A short-short from the world of the Sentinels of New Orleans
I checked the figures my partner Alex and his cousin Jake had painstakingly etched into the wooden floor of my library. Three perfect circles, one inside the other. I could load all three with magical energy and create a summoning space so strong even the most murderous preternatural couldn’t break out and try to kill me.
Killing DJ seemed to be a common prete goal lately.
“Let’s try it.” Jake sat on my worktable, legs dangling off the sides, while Alex put the tools away. “Summon Louis Armstrong. I’d like to see him again.”
I shook my head. “He’s still kinda freaked out after that whole turning-him-into-a-spy thing.” Never mind that he’d been the worst spy in the history of the world. But he wasn’t the only member of the historical undead among my list of acquaintances. “I could summon Jean Lafitte.”
Alex set the toolbox down in the corner with an exaggerated thud and assumed his best French pirate voice, which sounded more like the skunk Pepe le Pew. “There is no need to summon me, Jolie. I am two miles away in my expensive French Quarter hotel suite.”
Yeah, yeah, whatever. He was right; I could only summon someone from the Beyond, not from the French Quarter. “Forget the pirate, then. The Beyond is teeming with the Historical Undead. What about William Faulkner or Truman Capote?”
Alex shook his head. “They’re still pissed off that we turned them into cats that time. Especially Faulkner. He wanted to be a Siamese instead of a tabby.”
“It’s almost Christmas,” Jake said. “What about Santa Claus?”
Alex and I stared as if Jake had grown an extra set of ears. “I can’t summon Santa Claus.”
“Why not?” Jake hopped off the table and pulled my dogeared copy of Beyond Human: Species of the Beyond from the shelf of spellbooks and grimoires. “I was lookin’ at this the other day and Santa has his own chapter.”
I snatched it away from him and stared at the chapter heading: Father Christmas, Saint Nick, Santa Claus, and Other Holiday Faeries.
“Holy crap, I didn’t know Santa was fae.” Which probably meant Santa’s elves weren’t elves at all, but some type of faeries instead. Good thing. I hate freaking elves.
I didn’t know enough about faeries to hate them. I’d heard they could be difficult, tricky, and a tad vindictive. But this was Santa, after all. Santa loves kids and nasally challenged reindeer. Santa loves everybody.
Santa would never try to kill me.
“Jake, go to the downstairs closet and pull a red bow out of that box of wrapping paper.” I studied the circle. “Alex, dig in that drawer with all the candles and pull out a red one that looks festive.”
I filled in the etched outer circle with iron filings—the strongest containment medium at my disposal. I might be impulsive but I’m not stupid, and a circle of cold iron would contain even the most malevolent faery. At the northernmost point of the circle, I placed the book open to the Santa entry, and at the south I set a small holiday bell made of ruby glass. Once the guys brought the bow and the candle, I place those items at points east and west.
Alex crossed his arms and narrowed chocolate brown eyes at me. “You sure about this? Do I need my shotgun?”
“I got a knife,” Jake said.
Cancel that order to the testosterone factory. “Give me a break, guys. This is Santa. Why would you need a knife or a gun?”
Alex shrugged and took Jake’s seat on the worktable. Jake leaned against the nearest bookcase with his arms crossed. “Go to it, then, sunshine. Do your thing.”
I tugged my own small silver folding knife from my jeans pocket and made a small slice into my thumb. Grabbing the elven staff I’d named Charlie, I squeezed a dollop of blood onto the circle near the bell, and said the words to summon Santa Claus.
A swirl of mist materialized inside the containment circle, gradually dissipating to reveal…a guy. A tall, heavyset guy. Dark-haired and clean-shaven, with oversized sideburns. A guy wearing a red suit. Not a Santa suit, either. More of an….Elvis suit, from his Vegas cape period. Frilly white ruffles circled his wrists and stretched down the front of the suit jacket.
“Who the hell are you?” Alex slid off the worktable and walked closer to the circle, coming to a halt in front of Vegas Santa. My partner’s fingers twitched as if wishing for a trigger to pull.
“Ho-ho-freaking-ho.” Santa flicked a glance at Alex, then shifted his gaze to Jake and finally rested it on me. His eyes were a disturbing shade of pale, icy green. “What do you want, wizard? I was almost through with my gig letting drunk gamblers sit on my lap at the MGM Beyond-Grand. I have to finish in time for Liberace’s set. He gets overwrought if he has to start late.”
Jake and Alex turned wide eyes to me. Guess Liberace was one of the historical undead now, and playing in some prete version of Vegas. “We, um, had a few Christmas requests for Santa. We were expecting someone a little…fluffier.” And saner.
“There are hundreds of Santas, and I was closest; deal with it.” He waved his hands in circles, giving me the universal symbol for go ahead and spit it out. “You have thirty seconds to tell me what you fools want for Christmas. Otherwise, I’m out of here. The Cirque du Beyond show starts at midnight.”
Who did this overgrown pomegranate think he was? I was the wizard here. “You can’t leave until I release you from my circle.”
Santa stopped fidgeting with his frilly cuffs and stared at me. The longer he looked, the more I saw things in those eyes. Dark things. Moving things.
“Last chance, Drusilla Jaco,” he said, and even the tone of his voice changed to something deeper, richer, with an edge that made me swallow hard. “What. Do. You. Want?”
“Um. I want you to leave?”
Yeah, okay, so I’m a chicken. But at least I’ll live to cluck another day without falling victim to an insane faery Santa in a bad suit.
“Right answer.” His grin was dazzling as he disappeared in a puff of mist.
I reached out a shaky hand to break the plane of the circle.
“He left something behind,” Alex said, and leaned over to pick up a black lump. “I think it’s supposed to be a lump of coal.”
Cheap faery. “Looks like a charcoal briquette to me.”
Jake held a hand out for the charcoal. “C’mon, let’s go down to the Gator. We’ll grill a steak in the courtyard and watch the Saints get the crap beat out of them.” Now that sounded like Christmas.
Copyright 2012 Suzanne Johnson
|Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.
About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada
I read where Suzanne said it would be a fun day on Thursday and she was right. LOL. Thanks for the short story. The Sentinels of New Orleans is my favorite series. Still time to buy the book for Christmas.
Really, Carmel, Suzanne, this is a very easy question! 😉 I would ask for more books from my wishlist of course! *grinning* Thanks for a great story!
So cute^^ and there were several names so several possibilities after all^^, Alex helping her with magic yes that’s a good treat ( for me Saint nicolas and santa claus/père noel can’t be the same at all^^;;)
thank you Suzanne you did made this day very special^^
oups i forget: what i would ask santa: more books of course^^ my wishlist is going to explode ( and a job for my brother would be a great bonus)
Thanks, Roger! You found it first!
@kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews It really is impossible to have too many books, isn’t it? I totally agree!
@Miki–My wishlist is pretty explosive, too–plus, no time to read! Glad you enjoyed the story 🙂
I enjoyed the story. I’d ask for a really large Amazon gift card.
I don’t know – more hours in the day? more books to read? more money? lol Happy Holidays to everyone.
@SandyG265 Thanks, Sandy…yes, a REALLY big gift card would be great!
awww, I love suzanne’s writing!!! And I think I’ll ask for a Skype chat with an author. Being an international reader in a non-English speaking country kinda sucks, since I don’t get to go to signings and such, but I’d LOVE to chat with authors. I met a few in Bologna during book fairs and I was amazed by their kindness. I’d love to do a skype chat, even if my English pronuntiation is terrible and I would probably be author-struck all time!
@fundinmental…That’s what I’ve been saying this year when people ask what I want/need: more time!
@Reading Mind / The Loyal Book
What a fun idea for a giveaway! I’m Skype-less right now, but I’ll have to keep that in mind. Your English couldn’t be any harder to understand than my Southern accent!
Christina K. in the rafflecopter
DUDE! That’s a cool story) And I’d love a library like that, with those kinds of reads:) Suzanne’s series is awesome! Especially the legends she creates – they’re all so unique especially the Historical Undead:)
I’d love story-inspired earrings – as in Harry Potter wand earrings, or something from Shadow and Bone!
ccfioriole at gmail dot com
Thanks so much for the chance. If money was no object Id ask for my own library 😉 Since Im not a bazillionare Im asking for a tablet and some books!!!
I would ask Santa for a baby. Thanks for the giveaway. Tore923@aol.com
@Christina Fiorelli Thanks, Christina! Ooh, Harry Potter jewelry would be cool.
@Natalie…A tablet is a good choice since it can hold a whole library!
@Tore…I hope you get your wish!
I would ask for immortality to read all the books on my to read list 😉
Hmmm.. well.. my wish isn’t sexy. I’d ask Santa for a job. The job market can be extremely frustrating these days. 😉 But books are *always* on my Xmas list.
Q: What would you ask Santa for Christmas?
A: The top 100 books in my wishlist! 🙂
@Readsalot81 Yes, the job market is not good these days–especially at this time of year. Hope you find something!
@Cherry Mischievous…What, only 100? (Oh the damage I could do if given free reign of Amazon for just a half-hour.)
@Julie…Immortality, or more hours in the day!
I would love more books-I can never have enough!
Thanks for the short story. And my very original Christmas wish: lots of books 😉
@Katy–I don’t think there is ever “enough” books!
@Sullivan…I seem to be seeing “books” a lot–LOL. (And I happen to know you have some on the way!)
I’d ask Santa for a new paint job for my bathroom. Fingers crossed on that one.
I would love to win Royal Street! I have to agree with all of you in saying that I can not get enough books. A book store to me is like a candy store to a child lol…. 🙂 You would not believe the books I have that I have not gotten to yet to read, but I always want more and more and more and more and more………. lol 🙂 Can not get enough!!
Happy reading and writing*
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OMG.. hilarious and I friggin love this author and her books. Carmel, I am going to feature a link to this on my Sunday Post. While I have read all of her books, I’d love signed copies and oh yeah I would rock that t-shirt!
That was fun 🙂 I can’t believe she chickened out…lol..I wouldn’t have. I would ask Santa for an all night date with my favorite fictional character….it changes often and right now it’s Jericho Barrons…tomorrow it will probably be Bones…then Alex 😉 Thanks for the post and contest.
@Mary Preston LOL–I hope Santa’s handy with a roller and paintbrush!
@Teresa…Oh yes, I could believe your TBR pile. Mine is mountainous. I keep giving books away and it’s still mountainous!
@Lynn…You’d think we were all book fiends here, wouldn’t you? (It’s true…)
@Kimba…thank you! (and thanks for the link)…and there’s a naughty Penton shirt floating around as well 🙂
@Tanya…I don’t know. After you read River Road, I bet Alex rises higher than No. 3 on the book boyfriend list. Just sayin’…
Fun story.Thanks for sharing.
I’d ask Santa for lots of books 🙂
@elaing8 Thanks, Elaine…LOL. I’m seeing a definite pattern here!
lol I’d ask santa for an early retirement so that I could have time to read, scrapbook, and travel and with early retirment I could afford it lol.
Thanks for the very fun post and giveaway! To be perfectly honest, the only thing I really want for Christmas is a few days off from work! I have books calling my name!
@Pamk LOL, Pam, I wish I’d thought of that one. I daydream of retiring from the day job so I write (AND read!).
@Erin…I hear you. I work at a university and we’re off from December 19 until January 4. I am so seriously ready!
Thanks so much for the fun and just awesomesauce post and giveaway! 😀 Santa…Gosh, I think what I always dream of is what I would ask Santa (this is going to sound crazy)..I would ask to live in a bookstore complete with a kitchen, bathroom, and bed…and then I’ll be a VERY happy person for the rest of my life! 😀
@MåїÐÂ»-(¯`v´¯)-» You know…I think that sounds awesome. I would be really happy there as well!
@MåїÐÂ»-(¯`v´¯)-» You know…I think that sounds awesome. I would be really happy there as well!
Thanks for the contest. River Road was awesome. Looking forward to the next book! I would ask Santa for the time and space to enjoy all my books. I’m running out of room in my house and even my ereader is running out of space! Reading is my only vice, so all my “free” money and time goes towards books!
@Roger Ooh, so you knew about this almost before I did. LOL No fair! 😉
@kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews Haha well I didn’t want to make it too challenging! 😉
@miki I probably shouldn’t have asked book lovers what they want for Xmas. I have a feeling everyone’s answer is gonna be the same.
Omygoodness I hope I’m not too late! That last line was priceless! Yeah… sounds like Christmas for the Saints to get beat – but it shore is big fun Mardi Gras when they WIN!
Love it Suzanne!
Oh… I want… a million dollars! *ding!*
@SandyG265 You can’t go wrong with a GC!
@fundinmental More of everything, then!? 😉 Hehe
@Reading Mind / The Loyal Book Oooh, that’s quite an original wish. I approve! 🙂
@Christina Fiorelli I’d kill for my own library but then I’d never want to leave my house!
@Natalie Cleary Darn money, always limiting us. 🙁
@Tore In the meantime… enjoy the baby making. LOL
@Julie S Immortality *sigh* That’d be lovely.
@Readsalot81 I hear ya. The market is tough here in Canada too. I’ll cross my fingers for you.
@Cherry Mischievous I’d have a hard time narrowing it down to just 100.
@Katy Holder You and me both!
@Sullivan McPig LOL There’s nothing wrong with books!
@Mary Preston Free labour is always good. I hate painting, especially ceilings. Urg.
@Steelerlady2379 That’s a great analogy! Hehe
@Lynn K. I agree, a girl can definitely never have too many books!
@kimbacaffeinate There you go, pimping me out again. I think I love you. LOL
@Tanya1224 Excellent fictional bf choices!
@elaing8 You’re definitely not alone! 🙂
@Pamk Is 30 too early to be wishing for early retirement? 😉
@erin Time off to catch up on my TBR pile would be GREAT!
@MåїÐÂ»-(¯`v´¯)-» LOL you forget who you’re talking to here… that doesn’t sound crazy at all!
@Liz S. That’s sad when your eReader runs out of room. LOL
Thanks for the short story. I would have to ask Santa for more books even though my TBR pile is huge.
Well since I have to fight my hubby for the computer I would love for Santa to bring me a laptop. I don’t see it happeninng but a blogger and wish. LOL
I’m almost done reading River Road and I would love to have a signed copy of the paperback to go with my signed copy of RS.
I would love for Santa to bring me an Ipad – I could really use it for when I’m on the road and when I have to do blog related things at work
@Pamela Mason I love it when authors end a good story like that!
@Jennifer TheBookNympho OMG How on Earth do you even get any blogging done!? You poor girl. 🙁
@Maria D. I’ve heard blogging on them is difficult so I’m sticking with my laptop.
@Liz S. Thanks, Liz–so glad you liked River Road! I’ll have a short or two out early next year to tide people over 🙂
@Pamela Mason LOL. I still remember when the Saints were more often called the “Ain’ts”–as in, they ain’t gonna win any games this year.
@Susan Thanks, Susan–a TBR pile can never really be TOO huge. You never know when the zombie apocalypse might begin and we’d be stuck inside with our TBR piles.
@Jennifer TheBookNympho Thank you! Hope you’re enjoying River Road!
@Maria D. Not sure I could use it for blogging (I’m sooooo bad with a touch screen) but I’d like to have an iPad to PLAY with 🙂
Gift Cards to amazon is always my choice
I´d ask Santa for some love to all, after this day and every bad thing that has happened, we could all use some Holiday peace and quiet IMHO.
Thanks for the giveaway & Happy Holidays!
I’d ask for an iPad.
Thanks for the giveaway!
@Lisa Richards/alterlisa Which translates as…books!
@Evie…I’ve resisted the iPad so far (SO expensive!), but I sure love my Kindle Fire!
@Linda…You are so right. What a sad, sad day yesterday was. I keep thinking of those parents going home and looking at their Christmas trees, and gifts that their child will never be able to open. Just heartbreaking.
I would love for Santa to give my toddler the ability to consistently sleep through the night.
jochibi AT yahoo DOT com
I would really like an IPad mini, but since thats out of reach a Amazon GC would be good.
I’d love to ask for some willpower to resist all of those lovely holiday treats. Maybe then I wouldn’t gain the usual couple of pounds over the holidays.
Yes Carmel, he plays WOW on the computer most nights he’s not working. So I have to grab it while he’s not home or eating. LOL
Health to all the people I love. And of course books. In the first two months of 2013 there are releasing too many books I want for my own good.
Happiness for all!
I’d ask for a new pair of boots and happiness and health to all of my friends and family. Thanks for the giveaway!
Books….and gift cards for books….and more shelves for books!
Happy Holidays & thanks for the amazing giveaway!
elizabeth @ bookattict . com
I still want a Kindle Fire HD. Still hoping to get it though Christmas is over. 😀