Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with Nancy Northcott
Opening day of this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction event gives us a story from Nancy Northcott’s Light Mage Wars series. Nancy found inspiration for the story from this beautiful candle image. Check out the story, and afterward you can find the details for one of our first giveaways of the week!
by Nancy Northcott
“Go, go, go!” Gray Harris shouted as he flung fist-wide bolts of green magic at the attacking ghouls. Ghouls were the mageborn’s deadly enemies, human-looking but with lethally sharp, venomous talons.
Dani James raced down the forest road at his side, wheeling every few steps to throw a blue bolt at the ghouls. Gutsy. But he couldn’t let her get killed for it. Gray ducked a bolt of muddy yellow ghoul energy. Five hulking male ghouls plus two archaeology grad students equaled rotten odds.
Time for a change of plan.
Pulling life energy from the woods to recharge his magic, he yanked Dani close and snapped, “We’re going.”
He envisioned a spot about half a mile down the road and magically reached for the space between life and death. In a wave of biting cold, reality lurched sideways.
A couple of heartbeats later, the world came back. They were still on the rutted dirt track but closer to town. The ghouls’ frustrated roars sounded faintly in the distance.
“Hang on,” he said, and translocated again.
Three location shifts later, Gray hoped they were out of immediate danger. Reluctantly, he released Dani. She’d felt good in his arms. Why had he never really noticed her before this week? After all, they were in the same department.
She was maybe five six, with sleek black hair that brushed her shoulders, hazel eyes, and perfect curves. Which her jeans and red sweater showcased nicely.
Yeah, and if he hadn’t been scoping her out, he might’ve spotted the ghouls before the ambush. Now his pickup was toast, and he and Dani were stranded.
She was pulling out her cell. Gray tugged his out, too. No bars. Figured.
Frowning, she glanced around. “This is nowhere near the campsite.”
“Didn’t want to risk leading the ghouls there.”
She nodded. “Smart. Thanks for the strategic retreat.”
“My pleasure.” He gestured to the one-story cabin behind her. Shutters covered the windows, and the place had a deserted air. “I saw this when we explored the area earlier this week. Looks run down, but it should shelter us until help arrives.” The sun was setting, and October chill crept into the air. “I don’t like being out in the open if the ghouls are hunting us.”
“Good point. We should pick a translocation site if we need a quick getaway.”
“Also good.” He high-fived her. He did like a woman who could think in a crisis. Stepping onto the sagging porch, he drew energy from the forest to recharge.
Dani pointed at a big live oak about fifty yards away. “That tree would be a good landmark if we need to translocate out.”
“Got it.” He frowned at the door. “I’ve never magically picked a lock, but there’s a first time for everything.”
Dani watched Gray work at the lock with his usual low-key competence. Tall and dark-haired, with intense, gray eyes, broad shoulders, and a lean build, the man was definitely hot.
“Got it.” His liquid baritone created warm fizzies in her tummy. So not good when he was light years out of her league.
She’d caught him eyeing her a few times this week, but she knew better than to read much into that. Looking was a guy habit, not necessarily a sign of interest.
“They’ll miss us soon,” she noted. “Dr. Davis can’t get us by phone, but scrying should find us.”
“I’m counting on it.”
Dr. Will Davis, one of the mage world’s foremost archaeologists, had tapped them to help with this archaeology camping trip for sixth graders. She and Gray had been bringing back dinner supplies when the ghouls ambushed them.
The lock gave. He ushered her inside.
Something clicked twice behind her, and he said, “Power’s off.”
Mageborn eyes were keener than Mundane, and hers adjusted fast. The place was one big, cold room with a kitchen at the far end, couch and two chairs by the hearth at this end, and a table in the middle. On the table stood an elegant iron candlestick holding a stubby, white candle. A stream of magic from her finger lit the wick.
“So now we wait?” She rubbed her hands up and down her arms.
He nodded. “We lost the ghouls, but better not to take chances roaming. Though the shutters’ll hide the candlelight, we probably shouldn’t risk a fire.”
Dani huddled on the end of the lumpy couch. Gray hesitated for a moment before sitting beside her. Sliding an arm around her, he asked, “Better?”
She tensed. He made female grad students’ hearts, including hers, flutter, while she was…ordinary. The type guys like him usually overlooked. But he was also sturdy and brave and kind. She relaxed against him. “Yeah, thanks.”
Time ticked by, the silence broken only by branches swishing in the wind. With each passing minute, she felt more aware of his lean, hard body supporting hers. Of his solid chest under her hand.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m glad you’re not dead.”
She let out a strained laugh. “Back atcha. Some simple grocery run, huh?”
His arm around her tightened, and something brushed the top of her head. His lips?
Dani’s heart beat suddenly faster. When she looked up at Gray, his intent gaze in the candlelight made her breath catch. Oh, cripes, is that little fantasy about to come true?
The kiss started softly, tentatively, but then ignited with their tongues dueling and their bodies pressed together. When it ended, they were both breathing hard.
“Wow,” he said, stroking back her hair. He kissed her again, and that kiss led to another and another.
Dani chuckled. “I’m not cold anymore.”
“Me neither.” Grinning, he claimed her mouth again.
A familiar, male voice–Will Davis’s–interrupted them, shouting, “Hey! Anyone in there?”
Gray drew back before yelling, “We’re here. Be right out.”
Dani sighed. “I guess we’re rescued.”
“Yeah.” Gray cupped her cheek. “Dani…to be continued?”
She took a deep breath. No risk, no reward. “You bet.”
Jennifer, thanks for having me on today and for featuring my story! Can’t wait to see everyone in February.
To start our giveaways this week, Nancy is offering a signed copy of either Sentinel or Warrior (paperback) to one lucky reader (international)! So… to enter to win… leave a comment below with your favorite scent of candle. If you’d like to let us know what you thought of Nancy’s story, that would be great, too 🙂 (If you’d like to meet and hang out a bit with Nancy, she’ll be one of fantastic Featured Authors at the 2016 Coastal Magic Convention!)
All giveaways this week last from their posting date, through November 1st. Winners will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, November 2nd. All giveaways will be fulfilled by the author. You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!