Once upon a time, witch princess Sophia Blue skipped along a path through the big forest, her heavenly blue cloak floating like a cape. She carried a basket of goodies to her little old grandma who lived in a cottage deep in the woods.
But those are simply details, interchangeable scarves and belts on the little black dress of our Fantastic Fable.
As Sophia powerwalked along the wooded path, she swung her basket, thinking of how her dear aunt would enjoy the gooey chocolate chip cookies inside, baked fresh that morning—in the bank where Sophia worked. As penance for a terrible mistake, Sophia had given up her magic and embraced the life of a mundane.
So Sophia didn’t see the dark shape filtering between trees, following her.
* * *
The woman lifted the basket and did a little spin. “I just know Aunt Linda will love these cookies.”
Noah had heard of Linda Blue—she was a witch. He didn’t trust witches. Witches had killed his mother and nearly killed him. But he was desperate to meet the beguiling young woman, so he shifted to wolf, an alpha’s easy morph with his clothes shifting inside with his human, and ran ahead to Blue’s little cottage in the woods.
Nestled deep in the forest was a snug bungalow. At the round little door, Noah shifted back and raised his hand to knock.
The door flung open in his face. A kindly apple-cheeked woman peered up at him. Blue eyes opened wide and the little old woman gasped.
Scared? Noah winced. His big black wolf must still be bleeding through his human form. He’d never scare a woman, so he scrunched his eyes in concentration, willing the powerful beast to fade…
“Oh, aren’t you a good-looking wolf?”
His eyes flew open.
Linda Blue wasn’t scared. She was grinning in delight.
A plump, beringed hand grabbed his arm. “Well, what are you waiting for. Come in, come in.”
She yanked him inside—by tooth and claw, the woman was strong—continuing to natter. “You’re the new alpha, aren’t you? Unmated to boot! And guess who’s coming here? My little niece Sophia, a princess and unmarried too. You should go on a date!”
“Ms. Blue, I’m not here for a blind date—although I do want to meet your niece.”
“Oh, yes of course. We can do that” She smiled cherubically as she dragged him into a smaller room. “Just climb into bed.”
“What?” He blinked from a raised old-fashioned four-poster back to Blue.
The little old witch’s cheeks pinked and she finally let go. “Well, how else can nature take its course?”
“Ms. Blue, that’s totally inappropriate.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair.
“Not if a mommy and a daddy love each other very much—”
“Hmm.” She tapped a plump finger against her lips, costume jewelry clacking. “You’ll apparently need a bit of ‘convincing’. Okay. One for the money, two for the show.”
“Aunt Linda?” Sophia called through the cottage front door in her lovely alto. “I have cookies!”
Noah closed his eyes and a smile drifted onto his lips. He could listen to that voice forever…
“Three to get ready—”
So he didn’t see the witch’s wind up, and only felt her wallop him with a spell. “And four to go!”
Magic hit him like a blast of electricity, shocking him numb, then burrowing into every cell in his body. “What was that…?”
Something fluttered against his bare feet. His eyes snapped open, and he glanced down.
He was wearing a sack-like ruffled nightgown. His hand rose to his head…an equally ruffled dust cap was on his head.
Damn witches. Never trust a witch.
“Oops.” Linda tittered. “That wasn’t quite the spell I meant, but it’ll do. You’d better get under the covers.” She hooked a foot behind his knee and shoved him until he stumbled and fell onto the bed.
She shooped underneath.
“Auntie, where are you?” The beautiful Sophia came into the bedroom. Seeing Noah, her star-shot eyes widened.
They really are the most beguiling blue…
“Aunt Linda? Um, what big ears you have.”
“Huh?” was all Noah could think to say. His voice came out half growl, and he saw for the first time that the hands atop the nightgown were covered in a large amount of black hair.
By his fangs and claws. He was partially shifted.
A fist punched him from under the mattress.
“Um, all the better to hear you with?” He gazed at Sophia’s lovely skin and lips…he felt a stupid grin float onto his face.
She startled. Swallowed hard. “What big teeth you have.”
He snapped his snout shut. Damn, what part of half-shifted had he forgotten?
Another poke of the mattress made him growl. Enough was enough, accident prone spell caster or no. He rolled over the edge of the bed and snarled under it, “I am not saying ‘All the better to eat you with.’ That’s just spouting a line from a bad porno. Change me back.”
“I can’t.” In the dark under the bed, Blue twiddled her fingers and grinned innocently.
“Fine. I’ll have to do it the natural way.” He leaped to his hairy feet and tried to shift. He was an alpha and normally could do it almost instantly, but the spell had screwed something up. He couldn’t shift human so he tried wolf. He closed his eyes and rearranged, his black hair running down his body like rapidly laying overlapping roof shingles, his limbs flowing forward and down, his face extending, ears sliding up.
In less time than it took to think it, a huge black wolf stood in his place.
Sophia gasped, eyes wide in both fear and wonder.
He’d never scare a woman, much less one who might be his mate. He clamped eyes and practically forced his cells to shift human.
Again the spell interfered. Normally his clothes shifted out with his human form.
This time, when he opened his eyes, he’d shifted back naked.
Sophia’s jaw dropped. Then she swallowed hard and licked her luscious lips. “You’re…quite muscled.”
Shifters weren’t body conscious and he preened. “Thanks. You’re quite beautiful.”
“Oh. Um, thanks.”
“I’d like to get to know you better.”
“So would I.” She set the cookies down by the bed. A plump, beringed hand snaked out and snared them. “But you have to get dressed.”
“I can do that.”
After he dressed, they walked out, hand in hand, Linda beaming behind them.
And they all lived happily ever after.