Tag Archives: #shortfiction

Salt And Sand In Her Heart (a short story)

 

 

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Closing her eyes, she stood gazing out over the waves, breathing in the tangy salty air.
Standing at the top of the sandy path, she could see a shimmer of heat rippling over the sand and knew that the walk down to the water’s edge was going to burn her soft bare feet. A flash of colour to her left caught her eye. It was a dragonfly, a sparkling teal green dragonfly. Smiling, she watched as it rested on one of the fence posts momentarily before darting off on its travels.
As quickly as she could, she crossed the soft Sahara hot sand, breathing a sigh of relief when her toes touched the harder packed damp sand closer to the water’s edge. Pausing for a moment, she recalled her first visit to Rehoboth Beach and smiled.
It had been the blistering hot summer of 1980 amid an at the time record breaking heatwave. A clear memory of arriving at their rental house for the week was of a nearby sign declaring that it was 98F and six thirty at night. Hot……damn hot. When her uncle had opened the side door of his VW bus, the heat had hit them all like a blast from an oven.
Their rental had been a stunning wooden house on the outskirts of town somewhere between Rehoboth and Dewey Beach. Its exact location long since lost to the memories of days gone by. Nights in that house had been hot as hell – no AC and beds as hard as boards. There hadn’t been much sleep on that trip for anyone.
Days, however, had been idyllic and were the days that had started her life long love affair with Rehoboth Beach. At only ten years old, she had loved the freedom of the beach and the ocean. Hours and days passed by building sandcastles, digging holes in the sand, gathering seashells and playing in the waves. Her pale white Scottish skin had swiftly taken on a healthy golden glow. The family’s picnic lunches had been supplemented by Thrasher’s French fries, carried so carefully back from the boardwalk.
Afternoons slipped by as she explored the beach, taking care not to stray too far from the family’s beach towel and umbrella oasis. Even back then she had enjoyed people watching as she wove her way between the other families, noting the different scents of their sun tan lotion and the different sand toys their kids played with. She had looked on enviously at the older kids playing in the waves on their boogie boards. Inwardly, she was desperate to join them but she couldn’t swim. Instead she had to settle for an ice cream from Kohr’s before they headed home for dinner and a much-needed shower.
Evenings meant a return trip into town to stroll along the boardwalk. After the daily scramble among them to round up enough quarters to feed the parking meter, she would finally be allowed to explore the shops on Rehoboth Avenue and along the boardwalk. Her favourites had always been the T-shirt stores where they printed whatever you wanted onto a shirt. They were shops that were a magical Aladdin’s cave to her ten-year-old self. The coloured hermit crabs in cages had fascinated her. Her meagre allowance was spent on pens and a snow globe with a dolphin inside.
One store, a shop on Rehoboth Avenue, caught her eye every night. It was a small jewellery store. Her attention had been captured by a tray of silver rings. There was one in particular that she had her eye on. It was smaller than the rest and was a delicate heart shape- half onyx; half mother-of-pearl. Nightly, she had begged her mother to buy the ring, pleading and promising that if she could borrow the money to pay for it, she would pay every cent back when they got home. On their final night in town, after a farewell pizza dinner at Grotto’s, her mother caved in and took her back to the jewellery store. The window had been rearranged and she recalled panicking when she couldn’t initially spot the ring. However, her mother spied it on display on the opposite side of the window before suggesting they enter the shop to try it on. The ring was a perfect fit for her middle finger. The perfect memento of the town that had captured her child’s heart.
Time and circumstance meant that thirty-four years passed before she was able to return to Rehoboth Beach. Over the years she had written essay after essay in school based of a now seemingly mythical beach. She’d drawn numerous pictures of beaches with dolphins playing in the waves. She’d almost driven her mother insane asking when they would go back to America. As she’d grown from child to teenager to woman to a wife and mother, she’d still dreamed of returning to the beach someday.
When that day finally came in 2004, the weather was a far cry from the blistering heatwave she remembered. A thunderstorm had blown in and the rain was lashing down as they’d run from her cousin’s beat up truck into Hooters for lunch. He had declared it was most definitely not a day for the beach! Not one to be thwarted, she’d stated plainly that she’d waited twenty-four years to walk on that sandy beach and a little rain wasn’t going to stop her. She’d also reminded him of the Scottish blood that flowed in her veins and of the fact that a little rain never deterred a Scot. He’d surrendered, knowing it was pointless to argue with her.
In the end, accompanied by her own two small children, she hadn’t stayed long on the beach – just long enough to run on the sand and paddle in the ocean. As the storm closed in again, she’d been granted a few brief moments to walk the boardwalk and relive her treasured childhood memories. To escape the mid-afternoon deluge, they’d sought sanctuary in Funland and whiled away the storm watching her young son and daughter play. As ever though, the quarters ran out and the meter ticked down until her precious “Rehoboth” time ran out.
Over the next few years, she’d returned annually with her children, savouring the moments on the sand and in the ocean. Making memories with her children was beyond precious. Every memory was filed away, stored carefully in her “memory bank” to be drawn out on cold miserable Scottish winter’s days. Her heart had swelled as her own children developed the same bonds that she felt with this tiny town some three thousand miles from home.
Now though, as she stood on the cool wet sand watching the waves, things were different. Her children were grown up and living their own lives. She’d finally seen her own literary dreams come true. Writing all those stories of the beach had finally paid off. Reaching into her pocket, she wrapped her fingers round the bunch of keys that she’d just collected from the realtor and smiled. She brought them out and stood looking at them lying in the palm of her hand. The keys to her new beach front apartment; the keys to her new dream home.
With a smile, she gazed at the ring on her pinkie, its band worn thin with time. She still wore the small onyx and mother-of-pearl heart shaped ring from all those years before.
Finally, in her heart, she knew she was home.

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Silently Watching One Week After The Buck Moon

dark-angel

One week later the air was heavy and muggy, a thunderstorm gathering overhead. As he jogged up the hill towards the graveyard, it matched his own mood. The first drops of rain fell as he climbed the steps into the cemetery. As he approached the tree, a bright flash of lightning lit up the dark sky, revealing the dark angel herself who was standing in the shadows.

“Well met, Son of Perran,” she greeted him formally as she stepped forward.

“Hey,” he replied forcing a smile. “Looks like we’re about to get wet.”

“Not at all,” she said stepping forward. “We’re leaving.”

Before he could protest, she swept her wings around him. The world went black and everything felt still.

When the world cam back into focus, he wasn’t surprised to find himself in the dark angel’s mausoleum home.

“Is this the way I’m going to have to exist?” he asked as he sat up and looked round. “This place feels different. Smells different.”

“It’s the oils,” replied the angel calmly.

“Oils?”

“Lavender and geranium,” replied the angel lifting a large box from a previously unnoticed niche by the door. “Take your shirt off.”

“Pardon?”

“Remove your shirt,” she said slowly and deliberately.

Without argument, he removed his running top, tossing it onto the stone bench. As he stood in the middle of the tomb, stripped to the waist, he was acutely aware of the angel’s gaze on his lean toned body.

“Enjoying the view?” he teased as she walked behind him.

Her green eyes dark and intense, she stared at him, the gaze boring into his soul. She moved round to stand directly behind him. She studied his back for a few moments then ran her cool hand over his shoulder blades. Tiny sparks of electricity pulsed through him as her cold fingers caressed his warm skin. He felt her pause and run her thumbs over the tips of his shoulder blades.

 

Taking a step back, the angel studied his smooth skin, tanned from the summer sun. At first, she couldn’t be sure and she thought for a moment that his luck had held then she noticed a slight circular discolouration. There were two patches of skin about two centimetres across that were a darker shade than the rest of the runner’s bronzed back.

“The buds are there,” she said quietly as moved round to face him.

“Buds?” He looked at her with a face filled with confusion.

“Your wing buds are forming.”

“Ah!”

“I have worked out a way to slow their development but you’re going to have to work out a way to administer the treatment on your own,” she explained, her tone serious. “How are you with pain?”

“I’m tough. I can take it,” he replied, sounding calmer than he felt.

“Each of the phials in that box contains an oil that you are going to have to use once a month. I can only stall the development for so long. This treatment had to be prepared in a single batch. I cannot make any more. There are three hundred phials in the box for you. Do not break any. Do not drop any. These are the only ones in existence.”

Glancing into the cardboard box, he saw that it was filled with slender phials containing a dark liquid.

“I’ll administer the first dose,” the dark angel explained pointing to a larger phial that lay on a black velvet cloth on the bench alongside her ornate knife. “I need to ensure that I treat the centre of the buds. I’ll make the first cuts. You will then use the same holes each month.”

“Holes?”

The angel nodded, the white streak of her hair almost shimmering in the candlelight.

“Wait a minute,” he stalled sounding anxious. “What’s the plan here?”

“The phials contain an infusion of horse chestnut bark, lavender oil, geranium oil and thyme plus a few other items. The oil needs to be poured into the centre of each bud once a month and the wounds covered with the moss that’s at the bottom of the box. The moss has been treated with the infusion. You’ll only use a couple of strands at a time.”

“And how a I going to explain two holes covered in moss on my back to my wife?” he demanded sharply.

“You like to decorate your body. You’ll get another tattoo across your upper back. The holes will be lost in the design,” explained the angel calmly.

“Oh, will I?” he retorted. “And I assume you’ve picked the design for me too?”

“I’ve designed it for you,” she replied calmly. “The design is part of the enchantment. It needs to be identical to the drawing inside the box.”

Before he could protest further, the angel reached into the box and pulled out a single sheet of paper with a Celtic design expertly drawn on it. Looking at the detail in it, he wasn’t averse to having it inked across his back. There were two points in the design where there was an obvious cross over and he deduced that those would mark the spots that matched the holes.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll get it done. I’ll get someone at work to recommend a place. That won’t be cheap to get that inked.”

“There’s money in the box to cover the cost.”

“Thought of everything, haven’t you?”

Lifting the knife, the angel said, “I hope so.”

With the knife poised over his smooth skin, the angel asked, “Are you ready?”

“Go for it.”

“This is going to hurt.”

“Just do it.”

As the sharp tip of the blade bit into his skin, he flinched but never utters a sound. When she pierced the second hole, he was ready for it.

“This will burn,” she said as she picked up the large phial. “Really burn.”

“How am I meant to get tattooed if the skin is burnt?” he asked.

“The skin won’t be burnt. This will burn inside you. It will feel like fire.”

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists as the angel poured the liquid into the two open wounds on his back. Pain ricocheted through him as the liquid worked its way around the nubs of his wings.

“Christ!” he yelled as the heat intensified.

“Almost finished,” promised the angel rubbing some strands of the pale green moss into the wounds. Instantly the pain stopped spreading and began to ease. “Done.”

“Whew!” he said rolling his shoulders stiffly.

“Well done. You handled that well,” she praised with a smile. “Guard that box with your life. One phial is enough for both buds. One phial once a month. When the phials run out then we have to last nature take its course.”

Pulling his running vest back on, he nodded.

“These should last you about twenty-five years if you don’t smash any.”

“I’ll be an old man by then,” he joked lifting the box.

“No, you won’t, Son of Perran,” she countered. “You’ll look exactly the same as you do just now. You’ve not aged one day since your transformation. Time will be kind to you.”

“Ok so how do I pour that stuff in on my own?”

“You’ll find a way. Pierce the holes open first then pour in the infusion.”

“Not quite the DIY I had planned but I’ll figure something out,” he muttered. “And I’ll get that ink done.”

“Get it done this weekend. It should then be healed before the next full moon if you can.”

“Fine,” he agreed bluntly. “Any more orders?”

The angel smiled and shook her head. “You can find your own way home from here.”

She pushed open the door of the mausoleum to reveal the dark stormy night outside. “Follow the path to the right.”

“Till next time,” he said as he headed for the door.

“Soon, Son of Perran. Soon.”

 

Over the years the box had sat on the second top shelf at the back of the garage. Its contents steadily dwindling as the months and years passed. In the box, wrapped in an old t-shirt, was apiece of wood with two nails driven straight through it, their tips sticking out proudly. Those tips had been filed until they were needle sharp and had been sterilised until they now shone silvery in the light of the garage.

Carefully he hung the piece of wood on the nail on the garage wall, making sure it was level. He unbuttoned his short and laid it on the bonnet of his car then lifted the last glass phial out of the box.

With well-practiced ease, he stepped back and leaned his full weight against the piece of wood, feeling the nails piercing their target for the final time.

 

(Image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

 

 

 

Silently Watching At The Buck Moon

dark-angel

Blind fury surged through his veins as he pounded out some long, angry miles along the trails behind his village home. He could feel the blood burning through his lean body. By running hard and fast, he was trying to distract himself from the cries of the Rabbia Sanguigna. His changeling soul was screaming for blood.

It had been an infuriating day from the moment he’d opened his eyes. Breakfast has been beyond chaotic as the kids had been fractious, each squabbling with their siblings over nothing. The family cat depositing a live bird in the middle of the kitchen hadn’t helped matters. He’d left with his daughter’s shrieks of hysteria echoing through his mind.

A white pebble had sat on the wiper blade of the car when he’d left to go to work. He was being summoned. His intention was to end his evening run with a visit to the graveyard.

A long hot day in the office hadn’t helped. There were new members in his team and his boss had buddied him up with one of them. The guy was a “know-it-all” who knew nothing and talked crap all day. Despite his best efforts to calmly walk him through the correct processes, his colleague knew a better way to do everything. After lunch, he’d adopted his “fuck it” approach and left the guy to it. He’d emailed his boss to express his concerns over the less experienced team member’s attitude to following documented processes and his understanding of the importance of complying to regulation then left for the day.

Over the months, he’d noticed that it proved more challenging to control the urges associated with the Rabbia Sanguigna around the time of the full moon. For four or five days his already heightened senses were on edge and the least little thing sparked the urge for blood. The dark angel had tried to teach him how to control the desires and how to prepare for them to lessen the effects but, four months down the line, the blood from his mother had long since worn off and none of the techniques were working.

Up ahead, at the side of the road, he spotted a cyclist standing beside his bike studying the front wheel. His sensitised nasal passages caught a whiff of blood in the air.

“Hey, everything alright?” he asked as he approached. It looked as though the cyclist had crashed. Blood was trickling from cuts on his arm and thigh and he was holding his arm protectively over his ribs.

“Car clipped me,” explained the cyclist through gritted teeth. “Think I’ve broken my collar bone and some ribs. Bike’s wrecked. Wheel’s twisted.”

Glancing round, the runner noted there was no one in sight. His blossoming vampire urges seized control. In a split second, before either of them had had time to think, he stepped towards the injured cyclist, reached out as if to help him then sunk his teeth into the ripe throbbing vein in his neck.

The clean vibrant human blood flowed into his veins tasting divine. He drank deeply.

It hadn’t been his intention to drain him dry but, before he realised what he was doing, the cyclist crumpled at his feet. His eyes were open and glazed.

He’d killed him.

He’d made his first human kill.

His satiated blood ran cold. What had he done?

 

 

A crimson sunset was lighting up the sky as he ran up the steps into the quiet cemetery. His earlier blind fury had been replaced by blind panic and he prayed the angel was waiting by the tree.

“Care to explain yourself, Son of Perran!” she hissed in his ear as he walked towards their usual meeting point.

“Jesus!” he yelped. He hadn’t heard or felt her approach.

“Careless! Messy! Sloppy!” she berated him angrily. “Have you learned nothing from me? What were you thinking about? You never even attempted to cover your tracks!”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled staring down at his feet.

“Too late for sorry!”

“I lost control. My blood’s been burning all day. I hunted last night but I was so thirsty. He was bleeding…” he faltered. “I didn’t mean to kill him. I meant to stop like you explained. Leave him alive.”

“But you didn’t!” raged the angel, her green eyes blazing with fury. “Fortunately for you I was nearby and smelled the blood. I’ve covered your track this time. Heed me well, Son of Perran, this is the only time!”

“I’m sorry,” he repeated quietly, feeling like a child being chastised by its mother.

“You will be,” she muttered, her voice a little calmer. “Think! Was the moon visible while you drank from him?”

“No idea.”

“Oh,” sighed the angel, her voice ringing with exasperation. “What have you started?”

“How’d you mean?”

“There is no going back for you now.”

“No going back where?”

“You may have just made your first human kill under the rising of the full moon. The Buck Moon at that, you fool!”

His dark brown eyes suddenly filled with fear, the runner stared at her.

“Sit,” instructed the angel, indicating their usual bench beside the tree.

Without complaint, he sat down and watched as she took a seat beside him, angling herself in such as a way as to prevent there being any damage to her majestic wings.

“The full moon always acts as a catalyst. It strengthens the effect of things. It speeds up the changes. It enhances the desires. It heightens the senses,” she began calmly. “Some full moons have different effects. That’s why I wanted to speak to you. To warn you about the dangers of tonight’s full moon. I knew you’d hunted last night. I thought there was time….”

“Time for what? What dangers?” he interrupted.

“The Buck Moon is powerful, Son of Perran. Have you drunk your mugwort today?”

A realisation dawned on the runner. He hadn’t taken his mugwort tea for three days.

“No,” he confessed. “And I might have missed a day or two.”

“Missed a day or two?” echoed the angel sharply. “Golden rule, Son of Perran. That was one of your golden rules!”

“Sorry.”

“Stop apologising,” she snapped. “It’s too late for apologies. If there’s been damage done, it’s too late to stop it.”

“Stop what?” His tone was sharper and more demanding than he’d intended.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, the angel said, “By making your first human kill under the light of a full moon, you have increased your body’s need and desire for human blood. Animal blood may no longer satiate your thirsts. You, Son of Perran, have made yourself a killer.”

With his head in his hands, the runner sat trembling. What had he done?

“That’s only part of it,” continued the angel. “The Buck Moon is so named as it’s the moon that marks the time when young male deer start to develop their antlers. For our kind, it’s the moon when wings are most likely to bud. I had been going to warn you to double up on the mugwort for the next few days but it’s too late for that now.”

“Fuck,” he muttered.

All of his worst nightmares were gathering in front of him and becoming a cold harsh reality.

“Now what do I do?” he asked when he was finally able to speak.

“For a start, double up on the mugwort for a week. If your wings are going to bud, you’ll feel it by the end of the week.”

“I can’t grow fucking wings!” he growled. “How will I explain them?”

“There may be a way to slow their growth,” she said slowly, “If they bud.”

“Great! More hocus pocus!”

“Quiet,” she cautioned sternly. “How you feed is now a more pressing issue.”

“Why?”

“Have you listened to a thing I’ve said?”

Gazing at him with almost motherly concern, the angel wanted to reach out to reassure her fledgling at the same time as she wanted to scream and yell at him for his stupidity. Her own anger was rising and she knew if she didn’t hunt soon, she’d lose her temper with him.

“Son of Perran, I’ll be blunt. Your impetuous meal tonight has ensured that you’ll need human blood at least once a week to survive. You might want to work out a plan on how you are going to find the source of your sustenance!”

“Once a week? I’ll need to kill once a week?”

“Not necessarily kill if you can master the art of restraint,” she said.

“I’ve really fucked this up, haven’t I?”

“Succinctly put,” she said getting to her feet. “Go home. Drink your mugwort then drink some more. Keep your temper in check. Meet me here one week from tonight.”

Before he could reply, she’d spread her majestic wings and vanished from sight.

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

A Little Christmas Eve Tale…

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Happy Christmas Eve, folks. Amidst the chaos of shopping and wrapping and cooking I hope you find time to enjoy this festive tale.

When I was seeking inspiration for this week’s blog I decided to use a writing prompt and to come up with a festive short story instead of a blog moaning about the mania that surrounds Christmas shopping. The prompt words I chose were  “a party dress and an ugly sweater.”

And here’s the result….    happy reading and a very Merry Christmas when it comes.

love and hugs to you all

Coral

 

A Party Dress, An Ugly Sweater And A Christmas Surprise

“How did I let myself get talked into this?” she asked her reflection in the mirror.

She hated Christmas parties, hated corporate Christmas parties even more. She hated getting all dressed up. She hated feeling as if she was on display. And boy when she walked into that function suite would she be on display!

Amid flurries of snow, she had arrived deliberately early, checked into her room under an alias and then spent all afternoon sitting gazing out of the huge picture window at the view of the beach and the ocean. How she longed to walk along the sand but she daren’t risk bumping into anyone who would recognise her. She had procrastinated all afternoon until at five o’clock she surrendered that she had to start getting ready.

Now, two hours later, she was sitting at the dressing table gazing into the mirror.

Her midnight blue dress was a perfect fit, it’s empress line flattering to her figure. A narrow diamante outline accentuated her full breasts, the deep V of the neckline revealing just enough cleavage. Her long sun-bleached hair had been coaxed into soft ringlet curls. Her make up natural, the eyeshadow emphasising the blue of her eyes.

Behind her on the bed lay her silver evening purse and her phone. A green flashing light indicated she had a least one message. Her heart told her it was from him.

Lifting the hem of her dress, she slipped her feet into her silver ballet pumps. Common sense had overruled her love of spike heels and she had reluctantly packed her flats in her suitcase that morning.

Taking a deep breath, she gazed one last time into the mirror.

“It’s now or never,” she said to her reflection.

As she crossed the room to lift her phone, her gaze fell on the chair by the window and the ugly sweater she had been curled up in all afternoon. His ugly sweater.

She’d had it since Easter. She’d had it since the last time she’d seen him before he left to go on tour. She’d had it since they had spent a blissful week together in this very hotel, spending most of it in bed together hiding from the paparazzi. Every time they had left the hotel to enjoy a walk along the beach, they had been followed. Every time they had gone out to dinner, they had been followed. After three days they had given up and stayed in their hotel room, a penthouse suite, and lived off sex and room service.

On their last morning together, he’d wakened her before five, instructed her to wear his big ugly sweater then, with baseball caps pulled down low to hide their faces, they had crept out of the hotel to walk along the beach to watch the sunrise. They had sat snuggled together on the sand watching the first light of dawn and marvelled together at the splendour of the colours of sunrise. They had kissed. They had promised to keep in touch daily. They had promised to meet up at the record label’s Christmas party.

He had left a few hours later to tour Europe, Asia and Australia for eight months. She had re-joined her band, finished their US tour then headed into the studio to record their fourth album. Closeted away in a remote mountain studio she had kept out of the public eye. It had kept her out of sight of the paparazzi who hounded her.

She had kept her promises to him. They had messaged daily. They had spoken most days as their schedules and time differences allowed. There had been a few brief Skype calls too. Every call ended the same way.

“Counting the days till December 23rd.”

Now, here she was back in the hotel keeping her final promise.

With her hand trembling, she picked up her phone. The message was from him. In fact, there were six of them. The last one read “It’s December 23rd. Where are you? I thought we had a date, angel?”

Guilt washed through her for ignoring her phone all afternoon.

“On my way down. See you in a few minutes. X” she typed quickly before nerves got the better of her.

She slipped her phone and the key card into her purse then glanced round the room. Her eyes lingered on the ugly sweater and she smiled anxiously, wishing she was still wrapped in its warmth.

Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she smoothed out the soft fabric of her dress and left the room.

 

The hotel’s main function suite was crowded, a veritable sea of tuxedos and ball gowns of every shade. Wearing his own newly purchased tux, he stood at the bar keeping an eye on the doorway, hungry for his first sight of her.

With a smile he remembered the last time he had visited the hotel, recalling the days secreted away in his suite. His loins twitched at the memory. The key card to the same suite was in his pocket and, ever the optimist, he hoped they could pick up where they’d left off. In his other pocket his fingers played anxiously with a small token that he had bought for her. In his mind, he had the entire weekend mapped out, including Christmas morning.

Suddenly he saw her.

For a few seconds she paused in the doorway, her sapphire blue eyes scanning the room. She looked stunning. Unlike the other celebrities that filled the room, her beauty looked natural. He caught a glimpse of her bare tanned shoulders, nothing fake about her skin tone.

Setting his drink down, he made his way through the guests to greet her.

 

A wave of anxiety swept through her as she entered the crowded room. Already around her she could hear the whispers and feel all eyes on her.

Where was he?

She turned her back on the room, ready to retreat to the hotel foyer when she heard his voice.

“Anna.”

Taking a deep breath, she turned round and found herself face to face with him.

“Anna!” he exclaimed.

“Ben,” she whispered, forcing a nervous smile.

“You’re….” he began lost for words and struggling not to state the obvious. “Pregnant.”

“Just a bit,” replied Anna with a nervous giggle.

“Pregnant?” he repeated loudly no longer able to hide his shocked expression.

Around them their fellow guests were staring. A small space had opened up around them.

“Eight and a half months pregnant to be exact,” said Anna struggling to remain calm. “I didn’t know how to….”

“No!” he yelled sharply. “No. No. No.”

“Ben?”

“This wasn’t meant to happen, Anna.”

The words were out before his brain had thought them through.

Her blue eyes filled with tears. Without another word, she fled from the room.

 

The crowd closed in around him and before Ben could push his way through Anna had vanished. Pacing the foyer, searching for her, he cursed himself for being so stupid, so insensitive. She was nowhere to be seen. Knowing that she wouldn’t have returned to the party, he figured she’d have gone to her room but which one was she in? Hoping that his celebrity charm would work, Ben approached the reception desk to check which room Anna was in. His enquiry was met with a strict “guest confidentiality” reply. Resorting to the “don’t you know who I am?” card, Ben tried to coerce the information from the receptionist.

“Mr Storm, I know who you are but I still can’t tell you which room a guest is staying in. I suggest you call your friend and have her meet you.”

Angrily he turned away from the desk before he vented his frustrations on the girl.

A flash of colour caught his eye over by the entrance. He’d know that pattern anywhere! It was the sweater Anna had pinched from him. By the time he reached the front steps of the hotel, she’d vanished from sight into the cold dark December night. He had to find her! Slowly he walked down the white polished steps of the plush ocean front hotel, trying to decide which way she would have gone. Beach? It was the obvious answer but would she venture down there in the dark? Would she risk going down there alone and pregnant at night? In his heart he knew she would.

 

Tears were blinding her as she stumbled along the beach in the dark. Cold sand had filled her silver pumps within seconds of fleeing from the hotel. She had known Ben would be surprised but she had never imagined the horrified look on his face that she had seen when he saw her bump. She knew she should’ve come clean and told him about the baby months ago but she hadn’t been able to find the right words at the right time. Their relationship had barely been four months old when she’d fallen pregnant; their schedules for the year had already been packed with work commitments leaving little room to spend time together.

A sharp pain in her side caused her to stop. Breathing heavily after practically running from the hotel, Anna carefully lowered herself down onto the soft sand. She’d been lucky to enjoy an easy healthy pregnancy so far but with less than two weeks to go to her due date her baby bump was huge and low and heavy. At her last pre-natal appointment earlier in the week she had been warned that the baby could come at any time. Sitting cross legged, facing the ocean, Anna focussed on her breathing in an effort to calm herself down. Stress and anxiety weren’t good for her or the baby. She could feel it shifting restlessly and a few strong kicks thumped into her already tender ribcage.

Rubbing her swollen belly, Anna whispered, “Sorry, little bean. Daddy wasn’t exactly thrilled to see us.”

Fresh tears flowed down her cheeks as she listened to the waves crashing in onto the beach in dark.

 

There she was! He breathed a sigh of relief, marvelling at how far along the beach she had come in such a short space of time. In the pale moonlight, she was a picture of fragile beauty. Even from this distance he could tell she was crying. He knew he was the cause of those tears and he felt consumed by guilt. Stress couldn’t be good for her or the baby and he hated that he’d caused it. She looked cute wearing his ugly sweater over her chiffon dress. With a smile forming on his lips, he gazed at her large baby bump. It looked like a leftover Halloween pumpkin resting in her lap from this angle. Then it hit him…. that bump was his baby, his son or daughter. In a few days he’d be a daddy. Subconsciously, he found himself hoping it was a little girl.

He was going to be a daddy…. if Anna would let him.

 

“Anna?”

She hadn’t heard him approach and looked up like a startled rabbit.

“I’m sorry. I acted like a total jerk back there,” he apologised softly. “Can we talk?”

Silently, she nodded.

Gracefully, he sat down on the sand beside her then reached out to touch her hand that was resting on top of her firm belly.

“You ok?”

“Not really,” she replied, her voice barely more than a whisper. “I should’ve told you but I didn’t know how. Everything was so good between us. I didn’t want to ruin that. The longer I left it, the harder it got.”

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“I don’t know. I never asked.”

“Guess we’ll find out soon,” he said putting his arm around her shoulders. “I am so sorry about earlier. I had this whole holiday worked out in my head. Had it all planned. That plan’s been what’s been keeping me going these last few weeks. The tour’s been tough. Seeing you. Seeing you pregnant… well, I guess I panicked. Over reacted.”

“Are you still mad at me?” asked Anna gazing up at him with tear filled blue eyes.

“No, angel, I’m not mad at you. I’m pissed at myself for not realising, for upsetting you, for embarrassing you back there.”

With a giggle, she said, “I’m guessing our social media feeds have lit up like a Christmas tree.”

“Probably,” agreed Ben. “But I don’t care. Let them talk. I just want you to be ok. Want us to be ok.”

“You sure you still want to be seen with me like this?” she asked, her hint of sarcasm not lost on him.

“Forever.”

“I don’t want to be pregnant forever,” she said, smiling at him. “I’m about done with carrying this little bean around.”

“How does it feel? I mean, isn’t it strange to have a little human in there?”

Taking his hand, she pressed it to her belly then moved it a little lower. His eyes widened as he felt the baby, their baby, kick for the first time.

“Wow!”

“Quite something isn’t it?”

He nodded as the baby kicked out again.

Together, they sat in silence, listening to the waves.

 

Beside him, Anna began to shiver. A quick glance at his watch told him they’d been sitting there for hours. It was after eleven.

“Let’s head back,” suggested Ben. “You’re cold.”

Reluctantly, she nodded then allowed him to help her to her feet. As she shook the sand from her dress, he smiled at how beautiful she looked. Everything about Anna was always perfect and it didn’t surprise him that she had grown a perfect, if larger than average, rounded baby bump.  In the moonlight she looked like a goddess.

With his arm protectively around her waist, they walked slowly back towards the hotel.

As they had both feared, the paparazzi were still swarming about the front of the hotel. Hand in hand, the celebrity couple stared straight ahead and walked purposefully through the sea of flashbulbs, ignoring the cries of “Anna!”, “Reuben!”, “When’s the baby due?”, “Anna, is it Reuben’s?”

By the time they crossed the foyer and reached the elevator, there were fresh tears in Anna’s eyes and she was trembling.

“You ok, angel?” asked Ben as the doors of the elevator closed. “You’re safe now.”

“I just hate getting caught like that by those guys. I can just see the headlines now,” she said forcing a smile. “Comes with the territory though I guess.”

Anxiously Ben watched as she placed her hand under her bump as if she were holding it up.

“You sure you’re ok?”

“I’m fine. Baby’s fine,” she assured him. “You might be surprised to hear that this bump is quite heavy to carry around. I’m tired. It’s been a long day.” She paused then said, “We’ve passed my floor.”

“Have we?” said Ben trying to act innocently. “Guess we’ll just need to go to my room then.”

“Ben, I’m exhausted,” protested Anna softly.

“Spare me an hour, angel. Half an hour even. Please?”

“Half an hour then I’m going to bed.”

“Deal.”

As if on cue, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Slowly Ben led her along the short corridor to the door of his suite. He slipped his hand into his pocket to check if his gift for her was still there. It was. Chivalrously, he opened the door then stood aside to allow Anna to enter first.

She gasped when she saw the room. It was beautifully decorated in silver and red. A huge Christmas tree stood by the window, several small beautifully wrapped packages stacked underneath it. Beside the couch sat a champagne bucket and two crystal champagne flutes.

“Did you have this all planned?” quizzed Anna as he guided her over to the sumptuous cream leather couch.

“I had something planned,” confessed Ben sitting down beside her. Resting his hand on her belly he added, “I think you win for surprises though.”

“You sure you’re ok about…” her question was lost as Ben’s lips me hers.

He kissed her slowly and passionately, trying to ignore the hardening bulge in his pants. Sex would have to wait he suspected. She tasted so good though. Seeing her in the glittering fairy lights of the room made her even more desirable. All he wanted to do was make love to her on that leather couch.

Digging deep for some restraint, Ben said, “Champagne?”

“I shouldn’t,” replied Ann, rubbing the side of her bump. “Oh, what the hell! Half a glass can’t hurt, right?”

“I’d say it was medicinal in the circumstances.”

Glancing at the time, Ben noted he was right on cue with his original plan. Expertly he opened the chilled bottle of Moet and part filled both glasses.

Right on the stroke of midnight, he handed her the flute.

“Happy Christmas Eve, beautiful,” he toasted, raising his glass to hers.

“Happy Christmas Eve,” she echoed, aware of a sudden sharp tight feeling across her stomach.

Taking a sip from the glass, Anna noticed something at the bottom of it. Squinting through the bubbles she saw it was a diamond ring.

“Ben?”

Moving to kneel in front of her, Ben cleared his throat, took her hand in his and said softly, “Will you marry me, Anna?”

Tears filling her eyes, Anna said “Yes,” as she felt a weird popping sensation then a wetness spreading between her thighs. Just as a contraction began to build, she added, “But I think we’re about to have a baby first. My waters just broke.”

“What?”

“Ben, we’re having a Christmas baby.”

Laughing, Ben raised his glass, “Who needs wise men with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We’ve got gold, champagne and sand.”

“And your ugly sweater,” giggled Anna.

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November Newsletter

Hi,
Welcome to this month’s newsletter
Since we last spoke, Book Baby 5 has been my primary focus and it continues to take shape slowly. Having relocated to my new writing corner in the family living room, I am still trying to get into a new writing rhythm. Our living room is usually quite a quiet and empty space, apart from an occasional sleeping cat or two or three…. (I have four in total for those who don’t know) However, since I established my cosy little writing corner, it has become a popular spot!

20181128_193536

Book Baby 5 has moved into the second notebook phase of writing (a full Silver Lake novel usually takes four or five so you can gauge for yourselves how far through it I am) I plan to start the typing marathon in January and will split my creative time between writing and typing to try to spare the pain that hours of typing causes. (Physical pain – I’ve got tendon issues with my left hand)

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As we move into December, I have a series of book giveaways planned so keep an eye on my author Facebook page for Secret Santa Saturdays in December.

Here’s the link:
https://www.facebook.com/coralmccallumauthor/

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Some of you might already know this but I also write a music blog. It’s no secret that I love my music and love going to shows. I have three coming up in December so my music blog is set to get a bit of attention.

If you want to read about some of the shows I’ve been to this year and in previous years, here’s the link:
https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/

I also hope to have a “guest” writer on my blog in December. I’m not giving any hints/clues but I think you’ll enjoy the short story that they have to share with you. This is something I hope to do more of as we move into 2019. Would you be interested in seeing a “guest” around here once a month or so? Are you interested in being a “guest”? If so, please message me.

If you have any questions for me about writing, about the books, about my blog or are perhaps interested in reviewing the books, please leave a comment below or message me via my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/coralmccallumauthor/?ref=bookmarks
If there’s anything you would like to see included in future newsletters, please let me know.
Thanks for all the ongoing love and support. It is very much appreciated and helps keep the fires of creative motivation burning.

Have a beautiful day and happy reading

Coral x

Book links:
Ellen
Amazon.com link

Amazon.co.uk link

Silver Lake Series
Amazon.com links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C0GS30K
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

Amazon.co.uk links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

Reflections On A Creative Journey…

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I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on my “creative journey” among other things. This reflection was triggered by a question during a brief interview with a journalist from the local paper. (My first ever face to face interview and I don’t mind admitting I was a nervous wreck). The journalist asked me how long I’d been writing for.

Now, that should have been an easy question to answer but the genuine answer is that I don’t know. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. As soon as I could string a sentence together, I wanted to write stories. Fact.

This got me thinking (oh, no…. here she goes again….) It got me thinking about the various pieces I’ve shared on here over the past four and a half years.

Something I rarely do is re-blog past articles. The initial challenge I set myself at the end of 2013 was to write at least one blog post per week to get over my fear of letting people read what I write. I’ve risen to that challenge every week since so I think this week I will allow myself a moment of reflection on past blogs. Who knows some of these you may have missed along the way…

 

I might as well start at the beginning.

 I remember being terrified posting this

 https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/deep-breaths-and-begin/

All the fears- could I do this? Would folk laugh at what I wrote? Would anyone read what I wrote? Would I be able to write something new every week?

 

I’ve played games with my blog – the Glad Game-

 https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/what-makes-you-smile/

 

I’ve picked favourites-

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/08/

 

I’ve seen some RnR dreams come true…several…but this was the first

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/a-green-triangle-to-paradise-city-dreams-do-come-true/

 

I’ve introduced characters from my book babies. Remember the first time I introduced Jake Power? No? well, it was here.

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/fiction-short-stuff/him/

 

I’ve shared poems

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/poems/private-bubble/

 

I’ve shared confessions

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/cluttered-confessions/

 

I’ve shared beach analogies …. have I mentioned that I love the beach?

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/an-hour-at-the-beach-a-day-keeps-the-blues-away/

 

I’ve written some flash fiction

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/in-the-heart-of-the-book-1000-word-flash-fiction/

 

I’ve written some erotic fiction

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/twisted-silk-a-dark-tale-adult-content/

 

And I’ve shared some serialised short fiction. For some reason, this dark angel had proved to be a popular lady. I first introduced her here:

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/silently-watching-a-short-story/

 

It’s been a creative journey of experimentation and self- discovery. Along the way, I’ve self-published the first three books in the Silver Lake series and am on the brink of releasing my fourth book baby aka Ellen in a few days.

Have I overcome the fear of letting people read what I write? Not entirely. Some blogs are easier to share than others. Nerves set in big style when the release date of a book baby looms on the horizon. My stomach flutters and somersaults every time I press “publish” on here.

Have I enjoyed the journey so far? YES! Every word of it.

I hope you have too. Thanks for sharing this long and winding journey with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silently Watching on the Blessing Moon

dark angel

 

Midgies were swarming in thick black clouds as he ran back along his trail route towards the road. A warm, damp July evening was the perfect breeding ground for these tiny, vicious, bloodsucking creatures. Focusing on the music playing through his earbuds and on the uneven path in front of him, he did his best to ignore the myriad of miniscule flies that his sweat was attracting. 

In the shade of a tall oak tree that grew on the corner where the trail met the single-track farm road, the dark angel stood waiting and listening. From a distance she had watched him set off on his run and now she was patiently awaiting his return.

It was time to get her answer.

Four months had passed since she had offered him his choice and she had deliberately given him time and space to consider his options. Twice, when she had watched him pounding the forestry trails from a discrete distance, she had almost approached him but her will power had remained steadfast.

However, time was running out and, if he were to choose transformation, the ideal opportunity was a mere seven days away.

The steady rhythm of his feet on the stony path and the rattle of that infernal noise that he called music brought her attention back to the present.

As she breathed in her nostrils were filled with the tantalisingly arousing aroma of his blood and sweat.

 With the oak tree in sight, he picked up his pace, promising himself a hard, fast last mile home. A sharp pain in his tooth and a throbbing at his neck caused him to miss and almost stumble.

She was close.

He hadn’t seen or sensed the dark angel since their meeting on Easter Monday when she had offered him his choice of future. Over the months, he had thought long and hard about the options, weighing up the pros and cons. He had found himself lying awake in the wee small hours contemplating how life would look if he decided to take up her offer. During his all too brief lunch breaks at work and while out pounding the trails, he had worked out various ways to kills her. He’d wasted hours Googling “how to kill a vampire”.

As the tree grew closer, he realised he’d never once tried Googling “how to live as a vampire.”

When he next looked up, he wasn’t surprise to see her silhouette before him.

“Hey,” he greeted her somewhat breathlessly.

With a nod of her head, she smiled then said, “Well met, son of Perran.”

“I guess.”

“Turn off that noise,” she instructed sharply. “It pains me.”

Laughing quietly to himself, he paused his rock playlist and flicked the earbuds out of his ears, allowing them to rest over his slender shoulders.

“I need your answer.”

“Now?”

“Now,” she repeated. “Depending on your final choice, there are preparations to be made and time is short.”

He could feel her green eyes boring into his very soul as she stood facing him in the fading, dusky sunlight. Gently, her wings rustling softly, she took a step towards him.

“Well, what’s it to be, son of Perran?”

“Can I ask something before I give you my answer?” He was stalling for time and they both knew it.

“If you must,” she replied with a sigh then, indicating a small path no wider than a sheep trail, she said, “Walk with me.”

Without argument, he followed her, marvelling at how gracefully she moved. Once they were out of sight of the farm road, she turned and said, “Ask what you must?”

“If I let you change me…. let you make me like you….. how will I be able to live as normal? Won’t I need to kill things and drink blood?”

The words tumbled out and he suddenly felt that his questions where childish and idiotic.

“It’s all about balance, son of Perran,” she began, her tone that of a school teacher. “Your transformation can be partially done at first. If you choose that path then you will need some blood to thrive but I will be here to provide for you, to teach you and assist you until you learn how to care for yourself. If you drink your blood rations then you won’t need to kill. I promise you will only need to kill for survival if you change your mind and opt to be fully transformed. As you have a young family, I’d advise against full transformation for several years. A child’s blood is so tempting and you won’t have learned the skills to resist.”

“I’d want to kill my own kids?”

“You might,” she replied calmly.

Her words sent icy shivers down his spine. Picturing his three children, he couldn’t even begin to contemplate hurting one of them never mind killing them and drinking their blood!

“And if I choose to kill you, how will I do it?”

“I don’t believe that’s the option you will choose,” she replied sounding calmly confident.

Silence hung in the air as they stared at each other.

 Watching the vein at his neck pulsing, the angel tried to read his mind. Her instincts were screaming at her that he was about to choose transformation but his facial expression was giving nothing away. Gazing into his dark brown eyes and wishing that they weren’t blood related, she waited on him reaching a decision.

“Will transformation hurt?” he asked quietly.

“No,” she replied. “Not the way I have planned. You may suffer a mild stomach ache but nothing worse than that.”

“What differences will I notice in myself?”

“Many. Too many to explain and they are impossible to predict. To everyone around you though you will still be the same man.”

A horsefly landed on his arm and bit him before he could swat it away.

One tiny drop of blood oozed up. He noticed the dark angel twitch as she fought to resist the delectable drop of poison.

“I need your answer,” she said keeping her eyes locked on his.

Biting his lower lip, he paused then said, “Transformation.”

“Partial transformation?”

He nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

“An agreeable choice,” she acknowledged with a smile.

“Now what happens?”

“You finish your run and go home,” replied the angel. “Meet me one week from now in the graveyard. It must be after the moon has risen so around midnight.”

“What’s the moon got to do with it?” he asked curiously.

“Your transformation will be blessed under the full moon,” she replied. “July’s full moon has two names. Some call it the Meadow Moon. Others prefer its ancient name of Blessing Moon.”

“Ah……”

“Till next week, son of Perran.”

With one strong beat of her wings, she was gone.

 

Alone once more, he gazed around him wondering where she had disappeared to. The pain in his tooth was gone. His neck was no longer throbbing. Gently, he reached up and touched the spot where the angel’s fang tip was embedded. His fingertips were instantly coated in fresh blood.

As he turned for home, he wondered for the first time if he had made a wise choice.

 

Alone in the mausoleum, the dark angel began the detailed preparations for the runner’s transformation. Since learning his decision, she had scoured the areas for the items she needed to ensure the ceremony went smoothly and painlessly. Sourcing some of the items had been easy. Others had proved more difficult. Three specific crystals were also needed and finding those had proved to be the greatest challenge. Late on the day before the full moon, the dark angel ventured further afield. Her instincts led her to a small New Age shop in a village some twenty miles from her home. Biding her time, she had waited until the owner, a young woman with long, thick red hair had moved to shut the shop. As she had reached to turn the “open” sign to “closed”, the dark angel had swooped in. The shopkeeper’s death was swift and painless; her blood had proved to be surprisingly refreshing. To the dark angel, it had tasted clean and clear and pure. A virgin’s blood. A rare, very rare treat indeed.

The shop proved to be a treasure-trove of valuable objects. Lifting a large canvas tote bag from a hook on the wall she took her time filling it with crystals and other items that she could put to use. Behind the counter, she found some small velvet drawstring bags. Selecting a few of differing colours, she added them to the tote. Almost as an after thought, the angel lifted some incense and candles then left the shop.

 

As the sun set on the day of the full moon, the dark angel laid out the items she needed for the transformation along one of the stone benches. Anticipating how the evening would pan out, she lit two fragranced candles to improve the aroma in the confined space.

 

Standing in his back garden with a mug of coffee, the runner watched the sky turn gold to red, blood red, as the sun set. Despite the summer warmth, a chill rattled down his spine. There were less than three hours to go until he was scheduled to meet the angel. Much to his own surprise, he felt calm about the impending appointment. Since giving her his decision, he had on occasion pondered if he’d made the right choice. Not being of an angry or aggressive nature, he couldn’t contemplate killing her. There had really only ever been one choice.

 

An owl hooted in the trees to his right as he walked down the single-track road to the graveyard. Behind him, he’d left his family sleeping, oblivious to the fact that he had slipped out into the night. Only the family cat had watched him walk off down the hill.

It only took him a few short minutes to reach the cemetery. As he walked along the narrow gravel path between the graves, he scanned about searching for the angel in the shadows. A subtle movement of the air and the softest scrunch of gravel caught his attention.

“Good evening, son of Perran.”

The angel’s voice spoke from behind him. Slowly, he turned round to face her, his heart pounding in his chest as adrenaline kicked in.

“Come,” she commanded, stepping toward him.

Before he could utter a sound, her majestic wings wrapped around him like a cloak and the world went black.

 

Flickering flames and a delicate perfume were the first things he sensed as he felt the angel’s wings unfold from around him. Glancing about, he deduced he was in some sort of stone temple or mausoleum.

“Where are we?” he asked, keeping his voice quiet for fear of it echoing round.

“My home,” she replied, her own tone soft and warm. “Not as far away as you might think but well-hidden from prying eyes.”

His eyes landed on the black velvet cloth draped along the bench and scanned over the various objects lying there.

“Sit,” instructed the angel, indicating the space beside the cloth. “I’ll explain.”

“Explain?”

“Yes. I’ll tell you about what is going to happen to you. Explain what is involved and why I’ve included it,” she replied, resuming her school teacher tone. “I’ve given this careful consideration, son of Perran.”

From a nook in the wall, the dark angel lifted down an ornate pewter goblet.

Silently, he watches as she poured some clear liquid from a small glass vial.

“Holy water,” she said, pressing the stopper back into the thin tube. “Keeps this pure.”

“I thought this would involve blood,” he commented nervously.

“It will but I want to make sure this transformation is partial so I need to include some preventative ingredients.”

“Whose blood will this involve?”

“Ours,” she answered as she added a pinch of silvery powder. “That was the dust of a moonstone. It signifies that two species are to be intermingled.”

She added a pinch of white powder.

“White agate to signify new life and to nurture your transformation.”

He watched as the angel added a third pinch of powder. This time it was pearlescent.

“Opal dust. Perhaps the most important. It will ensure any subtle changes, physical changes, remain invisible. It will also assist you to be more understanding of yourself. Adds a little self-compassion.”

“Some oak,” she continued, adding what looked like a pinch of sawdust to the goblet. “And some mugwort.”

“Some what?”

With a smile, she said, “It prevents your wings from developing. You will need to drink a tincture of it daily. Just a few drops.”

“And where will I get that from?” he asked a little sharper than he had intended. “I’ve not seen it in Tesco for sale.”

“Sarcasm does not become you, son of Perran,” she chastised. “I will prepare it for you to begin with. I’ll teach you how to make it then it is up to you. If you stop drinking it daily, your wings will bud and develop. Consider yourself warned.”

“Sorry,” he apologised. “This all seems so complicated.”

“It’s preventative and for your own good,” she replied. “And for the safety of your friends and family, especially your children.”

She reached into her cloak’s deep inner pocket and produced an ornate dagger. Unsheathing it, the angel handed it to him.

“I need to add your blood to this first.”

“Mine?”

“Yes. Yours. It will bind these ingredients to you and protect you. Just a few drops are all that is needed. I’ll allow you to choose where you make the cut.”

Swallowing hard, he accepted the knife from her outstretched hand. Holding it in his left hand, he flicked the tip of the blade along the inside of his right wrist. The cut was about an inch long and deep enough to immediately bleed freely. On the angel’s instruction, he held his wrist over the goblet until nineteen drops of blood had been added to the concoction.

“Bind it with this,” she said, passing him a strip of white cloth.

“Once you drink the contents of the goblet, it will heal over almost instantly. There will be a distinctive silver scar left though to remind you of this rebirth.”

Bandaging his wrist tightly, he nodded.

“It’s time,” declared the angel. “Follow me.”

Taking the knife and the goblet with her, the angel led him from her mausoleum home and into the night. She took a narrow path to the left and followed it until she came to a small clearing in the trees. Setting the knife and the goblet on a nearby flat rock, she removed her cloak and spread it on the ground.

“Sit,” she suggested softly.

Above them, through the gap in the tree canopy, they could both see the full Blessing Moon. In the distance, the owl was still hooting.

“Now what?” he asked a little nervously.

“I fill the goblet with my blood and you drain it dry,” she said simply as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do.

Understanding that they had gone far beyond the point of no return, he nodded. Wide eyed, he watched as the angel took the dagger in her left hand and made a deep cut in her own right wrist, allowing the blood to flow into the goblet.

When the pewter cup was full, she murmured a short incantation and the flow of blood stopped instantly.

Passing him the goblet, she said simply, “Drink.”

With a trembling hand, he accepted the cup and put it to his lips.

He was prepared for the liquid to taste warm and metallic and vile. True, it was warm but the taste was mellow, slightly sweet with no hint of the true nature of the contents.

“Every last drop, son of Perran,” instructed the angel.

Feeling the liquid coursing through him, he handed the empty goblet back to her.

“You did well,” she complimented warmly. “Did it taste so bad?”

“No,” he admitted. “It tasted alright. Sweet.”

“Good. It tastes different to each of us.”

“So, now what?”

“You go home. It’s late. You need sleep.”

“Sleep? You expect me to sleep after this?”

The angel nodded. “You’ll sleep soundly. Dreamlessly. When you waken, your transformation will be done. If there are to be any changes, physical changes, you will notice them over the coming days. I’ll see you safely home.”

“That’s it? I go home and go to bed? Act like nothing’s changed?”

“Precisely,” stated the angel. “Come.”

He got to his feet and watched as she lifted her cloak, shook the leaves and moss from it, then fastened it securely. With a smile, she beckoned him to step closer, then, once again, her wings enveloped him.

 

Seconds later, he felt his feet touch down on soft grass. When he looked around, they were standing in his back garden. Reaching into the pocket of her cloak, the angel withdrew two items – a small glass jar and one of the velvet drawstring bags from the shop, a green one.

“Drink five drops of this each morning. It’s the mugwort. Do not forget. Drink it at the same time each and every day,” advised the angel as she handed him the jar. “Carry this with you at all times,” she continued, passing him the small, green, velvet bag. “It contains the three gemstones I used in the drink. The dust was taken from each of them. They must go everywhere with you. Do not lose them. Do not let anyone else handle them. They are for you and you alone.”

Accepting the small bag, he nodded.

“Meet me one week from tonight in the graveyard. We will talk then.”

“If I need to ask anything before then? If I need any help?” he gushed, a wave of panic beginning to rise inside him.

“Relax,” she soothed warmly. “Place a white pebble on the bench we shared in the graveyard. I’ll find you when I see it there.”

“Thanks.”

“You need rest. Sleep,” she said softly. “Good night, son of Perran.”

He watched as she spread her majestic wings then disappeared into the night.

 

Before heading indoors, he removed the bandage from his right wrist, hoping that the angel had been correct and that the cut was healed.  He gazed down at the smooth skin in wonder. The wound was healed, fully healed, and in its place was a silver scar in the shape of a crescent moon.  Stuffing the bloodied piece of cloth deep into the wheelie bin, he reflected back, sure he had made a straight cut with the blade.

  

A few hours later, as the sun rose, the dark angel sat on the roof of the church, her favourite vantage point. The transformation had gone smoother that she had dared to hope it would.  It truly had been blessed by the lunar energies in the air. Running her tongue over her fangs, she smiled. The tip of her broken fang had regenerated.