Welcome to February, the coldest, shortest month of the year. For this monthly flash piece, I decided to use the official birthstone, Amethyst, instead of the month. I couldn’t envision anyone naming a child February, even in a fantasy setting, so Amethyst was born. This flash piece is based on an ‘almost story’ I’ve had bouncing around my head for several years. It’s something I’ve wanted to write, but the story simply wouldn’t gel for me. I put it off to see if the story ever grew. It didn’t, but I think I have enough for a nice little flash piece. Let’s see, shall we?
This piece is an urban fantasy short set in an unnamed city large enough to have fairly tall buildings but small enough to allow for the two characters to meet in the manner they do. This one doesn’t come with any NSFW warnings, as it’s more sweet than sexy, so enjoy wherever you wish!
Amy stood in the doorway of her small bookshop and watched him land on the roof of a nearby high-rise. His wings were backlit by the morning sun creating a halo around his body. His hair gleamed silver bright, and streaks of the same metallic hue glinted in his wings and his skin. His landing was graceful, his wings closing tight against his back to arch over his head. Most humans called them gargoyles. The malicious called them grotesques, but those who made the effort knew them as guardians.
They rose during the Second Magic Age when the other creatures of myth and legend stirred with the surge of magic, though rumor tells of an enclave who never slept. They were strong in their fleshy form, near indestructible when they wrapped their stony armor around themselves, and dogged defenders.
Many of their clan entered military service or guarded churches, temples, or mosques, but most provided security at a price. Clan Blackstone worked for the state providing bodyguard services for the governor, her family, and any visiting dignitary who required a bit of protection. Amy knew all this because she’d made a point in knowing. Not for any nefarious purpose, but because she had a serious crush on Knox Blackstone.
The rest of the morning was tied up in sorting and scanning the new stock into her inventory program, designing a display table for a popular local author, and setting aside preorders for pick up. Customers flowed in and out until she’d lost all track of time.
“Amy! Sorry I’m late.” Her one employee, Terry Parker, bustled in with a cheery wave at odds with their all-black ensemble. A self-described “cheerful, nonbinary, queer goth,” Terry had struggled to find work in such a conservative area. Amy adored them. “Traffic got insane when a car full of tourists spotted tall, dark, and wingy making his landing. I swear I saw a literal clutching of pearls.”
“No!” She laughed and placed the back of her hand on her forehead in a mock swoon. “Not the pearls!”
“Right?” Terry hung their jacket on the coatrack. The garment constructed of chains and frayed cloth was a welcome sight in her small bookstore, and Amy dreaded the day Terry found something which better suited their artist’s soul. “Anything I need to know before I rearrange all your displays?”
They discussed which bestsellers needed prime real estate as well as some debuts which deserved the same amount of love. Amy left the details of the displays for Terry to figure out. They were far more skilled at creating eye-catching tables than she was.
“I’m off to lunch. If Mrs. Wallace calls to ask about available stock, please tell her I’ve run off to join a circus.”
“Oh no you don’t! Dealing with that woman is far outside my paygrade.” Terry made shooing motions with their hands. “Now go. I’ve got things under control.” A sly look. “Don’t drool over you-know-who too much. It disturbs the other diners.”
Laughing, Amy slipped out the door. The park was unusually crowded for a Tuesday, but she wove through the clusters of tourists until she found her favorite food truck. The elderly couple served the absolute best tacos al pastor in the region. Her mouth watered at the amazing scents, and after placing her order, she scanned the park for a table. No luck. It seemed like everyone got hungry at the same time.
She wove between the tables searching for an empty spot when she saw him. Knox Blackstone was sitting at a table alone eating lunch from a familiar bag. It seemed the sexy guardian had a fondness for tacos as well. She took another look around the park and bit her lip. Did she dare? Why not?
“Hi! Do you mind if I join you?”
He looked up, the silver of his eyes gleaming metallic in the sunlight. He was striking from a distance, handsome on television when was escorting state politicians, but in person… he was like a punch to the gut. Beautiful and alluring in an otherworldly manner. “By all means.”
She sat, enthralled by the rough gravel of his voice. He could seduce her without a touch just by using that voice. He tilted his head, lips curving, and she realized she was staring. Mumbling an apology, she focused on her lunch. Silence fell between them interrupted only by the rustle of the paper bags and the hum of conversation around them.
The next day, he sat at the same table, eating lunch from a Caribbean fusion truck which had recently joined the rotation around the park. There were several tables open, and she moved toward one of them, but he waved her over and gestured for her to sit.
“Hi, again.” She tore open her bag and took a deep inhale. The barbeque chicken smelled divine and tasted even better. Closing her eyes, she savored the bite. “This is too good. You should give them a try next time.”
“Perhaps I shall.” His voice was deeper, huskier than before, and Amy suppressed a shiver. Yup. Still sexy as sin.
Conversation flowed easier than the day before, jumping from commentary on each of the various food trucks on the park’s rotation to running a small bookstore to how the wind felt when he flew. She learned he was the eldest of three. One brother remained at home to care for his young child while their sister worked for Blackstone Securities as a bodyguard.
They met again almost every day for a month, eating lunch, chatting, learning about each other. Terry teased her constantly about Mr. Tall, Dark, and Wingy flying her off on some grand adventure where she was thoroughly debauched. Her employee had read one too many romance novels.
Then one day, he wasn’t there. She tried not to let it matter so much. They weren’t in the relationship she’d built in her mind, were barely even friends. That didn’t make it hurt any less. She returned to her shop with her uneaten lunch and dodged Terry’s questions.
Stupid. She was being stupid to sulk like a child, but he could have told her he couldn’t make it today. Texted her. They’d exchanged numbers weeks ago for just such an occurrence. Grumbling under her breath as she shut off the lights at the end of the day, she wondered if he even saved the contact to his phone. Probably not. She locked up and headed home.
Stomping around her apartment, her mood alternating between angry and depressed, she jumped when someone knocked at her door. It wasn’t the knock which surprised her so much. It was the fact it came from her balcony sliders. She lifted the curtain an inch and peeked through the glass.
Pushing aside her instinctive joy at seeing him again, she scowled and wrenched open the sliders. The guardian stood on her small balcony wearing a perfectly tailored tuxedo and carrying a bouquet of flowers. His wings were tucked neatly behind his back, his hair windblown from his flight, and his smile devastating. He looked as if he’d stepped straight out of her many fantasies. She was still mad at him. Amy crossed her arms and raised her brows.
“Did you pawn your cellphone for that tuxedo?”
He laughed. “I’ve been busy, my Amethyst, working on a surprise for you. But first, a gift.” He held out the bouquet.
“Why didn’t you at least send a text?” She couldn’t let him bribe her back into a good mood or he’d be insufferable. And his silence had hurt. “Even a short note would have been enough.”
He set the bouquet on a small table and cupped her face with his hands. They were warm, a little rough, and felt like heaven against her skin. “Damn, I messed up, didn’t I? I was so focused on getting everything set up, I didn’t even think. I’m sorry.”
She raised her hands to grip his wrists. “I’m overreacting.”
“No.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips over hers, the gentle contact a visceral shock. “I was thoughtless. I should have contacted you.”
“Thank you for apologizing. I didn’t want to push in case…” Amy let her voice trail off, still uncertain what kind of relationship she had with the handsome guardian.
“In case I’d decided to ghost you? Never.” Another brief kiss that sizzled through her bloodstream. “I promise I won’t do it again.”
“Okay.” She ran her hands down his arms and over his chest. He was solidly built with the musculature required to keep him in the sky. “So, what’s the surprise?”
He reached for the bouquet, placed it in her arms, and then scooped her off her feet. “First, we go flying.”
She gave a startled shriek when he jumped off her balcony. The wind was cool against her skin, but his body warm. She reached up to stroke his jaw and received a dazzling smile in return. Terry was going to tease her constantly about her “romance novel come to life” experience. She didn’t care. Knox had come to her, and he’d apologized. Terry could tease her all they wished.
copyright 2022, Elaina Roberts