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-Four.
Sally’s parents were waiting for them when Luke and Sally arrived at the house. The air was heavy with suspicion and alarm, which Sally disarmed with a hug around her father’s middle. She said into his chest, “I’m sorry I can’t tell you.”
Wilson’s eyes softened, and he kissed the top of his daughter’s head. “I know you can’t. I’m just glad you’re OK.”
Her mother, Georgia, got a hug next, though she was significantly less mollified. It took Luke asking what kind of new car she’d like as a replacement for the sedan to bolster her spirits. Wilson retrieved four beers from the refrigerator, and they sat out on the porch, talking about anything but what had actually happened, while the day wound down. Heavy in Luke’s mind was the spot only a few feet away where Orson had impaled Alan with the black spear. The broken decking had been replaced with a new board that stood out in its newness, despite having been painted a nearly perfect match for color. The gravel in the drive where the chupacabras had danced to the mad music had been raked and filled. No matter what else one might say about them, the New York Council and the Fox Pass Council did not fool around when it came to covering up their activities. Luke reflected that even his parents would not have been so accepting of secrecy.
“Talked to your folks,” Wilson said, as if reading his thoughts.
“Yeah?” Luke said, a little distantly.
“Your mama said she’d stopped by earlier, wanted to check that everything was OK.”
“I’ll give her a call,” Luke said, and started to stand up.
“She’ll be by in a little while, I asked them over for dinner,” Georgia said.
“Oh,” Luke said, a little mystified, and sat back down.
“I figured we might have some planning to do.” She could not have been more plain.
“Yeah,” Luke said, taking Sally’s hand and grinning. “I guess we do.”
“Thought you were gonna ask us about it first,” Wilson said, “what with you having been so formal and all before.”
“I haven’t formally asked her,” Luke said.
“Psh,” Sally said, “formalities be damned. I’m marrying the man and that’s that.”
Charlie was released from the hospital within a few hours, and Luke’s parents picked him up on their way over. Though he had three ribs with miniscule fractures, he had no internal damage to organs or tissues. Rest and relaxation were prescribed, which suited him very well. The doctor said he’d been lucky with his “mule kick” and released him, making it clear with a raised eyebrow and a disapproving grimace that he knew very well it hadn’t been a mule that left the great stormcloud of a bruise on his chest.
Charlie walked in and declared to Luke as soon as he saw him, “This explains everything.”
“Your dad is crazy. But your mom seems cool. When she’s not yelling at him.”
“Was she driving?”
“Goddamn it, he’s not supposed to drive! Dad!”
“Oops, I’m caught,” Luke’s dad, Donald Shepherdson, said. He was an enormous man with a magnificent mustache and a build of muscle and bone and gut beneath a layer of padding. He handed his homebrew beer to his much smaller and angular wife and prepared for a confrontation with his equally slender and wiry son.
“You don’t have a license, you can’t drive! Mom, why’d you let him drive?”
“I was tired. My blood sugar was all funny. I had a hard day yesterday.” She gave him a pointed look.
“Son of a–you realize that if you get pulled over, you’re going to jail, right?”
Donald shrugged. “I put a case of homebrew in the back. I figure if I get pulled over, I’ll offer them some, as a special thank you for the great job they do as our protectors. Those boys, they really put it on the line, they deserve a relaxing beer more than most.”
Luke rolled his eyes. “Of course. And since Alan is off the force, there’s not a one of them would bat an eye. Fucking favoritism.”
“Alan’s off the force?” Donald said. “Since when?”
“Yesterday,” Luke answered. He narrowed his eyes, made sure Wilson and Georgia were out of earshot, and said, “Orson killed his troll soul with Cuchulainn’s spear.”
Donald shrugged. “Just like when you were a kid, ain’t it? I don’t understand half the things you say, weirdo.” He retrieved his beer, made himself comfortable on the couch, and took no more notice of Luke’s outrage or bizarre proclamations. Luke took a deep, steadying breath and pulled his mom aside for some whispering and hissing.
Dinner was as relaxed as a Shepherdson dinner ever was, interfused with bickering and “debate.” The Wilson family was more sedate, but they were accustomed to the Shepherdsons. After the meal, they drank coffee as Georgia dug in the icebox for a thing of ice cream.
“So,” Donald said to the room in general, “I take it we’re going to have us a ceremony sometime soon.”
“Dad,” Luke said, “I haven’t even bought her a ring yet.”
The whole room couldn’t help but smile.
“June’s always nice for weddings,” Georgia said.
“But it’s so hot,” Agatha said. “How about April or May?”
“Or October,” Sally said. “That’d give us about a year to plan.”
Luke almost said something about how there might be a baby born before then but decided he’d best keep his big mouth shut. He put his arm over Sally’s shoulders. “Personally,” he said, “I don’t see why we need a big ceremony. Why not just something simple, in about a month? We could have it up on my mountain. There’s a big field of Johnny-jump-ups and wild violets will be in bloom then, right next to the sunflower patch, which will still look good. Say, our folks, my brothers–least, the ones who aren’t in jail–and our closest friends. It’d be easy, and we could get on with the business of married life, instead of focusing on the wedding.”
“David could officiate,” Wilson said, referring to their long-time Methodist pastor.
“Could put Cormick in charge of the food,” Luke said.
“And I’ll bring the booze,” Donald chimed in.
“There. Planned.” Luke sat back with a satisfied air.
Sally shook her head and looked at her mother and future mother-in-law. “Men.”
Agatha guffawed. “We’ll get together later and change their plans. But really, it doesn’t sound half bad.”
Georgia sighed. “It sounds lovely. But I was kind of looking forward to planning my daughter’s wedding.”
Sally kissed her mother’s cheek. “S’okay, Mama. You can help us build and decorate a nursery. For a theoretical baby,” she added, holding up her hands as the whole room looked at her. Georgia looked more than mollified.
Wilson slumped in his seat. “My stars, that was five hundred times easier than I thought it would be.” He clapped Luke on the shoulder. “Thank goodness it’s you, boy.”
Luke smiled genuinely. “That is perhaps the best compliment I’ve ever received, sir.”
* * *
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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