508 Twitter followers to be exact! How did this escape my notice? It took me two years just to get 50 followers. I remember that day when I was celebrating and running around the house that gasp 50 people thought I was cool enough!
I want to thank each and every one of you for following me. You guys are troopers with putting up with my constant Instagram posts of my cats (srynotsry), my #TypoOfTheDay, my Live-Tweeting of prime time TV, and long out of context streams of how my boys are going to drive me to drink, or how often they break my face.
So, as a token of my deep appreciation. I present to you a sneak peek at the first 2,500 words of Bayou Fairy Tale, Book #2 in Fairy Tales of the Open Road. You guys deserve to see what I’ve been ranting about, or crying about, or laughing about any given day. Or any given moment. As you know, my feelings about this book change every five minutes.
Thank you. Please enjoy. To the next 500!
Bayou Fairy Tale (Fairy Tales of the Open Road #2)
Chapter 1: A Very Merry Unbirthday
The blistering cold assaulted his skin. Naked and afraid, he shivered in the darkness. The wind screamed and scraped against his raw back, threatening to swallow him again into the rabbit hole he had climbed out.
“Hello?” he howled into the torrent. His bones rattled from the cold.
His teeth chattering; his only answer.
“Hey!” he yelled again.
Overhead, thunder boomed in reply.
His pulse quickened, and his face flushed with a clammy sweat. He had to get out. He couldn’t stay here.
His heart hammered, and his joints creaked like warping knife blades, squealing and sharp. He’d die here. The realization came with another clap of thunder.
He turned from the wind and ran blindly into the dark. His bare feet sank into the wet mud and mashed between his toes.
“Hey?” he called out desperately into the darkness. “Hey!”
His chest clenched against the cold as he struggled for breath. The panic came just as unrelenting as the hailstone right between his shoulder blades. He toppled forward, sliding through the thick muddy gravel. Giving up wasn’t an option. But the tempest overhead seemed to disagree.
He had heard once, when one cannot run, to walk. When one cannot walk, they crawl. And crawl he did. He would not lose himself in the storm. The rain, ice, and hail wouldn’t conquer him.
As he scrambled over the sludge, the hail pelted into the mud, exploding like cannon fire. He had to get out. There had to be an end to this. There had to be!
He flailed forward for a grip, and his hand fumbled over a wet, pebbly wall. Clamoring to his feet, he felt blindly along the surface, looking for a way around. His bones throbbed, and his fingers burned from his blood freezing in his veins.
Coughing, he concentrated on exploring the wall’s texture. A blinding flash of lightning maliciously pointed out his predicament…
He had never escaped the rabbit hole after all.
*** *** ***
He gasped a choking breath, and then coughed twice. He lay still, confused by the soft warmth of a bed at his back, and the distant smell of pumpkin pie and bacon.
Was that bacon?
How does pumpkin and bacon go together? He didn’t understand.
“Someone’s waking up…,” he heard a giddy whisper of a young man.
“I think my frittata’s burning,” said another man. This time an older, more grizzled tone.
“Hold on!” the young man whispered urgently. “I’ll need you here for a few more minutes.”
The older man let out an exasperated sigh. “Here. Just let me inch that damned book over in pinky touching range. It’s your own damned fault you can’t touch it.”
“How the hell is that my fault?” the young man said and seemed irritated. “I’m a fucking princess. I can’t touch dark magic. You know that.”
“Oh, you touch a lot more than dark magic, if you know what I mean,” the older man said with a tone of sarcasm. Was there some innuendo? Something about the banter was familiar. Comforting.
He feigned sleep as he felt something hard nudge his fingertips. Perhaps this was the book the old man mentioned? His wrists itched, and he ventured the slightest of peeks through his eyelashes only to find himself tied to the bed with sparkling pink garland.
What. The. Fuck?
He ran it over in his head. The garland could be easily broken with a flick of the wrist. The young guy sounded maybe early 30s. The tone however suggested he was somewhat small. Perhaps slight. What’s with the princess thing? The older guy was hard to get a bead on. His voice gave away he was a big bear of a guy, but there wasn’t footsteps to suggest his weight, or where he was.
The sheets at his back had been laundered with lavender scented detergent. Over him was an electric blanket set to a cozy temperature mingled into a sandwich with other fuzzy blankets. The pillow at the back of his head was the perfect mix of down and cotton stuffing and smelled of primrose. Someone had taken the time to see to his comfort. The garland? Puzzling.
And then there was the pumpkin pie and bacon. And the old man mentioned a frittata. Cooking a frittata indicates someone needs patience and time to prepare. Someone doesn’t cook a frittata when holding someone hostage. Was he a hostage? He was tied up. In garland. But garland couldn’t even hold a disgruntled housecat hostage.
He decided to chance it and slowly open his eyes….
The young man grinned with barely restrained excitement over him. This was a good sign. Or so he thought. The young man had long, dark hair styled into a ragged ponytail, and wore a sparkling pink party hat topped with a silver puffball.
Okay. The party hat was one thing. But holy shit, was the guy’s eyes pink? And where was the old guy?
A quick glance to the left, and he found him. He was old for sure with bushy gray-blonde hair and a shaggy goatee, but not big. More like the size of a tubby tabby, who hovered in the air via enormous glittering pink butterfly wings.
What was with all the pink? He was more confused by all the pink than a little old man with wings. Somehow that seemed somewhat acceptable.
The nightmare of the tempest and the rabbit hole put a whole new perspective on what was believable. Was this the bottom of the rabbit hole? Did he go so far down that he ended up in some new world all together? Whatever it was, this was nice. He would do anything not to go back to that icy hell.
“Happy Birthday!” they shouted in unison and then blew noisemakers. From behind his back, the winged man threw multi-colored confetti.
“B’rdeh…?” he finally asked and then swallowed. He didn’t sound like them. The young guy’s accent had an uppercrust Southern twang. He, on the other hand, was more Deep South with something else. French? Haitian? Creole? Creole, he decided.
As they watched him, he took a quick scan of the quaint bedroom. Warm wooden walls, a TV in the corner, an open window looking out onto a lake with tall pines in a sunny morning. A banner hung across from him reading “Happy Birthday!” with smiley faces on each end of the lettering. Was it his birthday? Maybe? He drew a blank. Was this a trick of the rabbit hole? He tried to keep his composure. These two seemed kind, and he wanted to play it cool until something suggested otherwise.
The décor wasn’t to a guy’s taste. It wasn’t his that’s for sure. The colors and fabrics indicated feminine touch, or at least someone that knew something about interior design. Was there someone else here? A handful framed pictures with him and the young man together hung on the walls in a tidy arrangement. They looked happy and in each other’s arms.
In one photo, they posed in front of a donut shop boasting a gigantic fiberglass donut on top painted with the name Randy’s Donuts. And another photo of him carrying the young man over the threshold of a concrete teepee, the sign reading the Wigwam Motel. There were others, from the World’s Largest Pancake Bake-Off, to Biosphere II, to the Corn Palace. He blinked. They seemed to have a rather wacky sense of fun. They both looked happy, and the way they looked at each other in the photos told him how deeply in love they were.
They were lovers? He glanced to the young man again, and he smiled eagerly. He moistened his bottom lip with the tip of his tongue. His stomach clenched with the slight arousal.
Oh. Well. Maybe?
He cleared his throat, and then averted his gaze, trying to hide the flush in his cheeks.
All the while the young man remained silent, seeming to wait for him to get his bearings and make his own decisions.
Their gazes met again. He swallowed with the realization that he didn’t imagine the pink eyes.
“Your eyes are pink,” he finally said despite sounding slightly unsure.
The young man gave a slight shrug and a grin. “I know. Weird, right?”
A kitchen timer buzzed through the silence, and the old winged man jolted. “Okay. My frittata is totally burning.” He fluttered off in a drunken curlicue path into the kitchen. “I’ll let you kids get reacquainted. Don’t forget you have work in an hour, boyo,” he called behind him.
The young man snorted. “There’s a lot you can do in an hour!”
“Yeah, yeah,” the little man called. “Like catch up on those two weeks of Survivor we missed.”
Before he could say anything, the young man puffed a sigh that seemed like humored impatience. “It’s like living with your dad and an obnoxious roommate all in one,” he said.
Okay. This rabbit hole of absurdity was getting far too deep. Was he still asleep? This dream was strangely appealing. The young man was kind of cute. He didn’t seem like a threat.
“I’m sorry,” he said slowly to the young man. “But…um…I’m tied up in garland for some reason.”
The young man tilted his head with a sly smile. “You like it?”
“Am I supposed to?” he asked. “It seems we—” he tried to find the words, but the more he watched the young man the more his cheeks heated. “—seem to enjoy each other’s company.” He bit his lip and his stomach clenched at the admission. “Is the garland—”
“A kinky thing?” the young man asked as he reached out and then traced circles across his chest. The young man’s touch made him shiver.
“I’d say calling yourself a princess is a kinky thing,” he said with a smirk.
The young man gave an incredulous expression. “But I am a princess.” He pointed to his party hat. “See my princess hat?” He seemed to beam with pride.
The humor of the situation brought much needed comfort from the rabbit hole nightmare. He liked this young man, and the little old man with the wings seemed okay too. If this was a dream, it was reaching levels of being too real. He could feel, smell, and even read not only the happy birthday banner, but the tags on the pictures. He read them again to make sure the letters didn’t dissolve into squiggles, or the pictures didn’t turn blank.
No. They still stayed vibrant, and he could still read. Was this real?
The young man ran his teeth over his bottom lip.
His mouth ran dry. Something about that young man’s mouth begged to be touched. If they were lovers, why couldn’t he remember his name? Moreover, why couldn’t he remember his own? This had to be a trick of his nightmare. His heart thumped. He swallowed again. The panic bubbled in his stomach.
Everything was too nice. Too safe. Too perfect. None of it was real. It couldn’t be real.
The young man’s eyes rounded in fear, he seemed to sense his own panic. Reaching out toward one of his garland-bound hands, the young man said, “I’m going to untie you, okay?”
He nodded without a word.
“The book is right next to you,” the young man said. “You need to read it. It’ll explain everything.”
“Book?” he asked. He glanced to his right, and found what the young man seemed to think what qualified as a book.
A monstrous stack of composition notebooks duct taped together sat next to his hand. Covered with stickers, from biohazard symbols, to a girlish cartoon cat, to flowers, to a rhinestone sticker of a tiara? What was with the tiara? Tabs of every color of the rainbow had been pasted into the pages, and a mishmash of papers stuck out making the strange tome unable to close without the aid of a bungee cord. There were even little sparkly things that looked like party favors. And was that bits of yarn and colorful tags off of clothing?
He didn’t understand how he knew, but he knew the weird journal of mementos was his.
The young man untied him and stepped away from the bed. He folded his hands and waited in silence.
He nodded his thanks, and then sat up as he slipped the book into his lap. He snorted a laugh. “This thing is twenty pounds of paper easy. It’s going to take me a while to read this.” He smirked at the young man, gauging his reaction.
The young man gave an impish smirk of his own. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’re a speed reader.”
He arched a brow. The young man who called himself a princess seemed to trust him. And for now, he trusted him as well. The first thing that caught his attention when he opened the mishmash of notebooks was the chicken-scratch handwriting. Names, numbers, details from physical features, to what was said, to who said it, to mini maps scribbled into the margins. Every space of the pages was filled. Every space. And when there wasn’t, the spaces between the previously written letters had to do.
None of it made sense. The paper was practically illegible. Sets of notes all written different colors of ink. And then rents in the paper where the ink was running out. Smears from fingertips. Coffee rings. Strange splatters ranging from brown to pink. What was with the pink?
None of it made sense, and looked like notes from a madman with no purpose but to not only document everything in the world but down to when he last took a shit. He assumed that was in the mess of scrawls somewhere. But when he relaxed his eyes, words began to shift up from the noise of multi-colored pen scribbles and rise to the surface.
His name is Taylor. He read. Taylor Hatfield. You love him. He makes you good.
Makes him good? Who was he that he needed to be made “good”?
Copyright 2015 © Lex Chase. All rights reserved.