Bronwyn & the Raven King


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Preface: Nepal 1822

            A fierce slap to the face woke Raven out of a fitful sleep. “What the hell?” he demanded as his eyes tried to make sense of the darkness and the rank smell of salt which assaulted his nose. Salt was detrimental to faery magic, whatever was going on was not good.  He tried to move his arms and legs but they were held fast with heavy chains.  Cold iron he guessed, another precaution against his faery magic.

            He heard a creepy chuckle then there was a small explosion of light.  A boy with messy blonde hair crouched next to him, one hand held above his head, an orb of light swirled in his palm. “Loki?” Raven was surprised.

            “You really fucked up this time,” Loki gloated and shook his head so his long blonde bangs swung away from his eyes.  “It was only a matter of time before one of your dalliances got you into serious trouble.”

            “Who’d I piss off this time?” he asked.

            Loki snorted. “You can’t guess?”

            Raven shrugged his shoulders, or at least moved them as much as he was able to.

            “You got Thor’s mistress, Lady Eldrid, with child.” Loki burst out laughing. “Thor was beyond the pale, imagine, his mistress pregnant with the fledgling of a crow. Scandalous!  It wasn’t enough that you courted her publically, took her to parties, the opera, Vauxhall gardens.  It wasn’t even enough that you were bedding her.  No, you had to get her knocked up too.  You fucked her, now Thor’s going to fuck you.”

            “I hope you mean that metaphorically.” Raven muttered.  “Anyways, where am I?”

            Loki stood up, the light on his palm brightened and the room glowed around them.  “We’re miles underground in a salt mine below the Himalayan mountain range.”

            Raven swallowed hard, the entire room was carved out of a vein of salt.  Salt dampened faery magic.  Normally Raven, as king of the crows, had enough magical power that mere sprinklings of salt had no effect, but now he was virtually encased in salt.  He tried to summon forth his magical powers, but he felt numb, silent.

            “Don’t even bother,” Loki drawled. “There’s enough salt and cold iron here to disarm an entire faery army.”

            “Loki, what do you want? I can get you anything! Jewels, land in Faery, your own army, or how about women? Faeries, Sirens, Mermaids, Furies, I know them all.  What’s your price to get me out of here?”

            The light in his palm dimmed and Loki shook his finger at Raven.  “Oh no, no, no, no, no.”

            “Come on Loki, everyone has their price.  What do you want? Just name it!”  Raven frantically pulled at the chains.  If he got left down here alone, he wouldn’t be able to escape.  Eternity was a long time.  A hundred years could go by for a god like Thor in a blink of an eye.  For Raven it would stretch on painfully slow.

            “It’s not worth my life,” Loki said.  “Sorry, but you’ll get no help from me. Well, I must be off.  Cheerio!”

            “Loki, don’t leave me down here,” Raven pleaded.

            “I hope she was worth it,” was Loki’s parting words.

            “Loki, you can’t just leave me, Loki! Loki!” Raven roared as he fought and a pulled against his unforgiving bonds.

            The light left with Loki and Raven continued to struggle in the dark until he was coated with sweat and his limbs ached with the effort.  He felt the tears streaming out of his eyes and down to his temples.  Some grand king he was, alone, locked in a crystal of salt, crying his eyes out.

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Chapter 1

Bronwyn McTarnahan was known in her neighborhood as the Crow Whisperer.  Not only did she talk to the crows, but they talked back to her.  When she walked to the bus stop they hopped after her or flew above like her own personal escort.  When she walked home they greeted her with a chorus of crow speak.  Before she went inside her house she would deposit treats on the fence posts, a pocketful of acorns from the park blocks downtown, some left over nan bread from lunch or a broken fortune cookie from Panda Express. The crows in turn would reward her with pretty black feathers, a ribbon, a plastic army man, or a shiny piece of mylar.  She kept all of her crow treasures on a shelf in her bookcase.  Whenever her friends visited they’d always get a kick out of seeing what interesting things the local crows had left for her.

As she walked home from the bus stop today she noticed her escort was acting unusual.  The crows were all in the air, high above and they were calling in alarm.  Bronwyn lifted her arm to shade her eyes and squinted through her cat eyeglasses. Some of the crows were in a bunch up high. What were they doing?  A car blew its horn at her and she jumped out of the way and up onto the sidewalk.  She looked back into the sky and the crows were lower now, she could see there were four crows trying to help another crow that wasn’t able to fly.  Its wings were limp and it’s head lolled to the side.  It’s hurt, she thought and acted instinctually.  She dropped her backpack and after a quick check for cars, then ran into the street, struggling to get beneath falling bird in time.

The crows tried their best, but the injured crow escaped their wings and plummeted towards the street below.  Bronwyn jumped, catching the falling bird, like a quarterback catching a football.  She gently folded in the wings and pulled the crow against her breast to keep it safe and warm.  She went back for her bag then walked as quick as she could home.  The crows circled above her calling.  More and more crows came until the sky darkened from all the flapping black wings.  Whoever this crow is, he is very popular, she thought to herself.

Once inside, she sat down on her couch with the crow in her lap.  Its eyes were shut and it was not moving.  She could feel tears stinging her eyes. She pet the midnight black feathers into place and stroked its soft breast.  She lifted the bird to her ear and listened for a heartbeat or a breath. She talked to it, urging it to wake up, but it didn’t. For some reason, this crow died in mid air and despite the best efforts of its friends, died on the way down.  She carefully set the crow down on her couch, saying a silent prayer for it.

She went into her second bedroom, which was mostly a storage area for clothes and books.  She found red velvet satchel from Sephora and an empty Via Spiga shoebox. She’d bury the little guy in her backyard by the hawthorn tree. With a plan in her head, she walked back into her living room only to find the crow missing and a naked man standing in its place.


Bronwyn stopped in her tracks and her mouth hung open as she stared at this stranger.  He was tall and lean with clear porcelain skin and black hair. His face was smooth, he looked young, yet his bearing was confidant and almost regal, which made him seem older than he appeared.  Her eyes scanned downwards of their own volition, taking a quick inventory of his masculine parts.  It had been a year since she had had a boyfriend and was surprised as how fiercely her body reacted to seeing a handsome nude man.  She could feel her face turning red and her breathing quickened.  She snapped her mouth shut then wondered if she should perhaps open it back up and scream.  She wasn’t sure why screaming seemed like a good idea, it was just something one did when faced with a strange naked man. Instead she dropped the satchel and box and grabbed the nearest weapon she could find, a ballpoint pen.  She held it out in front of her in what she hoped was a menacing fashion.

“Who are you?  How did you get in? Why are you here? What do you want?”  she yelled at him, all the time waving the pen around.

The man’s left eyebrow rose in surprise and his mouth curled sardonically as he watched her. “Which question do you want me to answer first?” His voice was low and musical. It caused her face to flame even more.  He took a step towards her.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“My name is Raven,” he said and took another small step towards her.

Instinctively she took a step backward and found herself pressed against her dining room table.  He did look like a raven, she thought with his hair as black as a raven’s wing.

“How did you get in?” she asked.

“You brought me in,” he said as if she should already know the answer to that question.

She didn’t understand his answer.  He couldn’t have come in at the same time she did or else she would have noticed him and if he was already in the house, she would have heard him or seen him walk through the dining room to go into the living room. He was about to take another step closer to her so she waved the pen again.

“Don’t come any closer or I’ll-“ His eyebrow arched again, almost as a challenge.

“Or you’ll what?” He easily closed the distance between them and snatched the ballpoint from her hand.  “Draw on me?”  He tossed the pen aside and placed his hands on either side of the table, trapping her within a cage made from his body.

“How about you answer some of my questions now,” he said.

“I still have two more questions,” Bronwyn whispered.

He smiled at her, leaning close to her face so they were only inches apart.  “Tit for tat. Who are you?”

“I’m Bronwyn,” she answered hoping her voice didn’t sound as mousy and scared to him as it did to her.

“A lovely name for a lovely girl. Where am I?” he asked.

She could feel the blush blooming across her face at the compliment.  No man had ever called her lovely before, cute yes, pretty maybe, but never lovely. “You’re in my home,” she said.  It sounded stupid, even to her own ears and obviously not what he wanted because he just stared at her.  “Portland.” No recognition in his eyes. “Oregon.” Still nothing.  “America?” she tried.  She was about to go on to Northern Hemisphere and then onto Earth but his eyes sparked in recognition.

“The new world?” he muttered to himself.

“It’s not really that new,” she said in confusion.

“What year is it?” he asked.

Oh dear, thought Bronwyn.  Isn’t that something they always ask crazy people?  Who’s the president and what year is it?  “It’s 2016.”

“That long?” he asked.  She didn’t think he was asking the question of her. His eyes went unfocused, as if he were thinking to himself.  When he turned his attention back to her his dark eyebrows knitted together in confusion.  “You’re shaking, are you cold?”

“You’re scaring me,” she said quietly.

“I am?” he seemed genuinely surprised.

She looked down between his legs pointedly.  “Might as well be pointing a loaded gun at me.”

He burst out laughing and stepped away from her.  “I mean you no harm.” He knelt down and picked up the velvet satchel and shoebox. “This was for me?”

“It was for the crow that I tried to save, but it died.” She suddenly got his meaning.  “You? You are the crow I caught?”

“Aye,” he stroked the soft pouch of velvet. “You would bury a mere bird in such finery?”

“The crows are my friends,” she said. 

“And they always shall be,” he said handing her the box and satchel.

“You don’t look so good,” she said.  “You’ve gone all pale.”

She quickly set the box on the table behind her and led the man to her couch.  She grabbed the quilt she used to curl up in and watch television with and wrapped it around him. She looked around for the body of the crow, just to be sure, but it wasn’t in the room.  As crazy as it sounded, it appeared Raven was the dead crow.  She wondered briefly who was more crazy, the man who thought he was a crow or the girl who believed the naked man in her house was a crow.  As she was tucking the quilt around him came the unmistakable sound of his stomach growling.

“Are you hungry?” she asked.

“I haven’t eaten for years,” he replied.


“Since 1822.”

“I guess that would make anybody hungry,” she mused. “Let me fix you something, stay here.”

Bronwyn ran to the kitchen and considered calling someone, but what would she say?  I have a naked man in my house that thinks he’s a bird that hasn’t eaten for two hundred years. They’d call the police. She wasn’t sure why she wasn’t more scared of him.  His name was Raven and he seemed to like crows.  He hadn’t made any frightening speeches or overtures towards her.  Somehow, that was good enough for her.

She microwaved a large bowl of soup and ripped the end off a baguette for him. She hoped this would suffice. Haute cuisine wasn’t her forte.  Raven was still laying on the couch with his eyes shut but he stirred when she walked in. He opened his eyes and grinned at her.  Her stomach did a quick flutter; he was terribly handsome.  Raven pushed himself to a sitting position and she pulled the coffee table close to their knees and placed his lunch on a well read copy of Vogue magazine.

He tucked in immediately and she took the opportunity to study him.  He was lean, but appeared strong with well formed muscles.  At close inspection, he had dark purple under his eyes like he hadn’t eaten or slept well in many days.  It was difficult to guess his age.  At rest his face looked quite youthful, almost like a teenager, but when he smiled there were fine lines around his eyes. There was also something about demeanor that suggested wisdom and his confidence indicated that he was used to people obeying him. His hair was dark, with no graying at the temples or anywhere else she smirked to herself. His hands were pale and soft with no evidence of callouses, he obviously didn’t work with his hands. All his skin was pale she noted, with no tan lines what so ever.  She wondered what he did for a living.  Maybe he was some rich eccentric playboy?  He had no rings, watch or necklace and his ears were not pierced.  She expected rich eccentric playboys wore diamonds in their ears and liked jewelry.

“Like what you see?” he asked, his eyes glancing sideways at her as he finished the piece of baguette.

Her face heated up, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare,” she apologized.

“I like doing that to you,” he said.

“What is that?”

“Making you blush,” he admitted.  “It starts at the center of your cheeks and expands outwards and down your neck.” He let his words drift off as if imagining how low her blush traveled.  “My compliments on the meal.”

“I’ll let Campbells know that you liked it,” she joked.

“Is that the name of your cook?” he asked.

“No, but she helped me with lunch,” Bronwyn said, unsure of who was joking with whom.

“Bronwyn, I owe you my life.  When you saw me in the sky I was in a very weakened state. If you had not caught me, I’m not sure we would be having this conversation. I’m certain that I shall easily regain my previous strength, but right now I need some sleep, can I stay here for a little while?”

“Isn’t there anyone I can call for you? Certainly you must have friends or family nearby?” she said.

“Not in this realm.” He pulled her hand between his two large ones and looked her in the eyes.  “Please, just a short nap.  Then I should be strong enough to go home.”

She smiled to herself, fully aware that he was trying to charm her and was succeeding.  “All right then.”

He pulled her hand to his mouth and stared at her from under his long dark lashes as he laid a kiss on the back of her hand.  She felt her stomach do a celebratory back flip.

“I’ll make up the futon in the back bedroom and see if I can find something of mine that you can wear, although I fear everything will be too small for you, Raven?”

As she was speaking he had let go of her hand and was already closing his eyes and tipping over onto his side.  For a frantic second, she thought he had died, but his slow even breathing told her that he had simply fallen asleep.

She pulled his legs up onto the couch and lifted his head and stuffed a cushion beneath it.  She then padded into the second bedroom and pulled a down comforter from the closet and tucked it around Raven, making sure his feet were covered and warm.  She ventured a kiss to his brow and was secretly pleased to see a small smile on his lips before his features went neutral again.

There was a rap at the widow pane and she noticed one of her crow friends was standing on the sill. Curious, they had never knocked before.  She went over to the window and could see the crow was holding something shiny in his beak.  It tried to caw impatiently with her despite its burden.  She unlocked the window and slowly drew up the sash.  The crow dropped a heavy silver ring on the windowsill.

“For me?” she asked. The crow turned its head slowly from side to side.  It was such a human gesture that she froze, stunned.  She looked over at Raven.  “Is it for him?” she ventured.  The crow’s head bobbed up and down.  “Then I shall see that it gets to him.”

The crow seemed satisfied with her answer and flew off to join his friends on the telephone wires at the street corner.  She picked up the ring and inspected it closely.  The silver was thick and heavy, it was definitely a man’s ring.  It looked like a medieval signet ring, the kind used to stamp hot wax on personal correspondence.  On the face of the ring was an outline of a shield and in the center was a bird holding two arrows in its mouth.  Even without the detail, she knew it was a picture of a crow.

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Chapter 2

Raven slept all night on her couch.  In the morning he was still there, in fact, it appeared as if he hadn’t moved at all during the night.  Bronwyn crouched down so she was even with his face.  She gently stroked his cheek, thinking this would rouse him, but he remained unconscious.  She tried shaking his shoulder.  She was gentle as first but increased the intensity until the entire couch was shaking.  He would not wake up. She watched his chest making sure it was still gently rising and falling with his breath then she felt around on his neck until she found his pulse.  It was slow but strong, at least he was alive.  She rested her hand on his forehead and found he didn’t have a fever.

Her fingers slid lower on his face, caressing his cheek and then she rubbed her fingers across the swell of his lower lip.  She considered kissing him, like sleeping beauty and wondered if her kiss would rouse him.  Embarrassed she pulled her hand away and gently caressed her fingers across her own mouth.  She wondered what it would be like to kiss such a handsome man.

Bronwyn shook her head as if to rattle these naughty thoughts out of her mind.  She opened her laptop and curled up in a nearby loveseat.  She emailed her boss that she would be working from home today then tapped into the company’s website and began reviewing the database code that she was assigned to update.

She worked in silence.  Normally she had Spotify or Pandora blaring from her laptop as a soundtrack while she worked, but she didn’t want to wake Raven before he was ready.  By the time she was ready to knock off work she no longer worried about waking him. He’d slept through the phone ringing, the UPS man ringing the doorbell and her neighbor’s dogs going ape shit when their master got home.

Bronwyn opened a bottle of wine, toasted a bagel and turned on the television so she would watch all the Adult Swim cartoons stored on her Tivo.  In between episodes, she wondered if perhaps Raven was in a coma.  Should she call for an ambulance?  What would she say?  I have an unconscious naked man in my house that thinks he’s a 200 year old crow.

Bronwyn tried shaking him again to no avail.  She called his name, she screamed fire and even threatened to cut his hair, but he still didn’t regain consciousness.  She gave up and went to bed promising herself that if he didn’t wake up tomorrow she’d seek some sort of help.

The next morning she noticed Raven had rolled over in his sleep.  This cheered Bronwyn as it meant he was most likely not dead or in a coma.  Dead people and coma patients seldom rolled around.  She settled once again into her favorite chair with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, ready to tackle her company’s complex payment system.  The day went by much like yesterday with many phone calls to coworkers and her neighbor’s dogs barking at anything that moved outside the house.  The only difference was that today the UPS man delivered a box from Sephora instead of Amazon.

When the sunlight began to fade, Bronwyn unplugged for the day.  She had finished all the necessary coding, on Monday she could test the program and root out any bugs.  It was a huge accomplishment.  She had been working on this project for weeks.  It was amazing how much work she could get done at home rather than at the busy office with all its interruptions.

She stood up and stretched, her back and legs were incredibly stiff from sitting in the same cramped position for the last few hours.  In the office she had an ergonomic desk and chair to properly support her body.  At home she contorted herself into all sorts of non-ergonomic positions while she worked.

She had saved the Sephora box for the end of the day as a reward for finishing her project.  She opened the box with a metal nail file she found under the coffee table.  She peeled back the pretty tissue paper and began to go through her booty.  Nothing gives a girl a greater pick me up than a new lipstick or nail polish.

Bronwyn was sliding Urban Decay’s Ex Boyfriend lipstick across her lips when the lump on the couch suddenly moved and then sat up.  She was so surprised she screamed.

Raven scanned the room quickly, “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Oh!” she said, “I was so used to you being part of the furniture that I forgot you were alive.”

Raven smiled that boyish grin at her and she felt her heart rate speed up.  She kind of regretted not kissing him while he was sleeping.  He stood up and stretched, the down comforter sliding off his lithe frame.  She tried not to stare but it was difficult not to.  He was beautiful.  His porcelain skin almost glowed. He looked healthier somehow, as if he had put on some muscle mass during his sleep but that was impossible, wasn’t it?  He stretched his arms over his head and she admired the long strong arms and the thin fingers that curled into fists as he pushed his hands skyward.

“Oh!” she said and began shuffling magazines and books around the table.  “A crow stopped by and delivered this for you.”  She knew she sounded crazy saying such a thing out loud, nonetheless she held out the ring to him.  He accepted it and he smiled in recognition as he slid it on his finger.

“Raven, who are you?” she asked quietly.

He took a quick step towards her and one hand captured her lower back and the other took her right hand.  He held her as if they were about to start dancing.  He was so tall that she had to look up in order to see his face.  She felt the cool metal of the ring against her fingers and he suddenly seemed very powerful.

“I am the Raven King and I have you to thank for my life.  It is a deed I shall never forget, Bronwyn.” His voice was deep and husky.  The way he said her name sent delicious chills down her spine.  “I am in your debt.” He pulled her hand up to his mouth and laid a slow kiss to the palm of her hand.  It was if a thousand pleasurable currents exploded from her palm and raced throughout her body.

She couldn’t stop the surprised “Oh!” that escaped her lips.  He looked altogether too pleased at her surprise.

“Can I trouble you for some hot water?” he asked.

“A shower?  Of course.”

She led him to the bathroom and set out some clean towels for him as well as some yoga pants and a large Peter Murphy concert shirt she liked to sleep in.  She pointed out the shampoo and conditioner and encouraged him to help himself to any of her thousands of bath gels, bubble bath, bath bombs or bath oils.  She rummaged around in her emergency drawer and found a new toothbrush, razor and trial size shaving cream.  Bronwyn considered offering to stay and scrub his back along with other body parts, but her stomach growled and decided she better order them a pizza instead.

Awhile later, Raven walked back into the living room not long after the pizza was delivered.  He was wearing her black yoga pants and nothing else.  The tight pants didn’t do much to hide his assets but she supposed it was better than the alternative, which was much too distracting.  She inhaled deeply, he smelled like ylang ylang and sandalwood.  His wet hair was dark as midnight and hung down past his shoulders.

Bronwyn busied herself opening a bottle of Dead Guy ale and handed it to Raven.  He took a deep draught and studied the label.  “This is good.”

“I’m glad you like it, it’s locally made, one of my favorites.”

She turned on the Tivo and put on an episode of Jeeves and Wooster and together they dug into the pizza.  They were both hungry and ate in companionable silence.  When their beers ran dry, Bronwyn quickly replaced them with another round.

After three pieces of pizza Bronwyn was full but Raven, who must have been famished, made short work of the large pepperoni pizza.  He tried to offer her the last piece but she waved him off, urging him to finish it.

Bronwyn felt a sudden wave of loneliness sweep over her.  It had been a couple years since she had dated anyone.  It was nice to watch television and share a meal with someone.  She missed the flirting and the nearness of another body.  She had never thought of herself as lonely until now.  She knew he would leave soon, she could feel it, and for some reason that made her infinitely sad.

“Thank you for meal and the bath.  Thank you for everything,” he said.

This is it, she thought.  This is goodbye and I’ll never see him again.

“I would like to give you something,” Raven said.  He stood up and walked over to the window.

“Give me something?  But you arrived here with nothing, not even clothes,” she said, trying to hide a giggle behind her fingers.

He raised an eyebrow at her in a challenge and opened the window.  He whistled a quick tune and a crow glided over and landed on the sill.  Raven held out his hand and the crow jumped onto his fingers.  He pulled the bird inside and gently stroked its head with one finger.

Bronwyn was thrilled; she never had one of her crow friends inside her house before.  She watched intently as Raven ran his hand down over the crow’s body.  He flipped his hand open and there was a speckled egg on his palm.  The crow gave a loud “caw” and hopped down onto the windowsill and flew outside.  Bronwyn clapped her hands together at his sleight of hand trick.

Raven took her by the hand and led her to the couch.  They sat down next to each other and he looked at her expectantly.  It was her turn to raise an eyebrow in challenge.

“In order to perform the next part of the trick, I will need your assistance,” he said looking her up and down hungrily.

Bronwyn fidgeted under his gaze.  He looked a lot different than he had when she first discovered him in her house.  He seemed bigger now.  Not only had his muscles filled out, but the purple caverns beneath his eyes were gone and his hair was darker and shinier.  His sense of self had grown as well, he was now like some grand leader who was used to giving orders and receiving admiration.  He knew why she was staring at him and he basked in the attention.  This metamorphosis was more than a couple of meals, two days of sleep and a bath could produce.  He had called himself the Raven King, the local crows certainly listened to him, but what exactly did that title mean?

“Faery magic is driven by strong emotions such as Revenge, Hatred or Sex,” he stopped at that last word, smiling.

“Sex?” the word cracked as she nervously uttered it.

“In our case, I think a kiss would suffice,” he smiled wickedly at her enjoying her discomfort.

He held out the hand with the egg in it and curled his fingers into a tight fist.  Bronwyn was worried he was going to crush the delicate egg, but when he opened his hand the egg was gone and in its place there was an egg tattoo on his palm.  He took his other hand and stroked her blonde hair, pushing it away from her face.

He’s going to kiss me, she thought.  She could feel her hands trembling, so she held them together in lap so he wouldn’t notice.  She was beyond nervous yet she wanted this kiss.  She wanted it more than anything else at this particular moment.

Raven’s hand slid down her cheek and he lifted her chin so she was forced to look up at him.  A slight smile played at the corner of his mouth as if he could sense her trepidation and found it amusing.  His thumb slowly traced her lower lip and she thought she would die in anticipation.

Raven moved quickly, his lips capturing hers in a moment.  She made a slight sound in surprise but then her nervousness evaporated quickly.  His lips were soft and full and he gently moved his mouth against hers in a delicious dance.  She could feel her body relaxing beneath his kiss, beneath his touch.  He deepened the kiss, tipping her head back and forcing her mouth open so he could slide his tongue against hers.  Another surprised sound escaped her captured lips and soon she was kissing him back enthusiastically, using her tongue against his.  They breathed together, unwilling to break off the kiss before it was time.

The room darkened as clouds obscured the last of the evening sun.  Her hands that were previously clasped so tightly in her lap were now wrapped around him.  His skin was smooth and soft to her touch and his muscles felt strong and sure beneath her inquisitive hands. He pulled her against him and lay her down on the couch, stretching out above her.  He broke off the kiss and nuzzled her neck, biting it softly and stroking it as he travelled down her shoulder and over her collarbones.

Bronwyn writhed under his touch, her body burned with pleasure wherever his fingers and mouth lingered.  She wanted more than his kiss, so much more. His lips hovered above her chest and she could hear him whisper an incantation before pressing the palm of his hand against her flesh.  Just when she was about to ask him what he had said, he surged upwards and seized her lips.

Once more she was deliciously trapped in the elaborate dance that was Raven’s kiss. She reveled in it, wrapping herself around him, barely noticing the way his palm heated her skin with his touch.  He pressed himself against her and she could feel through the thin layer of the yoga pants he was wearing, that he was just as worked up as she was.  It was frustrating to think that such thin layers of fabric separated them from more intense pleasure.          

The kiss slowed and became almost chaste before he reluctantly broke free of her.  He sat up then pulled her upright so they were sitting next to each other once again.

“You are quite good at that,” he said, enjoying the red that colored her already feverish cheeks. “The egg will hatch into a messenger.  If you ever need to send word to me, write the message on your body.  The messenger will eat the message and deliver it to me.”

“I don’t understand,” she said as he stood up.

“Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out,” he said and he snapped his fingers.

Suddenly he transformed before her very eyes.  The yoga pants were gone and in their place were crisp black cotton pants tucked into shiny black boots.  He had on a white shirt with a red scarf tied into a bow tucked into a black velvet military jacket with gold embellishment at the buttons.  His hair had dried and was tied back with a leather thong.

He seemed pleased with her astonishment.  He kneeled before her and took her hand.  “You saved my life, young Bronwyn. I owe you everything.  Do I have permission to call upon you in a week?”

“Yes, of course,” she answered feeling a little dazed.

“Until then.” And with that, he disappeared.

He was gone.  Bronwyn reached up and caressed her sore lips; the kiss wasn’t imagined.  She looked around the room at the four empty bottles of beer and the two plates stained with pizza sauce.  It had all been real, hadn’t it?  The yoga pants he had borrowed were folded neatly and placed on the couch.  They were still warm to the touch.

She picked up the plates and the bottles and dumped them in the kitchen.  She padded into the bathroom to wash off her make up and change into her Victoria’s Secret nightshirt.  As she was drying her face before the mirror, she froze.  In the center of her chest was the egg tattoo.  She tried to wipe it off with the towel but it wouldn’t budge.  She tried removing it with soap and make up remover to no avail.  She scratched at a corner of it with her fingernail but nothing happened.  It was permanently embedded in her skin.

“What had he said?  ‘It will hatch into a messenger.’” She stroked the egg with her fingertips. Did this egg tattoo actually contain a bird tattoo within it?  She thought his sleight of hand tricks were just that, tricks.  But he had changed his clothes in a blink of an eye and then vanished from sight.  Did that mean magic really existed? Fairy magic he had called it.

It was too much for her mind to figure out now.  She was tired and befuddled with the afterglow of lust and two microbrews.  She would think about it tomorrow morning when she had a clear head.

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