...Never piss off a pixie. They have vicious tempers and an arsenal of spells at the tips of their tiny fingers. Like the diabolical Cat-In-The-Hat spell, which turns its victim into a character from Dr. Seuss—shudder—unless the victim already happens to be of the feline persuasion. In which case, the pixified person will morph into another character. Any character from stage, screen, or literature, and there’s no way of predicting what fictional persona might emerge. It’s a real wild card, that spell.
Speaking of which—cards, I mean—that’s how this mess started. My mate Hunter and I were playing stud poker with Toby Buttercup, the pixie in question, and Hunter decided Toby was cheating. Well, Toby was cheating—pixies often do—but only an idiot or someone with balls the size of Hunter’s would dare accuse them of it.
I did warn him.
::Let the wookie win,:: I told Hunter telepathically. Star Wars code for “You’re treading on thin ice, lover.” Or Starr Wars? That’s my surname—Starr—and dealing with Hunter is always a war. My first name is Sylver, but never mind that now.
Did he listen?
Does he ever?
Hell, Hunter’s a cat-shifter, and like all members of his breed, suffers from an inflated ego and the feeling of invincibility that comes with such a malady. Though “suffer” is the wrong word, I suppose. He enjoys every minute of it. All cats do. No wonder they have nine lives. They need them.
In Hunter’s case, however, he carries the concept of Superiority Complex to brash new extremes. Not without reason, unfortunately. And not without encouragement from a multitude of fans—very few of whom know the real Hunter Steele. Very few people, period, know there’s a secret subculture of magical creatures who live hidden in their midst. And the magical creatures want to keep it that way.
Thus, those of us who can pass for normal humans, do so—depending on your definition of normal. Mine is quite broad and utterly unrepentant. For instance, tonight I’m clad as Lillie Langtry. Why? Because my Cleopatra costume is at the cleaners. The point being, I’m a silver-blond, devilish cute drag queen, and proud to flaunt it, but I draw the line at proclaiming I’m a werewolf, too.
Likewise, in public, Hunter plays the business tycoon, adored by the masses for his looks and largesse—a dark haired Adonis who funds charities the world over. “The Billionaire with a Heart,” the media calls him.
If they only knew.
In private, the corporate king is Catman, the bad-ass founder and chief of Earth Guardians, Inc., a clandestine task force sworn to protect our planet by fair means or foul. Picture the illicit love-child of James Bond and Attila the Hun, and that’s Hunter for you. His heart may be big, but so is his head. When he yells “Jump,” you’re supposed to answer “How high?” Me, I’m more inclined to say, “You want fries with that order, pussycat?” God knows someone’s gotta try to keep him humble.
Although right now I’m just trying to keep him out of the line of fairy fire.
“Duck!” I shove him sideways out of his chair as Toby Buttercup hurls a glowing hex-ball across the card table.
“Hold still, blast ye!” Toby squeaks, and takes to the air on yellow moth wings.
I whip out the fly swatter I hid under my Victorian style skirts before the poker game began. When playing with feys, be prepared for anything, is my motto. The only way to pacify an irate pixie is to stun him, then cork him in a bottle until he cools off.
Damn, I missed him.
And he’s winding up for another pitch.
“You’re a big help,” Hunter bitches, and springs to his feet. “Give me that!” He grabs for the fly swatter.
I grab for him.
The second hex-ball hits him square in the forehead.
“Bullseye! ’Tis a pity I’ll not be around to see what ye turn into,” Toby chortles, and disappears.
Or, rather, we do—poof—a split second of blind nothing, then the world reforms...