Shift in Time
True love’s first kiss will not break a curse.
Everyone knows that. Even a Normal like Morgan Monstros knows that.
But Fane Llewellyn isn’t everyone. He’s like no one Morgan has ever met.
Small, fragile and fierce, Fane doesn’t remember who he is or where he came from. He remembers pain and loneliness. Decades of pain and loneliness. And Morgan Monstros. He could never forget Gan. Gan was his from the day he came to the island. And Fane would fight to the death to keep Morgan safe. Even if he has to fight the whole world to do it.
Take one powerless witch, a sassy Siamese familiar, a panther shifter with amnesia, a meddling wolf clan, and a coven of witches hell bent on war, swirl all together and you get the perfect spell for all out mayhem…..oh yeah and there’s chocolate cake too.
Covenant Key seemed like every other island on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Sugar white beaches and emerald green waters surrounded the picturesque small beach community. Tourists came in warm months, which tended to stretch from late March to early November most years. Unlike the nearby bustling beach towns Covenant Key remained a closely guarded secret that only a few privileged people ever found.
Tourists came by ferry to the small community for a day or even a weekend but when they tried to find their way back by private boat they would find themselves hopelessly lost. Of the islands many charming shops and restaurants there was but one place to stay and that was Rossmont Inn.
Morgan Monstros grew up on the island the oldest of four children, three younger sisters. All as wild as their names, Laurel, a year younger than Morgan currently estranged from the family dabbled in law in New England, Salem to be precise. Kestar, the artist of the family came and went at her whim. And Jessamine, the youngest and brightest at eighteen, just started college on the mainland.
For the last two months Jessamine came home on the weekends dragging her cat with her. Their parents, officially retired as of the moment Jessa graduated high school, were on an extended vacation in Europe leaving Morgan and Jessa to run the inn. Morgan with his business degree was more than capable, but the thought of spending a winter isolated on the island with no one to talk to didn’t appeal to him.
Last year he’d taken over the daily running of the inn with his father always right behind him guiding his hand. Now he was on his own.
October usually saw the small community of shops and picturesque houses brightly lit and decorated for the season, a season that not many outside their own ever saw. Morgan was late getting the lights up this year. Pumpkins sat forlorn on the deep Victorian porch. He leaned against a rail watching the sun sink lower in the crystal clear autumn sky. Alone. He’d never been alone on the island before.
“You don’t have to stay you know,” Jessa parked her suitcase on the porch and tugged on her sweater. Her long raven hair free to float on the cool breeze. She looked every bit the Monstros Witch with tilted up turquoise eyes and full lips. The skinny jeans and ear buds belied her heritage. What self-respecting witch listened to boy bands and girl pop? Jessa did. And she was a damned fine witch. Kestar was the one to look the part, Jessa looked like, well, a typical American teenager.
“I know, and it’s not as if I’m trapped here. The ferry will still come on the weekends, and the supply boats. I can leave when I need to.” Morgan let the smile he didn’t feel infect his face and color his voice.
“But you won’t. You’ll stay because a Monstros has always stayed on the island.” She pulled her hair into a fabric covered elastic to try to tame it.
“I’ll stay to finish work on my dissertation. I’ve put it off far too long as it is.”
“And because you have nothing better to do, or is it because Father ordered you to stay?” She ran her hands over Morgan’s shoulders tugging at the strands of his straight hair, the same color as hers, until the tangles disintegrated. “You should go into the city and find a friend or maybe a boyfriend.”
Morgan stepped quickly away closing his thoughts to his sister. He was never sure just how strong she’d become and sometimes he forgot to keep his thoughts quiet. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Morgan, come on, and stop throwing up mental walls, I’m not poking around in your skull, no need to attack me.” She sighed a long suffering put upon type sigh as she buttoned her sweater. “Look Morgan, I don’t need to read your mind. I can tell. Okay. I could always tell. You’re twenty-five and lonely. Go meet a guy and stop being lonely.”
“I’m not lonely. I’m busy. There’s a difference,” Morgan said in his defense.
“And young. Too young to be saddled with all this responsibility. Come on Morgan what do you think will happen if a Monstros witch wasn’t on the island at all times? That it would crumble into the gulf? Go have some fun. Get laid. Something.”
Morgan tried to suppress the angry blush before Jessa noticed. “Jessa, my sex life or any sex life isn’t really your business.”
“Which one of us is the virgin here?”
“I thought you weren’t poking around in my head.” Betrayal, that’s what it was. He had none of her talent, none of any of his sisters’ talents. The one true normal in the family and they all used it against him.
“I don’t have to poke around in your head to know you won’t let anyone close enough to go all the way, I don’t meddle dear brother. But I might start if you don’t meddle in your own life. The fine young men worthy of you are not going to come here, Puddin’, you are going to have to go to them.”
“And risk everything. Thank you, sister mine, I’ll pass. Better a powerless witch than a dead one.”
“It’s the twenty-first century I hardly think that law still applies. And I never did understand why the persecuted are the first to persecute.”
“When does your boat leave?”
“In a few minutes, but it won’t leave without me so I have plenty of time to walk you through Starbuck’s routine. I won’t be back until Thanksgiving—“
Morgan, stuck on the part about Starbuck’s routine, cut her off. “What do you mean routine? Are we talking about your cat? Did you name that unfortunate thing, Starbuck? And why the hell are you leaving it here with me?”
“Because I can’t hide him in the dorm anymore. He’s miserable, he likes it here and he likes you.” She rushed to explain. “Please, Morgan, he’s a good cat, you won’t even know he’s here and with no guests around he won’t be a problem. You can let him have the run of the house during the week and lock him upstairs on the weekends when guests are here.”
“No, Jessamine, absolutely not. I don’t have time to look after an animal. And the fleas—“
“He doesn’t have fleas. He’s incredibly clean. Fastidious, just like you. Except that he likes heights he could be your soul mate. If he wasn’t a cat. Please, Morgan. If I take him back I’m going to have to give him away, and I’d rather know he was here with you and not with strangers.” She looked so young standing on her tip toes to look him in the eye to plead her case. “Please, all you have to do is keep his box clean and feed him.”
“It’s the box thing I take issue with. And the fact that cats creep me out.” The old Siamese their grandmother had when she was alive used to stare at him all the time. He disappeared shortly after her death. And now Jessamine had one that could be its doppelganger. “Why a Siamese, Jessa? Of all the cats out there?”
“I remember Granna’s Loki. I wanted one just like him for as long as I could remember.”
“You were a little kid when Granna died. And that cat was just strange.”
“Really? I remember him being very playful. Please, Morgan, please. I’ve got to go. Please just take care of him. He needs a large place to run around in. Don’t let him outside. You won’t even know he’s around. Please.”
Morgan groaned through his teeth. “Fine. But if he bites me I won’t be held responsible. Do you understand?”
She flung her arms around his neck her voice shrill in victory. “Yes. I knew you were a wonderful brother.”
“Sure, now that you’ve walked all over me with your pointy little…” he looked at her feet, “ballerina slippers. I’m great and wonderful.”
“I don’t remember saying great. And I’m going to miss you. You’re my favorite brother.” She pecked him on the cheek just before she ran down the walk toward the marina.
“I’m your only brother,” he shouted out to her. “And you’re forgetting something.”
Jessa turned back with a look of puzzlement on her face until she spotted the case she’d left sitting on the top step. Instead of coming back up the walk she held her hand out and seconds later the case materialized on the concrete in front of her. “Thanks, and I’ll call you tonight as soon as I get back okay.”
“I’ll be waiting.” He waved knowing she could easily let him know without the phone. He remembered when she was a child and just forming her powers. His brain nearly exploded from her tantrums. He’d learned from Granna how to block her. But that was all he’d managed to learn. The first Monstros witch to show no sign of his heritage in centuries. That was him. Morgan Monstros, chief normal in a family of extraordinary.
He waited on the porch until the boat that chugged out of the marina disappeared from sight. There would be no more boats today, in or out. The breeze came from the northwest, a slight chill to it. He wrapped his arms around his chest and shivered slightly. Feeling morose he went into the foyer and closed the door on the outside world. Or at least the tiny speck of an island that constituted his immediate outside world.
The cat sat at the top of the ornate staircase. Tawny body gleaming in the light from an upstairs window, blue eyes fixed on him. “Starbuck. My friend. I hate to tell you this, but that is a horrible name,” he said but the cat only squinted at him in answer. Siamese were supposed to be near sighted but Morgan had the distinct feeling that this one could see just fine and like the one his Granna had once owned, this one found him to be less than tolerable as well. “Yeah, well, same back at you.”
Later that evening Jessa called not because he’d asked her too but because she’d forgotten to walk him through the care and feeding of her precious Starbuck. During the season the family squeezed into the third floor rooms leaving the lower two floors for guests. When they were children this seemed like an adventure. They all bunked in one room while Granna had a small suite of her own and their parents another. As they grew up the girls inherited Granna’s suite for the simple reason that there were more of them and only one of him. Which was fine, he had a bathroom to himself if nothing else. With the rest of the family gone he saw no reason to change the arrangements. Tonight would be the first time he’d ventured into the girl’s suite since childhood, all in the search of Starbuck and his litter box.
The cat wasn’t to be found when he went up the third flight of stairs or when he found the plastic bin in the bathroom. But moments after scooping the solid pieces from the clay the cat appeared from seemingly nowhere. “There you are. I’ll be closing up for the night if it’s all the same to you.”
Morgan received no answer just scratching. He left the cat to his business and found the food station in what had been Granna’s reading nook by the window. He put out fresh kibble and water. The cat sat staring at him when he finished. Almost as if he were royally put out over the selection. “What? Don’t look at me I’m just following orders. Jessa said you get a can of tuna in the morning and kibble at night. If it were up to me you wouldn’t be here now so be grateful you get this much.”
He left the cat delicately sniffing the food in the bowl and went back downstairs to close the house up. Carefully shutting the cat in the third floor space before and after. No sense in having it prowling around downstairs while he tried to sleep.
Around two he gave up trying to read the text in the incredibly dry and possibly down right boring research tome. Sleep came slowly. The quiet on the island seemed deafening now that he was alone. A distant rumbling of thunder followed by the pattering of rain on the roof brought him an unwelcome bed fellow.
“Don’t get used to this,” he told the cat with its luminescent blue eyes after it yawned a fishy smelling and very toothy yawn.