Out of the Ordinary (eBook)

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108 pages | eBook | 6x9"
Date of publication: 12/24/2014
  • ISBN: 978-1-941984-33-8
  • Model: 20969 words

Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Heat Rating: 4 Flames


With three days before Christmas, will Bill and his herd be able to convince the solitary reindeer shifter, Dolph, to stay with them forever?

When twenty-two year old Dolph arrives in Christmas town, he only intends to stay for a few days, especially with his secret in tow. However, when Bill and his herd turn up for the contest that will choose Santa's next sled pullers, he can't bring himself to leave. With his heart hanging on a line and his feelings for Bill evolving swiftly, Dolph will have to decide if he wants to join the herd or continue his life as a solitary shifter.

At first sight, Bill's herd meets societal convention, but on closer inspection, the team of eight doesn't exactly follow the rules. When Bill meets Dolph and his body and soul react to him in ways that are out of the ordinary, Bill knows that he must have the young reindeer in his life. With the help of his herd, a plan develops. Yet, with only three days before Christmas Eve, will they be able to convince the younger shifter to stay with them forever?




Dolph noiselessly stroked the baby grand piano's old weathered keys. He bent over them, pretending to study their faded colors. The white was gone, replaced by a worn yellow, while the black seemed closer to grey. He couldn't fathom how old the piano was or how long it'd been sitting here. Years? Decades? Centuries?

Not that it mattered. He wasn't hiding in the music room to figure out the age of the piano. He was here to get away from the ruckus and mockery of his companions.

His gaze flashed to the window to his left. The dark green curtain was drawn, only a sliver of sunlight filtering through on one side. He sighed loudly, relief and melancholy mingling as one in his chest. Why he was so sad, he couldn't quite explain. This was what he wanted--solitude, quiet, peace. He was alone at last, free from the constant babble about shifting and flying. He couldn't stand the boasting, the adventurous stories that involved escapades to which he was never invited. Dolph stroked one of the keys, the low rumble that echoed through the room mirroring his gloomy emotions.

It was his own fault he never got invited. He avoided the other shifters like the plague. He wanted to join them--he really did--but he was ashamed. He couldn't shift in public; it was too embarrassing and potentially dangerous.

He pressed down on another key, recalling his antics to keep from shifting in front of the other reindeer. Unlike most of them, he'd never had a nurturing parent to help him and walk him through the process the body went through when it shifted. No, he'd made it through life all alone--painfully alone. Gently, he picked at the keys, drawing out the sound of a nameless melody that reminded him of grey days and sleepless nights. Eyes closed, he caressed the keyboard and began to earnestly play a mournful lament in an attempt to drown his conflicting thoughts in music.

His fingers flew over the keys, his heart constricting with each note. He wasn't even sure why he was here, why he had accepted the invitation. In his twenty-two years, he'd made it this far. He'd completed his studies and, even though he'd grown up at the orphanage, he had managed to successfully learn to play the piano. While the other boys went outside to play under the shadow of the old grey building, he'd stayed indoors, playing songs that made him dream of lush forests and open skies.

No, Dolph was no weakling. Yet here, in the presence of so many others of his kind, he felt lost, disoriented, embarrassed at his rogue upbringing.

The piece became more intense as he hit the lower notes, tickling them with familiarity. Nicolas had found him on the anniversary of his parents' death. More than usual, he kept to himself on that day. However, he woke in a strange mood that morning. He remembered playing his mother's favorite song--or at least what he thought was her favorite piece. The memory of her humming it while making dinner was one of the few he had. He ate and he drank. And drank. And drank. He drank until his vision blurred and his stomach felt like live bugs were crawling through it and making their home inside. Outside. Everywhere. Somehow, he managed to go out into the street. He didn't remember the rest.

Nicolas told him he'd shifted in an empty park. Someone had alerted the police and animal control. The tune became slightly more joyous as he stroked the higher notes. Fortunately, Nick had made it to him before they did.

When he woke up, he was in the North Pole, in a cozy little room being tended to by an elf dressed in green velvet. Old Saint Nick explained that he'd brought him here because he'd be safe. According to Nick, he would find a home here, people like him--shifters. He would find roots, warmth, and love. Dolph's untrusting nature had fueled his reservations, but he'd chosen to remain. He could always leave, Nicolas promised. Yet, he couldn't. Not when Bill and his herd arrived a few days later.

Dolph's fingers flew over the keyboard as one of Chopin's nocturnes came to mind. Bill. Out of the three herds that came to participate in the contest, his had been the last to arrive. Dolph couldn't help feeling that they'd decided on coming at the last minute, as if on a whim.

Not that it mattered; they were there, and ever since he'd seen Bill, he'd become stricken. It was ridiculous the way he reacted to the man--sweaty palms, trembling limbs, loss of any common sense, as if he were a frightened virgin. He wasn't. Even in his relentless pursuit of solitude, Dolph had met people who wanted to be with him. He'd lain with both men and women, enjoying a man's firm grip as much as a woman's soft curves. Those times had been little more than lust, a chance to discover and learn.

Bill was different. Bill aroused an array of mixed feelings in him that made Dolph jump from one song to the next, from one key to another without any sense of order.

Dolph desired Bill in a sexual manner. He dreamed of being trapped under his heavy weight, of touching and prodding the hard planes of muscle. But he also wished for something more. He wanted to cuddle to the giant man. He wanted to hug Bill and hold onto him and never let go. He wanted to lean into him and breathe in his scent like the very air.

Emotions guided his playing, the notes coming in rapid--almost desperate--succession, putting sound to his anguish. He couldn't have Bill, for he barely had the courage to talk to him. Occasionally the larger man would catch his eye and a silent communication would pass between them. Dolph couldn't put it into words, yet he was certain it meant something and the thought made his heart race. Second--and that was what most stalled him--Bill's herd was very tightly knit. Darek, Daniel, Prudence, Violet, Donna, Caleb, and Colt. There was always one or more of them around Bill. They seemed to swarm around him like pesky mosquitoes.

Abruptly he stopped playing, staring at his hands in shame. It was cruel of him to compare Bill's herd to bugs. Out of the three reindeer herds that had come to compete to become Santa's Christmas reindeer, they were the nicest. They even tried talking to him on numerous occasions, twice inviting him to their gatherings, but he always bailed out. Dolph stared at his fingers--long, thin, fragile, much like himself. He shook his head and closed his eyes. No, he couldn't bring himself to be around them when he was so alone and imperfect. Another melancholy Chopin piece tugged at his mind and he began to play.

When he was out on the streets, he'd been lonely, but here he felt alone. He didn't belong and yet he yearned with all his heart to belong. He wanted to be part of a herd. No. Correct that; he wanted to be part of Bill's herd. Dolph wanted to have that special bond they had, to share in their laughter and in their tears.

The music filled his empty soul, soothing it with an invisible hand. Only soothing, never fully filling the empty place inside of him, and lately it was having less of an effect on him. His fingers fumbled over the keys as the hair on the back of his neck stood, alerting him to a presence. Dropping his hands, he spun around on the bench to face whoever stood there. His heart flipped to his stomach as he caught sight of Bill in the doorway.

"You play marvelously, Dolph."

The compliment made him shiver. Or perhaps it was the quality of Bill's voice. It was smooth, sensual, reminding him of musicians from another place and era. It was a voice that didn't match the burly man striding toward him as if he owned the place. Dolph's pulse quickened at the sight. Bill looked like he had stepped out of the pages of a motorcycle catalogue--dark sunglasses, biker boots, black trousers, matching t-shirt, leather jacket, and a few silver chains.

"Thank you," Dolph muttered, feeling his cheeks warm. He dropped his gaze to his feet, watching from beneath lowered lashes as Bill's large boots moved closer and finally settled near his own feet as the man sat at his side on the piano bench.

"I used to play, you know? Many years ago."

"How old are you?" Dolph slapped his hand to his mouth, embarrassed. "I didn't mean to pry. I'm sorry; it's none of my business. "

Bill grinned, reaching to remove his sunglasses from the bridge of his nose and uncovering a set of blue eyes that shone with amusement.

"Relax. It's an innocent question, one which I no doubt prompted. I'm forty-two years old."

Dolph's jaw dropped. "Really? I thought you were younger."

Bill's smile grew, a dimple creasing his right cheek right above the spot where his neatly trimmed beard began. "Appearances can be deceiving."

Uncomfortable, Dolph's gaze slid to the window. Shouldn't Bill be outside with the others?

"You have trouble shifting."

The statement caused Dolph to turn his attention back to Bill. The older man stared at him with eyes full of comprehension. Dolph cringed.

"Don't feel ashamed. I had trouble too, when I was your age. Then I grew up, discovered a few things--discovered people."

"People? Things?"

Bill studied him for a moment. His light blue eyes twinkled as he scanned Dolph's face, as if searching for something. Finally, Bill crossed his ankles and looked toward the sliver of sunlight filtering from the shuttered window. Dolph clasped his hands on his lap, fighting the urge to flee while waiting for Bill to say something.

"Shifting is more than the act of willing your body to change shape," Bill said. "Shifting is something that comes from within. You can wish it all you want. You can even make it happen, but if you aren't comfortable with who you are inside, it won't last."

"What do you mean?"

"You know Lisette?"

Dolph nodded. Lisette was a cute shifter known in class for her relentless bouts of shifting.

"You know why she shifts so much?" Bill grew serious, a sense of profound knowledge gleaming in his eyes. He didn't wait for Dolph to answer, plunging on. "She lacks control over it. She's not comfortable with who she is, so she retreats into her animal form. If she doesn't figure herself out soon enough, she'll shift permanently."

"That can happen?"

Bill nodded. "It's not the first case. Being an animal is easier than being human--or both."

Bill smiled again. Abruptly, he swiveled in his seat to face the piano. Following his movements, Dolph also turned toward the baby grand. He watched, mesmerized as the shifter placed his ring-filled fingers on the keys, playing a light, playful tune.

"Being a shifter is hard work. Being both an animal and a human is no easy feat, but it is much more fun. There are, after all, certain things animals cannot do."

"What things?"

Bill stopped playing. Mischief shone in his eyes as he reached to tuck a strand of Dolph's hair behind his ear. Dolph's breath caught in his lungs as he watched as, if in slow motion, the other man leaned into him. His pulse raced as the pad of Bill's thumb brushed against his cheek and along his jaw. His gaze was riveted on Bill's. The blue in Bill's eyes was darker, richer, an unspecified emotion dancing in their depths as he moved in closer. Dolph's lips parted.

"Kissing, for instance."


About Elyzabeth M VaLey:
Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Defined as weird since she was about eight, Elyzabeth honors the title by making up songs about her chores, doodling stars and flowers on any blank sheet of paper and talking to her dog whenever he feigns interest.

Losing the battle to the voices in her head is her favorite pastime after annoying her younger sister with her singing. Writing stories full of passion and emotion where love conquers all is her happy pill and she'll forgo sleep to make her readers live the dream.

Blog: http://www.inadreambeyond.blogspot.com/

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For more information, please visit the author's webpage.

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