A SHARP JOLT OF PAIN arced from Thistle’s barely padded backside to her shoulders, then up into her neck and over the top of her skull into her eyes. Her teeth rattled.
Cool water splashed around her. A heavy dose of chlorine burned her eyes. But the water cooled the itching flush on her skin.
“What the f…!” She tried to open her eyes. It hurt too much to move her neck. Sun-dazzle through her eyelids intensified the daggers lancing into her mind.
Where had she landed?
Oh, yeah. That was Alder getting even.
Except Pixies weren’t supposed to play tricks on other Pixies. That’s what humans were for.
“You aren’t a real Pixie,” Alder had shouted as he blasted her with magic.
Shivers wracked her body. Wet. She was wet, wet, wet. Cold and wet weather sent Pixies into hibernation. She needed to find a warm spot to dry her wings. Then she’d fly back to Alder and give him taste of his own warped sense of justice.
I am too a real Pixie.
She shivered in the unnatural weather. Wasn’t this August?
Without thinking, she started her wings fluttering. All the extra moisture and the chills racking her body would slow her lift. Pixies weren’t meant to sit for long on hard stone with their legs splayed in front of them.
She’d really let Alder have it.
Nothing happened. Water lapped her waist and continued to pour down over her head. Her legs remained stretched straight. Smoothly curved stone cradled her bottom while jagged and warped rock pressed into her back. A huge itch clawed her spine from butt to neck.
Unique and lovely green wings in the shape of double thistle leaves failed to flutter through the air.
What had happened to her wings? Gone!
Her eyes flew open. Remnants of sparkling Pixie dust settled in the pool of water around her legs, taunting reminders that Alder was king of her tribe and more powerful than any three Pixies combined. The old Faery in the oak had given him that power. But the grumpy spirit who dwelled inside the Patriarch Oak had left for… wherever old Faeries went when they no longer wished to live in this realm. Alder had retained his power when the Faery left. No one expected that.
Alder had exiled her from Pixie. She wasn’t in The Ten Acre Wood anymore.
Then she noticed black hair—very wet black hair—tangled over her shoulders and chest. Chest? She had boobs! When had that happened? Bad enough Alder had stolen her wings. What had he done to her lovely lavender skin and deep purple tresses!
And he’d given her human tits. Pixies had nice flat chests that didn’t interfere with the flow of air when in flight.
She had no wings to fly.
Fat, salty tears mingled with the water dripping down her face.
Blaring horns, angry shouts, the pelting of water hitting a rippling pool slammed against her ears as she grew more aware of things beyond her own pain and confusion.
“This isn’t Pixie,” she gasped.
“I don’t know what you’re on, lady, but dancing naked in Memorial Fountain during morning rush hour isn’t going to help,” a rough male voice said from somewhere near her left shoulder.
Thistle peeked in that direction, trying not to move her aching head.
A big, callused hand extended toward her. It was covered with sun-bleached blond hair on the back and knuckles.
She followed the line of the hand up a muscular arm to the hem of a dark blue, short-sleeved shirt with three gold stripes in an inverted chevron embroidered on it.
“You gonna get out on your own, or do I have to carry you?” the man asked.
Thistle placed her hand in his. He closed his fingers around it, hard, and yanked her to her feet.
She stumbled, unsure how to balance with all that extra weight up front, and in long legs and human sized body.
She tried to compensate with a little lift.
Her missing wings failed her.
She almost sat back down again. The man pulled on her arm harder, keeping her upright.
“Okay, everybody back to business!” the man shouted. “Get those cars untangled and moving. Nothing to look at here. Haven’t you ever seen a naked woman before? Eight o’clock and it’s already hotter’n Hades. I’d like to dance naked in the fountain to cool off, too! Pioneer Days nonsense. It’s going to be a bad Festival this year.”
Thistle risked looking around.
Behind her, Florentine swoops and curls carved in a stone urn. Water spouted up and out from the top. All around the fountain, dozens of human automobiles sat at odd angles in the six-way intersection. They should be flowing in a smooth circle around the fountain.
Oftentimes, in her delightful Pixie size, she’d flitted from car hood to rooftop to trunk, diverting a driver’s attention and causing him to swerve oddly for several moments.
But she’d never done anything to cause this much chaos before. This looked like a masterwork of Pixie tricks. The work of a true Pixie.
Would she get the credit for it, or would Alder?
She smiled at the tall blond man in a police uniform. Not a man alive had resisted that smile, especially if she threw in a few Pixie sparkles. He towered over her, glowering.
Not a good sign, nor a bit of Pixie dust in the air.