SPG: May, Part 4/4


“Yeah, let’s head back.”

He shook his head and she laughed.

Dakotah raised the Lake and they managed to clamber back into the canoe, which had reappeared at the boundary between the icy Minnesota lake and the mysterious fey one. They picked up paddles and set off.

Dakotah’s soaked clothes were cold, but the fey air wasn’t, which helped a little. Pete shivered as she paddled. He picked up his pace so the exercise would warm them both.

“I should join rowing,” said Pete.

“You even allowed to do another sport?”

“I need a time turner,” she said, then fell silent at the reference to their previous conversation, when she’d wanted to forget everything they’d been through together.

“I’m gonna find you something really cool in the fey world,” said Dakotah. “Somethin’ to say thanks.”

“No,” she said, turning around to face him. “I’m going to find it. And not just one thing, a bunch of them.” She turned back around. “And while I’m at it, I’m gonna do the same in the rest of the world.”

“Fucking wisewoman.”

“I try.”

They paddled on. After five more minutes Pete stopped paddling and pointed.

“What’s that?”

He squinted into the gloomy horizon. “Home?”

But it didn’t look right. Normally their destination came up relatively quickly, out of the foggy air. This thing in the distance was a black shape in the sky, something that really made Dakotah realize the vastness of the lake. And it was moving towards them, much faster than he liked.

“Turn,” Dakotah ordered. Pete obeyed immediately. They went sideways (and arbitrary direction on the Lake, but at least not right toward the…thing). It was no use. Within minutes the shape was close enough to discern.

“What…is it?” asked Pete.

“A salamander?”

That was his closest guess and he wasn’t too far off the mark. A winged lizard-like animal flew toward the canoe. It had moist-looking skin patterned in black and orange, and a wide, blunt mouth. Its tail was short, looking as if half of it had been bitten off. As it approached, it opened its mouth and out fell burning coals. They hit the water of the Lake and sizzled. It banked, swinging its body right for the canoe, revealing back feet tipped in claws.

“Holy shit!” said Dakotah.

The claws came right for him and he threw himself the floor of the canoe.

The salamander screeched in pain as it swooped away. Burning coals rained onto the canoe.

Dakotah looked up to see Pete standing, wielding a paddle.

“Don’t stand in a canoe!” he yelled over another screech. He plucked coals from the floor and dropped them into the Lake.

“Well, how do I fight it?” Pete didn’t even look at him. The salamander was circling back.

“Heroes can summon a weapon for the task at hand.”

“What, like a sword?”

“No, a gun, you nerd!”

Pete actually laughed. “Duck!” she yelled. He did, but he didn’t see what she did because he was blinded as she activated the Divine Light. The Light filled her and spilled outward. Her body moved, the canoe rocked wildly, and he grabbed her legs to steady her.

The salamander wailed its annoyance. He covered his head as more coals bounced down.

“Shit.” Dakotah looked up and saw the paddle she’d been wielding had cracked in two.

“Its tail got me across the chest–“

She stopped talking as they both saw the same thing. Her sweater was disintegrating.

“Take it off!” Dakotah yelled. She sat and pulled the sweater off, and her shirt too. In a sports bra, they both stared at her stomach for a moment.

“It’s fine, I don’t feel anything,” she said. “Its skin is like acid.”

A cry in the distance reminded them of the danger.

“We ain’t gonna fight something like that,” Dakotah said. “We need to get outta here.”

“Relax,” said Pete. She closed her eyes, and in a moment an 81mm mortar materialized in the canoe.

“What the fuck?” asked Dakotah.

“I play Halo,” Pete answered.

“You a baller, Abe.”

She loaded the mortar and aimed it. “Duh. Your powers are weird. Can you breath coals if it’s near?”

“I don’t wanna.”

She didn’t answer. Ratcheting up her Divine Light, she waited for the salamander. When it came in close, she launched. The canoe was an unsteady launch point, but Dakotah watched in awe as the shot caught the salamander in its left wing. It cried in pain, the sound reverberating across the water. Then it hit the Lake with a crash.

“You paddle!” said Pete. “I’ll see if it surfaces!”

He obeyed without question.


They dragged themselves out of the canoe and into her bedroom. Dakotah didn’t bother to check the canoe for damage just yet. He let the Lake fade away until it was just the two of them, both soaking wet and burned, adrenaline racing through them.

Pete put her fingers to her ears. They probably rang just as loudly as his.

He was about to speak when the door opened and Pete’s mom stepped in. “Did you see the rain? It’s pouring like–”

She stopped when she saw them.

Dakotah saw the situation like she saw it and blushed.

“Ok, thanks for your help, Pete. See you.”

He scurried out the door and back home.

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SPG: May, Part 3/4


“You know I’m fucking sorry, right?”

Someone had to talk first so he did. Her topknot wobbled as her shoulders stiffened.

“I don’t wanna hear it.”

“Well I don’t really know what else to say to make you not mad. What d’you want?”

“Take me back in time and make it so I never learned about the fey world.”

“There aren’t any spells to mess with time.”

“Caitlin tell you that?” She threw the comment over her shoulder before turning back around.

He pressed his lips together. Was her point that Caitlin couldn’t be trusted? That he had been dumb to ever trust her? That the fey world was full of people trying to kill them?

“I’ll tell you what’ll fix it.”

His eyebrows arched in surprised at this turnaround. “Ok, great, yeah, what is it?”

“I want you to erase my memories. Like you did with Roland.”

“The fuck—I’m not doing that!”

She finally whipped around, swinging her legs around. Her face was twisted up with anger.

“This shit is ruining my life, Dakotah! Your shit! I’m done having monsters trying to kill everyone around me!”

“You think losing your memory will help? They aren’t going to stop trying to kill you just because you can’t remember them. You’ll just be in more danger!”

“I don’t care! I want my normal life back!”

“Everyone does!” he yelled.

“Don’t lie!” she yelled back. “You love it and so do Val and Phin!”

That brought him up short. He was used to complaining about everything, he kind of forgot he actually liked the responsibility. Before meeting Ike, he hadn’t been doing much of anything.

“I don’t like people trying to kill me,” he grumbled. “And you loved it too.”

“That was before I knew what it meant.”

“Yeah, well, being a Hero isn’t just about the glory. You have to earn that glory.”

“Well I don’t want any of it anymore.”

He scoffed. “Yeah, because it’s the first hard thing you’ve had to do.”

“Fuck you! I’ve worked hard every year at school, unlike some people.”

“You’re smart and pretty and good at sports. Everything’s easy for you. And Phin. What the fuck’s so hard about having rich parents?”

Pete’s eyes blazed. “I’m sorry bad shit happened to you in your life but just because we’re doing different stuff doesn’t mean my life is easy. I try really hard, and helped you all year. I don’t want to be the perfect Hero! I don’t want to be perfect Pete! I’m tired!”

“Fine,” said Dakotah, putting up his hands. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t’ve said that. But you know we’re about to be in the middle of a fey war. Ro—the Seelie Prince can say he’ll handle it but it’s going to influence all of us. And then you want, what, nine months of your life erased? How the fuck are we gonna explain things to you? How are you going to hang out with us if we all know and you don’t? I’m sorry you didn’t really get a choice in all this but there’s no going back, Pete.”

His fingers tapped the paddle, which he hadn’t moved in minutes. “For any of us. We have to accept the good with the bad. You can stop doing stuff with us. You can stay away from the shop. But I can’t take your memory. And it won’t fix anything with Roland. And…I…wish you would…stay.” He looked out at the gloomy shoreline. “This never would’ve worked without you guys backin’ me up.”

She sighed. He watched her face for a sign. A familiar face, but one he never really thought about, until she threatened to leave.

He opened his mouth to say something else, though he didn’t know what yet.

Then the canoe vanished beneath them, plunging them both into the water.

Seeing as they had been sitting in the canoe, there wasn’t much of a splash—or much time to react. He and Pete had time for one surprised look.

They surfaced at the same time, his hair stuck to his face, Pete’s topknot toppled.

Pete looked at him, and burst into laughter.

After a moment he laughed too, relieved she was laughing.

“That answers that question!” she said, treading water. “No Craft outside the Lake to Everywhere!”

He tried to answer but choked on water. She laughed harder.

“Should I raise the Lake?”

“No!” she said. She turned and floated on her back. “Five minutes.”

It was cold, but he stopped treading and floated on his back, too. She reached out and grabbed his sleeve so they wouldn’t drift apart, and Dakotah breathed and watched the stars.


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SPG: May, Part 2/4


“D, goodness, why aren’t you at prom?”

Dakotah rolled his eyes while his mom, November, burst into laughter. She continued in mock distress, “Quick, get dressed, you’ll be late for the Grand Promenade!”

“Shut up, Mom,” he yelled from the couch, over the sounds of his music blasting from his laptop.

“Talk that way to me again, young man, and your punishment will be me driving you down to the Landmark Center in a rented tux.”

“You had to buy tickets like a month ago, they wouldn’t let me in.”

November cackled as she flopped into the armchair. “I bet they sell them at the door. The only good thing about all your friends being at prom is that I finally get to see you. I never thought I’d have to say ‘You work too much’ to my seventeen-year-old son. Is SVU on?”

“Wrong channel,” said Dakotah, finally grabbing the remote out of her hands as she switched modes instead of channels. “Here.”

“Thank god,” said November. “I can’t live without my crime shows. Seriously though, I can drive you over there. I’ll buy your ticket. Are you sure you don’t want to hang out with your friends? I bet it’s fun.”

Dakotah made a face. “Phin’s there with his other friends. Val’s got a date. Anyway, I don’t wanna go at all.”

“What about Pete? Should we invite her over for a movie?”

He winced at the sound of her name. “No.”

“Why not?”

Frowning, Dakotah twisted his head to see his mom. He could tell from her face she already knew something was up.

“Because she’s pissed at me.”

“Because you didn’t ask her to prom?”

“What? No! I don’t know why.”

He did know why. A couple weeks ago he’d revealed Pete’s almost-boyfriend to be a changeling fey, and the almost-boyfriend had not taken the news well. He’d dumped Pete–or actually, told Pete to dump him after his memory was wiped. Pete had obeyed, and been furious with Dakotah ever since. She hadn’t been to the shop. She stopped tagging along if Phin came over. She didn’t greet him in the halls.

“Vio says she broke up with her boyfriend and now you two are fighting. I think you know why.”

Dakotah sighed loudly to indicate his annoyance at being tricked into a heart-to-heart with his mom. “That wasn’t my fault. She’s acting like it’s my fault!”

“But you were involved in some way.”

The computer screen stared blankly at him. “Well, I mean, yeah, but, like…”

“What did she say when you talked it out?”

“We didn’t talk shit out.”

“Don’t curse. Why don’t you go talk shit out then?”

She’s the one–”

“I’ll tell you right now, D, that tone won’t help things. That’s your friend. Go say sorry for whatever you did, and then tell her how you feel–like she’s blaming you for something you didn’t do. Pete’s a great girl, she’ll respond to that. And you know she’s home now.”

“I thought I was spending time with you.”

“Come back after. We’ll watch a prom horror movie.”


The night air was heady with the scent of lilacs in full bloom. The bushes covered St. Paul, coloring the streets from his landscaped backyard to his shop and everywhere in between.

Dakotah entered through the back door. The Abe’s house was large enough that he could avoid Violeta and Adolfo and take the back staircase to the second floor. He knocked on Pete’s bedroom door.

She called, “Yeah, come in,” and then sat bolt upright in surprise as he entered.

She wore floral shorts and a tank top with her thick black hair in a messy topknot. She’d been reclining on her bed, eating cereal while The Office played on Netflix.

They both waited while Dakotah closed the door, because her parents could be strict and might kick him out. Then she moved her laptop, set her cereal down, and said, “Get the fuck out of here.”

“Nah,” he said flatly. “We gotta talk. Let’s get out of here.”

“I’m not going into the fey world.”

“Ok, fine. We’ll just take the Lake outta the house. Grab a sweater or whatever.”

She obeyed with a roll of her eyes, throwing on track pants and Nordic skiing sweatshirt.

“Let’s go,” she said, standing a yard away.

Dakotah responded with his own eyeroll and raised the Lake. She got into the front of the canoe without help while Dakotah steadied it. They both took up paddles and Pete’s room faded away.

Behind her back, Dakotah sighed and looked up into the gray sky over the Lake. He’d never done that before, and the feeling of vertigo was so intense he was forced to look back at the back of Pete’s head. He changed his mind about where they were going.

The oppressive silence of his companion and the Lake in general made the trip go faster than ever. Their paddles cut the water until a strong stroke sent them out of the Lake. The mortal sky bloomed over them suddenly, sprays of stars arriving with a wash of cold air.

Pete made a small sound of surprise as they glided from the Lake onto real water. She whipped her head around, but behind her was the bank and trees.

“Won’t the canoe disappear?”

Dakotah shrugged.

“You should’ve let us out closer to shore,” she accused as she turned back around.

“We aren’t going to shore.”

She turned back around to glare. “Where are we going?”

“For a paddle. My uncle used to take me here when I was angry.”

“Where’s here?”

“Up north. On the rez.”

“Huh,” was all she said, though her head swiveled to take a look around.

There wasn’t much to see from the lake. He’d purposefully taken them to the far side. They’d lived here on and off for most of his childhood, and he had a bunch of family around. If anyone saw him, he’d have a lot of explaining to do to his mom.

Pete stopped paddling and he took them on a slow arc. This far up north the night was alive with sounds of nature, bookended by his paddle in the water.

But he didn’t give a shit about that because Pete didn’t seem more relaxed at all. And despite what his mom had said, he didn’t know how to fix things. What was he going to say, “Thanks for all your help, sorry the fey fucked up your life?” The damage was done; she’d never not know about this other world. Knowing about it was going to influence the rest of her life.

He couldn’t begin to think how it would influence his.


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SPG: May, Part 1/4


Dakotah didn’t have time to move or think before a boy stepped out from behind a fence.

“Let us in,” the boy commanded. “If Samantha had realized I was here, the devil-queen wouldn’t have stayed hidden in her cloud.”

The regal tone was earned. Dakotah did not have to ask who the boy was. Though seven or eight years younger, there was no mistaking Roland Cunningham’s striking black albino features. The boy didn’t look human–he was elfin and held himself with poise well beyond his years. This, then, was the lost Seelie Prince.

“I have some questions, bro,” Dakotah said flatly.

The prince waved a hand. “In time. Let us in.”

Slowly, Dakotah opened the gate and the Sanctuary allowed the entrance of the prince and his fifteen warriors.

“Remain out of sight,” the prince barked to his warriors, and only two peeled off to accompany the prince and Dakotah inside.

Dakotah led them back to the circle of chairs and bay window where they liked to do homework. Phin tapped anxiously on the arm of his chair, standing as Dakotah approached. Pete and Val sat on the sofa with Roland–the changeling–between them.

Roland’s slanted fey eyes bulged at the sight of the prince.

The prince took a seat without asking. He did not look at Roland.

“Like your predecessor, you have stumbled into the affairs of the Seelie Court,” the prince said to Dakotah.

“We heard it different,” Dakotah said. “Ike took down Sunil and saved the fey world.”

The prince responded with a soft but scornful snort. “Icarus blundered across our world, leaving a wake of devastation when he poked his nose into what he did not understand. You have done the same.” Here the prince gestured in Roland’s direction. “If Caitlin had gotten the changeling…if the devil-queen had attacked now, before we were ready…it would have been an end to all Good in the fey world.”

“K, well, if anyone had told me about all this, maybe I would’ve known if I was fucking something up!”

“If you stayed within your damn job description, Guardian, it wouldn’t matter at all! Why must we be cursed with the world’s most inadequate House? Why can you not just protect the few who come to you and let that be that?”

“It’s you fey who should just leave me alone!” Dakotah said heatedly. “I’m not looking for trouble, but I’m not going to sit around until there’s a war right outside my door.”

The prince leaned back into his chair and rubbed his eyes. “Outside these walls, you have less power even than your Heroes. That’s why you’re not involved in the greater fey world. We wouldn’t have needed Icarus if Samantha and Sunil hadn’t attacked at the same time. We do not need you know. I am building the army. I will get my parents back. I will defeat the devil-queen and I will defeat Sunil if he dares return. You are making that harder for me, not easier.”

“I don’t want anything to do with your shit. I just don’t want to get killed.”

The eight-year-old boy in front of Dakotah looked more stressed than President Obama. “I admit none of us are safe. But I hope you will do better at staying out of our way. In exchange, I will leave you a way of contacting me. Just in case.”

Dakotah wasn’t sure this was any kind of solution, but he didn’t want to argue. “Fine, works for me.”

The prince nodded in satisfaction. “These are not human affairs.”

Phin snorted. “You’re human.”

The two guards at the prince’s side bristled, their dragonfly wings raising. The prince waved a dismissive hand at them. “He knows nothing of changeling magic, be not offended. Young Hero,” he said to Phin, “what matters most is which side you’ve chosen. I am fey.”

“Then I am human!” Roland said suddenly, loudly. “You have to do something. Fix me.”

The prince and guards traded looks. “What if we send you back to your old life, and Caitlin or another of the devil-queen’s thugs come for you?”

“Dakotah will protect me,” Roland said. “He fucking owes me that.”

“I told Caitlin you were dead,” Dakotah said. “I don’t know if she believed me.”

“It’s plausible,” said the prince. “A changeling might not do well in the human world, and pass prematurely. At least a few of our warriors have been revealed to Queen Samantha, but that won’t be new information to her. She might even count our encounter as a close call, and be wary of hunting you again.”

Roland did not take his eyes off the prince while the boy considered.

“You’ll protect him?”

All eyes flicked to Dakotah to hear his answer.

“That is my job,” Dakotah said.

“We’ll do it,” the prince decided. “It will take a few minutes, and I’ll need your help, Guardian. My parents performed the original glamour; we will need a lot of magic to make one as strong.” He looked to Roland. “And we’ll take your memory, to be safe.”

Roland nodded eagerly.

“Step back,” said the prince to Phin, Pete, and Val.

As they moved away, Roland said, “Pete?”

“Yes?” she asked, stepping closer to him.

“When everything’s back to normal, I want you to break up with me. Make up a reason.”

Her face fell and Dakotah looked away so he wouldn’t have to see her disappointment.

“Yeah, ok, sure.”

She walked past Phin and Val, between the shelves, and out the front door.

“Ready?” asked the prince.

Dakotah turned from her retreating figure. “Let’s do this.”


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Interlude: Ack!

I’ve been so busy adjusting after getting back from traveling last month that I forgot all about SPG! The next installment will be up Sunday. I’m excited to get back to the story and I hope you are too!

My new novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Read about it here.