Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Fifty-Five.
The phone at Sundance Hospital rang twice, and the receptionist picked up. Luke asked if Kristin and the others had arrived the night before; they had. He asked if Kristin was still there, and he was on hold for a long time, listening to a static-ridden synthesizer version of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” before Kristin’s gruff voice answered. She sounded like she was smoking, and Luke longed for a cigarette.
“Hey, Luke. I was going to give you guys a buzz before I headed back. I think everyone is settled here, finally.”
“Cool,” Luke said. “Listen, how is Brent? Is he–”
“Funny you should ask. He told me to drop him off at his house. Wouldn’t come with us. I thought that odd, but he insisted. As far as I know he’s there still.”
Luke let out a big sigh of relief. “OK, thanks.”
“Everything all right?”
“I’ll fill you in later. Have a safe trip home.” He hung up and handed the science fiction-age cell phone back to Charlie. “He’s at his house. Thank God. Let’s go ring his bell.” After a cigarette, he added to himself.
Nothing in Fox Pass was far from much else in Fox Pass, given that there was only one major road, so it took them about fifteen minutes to get from Sally’s house on the poor-but-comfy side of town to Brent’s mobile home on the poor-and-scary side. Luke drove Charlie’s Honda Accord, quietly marveling at the cleanliness of the car, and how everything worked on it. It was a shame, he thought, that such a comfortable vehicle would also be absolutely useless to his way of life. He resolved anew that once he had some money socked away, he was going to start saving for a really nice truck. An F-350 diesel, he thought, with a gooseneck hitch, crew cab, four-wheel drive, all power everything, truly massive tires, and a CD player. Multidisc CD player, he upgraded. Less than thirty thousand miles on her, bright blue with tan leather interior, he decided. He wouldn’t even let people smoke in her. He could almost hear the throaty hum of her engine, revving ferociously. The fantasy was a pleasant distraction from the task at hand and kept Luke from freaking out.
At least, until Charlie leaned over Sally’s shoulder from the back seat and asked, “So who is Brent again?”
“He’s a tinker fae,” Luke replied, reluctantly putting away the daydream of the truck, whom he had just named Artemis. “He builds stuff. He works for the same construction company I do. If he was responsible in the least he’d be in charge of his own team by now, but he’s not, so he’s lucky to have a job at all. We’re friends of a sort–not close, but he’s an OK guy.” He paused, before adding, “Unless he really is behind some of this, in which case he’s a son of a bitch who does a good impression of an OK guy.”
“Luke wants to see the good side of everyone,” Sally said, “so let me give you a different assessment of Brent. He’s a lazy, entitled, creepy, selfish, immature brat.”
“You’re just mad,” Luke said. They went over the railroad tracks, now officially on the wrong side.
“I have never liked that guy.”
“With good reason!”
“I validate that.”
“Thank you,” Sally said, calming her hackles. “Here’s what’s up with me and Brent, Charlie. Some time ago he decided he liked me. So he started hanging out with me whenever he had the excuse, which was usually that there was a group gathering of myth-folk. A couple of times he volunteered to come help me out with something, since he had a truck and some DIY experience. I mean, I never asked, but he offered when I mentioned something that needed to get done around the farm. The last couple of times, when we were finished, he asked if I wanted to get dinner. I said no. I was polite and everything, but I didn’t owe him a date for manual labor.”
“So then Brent starts hanging out with me and Orson,” Luke said, picking up the thread of the story. “Which was fine, if a little sudden. But he was always asking if we wanted to include Sally in our plans. Which I didn’t, most of the time, because plans with Orson usually involved drinking beer and watching a football game, or hunting, which aren’t things she’s into, or doing some stupid guy thing.”
“Sometimes I like stupid guy things, you know,” Sally said, a sweet, affectionate tone in her voice that made Luke wonder if she was being serious or if he himself was the stupid guy thing she liked. He chose to take it the best way.
“Course you do. And I did call you when I thought you’d be interested. But would you have wanted to go turkey bowling at 1 a.m. at Walmart?”
Sally held up her hands. “Nope. I don’t even want to know what turkey bowling is.”
“It’s where you get a frozen turkey–”
“And a bunch of those big bottles of soda–”
“Fine, thank you for not including me in all your shenanigans. Anyway, I figured out pretty quick that Brent was using my friends to finagle hanging with me. Not cool. So I sat down with him and explained that while I liked him as a friend, I wasn’t interested in anything romantic with him. So he says that’s fine, then goes around to anyone who will listen telling them how he got ‘friend-zoned,’ how he spent all this time and energy on me and I just led him on, how I talked big about how I wanted a good man but then I was really–” She stopped.
“Really into the bad boys?” Charlie supplied. “You gotta admit, August at least looks the part of bad boy. Motorcycle and everything.”
“This was before August came into town. Actually, he said some unkind things about my virtue in regards to Luke. I’m sorry, honey, but he was rather unkind about your sexual habits.”
Luke scowled and glared at the road over the steering wheel. Few things irked him like talking about people behind their backs.
Charlie whistled. “What a charmer.”
“Yeah. Anyway, that’s why I don’t like Brent, and why I think his moral character is questionable enough to be a suspect, given all the other little bits of evidence.”
“I still hope it’s not him,” Luke said. “I hope there’s another explanation.”
Sally put a hand on his knee. “I hope so too, baby.”
Luke pulled over. They were across the street from Brent’s mobile home. The car was in the drive. The lights behind the curtains were on.
Luke unbuckled his seat belt. “Time waits for no immortal being. Let’s do this.”
* * *
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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