The Roxy Cinema was an art deco gem built in the 1930’s. The single screen movie house played golden age Hollywood movies on Sundays and at Christmas time played “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” every year.
Tonight’s feature was the new Gory Dayz film. A ridiculous horror series that had been going since Juno’s parents were teenagers,the Gory Dayz films were a Tenebris family tradition. When your father was the Boogeyman, it was silly splatter flicks as a kid rather than sweet, animated studio movies. Juno was early for her meet up with her new friends and was primping in the bathroom of the cinema before heading down to the lobby.
The temperature in the ladies’ room dipped suddenly and Juno experienced the familiar sensation of apprehensive goose flesh from head to toe. She looked up into the mirror and past her own shoulder as an apparition took form in the shadowed interior of the toilet stall.
“Haunting toilets now, Finn?” she asked.
“Could you do something about the light?”
His form was indistinct, merely a grey mist that hung suspended in the stall. A Shadow’s major weakness…the Boogeyman couldn’t get you when the lights were on. She wet her fingers under the cold water of the tap then reached into the sconce beside the mirror and quickly turned the bulb dousing the light.
“Ow!” she yelped. She hadn’t been quick enough, and the hot bulb had burned her fingers.
“Here, let me see.”
Finn walked out of the stall. The light was low enough now for him to manifest his full physical presence.
It was quite a presence to be sure. He was tall for his age and well-built. Thick dark red hair swept appealingly over amber colored eyes that shifted to orange depending on his emotional state. His sharply pointed ears sported rings pierced into both tip and lobe. His pale skin was sprinkled all over with freckles, but Finnlan Wickerman was Fae, so unlike his human ginger counterparts his freckles formed looping, swirling patterns along his shoulders, arms, back and chest. Juno believed humans would describe him as a “snacc”.
Juno held out her stinging fingers. He bent and gently blew cold chills onto them. She clamped her lips together to keep from sighing out loud.
He looked up at her through his dark lashes. “Better?”
“Thanks.” Quickly turning she and made herself busy rummaging around in her make-up bag, she found a tube of mascara and proceeded to apply it.
“Will your father like it if he knew you were wearing that stuff.”
“My father doesn’t tell me what to do with my body,” She pinned him with a narrow-eyed look. “And you don’t get to either, by the way.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“A lot of Mortal girls my age wear it.”
“But you’re not a Mortal.”
Her expression was mockingly shocked. “I’m not?” Turning back to the mirror she brushed a pale pink color onto the apples of her cheeks. Finn just smiled seeming to enjoy himself.
For as long as she’d know him, he’d always had a special talent for aggravating her. With just a look he could affect her mood, which right now was annoyed.
He pointed to her hairline where usually a pair of pearlescent white horns sprouted. “I thought Faeries didn’t conceal themselves on Revel Night?”
When visiting the Mortal realm, an oculus ori or concealment charm was a handy tool that the immortal races used to disguise their unusual or alarming appearance. Worn as a necklace or other piece of jewelry, the eye engraved on the triangular gemstone was closed while the person wore the charm, their true appearance concealed. However, once the charm was removed the eye opened and the truth was revealed.
She scooped up her oculus charm and dropped it down under her t-shirt then brought her long platinum curls forward in front of her shoulders to further hide it.
“I’m not going to the Revel remember?” She frowned at herself in the mirror. “It’s not fair.”
“Sorry. I wish you were coming too.”
Irritation flared again as she was reminded that Finn, like herself, was sixteen years old. But unlike her he would at Revel. Working. But still.
“Finn, are you bugging me for a reason or is haunting ladies’ rooms a newly discovered kink?”
He simultaneously laughed and blushed. Then he sobered and studied his shoes. His eyes darted over at her then down again. “It’s the first chance I’ve had to talk to you since…you know.”
A million butterflies seemed to swarm her belly at once.
The Crystal Cave was a favorite spot in the Faerie realm, a cavern with a perfectly clear pool of deep water surrounded by glittering stalactites. She thought she’d had it all to herself a day almost two weeks ago. It’s the reason she knew all about his freckles.
“I get the feeling you’re avoiding me.” He looked at her directly then, waiting for her answer.
Pure blood Faeries like Finn couldn’t lie. They were the most powerful magical beings in the universe, but they could not lie. It was nature’s balance. She on the other hand was part human from her mother’s bloodline and could lie her little derrière off to the handsome boy standing beside her. But she didn’t.
“I didn’t want it to be weird between us.” She kept her eyes fixed on the sink faucet. “Awkward.”
“If you thought it would be awkward why did you kiss me?”
She could not help but play it over in her head again. Laughing, teasing, splashing in the cool water.
“I didn’t kiss you, we kissed each other. It was mutual.”
His mouth soft, so soft, and warm on hers…
“Yes, very mutual, or so I thought,” he said.
“It was. It was…” Perfect. The kiss had been her first, and it had been perfect. “It was nice but…”
“But?” His tone seemed to issue a challenge. He folded his arms over his chest, cocked an auburn brow at her and waited.
A long moment of silence stretched out as she chose her words carefully.
“You’re my father’s student Finn,” she said finally, “and my brother’s captain. This is where I want to be. I start high school in the fall. I want a life away from the Faerie realm.” She turned and faced him. “You’re a Shadow.” She passed a hand slowly through his torso, his form rippling like water. “You can’t be real here.”
It was only in the immortal realms, the Faerie, Demonic and Angelic realms that the Shadows could manifest a corporeal body. In the Mortal realm they could only exist as a phantom-like apparition.
Her eyes locked onto his mouth then skittered away. Those butterflies in her belly mocked the words she said next. “So no; no more kisses Finn.”
A slow smile eased its way onto those lips and mischief sparked to life in his eyes, their color darkening from amber to orange. “We shall see about that,” he said, fading away into a grey mist.
“That was not a challenge, Finnlan!” she called after him.
She huffed an aggravated breath; he’d done it again; he had gotten to her. Mortal boys had their vexing traits, but Fae boys were the worst! And Finn was the worst of the worst! She caught herself grinning and purposely scowled into the mirror.
“Have fun with Splatter Joe!” The sinister whisper was right on her ear.
Juno startled, yelping loudly. Cold tingles traced down her neck and arm. Spinning around she was just in time to see him dissolve into thin air again, a triumphant smile on his pretty face.
Growling she twisted the light bulb in the sconce back on flooding the bathroom with light then scooped her things back into her purse and fled the ladies’ room.
“The absolute worst!” she said through gritted teeth.
CHILDREN OF THE SERPENT will be available June 21st 2021 for Kindle and Kindle unlimited.