#FlashMobWrites 1×09

Welcome to #FlashMobWrites Week Nine

Come one, come all! This is an open flash fiction challenge with a musical inspiration, hosted by authors Cara Michaels (formerly of #MenageMonday, #WIPflash, and#RaceTheDate) and Ruth Long (of the wicked fun #LoveBites and #DirtyGoggles challenges).

Mob Rules

  • The challenge begins: Fridays @ Noon EDT (Eastern USA)
  • And ends: Saturday @ Midnight PST (Pacific USA)
  • Word count: 300-500 (no less, no more)
  • We love you and wish to heap praises (and random prizes) on you, so be sure to include your name (no, it doesn’t have to be your real name) and a way for us to get in touch (Twitter handles are encouraged)
  • A prompt choice is offered by each judge. Choose one and include it in your story as given.
    • The prompt may be split between sentences, but no order change or dropping words.
    • Words may be added before or after, not in the middle.

The Inspiration

For your musical enjoyment only. You do not need to reference the video or song themes in any way for your story.

The Prompts

Cara Michaels: “and it’s calling my name”

Ruth Long: “gonna creep for sure”

Now pick your prompt and post your story in the comments below!

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25 thoughts on “#FlashMobWrites 1×09

  1. Rubbing Away Sorrow

    Cassie sighed and dropped her head, letting the tears flow over her cheeks. It never failed. One mention of her dead husband and she bawled like a child. Ivan’s strong fingers dug into her shoulders, seeking the tension and rubbing it away. She let her mind drift away from Sam, and Rufus and Calista, and what she should be doing. She let everything go and settled into the sound of the wind through the reeds and Ivan’s hands on her shoulders.

    The world fell away and comfort of the most magical sort surrounded her. A low hum, almost like a purr, filled her ears and settled her deeper into relaxation. For the first time in three years, Cassie let everything go.

    “That’s it, dorogaya. Let your worries and sorrows melt away. Your pain is like a siren, and it’s calling my name. I cannot ignore it.” Ivan’s voice wove a sensual spell in her awareness. “Do not hold onto such things. They only sap your strength and vitality. Remember the love you shared and live in that.”

    Memories of Sam laughing at something silly she did or of the times they’d made love flashed across Cassie’s mind’s eye. Normally such images brought blinding rage and despair, but this time, only her love and joy touched her heart, and her tears flowed from happiness. Oh, Sam. I loved you so much. I hope you’re at peace now.

    To her surprise, one of the images of Sam paused and looked back at her with a contented smile. I am, Cassie. You have to let me go and find your own joy, now. Take care, sweetheart, and find your own true heart. I love you.

    Cassie hiccupped her amazement and bittersweet hope as Sam cupped her cheek and kissed her forehead before fading into the quiet darkness of her memories. More tears slid down her cheeks, but the hard edges of her grief had worn down smooth. She resisted the temptation to bring the images back and took a deep breath to just be.

    Horosho, dorogaya. It is better this way, da?”

    The pressure of Ivan’s thumbs increased as the tension flowed out of her shoulders and for a moment his hands disappeared. She sat in blessed silence for a few heartbeats until something warm and sandalwood scented sat beside her. Strong arms gathered her against a fragrant chest and she sighed as she settled back into his embrace. This is where I should be right now.

    Da, Cassie, this is exactly where you should be, dorogaya.”

    424 #WIP500 words
    @SiobhanMuir

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Jeep Talk

    Ricky Doucette had almost lost track of time. Sometimes it seemed to him that he was doomed never to leave this camp, this horseshit reformatory, these Monument Mountains. An entire year had washed away. One earlier planned visit with his mother had been ditched. Heavy snowfall, they said. He’d complained “They’re keeping me a prisoner!” Nobody disagreed.

    “Well, there is some truth to that, little Ricky,” Sam Butterworth droned on, at his assholier-than-thou, put-downer best. “It IS a correctional facility, bucko.”

    “Go gentle on the lad, Sam,” Pastor Barnes, the nominal, often absent, head cheese of the camp, had advised that day. Harry Barnes and his Bright Light Ministry were in charge but the Minister only came once a week at most and frequently less.

    Today, Barnes shook his hand. “Have a good visit, Rick. You’re not the tough nut you were when you arrived. We’re hoping we can point you out as a real success story.”

    Bullishly, Sam Butterworth added, “Yup, you haven’t mugged any old ladies in a year. We must be doing something right.”

    “SAM,” Barnes raised his voice.

    “Sorry, Harry. I keep forgetting you’re here.”

    “You’d do well to remember who’s in charge here, Sam. And what we are trying to achieve with these young men.”

    “We’d better get a going. It’s a long drive to the meet-up point.”

    With Sam’s slippery sidestep from an uncomfortable reprimand, he and Ricky got in the camps new Jeep and headed out.

    For the first bit of rough road, they were both clam-silent. Sam was steaming. Ricky had seen that side of the head wrangler a number of times. He knew to keep mum until Sam gave permission to speak.

    There was so much Ricky wanted to tell his mother. Mostly it was, “GET ME THE HELL OUTTA MANUREVILLE.” There were so many secrets locked down in these mountains. No one cared; no one wanted to hear.

    “We’ll JUST make your damned appointment, little Ricky,” Sam finally busted the tense stillness. ”All this trouble for a one hour visit with your old lady and whoever drove her drunken ass up.”

    Sam then reached over and gripped Ricky’s thigh hard.

    “You haven’t fooled me none, sweet cheeks. A month, maybe two, you’ll be back in the city. Nobody really checking up on you, running your life! You’ll be so fucking tempted. Squirming and sweating in your bed in whatever hovel you and your crazy old lady live in. Then, one delicious night, it’ll all burst outta you. Like puss from a popped boil. That’s when you’re gonna creep for sure. You’ll be creepy crawling outta your hole, stalking old ladies, beanin’ and baggin’ them. Maybe kill some!”

    Ricky sat frozen. He HATED Sam Butterworth for a bucket of reasons. He hated him most because it was like Sam had deep drilled into his brain, stole his most private, most scary thoughts, knew his each and every fear.

    “You’re nothing but a train wreck in the making, little Ricky.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. @cynthiafbuck
    497 words

    Happy Hour

    Anna sidled up to Jillian’s cubicle. “Oh, come on. It’s been three months. You need to get out,” she said in a pouty voice.

    “Actually, I don’t need to. You just need a partner in crime,” said Jillian, smiling at her friend. She knew Anna was in between boyfriends, and needed to find someone to fill the gap, so to speak.

    “True, but it’s also true that you’ve been completely antisocial since your douchebag ex called off your wedding.” Anna had never liked him. “I’m worried about you.”

    Jillian knew Anna was probably right. It was probably time to get back out there. She just didn’t know if she could actually do it. “I wish I could help you out, but there’s a comfy sofa at home, and it’s calling my name,” Jillian said with a little laugh.

    Anna wasn’t amused. “No, it’s not. If anything, your sofa wants a night off from your ass.” Jillian reluctantly agreed, and Anna hugged her excitedly. “Happy hour after work! It’ll be fun!”

    *****

    Anna sauntered over to the ridiculously hot guy with the dark eyes and tattoos. Jillian watched her best friend as she interacted with Hot Guy. She’d always been envious of Anna’s confidence and ease with other people. Anna was like a flame and others were drawn to her like moths.

    While Jillian was watching Anna, she had no idea that someone was watching her. He’d come to happy hour hoping to find anyone he fancied. About fifteen minutes after arriving, he spotted her. She had gorgeous chestnut curls and a nice little figure. She was stylishly dressed in skinny jeans, high heels and a loose fitting silky tank top. She had on very little makeup, which is how he preferred his women. Natural looking. He drained the last of his beer and stood up, clearly focused. He had to wait for the girl’s bubbly blonde friend to leave so he could make his move.

    He walked up to her and smiled. “Hi, I’m Dean. Could I please buy you a drink?”

    Jillian looked up into the most beautiful pair of blue eyes she had ever seen. In fact, she was looking at the most beautiful man she had ever seen. It took her a few seconds to register what he had just said. “I’d love that. My name is Jillian.”

    *****

    They spent the next hour talking and laughing. Jillian couldn’t believe this handsome creature was interested in her. When he asked if she’d like to leave the bar and go someplace quieter, she didn’t hesitate.

    Anna looked up from her conversation with Hot Guy as Jillian was making her way to the door with an equally hot guy. She waved goodbye and flashed Jillian the ‘call me’ signal. Anna was happy that Jillian had met someone too.

    Dean held the door open for Jillian. He took her hand in his and smiled sweetly at her, knowing that he’d be the last person to ever see her alive.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The screaming started just before dessert. For all my joking about the rarity of a quiet job, this caught me by surprise. I scanned the energy trails in the room, finding an unmistakable track of indigo threading the green.

    “No, no, no.” I grabbed the balustrade and leaned out. “Shit, where did you come from?”

    Bigger question: where the hell was it now?

    “My God.” The crisp pronunciation drew my attention to a man I recognized. He’d spotted me from the ballroom floor earlier, offering a polite nod. “What the hell is going on?”

    “Ask me again if we get out of this alive.”

    “I’d prefer to know now, if it’s all the same,” he said. “In case we don’t.”

    “Fair enough.” I grabbed up the satchel I’d stowed behind a colorful potted croton. “Tyrannohemia stokerii. Fancy name for a hematophagous parasite.”

    “Stoker—hematophagous—you mean a vampire? At a humanitarian dinner?”

    “Admittedly not the first place I’d expect to find one.” I wrapped my hand around an ammo clip loaded with explosive rounds. “They tend to avoid the public and bright lights.”

    I focused on the dark blue energy. A woman. The one who’d complained of being bitten by a bug just before coming inside. Ah, shit. That’s how you got by me.

    “We’ve got a newborn vamp here,” I said into my radio. “Do not engage. Repeat. Do not engage.”

    “How can I help?” English asked.

    “Stay up here.”

    “Are you mad?”

    “I’m serious. You’re safe up here.” And if I got close enough to get my shot off, he’d stay that way.

    He grabbed my arm and held me back. “I know you’re with security, but how the bloody hell do you expect to get to that thing?”

    “Oh, I’m gonna creep for sure.” I surveyed the ballroom, tracking the bodies dropping amidst the chaos. “I go full bore at her and I’ll be dead in seconds.”

    He blinked several times.

    “You’ve done this before.”

    “Once,” I said.

    “Well, then.” He held out an open hand. “You have a secondary weapon?”

    I narrowed my eyes. “Ye-es.”

    “Then I’m your backup.” He made a quick visual sweep of the ballroom. “The rest of your detail is busy getting people out of here alive.”

    “You’re a British diplomat. Or celebrity, or something.”

    “I’m a cop.”

    “Not exactly your jurisdiction.”

    “That matters?”

    I lifted my skirt and drew the twin 9mms strapped to my calves. I swapped the clip in my primary and handed him the second gun and extra ammo. “Aim for her head. Anything else won’t stop her.”

    “I’m no sniper, but if we can’t take her down with two guns and three clips—”

    “She’s dropped half a dozen people so far. We have to get to her before she’s had her fill and disappears.” I pointed. “You see her?”

    “God forgive me, yes.” His hands shook as he clicked the safety down. “She’s my date.”

    “She doesn’t know that anymore,” I lied.

    @caramichaels
    500 ineligible #WIP500 words

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The third weekend of April is my favorite – it’s the biggest block sale of the city. On my third house in I found the radio. It was sitting on a table by itself, in the back of the garage. It was vintage looking, made of wood with brass knobs like the radios of the 1930’s. I thought of my grandfather sitting by a radio like this with the evening newspaper and a pipe burning.

    “Five bucks if you want it,” the gentleman said. “Landon loved old antique looking stuff.”

    “Did he upgrade to the version with the CD and iPhone plugin built in it?”

    “No,” he said pausing a beat. “He’s passed. There was a car accident.”

    “I’m so sorry.”

    “His mom wants to keep it. I say give it to someone who will use it.”

    The radio was well taken care of. After the sob story I expected the speakers to have been blown and rattling – the voices would have a ting to them – but no. I had it set up on my back patio with the ball game on just like grandpa, but I replaced the pipe for canned spiked lemonade.

    The game ended. I switched off the radio and sat in the silence of the night. The speaker crackled with static. A man’s voice bled through. At first I thought it was a crossed signal coming from a nearby ham radio.

    “Mom? Are you there?” The voice said with an airiness and distance to it.

    “Your mom isn’t here.” I said as if the person on the other side could hear me.

    “This is my radio. Did dad sell it?”

    “Landon?”

    “Yes,” he answered.

    I fell out of my chair. My foot came crunching down on the can of my drinks. My drinks. How many of these did I have?

    Another voice whispered from the radio. There was a twang to it. I know this voice and it’s calling my name. My heart raced.

    “Bridge?”

    It was his voice.

    “Bridge? I’m here, sweetie.”

    Tears streamed from my eyes. “Grandpa,” I croaked out.

    “I’m fine, sweetie. Felt no pain. I’m doing fine here. No reason to worry,” he said in a metallic, monaton drawl.

    Static popped from the speaker. Other voices began to yell out over grandpa’s – screaming out names of others fighting for airtime.

    “I miss you, grandpa.”

    “I’m always here, sweetie,” he said fading away.

    “Mom?” Landon said.

    It was a sleepless night. I wanted to plug the radio back in and listen to the voices, but the more I thought about it, the more it terrified me. I jumped at every creak the house made – was that coming from the radio? Is that a voice? Grandpa?

    I knocked on their door. Landon’s mother answered. As soon as she noticed the radio she burst into tears.

    “I think you’ll want this back.” I said.

    @EFOlsson
    478 words

    Liked by 4 people

  6. THE STATIC

    Deep in the heart of St. Malcolm’s Hospital for the Mentally Ill was a white room. In the white room was a table with four chairs and in one of them was a man.

    He was shuffling through a stack of papers mumbling to himself. He reached into his coat and pulled out a recorder. He flicked it on and spoke into it.

    “DAY 1, Dr. Reed. Patient: Susan Harvey. Age: 40.”

    He put the recorder back in his pocket still on. He looked over at a one way mirror and gave a thumbs up. Within a few seconds a woman walked in. Her eyes were bloodshot and darting in all directions.

    “You must be Susan?” He looked at her smiling.

    She gave him a nod.

    “Please, do sit down.” He gestured to one of the chairs across the table still smiling.

    She walked over and sat. She shivered once her raw skin met the cold metal chair.

    “Susan, Susan I’m here to help you, so I need to ask a few questions. Is that okay?” The older man shifted his papers and pushed his glasses up with a small gap in his mouth.

    “Yes.” She looked around and then stared at him.

    “Susan,” he took out a paper,” Susan it says here that you had a man in a cage, is this true?”

    “He was the reason, he made the painting.”

    “What painting?”

    “The trees”

    “What trees?” his voice got considerably louder.

    She started to tear up. “The” she paused, “the static trees”

    “Static?” the doctor said in a perplexed tone.

    “The static told me to find the painting and the painter.”

    “What made you think that the static wanted this.”

    “It speaks to me.” she said in a shaky tone.

    “It… speaks to you.” He said with a raised brow.

    “Yes.” her eyes darted and focused on him.

    “This is ridiculous!” He slouched back in his chair laughing as if this was useless.

    “And… it’s calling my name… right now.” Her eyes went white and she leaped across the table to grab the doctor. She grasped his throat and pushed him of his chair onto the ground.

    The doctor grabbed his throat coughing, “Sus-” he coughed,”-an!”

    She slammed the chair into his head repeatedly with blunt force until his skull was shattered and his brain was mush.

    “THE STATIC!!!” She began to bleed out her eyes. She coughed up blood and fell down to the ground completely limp.

    @grady_rexford
    410 words

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Art Lovers

    “That’s a very nice painting there Harold,” Bert said, nodding towards the picture with his chin. “It speaks to the artist in me, and it’s calling my name.”

    “The skirt in the red dress is more in line with my interests Bert. I know from prior discussions that I have yet again confirmed my being a philistine in your eyes. But you’ve got to give me some credit on this bird mate.”

    Bert just sighed and shook his head, as they walked into the next wing of the museum.

    Over the next few weeks, they returned at various times, but not often enough to draw attention. Circumspect in their investigation of the security measures they finally felt ready to act. The painting that had caught Bert’s eye was the catalyst for the heist, but the pair had earmarked plenty of other works of art that they would also liberate. The evening of their outing ran just as smoothly as previous ventures, until they came upon where Bert’s favourite should be. It was missing from the wall, and the two would-be thieves saw the corner of its frame disappearing through the double doors at the other end of the gallery. Wordlessly, they dumped what they had collected so far and set after it.

    Haring through the doors, they both unlimbered their coshes, hoping to put an end to the pursuit before the interloper could meet up with backup. Taking the corner wide, Harold came a cropper, running into the metal legs of one of the benches which had been dragged across the hallway. Sprawled on the floor, he started cursing up a storm. Bert had been more fortunate, taking the padded backrest to his stomach, but was still winded. They looked up in time to see the lass in the red dress from their first visit blowing them a kiss as she headed down the stairs with the painting.

    318 words
    @davejamesashton

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Plan B

    The sun is setting beyond the buttes. Shadows creep across the desert floor, searching for us, desperate in their hunger.

    “Something’s out there.”

    How can I reassure Adele when she’s right? There is a something out there—a being older than time, far more deadly than any living creature, and it’s calling. My name whispers on the wind, seductive, wild, and wrong on so many levels. I rub at my arms in a vain attempt to control the shivers dancing across my flesh.

    Wendigo. Manitou. Evil incarnate. If I succumb to the lure, I’m lost. We’re lost, Adele and me. It wants me. As a werewolf, my energy will feed it far longer than Adele’s humanity. But if it takes me, she’ll be nothing more than dust. Damn if I let that happen. I will get her out of this damn desert and back to safety.

    “Caleb? Can you tell me what it is?”

    Worry coats her voice but she looks determined. She reminds me a lot of Sade in that regard. Only I never wanted to do the things with Sade I want to do with Adele. I wonder if Sade is on my trail. She’ll need a hellava cavalry if she is. I don’t think our usual little Scoobie club can handle this big bad. I never believed there was anything in this realm or the others that a werewolf FBI agent, gargoyle sentinel, fae warrior, and master vampire couldn’t defeat. Especially with my foster sis in the mix. Sade might be human and work for the Bureau like me, but she always commanded every incident.

    I’m on my own this time. If it was only my life on the line, I’d just meet that sucker out in the dark and make my sacrifice worth the price. But not if it means leaving Adele out here alone. She’s not going to die. Not on my watch.

    “How’s your Native American mythology?”

    “What? Is that thing a thunderbird or something?”

    “I wish. It’s definitely in the or something category. I’m not positive but I think it’s a Manitou.”

    “Well…pistachios on a pita. That’s not good.”

    Not good? Understatement of the year. “Definitely not good headed smack dab for very bad territory.”

    “How do we fight it?”

    There’s the rub. She’s human. She can’t fight her way out of a wet paper bag when it comes to supernatural critters.

    “We don’t. You run. I fight.”

    “I’m not leaving you, Caleb.”

    A shadow drifted across the rising moon. Thunderbird. Natural enemy of wendigos. Would it take on the Manitou? I watched massive wings beat against the updrafts before spreading like a black hole swallowing stars. Something roared. The thunderbird screamed in defiance.

    “Time for Plan B, sweetheart.”

    “Plan B?”

    “We both run!”

    The battle raged behind us but I didn’t look back. Werewolves who beat feet lived to fight—and love—another day.
    ****
    485 words
    @SilverJames_

    Liked by 3 people

  9. He frowned at his physical therapist. Her smile seemed permanently etched into her face, a smile that felt like nails on a chalkboard sounded. She was Little Miss Sunshine, real name Misty Willows. And it was her job to help him walk again.

    He’d done every exercise he’d been assigned since he arrived at Orange County Rehabilitation two weeks prior. He did the stretches. His left leg worked great. But his right leg was paralyzed. The doctor had said that partial spinal cord injuries were both a curse and a blessing.

    Today, Misty was playing music that was probably meant to motivate him. All it did was make him wish he’d died in that accident two months ago. It wasn’t that he didn’t like music. Music was his career. But a chance attack of appendicitis had put him and his wife directly in the path of the town drunk. A simple trip to the emergency room had nearly killed them.

    “Good morning,” Misty chirruped. Her high-pitched, perky voice grated on his ears. “Today, we’ll work on some exercises for your right leg. Also, I’m going to put you on the weight machines today.”

    Yay, he thought.

    Sighing, he lined up his wheelchair with the flat bed he’d be stuck on for the next hour. He made sure the brakes were locked, then slowly pulled himself over. He paused when pain shot down his left leg. Damned pinched nerves anyway.

    “Okay. Can you flex your foot for me?”

    He tried to move his right foot. It remained stubbornly still. The familiar drum beat, one of the fastest he’d ever written, reverberated in his skull. He blinked back the sting of tears. Misty sat next to him, putting her slender arm around his shoulders.

    “What’s wrong, Jimmy?”

    “This was the fastest I’d ever played the drums. And it’s calling my name, you know? All I want to do is get back on stage. I want my legs to ache because playing double kick drums for almost two hours is hard on the muscles. But I can’t even move my fucking foot!”

    He punched the brown plastic cover on the bed. He wanted to punch the town drunk. Misty rubbed his back.

    “You want back on stage right?” He nodded. “Okay, then. We’ll work extra hard to get you moving. It could take a year or two, but we’re going to get that leg working. I promise.”

    He didn’t believe her. The doctor had said his chances of walking again were slim. Listening as the song hit the breakdown, he covered his face. The hit of the snare, the rumble of the kick drums rang in his head. Midnight, he’d called the song. He’d written it in the midst of insomnia.

    “Let’s see how your leg is doing.”

    He lied down, concentrating on the drums. He let them ring in his head, hoping they’d make his leg remember it had a job to do.

    @Aightball
    491 words

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Moonlit Beeches

    Opportunity comes at odd times. Sometimes it announces itself with a roar of thunder, other times it just creeps up on you. You never know, but I’ve learned to answer when it comes knocking, and it’s knocking.

    My name is Eliza Rodriguez, and while it’s taken me a long time learn this, I have learned it well. The only problem now, is recognizing the opportunity when it arises.,

    Yesterday was a prime example.

    ***
    Everything started normally enough, that should have been my first clue that something was up.

    The alarm went off and I hit snooze… okay, I tried to hit snooze like I normally do and… like I normally do, I turned it off.

    I was an hour late getting up and after running around trying to get everything done at once, I got to work five minutes before we opened.

    The morning was the standard flow of customers borrowing and returning books, and I had almost tuned out on the rest of the word when opportunity crept up in the form of Ethan Andrews.

    Ethan was new to Calvert County and I’d seen him around town once or twice, but this was the first time I had a chance to talk to him, and talk we did.

    It started of simply enough – questions about local history; book recommendations and before I knew it I was suggesting restaurants and it wasn’t long after that I had an invitation to dinner.

    The rest of the afternoon slipped back into the normal routine, but I knew what was waiting me that night.

    We met at Eastern Garden at 8:30 and watched the sun fade into the west. We had a glorious dinner followed by a long walk along the beach. Everything was perfect… until the moon rose.

    Like I said, sometimes opportunity is loud, and other times subtle— I’ve learned to look at the subtle, notice the little things, like the dark circles under Ethan’s eyes; the way his eyebrows almost met in the middle; the way he avoided the garlic heavy dishes and who could miss his rough palms?

    When the moon cleared the cloud cover and shone across the bay, I was not surprised when his presence became more predatory.

    This relationship is going to creep for sure.

    380 Words
    @mishmhem

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Round One

    Rouse stills another surge of frustration as Ivez manages to avoid introductions yet again by arriving late.

    From his well-appointed table across the crowded courtyard, he can see she’s impossibly tall, his height or better, yet moves with an easy grace.

    Her face is full of angles, jaw and cheekbones like staggered slate shards jutting out of a cliff overlooking the bottomless ocean of her deep set eyes.

    And she’s either intelligent or witty, for everyone at the main table focuses on her, engrossed in whatever tale she is telling with such animation, spurred on by the blonde chit who never leaves her side.

    A howl echoes across through the meadow beyond the courtyard. The crowd falls silent for several suspended heartbeats as Ivez raises half out of her chair. Her father’s gentle hand on her forearm settles her and when she sits again, the enjoyable chaos immediately resumes.

    Shortly after, the tables are cleared and musicians set up beneath the portico.

    Protocol be damned. Rouse rises and approaches his host. “My lord, with your permission –“

    “That you have, your Grace,” Volf says, helping his daughter to her feet and placing her hand in Rouse’s.

    He finds he’s right about her height. Her brow, eyes, and mouth are unsettlingly matched to his.

    She stops him before they join the dancers. “I can save you this embarrassment, your Grace. I haven’t the title or soldiers to settle your dispute with my brother.”

    He puts a courteous hand in the small of her back. “Then it is fortunate I’m not here on that account.” Even as he says the words, he realizes they are true.

    She doesn’t resist his lead, follows him into the crowd and proves herself an accomplished dancer.

    He finds it agreeable to have her face so near his as it allows for close conversation. The time for introductions is long past. He simply speaks his mind. “You have all the manners of your station, my lady.”

    She laughs and steps on his toes, quite on purpose, he is sure.

    He continues, undeterred. “Forgive me, but what was that noise earlier?”

    Her great depthless eyes pierce him. “The call of the Darkens.”

    He doesn’t miss a step. “To everyone?”

    Her brows furrow. “Just to me, your Grace.”

    ” Do you answer?”

    “Sometimes.”

    “And how would you answer if I were to call to you?”

    Her face dissolves into a peculiar expression, not quite beautiful, like her mother, nor angelic, like the women of his country, but something fierce and feminine. “Best not get ahead of yourself, Your Grace.”

    His hand on her back is less courteous and more curious, a change that startles him. “When you glare at me like that, my lady, I swear I hear your darkness shrieking and it’s calling my name.”

    She breaks from his embrace, eyes and mouth twisted into a feral grin. “I wouldn’t shriek for you if you were Darklan’s last hope.”

    – – – – –
    491 ineligible words / @bullishink

    Liked by 1 person

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