Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Sixty-Two.
Luke felt Sally land behind him before he saw her. It wasn’t her weight–even a massive bird like a thunderbird was relatively light–but the great gust of wind that nearly knocked him over, then abruptly died. The storm above them began to fall apart, dissipating back into the atmosphere. It was still cold. He raised his hand to touch her beak as she nudged his shoulder. He looked aside at her; alien eyes looked back, sharp and predatory. Her feathers were not soft, necessarily, but smooth. She moved with the rapid jerks and twitches native to birds and reptiles, and at the moment looked just about as forgiving.
August hauled Brent up onto the back of his horse and secured him there, having removed the mangled flying machine and tied it to drag behind the horse. August surprised Luke when he quieted Brent’s screams by gently sliding a piece of cotton between the iron shackles and the tinker fae’s wrists. As long as Brent stayed still, the iron didn’t actually touch him. It was a small act of kindness, performed with an almost tender touch and the same low, murmuring voice he might have used to calm his horse.
Then again, he might’ve just wanted Brent to shut up.
August returned to where Luke and Sally stood watching. “I am taking him to New York,” he said. “He needs medical attention, but we can’t take him to a hospital. There is a witch up there who can fix him.”
“Medical attention? For a broken nose?” Luke said.
August tried to suppress a smirk. “I think he may also have fractures in his cheekbones, maybe in his brow. You really smashed the hell out of him.”
“Safe journey,” Luke said, extending his hand. “Are we going to see you again?”
August gave Sally a quick sideways look, and she gave what might have been a nod in return. He took Luke’s hand and pulled the satyr up against his chest. August kissed him, and somewhat to his surprise, Luke found himself stirred. He’d warmed to the ghost in the past few days; free of possession, August had proven himself capable, compassionate, and powerful, and there was nothing like adrenaline to kick-start a bond. Like before, he couldn’t feel any magic within August, the way he could in almost everyone else. It was intriguing, kissing someone without feeling a rush of magical energy, without knowing how turned on they were, like being blindfolded. Sally’s lust, even, was strangely tempered and unfamiliar, seeing as how she was in her myth-folk form and not operating as a human. For once, he knew that the excitement that made his gut clench and his skin quake and his lips part was his and his alone.
It was pretty cool.
So he kissed August back, letting the ghost’s tongue slide between his teeth, tasting, testing. August was taller, stronger, and grew demonstrably excited through his tight black jeans as they kissed. He smelled of a sharp, tangy aftershave, a smoother cologne, saddle leather and horse. Luke liked the curve of his spine and the swell of his chest; images flashed in his mind of what August would look like unclothed, and he was sure it would be a pleasant sight.
“Yeah,” August said against his mouth as they parted, “I’ll be around.”
Sally positively cackled. Or maybe, Luke thought, she was just clearing her avian throat. Yeah right.
August gave Sally an affectionate pat and a kiss on her beak and then swung up on the saddle in front of Brent, who was lashed to the horse like a set of saddlebags.
Luke shuddered. “I think your horse just winked at me.”
August grinned. “He might have. Don’t worry, I’ll keep a buffer between you. Don’t want a nightmare too interested in you.” As Luke choked and sputtered, August gave the horse–the nightmare, apparently–a merry click of his tongue, and they trotted into the portal, disappearing into the air.
In the silence that followed, Luke thought he heard a voice. Frowning, he went to the lip of the cliff and looked down to the river. Allison was still in the river, treading water in the midst of the powerful current, screaming up at him. He cocked his head at Sally, who cocked her raptor-shaped head back at him.
“I think she’s saying… did we get him.”
Sally warbled her agreement.
“Yes!” Luke shouted back. “Yes, we got him, he–what? Oh, for crying out loud.”
Sally held up one of her enormous talons and gave a thumbs up sign. Allison hooted and disappeared under the water, satisfied. Luke wanted to laugh but found all the energy seeping out of him, like water down a drain. It had been far too long a day.
“C’mon, Sal,” he said. “Let’s go back down the path, Charlie’s got your clothes in the car. I figure that’s why you’re still all feathery.” She walked beside him down the path, giving him affectionate nuzzles and biting his hair. She was far more graceful in the air, and it was slow going. “Cut it out,” Luke muttered, playing grumpy as she pulled his hair. “You walk like a chicken. Bawk bawk bawk.”
She might’ve laughed. Or it might have been a promise to kill him. With a thunderbird, it was hard to tell.
* * *
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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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