Paranormal Romance Story set in an alternate world
Most days, I liked my job. Working as a bartender slash bouncer at a twenty-four hour cafe was usually fun. There were always crazy people to meet and most of them behaved themselves.
Unfortunately, today wasn’t one of those days.
“What do you mean you won’t serve me?” The Surchi slurred, his eyes bloodshot.
It was rare that the over inebriated was a malak. Their high metabolism usually burned off the alcohol before it was a problem, but this one was young and probably didn’t drink much. He puffed his wings as though that would intimidate me into changing my mind.
“You’ve had enough. I can get you water or something non-alcoholic,” I replied sweetly, batting my eyelashes at him.
“What’s the point of a bar that doesn’t close if I can’t drink all the time?” He slammed his fist down on the bar, his words projecting spittle towards me.
Thankfully, I was far enough away. I crossed my arms and just looked at him, wondering if he was going to turn this into a scene or if he’d back down.
“Damned Azuleth. Lizard-looking bitches,” he muttered, swaying as he tried to turn around.
I considered going around the counter to direct him back to his table, but he was enough of a pain in the butt that I was alright with him falling on his face. Besides, not that there was anything wrong with the Azuleth, but I certainly wasn’t one of the wyvern-shifters and it was kind of insulting.
Taking a deep breath, I reached for my rag that I’d been using to tidy up the counter before the customer had sauntered over. I caught sight of myself in the mirror and checked to make sure the annoyance wasn’t too loud on my face.
My long dark hair was pulled back from my forehead in a complicated braid that my little brother, Rain, had done for me the evening before. My green eyes were hard, but my make-up made me look fierce, rather than simply annoyed. I curved my lips slightly, and told myself I’d keep that expression, no matter how annoying the patrons got.
“Kiran, how many croissants do we have left?”
My boss came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands with a towel. Lani was a good woman that gave me a lot of leeway when it came to dealing with customers. She’d gone through seven overnight bartenders and had been planning on just closing up shop during this shift before I’d shown up and told her that I could handle anything that was thrown my way. That had been six months ago, and she’d stopped coming in the middle of the night to check on me.
Today was special though, since we had a large corporate order in the morning. She’d decided to come at midnight to start on the prep and make sure we didn’t run out of pastries for the other customers.
“Seven,” I called back to her, having completed my count twenty minutes ago. “Two are dead by six, though.”
She huffed. Croissants were her least favorite items to make, but they were one of the cafe’s best sellers.
“Kiran!” she shouted, her blue eyes wide as she looked at someone behind me.
I turned, already ducking down out of instinct to make myself smaller as the drunken Surchi I’d already dealt with swung a wooden pole at my head. I had no idea where it had come from as I was certain he hadn’t walked in with it, but assaulting me was kind of the last straw.
I wasn’t big enough to muscle him into submission, but a swift punch to the gut doubled him over. His golden wings fluttered uselessly as I slipped around to his back and kicked out the back of his knees. He fell to the ground, smacking his nose on the cement floor of the bar.
The wooden pole clattered to the ground, rolling underneath a table. There weren’t a lot of customers, but the two that had come with him stood up and walked over. I prepared myself for more trouble, but they just apologized and tried to help him up. One went to grab for the weapon but I stopped him.
“Just get your friend out of here. He doesn’t need that.” I crossed my arms, lifting my chin.
I watched until the three of them left the bar, the overly drunken malak dragging his feet and holding his nose.
Lani came around the bar, concerned as she hurried to my side. She knew what I was capable of, but she still didn’t like it.
“You’re not hurt?” she asked, patting down my shoulders brushing off my gray jacket.
“I’m completely fine,” I assured her, smiling.
“I always worry about you.” She sighed, rubbing her cheek.
Lani was a Surchi as well, but her wings were white with golden tips. She kept them tightly against her back, not wanting to get her feathers into any of the food.
“Those croissants aren’t going to fold themselves,” I teased her, trying to ease her concern. Throwing people out wasn’t an every night occurrence, but it had certainly happened before.
“You remind me so much of my daughter. Full of vinegar.” Lani shook her head and headed back into the kitchen. I smiled at her polite way of saying I was bitchy.
The three other patrons pretended they hadn’t noticed anything as I crawled under the counter to pick up the stick. I knew at least one of them was checking out my butt. Parker was a bit of a pervert, but he always tipped well and kept his hands to himself.
I stood up and the lights flickered. The power grid in Silence was very good and we were close to the palace. A surge was uncommon and it set me on edge more than the drunkard did.
The stick felt solid in my hand as I leaned it against the back of the counter. It didn’t match anything in the bar, so I must have missed him walking in with it. Regardless, I was going to keep it. Having something at the ready was never a bad idea, and I didn’t usually care my knives into the cafe. They made Lani nervous.
The power flickered again, this time staying off for a full second before humming back on. Lani came back into the front-of-house, a frown on her face.
“Do you think someone took out a power line?” she asked, looking up at the lights uneasily.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure, but we should probably make sure the fridges didn’t short out.”
She nodded, biting her lower lip, when the power shut off again, leaving the five of us in complete darkness.
To my left, a small light popped on. Parker, I realized, had pulled out his phone and was using it was a flashlight. It wasn’t very bright, but enough to see by, and I honestly wished he hadn’t.
Something was moving in the center of the cafe, a sinewy creature with black skin. It padded on all fours, its long teeth glistening in the faint light. It’s red eyes glowed and it turned to Parker, letting out a low snarl.
He cursed and scrambled backwards as the beast lunged at him.
Lani screamed, her terror piercing into my very bones. There was absolutely no way I could fight off that monster as it landed on Parker’s chest, knocking him out of his chair and to the ground.
Even so, I had to try. The phone skittered to the floor, flying off to illuminate the horror that was the rest of the room. From the faint light I could see at least three creatures, slinking towards us.
I grabbed my new stick and sprinted towards Parker. I slipped on what I hoped was spilled alcohol and not blood, but managed to catch my balance. With every ounce of power I had, I brought the stick down onto the back of the creature’s skull.
The impact reverberated up my arm as the wood shattered across the monster’s head. Unfortunately, all that happened was that the beast turned to me instead, it’s teeth covered in blood. The sharp stench of its breath sent shivers down my spine.
Weaponless I took a step back. To my right, one of the other creatures stepped over Parker’s phone and was coming towards me.
“Kiran!” Lani’s voice was dripping with fear and I snatched a quick glance in her direction. She had retreated behind the bar and was beckoning wildly for me to come to her.
I started backing away, praying that the third monster wasn’t behind me. I could hear Parker’s labored breathing, but there was absolutely nothing I could do for him now. Maybe I could draw them away?
My back hit the bar stools and taking a deep breath, I grabbed them and threw one at each beast. They lunged and snarled, but I managed to scramble over the bar before they could reach me.
On the far side of the room, there was a brilliant flash of light and the sound of the front door opening. I blinked, cursing because I couldn’t see.
There was a yelp of pain and then a thud. When I could see again, there was a new figure in the bar. I couldn’t see him well through my watering eyes, but I could see the sword in his hand. Mostly because it was on fire.
One beast turned to him, looking towards its fallen companion, but the on that had attacked parker hopped up onto the counter, it’s long talons digging into the wood.
Lani gripped my arm tightly, frozen in fear.
Looking into death, I did the only thing I could.
I pulled on the dragon inside of me. It had been so long since I’d even touched the power that it was slow and sluggish, but it seemed like the beast was deciding how best to attack us, since I’d already proved to be difficult.
Right as it tightened its muscles to lunge forward, I grabbed Lani’s wrist and blinked us into the fae realm.
I hadn’t taken us completely through the veil, so everything looked shadowy and dark. Lani let out a little yelp, but I knew our journey wouldn’t last long. Already, I was struggling to hold onto the threads that would keep us in this reality.
Gripping her tightly, I dragged her towards the kitchen, moving through the back wall of the bar. The monster was clashing around where we’d stood, tearing through bottles of alcohol and glasses. We couldn’t hear it on this side, but I could tell it was pissed.
I risked a glance at the stranger that had come into the bar. He was a shadowy figure, but his blue eyes seemed to stare right at me and his flaming sword was as visible in this realm as the other. I wondered if it was a fae artifact, but I really didn’t have time to ponder.
Blackness threatened to take over my brain, but I shoved it back. Two more steps and we’d be at the back door of the kitchen.
I couldn’t make it. The magic escaped my grasping fingers and we staggered back into reality. The lights were back on and Lani rushed for the door, not questioning our escape.
She threw open the door and then turned, realizing that I wasn’t with her.
My legs felt like lead as I tried to take a step forward.
“Up we go!” The voice was unfamiliar and right in my ear. His warm body pushed against my shoulder as his hands scooped under my knees. I fell into him as he picked me up like I weighed nothing.
“Keep moving!” he shouted at Lani and she wordlessly nodded, tucking her wings tightly to her back and sprinting forward.
I almost cried thinking about how she could take off into the sky now and easily get away, but she wasn’t because of me. I really didn’t deserve someone so caring.
Feeling was coming back to my legs as Lani and the man tore down the alleyway and into the main square.
There was no monsters in the alleyway behind us, the beasts having either given up or chosen easier prey. I swallowed the lump in my throat at the thought of Parker on the ground helpless.
“Down you go.” The man practically dropped me, pulling his sword from his back and turning to look up right as a beast dropped from the roof.
There were screams as the Surchi enjoying the quiet night scattered, but the monster didn’t seem to care about any of them. Its eyes were focused on me. I guess it wasn’t a fan of being hit with a stick anymore than the next monster.
A shadow blocked out the street lamp above for a moment and a giant malak dove onto the creature’s back. His ebon black wings marked him as a Daekora and I froze on instinct. It had been fifty years since the war ended, but Daekora were rare and usually up to no good, at least that’s what I’d always been told. I wasn’t sure I’d actually ever met one.
His spear dug into the back of the creature’s neck. There was a blast of magic that exploded from the monster, shoving me back into Lani. She managed to keep both of us upright and we watched in shock as the beast slowly melted into a black sludge on the cobblestones.
Chapter Two coming soon...