SPOTLIGHT: Mates- a novella by Linda M. Crate

Chapter 1

It was my birthday, and Gramps insisted that we celebrate. It had been a long week, and I wasn’t about to argue. We could always use something to celebrate, right?

Although, Gramps had always made me feel special for my birthday. Sometimes it just feel like another day. Nothing special. But I knew better than to say that because I know it would probably hurt his feelings, and I wouldn’t want to do that.

It was a quiet night out, but I didn’t think much of it. Despite being a monster hunter, I didn’t find anything odd about it because we lived in a small and sleepy town in the middle of nowhere. It was a rainy night, too, and I knew that some people didn’t like venturing out into the rain.

Gramps had taken me to the bar, and I watched him as he slowly ambled over to the old jukebox and put some money in. I couldn’t help but laugh as Don’t Rock the Jukebox by Alan Jackson came out.

It was a familiar melody.

Cannot tell you how many times I had heard that song growing up with Gramps, my entire life.

My parents died when I was a baby, and I couldn’t well remember them. It was me and Gramps for as long as I could remember. Some of the ladies at my schools, many of them well meaning (I’m sure) told Gramps that maybe I needed a woman’s touch; but he had ignored their advice.

I had been a tomboy that fought the boys and won, and some people found that concerning.

But Gramps had always taught me to fight for what I believed in, and to stick up for myself. I wasn’t about to let those boys push me around the way I had seen them to do to some of the girls in my school, growing up.

Those days seemed like only yesterday, sometimes, but it was years ago. Funny how quickly time melted away when you became an adult because as a kid, some days seemed to last for years. It was just odd that way.

Suddenly, I felt a cold rush of air that made the hairs on my neck and arms raise. Goosebumps covered my arms before the fiend made their presence known. As the line “‘Cause my heart ain’t ready” came across the jukebox, a loud bang happened, as a woman stomped her heel firmly down upon the ground.

“Get ready to have some heart palpitations then, Grandpa!” laughed a wicked voice.

I knew what she was. Being a monster hunter worth my salt, it would be embarrassing, if I didn’t. She was a vampire, and she looked a little too familiar for my liking. Had I seen her somewhere else when Gramps and I had been hunting down monsters for the highest bidder?

What had brought her here?

She smirked at me. “Little sister’s cute, Gramps. Guess there are some things that run deep in our blood line, hmm?”

Little sister? What? Surely, she was just trying to yank my chain. There was no possible way that we could be related.


It made little sense to me.

My Gramps’s face was chalk white, but when he whipped around he had a flame thrower in hand. “Don’t touch her, Regina.”

“I know I left on bad terms, Gramps, but there’s no reason for that, surely?!” the woman snorted. She turned to her companion. “Kill them.”

“I don’t take orders from vampire scum,” came a cold, cruel voice which was so deep that I felt something involuntarily stir in my heart.

“Listen here, pet, you have to do what I say,” Regina snapped, looking irritable.

The man stepped into the light. His skin was as black as a night without moon or stars. His natural curls fell down to his shoulders in a cascading wave of black, his eyes were pools of black that I could very easily get lost in if I didn’t remember he were a fae.

I knew better than to trust one. Fae had killed my parents when I was but a baby.

Gramps said they probably would’ve taken me to the faerie kingdom if he hadn’t killed them first. I don’t doubt it.

The man had his arms folded, and it seemed that he very clearly did not like Regina. I wondered what he was doing there then.

His wings were black but there were hints of purple and orange designs in them. A part of me wanted to examine them further, but I reminded myself that fae weren’t to be trusted. Why couldn’t my mind seem to grasp this very simple concept?!

“You tricked me, but despite my folly, Regina, I don’t have to do a thing you say. I just have to be here,” the faerie sneered, looking irritable.

“DO IT!” Regina snarled.

“Do it yourself,” the faerie scoffed, looking bored, as he examined his nails as if they were the most interesting things in the world.

“Why aren’t you doing it? Is she your mate or something?” Regina scoffed.

I had to stifle a laugh. Everyone knew mates were something you found in fairy tales or romance books. They didn’t really exist.

“You think a faerie would have a human mate no matter how talented a witch and monster hunter she is?” the faerie chuckled, shaking his head. “Why, would you be jealous if she were?” he smirked.

Why was he playing along with her childish notion? That seemed cruel. Clearly she had some mental illness of some sort or maybe being a vampire had driven her mad. I hadn’t met a vampire that didn’t sound completely off their rocker in some aspect.

“You never listen to me!” Regina growled. “Why can’t you for once do as you’re told.”

“Because, faeries don’t like being controlled,” the faerie scoffed. “Imagine that,” he added, rolling his eyes again.

It was like we weren’t even there. Watching them bicker was entertaining but also confusing. The pair had come in together, but they clearly did not like each other. I wondered what was going on there.

“How is she controlling him?” I asked Gramps as he protectively stood before me.

He didn’t answer. It seemed he was rather engrossed with the conversation, as well.

“Remember how I said I’d shove this iron spike through your brother unless you did what I was told? I will shove it through you instead,” Regina hissed, green eyes turning a bright red.

That was how you could tell a vampire was angry or hungry. Their eyes always changed to red.

But I couldn’t imagine why the faerie would come with her yet refuse to help her. That didn’t make much sense.

“You only said I had to come with you, you said nothing about what I had to do when I came with you,” the faerie sneered, looking amused by Regina’s anger. “I remember words well, vampire, I’m a fae.”

Gramps had enough of their witty banter, it seemed, for he lit the flame thrower; and the vampire woman let out a snarl of both rage and pain as flamed danced on her  both of arms. She swatted the fire out, and lunged forward to attack Gramps.

Before she could, I ran around Gramps with a silver blade and slammed it into the chest cavity that should’ve contained a heart. However, I could see as I twisted the blade where the heart should’ve been that it wasn’t there.

Regina gave me a sarcastic smirk before kneeing me in the head, shoving me backward. “If you want your brother to live then you’re going to kill these people,” she informed the faerie.

The faerie looked bored as he took a step toward Gramps.

I looked helplessly at Gramps. I couldn’t possibly fight both the fae and the vampire all at once.

To my immense surprise the faerie took the blade that I had tried to jam into Regina’s removed heart and chest cavity, and jammed it through her head instead. She disappeared into flaming ashes which scattered as the bar door opened.

Sighing, the faerie looked at me and Gramps. “I thought you two were supposed to be good at monster hunting and slaying?”

“We are.”

“Hmm, looks like you’re lacking to me,” the faerie answered. He tilted my chin upward. “I had expected my mate wouldn’t be human, though.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Mates don’t exist.”

Gramps sighed heavily as the faerie gave him a dirty look. “Ann, I told you to look over the manual. There is a part in there that does talk about mates. Mates are a very real concept not just for werewolves. Why do you think I never married anyone after your grandmother died?” he asked, his gray eyes hard as steel.

“I guess ever since Luke tried to cheat a true love’s kiss out of me that I just convinced myself mates and true love’s kiss was all a bunch of nonsense,” I muttered, pulling away from the touch of the faerie.

He smelled like the ground after a good, cleansing rain. I liked the smell, but I would be the last one to admit it. I didn’t like how cocky and condescending he was being. He may have been attractive, but that didn’t give him any right to be obnoxious. 

I could feel my head starting to ache. Mates were real and I had found mine? Of course, it would happen in the middle of a small bar in the middle of nowhere and there’d be some nonsense with a vampire involved!

Vampires seemed to like the smell of my blood for whatever reason.

Gramps said it was the strong magic in my veins, but I just thought that vampires flirted with everyone they wanted to kill regardless of their gender or lack there-of.

The monsters needed some edge on their victims, after all.

I was suddenly exhausted, but I had to know one other thing.

“Was that woman really my sister?”

“Half-sister,” Gramps murmured. “Your father cheated on your mother once…”

“So much for mates,” I scoffed.

“Just because he wasn’t true doesn’t mean others aren’t,” Gramps insisted. “And you cannot help who your mate is. They have to make the decision to be true or not,” he muttered. “Your mother forgave your father.”

“I wouldn’t have,” I shot back, folding my arms.

“Your father was a strong witch and so was your mother. It is because of their magic that you live, don’t be so ungrateful, Anwen,” Gramps retorted, looking old for the first time in my life since I had seen him. “I was angry when he stepped out on your mother, too, but she made me promise not to kill him and so for that reason – he was spared. I don’t know what your mother saw in him, but she loved him. So I had to respect that even if I didn’t understand it.”

“So now what?” I asked.

“We’re going to have to find where Regina put her heart so she stays dead. With her heart elsewhere she can always crop back to life,” Gramps answered. “But…we can start that hunt tomorrow. I think we all could use some rest. We all look worse for wear.”

“Speak for yourself,” the faerie scoffed. He shot a look at me. “Better hope you’re a fast learner because I’m not going to put up with your tongue.”

I growled. “And who do I get the pleasure of having to deal with for the rest of my life?” I snapped, hating that I had ever found him and his stupid deep voice attractive.

“Wynne which is fitting seeing as I never lose,” the faerie insisted, with a wink.

“I hope you’re not always this insufferable,” I retorted.

“You’re so cute when you’re mad,” Wynne winked.

“I’m about to be real gorgeous when I lay your tall ass out on the ground with a one kick, too,” I informed him, my ire rising.

“I’d like to see you try, little shrimp,” Wynne snickered.

“I’m not that short. Just because you’re ten feet tall and counting,” I snarled. I was exaggerating. But the faerie had to be, at the very least, seven feet.

I was tall enough, in my own eyes, at five foot eleven.

“Don’t tempt me to hex both of you into silence,” Gramps shouted. “The bar keep’s secured us a few beds upstairs.” He gave a key to Wynne, he gave one to me, and the other he kept for himself. “Now get some rest, and don’t be sneaking into one another’s rooms.”

“No chance of that, he’s the most insufferable being I have ever met, and just so you know I’ve met some very gnarly and annoying creatures,” I scoffed. It was then that I noticed Wynne had horns peeking out of his curls. They were black and turned upward like the horns of a goat though longer in length.

Wynne chuckled darkly. “Just until you meet my brothers Eirian, Enfys, or Meredith,” he insisted. “Or my sister Afon. You might change your mind then,” he winked.

One faerie was bad enough. I didn’t even want to imagine an entire hoard of them. Especially if they were worse than this fae.

I could only imagine how gleefully they would be in trying to annoy the hell out of me.

Wasn’t exactly prepared or ready for such antics nor did I want to be.

I didn’t bother replying. Grabbing my gear, I brandished my key in the air as if it were a weapon before stomping grumpily to my room. I opened the door, and laid all my gear down. Irritably I threw myself down on my bed. Clearly, I had a lot to learn.

I had a half-sister that I didn’t know existed, mates really did exist, and I had met my mate and he may have been the most annoying living creature known to all of mankind.

Of all the people in the universe to happen to…why did this have to happen to me? I mean I had already lost my parents at a young age, moved a bazillion times so that the monsters wouldn’t hurt myself or Gramps, and now this. The universe certainly liked handing me balls of chaos, and then handing it to me and saying “yours”. 

Just this once, I thought, it would be nice if the universe didn’t give me a gift.


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