Linda’s website: www.authorlindarobertson.com
Her group blog: www.word-whores.blogspot.com
Her oft ignored personal blog: www.wolfsbaneandabsinthe.blogspot.com
Buy Arcane Circle at the Simon&&Schuster website: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Arcane-Circle/Linda-Robertson/9781439190258
“What do you like on your pizza, Doc?”
“Why?” He drew the word out suspiciously.
“I was hoping you would evaluate a few animals I’ve acquired. If you will take a look at them, I’ll send Nana and Beverley to pick up some pizzas.”
The doctor, bemused, shook his head but conceded. “Banana peppers and sausage.”
“That was easier than I expected.” The prospect of losing his down time and taking on unexpected work seemed like something he should resist with a bit more force.
“Whatever you’ve got going on is sure to be more exciting than Underdog.”
On my way out I grabbed my jacket, an insulated flannel overshirt. The doc followed me through the cornfield, lugging his medical bag. “Is there a corral out here?” he asked.
It was colder than I’d thought. Buttoning the flannel, I answered, “Sort of.” We didn’t have to fight our way through the cornstalks; the elemental animals’ passage had bent the stalks down and created an eight-foot-wide path straight to the grove where the ley line ran.
“What kind of animals did you acquire?”
He grunted. “How many of them are there?”
“Several. I don’t have an exact count.”
“Give me a hint or something.”
Our approach caused the animals to stir. There was nickering and bird sounds and a noise like a giant burp. It could have been Mountain’s belch or one of the dragon’s.
“Did you know a ley line crosses my property, Doc?”
“No. I’ve heard you use the term before, but I’m not sure what it means.”
“It’s a magic thing, an earth-energy line—but you can’t see it. If you’re attuned to such things you may gain a sense of it, but the animals are undeniably drawn to it. They’re keeping themselves close to the ley line in the grove of trees up ahead.”
The crunching of our steps abruptly changed. An over-the-shoulder glance revealed the vet had halted. He stood stiffly and his humorless expression was what I’d expect to see if I’d taken him snipe hunting and he’d just caught on to the game.
I stopped, too. “What?”
“Exactly.” He pushed his glasses up his nose. “You’re talking magic. What’s out there?”
Though he was confident with the farm animals he treated, the idea of magical creatures stripped away his certainty. He had learned some of how wære genetics changed the rules of medicine. I couldn’t blame him for being guarded. And, with the exception of a single normal Great Dane puppy, our relationship had involved injured wærewolves, kidnapped and thieving witches, and some very dangerous vampires. But I had hoped to get the elementals into his line of sight before he freaked. The elementals might be even harder to accept, but at least they were closer to regular work for him.
I strode back to him.
He said, “Tell me there aren’t any bizarre wære-creatures out there.”
“No bizarre wære-creatures. No wære-pigs or wæreplatypus. Wære-things probably wouldn’t gather at a magic line, anyway. I promise, there’s nothing out there that’s contagious like that.” I used the word contagious rather than dangerous on purpose. These creatures had done a lot of damage while the fairies had control collars on them.
“And still you won’t name what I’m going to see.”
He removed his glasses and wiped them clean on the tail of his shirt. “Very well. But I’m billing you. Regardless of the pizza.”
“And I’ll expect the overtime rate.”
He tucked his spectacles determinedly back into place and had just taken his first step forward when a shrill neigh pierced the air. The thump of hooves followed, bringing a pristine unicorn cantering into view.
Dr. Lincoln stopped in his tracks again. This time his jaw dropped. The young stallion pranced to a halt and shook out his glorious mane as he noticed us. Then the unicorn leveled his horn at us and snorted. He pawed the ground, ready to charge.
“Errol, get your twitchy self back over here!” Mountain’s voice was followed by a whistle. The unicorn hung his lovely head and walked out of view. I’d have sworn he was sulking.
I needed Dr. Lincoln to accept that he was seeing creatures that weren’t supposed to exist and to give them medical attention. The world had been forced to recognize vampires and wærewolves for over two decades, but a real unicorn was still inconceivable. “You coming, Doc?”