Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Twenty-Five. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
Luke called August from the cab of the pickup, shirtless and barefoot. “This better be good, because I was really goddamn busy,” he growled. Beside him, Sally crossed her arms tight over her chest, staring resolutely out the window like a frustrated teenager. Sootie kept a low profile on the floorboard between them.
“I just tried to go up to your place,” August said, blithely ignoring Luke’s mood. “There is a bridge over a large stream that is blocked with an old sedan. I didn’t get a good look, but I could swear I saw little monsters crawling around in the forest nearby.”
“Sounds like chupacabras,” Luke said. “And perhaps, finally, the person or people behind them.”
“Why didn’t you charge ’em? You’re big and badass, right?”
“Not if I’ve just crossed running water.”
“Running water? That works? Seriously?”
“I’m a ghost, Luke. I can cross running water if I have to, but it grounds me out, sweeps away a ton of magical momentum. That’s why in the Irving story–”
“The horseman stops at the bridge,” Luke finished for him.
“Exactly. Ghosts like me are effectively useless for a time after crossing running water. One reason I was glad we waited awhile to go hunting the last time I was at your place, and your creeks were dry.”
“Gotcha. I’m almost to the bridge now. I see the car, no people. Hang on.” He put the phone in a cupholder on the dash as they rolled up to the bridge. It was little more than old railroad ties held together with dirt and rebar, not even any side rails, about twenty feet from bank to bank and thirty feet above a creek that ran dry in the summer and dangerously fast and deep during the fall and spring rains. As August had said, there was a 1980s-model sedan parked across the front of the bridge, and shadows a little bigger than Sootie flitted between the car and the forest, disappearing under the bridge. As they watched, larger shapes climbed monkeylike from under the bridge, and Luke groaned. “Oh no.”
“What is it?”
“Bridge trolls. Fucking bridge trolls–and I bet you anything they’re pegging me as a billy goat gruff.”
Sally let a few beats pass before she said, “I’m sorry, what?”
“The old stories are the hardest to kick. I had it happen twice before in this life. Goddamn, they never learn, anything vaguely caprine gets cast as a goat.” He rolled the window down a few inches and called, “What’s the deal, hoss?”
The four trolls moved into flanking positions. Though it was a bright day, a tangible darkness hung thick beneath the bois d’arc trees where the trolls moved. They wore their magic like a cloak, old spells of camouflage and shadow, and Luke could not get a good look at any of them. One of them, he couldn’t tell which, said, “All we want is you. The girl, even the dog, can go.”
“You don’t exactly blow me away with the generosity of your offer.”
“We’re not asking.” The troll gestured toward the sedan.
A fifth figure climbed out of the car; Luke recognized Mae and cursed. She was more disheveled than her normally coifed self and moved with the sinuousness of a serpent. She had been channeling a lot of energy recently. She reached out a hand, and Luke felt the blood rush to his already frustrated cock, which stiffened as readily as if she had put her hand between his legs. Her magical energy thrummed into him. His stomach turned, and his skin turned clammy with a cold, fearful, fever-sick sweat.
“Your companions will be given safe passage,” the troll said. His voice sounded like bubbling water and creaking trees. “You will stay. The nymph will have her revenge upon you, and when you are spent, we will use your blood to claim your land as our own. We will break the horns from your head, cleave the hooves from your ankles, and bind you with briars to the tree that shades your pathetic shack of a home. There your body will hang until it is rent to dust by the wind and the birds and the scavenging vermin. This is our bargain, our negotiation–give yourself up, and they will not join you in your suffering.”
Luke might not have been able to respond, his mind so bound up in Mae’s magic, but a sharp crack against his jaw broke him out of it. Sally rubbed her knuckles. “I got this, babe,” she said. She cranked down her window and leaned out. “Here’s our answering negotiation.”
She raised her hands, and the few clouds in the sky began to darken, shading from white to gray as if smudged with charcoal. The wind picked up, bringing with it the smell of rain. She screamed her response to the trolls in a rage that Luke had not heard from her in this or any other life. “Call off this attack now, or I will rip your immortal souls from your bodies and chug them down like a diet soda. You’re thousands of years old, right? Tell me now how terrified you are of the true death! You’re facing off against a thunderbird, a reaper of souls. Your little rabbit hearts are beneath the raptor’s shadow–you better run!” She threw her arms wide, and a bolt of lightning out of what was once a clear blue sky crashed into the sedan behind Mae. The nymph screamed and fell to the ground.
Luke put the truck into drive and slammed on the gas. Mae rolled out of the way, and they hit the sedan squarely on the side, the impact impossibly loud and jarring. The old pickup roared, but it didn’t falter. The sedan slid sideways in front of them, seesawing one way, then another, and finally careening off the bridge and into the ravine. Glass and fluid showered into the creek. As soon as they were clear, Luke jammed on the gas, and the truck roared down the road, away from trolls and nymph and chupacabras alike.
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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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