The final stories in our Valentine’s Day (Week) Flash hop: Evelise Archer and Skye Jones
To read the others, if you’re just catching up with us, here’s our participating authors: Jena Wade, Heloise West, Amelia Bishop, Mina Kelly, Kimber Vale, Shiloh Saddler, Eva LaFoy, Azalea Moone, Dakota Trace, Jade Crystal, JT Hall, Crane Hana, and ND Wylders.
And now, my flash short. It’s an interlude between the book I’m finishing right now (the prequel, since so many people had questions about how Glyn and Levi got together), and my first book, Bite Me Tender. The story of Levi and Glyn’s first Valentine’s together, something which is a little more complicated when one of you is an alpha werewolf and the other is a slightly magic-challenged witch.
Fire, Fur, and Faulty Genetics
Levi stomped snow off his boots before sidling into the kitchen of the old farm house. It was his and Glyn’s first real Valentine’s Day. He had wine, fancy bacon wrapped steaks, and baking potatoes for supper. Even a bouquet of flowers. He put the food in the fridge, opened one of the bottles of wine so Glyn wouldn’t complain, and went looking for a vase.
Fifteen unsuccessful minutes later, he put the flowers in an old beer stein.
Still pretty. He hoped Glyn would like them. Glyn was romantic, but in odd ways that didn’t entirely make sense to Levi.
He got out the broom to sweep up some scattered petals before Mr. Neatnik appeared from whatever hole he was hiding in. It was unusual for him not to be right out, but probably for the best. There was no way Glyn could ignore the presence of a small wrapped package. Cats had nothing on witches for curiosity. Levi smirked as he hid it in the cupboard next to the woodstove.
Which was cold. Strange. And out of character for Glyn, who usually lit it as soon as he got home. Levi frowned and shoved crumpled newspaper in the firebox, added kindling, then tossed in a lit match. A few chunks of maple ensured the fire would keep burning.
Where’s Glyn? His wolf, still sluggish under the new moon, didn’t care and huddled into a tight ball when he tried to coax some help from it. Well, fuck you, too. Asshole. He was on his own.
He tried Glyn’s phone–it rang from the front hallway. That was definitely worrying, but at least he knew Glyn was somewhere nearby.
Unless he wasn’t.
Levi searched every room, every closet and even under the beds. Coming down the stairs, he stared at Glyn’s phone for a long moment before putting his winter coat on and going back outside.
Between the dark and the general confusion of prints in the snow around the yard, he’d missed the tracks when he first came home. Now that he’d found them, the path Glyn had taken was easy to follow.
What’s he doing in the woods? Unless it’s a witch thing. Who knew? Levi was still trying to get his head around that shit. He hadn’t noticed it much in New York, but it was sure hard to miss out here in the country.
And whose fault is it that he’s stuck out here with you?
After ten minutes of careful tracking, he found Glyn, stark naked in the snow, with his arms tangled in the branches of a young alder.
“What the hell—are you trying to kill yourself?” Levi rushed to lift him out of the snow, but Glyn fended him off. His teeth chattered so hard he could barely speak.
“I’m fine. I’ll be in soon. Go.” His hands shook like he was palsied as he wrapped them around the tree’s limbs again.
“No, you won’t be fine. Where are your clothes, you idiot?”
Nowhere, it seemed, so Levi stripped off his coat and was about to throw it around Glyn’s shoulders when Glyn began to curse. “Don’t grow, just suck it down!” he shouted, and shook the tree viciously.
On closer inspection, Levi could see where the buds at the ends of the branches had started to swell, now a pale green that grew darker at the tip. “Is that you?”
“It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to go down through the roots, but the ground is too hard and I’m a fucking disaster.” Glyn slammed his hand down into the snow, then yelped when it melted in a spectacular burst of heat and the dried leaves and dead branches beneath erupted into flame.
Levi kicked snow over the fire. “You’re coming home where you can explain this to me before you freeze to death.” He took advantage of Glyn opening his mouth to argue—because Glyn always argued—and trapped his lover firmly in its folds. While Glyn sputtered in anger, Levi lifted him into his arms and set off for home.
This close, he could feel the weight of energy Glyn was carrying. One of his fingers brushed across the bare skin of Glyn’s leg and he staggered. It felt like a blast from a firehose, a thunderous rush of energy that crashed painfully through him. His wolf howled and rushed for shelter.
Levi found himself on his knees with no sense of how much time had passed. His arms were still clamped around Glyn, who frantically shouted his name. “I’m fine,” he slurred, though he wasn’t entirely sure it was the truth.
“Lady’s sake, Levi, let me go so I don’t do this to you again. Why do you think I was out here? It’s not like I enjoy winter.”
“No.” His head was clearing now. “We’ll talk at the house.” Levi staggered to his feet and continued, careful not to set off any more unexpected bursts of energy. He still remembered the inferno in Glyn’s condo..
By the time he reached the back step, he was nearly as cold as Glyn, but he got them inside and settled around the stove with a couple of his grandmother’s quilts.
“Talk,” he said, when their shivers had slowed.
Glyn shrugged. “You felt it. Do you feel safe around me?”
“I know you don’t mean to hurt me.”
“It never stops me, does it?” In a near whisper, Glyn added, “Fucking cripple.”
“What do you need?”
“You were looking for something. What was it?” Fifty-fifty chance he’d even understand the answer, but he had to ask.
“I need—” Glyn pressed his lips tight together and gave a short, sharp breath. “I need a path to the Heart of Earth.”
Yep, Glyn logic. “Why?”
“Because I’m not capable of dumping energy on my own.”
“Where do I find it for you?”
Glyn ran a hand through his hair. “Living things, with roots in the earth. Dead things, if they go deep enough. I don’t have the—control—to work with anything less.”
“Are you feeling better after…”
“Yes.” A pause. “I’m sorry. I’ll bet you regret taking me in.”
“Never.” Levi leaned over and kissed him. “I have something for you. Wait here.” He plucked the package from its hiding place and handed it to Glyn.
Glyn looked at it with an odd expression. “What’s this for?”
“Valentine’s. Got supper too. And wine.” When Glyn raised an eyebrow, Levi laughed. “Good wine. I asked.”
The corners of Glyn’s lips twitched up and he looked down at the box. “I was just planning to seduce you.”
“You can still, but open your present first.”
Still, Glyn only turned it over in his hands. “I never got you anything.” He looked up. “We don’t do Valentine’s in the coven.”
“This isn’t the coven.” For a moment, Levi thought he’d said the wrong thing. But then Glyn smiled, and it wasn’t his usual sharp-as-a-blade smile, but something gentler.
“All right.” He peeled back the paper, revealing a book with a worn leather cover. “Through the Looking Glass.” He opened it to the front page. “Signed.” He looked up. “Where did you get this?”
“Online.” Levi reached out to take one of Glyn’s hands. “I’m sorry for the fire. I’m sorry you lost all your things, your life there. I though this could be a start, rebuild your collection.”
“Foolish human.” Glyn squeezed back. “I never lost anything that mattered.” He pulled Levi into a long kiss in the warmth of the fire.