Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Thirty.Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
When Luke came through the portal back into his world, his first thought was that it all looked so gray. He felt himself tilting off the side of the horse–or rather, the world slid sideways, and down he went with it. He tried to cling to the horse’s neck, but his arms fell away, as if the simple act of holding on were an impossible feat of strength.
He had enough horse sense drilled into him from centuries past to kick his feet out of the stirrups. Then he tumbled out of the saddle and landed with a belly flop in the hard-packed red dirt. The spear fell beside him, and the horse trotted away. He watched, sideways, as the horse approached August, then abruptly wheeled ninety degrees and sprinted away from him, down the mountain trail. August started after it, shouting in surprise. Luke was relieved to hear the thundering hooves and shouts diminish into the distance; his head was pounding out a cantering rhythm of its own.
Other people were there, but Luke barely registered their voices. The world was so foggy, and he just wanted to sleep. Sleep sounded great. The ground wasn’t even that uncomfortable. It was downright welcoming, so still and quiet and cool. He snarled as someone pulled him into a sitting position, and in rebellion against this propping up, let himself slide down into a slouch. His disturber held Luke half-upright, arms around his chest as Luke squirmed to get comfortable.
He heard Sally’s voice. “Is he OK? He’s so pale!”
Cormick’s voice, next. “He’s been in Tír na nÓg, a dead fae realm that was overtaken by specters ages ago. I expect something there lapped up as much of his magical energy as it could, like a cat drinking the juice from a can of tuna. We knew that could happen.”
“And you still sent him.”
“He sent his own damn self!”
“Shut up, everyone, and let’s get him back on his feet.” Allison’s voice.
“Be my guest,” grunted the man who was holding Luke half-upright. An unfamiliar voice, with only a trace of the same southern accent that rounded the long vowels of most of the Fox Pass myth-folk.
Allison huffed, a sound he had often heard her make when talking to her son. She was trying to be patient and polite with someone. “He needs magical energy. Sally, go kiss him.”
“I can’t! Not like this!” Luke wished he had the strength to do so much as encourage her. But his mouth wouldn’t obey him when he tried to order it around.
“Fine, I will.”
“Bitch, you most certainly will not.”
“OK,” Allison said, her voice pitching upward in a crescendo. “Look, Miss Territorial. Someone around here needs to get turned on, and it needs to involve Luke. I don’t give a damn how that happens. So come up with something.”
Sally’s voice, strangely tentative. “Charlie, could you….”
“I am not kissing your unconscious boyfriend as an introduction,” said the man holding Luke up.
“But she likes the idea,” Allison said. Luke could hear the gears in her brain turning, even half-unconscious as he was. “All right, Sal, c’mere. I have a plan. Look at those guys. Smoking hot, right? I mean, for our type. Luke is tall… ish, farmer’s tan and tight cords of muscle from working his well toned ass off, a bit of scruff to him. He drives a pickup. He can birth a calf. He owns tools and knows how to use them. He likes kids, both the human and the goat variety. Dude can move or fix or build anything you’d ever need. He will climb down in the dirt and get shit done.”
Cormick stifled a laugh. “You have the most bizarre set of turn-ons.”
“Shut up, fairy princess, if I were trying to turn you on I’d talk about how neat and clean and controlled everything was. Now, where was I? Ah yes. Your friend there–”
“My name’s Charlie.”
“Charlie. He’s your friend, right? Your confidant. He knows you. He’s kind, and funny, and frankly a good-looking fellow in his own way.”
“Don’t overdo it,” Charlie muttered.
“Hey,” Allison said, “you’re too city-boy for my taste, I’m doing my best!”
“He can fix my computer,” Sally said.
“What’s that?” Allison asked.
“He can fix my computer. The one thing Luke couldn’t do shit with. He could fix any kind of electronic, really. He taught me how to defrag my hard drive. He walked me through setting up my wireless printer. He built his own computer, a desktop of true magnificence. He taught me the basics of programming. Any time my computer spazzes out on me, he can put it right. Between the two of them, there is nothing in the world they couldn’t fix.”
“My God,” Allison said, “they really do need to make out.”
Cormick snorted. “This is just weird.”
“Gawd, Cormick,” Allison said, “you were a girl in past lives. Haven’t you ever fancied a useful guy?”
“I always had staff for that.”
“Well we don’t have staff!” Sally barked. “We have ourselves, and sometimes our male relatives. But they’re not always useful, or available, or healthy. And that leaves us sitting in the room with a broken thing, usually something extremely necessary like a toilet, and tools that may or may not be what we actually need, without the physical strength to do what’s needed. With a useful man, at least there’s two of you, and one of you has stronger hands and different tools that may or may not be what’s needed!”
“Or the internet,” Charlie piped up. “Best tool ever.”
“Other than a welding torch, yes,” Sally agreed. “Cormick, it’s not just that a useful man can fix stuff. It becomes two of you against the world’s endless series of bullshit problems and broken shit. It’s not that I can’t fix things my own girly self; it’s that, with Luke and Charlie around, I don’t have to. It’s not just me taking it all on anymore. I have partners, well armed and well schooled in what to do and how. I benefit greatly from their experience, their strengths, and their willingness to work.”
“Well said,” Allison said. “Now Sally, fix your eyes on that pair of useful men. Luke all scruffy and his shirt torn up the side, unshaven, with his dark hair and olive-colored skin. Half lying on your friend, blue eyed and blond haired, slender and young.”
Luke felt a trickle of magic seeping into him, the slow movement of water saturating the parched skin of cracked, drought-ridden earth. He forced his eyes open for a moment before even that tiny bit of strength was spent. In that moment, he got a glimpse of Charlie. He was reminded strongly of a red dun horse; perhaps it was Charlie’s long nose, or the way his hair fell over his face like a horse’s forelock, that shade of light brown that would have been blond as a child. Charlie was watching the girls; Luke followed his gaze, and his eyes widened.
Allison stood behind Sally, arms around her waist, chin on Sally’s shoulder. Sally had a deer-in-the-headlights look, tense and uncomfortable but not pulling away. Luke found his soul stirred and was internally furious that he didn’t have the strength even to sit up.
“Now Sally,” Allison said, “listen close, girl, because I’m going to teach you how to charge a satyr.”
* * *
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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