Not so Fair Tales 1 ~ Abridged
First off, let me start by saying thank you Stormy for always organizing this contest. It’s an amazing event, and I love taking part in it.
Now, the story you are about to read is a highly abridged version of a current WIP of mine. I do hope you enjoy it, and this condensed short story gets you interested in maybe seeing what is to come.
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, lived a family whose fate was not their own to decide. For they were bound to another. They were destined to wed, to control a curse not their own. A curse of a man and a wolf.
* * * *
Garret watched as his sister smiled happily beside Kilian Wolff. She looked absolutely stunning, completely in her element, as the two celebrate the youngest Wolff son’s new placement in the company. More importantly, for Ruby at least, they were also celebrating their engagement. The cold metal sitting on his own finger had Garret remembering that this party had another couple to be celebrated. Plenty of people had tried since the announcement to come up to him and give their speeches, but he’d brushed them off. His marriage to Isaak was not one of romance. It was not something to be celebrated.
No, their union was to be a contract of necessity and nothing more. Isaak Wolff needed him. He needed the Red’s lineage that Garret carried. It was that lineage that shackled him to this role.
“Try and look less like you’re dying.” Speak of the devil and he shall appear. Isaak handed Garret a flute of champagne, which he gladly accepted, and joined him watching the happy couple. “They look good together.”
“Yes, they do.” Garret glanced at the tall, muscular man beside him. Isaak had braided his shoulder length, brown hair for the night. How sensible of him.
They fell into silence, neither willing to speak beyond that. Honestly, Garret was just waiting for the time to tick by so he could make his quick escape from his party. His sister had dragged him to the gala anyways. A few hours, just to be polite, and that was it. As soon as the clock struck midnight he was leaving.
Yes, Garret understood the ridiculousness of that specific time. There was nothing he could about it though. He certainly was no Cinderella fleeing from the royal ball with prince charming chasing after him.
No, that he most certainly was not. Especially considering his “prince” was right beside him showing about as much interest as a man about to be shown a fashion show.
Ruby waved at him, and Garret waved back. He wasn’t going anywhere near her right now. Her happiness might be contagious. Or at the very least, transferable in small amounts. Garret was happy to remain silent in his bitter acceptance of his role in their world.
The hours rolled by and finally the clock struck home. Garret excused himself and headed for the door. As he collected his coat, Isaak came up to him. “I guess we’ll arrange the move some time tomorrow?”
“No, we won’t,” Garret denied. “I’m keeping my condo. If you wish to, you can move in with me after our wedding. I have a spare room.”
“Garret,” Isaak sighed.
“You know,” Garret turned and faced him, “I can’t seem to quite put my finger on it. Why would you intentionally lose to your younger brother?”
Isaak’s dark eyes hardened and Garret smiled. “I don’t know what you mean. Kilian won fair and square.”
“Right, and I’m not a sacrificial lamb to the big bad wolf,” Garret mocked before flipping up his red hood and vanishing out the door.
* * * *
The next few weeks were a blur of wedding arrangements and work. Of course, a huge fashion shoot just had to collide with this event in his life. It left little time for Garret to actually sit down, let alone think about what was going on around him. So when his phone rang he’d just expected it to be work and answered without checking the caller ID.
“Red speaking, talk fast I only have a few minutes.”
“I would like to take you out to dinner.”
Halting in his efforts to collect his supplies for work, Garret yanked the phone away from his ear and looked at the screen. Big Bad Wolf glowed at him almost mockingly.
“Garret?” Isaak’s voice held a hint of worry, but that was probably because he was being ignored.
“I doubt I have time,” Garret finally said. “I have three shoots today and consultations later tonight. I’m not even sure myself when I’ll be off.”
“I’ll wait,” Isaak declared. “Just send me a text ten minutes before you get off and I’ll let you know where to go.”
Garret’s eye twitched at the cocky tone in the man’s voice. What did he think people’s schedules were?
“And if I just don’t want to?” Garret sighed.
“I insist,” Isaak pressed.
“Oh? You do?” Garret laughed. “Since when?”
“Garret,” Isaak released a sigh of his own. “We’re engaged now. Let’s try and make the most of our new relationship. I can be a good man to you. If you’d let me.”
Looking at the tabloid on his table, a picture of Isaak coming out of a club drunk with a girl on each arm, had him doubting those words. This wasn’t the first time he’d seen such articles about the eldest Wolff son.
“No more clubs,” Garret said.
“I’ll agree to dinner if you agree to stop going to clubs.” What on earth was he saying? He had no plans for this marriage to be anything but a public image. Why did he care if Isaak slept around?
“It’s a deal,” Isaak promise hurriedly.
Frowning, Garret couldn’t find another thing to use to put this night off. In hindsight he might have guessed this phone call was coming. With their engagement official they would have to make an appearance together at some time. Might as well be sooner rather than later.
“See you tonight,” Isaak sounded almost cheerful as he ended the call.
Still frowning, and feeling a bit put off his pace, Garret slid his phone into his pocket and gathered up the rest of his things. He needed to get to work, not dwell on the oddities of his fiancé.
* * * *
Yeah, when Isaak said he’d taken care of things, Garret hadn’t expected him to pay an entire restaurant just to stay open for an extra hour! How much had this cost him? No, actually on second thought, Garret didn’t want to know. Besides, it wasn’t like Garret had asked him to do this. He’d gone and made this choice on his own.
Getting out of his car, Garret walked right up to Isaak—who was waiting by the front door—and gave him his best professional smile. “Extravagant, don’t you think?”
“It’s out first date.” Isaak winked at him and took his hand. “I’m hoping to make an impression.”
A quick glance over his shoulder had Garret internally screaming in frustration. Their evening hadn’t even gotten started and someone was already sniffing at their door. The man ducked behind his car when he realized Garret had spotted him, but he’d no doubt got a few good photos.
“You’re making an impression for someone,” Garret drawled.
“Sorry about that,” Isaak bowed his head slightly. “I did try to keep this under wraps.”
“You bought out a restaurant for a night. I don’t see how you could even attempt to keep that under wraps.” Isaak just shrugged. Garret rolled his eyes. He needed to remember not to become frustrated whenever Isaak showed off his wealth. The man probably bled money. Of course, Garret’s life hadn’t been without excess, but the Wolff’s were on another level entirely. Honestly, it was all a bit overwhelming at times.
Even as Garret started rethinking agreeing to this date, again, they were showed to their table and a bottle of wine was opened. Seemed Isaak had done a lot more than just make the arrangements. He’d also placed a special menu order. Garret couldn’t really complain though, seeing as it was his favorite.
The night passed with little tension and Garret found himself actually enjoying himself with Isaak. Despite his party boy persona, he was still well spoken and intelligent. It made their conversation pleasant, and far less taxing than Garret had first assumed it would be.
As their dinner was drawing to a close he was even finding that he didn’t want to call an end to it all. So, he didn’t. Instead Garret suggested they go for a stroll in the park close by.
Isaak smiled and readily accepted. Side by side, they walked the barren paths. This late the only people in the park were sleeping in it. Not exactly a pretty sight for a date, but if they ignored that fact, it was still a gorgeous area.
Until the clouds cleared.
Garret looked to the sky and felt his blood run cold as a full moon was revealed.
“Isaak!” he shouted, and spun to cover his eyes. It was too late, Isaak had already seen it.
Garret stared on in panic as Isaak’s body sprouted black fur and he screamed. His screamed morphed into a howl as Isaak was replaced with the beast his family was cursed with. The same devil wolf that had hunted Red Riding Hood all those generations ago was now staring at him, his eyes glowing red.
“Isaak,” Garret called softly. Slowly, he flipped the cowl of his red cloak up and knelt before the snarling beast. Hesitation entered the wolf’s eyes. “That’s right. I’m a Red. I’m your Red. Come here.” Garret held out his hand and the wolf sniffed it warily before licking him.
Sighing, Garret wrapped his arms around the beast and ran his hands down his fur. He was a lot softer than Garret had thought he’d be. Reaching for his phone, he sent an SOS text to his parents. They should be able to send someone to pick Isaak and him up.
As he sat in the park, the large wolf in his lap, Garret considered the ridiculousness of all of it. Here he was, a Red in a wood like area with the Big Bad Wolf. He didn’t know if it was a trick from his ancestors, but this was certainly one way to spend their first date. Not to mention this was Garret’s first encounter with Isaak’s wolf. Thank God, he’d paid attention to his mother’s lectures about how to handle the curse when it took hold of the Wolff sons.
A good fifteen to twenty minutes passed before someone arrived. Isaak growled low as the men approached. Garret recognized them as members of the Red and Peep family.
“It’s okay,” Garret soothed Isaak. “They’re here to take us home.”
Isaak whined, and wrapped himself around Garret’s legs as he stood. Threading his fingers through Isaak’s fur Garret lead him to the awaiting van, and gave instructions for their vehicles to be picked up, before they drove off to the Wolff estate.
* * * *
Garret woke to a maid bringing in a tuxedo and opening the curtains. “I’m very sorry, Garret, sir, but today is the wedding. You and Isaak must get up.”
Right, the wedding. His sister was marrying Kilian today. Wait? Isaak and he needed to get up? Rustling from the place beside him in the bed had Garret jumping and looking down at his body. He was still wearing his clothes. Thank fuck!
As Isaak clamored out of the bed, not wearing clothes, Garret averted his gaze and tried to pull up last night’s events. Dinner, a walk in the park, and then Isaak’s curse had kicked in. After that Garret had called for help, and was brought to the estate. He’d attempted to go home from there, but Isaak’s wolf had prevented him from doing so.
That’s right. He’d been forced to stay the night to appease the beast. Now he was going to have to explain his arrival to his sister. There was no way she’d miss that he didn’t arrive via car to her wedding, which of course was being held on the estate. How he wished the earth would open up and swallow him whole.
No, he still needed to go home and get dressed. With that surge in his memory, Garret crept out of the room and dashed downstairs. He was just about to call a cab when one of the employees of the house informed him his car was in the garage. Right, he did give those instructions. Damn, his foggy head in the morning.
Getting his car, Garret headed directly home. Checking the time, he figured he had just enough left to shower, primp, and get dressed and back to the Wolff estate before his sister started freaking out. So, with haste, he did just that.
* * * *
If someone, unaware of the circumstance surrounding this wedding, were to walk into the ceremony they’d assume months to years had gone into planning it. Every detail appeared perfectly planned, and it had been. Years had gone into the planning, years of Ruby pouring over wedding magazines, websites, and events. Last time Garret checked she had seven scrapbooks filled with wedding ideas. It had just been a matter of narrowing it down and pinpointing the exact details her and Kilian wanted.
Judging by what Garret could see, that was an elegant, near royal level of English Garden theme. His sister needed therapy. Sure, every girl dreamed of being a princess and having the lavish wedding, but this was pushing that envelope to the extreme!
Even with all that said, Garret couldn’t find a single petal out of place as he walked into the gardens. How many crews had been working day and night to make this a reality so quickly?
“Garret!” Tensing, Garret looked up to an open window and his sister nearly hanging out of it. “Get up here!”
He waved and headed inside. Ruby had been isolated in the guest suite to prepare. Though isolated might have been the wrong word. As he entered he was accosted by a throng of hair dressers, makeup professionals, manicurists, and another group dedicated to the bridesmaids. It was estrogen hell and Garret wanted to flee instantly. Yes, he was in this line of work as a stylist, but even this was too much for him!
“Garret, thank God!” Ruby cried and rushed to him. She was wearing a silk robe that came to her knees. No doubt her undergarments were beneath it. “These fools keep getting it wrong, and I can’t explain it! Help me!”
She was obviously talking about her hair, which looked like a cross between a French twist and a mom bun.
“I said waterfall, and fairy.”
“That isn’t a thing,” Garret glared at her.
“But you know what I mean,” Ruby pouted.
Sighing, and resigning himself to having to do this, he nodded and politely asked to takeover. The hairdresser seemed relieved to have him take the reigns. Seemed Ruby was being a handful.
Another hour later, and Garret had managed to pull off what his sister wanted. Honestly, why couldn’t she just say she wanted a braided, waterfall crown wrapped with white flowers? He knew the hairdresser in the room, and he could’ve done it. Even the look on the man’s face said, “Seriously? That’s what she wanted?”
There wasn’t enough time to question his sister’s horrid descriptive skills, for the wedding planner—looking absolutely haggard—slipped in and gave them the twenty minute warning. That served as the cue to get Ruby in her one of a kind, ballgown dress. She had two dresses she’d be wearing. One for the ceremony, the large ballgown, and a more delicate A-line for the reception. Both were handmade, and one hundred percent unique. They were also the only things made far in advance, having been completed a year ago.
As the dress was slid over Ruby’s head and fastened into place Garret had to admit, it was stunning. The red, flowing from the back of the dress and down the train like petals, added a wonderful touch that spoke of their family.
“Where’s my baby girl?”
“Daddy!” Garret smiled as Ruby cheered as their father walked in. This was Garret’s cue to go find his mother, as he was to walk with her down the aisle and seat her at the head of the group before the wedding party started down.
He found her waiting in the garden, and as the music started he took her hand and they walked steadily together right behind Isaak and his parents.
The ceremony was pretty much your traditional wedding ceremony, with one change. Ruby and Kilian had written their own vows, plus the bit about their magical contract between the families. With the exchanging of the rings, and the kiss Garret moved with his parents to the reception area where he snatched up his first flute of champagne and downed it like a parched marathon runner.
“Drinking so soon?” Isaak asked, coming to stand behind him.
Glancing behind him Garret noted the glass of stout in his hand. “I can say the same right back at you.”
“About last night.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Garret cut him off. “It happened. Let’s leave it at that.”
“What if I don’t want to leave it at that?” Isaak demanded.
Garret paused and looked at the other man. There was a heat in those eyes, a heat he could feel himself wanting to respond to. Was it just his Red blood reaching out for the cursed Wolff before him? Or, was it something else?
Snatching another passing glass of alcohol, this one a white wine, Garret sipped it judiciously. “What do you want with it then?” Garret challenged. “For it to mean something?”
Isaak crowded close to him. “Maybe.”
His face was hot and he could feel his body trembling. “Well, I’m not ready for that.”
With that, he fled the larger man and went to find someone to talk with that didn’t make his heart flutter and his body ache with desire. Seriously, after all these years of bullying and snide remarks between them, why did Garret still have to have the hots for Isaak Wolff?
* * * *
Oh, he was so drunk. Garret giggled as he made his way up the stairs to the guest bedroom Kilian had said he could use for the night. His giggles morphed into hiccups and he snorted as he tried to stop them from bubbling up.
He was soooo drunk.
Maybe he should’ve skipped that seventh glass of champagne?
Coming to his room, Garret frowned at the door. Why was he staying in this room again? He looked down the hall and grinned. That’s right. There was another room he was better needed at.
Stumbling further down the hall, Garret let himself into Isaak’s room and collapsed on his bed. Inhaling the man’s scent, he moaned and reveled in the deep masculinity surrounding him like a comforting blanket. Slowly he stripped out of his clothes, mainly so he didn’t topple over, and then he slid beneath the warm covers.
Yeah, this is where he was supposed to be.
“G’ight,” Garret mumbled as his eyes started to slide closed.
The door crashing open had Garret jumping up and meeting Isaak’s equally alcohol fogged gaze. The older Wolff boy tilted his head to the side and grinned. Garret felt a thrill travel along him as the man started stalking toward him from across the room.
“What do you we have here?” Isaak leered down to Garret. “There’s someone sleeping in my bed. What cute ears you have.”
Oh, fuck! Really? Despite the absolute cheese of Isaak’s words, Garret found himself saying, “The better to hear you with.” Shouldn’t their roles be reversed?
“And what a cute nose you have.”
Garret took a deep breath. “The better to smell you with,” he couldn’t help but giggle a bit at that one.
“What beautiful eyes you have.”
Isaak thought he had beautiful eyes? “The better to see you with.”
“And,” Isaak leaned in, his hand reaching out and tracing Garret’s mouth with his thumb, “What a delicious mouth you have.”
Fuck answering! Garret lunged forward and kissed Isaak with a bit too much force. They went spiraling backward, but neither cared as they tried to consume the other through the kiss. Garret worked fervently to remove Isaak’s clothes, while Isaak stripped what was left on Garret off.
Everything else faded to the background as Garret had one final thought, this man was his. This man, that pretty much embodied masculine sexuality, was all his. Why the fuck had he been fighting this so hard?
Isaak switched their positions and came to rest between Garret’s legs and even that thought faded away. Their lips and bodies danced together and something started to slide into place. Nothing in Garret fought Isaak, if anything his body opened willingly, along with his mind and heart.
This was right.
This was where he was supposed to be.
To be continued in Part 2…
Leo Eaus, a warlock from a cursed coven, hopes to make up for the sins caused by his family in the past by working as an exorcist.
Agnar Landvik, a berserker bear shifter, only hopes to get through his lonely days without killing his friends in the Twin Ravens MC.
Their paths cross when Leo's job takes him to Tulsa Oklahoma. Agnar sees Leo as the end to his lonely days. Leo only sees what could happen to Agnar if Leo's secret was ever discovered.
While they struggle to come to an understanding and form the relationship destined to be theirs, trouble stirs in the shadows of Tulsa. It'll take Agnar and Leo working together to subdue this new threat.
Add in a snarky familiar that has an opinion about everything, a group of meddling biker enforcers, and a demonic grandfather and Leo's Salvation seems to be either within grasp or just out of reach.
As always when he came to this club for a drink the music was deafening in its assault on his ears. Then again, there weren’t too many places in Tulsa where someone like him could get a drink and enjoy it in relative peace. That being the case, Agnar was willing to put up with the music.
He did have to admit though, the place looked good, for being a repurposed garage. After the main bar had imploded during the Halloween fiasco—blood wraiths and ghouls attacked the Twin Ravens trying to get to a young sabretooth child who was later adopted by Blood—Blood had made the decision to use the remaining garage as their base of operations for the time being. At least until the new bar could be built.
“Refill?” the new waitress asked. Agnar glanced at her just long enough to say yes. He knew better than to piss off Wrath and the little lady was his. “Be right back.”
Agnar nodded and continued to split his attention between the dancers on the floor and the girls on the stage. He wasn’t sure where he was supposed to look. The gentler sex never really did do it for him. In his entire six hundred twenty-seven years of being on this earth he hadn’t found a single female that even stirred his interest.
“Hey, you drinking alone?” Ignoring Coyote, Agnar accepted the drink from the waitress when she passed by. “Come on, let’s chat.”
“Go away,” Agnar responded. He wasn’t here to talk. Blood let him operate within the same area as the MC enforcers, but that didn’t make them chums.
Coyote huffed in irritation, “You really do have a stick up your ass.” Agnar said nothing to the obvious provocation of the Navajo shifter, as he left him to his bourbon on the rocks.
Deciding it was futile to try and watch the girls dancing, Agnar turned his attention to the people on the dance floor. Most were far too gone to even call what they were doing dancing, but it was still something to keep his mind occupied and off the endless parade of boredom and loneliness that seemed to be his life recently.
He watched as a group of men, drunk beyond what was considered safe for a human, were escorted to the door by Tank and a few other enforcers. They’d tried to climb up onto the stage and get to the girls. Look, don’t touch, was a major rule in any strip club.
As the group left a man slipped inside, a man that didn’t fit into the crowd. His dark brown hair, slicked back away from his face, and blue eyes were certainly an unusual combination that made him stand out as it was. It was his unease and how he stuck to the shadows that drew Agnar’s attention though. That and the long leather trench coat. The newcomer instantly slipped into a back table tucked into the folds of the shadows of the club and just sat there watching everything.
The guy tensed when Gin, the new waitress, approached the table. He seemed flustered as he ordered a drink, Agnar frowned when he realized the man hadn’t ordered alcohol but instead a club soda. Something was off with him.
Standing from his table, Agnar moved across the club until he was only one table away from the new guy. Maybe it was the fact he seemed suspicious that drew Agnar to him? His primary job as a bodyguard made him sensitive to such things. Still, that didn’t feel accurate. There was something else drawing him to the blue-eyed man.
Agnar tensed when he spotted what looked like a lizard’s head pop out of the man’s leather coat. It appeared to hiss into the man’s ear prompting the guy to say, “Witch craft, but not entirely human.”
Eyes narrowed, Agnar realized this was no mere human, as he’d first thought. The lizard hissed again and the newcomer snapped angrily. Something was definitely off here, and before Agnar could figure out what it was Tara—the bartender—stepped up to the table.
“Have something against my drink?” Tara demanded, her voice dripping with venom.
“I’m driving,” the man answered smoothly. “Last I checked it was illegal to drink and drive.”
“Why the fuck come to a bar to drink then?” Tara asked.
“First place I found,” he responded.
“Bullshit,” Tara hissed, her fangs flashing in what little light was provided in the club. “Who, or more accurately, what are you?”
Agnar watched as the man went ramrod straight, worry entering his light blue eyes. Why did Agnar get the feeling he wasn’t afraid so much of Tara but of her question?
“I have no idea what you mean,” he said, standing. “Thanks for the drink.” He placed a few bucks on the table and brushed passed Tara, “Blood sucker.”
“What did you call me?” Tara hissed.
Instantly Tank was beside the guy, grabbing his arm, and Agnar gaped as the large lizard he’d caught a glimpse of earlier emerged from the new guy’s coat and flat out bit the bouncer. It was easily four feet from nose to tail tip, but looked more like a salamander with obvious deep red scales. How in the hell had something like that stayed hidden beneath the man’s coat? What did he have, an extra dimensional pocket in there? And what in the hell was it? Agnar couldn’t remember seeing anything quite like that before. The closest creature he could think of was a Gila monster in resemblance.
“Back off bear.” Did that lizard just speak?
“A Salamander,” Tara gushed. “What the fuck? Who are you?”
“Told you this was a bad idea,” the Salamander hissed.
“A job’s a job,” the man replied. “Now just shut up and,” he froze, his eyes going wide as he started looking around the bar with a true look of panic now on his face.
Agnar stepped closer, a strange sensation making him move in to protect the guy. Shaking his head, he reminded himself the man was a stranger and was obviously some kind of supernatural. The fact he’d entered the MC without announcing himself could be seen as a threat. So why did he want to push Tank and Tara away from him and place himself between the guy and all those that would threaten him?
“What’s your name?” The appearance of Blood made this entire situation that much weirder.
The guy shook his head as if trying to clear it of a fog. No doubt Blood had been reading his mind, or at least trying to.
“Leo Eaus, I’m an exorcist.” Agnar almost laughed at that. Was this guy for real? An exorcist? Who the fuck did he think he was fooling with that line?
“Just roast them and let’s go,” the Salamander’s tail wrapped around Leo’s arm as he hissed at Blood. “We can still run.”
Leo nodded and whispered, “Incanto.”
Agnar opened his mouth to shout a warning when all the lights went out in the bar, followed by a pillar of flames engulfing Leo. The only thing Agnar registered in that split second between the lights going out and the fire surrounding him was that Leo’s eyes and hair had both changed color, each taking on the appearance of the very fire he called on. And then everything went dark.
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About A.M. Halford
A.M. Halford lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Her and her partner often find themselves hiking with their two dogs when the weather permits it. Fishing, camping, and photography are also activities she greatly enjoys. If the weather doesn’t permit going outside she can be found curled up with a sketch book, drawing whatever comes to mind.
A.M. got into writing as an outlet for personal therapy and has since expanded that into a hobby and profession that she enjoys. She often writes down anything that comes to mind, combing through the ideas and expanding on plots that sound the most interesting. She likes to write believable relations between people overcoming unfair hardships set before them. She always loves a happy ending and no matter the hell her characters go through they’ll always get their forever person.
A.M. Halford can be found here: