Christmas Eve…A Bad Angels short story
As the season approached, she thought about it. Noemi Gasteneau thought and pondered and spent far too much time on Amazon, to no avail. She’d heard the stories of their first days together, when Rex had found a broken angel in a muddy field; when they’d been afraid of the attraction and the love and the fact that fate had thrown them together. They’d told her the stories and sometimes, she’d even been there.
Noemi considered those stories when she took the train to Edinburgh and walked the streets and the winding passages running off the Royal Mile. She looked past the shops selling tartans and haggis-in-a-can, and passed by the Tappit Hen, pausing to peer in at the crafts and art.
She stood at an intersection for a moment, looking up at the facade of an ancient building and had vague, barely realized memories of markets and cattle and hoards of people crowding the streets, running cattle to market and haggling over lengths of cloth. She caught the smell of manure and the tang of lavender from the shop that sold herbs and unguents and magical charms.
She followed that scent and found what she was looking for down a tiny crooked close she’d never seen and would probably never find again. Inside the tiny shop the walls were lined with music…with instruments so delicate the breeze from the opening door caused them to sing. She thought of the old lute hanging on the wall of their cottage, it was Rex’s lute, though Rion had long ago taken the instrument and taught it to sing with a voice as sweet as the one he’d lost.
Noemi closed her eyes and conjured up an ancient memory of an angel with the voice of heaven, and she shivered, and then rested her hand over the swell of her belly where their baby grew. All around her, stringed instruments murmured softly, singing imperceptibley to the unborn child, and she knew that one of those voices was that which she sought.
She stepped around a display of sheet music and looked high on a crowded wall and found it. The voice had been calling, it would come to life under the skilled hands of her men. Rex would play jaunty melodies that would draw them to dance, and Rion would make the violin cry with passion and love.
It was too high for her to reach and when she turned to look for a shopkeeper, he appeared, a man barely five feet in height. His grizzled hair was short and curly, his back slightly stooped. His stubby hands were twisted and thick, but once he retrieved the violin, he deftly tuned it and coaxed beauty from the strings.
She took out her wallet, drew out a stack of bills. Without smiling, he shook his head in refusal and pointed to a sign.
No Cash, No Checques, No Credit.
She looked at him in question.
“How do I pay?”
“Bring them back Christmas Day, so I can hear them.” His dark brown eyes didn’t sparkle with happiness, nor did he smile. He simply placed the beautiful instrument into a leather case, and then wrapped the package in fine linen. He fumbled in a drawer and slipped a card into her hand. It was heavy paper, the address of the store printed in fine calligraphy.
“Don’t lose it, or you won’t find me again.” Now a smile played over his lips, and to her surprise, he was suddenly beautiful. Like Rex, magic simmered beneath a facade that was humble and plain. “Your payment is an angel’s song.”
Noemi’s smile faded. “He no longer sings. His voice was destroyed.”
The little man took her hand, opened it and held it in his own, staring down at her palm. “So much life here. You take and you give, and then you give more.” He looked up at her her. “You have a healer’s hands.”
“I”m a doctor.”
He held onto her hand, though he looked away and began to hum a wordless melody, his voice sweet and unearthly. He was old…older than time, maybe older than the very Earth. Before he broke into open song, he bent and gently kissed her hand, then folded her fingers over the kiss.
“And there is your gift to him.” He released her hand. “Hold it tight. Don’t let it go. Bring them here tomorrow. For Christmas .”
Her hand burned, but Noemi kept her fingers clenched and carried the violin in her other hand. She walked down the hill to the train station and boarded the train, focused on the magic he’d placed there, where it mingled with her own. When she got to her station, she got off the train and there they were, waiting, charmed to look like normal men, but to her eyes, they were astounding.
“How was shopping?” Rex took the package and eyed it curiously before placing it in the boot of the car. He then kissed her lightly. He frowned, opened the car and took the violin out, cradling it in his arms. To her amusment, he began unwrapping it.
“It was good. Very good.” She kept her hand clenched, even as Rion hugged her, a world of love packed into that gesture.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” His raspy voice was low and rough, and though she knew she’d miss the sound of that broken voice, the gift in her hand was of far greater worth.
Rex had opened the violin case, his hazel eyes blazing as he lifted the fine instrument. He plucked the perfectly tuned strings, and he looked at Noemi in shock.
“I did.” She smiled and placed her hand to his throat, slowly opening and spreading her fingers, letting her healing merge with the ancient magic of the little fae from the shop. “We’ve got an invitation in the city, for Christmas dinner.”
Rion opened his eyes wide at the sensation, and then cleared his throat. He coughed and Rex slapped him lightly on the back. Rex plucked a string and Rion absently hummed, matching the note with crystalline clarity.
Shocked, he looked at Rex, and then at Noemi. He rubbed his throat as though it hurt.
“Merry Christmas.” She tugged his long red hair and linked an arm into Rex’s and tugged them to the car. “Let’s go home.”
The Bad Angels series is available at Pride Publishing as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance E-books and at other outlets.
Comment every day of the Hottest Christmas List event for more chances to win some great prizes! I’m giving away the entire Bad Angels trilogy to one lucky winner. Check out what else is up for grabs!
Belinda McBride Bad Angels books in E-format (3 books; 1 prize)
Emilia Mancini Seducing Kate in E-format
Jianne Carlo Manhandled, Sinner, and Prymal Lust in E-formats (3 prizes)
KaLyn Cooper Cancun Series in E-format (3 books; 1 prize)
Robin Danner Bound and Christmas Spirits in E-format (2 prizes)
Sara Daniel Captivating the CEO in E-format and One Night with the Bridal Party paperback copy (US only for print copy)
Tami Lund Into the Light in E-format and a silver paw print bracelet (US residents only for the bracelet). If winner is outside US – 2 EBooks – Into the Light & Dawning of Light, first & second in the Lightbearer series.
Annie Anthony One Exquisite Night in E-format and a burgundy surprise box (you’ll appreciate this surprise when you read the book!). US or Canadian residents only to win the box. Winner must be at least 18 years old. (2 prizes)
Grand Prize: a Diamond Necklace. Yep, you read that right.
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