A Paranormal Flash Fiction
by Linda Mooney
Marlowe sneezed twice, violently, before blowing her nose. Aggravated by the timing at which the flu had chosen to descend on her, she threw her wadded tissue at the wastebasket by the bed, missed, and huddled back beneath the covers.
Like her mood and well-being, Mother Nature was matching her drip for drip after pulling down a wet cold front from Canada, and creating such a dismally overcast day that it triggered the street lamps, making them cast their mustard-colored lights over the city.
“Of all the rotten luck to catch this cold,” she reflected. She popped a prescription capsule into her mouth, washing it down with cold coffee. “Ugh.” She grimaced, sticking out her tongue. “And wouldn’t you know I’d wake up with it full blown after suffering a week’s worth of sniffling and dribbling. And I didn’t bring any work home for the first time in a month. If I’d brought it home with me last night, at least I wouldn’t feel so guilty about calling in sick. I could be doing some work. Getting something done while I’m lying about.”
A gentle tapping sounded at the front door, surprising her. Marlowe glanced at the clock on the nightstand to find it wasn’t quite nine a.m. Scrambling from the bed, she went to see who it was. A peek through the peephole revealed Liston standing on the other side. He was wearing his favorite bright red hoodie and loving grin, water droplets glittering on his hair and shoulders.
Unlocking the door, she opened it to give him a stern look. “Get in here and dry off before you catch your death.”
Grinning, he slipped inside the apartment and removed his hoodie, shaking the water from it before spreading it across the back of one of the kitchen chairs to dry.
“You’re back already?”
“Got in last night.”
“Then why aren’t you at work?” she asked, trying to sound perturbed. In truth, she was happy to see him. It had been nearly a week since they’d last been together. Since then, he and the pack had gone on one of their many jaunts into the national forest to hunt. With the colder season upon them, it was imperative that they store up as much fresh meat as possible before the prey got too scarce.
Liston studied her with a bemused yet concerned smile. “You’re sick. I see puffiness around your eyes. Your nose is raw and red. And I can feel waves of warmth emanating off of you. You have a fever.” He started to take a step toward her when she held up her hands to block him.
“As much as I’m dying for you to hold me, I can’t take the chance of you catching what I’ve got. Or taking it back to your pack and giving it to them.”
He chuckled gently and wrapped his strong arms around her despite her protests. “There’s no need to fear. My kind doesn’t catch colds or the flu. At least, not from humans. As for not being at work, I’ve missed you. I went by your office earlier today, but they said you weren’t available. So that’s why I’m here.”
“Okay. That’s another one for the books I need to make note of you.” She pretended to write something on her palm. “Werewolves don’t catch colds. You could have called me to let me know you were coming by. I look a fright.” She indicated the sloppy t-shirt and sweatpants she was wearing.
“Well, considering today’s occasion, I didn’t want to wait until tonight.”
She buried her face against the warmth of his flannel shirt and let out a contented sigh. “I’m glad you did. You didn’t happen to bring some chicken soup with you, did you?”
Liston laughed. The sound of it rumbling in his chest vibrated against her cheek. “Unfortunately, no, but I can fix you something to eat if you’re hungry.
“Not really. I have some minestrone left over from yesterday I can reheat later.”
“Then, come. Back to bed with you.” He led her into the bedroom and helped her slide under the covers, drawing the sheet and blankets up around her waist.
As he tucked her in, Marlowe suddenly realized what he’d said. “Today’s occasion? What occa—oh, no! Oh, Liston! I can’t believe I forgot! Even after seeing all the stuff posted in the stores, and the commercials on TV.” Her face fell as tears welled up in her eyes, and she reached for another tissue.
Once again, Liston pulled her into his embrace, this time adding a kiss to the top of her head. “It’s okay, honey.”
“No, it’s not okay. I planned to do something special for just the two of us. I didn’t have a chance to get you a card!”
“Shh. I didn’t expect anything, nor do I ever. Your love is a gift you give to me every day,” he murmured. “I wish I was able to return it tenfold.”
“You give me more than you realize,” she whispered. “I know it’s a constant battle every day to keep yourself and your pack from being detected. I know how difficult it can be sometimes to come into town and interact with us humans. Don’t ever think you don’t give me enough love, because you do. And much more.” She looked up into his unusual golden eyes. It was almost as if she could see into his soul. The soul of a being who could become either man or wolf. A soul who wasn’t accepted by either normal man or animal, but who lived on the edges of both worlds.
He gave her a crooked smile. “Anyway, I wanted you to be able to carry with you everything I carry inside of me. The love, the nearness, the memories.” Getting to his feet, he left the bedroom. Past the doorway, Marlowe watched as he walked over to where his hoodie lay on the chair and extracted something from the front pocket. Bringing it back into the bedroom, he took her hand and laid the object on her palm.
It was a small, hand-thrown pot made from the dark red clay that was prevalent in the mountains. Teardrop-shaped, with a narrow mouth, and sealed with a small clay cork, the word LOVE had been inscribed on the outside surface.
“Rufus helped me make it,” he confessed. “He fired it in the kiln to be sure it didn’t shatter. Then I added the glaze.”
“It’s beautiful. And made with your own hands.” Bringing it closer, she carefully removed the stopper and looked inside. “It’s empty,” she teased.
Liston smiled. “No, it’s not.” Putting a finger to his lips, he then laid the fingertip to the top of the bottle. “In here I place my kisses. The chaste ones and the ones full of undeniable passion. The ones wet with tears, and those I send on the wind to you every day when we can’t be together.”
Pressing the same finger to his temple, he again touched the bottle’s mouth. “In here I place my countless thoughts of you, my special memories of us together, and my dreams for us, both shared and unspoken.”
Following that, he moved his hand to where it encompassed his heart before returning it once more to the lip of the bottle. “And in here I place my endless hopes, my soul, my heart, and my love forever. All that I am because of you, and all that I will be because of you, is in this bottle of love. In some small way, I hope it brings you comfort during those times we must be apart. I also hope it reminds you of us, of me, and what we share.”
Replacing the cork, Liston placed it on the nightstand next to the bed. He reached for Marlowe’s hands and tenderly kissed both palms. “Someday soon we’ll be together, and be able to remain together for the rest of our lives. Just give me a little more time to work it out.”
“Take all the time you need,” she told him. A yawn overtook her, making him chuckle.
“I’m boring you.”
“No, no. It’s the medication I took before you arrived.” Pressing her forehead to his, she rubbed noses with him. “Will you stay with me?” she softly begged. “At least for the rest of the day. As soon as I’m on my feet again, I promise we’ll celebrate. We’ll have the whole night to ourselves.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it.” After plumping her pillow, he readjusted the covers. “I love you, Marlowe.” Bending over, he kissed her sweaty forehead, sealing his vow.
“I love you, Liston. Thank you for the gift. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Happy Valentine’s Day, my beloved,” he responded. Getting to his feet, he walked over to the bedroom door and paused, turning around to make sure she’d finally fallen asleep. Hearing her steady breathing, he began undressing, dropping his clothes over the chair containing his hoodie. Totally bare and free, he shifted into his lupine form, until a massive gray wolf with golden eyes stood where a human had been seconds before. That done, he jumped onto the bed and curled around the fragile woman who’d somehow magically managed to claim his heart.
The last thing he was aware of as he also sank into slumber was the feel of her cuddling against him, her fingers threading through his thick pelt.
Soon, Marlowe, soon. Our day will come soon, he silently promised her, and closed his eyes.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
THE CASE OF THE TORMENTED TROLL
(Based on "Beauty and the Beast")
Paranormal, Fantasy Romanceby Linda Mooney
Word Count: 40.1K
$0.00 KU / $3.99 e / $9.99 p Available for a Limited Time on Kindle Unlimited
The 1940s. Life in Grimm City can be just as fabulous as it is dangerous. But it's not a place that can be found on any map. Welcome to a world of gun-toting, hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking fairies, elves, dwarfs, shifters, and witches, as well as human beings.
Welcome to Noir Fairy Tales.
Beldon Chase and Aura Dagger, of Chase and Dagger Detective Agency, are hired by Estin Ragg, a troll whose brother, Durif, was discovered dead under the 82nd Street Bridge. The coroner calls it a suicide, but Estin swears it was murder. The cops seem to be sitting on their hands because he’s a troll, and everyone knows how much trolls are castigated and despised in the realm.
Aura and Beldon are partners. He’s an ex-cop who was framed for something he didn’t do and kicked off the force. Soon after hanging out the shingle of his detective agency, he found Aura homeless in the streets after the death of her father. Something about the young woman touched him deep inside, and he took her in and trained her how to be a gumshoe.
They’re in love with each other, but it’s Beldon who’s put the skids on their relationship from becoming anything more than professional. Mostly because he's a Static, a man-beast unable to convert completely into a man or an animal.
As Bel and Aura are digging through clues as to whether or not someone killed Durif Ragg, their relationship comes to a head. Aura wants a commitment from Beldon. He would do anything to give it to her, but his own insecurities are holding him back.
Things eventually reach a breaking point when they discover who is actually behind Ragg’s death, and why. Which culminates in Aura giving Beldon a choice—either they make this a permanent partnership in all ways, or she takes a hike, leaving him and the detective agency.
Warning! Contains an ambush, foot chases, hoofprints, missing evidence, corruption, a slinky gold dress, and a perfect alignment that finally grants the wishes of the heart.