Authors: Eliza Gayle
Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Robyn Peterman. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Magic and Mayhem remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Robyn Peterman, or their affiliates or licensors.
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ll my life
I've been told I need to learn the fine art of patience. Ironic considering that's what my hipster loving, sex addicted mother named me. Instead of dealing with my mother's woo-woo touchy feely ways, I'd rather keep my mind and my weak ass magic focused on business.
Today of all days, I especially can't deal. Not only do I have a meeting with some influential investors that I need to expand my skin care line, it's also my fiftieth birthday. That's right. The big 5-0. Ugh. Witches may not age like humans so I don't look a day over twenty five. But in my business age is everything and my customers expect, well, magic.
So the fact I woke up this morning in the form of a white wolf is kind of a problem. Witches can't shift, so why the hell am I looking at a wolf in the mirror?
As if that wasn't enough, there's a silver fox now trying to sniff my butt. The fact he shifts into a smoking hot Gerard Butler look alike with a salt and pepper beard shouldn't matter. Uhhhh... Now he wants to be my guide for a cross country road trip to some nowhere town in West Virginia so I can figure out what's wrong with me.
This should be epic.
Go ahead, cue the banjos. If you don't hear from me in a week, please send help.
, what the hell is wrong with you?" My stupid cat stood next to my head hissing and growling at me as I tried to sleep. "I refuse to open my eyes and wake up no matter what you do. So you might as well give it up and go find something else to do."
Today of all days I wished for nothing more than the opportunity to stay in bed and hide from the world. Why you ask? It's simple really. Today is my birthday. Another milestone year for the record books I guess.
The big 5-0.
I had a dream I would wake up this morning and no longer look twenty-five. Of course it was silly, that's what dreams are. Witches don't age the same as humans, so there was little chance I would wake up looking any different than I did the day before.
Norman hissed in my ear again.
"Oh. My. Freaking. Goddess. What is your problem?" I opened my eyes to my white cat's bared fangs only inches from my face. "You act as if you've never seen me before. And I'm warning you now, if you bite my face, I will murder you in your sleep."
A total lie, of course, but hopefully he didn't know that.
I turned on my back and lifted my arm to stretch and froze, limb in mid air.
What the hell?
I blinked. And then blinked again. Did I get drunk last night and not remember it? Why was I currently looking up at the white furred paw of some strange dog instead of my hand with the fresh manicure in the perfect shade of pink?
I tried to sit up and my body rolled awkwardly. Norman growled low in his throat again and this time I grew alarmed. Looking down, I clearly saw paws instead of hands and feet. And lots of white fur.
I jumped off the bed and ran over to my closet door with the full-length mirror. There I did a double take at my reflection. I squeezed my eyes shut and counted to ten in my head. Whatever was going on, there had to be an explanation.
An out of body experience?
A drink spiked with mind-altering drugs?
I took in a deep breath and slowly released it before once again opening my eyes. Nothing had changed. I still stood there looking at my reflection with the face of a while wolf staring back at me.
Still too shocked to understand, I took a step right. The wolf followed.
I moved back to the left. Same thing. I lowered my head and I'll be damned if the stupid wolf didn't mimic that too.
I reached forward and touched the mirror, looking at the edges for some source of trickery. Clearly someone thought I needed a practical joke on my birthday.
But who? My mother? My sort of best friend Lucy? Nah, she was the good girl in our relationship. If by good girl you mean the one always trying to get me laid because she was saving herself for the right guy.
There was certainly no current boyfriend to blame. I shook my head. None of this made sense.
I thought back to the early days of my witch training. My mother had done everything she could to help me strengthen my power to no avail. I could work a few spells and under extreme stress tap into a little more, but nothing else.
What had she said about Shifters? I looked back at the mirror. I mean what else could explain it?
I wanted to bang my head against that stupid piece of lying mirrored glass until it revealed the truth. Shifters were a strange thing. Always changing into animals and then back again. Ruining all their clothes and always having to buy new ones. Well, okay that part might not be so bad.
My head popped up as a memory found its way into my mind. Witches were not Shifters. That's what my mother said. So this definitely had to be some kind of trick or spell.
I still didn't like it. I had a very important meeting today.
Crap on a cracker.
I ran around the bed to the nightstand that housed my alarm clock and looked up. Thank goodness I still had my normal human abilities while looking like a ridiculous dog. The clock read eight thirty am. Oh no!
I had barely an hour to make my meeting. I certainly couldn't show up like this. These investors were not magical so they couldn't understand something like this. I could try to reschedule. I glanced down at my hands now paws and wanted to cry. Kind of hard to make a phone call or send a text without opposable thumbs.
From the corner of my eye I saw Norman still crouched on the bed, looking at me with an evil eye. "Don't look at me like that. For all I know this is all your fault. What kind of familiar doesn't have his witch's back?"
As usual he didn't talk back. Apparently my limited magic affected him too, leaving us no way to communicate except for my talking and his weird cat noises and now apparently hissing and growling.
I turned away from him. "Thanks for nothing." I headed into the bathroom only to realize I couldn't do anything. I couldn't take a shower, fix my hair or even apply my morning makeup.
I sat heavily on my rump and braced for tears that never came. What was that about? I should have already collapsed in a massive ball of crying, shaking white fur. Instead I was eyeballing the plush bathroom rug and thinking about curling up for a nice nap?
What the hell?
I laid down and rested my head on the floor between my two front paws. I clearly could do nothing about a spell now, but I could at least catch up on some Zs and start dreaming up my creative comeback to whoever thought this even a little amusing.
And as soon as I got out of this predicament I would beg and plead for another meeting with my potential investors. If that didn't work out, then whomever thought this prank had to happen would be the proud new investor in my new skin care line.
One way or another I would expand my business. As my mind wandered my body began to warm. First it soothed me and then it got really HOT. I turned to look and found an orange glow covered me all the way to my tail and toes.
Oh my Goddess. I had a freaking tail. Kill me now.
It was then I realized a more powerful magic than I normally conjured had worked its way over and in me, causing my body to ripple and shift back to my normal form.
"Yes." I cried out, pumping my fist. Maybe I could make my meeting if I moved fast enough."
I jumped up and hurried into the bathroom, taking the fastest shower in the west, before hopping out and wrapping a towel around my body and my hair.
I proceeded to run through my bedroom suite grabbing the clothes I had prepared the night before, haphazardly dressing as I went.
Back in the bathroom I made a hasty attempt at makeup before unwrapping my hair to—
"Holy shit. You have got to be kidding me." What else was going to go wrong today?
Again, that evil bitch of a mirror had decided to play a trick on me. Yes, I was still human and no, I did not suddenly age overnight. At least my face still looked twenty-something. But my hair...
Oh my Goddess. My hair.
My beautiful, perfect shade of chestnut that never needed a drop of dye in my entire life had big swaths of white streaks running through it.
I stared at my reflection in abject horror. This was a nightmare. How could I go to my meeting like this? I grumbled all the way into my closet and began surveying my options. There were a few old hats, and a wide array of colorful scarves. A shudder swept down my spine.
My head wrapped in a scarf sounded about as appealing as a Brazilian wax given by my worst enemy. Not to mention...OLD. If I'm going to wrap my head in a scarf I might as well start looking for my retirement home. It was the logical next step.
Yes, I was being dramatic. And no, I didn't care. A lot of people have issues with aging. Just ask one of the many thousands of plastic surgeons who make millions from people doing anything and everything to keep their clients from looking their age.
I grabbed an old fedora I couldn't remember where I got and finished getting ready.
As soon as the meeting was over, I'd head to the drugstore and buy my first box of hair color. I didn't want to go to a hairdresser and take the chance I'd be seen. A lot of people knew it was my birthday, although almost none of them knew which one. I kept them guessing and as long as I didn't start acting my age they would be perfect.
I pulled my long hair up into a French twist and placed the hat on top. I shoved a few strands of white under the brim and secured everything with some pins.
At this point I was pretty sure I was running on adrenalin and I feared the moment I slowed down it would all crash down on me resulting in a complete and total melt down.
And then someone would have some explaining to do. Either my sick friends or my secret keeping, sex addicted mother.
She always swore there wasn't a man alive she couldn't find appealing. My lip curled. Did that include Shifters? The idea kind of freaked me out. My mother always kept her lips shut about my father, claiming she wasn't one hundred percent sure about his identity. (Just what every girl wanted to hear growing up. Am I right?)
I grabbed my forehead and shook my head. My thoughts were out of control and if they didn't stop soon all I'd have to show for it would be a massive headache.
For now I needed to take this day one minute at a time.
Norman brushed against my leg and I bent over to scratch behind his ears. "Now you want me? Fifteen minutes ago you were ready to attack me. You little traitor." I waited, hoping for the umpteenth time he would talk back. Why couldn't I have a normal familiar?
I sighed. Probably for the same reasons I had so little magic. I was the result of a witch getting pregnant by a mortal. Or so I'd been led to believe. Shifters also didn't have magic. Why had I never thought of that before?
I finished scratching my goofy cat and headed toward my packed Kors bag and grabbed the paperwork for today's meeting.
, my poor, confused kitty. Wish me luck."
He did not wish me luck...
, Momma," I greeted when my mother finally answered her door.
"Shhh," she whispered. "Call me Charlene today, okay?"
I stood outside my mother's condo door staring up at an almost mirror image of myself in another fifty or so years.
I didn't know exactly how old my mother was, nor did anyone else. With both of my grandparents gone since I was little, she had no one to out her real age anymore.
"Why? What's going on?" I asked.
"Nothing." She averted her eyes and began picking at a speck of something from her shirtsleeve. My mother was not a great liar. If you took the time to actually notice it wasn't difficult to see her tells.
I sighed. Her denial could only mean one thing. "Who is he?" I asked, stepping through the doorway.
"Why do you say that?" she asked. "I've always asked you to call me Charlene, you just never listen."
I wandered through the living room and back into the kitchen looking for whatever latest man she had squirreled away in this place. Hopefully, I wouldn’t find him tied up like the last one. That poor guy had been near tears when I freed him.
"For Goddess' sake, Momma, how many times do we have to go through this?"
"Charlene!" she practically shrieked at me.
I shook my head and resumed my search. "Whatever, Char-lene."
"Why are you here anyway?" she asked. "I thought you had an important business meeting today. For those fancy facial creams you cook up in your kitchen. Still think its weird you sell those to humans. What if something bad happens?"
I opened the hall closet and peeked behind the coats and sweaters neatly lined up. No one.
"Nothing bad is going to happen. I've been making them for years and no one's had a reaction since that first year." I turned back and narrowed my eyes at my mother. "But you know that, so quit trying to distract me. Where is he?"
She crossed her arms over her chest and turned away. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Hey, Patience. What’s cooking?" My mother's fully functioning familiar, Buzz the almost geriatric cat, emerged from the bedroom. Like my mother he was nearly one hundred years old, but unlike my mother, he looked it.
"This and that," I answered. "What about you?"
"Same old. Same old. Taking a nap before I go next door and tap old lady Margie's pretty young Tabby. She's in heat, so I think I'm going to get real lucky tonight if you know what I mean."
Buzz winked at me and my stomach churned. "That's gross. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth."
He turned in a circle three times before he plopped his big butt on the center of the throw rug. "Whatever, Patience. You're just jealous. When's the last time you got laid?"
I huffed and returned to my search. No way in hell was I going to answer
question. My love life was no one's business but my own, but especially not my mother's lothario familiar or my mother for that matter.
Unlike the two of them, I preferred a little discretion in my life.
I almost snorted at that. Discretion...yeah...that's it...
"Why are you here, Patience?" My mother had come up behind me.
I whirled back around, shocked I'd let my mother's love life distract me. "Well, I got quite a surprise this morning when I woke up and I was hoping you might know something about that?"
"What's wrong, baby? Turning another year older got you down?" My mother reached out and patted my arm as if I was a sullen child pouting over something stupid.
"Not exactly. I think I've got bigger problems than just turning fifty."
The placating smile plastered to my mother's face annoyed me. So much for patience.
"Mother, dear. Is there something you forgot to tell me about my father?"
"Shhhh," she hissed, grabbing my bicep in a steely grip, her gaze darting down the hallway frantically. "You need to keep your voice down. Today of all days I cannot have a fifty year old daughter."
Yep. There was definitely a man here.
I pulled my arm free and headed towards the bedroom. Whatever her mother had hidden back there couldn't be good.
"What are you hiding, Charlene? Who is he? Please tell me you haven't tied someone to the bed again."
"Jeez, I tried to experiment with kink one time and clearly I'm not ever living it down."
"You scared the hell out of that poor man. I'm surprised you didn't get kicked out of this place. Wasn't he on the board here?"
My mother laughed. "Yeah, but every man no matter what age has an ego the size of Mount Rushmore. You think he was going to tell anyone what happened in here?"
I laughed too. "I guess not. But what about this new one? Do you have him locked away?" I seriously wouldn't put that past my mother. I swear every time I came to visit she'd reached a new level of crazy.
"Hey, Charlene. Do you have some electrical tape?"
The man behind the voice emerged from the bedroom ensuite and the moisture in my mouth instantly dried up.
A tall, gray haired chiseled fox had emerged from the bowels of my mother's home. And this was not one of the old men who usually resided around here. This one looked young. He seemed closer to my age—err my faux age. If I looked twenty-five, he probably didn't look a day over thirty-five. Except for the silver hair sprinkled throughout his thick dark locks and neatly trimmed beard.
And did I mention he was shirtless? Cue the drool.
It had been quite a while since I'd seen abs like that. I really wanted to reach out and touch them to see if they were real. The pull to move near him was so strong I could barely resist.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know you had company," he said to my mother, while looking directly at me.
"This is my
, Patience. She stopped by unexpectedly."
I rolled my eyes so hard I'm pretty sure I injured myself.
"I'm, Mick." He stepped forward and held out his hand.
Again the compulsion to touch moved me forward. Whatever the hell was going on I couldn't resist it. When our fingers touched, a surge of electricity passed between us. We both jerked a little and looked up at each other.
"Wow," I said.
"Yeah," he agreed.
Oh my Goddess I cannot believe I just said that out loud. A surge of magic rushed through my system and warmed my body. My legs and arms began to tingle. By the time I realized what was happening it was too late. My body was already transforming.
I jerked away from Mick and ran into the bathroom, slamming the door behind me in the nick of time. By the time the door clicked closed, my hands and feet were familiar white fur covered paws.
"Patience, what the hell?" Her mother called from the other side of the door.
"It's nothing. I'm fine."
"You are not fine," she responded. "You turned orange with magic," she shrieked.
"Oh my Goddess, Mother. Shut up. We are in mixed company." Thank the Goddess I could still communicate in wolf form.
"Probably not the mix you were thinking, sugar." Mick's thick, deep voice cut through the din in my mind. All the extra residual noise from the magic and stress of changing to a wolf.
"What do you mean?"
"Why don't you open the door and we can talk about it face to face," he suggested.
Who was this guy? I didn't know him from Adam and even I she could open the door I wouldn't. Whatever was happening to me was private. Not something I planned to share with every Tom, Dick and Mick.
"No," I blurted. Until I figured out how to get my normal self back, there would be no opening doors or going anywhere.
"You can't open the door can you? Because of the paws." Mick again interrupted my mental tirade.
What the hell?
"Go away." I needed to think. Who was this Mick and what was he to my mother? And why did I want to give him anything he wanted including me?
"Patience, honey. You should let Mick help you. He seems to think he has an answer for whatever this is."
"So this has nothing to do with whoever my father is?" As far as I thought, it seemed the only plausible answer.
"I don't think so, baby. Although I can't be sure. I was a little crazy back then. Hell, I didn't even remember half of my youth anymore."
Back then? That was the understatement of the year. She'd been crazy from the get go. Or at least as long as I could remember. There really wasn't a party or man she saw that she didn't go for and if Mick was any indication she hadn't mellowed much. Goddess. My mother is a cougar. And I was attracted to her latest conquest so what did that say about me?
I sauntered over to the bathroom rug and curled up on the soft, fluffy pad. This shifting nonsense was exhausting work.
Now I needed to breath deep and relax. It had worked the last time to get me back to human and hopefully it would work again.
I closed my eyes and thought of water, mostly because it soothed me. In my mind's eyes I was now floating on a raft with the warm sunshine bathing my face. I couldn't remember the last time I'd done something as simple as that, but in my memory bank it still felt really good.
Peripherally I thought I heard the door open, but I didn't want to break the easy feeling floating through my mind. It felt so gooood...
My body warmed and a flood of magic washed over me. No wonder witches always felt sorry for me about my lack of true power. This felt amazing. Everything tingled from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes.
"Ahhhh," I sighed.
"Feels good doesn't it?" The low rumble of Mick's voice brushed against my mind. I should jump up and punch his lights out for invading my privacy. My brain urged me on, but my body felt too good to interrupt.
"She's back," he called behind him.
"Thank the Goddess," my mother said, waves of relief vibrating from her voice.
I finally opened my eyes and groaned. Mick was close. Way too close. I could smell his earthy scent. It was a little salty, a little musky and a whole lot of forest on a warm day.
"Mom, would it be too much to ask for some clothes? And maybe your boyfriend could go in the other room so I can get dressed."
"Okay, Patience. Although he's not my—"
"Mom!" I yelled. "Clothes."
Then I turned to Mick. "You. Get out."
He turned up his smile and I wanted to jump his bones. Honest to Goddess this was frustrating.
"Go," I repeated.
"Yes, Ma'am," he answered, holding his hands up in surrender as he stood and backed toward the door. "No harm, no foul. Right?"
"Ha! How about both, wise guy? Now get out before something else I can't control happens."
He started to laugh, an easy rumble that sounded deep in his chest and made my body zing with appreciation. He disappeared through the door and I pressed my forehead on the cool marble tiles of the floor. What the hell was happening to me?
"Here you go, hon." My mother had returned with an armful of clothes. "I wasn't sure what would work so I brought plenty of choices."
Less mortified with only my mother in the room I sat up and started to rifle through the options.
"Holy crap, Patience. What happened to your hair? Is that why you came in wearing that silly hat?"
"Yes. Apparently a side effect of whatever is going on." I settled on a pair of skinny jeans from some designer I'd never heard of and the T-shirt with the least amount of sparkle. Goddess bless her, after all these years my mother still thought all her clothes needed crystals and sequins.
I had picked up some hair dye on the way over so I could deal with it. I scrunched my hair in the mirror and stuck my tongue out at my reflection. "This white is horrible."
"I think you look fantastic with it," Mick said from the hallway.
I turned to my mother. "Is he seriously listening through the door?"
"No, Shifter hearing," he said. "I could be in the kitchen and still hear every word."
I glared at my mother. "He's a Shifter? Are you kidding me?" I ran my fingers through my hair. "Your new boyfriend is a Shifter." I shook my head. "I thought you learned your lesson last time."
"He's not my boyfriend," she hissed. "He's my handyman."
I rolled my eyes again. That sounded like code for bed buddy to me. "Whatever, Mom. I don't care what you do with your conquests. I only came here to see if you could explain what the heck is going on with me. Waking up as a wolf and spontaneously shifting with no control is not supposed to happen. I'm fifty. Not a prepubescent teen. If I was a Shifter wouldn't this have happened a long time ago?"
"Not necessarily," Mick's muffled responses from the hallway were getting on my nerves.
"You might as well come in, Mick."
"Mother!" I grabbed a handful of hair and held it up.
"Oh right. Never mind, Mick. Stay out there. Patience has an issue with her hair. We'll be out soon." She got up and opened the door and stuck her head out. "Be a dear and grab Patience's bag by the door, won't you."
"Of course, Charlene." He moved down the hallway and I breathed a sigh of relief. Him being close had a muddling effect on my brain and I needed a clear head to think about what should happen next.
"You should talk to him, Patience. He says he knows of someone who can help. Some sort of whispering woman or something like that."
I scrunched up my face in disbelief and gave my mom the look in the mirror. "Please tell me you are not serious."
Her eyes narrowed in response. "I know you've not been as strong a witch as others, but I think it's high time you stopped looking down your nose at it. If it's good enough for you to use to make your fancy face creams on one hand, then you can't try to smack it down with the other."
A knock sounded at the door a moment before it popped open. I threw a towel over my hair before his gorgeous face appeared through the door.
"Here you go," he said, handing over my oversized shoulder bag that I used to practically carry my entire life around.
I grabbed it and pushed him out the door. "No boys allowed."
"Sweetheart, I haven't been a boy for a very long time." The deep husky tone of his voice made my insides quiver.