Since I have the Winter Holiday stories releasing over the next few weeks, I want to share some excerpts from each of the stories. Each story is a little different in tone and theme.
The first one is inspired by Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where four young people get lost in Faerie and a love potion backfires to make things go horribly wrong. It’s a comedy with lots of funny moments, awkward situations, and things work out in the end. I love this play and it actually influenced the entire Fae of Calaveras series, so I thought it was appropriate to add my own twist.
My gaze drifted to the other couples in our group.
Ashleigh and Glen sat with a six-inch gap between them as usual, although Glen did keep looking over at Ashleigh. As a knight, he was sworn to protect Ashleigh with his life. He took it a step further with chivalrous behavior: opening doors for her, fetching beverages personally, driving her to and from school every day. But as nice as he was, Ashleigh had confided in me that she didn’t love him. She actually wished that he would stop paying so much attention to her, partly out of guilt that she didn’t return his affection.
On the other hand, Heather and Anil sat on totally separate couches, and neither of them looked at the other. I’d seen them dancing early in the evening, but since then I’d only seen them apart. I felt awkward just seeing the way that they didn’t look at each other. What could possibly be wrong between them? By everything Heather had said about him, they didn’t dislike each other—it just felt like neither one was brave enough to make the first move.
I’d had a plan to fix things in the back of my mind for a few weeks now. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do, but nothing else was working. So last weekend I’d mixed up a weak love potion. The unlabeled bottle sat in the bottom of my purse, just waiting for the right moment.
I pulled myself away from Kai and stood up. “There was a pitcher of that hot apple cider around here somewhere,” I announced to the group. I looked around and found the right beverage on a nearby table, with a stack of clean mugs. “Ah—here it is! Now that we’re caffeinated, let’s all have a toast to the holiday!”
I turned my back so they couldn’t see what I was doing and quickly emptied the little bottle of love potion into the pitcher. Then I filled six mugs and passed them around to everyone.
Glen lifted his mug, preparing to make the toast.
“Wait,” I said. I looked around the room and the distance between the couples. I had to find a way to get them a little closer before the potion could take effect. “Let’s go—I know, the cold will wake us up. Let’s go out in the garden.”
Everyone got to their feet and had to go in search of coats and wraps against the cold. I worried that the cider would cool before I could take them outside, but Glen traced a sorcerous rune on each mug that kept the beverages steaming hot.
At last, we stepped out into the garden, lit with only a few faerie lanterns. A blanket of fresh snow sparkled on the dormant plants, and the half moon shone down from the clear sky. The cold seemed to make the stars even brighter.
I shivered in my woolen wrap and nestled closer to Kai for warmth. I saw, to my pleasure, that the other couples were snuggling, too—even Anil had his arm awkwardly around Heather. I knew the moment was perfect.
Glen lifted his mug, and the rest of us did the same. “To the longest night, and good friends,” he said simply.
“A Midwinter Night’s Dream” is now available on Amazon again.