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-Four. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
Luke’s brow furrowed as Cormick turned onto the highway that would lead to Sally’s house–or rather, Sally’s parents’ house. “We going to your place?” he asked her.
“Yeah,” Sally said, “it’s kinda become our base of operations.”
“Since when?” Luke felt like he’d missed something important, some little detail that would pop the whole scene into focus. “How long was I gone? Felt like a few hours to me.”
The car was silent for a moment, as if the others were all catching on at once. Sally filled in the void. “Ten days.”
“Ten days?” Luke screeched. He felt Charlie draw away from him, and Orson dropped his eyes. “Ten? Son of a bitch, oh God…. Oh God, I’m so fired.”
“Maybe not,” Sally said, putting a hand on his leg.
“Yeah? And what am I supposed to tell my boss about where I been for a week and a half? Something besides ‘in fairyland, looking for weapons to use against bridge trolls.'” After a few moments of silence, he let his head fall forward and rest with a thud on the back of the seat in front of him. “So. Fired.”
“We’ll deal with it in the morning,” Orson said. “In the meantime, you should know what’s been going on. Sally’s folks got wind that something was up with our community–to which we ask no questions, so Sally will tell us no lies–and they took their RV on walkabout in New Mexico so we could use their place. We got all kinds of wards up, so it’s as secure as we can make it without seriously changing the landscape.”
“Jesus, where’d you get a warder?” Luke said.
August raised his hand.
“Well shit, that might have come in handy earlier. Nice of you to speak up.”
August curled his lip. “I owe you nothing, including justification.”
“Fine. The trolls been at you guys, then?”
“Yes,” Cormick said. “Five more myth-folk have gone missing, this time folk from the city council itself. So the whole town is on lockdown. We’ll bed down for the night and regroup in the morning.”
Luke was still reeling from the implications of losing his job when they arrived at Sally’s parents’ house. The Palm Harbor double-wide was usually bright and cheerful, but after the vivid unreality of the worlds beyond the portal, it looked startlingly shabby and dim to Luke’s eyes. He imagined his own home, by comparison, would look like a hovel. He hoped the sensation of everything being gray and sad and still would fade with time, like an ecstatic hangover.
He took a silent smoke break with Orson on the front steps while the others filed inside. He heard Sally readying the coffeepot for the morning, Cormick saying he was going to take a shower, Allison raiding the fridge. August came out a few minutes later with the keys to Sally’s car. He left without a word, but Luke could guess where he was going–to look for the horse that had so curiously run from him. Orson didn’t say anything to Luke about his newly unemployed status or his lost lives. When he was done with his cigarette, he clapped Luke’s shoulder before leaving him to his thoughts. And that, Luke thought, was the difference between men and women. A woman would’ve wanted to talk about it all, which was the last thing Luke wanted to do.
Cormick took the master bedroom, and Allison and Orson folded out the sleeper couch in the living room. Charlie curled up in the recliner under a crocheted afghan. Sally took Luke’s hand and led him back to her bedroom.
Sally’s room had not endured much in the way of redecorating since she had been a child. It was a small room, with pink rosebuds dotting both the curtains and the wallpaper. Her narrow bed was white and matched the small chest of drawers and nightstand. The heavy bookshelf was the major addition in her maturity, crammed into the wall space between the bed and the window. It was laden with paperbacks two deep, tracing the trail of her favorites throughout her life. Horse stories by Marguerite Henry and dog stories by Jack London gave way to high school serials and romance novels, and a smattering of classics left from English Lit. The top shelf held a few textbooks, computer books, home repair how-to guides, cookbooks, and mystery novels. Luke noted, with interest, a wedding-planning book.
He couldn’t let her off too easily, though. He made a show of looking around the room and said, “No boy band posters?”
She smacked his arm. “Shut up, you know my folks left this room as some kind of surreal shrine to me when I left home. I haven’t had the heart to change it up much, since I’ll be leaving soon enough anyway.”
“Oh yeah? Where you going? Somewhere nice?”
She smirked, leaning against the chest of drawers. “Well, I was thinking about Austin, but lately I been hoping I might have a roommate. To share the rent and all. And since my job is portable, it kinda depends on where he goes.”
“Oh yeah?” Luke said, sliding his arms around her waist. “This roommate… is he a sexy roommate?”
“He ain’t bad.” She grinned. “He’s gotta find himself a job first, of course. But stuff’s gotta get built everywhere, so looks like we can go anywhere we want.”
The reminder of his new status as unemployed wilted Luke’s mood a little. “True, I suppose we are free to go wherever, now…. But I have my land.”
“I can’t sell it! I’ve sunk magic into that land, it’s linked to me now.”
“So sell it to Orson! For whatever he can pay for it.”
“Can’t lose that kind of money.”
“Luke,” Sally said, her brow furrowing, “it’s money. It’s possessions. It don’t mean squat. Let it go, like a kite over the sea. Then we can get out of here, we can start somewhere new, somewhere there’s opportunity and growth and excitement and energy! There’s nothing for us here but a big gate.” She hooked her fingers into his belt loops. “Besides. I have money.”
His eyebrow rose. “Do you really.”
“I do. I been doing a lot of freelance work, web graphics and stuff. Charlie taught me the software. It’s really not hard, not like most computer stuff, it’s just another art tool. I’ve got a few thousand dollars tucked away now, not a big pile, but it’s sure enough to get us started.”
Luke was quiet for a moment. He wavered between excitement at the idea of running off with Sally and a pang of hurt pride that it would have to be her who got them off right. Predictably, he went with the latter. “I oughta be the one providing,” he said, lowering his eyes. “I’m crap with finances.”
“Well turns out I’m really good at them. I been doing Daddy’s books for years. Matter of fact, I been doing your daddy’s books for years.”
Luke gawked. “You’re doing the books for Dad’s bar?”
She grinned. “Li’l girl came back from college with a minor in accounting. Ta-da! Besides, you can make it up to me; I start us off, and you can take care of me and all our babies for the rest of our lives. Sound like a fair deal?”
Luke’s eyebrows shot up. “Babies?”
* * *
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!