FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #4 from DEALING IN MAGIC coming out BLACK FRIDAY, November 24th! Back to healthy eating… I seem to enjoy healthy eating for a stretch and feel great and then eat a peanut M&M and we’re off to the races. So, we’re back on the healthy eating – where I’m happier too (damn you M&M’s!) 8 MORE DAYS till the release (and a little holiday surprise. Shhhhh) and a holiday short cover contest on its way too. Get those crayons ready! Till then YTT team, it’s SNIPPET TIME!
Leira came in through the gate, her head down, thinking about the last case. A relic was found just outside of Killeen and it was a race to get there ahead of a contractor hired by a corporate group. Things were getting ugly out there in the race to stockpile magical energy.
She was working longer hours, getting sent out with Hagan to track down artifacts and secure them for the federal government ahead of foreign governments or corporate groups or even the Silver Griffins. Lacey Trader already beat her to the punch more than once, waving to Leira the last time with a grim salute and a nod.
Mara and Eireka were both on her about missing Sunday dinner at their place. Leira was getting called in to work early and coming home late at night sometimes. She wasn’t in a hurry to get home anyway. The guest house seemed empty since Correk was gone. She even found herself coming out to the patio and eating at the bar sometimes. Estelle usually stood on her stepstool behind the bar, smoking away while keeping her company, shooing away guys trying to buy her a drink or ask her about hotspots in Austin.
Yumfuck was better company. At least he was talking in short sentences. She was getting used to leaving out food for the troll and finding the food still sitting there and the refrigerator empty. It’s like having a teenager.
It called for more frequent trips to Costco and sneaking it back to the guest house when no one was around. The regulars at the bar would have asked what she needed with so much cereal or hotdogs. They were already taking turns every week to ask about when Correk would return. Soon. That’s all I know.
Tucked in the back of the pantry was a large bag of Cheetos waiting for Correk’s return. Even Yumfuck agreed to keep his paws off them. “He’ll be back soon.”
The troll had given her a hard nod and chirped, “Of course!”
Months have gone by. Maybe it’s time to let go and just get on with things. Soon is looking like never.
Leira got to the door of the guest house and looked back at the bar. The regulars were all out. They were at the bowling alley getting ready for the new season to defend their championship status. “Fuck. How did I get like this? I used to look forward to putting that door between me and everyone else. Come on, Leira,” she hissed between her teeth. “Get your shit together and focus. Enough already…”
She opened her front door, resolute to get on with her life. The door swung open and she lifted her head, stopping in the doorway, frozen to the spot. She stood their motionless, watching Correk sleep. The last image she had of him was being carried away by the Gnomes, barely alive.
“You’re alright,” she whispered, letting out a gasp as she gave him a long look. “And still wearing the same suede pants.” A crooked smile came across her face as she gently dropped her purse in the red velvet chair and shut the door behind her with a soft click.
The troll stood up on Correk’s leg. “Aloha!
Correk stirred, lifting his head and slowly opening his eyes. “Hey, you’re home.” He stretched his arms over his head, feeling the soreness in his muscles.
“So are you…”
“Back to stay? All in one piece? Wondering why the fridge is empty?”
“Okay, pick one of those first two. That last one I think you can figure out.”
Yumfuck looked up and cackled.
“I’m here to help people get used to the idea of Oriceran, whatever that means and help you with truth justice and some kind of way. And yes, I’m in one piece.”
“Last time I saw you I wasn’t so sure. If it wasn’t for Turner Underwood…”
Correk stood up slowly, giving a grunt and a slight grimace. The troll bounced off his leg and scurried into the kitchen.
“Are you in pain?” Leira looked surprised. “I thought magic could take care of that.”
“Magic has its limits, especially when trying to fix something caused by magic. I’m fine, I promise. Too long laying in a bed. My muscles are taking a moment to get used to moving around.”
“I thought you were a fairly young Elf.”
Correk looked up, scowling. “I am quite young. Hundreds of years left before I qualify for any senior discounts.”
Leira felt the tension leaving her body. Trust that he’s okay. “That grunt you gave trying to get up says otherwise. What discounts? Oriceran has discounts? Are you attempting an Earth joke? Now, that muscle has to be really sore.”
Correk tried to hide the smile forming on his face. “I’ve missed this…”
Oh hell, fuck getting on with my life. Leira ran across the few steps between them, cutting him off as she wrapped her arms around Correk’s neck, holding him tight.
Correk started but put his arms around Leira. “If you’re checking me for broken bones I’m not sure this would be the best plan.”
Leira focused and pulled in just enough energy to light up her eyes, her chin ducked down as she sent a thin stream of energy through Correk, making sure he was really alright.
Correk lifted his head, arching an eyebrow. “You know I can feel that…”
“We’re family and this is efficient.”
Correk let go and gently took a step back so he could look at Leira. “I’m sorry I frightened you. I know, I know, you can handle anything. How is your leg? Can you still go on those long runs you insist on calling fun?”
“I’m slowly getting back to it. It’s taken a while. All the parts are working, though. Mom and Nana used their magic to speed me along. You know, before I met you I didn’t have a single scar on me. Not one. Never broke as much as a finger.”
“I had a hand in putting you in the middle of two worlds. But I also helped you figure out you have magical capabilities. Did you really think you never would have noticed? You should be thanking me.”
“Is that right?”
“Without me, your arms would have lit up like Christmas trees one day and freaked you out.”
“Freaked? Clearly, you’ve been watching television somehow all the way from Oriceran while you were laid up.”
“Let’s Make a Deal reruns and old movies. Alright, alright, alright.”
“Dazed and Confused, I get it and so appropriate. But don’t do that.”
“He’s an old Wizard. Matthew McConnaughey. Very clever one. Retired from the Silver Griffins on Oriceran before he took up acting. You know he lives near Lavender Rock.”
“You’re making that one up. Don’t cross your heart. That’s not really a thing.” Leira brushed her bangs off her face. “God help me, I missed this too.”
“Well, you took a couple of hard blows to the head. Maybe it shook some sense into you.”
“They told me later what you did for me. You saved my life and it nearly cost you your own life.” She punched him in the arm just hard enough.
“Two moons! First you’re hugging me and now you’re punching me! Is this some strange human custom or more likely, your own version of good cop, bad cop that you can do all on your own?” Correk rubbed his arm. “You’re an enigma wrapped in a riddle.”
“Don’t do that again,” she said sternly. “I’m not losing any more family, not even temporarily. Next time, fucking duck dude. I mean, really, I appreciate the gesture but you couldn’t pull the fireball toward you and then just duck?”
Correk rolled his eyes. “Second time I’ve heard that one today. Fireballs are a little trickier than a bullet. Ducking isn’t enough. They seek out a target. I changed the target.”
Leira’s eyes grew wider. “You knew it would hit you… Did you think you’d survive?”
“Aren’t you the one who gets tired of the touchy-feely parts? Surely, this counts.”
Yumfuck came back from the kitchen, the oversized bag of Cheetos held over his head. “Welcome home!” he chirped.
“Saved by the snack food.” Correk took the bag from the troll, giving him a tiny high-five.
“First person in the history of the world who’s probably ever said that. Fine, I’ll drop it… for now. But I’m quizzing Turner. Clearly, he didn’t tell me everything about fireballs.” Leira pushed her purse aside and sat down, cross-legged in the red velvet chair.
Correk settled back onto the couch with the Cheetos bag in his lap. The troll quickly climbed onto his shoulder and put his tiny arms over his head, arching his back.
“Don’t even think about diving into this bag.” Correk quickly plucked Yumfuck off his shoulder and put him down next to him on the couch.
“He managed not to open that bag, even on days when he plowed through everything else in the place. We had a deal. Those were yours.”
“Time’s up!” squeaked the troll, holding out his paws.
“Give him a bowl. That orange dust is permanent. Just look up at our ceiling.”
“Those stains involve other-worldly gases. Magical fart dust.” Correk gave a grunt as he got up.
“I’ll get it old man. You stay there.” Leira watched him settle back as she got up, stopping to look at him more closely as she passed by the couch. “Is that a white streak in your silver hair?” She went in the cupboards and found an old red plastic bowl and brought it out, handing it to Correk.
The troll climbed in the bowl and sat down, holding out his arms.
“Not sure he gets what bowls are for.” Leira went back to her chair.
“Oh, he gets it.” Correk poured Cheetos all around the troll who let out a squeal of delight. “Kind of nice it takes so little to make him happy.”
“He hasn’t been this excited since you left. I think he missed you too.”
Correk looked down at the troll who had filled his cheeks, stretching them out to either side. He was chewing away as fast as he could. His eyes were shut and cooing could be heard above the crunching.
Correk looked up at Leira, watching him closely. “It’s okay. I promise you there’s nothing wrong with me and if another magical weapon comes at you I’ll send it at a tree or a rock instead. Tell me what I’ve missed.”
“There’s a lot to tell you. I guess I should start with all the groups racing for artifacts.”