The weather outside is frightful, and so are the thugs trying to toss me off a snowy cliff…
Rochelle Stone, Earth Witch
Speaking out against a local bigwig who’s terrified of witches when you actually are a witch attracts trouble. Only the timely intervention of a big, hot biker dude saves me from a modern-day execution. He says he’s security for the Concrete Angels Motorcycle Club, but I know he’s more than that. I’ve always had an affinity for stones, and my affinity for Flint is through the roof. He’s hard as a rock and my hands tingle when I touch him. He doesn’t speak aloud, but his talented hands tell me plenty… Now if I can just get the jackass trying to kill me off my back, it’ll be a golden holiday for sure.
Humans. They’re either gloriously happy or dismally miserable.
Flint, Concrete Angels’ Security
With the holidays just around the corner, I’ve been looking for a quiet place to collect my thoughts. But that’s when Earl Creighton’s thugs try to throw a woman off my local cliff. I normally don’t get involved with human troubles, but something about this woman captivates me beyond reason. I know can’t walk away until Creighton is dealt with and his connection to the shadow group, Backlog, is severed. Rochelle is a temptation I must resist. How hard can it be? I’m a gargoyle. Made of stone, especially my heart. Not even an earth witch can penetrate its solid shell. Right?
Havoc, hexes, and holidays? It’s the most wonderful time of year…
I’d been minding my own business, enjoying the lights and the snow around the Holiday Depot as I sipped my hot chocolate. My friends had wanted to take pictures with the hot Santa on the old-fashioned train engine with brass accents and a big E on the front. I wasn’t interested in the guy – he seemed a little too handsy for me, but I took some shots for my blog, The Better Bitter Brew: The Witch’s Guide to Fort Collins. Mostly, I was content to watch the festival.
But someone grabbed me, gagged me and threw a bag over my head, before dragging me into a vehicle tall enough they had to lift me. It smelled like male sweat, cigarettes, and cheap alcohol. Combined with my panic, it damn near made me puke.
“Boss-man says she’s got magic, the real shit, not sleight-of-hand crap, but it ends at sundown.”
I almost laughed, but I didn’t want to give them an excuse to question me. My magic never ended with the time of day. I’m an earth witch, particularly of hearth and home, and my power was that of defense and protection, not offense and destruction.
“Tonight we’re gonna end her. But first I think we get to play. I’ve never seen a witch’s tits.” Someone leaned close to my head. “Hey, little girl, can witches fly?” He chuckled as my heart sank. “Guess we’ll find out. It’ll be like the Chutes and Ladders without the ladders.”
I gritted my teeth against the fear. More than likely the sexy Santa had distracted my friends enough that they hadn’t seen anything and I was on my own, between a rock and a hard place. Good thing I liked rocks.
“You been writing about shit you shouldn’t, little girl. The boss-man doesn’t like witches and says we can do what we want with you, especially if you come back dead.” The guy holding me around the throat squeezed and shook me like a dog.
Panic bubbled up but I gritted my teeth harder and tried to think around the clawing fear. I couldn’t see him, but I could smell his over-use of Drakkar Noir. Damn, I thought that stuff went out with the 90s.
“Think she’ll turns us into toads if we let her talk? Good thing we gagged her. Right, boys?”
I protested around the gag before everyone froze when an explosion of glass punctuated their laughter. Everyone turned, at least I thought they did, and the guy released me. I took a deep breath and tried to scramble away, but I didn’t know which direction to go. Were we close to the cliff they’d been talking about? I tried to still my racing heart and listened to figure out where everyone was until Drakkar Boy growled.
“Who the fuck are you?”
Silence met his question and I wondered why. Didn’t guys like the tell the story of the ass kicking they were going to give? I’d really like my eyes back. My voice would be nice, too, but I’d settle for my sight.
“Oh lookee here, boys. We got a deaf guy trying to defend her honor.” Drakkar Boy’s voice held derision while the others laughed.
That explains why I haven’t heard the new guy speak.
“Beat it, punk. She’s our prize for the night. But because it’s the holidays, you can have her when we’re done.”
The hell you will. I took two steps back from where I’d felt air movement and I hoped I’d gotten out of view so I could work on breaking my binds. If I could get free, I might be able to escape while the men were distracted by whoever had joined them.
“Look, dummy, I’m gonna say this slow. Get. The. Fuck. Outta. Here.”
Apparently that had set the new guy off because someone grunted in surprise and landed on the ground nearby with a heavy thud. A low snarl answered Drakkar Boy’s shout of anger and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. What the hell kind of creature makes that sound?
“Grab him, you fuckin’ idiot!” Voices rose in anger and fear.
“What for? It’s not like I can hold him now, can I?”
“You catch him. I’m fuckin’ outta here!”
There were meaty thuds and cries of pain, but the truck I’d arrived in didn’t move or start. I yanked and tugged on my hands until the bindings finally broke. I ripped off the hood and pulled the gag out of my mouth before I looked around.
Bodies littered the ground near the SUV, but I couldn’t tell if they were only unconscious, or dead. And one man stood in the beams of the headlights.
Broad shoulders, bald head, and exposed abs of solid stone.