Free Fiction Thursday – Love Stinks, Inc.

Annie HS cover webLove Stinks, Inc.

Annie Reed

1

Dyte glared at the black cat perched on the center of her desk. It couldn’t stare back at her since it was just one of the many wildly successful plush toys her company produced, but that didn’t stop her from hating its adorable little guts.

The cat held a puffy red heart in its front paws. The universal Don’t Do This symbol, a circle with a slash through the center, was printed on the red satin fabric along with the stylized logo for Dyte’s company—Love Stinks, Inc.

The plush cat was part of this year’s line of stuffed animals meant to appeal to chronically unattached women (and chronically unattached men confident enough in their masculinity to buy themselves a stuffed toy). Given her company’s more than healthy bottom line, the world contained about a bazillion single people who didn’t mind dishing out $9.95 for a fuzzy toy to cuddle with on Valentine’s Day just to make themselves feel better about being alone.

Just like Dyte was alone.

She leaned forward, planted her elbows on the smooth surface of her desk, and rested her chin in her hands so she could gaze at the cat at something approximating its eye level.

“What’s your secret?” she muttered at the cat. “Why do people love you so much?”

She should be happy the toys were so successful. A significant amount of her company’s research and development budget had gone into determining a perfect size for the plush toys (big enough to cuddle but not so big they would give a real cat or dog or skunk a run for its money), the length and thickness of their fake black fur (somewhere between shorthair and Persian, when measured in feline terms), and the color of their over-sized eyes (a washed out blue somewhat darker than the noontime sky uncluttered by clouds but not as deep as the clear blue of a high mountain lake). That still didn’t the ridiculous popularity of the things. Even the skunks.

At least the toys weren’t spelled. She’d put her foot down (metaphorically speaking) at the mere suggestion, even though both R & D and her sales department had lobbied long and hard for inclusion of a compulsion spell—a “minor” one, they had assured her—in the stuffing inside the red satin heart all the plush toys held.

As far as she was concerned, customers would either buy her company’s products because they wanted to, or they wouldn’t. The last thing she wanted to do was compel people to fall in love with a stuffed toy.

Compelling people to fall in love was her dad’s thing, not hers. It was hard enough to be taken seriously in business when you were the immortal daughter of Cupid and Psyche, and you had a ridiculous name like Dyte because your mom thought it would be a nice tribute to name you after your grandmother.

Like Aphrodite had ever given one whit about her granddaughter.

Which was fine with Dyte. From the stories she’d heard, grandmother had a vindictive streak a mile wide, just like a lot of the old gods in the family tree. Even though Dyte was an immortal like her parents, she was glad to stay off grandmother’s radar.

If only she’d managed to keep her private life off her dad’s radar.

(end of sample)

~~~

Love Stinks, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Annie Reed

This story is no longer available to read for free, but it can be purchased at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.

Be sure to check out the other stories in the Uncollected Anthology series!

New Release!

Happy New Year, everyone!

To kick off 2015 with a bang, the third issue of the Uncollected Anthology releases today, and this time around the anthology welcomes its first totally awesome guest author — USA Today bestseller Kristine Kathryn Rusch!!  Woot!  (Can you tell I’m excited? *g*)

This issue’s theme is Heartspells, and my contribution is “Love Stinks, Inc.,” featuring none other than Dyte, the immortal daughter of Cupid and Psyche, who made her first appearance in my Diz & Dee story “Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My.”

Annie HS cover webIf you’re unfamiliar with the Uncollected Anthology, here’s the deal:

Each quarter all of the UA authors pick a theme and write stories to that theme.  This quarter’s theme is Heartspells.  Each story is published individually, so it’s kind of like going to a buffet–you only buy the stories you like.  Of course, we hope you’ll buy them all, and I think you’ll want to–they’re just that good.

Who are the other authors participating in the Uncollected Anthology, you ask?  Here’s this issue’s lineup:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Dayle A. Dermatis

Leah Cutter

Michelle Lang

Leslie Claire Walker

Phaedra Weldon

They’re fabulous writers, each and every one of them, and I’m a big fan.  In fact, that’s how the Uncollected Anthology started.  We’re all fans of each other’s work, and we wanted to read more of it.  I hope you will too.

Free Fiction Thursday – The Snow Queen

Just in time for the holidays, this story will be free to read for two weeks!

Snow Queen web

1

Gunther missed snow.

Back home when he’d been a kid, come the first of November, more often than not he’d wake to big, fat, fluffy flakes sailing down from the sky like soft little pieces of cotton candy.

Put enough of those flakes together and he could build a silly snowman, complete with his big sister’s favorite knitted scarf, because what else were little brothers for than to torment their older sisters?

By the first of December, enough snow would have fallen to turn the hillside behind his family’s farm into the perfect place for sledding. Gunther and his sister took turns swooshing down the hill on his dad’s old sled, avoiding the oak trees and rocky outcroppings that dotted the hill. They didn’t stop even when their noses turned red from the cold and their feet got numb, but just kept right on sledding until it got too dark to see.

Snow days started with steaming mugs of his mother’s hot chocolate and his father’s special omelets filled with home-smoked bacon and sharp cheddar and ended with everyone warming frosty fingers and toes before a roaring fireplace after an enthusiastic snowball fight or two. Even as he got older and strong coffee replaced hot chocolate and an apartment in the city replaced his parents’ farm, Gunther still got a thrill every morning when he’d wake up to falling snow.

Snow softened harsh noises. Snow took the rough edges off things. Snow made November feel like winter and made December feel magical, frosting strings of twinkling Christmas lights into blurry little stars of red and green and blue.

That had been December in the Midwest.

December in Moretown Bay, a coastal city smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, was nothing but dull and gray and dreary.

Icy rain pelted the shoulders of Gunther’s heavy winter coat and ran down the sides of his neck as he bent to unlock the iron security gate at Chocolatapus, a specialty candy store located in a trendy waterfront marketplace complete with cobblestone streets and an open-air craft market during the summer.

Unlike the used bookstore and curio shop next door run by a curmudgeonly old wizard who only opened the place to the public for an hour a day on the second and third Tuesdays of every other month (most of the wizard’s customers shopped by appointment only), Chocolatapus was open seven days a week, ten hours a day.

As the store’s manager, Gunther worked most of those days and hours, but to tell the truth, he didn’t mind. It wasn’t like he did much with his time off anyway, and besides, working at Chocolatapus had turned into the best job Gunther had ever had since he’d left home nearly ten years ago. Not that being the manager of a candy store was exactly where he saw himself ending up after all the time, not to mention money, he’d spent earning a college degree.

He might even like Moretown Bay if only it didn’t rain so much in the winter. Which made winter seem like spring and summer and fall, only a little colder. And which today made him miss his family and home and snow days all the more.

As for Chocolatapus, the store was pretty nearly perfect. It sold milk chocolate and exotic dark chocolate and every kind of chocolate in between, along with silky caramels and chewy taffy, salty-sweet kettle corn and crunchy almond brittle. In December, the store also stocked Gunther’s favorite: swirly peppermint sticks that reminded him of the candy canes that always appeared as if by magic on his family’s Christmas tree on Christmas morning. With long glass display cases filled with sweet treats lining both side of the narrow shop, the store felt warm and cozy and smelled like his mother’s hot chocolate mixed with all the best memories of his childhood.

After Gunther pushed the heavy iron security gate away from the front door, he murmured the words of the spell that would disable the wards around the front door.

Gunther didn’t have any magic of his own—no one in his family did—but more magic folk than Gunther had ever seen anywhere else lived in Moretown Bay. Spells that could be used by regular old humans were available for purchase from licensed witches and wizards pretty much anywhere in the city. For all he knew, the curmudgeonly old wizard who owned the shop next door sold spells on the side.

Of course, spells could also be reversed for the right price.

(end of sample)

~~~

This story is no longer available to read for free, but it can be purchased at Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Be sure to check out the other stories in the Uncollected Anthology series!

Free Fiction Friday – The Magic of Home

This week’s free fiction story celebrates the first issue of the Uncollected Anthology with my contribution, The Magic of Home.  This story will be available to read for free right here until August 15th.  Enjoy!

Annie MM for website

THE MAGIC OF HOME

Annie Reed

The motorcycle whispered to Twig as they zoomed past the shipyards at the south end of Moretown Bay.

Home.

Tucked safely inside her helmet, the tips of Twig’s long ears quivered in response to the motorcycle’s rumbling voice. She felt its yearning not only in the subtle change in its magic, but in the throaty roar of the engine as they increased speed, racing north on I-5 toward the city that shared its name with the bay.

Twig leaned forward. “Almost there,” she said. “Almost there.”

Her words tore apart on the damp night air rushing past her, but she knew their meaning would still reach the heart of the machine that had been her friend for a decade. Not all magical beings needed ears to hear or words to understand.

As much as she wanted to get them both home, they couldn’t afford to draw the attention of any police—or wizards—who might be patrolling the freeway.

I-5 passed through the center of the city as the freeway wound its way north into Canada, a wide ribbon of asphalt and concrete hemmed in by high-rise office buildings, luxury hotels, and apartment buildings too rich for Twig’s blood. This part of the freeway had always been heavily patrolled. Twig doubted that had changed in the years she’d been gone, so she throttled back on the engine to bring their speed closer to the surrounding traffic.

The motorcycle fought her, so Twig whispered soothing words to it until it accepted her decision. She hoped it was the right one.

Under other circumstances, just seeing the city itself might have taken her breath away. Tonight the sky was clear. No fog had rolled in off the water to obscure the view, and the tall buildings in the city center gleamed like jewels against the starry sky. She could make out the spires of the Justice Center, gleaming white and silver like a monument to law and order for all, human and magic folk alike. Spotlights had turned the modern glass and steel Trexler Towers blue and green, the colors for a local sports team.

Twig wasn’t surprised that the city was still celebrating the team’s world championship, even though that particular sport wasn’t truly played on a global scale. Everyone, magic folk and humans alike, needed something outside themselves to believe in.

Hurry, the motorcycle whispered. Gillfoil approaches.

Twig tensed. As sensitive as her ears were to the currents of magic in the world around her, the motorcycle’s senses far exceeded hers. If the motorcycle felt the presence of the gang’s enforcer, that meant he was near.

“Where?” she asked.

Behind. Less than a mile.

“Can we make it?”

The motorcycle hesitated. Twig could imagine her friend calculating speed and distance, and the effect of mass and magic on both.

No.

(end of sample)

~~~

The Magic of Home is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out the other stories in the Uncollected Anthology series!

Free Fiction Thursday – Here, Kitty Kitty

Kitty Kitty webPrivate investigator Dee and her gorgeous but grumpy elf partner Diz find missing people for a living. Tracking down a fairy’s missing ceramic cat should be a snap, right?

Dee should have known any case involving one of the fey would lead to disaster. Much less an angry little fairy who hurls weapons at her head and yells at her in Japanese.

To save her skull and find the kitty, Dee and her partner plunge headlong into the world of manga, anime, and cosplay. Diz might never be the same again.

This story is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Here, Kitty Kitty

Annie Reed

I dove behind my desk as my miniature Zen garden went whizzing past me. The garden’s stone base slammed into the wall right about where my head had been a split second ago, sand rained down into my hair, and I wondered what else I’d left lying around the front office that the little fairy might decide to throw at me.

My name’s Dee, and I’m a private investigator. Clients usually don’t show up at my office and launch deadly weapons at me. Along with my partner, Diz, I run D & D Investigations. People—and by that I’m loosely referring to elves, leprechauns, Greek gods, and my family—hire us to find loved ones who’ve gone missing.

We rent office space in a shabby building on the inland side of Moretown Bay. The neighborhood’s seen better times, but I like it. A masseuse with a unique flair for marketing and questionable taste in aromatics has a shop across the street, and there’s an Asian store next to the office run by a very nice lady who two days ago introduced me to the little fairy currently hovering over my desk and yelling at me in Japanese.

I don’t speak Japanese. I think my dog might since his usual Golden Retriever grin was dialed up to a near giggle.

“Want to let me in on the joke?” I asked him as I crouched behind my desk clutching my battered executive chair like it was a shield.

Dog didn’t say anything. He only speaks to me in my visions. And yes, that’s his name until he tells me otherwise.

We’d been having a nice afternoon at the office, Dog and I, up until the fairy barged through the door. Diz was off doing whatever tall, grumpy, gorgeous elves do—by themselves—after they crack a case with their partner. Dog had been curled up asleep in a small patch of actual sunshine coming through the front windows. I didn’t blame him. Clouds, rain, and mist are the norm in Moretown Bay. Rare slices of sunshine should always be celebrated with a good nap. My cat was probably doing the same thing in my upstairs apartment unless she was still pouting. She hasn’t quite forgiven me for allowing a dog to invade her life.

Faced with an office full of sleeping animals and no cases to work on, I’d been trying to distract myself from obsessing over my terminally single state, this time with Zen meditation. Diz told me recently that I should learn to live in the moment and enjoy the process instead of focusing so hard on the results. He thinks that might help me control my visions. I’m not an elf or a fairy or any other brand of magical folk. Vanilla human, that’s me, only with a seriously unreliable touch of precognition. Since I suck at living in the moment, I thought learning Zen meditation might help, hence the little desk-top sand garden I’d purchased at the Asian market two days ago.

I’d been sitting at my desk raking lines in that stupid little plot of sand for what seemed like hours, trying to stop thinking about my partner’s pointy ears and the one time I’d witnessed the tantalizing curve of his towel-covered derriere and just be in the moment, when our latest supposedly happy client flew in the door, picked up the Zen garden, and threw it at my head. I ducked just in time. She’s got quite an arm for someone only ten inches tall.

“Okay, okay!” I said from behind the safety of my desk. Which, let’s face it, isn’t all that safe when the fairy hurling weapons at your head can fly just about anywhere she wants to. “I get that you’re angry. Want to let me in on why?”

(end of sample)

# # #

“Here, Kitty Kitty” previously appeared in Fiction River #1: Unnatural Worlds

Copyright © 2014 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Free Fiction Thursday – Famous

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Lots of fun stuff this week.  If you look over at the sidebar under New Releases, I’m happy to announce that the next issue of Fiction River–How to Save the World–is out, and it includes my story “The Shape of a Name.”  Cool beans!  How to Save the World is available in ebook and will be available soon in paperback and audio formats as well.  You can also subscribe to the entire Fiction River series, which is a heck of a good deal.

I also just got done listening to the audio of Fiction River #1: Unnatural Worlds.  Boy, was that fun or what?  The book was narrated by a full cast, who all did a great job.  It’s the first time I’ve heard a story of mine narrated.  Jane Kennedy did a wonderful job with my Diz & Dee story “Here, Kitty Kitty.”

This week’s free fiction is my dark fantasy story “Famous,” which has a brand spanking new cover as well as a paperback edition that’s currently on sale at Amazon.  Enjoy!

Famous cover smallweb

Famous

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Annie Reed

The cab pulled into the loading zone in front of Kitty’s Kool Kat Lounge.  The pink neon sign over the entrance promised live nude dancers.  Jeremy doubted they’d be totally nude, but that wasn’t what he was really here for.

“Seventeen-fifty,” said the cab driver.

The windshield wipers slapped a steady beat against the late night rain off the Bay as Jeremy dug out two tens from his wallet.  Enough for a tip, not enough to make an impression on the driver.  Not enough for the man to remember he was here.

Jeremy passed the money through the slot in the clear plastic shield between the driver and the back seat.  “Keep the change,” he said.

The driver grunted as he took the cash.  He was a bald guy twice Jeremy’s age.  He had a scar bisecting one eyebrow, and the kind of muscular neck Jeremy had seen on guys who worked out but never really bulked up.  The driver’s eyes were bloodshot, and he had enough scruff on his lined face to make him look like Bruce Willis after a three-day bender.  He’d driven as if he was sober, and he’d taken Jeremy to the kind of place he wanted to go.  Beyond that, Jeremy didn’t care if the guy was drunk off his ass.  In fact, that might make things easier in the long run.

“Let me give you a piece of advice,” the driver said.

Jeremy was about ready to make a run from the cab to the club.  The driver hadn’t said a word to him since Jeremy caught the cab downtown and asked the guy to take him to a nightclub, any nightclub, in The Shadows.  Jeremy kept his hand on the door handle but didn’t open the door.

“I give you a tip and now you talk to me?” he said.

The driver looked at him in the rear view mirror.  “Think you’re a smart guy, don’t you?”

Jeremy tensed.  “What did you say to me?”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Bluesman

Good morning, everyone!

This has been a pretty cool week so far.  Fiction River #1 – Unnatural Worlds – released this week with my brand new Diz & Dee story “Here, Kitty Kitty.”  I always love getting contributor copies.  There’s just something about holding the book in my hands — I don’t think I’ll ever get past the awesomeness of that. *g* If you’d like your very own copy, it’s available at Amazon in both ebook and paperback, and also from Ella Distribution.

I also have a new release from Thunder Valley Press.  “Bluesman” takes me back to the days when I actually played guitar– in front of an audience, no less — only thank goodness, I never had an experience like the blues guitarist in this story.  Enjoy!

Bluesman ebook cover small

Bluesman

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright © Depositphotos | InConcert

Johnny ripped the wrapping paper off what he knew had to be another lame-ass inspirational poster as his momma belted out the last off-key strains of “Happy Birthday.”

He’d put her call on speaker so he could hear her sing while he opened her present.  There for a minute, she’d actually made his cell phone rattle around the metal top of the battered TV tray he used for a table in the low-rent motel room where he lived.

She didn’t have the greatest singing voice, his momma.  She used to tell him he yanked whatever musicality she had right on out of her when he was born and took it all for himself.

What she lacked in skill, she more than made up for with enthusiasm and volume.  Every year she insisted on singing to him on his birthday whether they were together or not.  This year found him in Vegas trying to get a gig.  She was still back home in Mississippi.  As far as Johnny knew, she’d never left the delta, not in her entire life.

“Happy birthday, baby!” she said when she was done singing.  “How you like my present?”

For once, Johnny didn’t know what to say.

The posters his momma sent always had sayings like Soar With The Eagles or Believe In Yourself coupled with photographs of high mountain peaks covered in snow or beautiful, sandy beaches, the sun setting low over the water.

She was a great believer in the power of positive thinking.  Life had pretty much sucked the positive out of him, but every year he still thanked her for her gift and said something nice about it because she was his momma and she loved him, and it was only polite.

This year he couldn’t quite bring himself to say “Cool picture, momma,” or “You’re so good to me, thinking about me like that,” like he did usually did, even though he always threw the poster away as soon as he got off the phone.

“You got me dead rock stars?” he said instead.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – My Cousin, the Rabbit

Happy Thursday, everyone!

This weekend marks the second year I’ll be spending Easter at Sakura-Con in Seattle. Last year’s con experience had a direct influence on the brand new Diz and Dee story, “Here, Kitty Kitty,”  I wrote for Fiction River # 1 – Unnatural Worlds.  Who knows what kind of mayhem this year’s con will inspire. 🙂

You’ll be able to purchase Unnatural Worlds beginning next month. I’ve seen the rest of the stories in this volume, and trust me, they’re all kickass. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Fiction River family, and I’ll have some more cool announcements along that line as the year progresses. As they used to say in television land, “stay tuned.”

In the meantime, in honor of the holiday, this week’s Free Fiction Thursday story finds Diz and Dee tracking down Dee’s missing cousin Harold, who has a unique problem with the Easter season. I hope you enjoy “My Cousin, the Rabbit.”

my cousin cover art

My Cousin, The Rabbit

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

I was balancing my morning coffee and a bag of donuts in one hand and fumbling with the key to my office with the other when my cell phone rang.

I’m not a morning person.  I’m also not the world’s greatest cook.  Even though I live in the apartment upstairs from my office, I go out most mornings for coffee and something my mother would not approve of as breakfast food.  So when I recognized the ring tone I’d assigned to my mother — a snazzy little number that sounded like the music from Psycho right about the time Anthony Perkins goes gonzo on Janet Leigh with a knife in the shower — my first reaction was to drop the bag of donuts like a hot potato.

What?  Donuts?  Not me, mom.  I’m going upstairs to fix myself sprouts and granola right this minute.

Not that I had sprouts and granola in my apartment.  I barely had enough food for my cat.

The bag split open when it hit the sidewalk, spilling all that sugary goodness on the wet concrete.  So much for breakfast.  At least I still had my coffee.

I managed to get the office door unlocked and my cell phone out of my pocket before the call rang over to voicemail.

“Your cousin’s missing,” my mother said before I could even croak out a hello.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Just My Luck

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I’m back home after a marvelous — and productive — week on the Oregon coast. Lots of fun with writer and editor friends, I discovered exactly how awesome the BBC’s Sherlock is, and I even have some exciting publishing news that I can’t really talk about yet, some of which involves our intrepid heroes from this week’s story. Woot!

In honor of the upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day holiday, this week’s Free Fiction Thursday story features my urban fantasy detectives Diz and Dee, a leprechaun, a pot of gold, and the missing love of the wee man’s life. I hope you enjoy “Just My Luck.”

just my luck cover

 

Just My Luck

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

I’d just kicked back in my chair with my feet up on my desk, the first cup of coffee of the morning steaming a wonderful, fresh-brewed aroma, when a snazzy little man in a kelly green suit opened the door to my office.

When I say little, I mean this guy was little.  No more than three feet tall, he was perfectly proportioned, from tiny feet encased in black leather loafers to the top of his wee, curly-haired head.  He had chubby cheeks and coppery red hair, and a full beard to match.  Brilliant green eyes peered out at me from behind wire-rimmed, rectangular spectacles.

He shut the door firmly behind him then turned to face me.  He held a green fedora that matched his suit in hands that looked far stronger than their diminutive size implied.

“I’m wondering,” he said, his voice surprisingly deep for someone so small.  “Do you think you can help me, miss?  I’ve come about someone gone missing.”

That’s what I do.  I help people find other people.  I’m Dee, one half of D & D Investigations, and as the sign says on the glass window in the front office, Missing Persons Are Our Specialty.

However, just because someone’s polite enough to call me “Miss” doesn’t mean I’m a pushover.

I dropped my feet on the floor, sat up straight, and narrowed my eyes at my potential client.  Except for his size and his red hair, this guy bore more than a passing resemblance to Cupid… er, Eros.  I’ve already helped one member of the God of Love’s huge family, and instead of a “thank you” for my trouble, I got a box of bad-tasting Valentine’s Day chocolates and a tantalizing yet all too brief glimpse of my partner’s towel-clad physique.

“You’re not related to Eros, are you?” I asked.

The little man blinked.  “Not that I’m aware of.”

“And you’re not an elf?”

He blinked again.  “No.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against elves.  My partner’s an elf.  A tall one.  Diz, the other half of D & D, is built like The Rock back when The Rock was still The Rock and not Dwayne Johnson, movie star.  Trust me.  I’ve seen nearly all of Diz, and when I say he’s built, he’s really built.  Diz also has The Rock’s glower, without the raised eyebrow thing The Rock used to do, and about as much patience as I can fit in the tip of my little finger.   But Diz and I had a whole passel of dinky little elves for clients right before Christmas, and let me tell you, I’d give just about anything for a normal client right about now.

Not that I was going to get it.

“I’m a leprechaun,” the little man said.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Ties That Bind

Happy Thursday from the Oregon coast!

I never realize how much I miss the coast until I get here. Then I get a whiff of the ocean, surround myself with tall evergreens and the kind of flowering shrubs that the desert would suck the life right on out of, and bam — it hits me that it’s been far too long since I’ve been here. I’m even enjoying the rain.

Okay, enough nature nattering and on with this week’s free story. “Ties That Bind” is one of my urban fantasies set in the corporate world. Kind of. I hope you enjoy it.

ties cover v2

Ties That Bind

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

The first hint of trouble came from Gris in Research and Development.

“We’re having a bit of a problem getting the enchantments to stick to the new cuffs,” he said to me in an early morning phone call.

I’ve never done mornings well, but when you’re the wizard in charge of the largest magical enhancements company in Moretown Bay, and a woman in a man’s profession to boot, whether you do mornings well or not doesn’t matter one damn bit.

I leaned back in my leather chair and gazed out my tenth floor office window at the overcast sky.  The streets below were still wet from last night’s rain. I could almost smell the wet asphalt.  It would probably rain again today.  I pinched the bridge of my nose against an impending headache that wasn’t all sinuses.

“Is it the alloy or the spell?” I asked Gris.

“Can’t tell yet,” he said.  “We’re still testing.  Just thought you should know, Nell.  Considering.”

Yeah.  Considering.

My company had a contract with the city to supply enhanced weapons and restraints to the police department.  Research and Development had been testing redesigned handcuffs.  Lighter-weight with an easy snap-close lock, the new handcuffs were supposed to address problems the cops had with the old handcuff design.  Personally, I thought any set of handcuffs that could keep a changeling in its true shape or prevent a wizard from casting a spell to escape custody were good enough, but my father built this company by supplying our customers with whatever they wanted.  And what the customer I had a meeting with later today wanted was new and better handcuffs.

(read the rest of the story here )