Monday Flash Fics — First Moot

When I saw the latest picture from Monday Flash Fics, it made me think of Dale, one of the wizards from the “Craft Night” group that pops up in Triad Blood and Triad Soul. In Triad Blood, you don’t learn a lot about these wizards, but more of their purpose becomes clear in Triad Soul. I thought I’d write about the first time they all got together, just after the events in “Bound” occur. So, very minor spoilers (ish?) for Triad Blood and Triad Soul.

Flash Monday

First Moot

The five of them stared at each other around the small café table tucked in the back of the tea shop. Dale knew the others, of course. With her great-grandfather’s recent death, Mackenzie Windsor’s mother was the new Windsor covenhead. And at the moot to declare her so, the rest of the people here had all been present. Mackenzie herself had a soft little smile on her face, and her hair held up with two sticks. Beside her stood Rebekah Mitchell, a tall black woman who didn’t say much and yet still managed to make him feel like he was doing something wrong just by exhaling in her presence. And beside Rebekah, Tracey Spencer stood a step apart, and looked the part in her expensive couture and perfect manicure, though a paleness to her complexion belied the calm arrogance she was projecting. And then, on the other side of Dale, the guy who’d invited them all here.

Matthew Stirling. The great-grandson of the son-of-a-bitch in chief himself. In glasses and a button down white dress shirt, Matthew Stirling looked like a harmless nerd.

Dale supposed in their own way, they all looked harmless, though of the bunch he was the largest by a not-so-slim margin. Even so, looks were deceiving. But their families—or, more properly, The Families—had the most power of anyone in the city. Ottawa was what it was on the say-so of their families, to some degree or another.

Why did I agree to come here?

“I suppose you’re wondering why I gathered you here today,” Matthew said.

No one laughed. Matthew cleared his throat, looking awkward.

“Maybe you should just tell them,” Mackenzie said.

“Tell us what?” Tracey said. Even her voice was aristocratic. Man, she was just what he expected from the Spencers.

Then again, his own family wasn’t exactly cuddly either.

“I’m pretty sure you’re the next inheritors,” Matthew said.

No. Dale had to clench his hands to stop from saying or doing anything. No no no.

“How..?” Rebekah had to take a breath. “How do you know that?”

“I inherited,” Matthew said. “I don’t know if you know what the Stirling inheritance is, but—”

“You’re prescient,” Tracey said.

Matthew nodded. “As of this week.”

Dale fought off a full body shiver, but only just. So Malcolm Stirling had access to the future? No wonder he always ended up on top. He wondered if his father, or his grandfather, or his great-grandfather knew.

“It’s not soon,” Mackenzie said. “Or at least, Matt doesn’t think so. But…” She looked at Matthew. He nodded. “He’s pretty sure it will be us five. And the thing is…”

“The thing is we’re fucked?” Rebekah said.

Dale surprised himself by laughing.

“No,” Matthew stepped forward. “No, no that’s my point. We could… We could work together.”

Tracey laughed. “To do what? If I… If I inherit, do you have any idea what that will mean?” She shook her head. “Mackenzie gets to heal. Rebekah becomes some sort of illusion-proof abjurist. Hell, even Dale—”

“Don’t,” he said.

She stopped. Regarded him. He saw it then. In her eyes. The same thing he was sure she could see in his.


“If we work together,” Mackenzie said. “We could… push the boundaries. Figure out things they won’t let us learn. Before they have us at their beck and call. Maybe we can…” Mackenzie sighed. “Maybe we can make things better.”

She barely sounded convinced herself.

“If they even find out I came to talk to you on my own, they’ll be furious,” Dale said. “I’m out.” He pushed off the wall and started for the front of the tea shop. He eyed everyone on the way. The store was mostly empty, but was it just him, or did the guy behind the counter pay way too much attention to him?

Why had he come?

He was an idiot.


He made it home without incident, and back into the mansion without trouble. It didn’t relax him any—he was never relaxed in his family Chantry—but it was where he was supposed to be as far as his elders were concerned, and that meant a modicum of safety.

Of a sort.

He wandered the halls. What he wanted more than anything was to tear off his tie, change into a sweatshirt, and maybe hit the punching bag for a while. Matthew and Mackenzie should have known better. The Families didn’t work together. Not across their covens. It was insane to even suggest it.

He wouldn’t be excused until after dinner. He wondered how many of his aunts and uncles (and great-aunts and great-uncles) would be visiting for dinner, and if any of his cousins would be there. Sometimes the massive table was set for thirty-six.

Sometimes it was set for eight.

He rarely interacted with his great-grandfather. Dale did everything in his power to go unnoticed. Stay below the radar.

He approached the study. He could hear them in there, talking.

I’m pretty sure you’re the next inheritors.

Some things you couldn’t avoid, though. Not forever.

Dale glanced behind him. No one around.

A few words of magic, whispered under his breath, and a prickle of magic flushed across his skin. He crouched, and looked through the keyhole of the study.

Whatever they were doing, he could feel the power from here. And more than that, he could feel something inside him stirring, as always.

Matthew had inherited. Prescience, apparently. If Rebekah, and Mackenzie, and Tracey also inherited? If he did, too?

They were barely in their twenties. His own great-grandfather would never give up his position just because his “gift” had moved on to Dale. No, he’d shackle Dale to his side. He’d probably even call it “grooming.”

Inside the room, magic twisted, and Dale could almost hear a voice.

He pushed away from the door and started for the gym. He could shower and get dressed again before dinner. He needed the punching bag.


After his shower, his knuckles raw, and still breathing heavily, Dale tied his tie in the mirror. Once it was knotted, he took a deep breath and picked up his phone.

The original message inviting him to meet at the tea shop was still there. He hadn’t deleted it. On some level, it occurred to Dale not deleting it the moment it had arrived already spoke volumes.

He tapped out a message.

When’s the next meeting?

Before he could change his mind, Dale hit send, slid his phone into his pocket, and went to the Family dinner.

The magic inside him stirred again. There was another whisper of voices just quiet enough he couldn’t make out the words.

Dale ignored them.

For now.




Friday Flash Fics – Nice Kitty

So for this week’s Friday Flash Fics picture, our fearless leader Elizabeth Lister chose the image from that awesome meme making the rounds. It’s a joke, of course, that the man posted about finding a lost cat and washing it after feeding it three cans of tuna, but as Elizabeth noted, there’s a handsome wrist there, and c’mon, how could we not try to write something?

My entry once again returns to Matt and Jace from “Bound” in Not Just Another Pretty Face and Triad Blood and Triad Soul, and makes mention of Taryne, a druid you meet briefly in Triad Soul who runs an animal rescue operation.

Flash Friday

Nice Kitty

“Jace?” Matt called. He hung his jacket on the hook by the front door. Just being in Jace’s small home relaxed him.

“In the bathroom,” Jace said. “Come on up.”

Matt smiled. Maybe there was about to be bathtub hijinks? Jace’s tub wasn’t large, but Matt would give it every attempt. He took the stairs two at a time, and pushed open the bathroom door, ready for anything.


“Don’t freak out,” Jace said.

Jace was shirtless, which Matt liked. But he was shirtless because he was apparently in the middle of washing—

“Lion?” Matt said. He pointed. “Or. Wait. Bobcat?” This wasn’t really his area of expertise. It was a wild cat, though. He lowered his hand when the… feline… looked at his hand in a decidedly grumpy way.

“Hey babe.” Jace poured some more water down the animal’s back, rinsing off some of the suds. He was working one of the big cat’s paws.

“Uh. Hon?” Matt said. “That’s… Why?” He shook his head. “What’s happening?”

“Taryne got a call about this beautiful girl here. I was closer than she was. She’s dealing with a coywolf thing, so I handled it.”

“So… This isn’t… a friend?”

“What? Oh. No. Weres don’t lose mass when we shift. She’s way too small to be a shifter.” He poured more water over the cat’s back. The cat pushed its head against Jace’s palm, and… purred.

Actually purred.

“So, you’re giving a wild animal a bath. Do we have these here? In Ottawa, I mean.”

“No, she’s not local. And someone hurt her.”

“What?” Matt took a step forward.

The cat eyed him warily. He stopped moving, but he could see over where Jace was carefully washing the creature’s fur and there were ugly marks across her left flank.

“I can help. If you think she’d let me?”

“Hey,” Jace said. The animal made eye contact with him. “This one? This one’s a friend.”

A warm rush of something passed between his boyfriend and the wild cat. It was almost out of reach, something not-quite-magical, but other enough for it to register to his own magic.

“I didn’t know weres could do that.” Matt took a step forward. The cat looked at him, then leaned more into Jace’s strokes.

“Some of us are better with beasts than others.”

“Good to know.” He eyed the wounds. “Doesn’t look deep. Can you pour some fresh water over it?”

Jace did, and Matt let his magic loose. Water was his element, and he felt the flow touch fur and skin. He nudged it, speaking quiet, calm words of healing. Healing was more an earth magic than water, strictly speaking, but blood and water went hand in hand. All wizards learned how to do what they could. When it came to doing what could be done with water, Matthew Stirling prided himself on his reputation. Magic and water worked to heal skin and staunch the wound. Infection that had begun to take root was washed away. The animal flinched, then relaxed as Matt drove out potential rot.

Matt reached out, flicking the dirty water out from the tub to the sink with a quick nudge of magic.

A moment later the cat’s head was there, pressed against his hand.

Along his forearm, his ink bloomed from a small triangle into images of a wild cat moving through woods, a man with a crossbow and a dog and a crate, and as the vision played out on his skin, Matt took a deep breath.

“So,” Matt said, once his tattoo had collapsed back into a simple triangle. “How do we feel about men who specifically order and hunt wild cats for sport?”

Jace eyed him. “Strongly. We feel… strongly.”

“You’ll probably want to put on a shirt before we go,” Matt said. “But only if you promise to take it off again once we’re back.”


Friday Flash Fiction – Where it Began

Today’s Friday Flash Fiction prompt made me think of Matthew Stirling, one of the wizard characters in my Triad books, who also appeared in “Bound,” a short story in Not Just Another Pretty Face. There, Matthew is trying hard to get a gift for prescience under control—and is led to a handsome werewolf named Jace for the solution. Since the two got together, Matthew’s got his gift under control for the most part, but sometimes it still pops up without being asked. And he’s learned to pay attention when it does.

Flash Friday

Where it Began

The snow was more wet than cold. Matthew raised his umbrella. It was still snow, though. It was definitely snow.

In London.

“I feel like maybe I should order beef chow mein.”

Matthew turned. Jace walked up to him holding two cups that steamed in the cold air.

“What?” He took one of the cups, grateful for the warmth and the coffee. Jet lag sucked.

“Beef chow mein? From Lee Ho Fook?” Jace wagged his eyebrows.

“I don’t know it,” Matthew said.

“Children today,” Jace said. “No ear for the classics.”

“A-ooo!” Matthew howled quietly, and poked Jace in the chest. “A werewolf in London.”

“You had me going.” Jace wrapped one arm around him. “So. Where to next?”

Matthew exhaled a small cloud into the air, a huff of frustration. “I’m not sure. It’s…” He bit his bottom lip. “This is exactly what I saw, but…”

Jace squeezed him. The big man regarded him for a few long seconds. “We should have dinner.”

“Beef chow mein?”

“Nah. Something local. Fish and chips, right? That’s a London thing.” He grinned. “And some good stout. I’ve never been out of Canada, and I know we’re not here for fun, but why not?”

Matthew nodded. “Good idea. Although I have no idea what time it is in my head.”

“I’ll go ask where the food is good,” Jace said, and with a quick kiss to Matthew’s forehead, he stepped away from the umbrella, walking back to the stall where he’d gotten their drinks.

Matthew took a sip, and stared back across at Big Ben.

Exactly as he’d been dreaming it, the snow that was almost slush. The few people. The umbrella.

Why here? He knew the Stirlings could trace itself back to London. Hell, most of the Families could. But why a vision of London? It almost never snowed here, and yet here he was, with Jace, coming all this way just for a weekend in December because his dreams—his gift—had shown him this.

Water was his element. Snow and rain. Matthew Stirling closed his eyes, gathered his thoughts, and then opened again to look.

“It started here,” Matthew said. The words were out before he even knew he was going to say anything. His gift was like that sometimes.

Now he just had to figure out what it was.

Jace waved. Matthew turned, smiled, and lowered his umbrella.

This was a long way to come just to figure out he needed to dig through history to figure out what was coming. Still. Jace had a point.

As he walked over, Matthew admired the wideness of Jace’s shoulders beneath his jacket, and the way he moved his hands when he talked to the guy in the coffee stand.

They’d fly back on Monday. After that? He could start trying to figure out what dark thing had begun here that was sneaking its way into his dreams.

And in the meanwhile, he was with a werewolf in London.

“A-ooo,” Matthew said.