Be My Valentine…Snack

Welcome to Me Me Monday, a day to promote, strut, and celebrate your Me-ness!

It’s also time for the final segment of Be My Valentine…Snack, the third prelude to Stealing Myself From Shadows, the first of a series of ambient fantasy novels I’m working on.

I plan to include all three preludes; Waiting for Rebirth, Unwilling to Be Yours, and Be My Valentine…Snack at the beginning of Stealing Myself From Shadows when I revise and release it.

Don’t think this is the end for Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest here at the Cauldron, though. You never know what may bubble up in the future…;)

Here is the rest of Be My Valentine…Snack…


“He’s just hungry, after using a lot of energy.” Duessa bowed her head, closing all but two eyes. “No need to point that rose at me, my dear.”

“Don’t I?” Never had ‘Brie sounded more menacing. She waved a crushed rose in her hand, like a knife or a wand. It looked very like the flower Duessa had held.

What could a flower do in the real world? I had no idea.

“What happened to accepting other people’s choices, even if they’re fatal?” I cocked my head in ‘Brie’s direction. “I thought you had no right to stop us.”

“Maybe I had no right.” Gabrielle looked ridiculous in her shells and smiley faces, brandishing a crushed flower. There was nothing silly about the dark power gathering around the hand holding it. “If so, it was time to do a little wrong.”

“No, it wasn’t. Not for you,” Duessa waved a finger in reproval at ‘Brie. “Your boys did very well escaping me on their own. In fact, they passed all three of my challenges, including that of true love.”

“What?” It was seldom one saw Gabrielle completely stunned. She blinked, as I looked from Peter to me.

Duessa grinned, looking very much like Damian. He would have enjoyed the look on ‘Brie’s face, too.

“Peter was willing to stay in my lair and be my Valentine, if I’d let Christopher go, without having to confess to feelings he didn’t have.” Duessa shook her head, raising an eyebrow. “Of course, Christopher had to pick up his stick and do his best to defend Peter. All in Damian’s name, of course.

“Of course,” Gabrielle echoed, but she frowned. “I’m surprised you were willing to let them go.”

“Darling, these boys may be delicious, but they’re not worth making you unhappy.” Duessa’s entire face softened, as she gazed at Gabrielle. “Whatever else I might be, I’m not your enemy.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of this. Did this mean I’d never been in any danger? All the times Duessa had expressed an interest in me, showing her true face, had it just been a show?

No. Duessa Ashelocke was dangerous. I’d seen the cocoons containing her Valentines in her lair. Damian had seen it, too.

It hadn’t all been an illusion, or a trick.

Neither was the expression of genuine affection which softened Duessa Ashelocke’s face when she looked at my mother.

She truly cared about ‘Brie. I might be a potential delicacy. Peter, too. She meant every word about not being her enemy.

Just what was the story between these two?

“Angry as I am right now, I believe you.” Gabrielle sighed, looking away from Duessa’s face. “Why must you always be so morally ambiguous?”

“Precious, it’s what draws you to me and Damian, too.” Duessa shook her head. “Morally ambiguous is what you want to be.”

“Sometimes, but not today.” Gabrielle stretched out her arms to Peter and myself. “Come on, boys. Let’s go home.”

Peter hesitated, glancing from her hand to the road. Maybe he was unsure about taking it after everything that happened.

I reached to take his arm.

He looked down at my hand. A faint flush crept up his face and nose.

Pulling him with me, I walked into ‘Brie’s waiting embrace, allowing it to unfold both of us.

Let Duessa and anyone else watch. I didn’t care.



Be My Valentine…Snack

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday (yes, Saturday, I’m back for Saturdays!), those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQ+ fiction at their blogs.

It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQ+.

This will be the last helping I’ll be offering of Be My Valentine…Snack, my third prelude to Stealing Myself From Shadows. It isn’t the last taste from a Tale of the Navel that’ll make an appearance or the Shadow Forest. Keep an eye on the Cauldron for what may bubble forth in the future…


Peter, Duessa, and I stood upon a cobblestone street.

Reality reformed around us, offering the familar sights of cottages and shops along the main road in Omphalos.

I staggered a bit, but Peter caught me.

“Christopher!” Gabrielle ran toward us, her hair and hat in disarray. “Are you all right?”

To be concluded on Monday, May 7, 2018…

Be My Valentine…Snack

Welcome to #QueerBlogWed, a day to bring a touch of the rainbow to our blogs.

I’ve been away for a month while my characters Blogged From AZ, talking about their goals. Be My Valentine…Snack has continued in trickles on Sundays, the only space available in the week.

Time for a lot more story. 🙂 Picking up right where Peter and Christopher left off on Sunday, here’s the next segment of Be My Valentine…Snack…

“Besides I can’t expect you to prove your ‘true love’ for me.” He let out a harsh, humorless laugh. “You’ve let me know countless times that you’re spoken for.”

Guilt rose up in my throat, choking any words I might have to answer that.

Why did I feel like I’d struck another invisible blow, hitting something I’d never intended to touch, let alone injure?

Peter flirted with everyone with an intensity that could break hearts if one took him seriously.

When he’d held me, when he kissed me in the garden, I hadn’t responded the way he wished.

I thought he’d accepted this, even if he was disappointed.

“I don’t understand.” I closed my eyes. “Are you saying you’ll love me even if I can never return your feelings? I don’t understand.”

“No more than I can understand why you continue to cling to the hope that a man who abandoned you will one day return.” His dark eyes softened with wry humour. “I don’t blame you for my feelings any more than you blame Damian.” He shrugged and tried to smile. “You were always honest in your rejection of me.”

His words didn’t make me feel any better. My eyes moved to where my stick lay, upon the checkered floor.

“I’m sorry. I can’t return your love.” I walked over to the stick.“What I can do is try to be worthy of it.”

I picked it up off the floor. It was warm to the touch.

“What are you doing?” A tiny wrinkle dimpled the center of Duessa’s forehead.

I smiled at the familar expression I’d seen so many times on another’s face, even though Damian lacked the additional six eyes.

“Defending Peter.” I held the stick, as if it was a sword.

It vibrated in my hands. The stick was humming, a little tune I hadn’t heard since Damian left.

The sound gave me confidence. As long as I held this stick and stood at Peter’s side, I wasn’t alone.

Peter cocked his head, staring at me as if I’d completely lost my mind.

Duessa blinked all eight eyes at me in bemusement, unsure what to make of me.

“Peter didn’t become your Valentine because he chose to. He did it to make me jealous.” I shook my head. “It was stupid, but you can’t eat everyone who acts stupid.” I allowed my smile to tug at my lips, widening. “You’d gain so much weight, you wouldn’t be able to lift yourself off the floor, let alone fit into that dress.”

A choked laugh escaped from Peter at my attempted joke.

“Ah, Christopher, some truths are simply too cruel” Duessa struggled not to smile and failed. She shook her head. “Why do you risk your life to save Peter? He is neither your beloved, nor your responsibility.”

“No, he’s not.” I closed my eyes, recalling a hand stretching out to me within the darkness. “It’s my choice to save him. Just as it was once Damian’s to save me.”
Something was building behind my eyes, something painful. “This is the best demonstration of true love I have to offer.”

“Such mad logic,” Duessa muttered, her smile withering on her lips. “It’s exactly the sort of thing I’d expect Damian to say.” She sighed, shoulders slumping, her limbs dangling, drained of their malice. “His heart’s desire was to get the better of me.” Duessa looked from me to Peter. “I’m not sure if he’d be proud or envious of the two of you.”

Six of her arms vanished. The temple around us blurred, the web and the valentines disappeared.

The stick vanished from my hand as well.