Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Fifteen. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
Sally’s hands moved over Luke’s bare back as she clucked over the new scratches there. Her hands felt warm and soft, and Luke’s eyelids drooped. He was glad she was looking at his back and not at his lap. Then again, from the way a steady trickle of magical energy was making its way into him, maybe she would not have disapproved. The conversation kept him from inquiring too closely.
“Does it really have to be Flintstones Band-Aids?”
“Sorry, it’s all Mama had in the medicine cabinet.” What Sally referred to as a medicine cabinet was actually a laundry detergent bucket at their feet, overflowing with every kind of item conceivably useful in a medicinal fashion.
“Eight boxes of Flintstones, huh?”
“She must’ve found them on sale some year back.” She put her hand on his side to steady herself, and he shivered. “Your poor back…. Does it hurt you much?”
“Naw,” Luke lied, taking the opportunity to be big and tough. “It stung at first, but I’m fine.”
“Well, don’t you go overdoing it at work, all right? Some of your old wounds look like they’d really like to open up again. They might be closed, but they’re not strong. I’d hate for you to need more stitches. You’re gonna have scars from the first ones as it is.”
“Yeah,” Luke said. “But how’s the saying go? Something like, pain is ephemeral, glory is eternal, and chicks dig scars.” He looked over his shoulder and grinned at her, but then his smile fell. “Hey, what’s the matter? You look glum all of a sudden.”
Sally smiled, but it was terribly forced. “Nothing.” He didn’t have to press with more than a raised eyebrow before she said, “I just heard about how you kicked the chupacabras’ butts with the earth itself, and I know that must’ve taken a lot of magic. You must’ve gotten it somewhere. And you must have refueled after. Just not sure what to think about it is all.”
“You don’t like that I have to be around, if not necessarily involved in, a lot of sex to have magical energy to work with.”
“Glad it’s not me.” She took the wrappings off another Band-Aid, this one sporting Bamm-Bamm. “I mean, that has to soak up magic like that.” She stuck the bandage on him and added the wrapper to the growing pile of trash on the coffee table.
“Why? It’s not so bad. There are worse fates.”
“To not have a choice? Doesn’t sound like it would be much fun after a while.”
“Hey now,” Luke said, turning around. “I have a choice, it’s just my choices are more limited. I could choose not to practice magic at all. I could be monogamous like that. But I’d be hamstringing myself. And like I said, I don’t have to be involved in the action, necessarily. It’s just more effective.”
“How often do you get an invitation and turn it down?” She let his silence answer for him. “To choose between having relationships and having a life?” She swept the wrappers into the trash can, keeping her eyes and hands busy. “Not much of a choice.”
“It’s not as black and white as that, if both parties are flexible.”
“Flexible. There’s a dangerous term. People are complicated, you know? What kind of flexible are you talking about?”
“Well, for starters, I was drained as hell after I killed the chupacabras. I needed a shot of magic. So August kissed me.”
Sally clearly struggled to keep her expression blank. “Did he. Wow. Um. OK, I have to admit, I’m sorry I missed that.” She looked off over Luke’s shoulder, biting her lip, and he could almost see her filing that image away for later. “But it wasn’t your idea, was it? You don’t even like August.”
“I guess maybe he’s not so bad. Hey,” he said, putting a hand on her arm, “look at me, will you?”
She stopped working and looked at him, resigned. “Sorry. I just get protective of you is all.”
He breathed in and out for a moment before he said, “Protective or jealous?”
Sally stood, dumping Band-Aids out of her lap and onto the floor. The little trickle of magic that tasted of longing and warmth turned electric, prickling and stiff. Inwardly Luke groaned. He’d seen her shut down like this before, the pendulum swinging wildly from nearly giving in to him to slamming the door in his face. Here we go, he thought, bracing himself.
“Luke Shepherdson! Do you really think I’d hitch my wagon to a man who couldn’t be faithful to me? You got another think coming, boy! If you weren’t all scabbed up and grubby from fighting a den of monsters I’d kick you right out my front door!” She snatched up the trash can, swept a few remaining bits into it, and went to the kitchen.
Luke stood up and winced, having moved wrong and tweaked the scratches in his back. “Sally, c’mon! You think I don’t know what you want? I soak up magical energy generated by the lust of other people. I know when someone’s turned on.”
“Oh yeah?” she said, dumping the trash into the big white can in the kitchen. “Can you tell when they’re pissed too? Or do I have to demonstrate that another way?” She flipped him off and started gathering dishes in the sink, flustered enough to do housework.
Luke followed her into the kitchen. He stepped up next to her at the sink, watching her fill it with hot water and suds. She kept her gaze resolutely on the dishes. He traced a hand down her back, and she jumped. She didn’t pull back or slap his arm away.
“I get that you’re mad,” he said. “I also get that you really liked watching me take my shirt off so you could doctor my back, and you liked thinking about me kissing August. I get that you’re jealous. Now in return, can you get that maybe it’s possible, in the right situation, to be in love with one person and fulfill the demands of magic in a way that both parties would be happy with?”
Sally didn’t say anything. She sprayed him full in the face with the sink hose and stormed out the front door.
Sally did not attend the next council meeting in Fox Pass, and Luke was happy for it. He told, in a triumphant fashion akin to that of a revivalist preacher, how the fight had gone down with the chupacabras. He praised Orson and Cormick, Glen, and even August for their part in the fight.
“You left one out,” Brent said from the back.
“What’s that?” Luke said.
“Whoever it is pumped you up with magic.”
There were a couple of catcalls and a round of laughter. Luke smiled and waved dismissively. “Is that what we’re calling it now? Forget it, I’m a man of great discretion.”
“Since when?” someone called, to more laughter.
“The point is,” Cormick said, coming to Luke’s rescue, “the chupacabras are dead. Turns out being a goatsucker is dangerous when the goat in question is Luke, our resident billy goat gruff!” After a round of applause, Cormick turned to August. “So, will you be leaving us, August, now that the threat is past?”
“No,” August said, the only dour face in the room. “We still don’t know who let them in, why, or if all of them are truly dead. Who says there was just one den?” This apparently had not occurred to everyone, and there was some uncomfortable shuffling of feet. August stood. “I don’t want anyone to lower their guard yet. We have a long road ahead of us still.”
* * *
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.
Buy the paperback edition!