by Christi Smith Hayden
"Yeah, keep it up, motahmouth," Natty muttered as
she blew the droplet of sweat off the end of her nose,
never taking her eyes from the pitcher's throwing arm.
"Ah'm gonna ram this here ball right down yo' teeth."
The pitcher of the Diablos let loose with a fast,
underhand pitch. The sweet spot of Natty's bat slammed
into the softball, driving it low and hard along the
third base line. She dropped the aluminum bat and ran for
first, her cleats digging into the hard red clay surface
of the playing field.
Her teammate on second wasted no time rounding the
bases, long-legged Natty hot on his heels. The Diablo
left fielder finally reached the ball and hurled it
towards third just as Natty was passing by on her way to
home plate. She dove in head first as the catcher
stretched for the ball.
"Safe!" yelled the blue-shirted umpire.
Natty looked up and grinned at the Diablos catcher
through a gritty covering of red dust. "Good try, amigo."
He shook his head as he offered her a hand up. "You
one loco gringa, mujere."
The man she had batted in met her halfway to the
dugout. "Way to go, Natty girl!" He looked back the
opposing team and called, "Who's got the hot bats now,
Natty walked into the dugout, stripping off her
batting gloves and brushing dust from her bright yellow
jersey. Her teammates on the coed softball team had
various congratulations for her. Mindy, the coach's wife
and scorekeeper, pointed at the pager clipped to the
strap of Natty's duffel bag.
"Yoah beeper's been goin' off," she commented
absently, eyes on the game. "Weirdest noise Ah evah
Natty frowned, wrinkling her forehead. "Huh. I could
have sworn I'd set it to vibrate. I haven't had the
beeper on in weeks." She unclipped the pager and checked
it. The number of her bartending agency alternated with
that of the Rockaway.
The softball game was finished after another inning
and it was Hornets over the Diablos, fourteen to nine.
Natty plugged in her car phone as soon she settled into
the white Cadillac convertible and called up the
placement service she bartended for, Mixology Masters.
"This is Natty Jones," she said as she started
driving out of the athletic complex. "What's up, Morty?"
"Natty! Sweetheart!" the man on the phone wheezed.
"You got requested to do a private party!"
"Uh, oh. What kind of party?"
"Some kind of family reunion, I think. This guy,
O'Brien -- I asked especially for you , babe -- he said
it was in honor of his children coming home."
"When is this gig?"
"Tonight, I think. He said that you were to bring
fine spirits and libations and that he would summon you
"Sounds like some kind of nut."
"Well, he's a rich nut. He paid twice the usual
rate, plus a big bonus for you besides."
"Yow!" Natty came to a stop at a traffic light.
"Anything particular I need to know?"
"He sounds like a snob, might be a hoity-toity
affair. Wear something upscale."
"Beats the time I had to tend bar in that belly
dancer costume," Natty said with a laugh. "Thanks, Morty.
I'll call you back tomorrow with all the dirty details."
She hung up and dialed a second number.
"This is the Rockaway, where you can rock your blues
Natty grinned. "Hey, Frank! What can I do ya for?"
The bartender from the Rockaway answered back.
"Well, you can drop by and pick up the drink order this
guy O'Brien called in. He said you could bring it since
you were working his shindig."
"Cocky li'l S.O.B, ain't he?" Natty commented. "I
only just got the call from Morty." A handy overpass was
coming up. She checked for traffic even as her eyes began
to glow emerald green. "I'll be there in a couple of
Natty focused her energies on opening a portal
between Abilene and Manhattan. She had become
surprisingly good at it after months of discreet tutelage
under Owen. He might not be able to practice magic as a
human but he was well-versed in all its various forms.
One minute the white Cadillac was cruising along the
Texas highway and in the blink of an eye, the car was
coming out of a New York City parking garage. Natty waved
at the attendants as she drove past.
"Who is that woman?" the tall, thin attendant asked.
"I see her and that white Caddy leaving all the time but
I never see that car parked in here."
"Maybe it's a ghost car!" his shorter associate
Natty parked in the alley by the Rockaway. Frank
Ester popped out of the back door wearing his nylon
biker's cap and one of his trademark tacky shirts.
Today's selection was a bowling shirt with a rather
phallic pin positioned between two flaming bowling balls
with the team name, 'Great Balls O' Fire' emblazoned
across his shoulders. He eyed her car and clucked.
"You've been tending bar in New York for how long
and you still have Texas plates on this car?"
"What can I say, Frank?" Natty shrugged. "A girl's
gotta have her wheels."
"It's wonder it hasn't been stolen by now." The
bartender looked around, put index finger and thumb into
his mouth, and gave a piercing whistle. Two heads popped
up behind a dumpster. Frank waved them over.
Natty looked at the two approaching teenagers. Their
ragged clothes had seen better days. One kid had an
earring through his left nostril and the other had shaved
his head except for the very top and that was left long
and hanging to one side. "Friends of yours?" she asked.
Frank rolled his eyes. "Our valet service. Don't
judge them by their appearance, Oz and Jimmie are good
kids, just down on their luck."
"Another of Theo's projects?"
"Yeah, well, you know how he is about street
people." Frank pulled a five out of his pocket and handed
it to Pierced Nose. "Watch the lady's car for me, okay? I
got to load some stuff for her."
"Need a hand?" the other kid asked hopefully.
Frank looked him over. "Yeah, you'd better come with
me, Jimmie." He glanced at Natty. "Wanna come on back?"
The tall brunette followed Frank and the scruffy kid
down into the bowels of the Rockaway. The basement was
home to Frank Ester's microbrewery where he practiced the
brewmeister's art with a skilled hand. Natty thought it
looked a great deal like a mad scientist's lab in an old
black and white movie, only without all the cobwebs. Huge
copper vats vented yeasty gas and oak barrels were
stacked along the wall. Off in one corner was the shining
steel and glass contraption that Frank triple-distilled
the secret ingredient of the notorious Wednesday night
special at the Rockaway, the Pugsley.
Several crates of bottles were waiting on a dolly.
Frank pointed to some gallon jugs on a nearby table.
"There's the Pugsleys, all mixed and ready. Make sure you
stand well back when you light them."
Natty laughed. "Yeah, I know that's how you lost
your hair in front."
Frank rolled his eyes. "Well, my ex-wife helped with
that." He loaded Jimmie up with a case of dark brown
bottles. "There you go. Be careful."
"So how's the current Mrs. Ester?" Natty asked as
she took a jug of Pugsleys in each arm.
"Paulie's just fine." Frank beamed. "Baby's due in
another six weeks." He started the dolly rolling and
Natty followed him out. "We're thinking Sherry if it's a
girl or Johnny if it's a boy."
"Good, old-fashioned bartender names, hmmm?" Natty
joked. "Tom Collins, Johnny Walker, Harvey Wallbanger,
Frank laughed. "Yeah, but Paulina put her foot down
at the weirder ones."
Oz was juggling softballs when they came out with
the party supplies. He looked over his shoulder. "Sorry,
ma'am, couldn't resist." He waited until Jimmie had set
his load down before tossing balls at him. Soon they had
every ball in Natty's equipment bag in the air while
Frank and Natty finished packing the trunk of the Caddy.
Natty clapped her hands enthusiastically. "That's
"Yeah," Frank said, slamming the trunk lid shut.
"Gomez lets them juggle in front of the club on the
weekends. Gives it that festival atmosphere."
"I still say I'm ready to do fire," Oz said, not
taking his eyes off the balls.
"And we're still fixing stuff from the last time the
Rockaway got torched," Frank said. "No fire, Gomez and
Tish wouldn't like it." He grabbed the equipment bag and
held it open. "Playtime's over, guys. Lady's got to be on
The boys pitched the balls into the bag and soon
Natty was driving away. She was well down the block when
it hit her. "Doh! Darn you, Morty!" she muttered as she
reached for the phone. "You never told me where this gig
is!" She had only punched the first three numbers when
the world vanished in a flash of light.
"Miss?" an aristocratic voice asked. "Are you all
Natty blinked and looked around. The Caddy was
parked in the brick-laid courtyard of a palatial mansion.
An elegantly clad man with chiseled features and piercing
ice-blue eyes stood by the car with a look of concern on
his face while three servants in matching black-and-white
maid uniforms stood by attentively. "Um, I'm fine,
thanks," Natty mumbled. "Where am I and if y'all don't
mind me askin', who are you?"
The aristocrat bowed regally. "I am your host,
Jonathan O'Brien. Your employer, Mixology Masters,
recommended you as one of their best bartenders."
"That would be me then," Natty said, opening the car
door and stepping out. A brief moment of vertigo made her
sway but the tall brunette shook it off. "Natalie Jones,
call me Natty. I can make every drink in the free world
and a few that aren't."
"We'll be looking forward to that," O'Brien said
graciously. He snapped his fingers and two men appeared.
"I'll have your beverages moved to the party area while
you freshen up."
Natty stared down at herself aghast. She was still
wearing her softball get-up: yellow Hornets jersey, black
athletic shorts, baseball cap and cleats. Red dirt was
smeared on her from head to toe. She didn't even want to
think about what she must smell like. "Oh, dear," Natty
said, chewing on a fingernail. "I am so sorry--"
"No, you mustn't worry, my dear," O'Brien waved
aside her protests. "My servants will have something
suitable for you." The three maids stepped forward, their
faces pleasantly neutral but something in their eyes made
"If you'll come this way, miss?" the dark-haired
maid said, gestured towards the mansion. Natty let her
lead the way into the mansion, the other two maids
following behind. They led her to a spacious dressing
room with a freshly-drawn bath in a tub the size of a
small swimming pool. The blonde maid began showing her
elegant gowns in classical designs while the one with
silver-white hair tried to remove Natty's clothes.
"Now, none of that, girl," Natty admonished good-
naturedly. "I kin take care of my own bizness from here
on out so y'all kin jest git. G'wan now, shoo!" She
locked the door behind them.
The tall Texan had a brief snoop around the room. It
was quite lavish, real marble for the floor and tub,
fancy silks for the draperies and the dresses....Natty
hadn't seen such finery, at least in her price range. She
dabbled her hand in the lukewarm, rose-scented water. A
bath was definitely in order. Natty shucked her clothes
and lifting the top of a cedar-lined chest, opened a
small portal to the clothes hamper in her bathroom back
home. While she was at it, she retrieved one of her nicer
bartending outfits. These fancy dresses were all very
well and fine, but it wasn't like she could work in them.
Natty had another brief twinge of vertigo as she
stepped into the tub. She couldn't put her finger on it
but something about this whole gig was not all beer and
pretzels. She sank into the soap suds with a sigh.
Odin and Raven stood with Oberon watching as the
Wyrd Sisters took the mortal away. Their faerie glamour
shimmered away and they were left in their normal forms.
"Very well," Lord Oberon said briskly, "See that her
supplies are taken to the place I have prepared for her.
No one is to reveal themselves to her until I command
Odin looked towards the castle curiously as Raven
popped the trunk on the late-model Cadillac. "May I ask
who this mortal is, milord? There is an unusual presence
Oberon allowed himself a small, cold smile. "That,
too, shall be revealed in good time. Patience, my son,
and you will be both informed and entertained." The ruler
of Avalon swirled his cape around himself and disappeared
"What do you make of that?" Odin asked with a small
Raven shrugged. "It's his business, not ours." He
started to open the truck and pulled his hands back
quickly. His fingers had turned an angry pink as if they
were scalded. "I just wish he'd left the car back in the
realm of mortals. These late model cars are almost
completely metal. Just look at the ground!"
Odin peered under the chassis of the Caddy. Under
each wheel and wherever the shadow of the car touched,
the grass was dying. Odin's eye glowed as he examined the
damage on a mystic level. "It's killing the magic," he
murmured. "It doesn't seem to be spreading though."
"Like I said, there's a lot of iron in these old
cars. Always gave me a rash to ride in them." Raven held
up his hands and heavy leather gloves appeared over them.
"That's better." He began to unload the trunk, the brown
bottles of lager, bock and stout clinking together.
Odin eyed the beer bottles thoughtfully and blew a
blustery, snow-flecked breath at them. Raven finished
unloading and slammed the trunk lid shut. Odin grinned
and handed the dark-haired fay a frosty bottle.
"Here's to the Party," the pseudo-Nordic deity said
grandly. "A merry Midsummer's Night to you, brother!"
"And to you, brother!" Raven clinked bottles with
Odin and took a long sip. He smacked his lips in
satisfaction. "The mortal that made this was touched by
The rolling thunder of Odin's laughter echoed in the
courtyard. "The question is which of us were responsible?
Come," he gestured at the waiting booze and levitated it
in mid-air, "Let us sample these fine spirits before the
others come and take them from us!"
Laughing, the two fay walked away, bottles and jugs
trailing in their wake.
Natty combed her long dark hair into a high
ponytail, hanging past her shoulders. She looked herself
over in the full-length mirror standing in the corner of
the room. Her bartending outfit tonight was a starched
shirt-collared white halter with wide lapels, above-the-
knee black skirt and sensible but stylish black flat
shoes. She turned around to get the full view.
"Well, girl, it ain't fancy but at least, the dogs
don't howl when you walk past," Natty told herself.
The reflection shimmered and as Natty watched, her
image changed. The dark hair and gray-green eyes stayed
the same but the clothes became a medieval gown, the hair
style, an elaborate braided crown. The older woman in the
"Hello, my child."
"Rhiannon?" Natty eyed her suspiciously. "Wha'chu
doin' outside mah haid?"
"Anything is possible here," Rhiannon said. "Know
this, nothing is as it seems. Be wary and don't let him
push you around."
"What? Who?" Natty asked but as she stepped
forward, the mirror shimmered and the only image visible
was her own.
There was a brief knock on the door and before Natty
could respond, the three identical maids came in. They
all gave a small displeased frown in eerie
synchronization. The dark-haired one in the center spoke
"Miss, our employer would prefer you wore one of the
garments provided." She gestured to gowns hanging in the
"Well, I'm afraid not. They're way too fancy to
sling booze in and I have to keep a professional image."
She elbowed the maid gently on her way to the door.
"Keeps the fellas in check, y'know." She walked into the
hallway. "Now where is this here shindig?"
The blonde went out into the hall with Natty. The
one with the silver-white hair put a restraining hand on
her dark-haired sister's arm, whose lip was curled back
in a snarl.
"Easy, Selene. Oberon has promised we shall have our
revenge after she has served his purpose. Patience,
Selene ground her teeth. "It is very difficult not
to blast her where she stands," she said grimly. "But I
will bide by the will of Lord Oberon."
Natty was led out to a dome-topped stone gazebo
overlooking a swimming pool some distance from the house.
A top-of-the-line travel bar had been set up, the icebox
humming away, and a fine selection of liquors waiting
ready in a chilled rack. The two men she'd saw earlier, a
huge broad-chested Viking type and his companion, a
shorter Native American were lounging around, having
already helped themselves to a few beers.
"Hey, fellas," Natty said cheerfully. "You gonna
save some for the rest of the guests?"
"Sisters!" the dark-haired man crowed. "Have a drink
"Yeah," his companion agreed. "Let your hair down,
girls!" He leered and patted his knee. "Got your seat
right here, Phoebe!"
The maids all sniffed haughtily and started walking
away but the blonde gave the big man an over-the-shoulder
look that sizzled and popped.
As she took her place behind the bar, Natty
commented, "Well, well! Who'd a-thunk it? Guess that one
don't have as much starch in her knickers."
Both men snorted beer out their noses and began
chortling with huge belly laughs. The big guy wiped his
eyes and said weakly, "Oh, she'll go far here, eh,
Raven merely raised his bottle in salute and kept
As the afternoon wore on into evening, Natty learned
from her bar buddies, Raven and 'Odie', there were a
number of party sites on O'Brien's estate and the
partygoers wandered in and out as they liked. A lot of
singles were gathered in the pool area, among them a tall
willowy girl with a shrill voice that Odie traded insults
with, a handsome dark-haired couple sipping margaritas,
the girl looking for the world like a short-haired Elisa
Maza, and an odd African gentleman with an endless
appetite and an amazing tolerance for Pugsleys.
"Hon," Natty said as she lit his ninth drink, "I
really hope you're not planning to drive home after
Brilliant white teeth glowed in his polished
mahogany face. "Ho-ho-ho! My dear girl! Anaszi IS home!"
He blew out the high blue flame and tossed back the
drink. "Magnificent! Such flavors! Such colors!"
Hoo boy, she thought to herself, Frank said when
they start seeing colors, it's time to call the ER and
tell 'em to prep the stomach pump. Natty eyed him
skeptically. "You drink 'em like that, it's a wonder your
taste buds get a whiff of 'em."
She made a quick sweep of the pool area, picking up
empty bottles and glasses. As she passed Anaszi, she
yelped as someone pinched her. Glaring and rubbing her
backside, Natty looked around for the perpetrator but the
guys in the immediate vicinity all had their hands in
plain view. She sighed and bent to snatch a wayward
cocktail napkin from a chair.
This time a bristly, furry SOMETHING goosed her in a
very personal way. Natty gasped and was tossed face down
on a chaise lounge. She felt several limbs or tentacles
caressing her legs and inching her skirt up. Natty raised
up on one arm and twisted around, madder than a nest of
fire ants and as luck would have it, had one eye squinted
in the way she normally did when she read auras.
Only this time she saw something else.
And it REALLY pissed her off.
"Enjoying the party, my dear?" Oberon asked his wife
felicitously as they waltzed around the main banquet
Titania regarded her husband in thoughtful
amusement. "It's been a delightful evening, my Lord
Oberon. Everyone is having a splendid time."
As the song came to an end, a number of the guests
began to look out the windows curiously. An eerie
caterwauling kept growing louder. The doors slammed open
and Anaszi came scuttling into the Great Hall on three
legs, the remaining five bent and twisted into a
convoluted knot over his back. He looked at the rulers of
Avalon with fear in his many eyes. "She's gonna eat
me!!!" he screamed.
Oberon raised an eyebrow. "Pray, who would do such a
"Git yer big fat hairy butt back here!" Natty
bellowed at she stalked through the door, green fire
blazing from her eyes. "As soon as I git me a REALLY big
bug zapper, you're gonna be crispy-fried!"
With a wave of his hand, Oberon removed the giant
spider from the banquet hall. At the same time, a faerie
glamour changed the medieval castle to a more
contemporary setting. Mr. O'Brien smiled graciously at
his irritated bartender. "My dear Miss Jones, can I help
Natty raised an eyebrow and shifted her weight to
her other hip. "Look here, Blue Boy. Why don't you stop
blowing sunshine up my skirt and tell me what's REALLY
going on here?"
"I beg your pardon?" Oberon asked, clearly
Behind her husband's back, Titania pressed her lips
together and her shoulders shook as she laughed silently.
"You heard me," Natty said, giving the room a
squinting one-eyed stare. "Drop the illusions right now.
It's giving me a headache."
The three Wyrd Sisters filed in, looking menacing in
their maid uniforms. "Such impudence! My lord, let us
teach this rude upstart some manners!"
Natty scowled. "Oh, hush up!" She made a sweeping
gesture as her eyes glowed emerald green and a crackling
portal of pure energy opened beneath the three fay
sorceresses. They gave a horrified screech and
disappeared from sight.
Back at the pool, Odin and Raven were looking idly
at the castle. "It's awfully quiet," Raven observed. "Do
you think she's pulled his legs off yet?"
"Don't know," Odin answered. "I think there'd be
more screaming then."
They were suddenly bathed in an eerie green glow as
a large disk opened above them. Phoebe landed in Odin's
lap, Luna on a chaise lounge and Selene belly-flopped
right into the pool.
Raven winced. "That's gotta hurt."
Odin snapped his fingers and a tray of flaming
Pugsleys floated over from the bar. "Ladies," he said
grandly, "I think you could use a drink." He locked eyes
with Phoebe as he blew hers out and handed it to her. The
blonde sister returned his look coyly and sipped the
drink, a rosy blush rising in her cheeks.
Selene pulled herself from the pool, looking like a
drowned cat. She glared at Phoebe and Luna, who had
accepted a drink from Raven. "Sisters! What do you think
you're doing?" She summoned a convenient zephyr to dry
herself off. "That-that accidental enchantress has done
it to us again!"
"Oh, lighten up, Selene!" Phoebe said, leaning up
against the bearded Norse god. She toyed with his beard.
"Be a doll, Odin, and get me another one of those flaming
"I think she's right, Selene." Luna leaned back on
the chaise lounge. "Let's enjoy the party. Oberon can do
his own dirty work for one night."
The dark-haired sister's mouth hung open. "I don't
believe this! My own sisters!" She glared at the castle.
"That mongrel has poisoned all of Avalon!" With a
guttural scream, Selene disappeared.
"Uh...huh," Raven commented and turned back to Luna.
He gave her a big smile. "So, have you ever seen my totem
With a disdainful wave of his hand, Oberon whisked
away all semblance of the mundane human world, revealing
the Children of Oberon in all their various forms and
sizes along with assorted human guests. They gave the
little tableau at the head of the room a curious glance
and went on with their merrymaking.
"Now my dear," Oberon purred. "Let us garb you in
something more befitting a daughter of Oberon." A
sparkling cloud descended on the tall Texan and as it
lifted, Natty found herself in a diaphanous gown of rich
emerald green, criss-crossed across her ample bosom,
leaving her shoulders bare, covered in the dark brown
cape of her hair.
She stuck out her jaw belligerently. "Now, hold on
here! What the--" Natty froze for a few seconds, staring
as her eyes turned a brighter green. She blinked, smiled
and spreading her skirts, dropped into a graceful
curtsey. "My Lord Oberon," she said in a very proper
fashion, "I am blessed once again to walk on the shores
Oberon stepped down from the dais and took her hand,
raising her up. "Dearest Rhiannon, my fosterling. How
good it is to see you again."
Natty's ultimate ancestor looked through her eyes.
"May I inquire as to why my granddaughter has been deemed
worthy of this visit?"
"It is Midsummer's Night," Oberon said. "The first
of the Gathering. According to my own decree everyone is
allowed to bring one mortal from the human world to
frolic with us." He smiled and cupped her chin. "When
Titania told me of your existence, daughter of my heart,
I knew I must find a way to bring you back home to us."
"I am delighted to visit," Rhiannon replied, "but
Natty is human. She would be greatly missed."
Oberon laughed. "And who would miss her? Her
drunkard of a half-brother living in a run-down trailer
park? The inconsiderate employers that underestimate her
potential? Oh, no, my dear, it would be a simple matter
to wipe the slate clean and then you would have full use
of this very attractive body."
"My lord!" Rhiannon wrinkled her brow. "I have taken
care of this avatar as if she were a child of my mortal
body. She means more to me than just my descendant. I
could never treat her so shabbily."
"And besides, my husband," Titania said, stepping
forward, composure once again serene, "there is one
another to consider."
"Him?" Oberon snorted. "He would have to travel here
and proclaim his love. By my own decree, none born of
Avalon may help him, not even yourself, my wife."
The tall brunette raised her chin. "Glad to hear
that don't apply to me!" A shimmering, swirling oval of
energy appeared next to her and Natty stuck her head and
arms into it.
"Stop this at once!" Oberon commanded.
"Too late," Natty said, reemerging holding on to a
navy-suited arm. "Sorry to take you out of the stock
holders meeting," she said apologetically, "but I'm in a
bit of a jam here."
Owen Burnett adjusted his glasses as he focused on
the face of the woman before him. "Where have you been,
Natalie? You've been missing for over three days!" He put
his hands on her shoulders. "I've been ... concerned."
"I had a bartending job."
"But for three days?" Owen took notice of what she
was wearing and gave her a long look, a small smile
tugging at his lips. "This new look of yours is certainly
... interesting. Who hired you?"
"I did," Oberon said coldly. "And you were exiled
"Technically, my lord husband," Titania interjected,
"You exiled Puck. Owen, on the other hand, is another
"Avalon." The word slipped from the pale man in a
reverent hush. "I thought I'd never see it again." His
fingers threaded through Natty's as he took her hand.
"By rights, you shouldn't even be here." Oberon
stared at Natty. "How can you defy me like this?"
Her eye glowed emerald. "Foster-Father, you'll find
that you can take the girl out of the trailer park but
you can't take the trailer park out of the girl. Natty
has a strong will of her own. You cannot force her to
"Stay here?" A quick glance at Natty's face
confirmed it. Owen's own face colored. "Absolutely not."
"You know our rules," Titania said mildly. "She is a
mortal who will not be missed."
"I would miss her," Owen said firmly. "And so would
"The Puck?" Oberon laughed. "Puck never loved a day
in his life."
The blond man pulled Natty into his arms. "That
shows how little you really know, my Lord Oberon. You'd
be surprised at how quickly a human can change you." He
smiled at her. "And I love her for it." The kiss that
followed seemed to last for centuries.
Titania drew Oberon aside. "Be of good cheer, my
husband," she said with a smile. "You have done a
marvelous thing this night. Puck's crafting of Owen was
such that I doubt he would have ever expressed his love."
Oberon shared a sly smile with his wife. "How do you
know that was not my intention all along, my lady?"
Titania returned his smile. "You are indeed wise, my
Natty and Owen left the party in progress and went
for a long walk, Owen pointing out places from Puck's
past. Natty leaned against his arm and smiled. "So," she
asked casually, "You sounded kinda worried about me
earlier. Were you?"
The pale man raised his eyebrows. "No one knew where
you were. It was like you'd dropped off the face of the
world." He stopped in his tracks and pulled her into his
arms, holding her tight. "My darling, I was out of my
"Mmmmm, I jest love it when you're pushin' sugar,
Pooh." They exchanged kisses, each growing more
passionate than the one before, so neither one of them
noticed the intruder creeping closer.
Selene smiled coldly. The human and the Puck, she
thought to herself, two petty annoyances gone in one fell
swoop. She began to draw in her power.
Natty broke the embrace breathlessly. "Y'know what
I'd like to do?" she said in a sultry whisper.
"Not a clue, my dear," Owen replied. "Surprise me."
With a off-handed gesture, the late-model Cadillac
appeared, bouncing lightly on its shock absorbers and
with a faint "oomph" as it touched down. Natty slid into
the back seat, silks scattering in all directions to
reveal long, tanned legs. She crooked her finger.
"C'mere, Mistah Burnett."
Owen had no response for that, merely smiled and
vaulted in after her.
Under the iron-laden chassis of the vintage
Cadillac, Selene cursed as she lay face-down in the dirt,
listening to the creaking of the suspension as the car
rocked in response to the activity taking place above.
She was effectively trapped until the human witch
finished her pleasures with the Puck's mortal form and
moved the cursed vehicle. From the sounds of it, she
groaned to herself, they'd be at it for hours.
Selene needed a good, stiff drink. What she wouldn't
give for Cocktail Hour!