Here's a short excerpt of my upcoming novella, Love Potions, which should be released sometime in September. Enjoy!
Sometimes bad love potions are the best kind.
Marion waved black smoke away from her face, muttering a string of swear words under her breath. The scent of cloves stung her nose. Rose petals, flames curling their edges, littered the floor like confetti from hell. This was her fourth attempt to get this love potion right, and, no matter how she varied the ingredients, it still blew up in her face.
She wasn’t making a love potion so much as a love bomb--one that had little affection for a clean kitchen. At this rate she would never obtain her potions license. Noticing the soot on the ceiling, she realized she might not get back her security deposit on the apartment either.
From the living room, her roommate said, “Oh no. Not again.”
“Yes, again,” she said with a sigh. “Sorry, Raven.”
Raven came into the kitchen and leaned against the door jamb. She sniffed, wrinkling her nose. “Mar, you know I love you, but I’m really tired of the smoke. The first thing guys ask when they come over is if something is on fire.”
“Look, I’m really sorry.” Marion frowned down at her potion pot, which appeared to have a hole in the bottom. Damn. This was the first time she’d used it too.
“I know, but ‘sorry’ doesn’t get rid of the smell. It’s gotten to where I avoid werewolves and you know how much I like furry men.” Marion’s roommate paused, a faraway look in her eyes, and then gave herself a little shake. “Anyway, I think it might be time to confine your efforts to the lab at the university.”
Marion sighed again and threw her potion pot into the garbage. Another three-hundred-dollar pot ruined. She was going to have to review her budget again and find the money for another one. But no more non-stick potion pots. They were too expensive. She’d have to make do with the cheap ones from WitchMart.
“You’re right,” she said with a glum look at Raven. “I’ll do this at school from now on.” It would mean late nights on campus, but it would save her the clean-up in the kitchen. The university labs had wards in place to contain any magic accidents. Potions or spells gone bad simply disappeared as if they’d never existed, but the incident reports students had to fill out provided documentation enough.
Documentation Marion had hoped to avoid since too many incident reports could lower her grade. She was barely passing Potions as it was.
“Have you considered that maybe your problem isn’t the potion, but you?” Raven opened the kitchen window, shooing the air out with her hands.
“What do you mean?” Marion grabbed the broom and swept the rose buds into a pile. The roses had turned to ash and smeared black across the white linoleum. Great. She’d have to mop, too.
“I mean, maybe a love potion requires some, you know, action?”
She stiffened. “I’m not you.” Her roommate was the social butterfly while Marion worked hard to be the beige wallflower. She liked solid walls at her back; it meant no one could sneak up behind her.
“You don’t have to be. Frankly, I don’t want the competition. But since you are human, I know deep down, underneath that scholarly facade is a passionate woman just waiting for the right man.” Raven paused and gave Marion the once-over. “Look at you. Your hair is singed. You’re wearing sweatpants and your shirt is more gray than white. You’re not even making an effort.”
“You know I wear old clothes for potions.” Marion plucked at the frayed hem of her shirt, trying to tuck it under and out of sight.
“And to the grocery store and your classes. Homeless trolls dress better.”
Marion steeled herself against the truth of Raven’s statement. She owed no one an explanation. Besides, Raven, with her easy confidence and quick charm, wouldn’t understand. “I’m going to go take a shower and get cleaned up. Maybe I’ll even meet your standards when I’m done.” She swept past her roommate to the bathroom and slammed the door.
“I’m just trying to help,” Raven yelled after her.
Marion turned the water on full force drowning out her roommate’s voice and dropped her clothes on the floor. She caught sight of herself in the mirror and shook her head. Raven was right. Her hair was singed. What she hadn’t mentioned was that it also looked like birds had been trying to construct a nest in it. She took a moment to brush it out before stepping into the shower knowing if she didn’t get the worst of the tangles out now, it would hurt like hell later.
Dark hair smooth, Marion set the brush down on the vanity, and caught sight of the scars on her wrist. Two years had passed since the doctors had pinned it back together and she hadn’t been on a date since. It still didn’t feel safe. Which was why she needed to pass her potions class, so she could start the magical defense courses. They were the only thing that could protect her.
Marion was in her room trying to find some clothes to wear when Raven barged in without knocking. “Hey, I’m going out tonight. Do you want to come?” She paused, realizing Marion was naked. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize you were getting dressed.”
Nonplussed at the intrusion, Marion wrapped her towel around her body. Raven never knocked and she had gotten used to her roommate’s practice of doing first and thinking later. “I don’t know if I’m up for a night out.”
“Your favorite DJ is on tonight.”
“Pixie Cool?” She loved Fairy Techno and PC was the best.
“Yep. It’ll be fun. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet a guy.”
Marion shook her head. “I don’t want to meet a guy.”
“You can’t be celibate forever.”
Marion flushed. “I think you’re oversexed.”
Raven laughed. "You say that like it’s a bad thing. Oh come on, Mar. Come dancing with me. It’ll be fun. We haven’t been out in forever.”
Marion sighed and weighed her options: Spend an evening alone at home trying to figure out where she kept going wrong with the love potion, or go blow off some steam on the dance floor? Considering she didn’t have another potion pot, it really wasn’t much of a choice. “Okay, I’ll go.”
Raven squealed in excitement. “Cool! I’m going to get dressed. We leave in an hour.”
“Yes ma’am.” She saluted her roommate, but Raven had already left.
Raven’s radio blared music through the apartment, shaking the walls with an infectious rhythm. Marion winced hoping the neighbors wouldn’t complain, and then shook off her worries with a shimmy of her hips. Humming under her breath, she went through her closet looking for something too-big to wear.
Aidan scanned the club trying to keep a pleasant smile on his face. It was an effort-- as he’d never been more angry-- but anger was the not the solution. If he gave into his rage the Queen would never let him back into Fairy. The terms of her curse had been clear: Until he pleased a woman less than perfect, the gates of Fairy were closed to him.
To make it more difficult, she confined his hunt to this night club packed with perfect people. Aidan looked over the crowd once again, assessing the pickings, and sighed. Not a single diamond in the rough to be found.
McAllister materialized next to him with a chuckle. “You’ve got your work cut out for you, my friend.”
Aidan snorted and glared at the pixie. “Where have you been?”
“I stayed to get the latest gossip from court.”
Aidan rolled his eyes and took a sip of his mead beer. Pixies couldn’t resist gossip and McAllister, with his pink fluffy wings, was all pixie, even if he did have the face of a troll. A fact no one mentioned unless they were looking for a fight.
McAllister’s wings twitched in annoyance. “Don’t act like you don’t care, you sod-ass. You want to know what they’re saying.”
“Then tell me.”
“Well, you went wrong with the whole moon thing. No woman wants her ass compared to not one, but two full moons. I think that was what put you over the edge.”
Aidan felt a flush rise in his cheeks. “I meant it to be a compliment.”
“Which is why your fecking head is still attached to your neck. The Lady knew your intent was good, but a lesson was in order just the same.”
“Well, now what? Everyone here is fair. There are none so ugly as to fulfill her requirements.”
“Make the best of it and hope you get lucky,” McAllister said as he flexed his wings, preparing to take off.
“Where are you going?”
McAllister paused. “I’m going to look for a good seat so I can observe.”
“Ahh, I see. You’ll be reporting back to the Queen.”
“Yes, my friend. I’ve been chosen as the executor of this task.” And with that, McAllister flitted off, leaving Aidan to fend for himself.
Aidan downed the last of his mead and made his way to the dance floor. At least the music was good, the same stuff they played at Court. He allowed himself a few dances just to release his pent-up frustration, scanning through the crowd for a potential partner.
The shadows from the erratic pulses of strobe lights sometimes gave the illusion of a less-than-pretty face or figure. Once or twice, he thought he might have found someone only to learn, upon closer inspection, they would not qualify.
But then he became aware of the woman next to him dancing like she was possessed, and, once he caught sight of her, he was riveted. Not by her beauty, for her loose hair hid her face. Nor was it her figure that captured his attention, for her floor-length skirt, topped with a too-big, long-sleeved shirt made it impossible to determine if she was of good form or not.
No, it wasn’t her physical appearance at all that demanded his attention, it was the frantic desperation of her movements that called to him. Something was trapped in this woman, fighting to get out, and he found the progression of the battle fascinating.