Charlotte, Prowling For Enchantment Excerpt:
"No." Charlotte shook her head. "I won't go onstage."
"Then his death will be on you." The Elder raised the knife toward Ryder's bloody, slack form.
"There's no way I'll ever believe his pain is my fault." She edged back, mincing farther from the pair.
"Well, it is. Especially this bit." She stabbed into his abdomen, flesh flying as she wrenched the knife free.
Charlotte lunged for the dressing table, grabbing up an enormous gold canister of hairspray. Fumbling, she lifted it, aiming at the Elder.
A woman in a long skirt and corset was suddenly before her. She whacked Charlotte's wrists with a spiral wooden staff and the can clattered to the ground. Charlotte cried out, staring at the older woman in shock. Her chest was bare, presented by the corset, and her salt-and-pepper hair was an astonishing tangle of curls and treasures atop her head.
"Thank you, Willow. An interesting move, wisp. I expected a magical attack, not a physical one. Did you think me unattended?"
She slashed at Ryder's thigh. "Go onto the stage. Sing for the people."
Charlotte shook her head, hands pressed to her mouth. Besides the fact she didn't know what would happen if she broke the cardinal rule of secrecy, she wouldn't do a thing this crone wanted.
The Elder slashed at Ryder's chest. "Go now, or my next strike will be across his throat."
Blood poured down Ryder's abdomen, drenching the hair there. Charlotte gagged, body bowing under the need to vomit. But she shook her head.
The Elder raised her hand, setting the knife to Ryder's jugular. "Go out that door, now!"
"No!" Charlotte screamed at her. "Help! Help us!"
The bare-chested woman whacked Charlotte with her staff so hard she collapsed, head ringing, shocked at the pain rocketing down her spine from her temple. Disco lights flashed before her eyes.
The Elder stomped and cursed in some arcane language, pacing back and forth across the room. Finally, she kicked at Charlotte, who cringed, taking the fairly weak blow in the shoulder. "Take them below."
With that, she left by the far door, revealing a dark hallway. The woman, Willow, crouched down near Charlotte, her pale peach skirts pooling in a taffeta hiss. "Who sent you?"
Charlotte was getting tired of shaking her head. "No one! I'm just a normal person from White Plains. I didn't even know I was a fantastical until last night."
She sighed. "I see. In that case, you have terrible luck." She stood and swung her staff back up over her head like she was going to take on a long golf drive with a three iron.
Charlotte flung up her arm. "Help!"
But the swing never came. Instead a zap of pink light shot from the end, sizzling her into darkness.
When her head started to throb with nightclub intensity, she dragged her eyes open. Her neck ached and she was freezing. It felt like a moment had passed, but she was now in a metal room painted industrial gray, with riveted seams and a rounded metal door that had a lever handle and a high threshold.
Something was growling in the corner opposite from where she lay. Slowly raising her head, Charlotte looked into a pair of glowing red eyes. There was nothing left of her charming black rascal. Chained at the throat, still bleeding, he was monstrous. His skin stretched tight across his face, his lips thinned, jaw constantly seeking and sliding. She shivered. There were no erotic thoughts about being bitten now.
"Ryder?" she whispered.
He snarled, the sound echoing in the empty metal room. Rattling chains deafened as he lunged, body blurring three feet only to be brought up short. His arms reached for her, muscles bubbling, hands curled into claws. Only a yard separated his fingertips from her toes.
Scrabbling, she pulled herself into a smaller ball. He hunkered down and drooled. Something pinched at her waist. A thick white rope bound her to the opposite corner, looped through a hole in the jutting metal seam.
Ryder's body leaned forward, slowly, relentlessly. His chains squealed, straining, warping. Time stopped. Death had come to her. Here, in this metal room. And it wasn't going to be gentle.
A reader review from Kyrias:
"I liked how there were a couple of ways where she played it to a happy ending and how the
rest of the decisions were realistic and true to the story even if they weren't my idea of a
happy ending. I'm hoping that Mima will come out with more of these stories..."
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Works (Mary)
"What I found most interesting is that, despite the supernatural part of the novel, the
scenarios range from completely realistic to absolutely fantastical and each one is satisfying
in its own way. Readers should be aware that not every path taken will be a happily ever
after but the good part is that readers can start over and find a different ending.
CHARLOTTE PROWLING FOR ENCHANTMENT is definitely a fun read."