, and fear. Luke kissed her back, feeling the lust-energy rising in her, feeling it fuel his own fires.
He slid his hands beneath the edges of her shirt, feeling the soft skin of her waist, just above her jeans. His labor-hardened hands traced over the faint scars of her own labor, barely there stretch marks low on her belly from her one pregnancy, long ago. That baby was grown now, and Luke closed his eyes as he remembered what it had felt like to hold Allison’s baby in high school, to play with him as a small child, to take him to games and movies as a teenager. Luke hadn’t seen her boy since he’d left home two years ago. Ever since Garret had figured out Luke was his mother’s friend with benefits, their relationship had been strained. Luke hoped that with time, it would heal. He remembered staying in the hospital with Allison when they’d taken her ovaries, her uterus, to stop the spread of tiny, malignant spots, and her hair and her hope fell away. Someday, she said every few years, it would come back, but so far, it hadn’t.
Luke had shared so much with Allison, so much of her life. If things had been different, if she’d been inclined to tie herself permanently to anyone, if he’d felt just a little more strongly for her–but there was no sense in dwelling on it. They could not be anything other than what they were. Their shared history seemed to swirl around them and tie them together, amplifying the magic they summoned up between them.
She pulled him to his room, backing up, and he let her. He closed the door–the one Sally had pulled out of a dumpster for him, the one her father had fixed for him, the one he and Brent had hung on new hinges in the doorframe. At the same time, he closed a mental door on any sort of guilt. Sally was the future. Allison was the present.
* * *
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About the author: Julie Cox is the author of Chasing Tail and numerous short stories in Circlet Press erotica anthologies. She lives in Texas with her husband, children, and ever-expanding menagerie of animals on their farm. She runs a small online yarn business and teaches yarn spinning. She has numerous stories published with Circlet Press and elsewhere.
Welcome to Fox Pass, Texas, a small community where the mythical creatures aren’t so mythical after all. Satyr Luke’s comfortable routine is thrown into disarray when he becomes the target of enemies who won’t hesitate to hurt his friends to get to him. Struggling to save his town—and to sort out his feelings for his friend Sally—Luke faces the adventure of a lifetime in Julie Cox’s Capricious.
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