As I lay in the darkness, it occurred to me that I must be the most boring single 30 year-old ever. I didn’t go out much, I ate crappy food. I couldn’t even remember the score of the games I just watched.

This was not how I had imagined myself at this point in my life. Had my marriage not crashed and burned, we probably would have a baby by now. Yeah, and I would still be married to an asstard. He probably would have spawned asstardlets. I just wanted to feel like my life was going somewhere, like I was accomplishing something. I rolled over on my side and vowed to try to get myself together and move forward.

When I finally fell asleep, I dreamt I went on my first post-divorce date. The guy took me to a fancy restaurant, ordered lots of food and expensive wine and then ditched me for the voluptuous hostess. I was presented with the check but lacked any means of paying it. After negotiating a payment plan with the restaurant owner, which involved allowing him to indulge his foot fetish with my pinkie toes and some flavored whipped cream, I left the place and got into my car, which was really weird, because my date drove.

There in the parking lot were dine-and-dash and the hostess, groping each other with utter abandon. I revved up the engine, threw the car into drive and peeled out towards them. The headlights illuminated their stunned faces as I spun the car sharply, rolled down the window and chucked a lit Molotov cocktail - made from the empty wine bottle from dinner - at them and sped off humming the theme to “The Lion King.”

I woke up thinking I must be making progress.

Usually in my dreams I ran them over after I set them on fire.





The harsh voice taunted me from above.  I lay flat on my back on the desert floor, rocks digging into my flesh, and forced myself to look up into the cold, grey eyes of my tormenter.  There was nothing there, no normal human feelings, only indifference.  My legs, one of which had twisted awkwardly underneath me when I collapsed, seemed oddly disconnected as if no longer a part of my body.  The pain that pulsed through the rest of me was agonizing; so much so, I wasn't certain what little I had eaten would remain in my stomach.  Serve the bastard right if I puked all over his fancy, Italian leather shoes. Sweat poured down my face, forming wet rivulets through the salty, crusted residue that dried from the many hours of agony already endured.  I tried to lick my lips, but my tongue was like sandpaper across my parched mouth.  I needed water badly.  I was sure I wouldn’t be getting any.

Having long since shifted from wondering if death was near, to hoping it was, I used my last bit of energy to sputter, “Just kill me now and get it over with, you son of a bitch.”  I was so tired, so utterly defeated. I just wanted the torture to end.

He grinned.  It was pure evil. He must have enjoyed my anguish, because for the first time today his smile engaged his entire face and not just his lips. The bastard poked me with his foot and repeated his earlier command. 



I tore into the steak. Aiden knew exactly how I liked it—heated to around ninety-nine degrees Fahrenheit to mimic a fresh kill. When I was human, the whole eating-something-I’d-just-killed thing kind of disgusted me. I was pretty sure that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, my next fifty or so lives would be lived out as small, furry creatures eaten by ravenous predators to atone for my current habits. In a perhaps vain attempt to circumvent my fate, I rarely ate meat when I wasn’t feathery.

When I had consumed every last morsel, I took a brief detour back into the woods.  Being the modest type, I preferred to shift back to human form somewhere private. Not that I cared if anyone witnessed the transformation; in fact, the nearly instantaneous process was devoid of major unpleasantness. I did end up naked, and I wasn’t comfortable with anyone other than Alex getting an eyeful. While the tiny bathroom in the back of the MCP provided privacy, I learned from experience that it’s best to relieve oneself outside while still in bird form. The first time I changed back in the MCP without preemptive excretion, it took two days and a whole lot of magic to restore the lavatory to usable order.

My alimentary cleanse complete, I hopped onto Alex’s shoulder, and we headed into the MCP.  Aiden, who was holding the door to the bathroom open, winked and said, “Your chamber awaits, m’lady,” before bowing.

Ignoring his teasing, I flitted onto the ridiculously small, metal commode. The functional, but airplane-sized, booth had a sink, shower, and toilet. Actually, the whole room became the shower, and you had to sit on the closed toilet seat while bathing.  The efficient design had a dual purpose of providing the entire space with a good wash down during every shower, an added benefit that should not be disparaged when sharing close quarters with a bunch of men.



 "This is bad enough without you making fun of me,” I protested. “Can’t you two make them go away?”

Alex relayed my request, hopefully with a good deal less hostility than I would have. I was confused, uncomfortable, and I wanted them gone, but I didn’t want to be mean. He must have opted for a more polite version, because their mouthpiece continued to smile as she responded.

“They are willing to leave and not return but ask if you might give them a blessing,” he translated with a grin.

“Tell them I don’t believe in religion, and they couldn’t have picked anyone less worship-worthy if they tried.” I tilted my head skyward and lamented, “This is so completely fucked up.

My disciples gleefully began to chant, “Fucked up,” misconstruing my exasperation for a benediction, and Sebastian made no attempt to disguise his amusement. In fact, he doubled over and guffawed with such gusto, I thought he might pass out from lack of oxygen. Alex had the good sense to cover his mouth and pretend he wasn’t laughing. I knew the truth, but I appreciated the effort. Ulut was the only one who maintained a vigilant pose—back ramrod straight and head lowered—but really, all I could see was the overhead view. From that angle, he could have been laughing his ass off and I’d be none the wiser.

Before any of us had a chance to clear up the misunderstanding, the Jyryxahal turned and skipped back into the desert. We could still hear “fucked up” repeated again and again, long after they were no longer in sight.



"What are you wearing?”

“My ball gown, why… oh.” The lusty tone in his voice finally sank in.  I cupped my hand over the phone and whispered, “Wouldn’t this be better if I was in my room? Someone might hear.”

“A more private place would be preferable, but the praseodymium levels inside will hinder my efforts.”

Myrjix mentioned phone reception inside the palace could be unreliable, but I heard him perfectly as I’d moved through the hallways. Why the hell did he think I needed to be in a non-magic-tamping, outdoor environment to engage in phone sex?

I was about to ask, but was distracted by something brushing against my neck. I waved my hand to shoo away whatever was there, but the sensation didn’t stop. In fact, it became more intense, but not in a bug-crawling-on-your-flesh kind of a way. Whatever was happening sent a thrill from the sensitive flesh on my throat straight to my groin.

“Can you feel my lips on you?”

“Yessss,” I hissed. “Oh my god, how are you doing this?”

“Sebastian invented a device to magnify the magic involved in transcendental arousal so it can be transmitted across a greater distance. It’s in our phones. We are his beta testers.” 

This wasn’t typical phone sex.

It was phonication.