Published: July 17, 2013

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Length: Short Story
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Cilla lost a scale to the big bad Harpy, and without it she can't turn into a dragon. She's stuck in human form. Six years, the Harpy said. Six years as a Customer Service Rep for Blue Hedgehog Press, and then she’d be free. But instead of having her scale returned as promised, Cilla is handed over to Djimon, a vampire. She has to spend one day with him, twenty-four hours of sexual servitude, and then she’ll finally be free. Except…what if she doesn’t want to leave?

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Cilla decided that the inventor of the caps lock key should die a horrible, agonizing, super bloody death. Twice. Maybe three times, if there was enough left of him and she found a strong enough witch.

She skipped over the first fifty emails waiting in her inbox, each of them containing all capitals in their subjects. Irate customers used capitals. Ingrates. Okay, “ingrates” wasn’t a very nice thing to say about Blue Hedgehog Press readers. She was just so…mad. And the caps lock key creator wasn’t around to torture.

Cilla pushed her sliding glasses further up her nose and blew the falling tendrils of hair out of her face. She’d have to fix her bun sooner or later, but she still had over a hundred emails to look through.

On the plus side, half of the emails were praise for Blue Hedgehog Press and its authors, especially Minz Carter. It was the other half she dreaded. If only…

If only she hadn’t fallen for the Harpy’s tricks. Toll collector by night, she was the whip-wielding General Manager of the publishing house by day. And she’d duped Cilla like she was a hatchling just getting her wings under her. Geesh.

“Shift for me, dear Cilla,” she’d cooed. “Let me see those lovely, lovely scales of yours.”

One. One tiny little scale from the tip of her tiny little tail was stolen. Now Cilla was stuck working for the Harpy bitch forever and ever, amen. Only God couldn’t save her now. She wasn’t sure if anyone could save her.

Cilla’s powers were tied to her scales. They lived just beneath her skin, waiting for the moment when she’d set them free, and then whamo! Dragon. Except nothing happened if one of her scales was missing. If it shed naturally, she could shift as soon as a new one grew in. But since it was plucked from her like a feather, no amount of wishing would force the scale to return. She had to have that pesky missing piece handed back to her safe and sound.

The Harpy wasn’t likely to do that any time soon. Hell, it’d been nearly six years, and still the scale was nowhere in sight.

“Cilla!” the Harpy bellowed through the intercom system. “Silly Cilla!”

With a sigh she pushed away from her desk and padded toward the Harpy’s domain. The General Manager’s office had been decorated to resemble her favorite place: the underside of a bridge. It was just like home, she said. Blech.

“Yes, ma’am?” Must act submissive. Must. Six years the Harpy had said. Six years and then she’d be free. Of course, each time Cilla pissed her off, the sentence was changed. Hell, sometimes it changed on a whim.

“Come in, come in.”

Cilla stepped across the threshold and froze. Holy fire and may water be merciful.

The most gorgeous man Cilla had ever seen stood before the Harpy’s desk. His hair was dark, almost midnight-black, and held the tiniest hint of a curl like a calm day at sea.