Jess Flaherty has been writing since she was a snot-nosed kid with a dirty notebook in her overall pocket. Now she’s a paranormal fantasy author, lucky enough to be both writing on her own and co-writing with the love of her life. Their first novel, Always Darkest, Book I in The Arbitratus Trilogy, debuted in the summer of 2017. She and her husband look forward to expanding that universe, and pursing their own independent projects. If you like dark fantasy, sci-fi, the paranormal, humor, and horror, check out their website www.demonsrunlit.com. Or visit them on Facebook.
The house was quiet.
She hadn’t been back since it happened.
She fumbled with the key in the bent lock. She wished they’d never gotten involved, that he hadn’t felt responsible. It was a vaguely run down Victorian with lacy curtains in the tall windows advertising that it had been inhabited by on old woman of some means. The place smelled of mothballs and cats, just like it always had. While she was sure she was imagining it, there was also the faintly sweet metallic smell of blood. Steeling herself, she moved further into the house. She could hear the clock in the kitchen ticking steadily away, reminding her of a heartbeat.
Her lips twitched into a small smile. God, that was melodramatic. Harry would have done his gross puke-noise-thing and she would have laughed at herself. Tears threatened for perhaps the hundredth time that day. His parents were so damned useless. She got it, in a way. Jean was an only child and Tom had his own aging parents to deal with, but to put the woman’s care on Harry was ridiculous; especially since Grammy Grace had plenty of money for assisted living.
The blood still stained the rug. She unshouldered her bag, sitting down on the floor next to the rocking chair. She drew out the small album that held their engagement party photos and took a shuddering breath. She hadn’t been able to look at these in a while. But more and more something told her she could call him back, have him forever.
It was just a whisper, but one she listened to attentively. She found the one she was looking for. It wasn’t the best picture. Everyone in it had a bad case of red-eye and looked on the verge of alcohol poisoning, but he was wearing that smart-assed grin; the one she’d fallen for, that her mother disdainfully said made him look like a wolfman when he didn’t shave.
The spell wasn’t complicated.
Blood magic at its oldest and darkest.
Her mentor from the coven she’d joined in college would have flipped. Raising the dead, calling them to you, might not be the world’s best idea, but she wanted him. He hadn’t deserved what happened when those guys broke in, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to follow him into the dark. This felt like the only way. So she’d done it, thinking that if he’d been the wolfman her mother said he looked like, those guys wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Slicing yourself to hell and bleeding all over a house stuck in probate only to get nowhere felt like adding insult to injury, but somehow, she made it home through her haze of blood and tears. She went back every night and waited, through pain, and then fever, because why not pick up an infection after you’d tried quasi-necromancy.
She sat there, thinking about Harry, and laughing a little hysterically when she heard howling in the distance. Time passed. She healed. But she kept going back. Maybe it didn’t work right away. Maybe he had to come a long way. She’d nearly given up hope.
Then, she heard the door.
She sat, frozen; but hopeful.
She gave an involuntary jump when his hand came to rest on her shoulder. Slight pressure encouraged her to turn and face him. He was wearing that smile of his, the one that said he knew something the whole world didn’t, except that now, it glinted with the sharp teeth of a predator. A wolf.
He reached out for her.
“C’mon, Lizzy. You’re gonna love this.”
~ End ~