Archive for the ‘Books and Short Stories’ Category

Heiress Apparent

Bev was sitting on the couch with the tortoiseshell cat, Ishtar, when her husband, Joel, staggered into the house. With a dazed expression, he collapsed onto the other end of the sofa. “I just had the weirdest experience on the way to the parking lot.”

Bev leaned toward him with an encouraging nod.

“While I was cutting through the native plant garden, as usual, a procession of cats crossed in front of me.”

“A what? Cats don’t process.”

“Well, unless I fell asleep at the computer or somebody drugged my latte, these did. They marched in a double line from one side of the path to the other. They were yowling, like cats do, but it sounded almost like singing.”

“That’s weird, all right.” She stroked Ishtar, who uncurled from her sleeping position and rubbed against Bev’s hand.

“You haven’t heard the strangest part yet. There were six walking in the middle of the column on their hind legs, carrying a miniature coffin with a tiny crown on top.”

Ishtar raised her head and perked up her ears.

Bev patted his hand. “Are you sure you didn’t fall asleep at the computer?”

He nodded. “Believe me, that’s the first thing I thought of. I tried to wake up. Didn’t happen. I unfroze enough to ask what the hell was going on. Not that I expected an answer.”

“Don’t tell me you got one?”

“A half-grown kitten near the end of the line said, ‘It’s the funeral of Her Majesty Thomasina the Dagger-Fanged, of course.’ An adult swatted him and told him to shut up. Then the procession moved on and disappeared under the trees.”

Before Bev could gather her thoughts to comment, Ishtar stood up, stretched, and flexed her claws. “So old Thomasina finally died? Then I’m Queen of the Cats!”

Bev gaped at her. “You can talk?”

Ishtar blinked at her. “Meow. Purr. Mew.”

“Quit messing with us,” Joel said. “I know what I saw back there, and I’m not dreaming now either. You just spoke English.”

With a disgruntled hiss, Ishtar sat down. “Okay, I can talk. Want to make something of it?”

Bev found her voice. “I guess now that you’ve inherited the crown, you’ll be leaving us. We’ll miss you.”

The cat flicked her tail dismissively. “Live outside in the heat, cold, rain, and snow, eating vermin and garbage scraps? Waste half my time settling squabbles on the Feline Council? And the other half defending myself against challengers? Not to mention toms who don’t understand the word ‘spayed’? No, thanks. Let my sisters fight over the crown.” She licked a paw. “But now that the talking secret is out of the bag, so to speak, I have a few conditions.”

Joel frowned. “Conditions?”

Ishtar’s ears slanted back “First off, clean the litter box every day, for Bast’s sake.”

“Reasonable,” he muttered.

“And that dry food from the discount mart doesn’t meet my standards. Also, buy one of those water-dispensing fountains.”

Bev asked, “How do you know about those?”

“When I lie on your lap all day while you’re working at the computer, you think I haven’t been listening? One more thing, I’m sure there’s room on the rear deck to install a catio…”


“In the Tentacles of Love”: Lauren isn’t sure what to make of her inexplicably shy fiancé, who insists they wait to engage in full intimacy—and nudity—until after the wedding. Does his reticence have something to do with his family’s eccentric customs and pagan rituals? When Blake takes Lauren to visit the family’s Victorian beach house, where the two of them will spend their honeymoon, her questions are answered. First, he introduces her to his twin brother, who lives in a boarded-up attic room… for a very good reason. He looks more like their father than Blake does. Then Blake finally unveils his true self. If Lauren can accept the mind-blowing revelation, their love may expand to a whole new dimension.

“Weird Wedding Guest”: At Lauren’s wedding, bridesmaid Roxanne can’t wait to meet her mysterious e-mail pal, Wilbur, the groom’s reclusive brother. To her shock, he proves to be truly out of this world—a half-alien, amorphous, six-foot-tall collage of scintillating tentacles and eye stalks. How can their meeting of minds rise above the radical differences between their bodies?

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Melanie, a professional doula struggling to conceive a baby of her own, has a strange encounter at a neighborhood Easter egg hunt. After she rescues a wild rabbit from a runaway dog and the animal seemingly changes into a heavily pregnant, human-size rabbit woman, Melanie convinces herself she saw only a woman in a costume. But that same night a desperate plea for help sounds inside her head. In response, she undertakes a trek that feels like a dream—until it becomes urgently real, forcing her to stretch to the limits of her training and beyond. What reward will she win if she succeeds?

5 Stars from N. N. Light’s Book Heaven!

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