What a crazy bag of tricks/stories this week! Thank you to everyone who wrote, commented, and tweeted!
Honorable Mentions | Soldier | Steph Ellis | @el_Stevie
Cara Says: This story sucks you in with the easy confidence of the POV character. He’s just sure of himself and his game. Certainty slips quietly away as the setup is revealed. Creepy and a great read.
Ruth Says: Oh man, I took more pleasure than I should have watching this character get his just desserts! 🙂
Second Place | Underboss | @LaughingAndy
Cara Says: Here’s another one that pulls you in. This time it’s a nonchalant sort of air about the MC. He knows his stuff, and he’s casually dropping some knowledge on the reader. In just a few sentences, a passionate hobby becomes a murderous one, and we see just how far he’s willing to go for those collectibles.
Ruth Says: I loved how the perception of the character goes from ‘hobbyist’ to ‘fanatic’ in the blink of an eye. I *might* have giggled with glee over the final three paragraphs. 😀
Winner | Boss | Siobhan Muir | @SiobhanMuir
Cara Says: Svanhild is a character who means business. In the few outings we’ve seen with her, she’s made no secret that she’s ready to kick ass and take names. I love that such a badass lady relies so strongly on her mystical senses. She trusts Kate with ease, and there’s clearly something about this man she sees that just ain’t right. Of course, this cliffhanger leaves us all wondering… will she help him in a time of obvious need? I’m dying to see these two start to connect.
Ruth Says: MORE, damn it. I NEED to know what’s going on here! Was excited to see more of this story show up this week!! The tension is off the charts!! 🙂
The Winning Story: Sizing Up the Competition by Siobhan Muir
Svanhild took a deep breath and gathered herself before stepping out the door of Kate’s house. Her heart thundered with joy and contentment like the world had shifted into alignment again, only more so. She’d been hit with a punch-drunk kiss of connection she hadn’t experienced since she’d first become a Valkyrie in the Goddess’s service. And she wanted more, more time with Kate Blackamber, serving her specifically.
The door closed behind her while Bart finished with Kate — something about his cousin and the local hunters. She took a deep breath and damn near ran over the person who’d just stepped up onto the porch. The creeping hiss of awareness that someone stood too close coupled with the smell of rain-soaked wool brought her up short and she braced for evasive action.
By the time her gaze had sharpened on the man in front of her, he’d shifted to the side and taken a defensive stance, his own expression tight with wariness. Her Valkyrie senses roared again, gearing up for battle with the black and poisonous taint surrounding him.
Her fists clenched at her side and she missed the feeling of her sword and hatchet. She realized she’d stepped into his space and throttled back the urge to carry the fight to the enemy.
“Excuse me.” The words came out more snarl than conversation. But she’d been more or less polite.
He dipped his head in acknowledgement and took another step back. “It’s not a problem. I didn’t mean to get so close.”
His own words were clipped and tense, and his hands clenched on his pant legs as if he needed something to hold on to. She raised her chin and stared him down, asserting her strengh and height over such an unclean apparition.
He met her gaze, holding his ground without openly challenging her.
“Why are you here?” The audacity of her question shocked her, but she’d learned to hide her surprise over her own unintentional actions.
His chin jerked as if he wanted to meet her blow for blow, but he inhaled slowly and released his breath with measured effort.
“I’m here for the Morukai.”
“In what capacity?” Something about the guy suggested his visit might be more ambush than social call.
Again he took a long slow breath. “For…help.”
The words were forced, thrust between clenched teeth and riddled with reluctance. He shook with some suppressed emotion, but she couldn’t decipher it. Then his whole body stiffened and his eyes rolled back in his head before he crumpled to the floor of the porch.