If you missed First Chapter Friday, you might want to click here to read it before you go on. If you didn’t, then enjoy…and be sure to grab your copy of Eat My Shorts!: The Absolute Best of J.S. Wayne (…So Far…) at Smashwords by clicking on the title!
Slowly, deliberately, I turned away from the apparition in my closet to look under the bed again. The crocodile-dingo thing fixed its sulfur stare on me balefully. Right. Back to the closet.
The fairy was still there, her expression now pissed. “Haven’t you ever seen a fairy before?”
I sure the hell hadn’t, outside of some cosplay sites my ex had insisted I look at. Aside from the fact that most of the people featured on such sites tended to smile more, they also generally wore more than the few shreds of tissue paper doing not nearly enough to protect my uninvited guest’s modesty. The tiny strip of pubic hair she sported above her mound matched her hair perfectly, suggesting it was either natural or the result of a stylist with way too much time on their hands.
“No, actually I haven’t.” I jabbed the gun’s bore more or less in her direction. “And since I don’t believe in fairies, but do believe in Federal 147-grain hollow point ammunition with a steel jacket, I suggest you cut the bullshit and tell me what the fuck you’re doing in my apartment. Now.”
She flinched, her face a perfect mask of terror. “Steel?” Her voice quavered. “Why would you use steel?”
Okay… that didn’t track. Most people reacted negatively to the idea of being shot period, but this lovely, mostly nude, ethereal being seemed more worried about the steel jacket than the lead bullet it sheathed. I frowned and clawed for a way to regain some control of this farce.
“Because it’s what my gun is loaded with. Now come out of the closet and sit down on the bed. And keep a handle on your pet, because if it so much as blinks at me in a way I don’t like, I’m going to have a new pair of boots and a matching belt.”
She complied, her empty hands carefully in front of her at waist level. I had to work to tear my eyes away, because of the way her smooth, soft-looking hands framed her slender but muscular thighs and the sensual rhythm of her slow, careful strides. My libido sat up and took notice, making my pants a little too uncomfortably tight and twisting the rope around my bad mood’s balls a little more cruelly.
With a slight huff of exhaled air, she sat on the bed, hands still carefully spread to show she wasn’t armed. I relaxed the Glock slightly and shoved to my feet. The thing under the bed was still staring at me sullenly, and I didn’t feel like offering an easy target. Or meal.
“Now talk. What the hell’s going on here?”
She smiled slightly. “Graelich was hungry,” she answered, as if it explained everything.
My eyebrows tried to jump off my forehead. “I have a fully stocked kitchen. I have steak, for Chrissakes. Why the hell would you be in my bedroom?”
“Graelich eats lost socks.”
My left eye began to twitch in a jagged, syncopated arrhythmia as I tried to process that one. I decided to take refuge in routine. “Of course he does,” I retorted in my best sarcastic-cop tone. “Naturally. Which still doesn’t explain what you are doing in my bedroom. And come to that, who exactly are you, anyway?”
“I am Aeloriel,” she replied calmly, sketching a dainty little sitting curtsy.
“Where do you come from?”
“You would not recognize the name of my homeland, even if you could pronounce it. Suffice it to say I come from Faerie.”
“Fairy?” I echoed, befuddled.
“FAY-ree,” she enunciated. “I believe ‘fairies’ is an impolite colloquialism for homosexuals, is it not?”
I grunted in reply, not really wanting to get into the sexual politics of the Gay Revolution. I knew a few damn good cops, of both genders, who preferred playing for their home teams. As long as their sexual preferences didn’t affect their work, I couldn’t care less. “So then what do I call you?”
“I am a Fae. A she, if you prefer.”
There was no denying that. Between her high, firm breasts and that oddly alluring green stripe of hair between her thighs, she was only too clearly female.
“I can see you’re a she,” I punned, vaguely proud of myself that at coming up on five in the morning I could still demonstrate some twitches of wit, feeble though they may be.
She rolled her eyes. “No, no, not ‘she.’ S-I-D-H-E, pronounced ‘shee.’ It’s another word for Fae.”
“Okay, so now that we’ve established you don’t belong here, take that ambulatory suitcase from under my bed and go back where you came from so I can get some sleep.”
A cloud passed over her pretty features. “I’m afraid it’s not that easy.”
“I don’t see the complication. You open the door, you walk through it, you go home, I go to bed. Simple.”
“No. You don’t understand.” She broke off, her eyes narrow. “Because you came home and caught us, we cannot leave. Physically cannot leave this place.”
“Why not?” The headache behind my eyes gave a new, more painful twinge, reminding me of its presence. I suppose it’s just possible the question might have come out with more of a whiny edge than I’d planned.
She floundered for a moment, her lips working without sound, her nostrils flaring. Finally she recovered. “I have to grant you a wish before I can leave. If I try to leave before I have fulfilled your wish to your satisfaction, it would be tantamount to suicide.”
Her eyes were very wide and glinted like dew on early spring grass. A tiny tremble of her lips hinted she teetered on the verge of tears. I had seen acts like hers in the past… but something told me this Fae, Sidhe, whatever, wasn’t putting on an act.
“What kind of wish?”
“I can give you almost anything your heart desires.” She relaxed a bit. “There are only a few limitations…”
“Like Aladdin?” A picture of Robin Williams as the Genie popped to mind. I thought hard, willing the half-forgotten movie into the forefront of my consciousness. “No bringing people back from the dead, no making someone fall in love with me, no killing anybody?”
“I don’t know this Aladdin, but yes… those are some of the conditions.”
I rolled my eyes. “Uh-huh. What’s the other catch?”
“You can’t wish for more wishes. Anything you do wish for can come only through natural means. I am absolutely forbidden to interfere with another person’s free will.”
“Why would that matter?”
She shook her head, obviously disgusted with the limitations of my feeble human brain. “Because I cannot truly grant you a wish, but I can set the right wheels in motion to help you grant your wish.”
I mulled that over for a moment. It made the weird kind of sense that only exists right on the knife-edge between alertness and exhaustion after a sleepless night or two. My mind slowly made a couple of connections, and then drew an invisible equal sign.
“So if I wished for money, you couldn’t just fill my apartment with gold Krugerrands… but there’s nothing stopping you from telling me to go buy a lottery ticket. Similarly, if I wanted a lover, you could steer me toward the nearest singles’ bar. What happens from there is my choice, right?”
Aeloriel beamed as if finally breaking through to a thick-witted student. “Precisely.”
God, I needed sleep. “Well, if I’ve only got one wish, I’d better make it worth my while. I need to sleep on it, if that’s okay.”
She nodded eagerly. “You have until sundown three days from now to name your wish.”
“What if it takes longer?” I’ve been taken apart by enough attorneys looking for leverage to spring their clients that I know how to look for a catch, and it seemed to me this mostly naked fairy-tale creature could probably make most attorneys look like Boy Scouts by comparison.
“Then I am free to go… and you will be dead. Along with most of the tenants of this building, I should think.” She screwed up her pert little nose and narrowed her eyes as if doing some complex mental calculations. “Ah. Just so. The explosion from the sudden, uncontrolled release of that much pent-up power would result in a great deal of… what is the phrase?” She smiled, her whole body nearly glowing with pleasure. “Oh, yes, I remember now… property damage.”
I grimaced. “Then I guess I’ll have to think fast.”