Sons of Fire
The Demon Realm, Present Day
Adramelech, King of Fire, stood before all the souls he had gathered, admiring the fruits of his labor. Collecting and shepherding them to his realm had taken work, but it was nothing compared to all the time and effort he had expended to reach this moment: his moment of triumph. The pale energy orbs of the damned, thousands of them, floated above the parched brown floor, drifting aimlessly, bumping into each other or into the black-hot walls of stone around them. The stage was now set for him to finally seize control from his impotent ‘Master.’
“Come to me, Fire,” he called.
A moment passed before his offspring shimmered into being several paces away. The Prince cast a vacant stare upon Adramelech, awaiting orders. The young demon’s strong torso was bare, his dark hair hanging over the translucent skin of his face. Dragonfire swirled beneath the skin’s surface, lending the impression of movement to his form. His eyes were black with hunger while his handsome, human-like figure swelled with power.
The offspring was a paradox of mental weakness and physical fortitude that had taken two hundred years to create and shape. But now it had, at last, come to fruition and Adramelech knew that his efforts had been well spent. The being before him contained so much power that it only held its pretty visage through sheer force of will. And still it wanted more. Always hungry, always obedient, always his.
“It is time, my Fire,” crooned Adramelech. “Do you understand what you must do?”
The boy-shaped demon nodded.
“First, I will give unto you what remains of my power. When I leave, you must follow the instructions exactly as I have lain them out. Remember, above all else, that it is still my power. I will not become another Lucifer, who cast his strength into a sword and imprisoned himself in ice for all eternity. My sword will behave. If you fail, I shall be forced to resort to my back-up plan. And believe me that the alternate arrangement is something you would not want to experience.”
The Prince nodded, eyes still dull and hungry. Adramelech knew his Fire would not speak unless he himself requested it.
“Do you have any questions?”
The demon shook his head.
“Then let us begin.” Adramelech willed the power within every molecule of his own form to flow to the surface, watching his creation’s eyes glow in anticipation. Indeed, the only time his heir came to life was when a large feeding was expected. The boy-shaped demon opened its mouth as Adramelech began to speak. “I, Adramelech, Son of Lucifer, offer a portion of my power unto you.”
“I, Fire, Son of Adramelech…” the Prince began.
“You must include the ridiculous human title Paimon bestowed unto you,” Adramelech corrected. “It is your written name and therefore necessary for the ritual.”
“I, Aidan Fire, Son of Adramelech, accept the power and take it unto my form to hold, so that Adramelech, King of Fire, may wield both it and I as he sees fit.”
Adramelech focused his power into a beam of energy and shot it toward his creation. Even as the Prince’s power swelled and his eyes turned the golden hue of Dragonfire, he accepted the gift hungrily. Adramelech considered all that he had wrought and was pleased.
“Fort Collins Public Library, how can I help you?”
“Yes. Hello. I have a question about a book.”
“Yes, sir. That’s wonderful. I can’t wait to hear it.”
“Well, it’s not a question about a book, per se. I’m looking for something specific. To read.”
“Well, you’re talking to the right girl. I’m a book expert. I even have the pencil skirt, tight white blouse, severe ponytail, and dark-framed glasses to prove it.”
“Hmmm. What’s your name? It’s just… I like to use a woman’s name when I talk books with them.”
“Ohhh… Tara. I’m Tara. Do you… like women who talk books back to use your name as well?”
“Hmmm. Intriguing question, Tara. I’ve never thought about it before. But yes. Yes. I’d like that. I’m Lonnie. A too-smart, button-down-shirt-wearing accountant who loves numbers and making things… balance.”
“Balancing. I like that.”
“What kind of balancing are you picturing? Like… financial statements and checkbooks?”
“Nnn-nooooo. More like… the kind of balance you need when a hot, sexy accountant is fucking you up against a wall.”
“Sorry. My imagination is… well, wild. And I’m a bit bored at the moment. There’s absolutely no one else here in the library with me. I guess I’m just looking for a little fun while no one’s watching.”
“Are you sure you’re a librarian?”
“Positive. But I’d like to clarify one thing before we continue. I don’t mind people watching.”
“Now tell me. What kind of specific book are you looking for? I’m excited at the prospect of pleasing you.”
“This might sound a little weird, Tara.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ve heard it all, Lonnie.”
“It’s a very… odd trope I’m looking for.”
“Trust me, Lonnie. I’m here to help. What trope are you looking for today?”
“OK, so… it’s the one about the… well, let’s call him under-socialized—”
“Got it. Our protagonist is a man who is maybe… an accountant?”
“Great. Keep going.”
“And he meets this… other under-socialized person. Female. Maybe a…”
“Yes! Exactly. This accountant meets a librarian and they…”
“Have cam sex?”
“Mmmm… not quite. But close.”
“OK. I think I understand. But I need a little clarification, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind at all, Tara. How can I clarify?”
“Well, this accountant. Can you give me a better description? Just so, you know, I can clearly envision this… book… in my head.”
“Sure. He’s about six foot four.”
“Yeah. He’s big.”
“Big as in…?”
“But he’s big in other ways too.”
“Yeah. Like… you know. Biiiig.”
“Big as in… I can’t fit my hand around it?”
“How big are your hands?”
“Small to average.”
“Then definitely not.”
“I see. OK. Got it. He’s girthy.”
“Well, his hair is light brown.”
“Let’s go with hazel.”
“Hazel green? Hazel blue? Or hazel brown?”
“Oh. I’m eating pudding. And I just licked my spoon. It’s delicious.”
“Mmmm. Pudding. OK. I have a better picture of our hero. But what of our heroine? This… librarian.”
“Well… she’s a typical librarian. And you’re a librarian.”
“That I am, Lonnie.”
“Well, this librarian is on the small side.”
“Small as in petite? Or small as in… not more than a mouthful?”
“Oh. So she’s ample in all the right places. Like me.”
“Like you, huh?”
“And she wears… well, pencil skirts.”
“Also like me.”
“And a tight, white, button-down blouse that shows off her ample…”
“I was going to say ‘pocket protector.’”
“You’re making this difficult.”
“I’m on my lunch break here.”
“Oh, am I disturbing you?”
“Not at all. I’m just waiting for you to get to the good parts.”
“The part where they bond over books and numbers?”
“No, the part where he talks dirty to her on the phone while she’s on her lunch break so she can come on her fingers and make him pretend to lick them.”
“It’s not funny. Come on!”
“I know. I’m done with it. I gave you the perfect in and all you had to do was say, ‘Yeah, the kind of balance when he fucks her against a wall’ and we’d be halfway home right now!”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
“You’re doing this on purpose! You know I only get thirty minutes for lunch today! It’s book club Monday and I’ve got every damn housewife in Fort Collins in here with her wine-stained book-of-the-month-club edition paperback acting like she’s all literate and shit.”
I laugh again.
“Lonnie. Phone-fuck me right now. Or I’m hanging up and never answering your pervy calls again.”
Socks for an Otter
As Louis balanced the cooler on a hip and tried to find the End Call button through his tears—caused by the biting wind, of course—he slammed into something.
“Shit. Watch where you’re going, asshole. Am I invisible?”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you through my—”
Words failed Louis as the angry young man faced him, but his words didn’t fail him because of the rage directed his way. No, it was the man’s serious eyes, his innocent face hidden behind a mask of facial hair that reminded Louis of the first and only guy he’d kissed, the guy who changed how Louis defined his sexuality.
“I’m seriously sorry. I was distracted.” He presented the cooler. “Here. Do you like blue crab? Have some. I have a whole cooler full and it needs to be eaten soon.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I’m not. Here. It’s worth a lot on the market. At least a couple hundred.”
“You’re fucking with me now, right?” the guy said as he took a step closer.
Louis took a step back.
“I’m not into the illegal seafood trade. Do I look like I am?”
“No.” Louis shook his head. “I’m sorry. I’m flustered. Sorry for running into you. I was on the phone with my—”
The guy held up his hand. “I get it. You’re distracted by your perfect life. You feel bad, so you’re offering me something of value. But you see, your precious blue crab is valueless to me right now. More than anything, I want cheese and soup and something that sticks to my ribs and gets me through this fucking storm. The few bites of meat I’d get from one of your pretty crabs wouldn’t cut it. What else you got in there? Roe? Escargot? Fucking oysters? ’Cause if I find a pearl, then maybe I can eat for more than a day or two.”
“I’ll cook for you,” slipped out before Louis could stop himself. “Come back to my place. Eat as many as you want. I’ve got more at home. You can help me eat them. As many as you want.”
Louis hoped the guy read the tears in his eyes as wind-inspired rather than what they really were: the realization of just how pathetic his life had become.
Louis was so fucking lonely, he’d just begged a stranger to let him cook for him. All so he wouldn’t be alone.
The guy spun on his heel and stalked away, tucking his chin deeper into his coat. With each step, the sole on his right shoe slapped. It was unglued and looked like it wouldn’t make it through the night.
Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.
Louis was that shoe.
An Unexpected Gift
by Krista Grayce
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Publication Date: November 25, 2019
Janie Nolan’s future had never been more uncertain, she was just learning to live with the loss of her mother from cancer, she suddenly finds herself jobless after an unexpected diagnosis with autism at the age of fifty-five. The thought of moving back to her childhood home in the idyllic town of Cape May, New Jersey to assess her future is a daunting proposal. It is in that sleepy shore town that she must reconnect with her abusive father. Now ailing, he has handed over control of the family business, a failing small theater, as a possible means for a fresh start. However, Janie is uncertain as to what his true motives might be.
Alec Ryan, a handsome, former intern of her father’s and now a successful Broadway producer and director arrives from New York carrying his own tumultuous past with plans to assist Janie in restoring the theater to its former glory. Along the way, Alec discovers qualities in Janie that prove she is more than just her diagnosis and resolves to help restore Janie as well, simultaneously putting his own demons to rest and learning to love again.
But when the small town gossip mill begins to buzz about Alec and a piece of jewelry left by her mother is revealed, Janie learns of a secret that may take things in another direction could change the course of her life forever.
HI! Just to tell you a bit about myself. I have lived in Seattle, WA most of my life however I was raised in New York and spent summers in Cape May, NJ. Most of my work is set on the beaches and beach towns of the Jersey Shore. I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen years old and continued to write poetry and short stories for the following years. I have had articles and papers published as well as photographs that were published in a book entitled "Rock and Roll Memorabilia II".
I hold an AA degree in Business Management. I never obtained a degree in Literary Arts or Writing per se but I feel I come by my writing talent organically as William Shakespeare is my 1st cousin 12 times removed.
"An Unexpected Gift" is my debut novel. Like Janie, the main character in the novel, I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism at the age of forty-eight however I am proud to share this diagnosis with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickenson as well as many others. I see my autism as a gift from God. It has given me a high intellect and innate talent that I use as a tool to enlighten the rest of the world to the plight of adults with autism.
Like many people on the spectrum, I never married or had children which is sadly my greatest regret. I currently live with my wonderful sister Kendra and my three cats Tyler, Tabitha and Teddy in Spokane, WA. I am planning to move back to the New Jersey Shore as soon as possible.
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