Capricious: Chapter 17

Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.

A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Seventeen. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!

Chapter 17

Orson came through Luke’s front door without knocking. Luke was on the phone, and he waved as Orson gingerly set a heavy bag on the table.

“But I was thinking, what if it was just guys? No girls? Hello?”

Orson groaned as Luke stuck his cell phone in his pocket. “Tell me that wasn’t Sally.”

“I just wanted to see what she thought.”

“You’re a bonehead, and I have done with thee.” He pulled on white gloves, drew an enormous, ancient book out of the bag, and set it on the table as if it was made of spun glass.

“What is that?” Luke asked.

“This,” Orson said, “is one of the fae texts. I got it sent down from Philadelphia. I am hoping it will have something in it that we can use to track our summoner. August says he’s tried every tracking measure he knows, and there is no shortage of ways to track supernatural activity. There’s just nothing. It’s as if someone knew all those methods already and was prepared to erase their trails.”

“Sounds like either a fox or a hound to me,” Luke said.

“That’s worth meditating upon. Anyway, I thought if he’s tried everything he knows, maybe it’s time to teach a new ghost some old tricks.”

Luke returned his attention to the book. He grimaced at the sheer size of it. “Don’t suppose this thing’s got a ‘Find’ function on it.”

“I don’t know what that is,” Orson said. “The good news is that I know this text pretty well already, and the fae used a whole lotta illustration. This won’t be a thing that drags on.” He opened the book carefully and began to look for relevant passages on the fragile pages.

Luke grew irritable as the day turned into evening, with Orson still at his kitchen table, poring over the old fae text, eating Luke’s food, and occasionally calling Cormick or August. He had a pile of notes scattered around him and a nice little collection of beer bottles, which Luke had contributed to. As Luke gathered up the bottles, he said, “Making any progress?”

“Oh yeah,” Orson said, stroking his thick, walruslike mustache, as he commonly did when he was thoroughly engrossed in something. “This is great. I mean, a lot of it’s going to be difficult to use since we don’t have a lot of these fae artifacts, but it’s useful. We can put something together. Like, there’s a story about the Erlking making a fine paper out of the wind, bound by a ray of sunlight, and by flipping from back to front of the book, he could see into the past of wherever he was, and by flipping the other way, see into the future.” He pointed to an elaborate sigil drawn in a sloppy hand in blue pen. “And this over here is a sigil for tracking the Wild Hunt. Which does us no good now, of course, but if we could base an imitation on this model–”

Luke rolled his eyes. “OK, Orson, that’s enough fae stuff for me. I can’t make paper from air or construct the Wild Hunt’s compass. I’m a satyr. I’d have better luck turning water into wine. You have fun, I’m gonna take out the trash.”

Since the city trash collectors didn’t come all the way up the mountain to Luke’s place, taking out the trash was more involved than it sounded. Luke gathered the trash from the kitchen, tied it up, and took it outside. He retrieved several other bags from a locked, heavy-duty plastic bin. Little claw marks on the lid and paw prints in the sandy dirt around it demonstrated the necessity of a bin for the trash. Sootie hopped into the truck with him, happy for any excuse for a car ride, even a short one. Luke drove down the gravel drive and the dirt road to where the pavement started and unloaded the trash into the county dumpster.

When he got back to his house, he parked in a spot with no trees above it. He climbed onto the hood of the truck and stared up at the stars. Sootie joined him, though she was uninterested in astronomy; she lay with her back against his side, just happy to be in his space. Luke lit a cigarette and felt his body relax as he gazed at the canopy of little lights above them. It was one reason for staying in the country. He lapsed into a daydream of lying out on the grass on a blanket with Sally, talking about little things, staring out into the cosmos from his own tiny pocket of the universe, this little oasis in the desert he’d made. She’d be wearing a little sundress, maybe that yellow one with the blue flowers she’d worn at her last birthday party. With cowboy boots. He imagined kissing her, running his hand up her side, feeling her make a little sound against his mouth and press against him–

His reverie was interrupted by the sound of gravel under a car’s tires. He sat up and watched a new Mustang drive too fast up the driveway and come to a sliding stop by the front porch. He winced at the ruts it put in the gravel. A tall woman unfolded herself from the vehicle and walked toward the porch. The bile rose in Luke’s throat when he recognized her. She carried a clutch purse in one manicured hand, a necessity since skirts that svelte did not sport pockets. Her makeup was immaculate, her hose free of runs, her jewelry and perfume expensive, and her cleavage arranged to its maximum advantage.

In short, she was not from around there.

She smiled at Luke as she walked, in high heels, through the gravel–a true professional. Sootie growled, and Luke frowned.

“Hello, Luke,” she said. “Have you seen my ex-husband?”

Luke slid off the hood of the truck, stomped the cigarette out with the heel of his boot, and stood with his shoulders hunched defensively. “Orson’s inside, Mae.” He nodded in the direction of the house with his chin.

Mae took a few steps closer, smiling with too many teeth showing. “Oh, but let me take a look at you, you pretty thing! It’s been almost eight years since I’ve seen you.” She looked him up and down, and her eyes grew heavy lidded and suggestive. “The years have been good to you. You’re looking all grown up these days.”

Luke’s stomach turned. Sootie growled again, and Luke hooked a thumb toward the dog. “What she said.”

Mae patted his cheek with a hand that jangled from the bracelets on her wrist. “Oh, you were always so much fun. No need to be sullen about it. I won’t be long. But Luke”–and here her smile fell into a pout that was anything but pleading–“I do expect to catch up with you before I go.” She turned and walked into the house without a knock.

Luke sat down in the grass with his head in his hands. “Ohhhh, Sootie,” he said, “this is bad. This is really bad. Mae, here? She’s going to screw things up, I just know it!” Sootie licked the backs of his hands. After a few minutes, voices inside started to rise. Luke got to his feet and brushed himself off. He couldn’t let Orson face the she-bitch alone. He went in after her.

The battle was already in full swing. Orson was telling her in no uncertain terms to get out and stay out and what she could do with herself when she got there. Mae was just trying to get a word in edgewise. Luke cut in, a potentially dangerous gamble. “Mae,” he said, “he clearly doesn’t want to talk right now. Why don’t you just go get a hotel room, and you guys can chat on neutral ground or something about whatever it is got you here in the first place.”

Mae turned to face him, and Luke wished he’d kept his mouth shut. She stalked toward him, a few inches taller than him in her shoes, and put one magenta-nailed finger in his face.

“Luke Shepherdson. What’s got me here, as you put it, is your predicament. You’re doing big magic. You need someone to feed on, you lusty leech.” She smiled, and it was anything but happy. “Historically, that’s where I’ve come in.”

Luke held up his hands. “We been down that road, and not a one of us liked where it led.”

Behind her, Orson carefully closed the fae book. Mae’s smile took on a wolfishness that Luke had only seen on actual wolves. “Speak for yourself.” She half closed her eyes, and the air around her wavered, as if unsure of itself. Mae’s magic started trickling into him, then pouring. Luke fell against the wall as the lustful magic swept into him. His body shivered involuntarily with excitement, his blood rushing through his veins with a pounding, frantic drumbeat. He had goose bumps all over, and his mouth had gone dry. If she kept summoning up her own lust-magic like she was, he was going to do something regrettable. He snarled at her and clenched his fists, leaving small half-moon indentations in his palms.

“I won’t give you what you want, Mae.”

She backed off a notch, raising her head to look down her nose at him. “You’ve gained some self-control,” she said, appraising him anew. She smiled over her shoulder at Orson. “I’ll be around, boys.” She walked out of the house without a hurried step or a backward glance.

“Well shit,” Orson said. “This just got more complicated.”

Luke sat down at the table and gathered a pen and some paper to him, his breath ragged in his throat and his mind a scattered mess of panic. “OK, I’m on board with your plan now. What can I do, and what crazy fairy realm do I have to find to do it?”

* * *

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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.

Capricious: A Texan Tale of Love And Magic
by Julie Cox

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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