Easy Mistake to Make

person holding green pine tree leaf

Image from Unsplash taken by Dayna Lepp

“So how did you find out where I worked?” Jasmine asked suspiciously.

“I have my ways.” Tyrone said, airily.

“And those ways are?” Jasmine pressed.

“Jay saw you walk in here last week.” Tyrone admitted. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m here, and so are you.”

“I’m working.” Jasmine said. “Excuse me.”

Tyrone stepped aside to allow Jasmine to ease past as she carried a large box over to the display of herbs. “That looks far too heavy for you.” He smiled at Jasmine. “Let me carry it for you.”

“I’m fine.” Jasmine rolled her eyes and set the box down. “I’m stronger than I look.”

“You had better believe that.” Mrs Tuesday said, grinning happily.

Lady Freydis drifted over. “Jasmine, you have an admirer.”

“It’s okay, Tyrone knows we can only be friends as I have a boyfriend!” Jasmine glared at Tyrone.

“Babe, you should rethink that.” Tyrone said. “I’m good looking, I’ve got a good job lined up, and I bet I could wipe the floor with any pretender to your heart.”

“I think ‘Pretender to Your Heart’ is a very good saying.” Lady Freydis said. “Which book did you find it in?”

“Seriously, Tyrone, I’m happy with Darren.” Jasmine shoved out some packets of fern seed. “I’m sure you’ll find someone else.”

“I can’t sleep at night.” Tyrone said. “I’m dreaming of you all the time.”

“How can you dream if you are not asleep?” Lady Freydis asked.

Jasmine ignored Mrs Tuesday chuckling in the background. “I have a boyfriend. I’m very happy with him. Please, just leave me alone.”

“Never!” Tyrone declared. “I’ll never give up.”

Kadogan strolled in. “I thought I felt some embarrassment.” He looked narrowly at Mrs Tuesday. “What have you done?”

“It’s not me this time.” Mrs Tuesday said. “Jasmine has an admirer.”

“Does Darren know?” Kadogan asked.

Tyrone looked at Jasmine. “You really do have a boyfriend? I thought you were just saying that to put me off.” He shook his head. “Forget him, babe, I could treat you like a queen.”

“I advise against pursuing Jasmine.” Kadogan said. “I do not deny that it is entertaining to watch, but Darren was formerly a Royal Marine and is quite ruthless when he deals with opposition. I do not wish the White Hart to be caught up in anything unsavoury.”

Tyrone snorted. “They all say that they’re ex-army, but they never are. You put me and him against each other in the gym or sparring or whatever, and I’ll show you what a real man…” He trailed off.

Darren walked into the shop and Jasmine’s face lit up with joy at seeing him. Darren’s face relaxed a little and a warm current of love ran between them before Darren looked up. “Just water today, please.”

Tyrone looked at the hard muscled, hard faced, lethal presence that was looking so softly at Jasmine. “I’ll see you in college, Jas.”

Human Error

black and silver microphone on brown wooden table
Image from Unsplash, taken by Randy Fath

Steve tentatively opened his eyes and squinted into the lights. As he regained his senses he realised he was strapped to a chair and surrounded by recording equipment. “What?”

“You are half elfen.” A tall man, lean and unshaven, stood at the back of the neglected room. He had a small laptop perched on a barstool next to him. “You are going to tell me everything.”

Steve shook his head and winced. “You hit me over the head when I was getting into my car.”

“You can’t escape.” There was a psychotic flatness in the man’s voice. “I’ve taken all precautions.”

“Yes, my father was elfen.” Steve said. “But I wasn’t raised by him. I was raised by my mother.” The leather straps that loosely held his wrists were scored with arcane symbols and Steve could sense some serious magical power in there.

“But you know your father, and you know other elfen. I need you to tell me everything.” The tall man tapped some keys on his laptop. “I’m starting the recording. Now, tell me about your Queen.”

Steve checked around. He was surrounded by a circle of what looked like iron filings, intertwined with red thread. A second circle of salt surrounded the iron. He narrowed his eyes. The damp patches on the bare boards probably meant a sprinkling of holy water. “Queen Elizabeth II, of the United Kingdom and other places. I don’t know what you want me to say.”

“No, your real Queen, the Winter Queen.” The man insisted. “I have ways of making you uncomfortable.”

“You’ve tied me to a chair.” Steve tested the straps on his wrists. “That’s not comfort.”

“You see the runes on the straps.” The man leant forward. “It took a lot of research to find them.”

“Yeah, the magic is pretty robust.” Steve admitted. He tugged at them again.

“I know!” The man straightened. “Tell me your name.”

“It’s Steve Adderson.” Steve said. “You must know that.”

“No, your secret name, the one you hide.” The man stalked over and leant close. Steve could smell the coffee on his breath. “I can make things very unpleasant. What is your name?”

Steve looked directly into the eyes of the man and then headbutted him. As the man reeled back, Steve kicked his legs from under him and then tugged his hands free of the straps on his wrists. He kicked the circle of iron shavings aside and dragged the terrified man to his feet. “I’m half elfen. I’m also half human, you muppet.” He looked around. “Get this mess cleared up and then we will have a talk.” Steve glared at him. “And uncomfortable is the least of your worries.”


siamese cat on gray stone during daytime
Image by Eddie Howell on Unsplash

Darren glanced at the reflection in the window. The wight was still following him. He crossed the narrow street and turned into Fishergate. The wight change course after him, carefully avoiding the crowds of tourists and focused on the pursuit. Darren crossed the road, dodging between cars, then crossed back. The wight followed his every move. Dammit, thought Darren, the creature isn’t even trying to be subtle. It wants me to feel the fear.

He crossed back and then ducked down Howard Street. As he upped his pace past the quaint Victorian houses, he hoped he had remembered correctly. Howard Street was a dead end to cars, but there should be an alley at the end, which would take him out of there. He could not allow the wight to catch him in public.

He was almost jogging now, ducking into the alley way and under the leafy trees. He could feel the dark, draining presence of the wight behind him. Night was falling and the wight would be stronger as the sunlight faded. He muttered a quick prayer. He had to get the wight away from the general public. It was getting closer, moving in for the kill.

Darren glanced quickly around and headed into York Cemetery. The shadows were stretching down and across the rows of old fashioned graves. He slowed and looked along the paths. Where could he go next? There was a dry chuckle behind him.

“You let me hunt you to a graveyard? The home of the dead?”

Darren turned and looked the wight straight in its sunken eye. “You didn’t hunt me.”

“Yet here you are, alone, with me. Do you know what I am?” The wight hissed, dropping any attempt at glamour and showing its dark, fibrous shape.

“Do you know what I am?” Darren said. He made the sign of the cross and started praying.

A cat slid past his legs and leapt with effortless grace onto a nearby headstone. The image rippled and Lady Freydis sat, her eyes very bright. “And do you know what I am? I am the very angry prince who let an exorcist lead you to hallowed ground. You are not so powerful here, wight.”

A groan bubbled from the wight as Darren’s prayers drained its power. It looked around wildly, but members of Lady Freydis’ court were fading into view from the cemetery shadows and blocking all means of escape. Kadogan leant forward. “And you thought you were the hunter!” There were malevolent chuckles in the group surrounding the dwindling wight. “Perhaps you should have hunted a with a little more care.”

Darren pronounced the final, Latin blessing and the wight collapsed into dark dust, blowing into the leafy calm of the cemetery. He nodded to Lady Freydis. “Thank you.”

“Not at all.” Lady Freydis said, gracefully sliding from the headstone. “We all enjoy a good hunt.”


“Excuse me, I’m here to see Ms Carruthers.”

I looked up at the young lad holding a flower arrangement and almost vibrating with nerves. “I’m…”

“Sorry, I should give you my name. I’m Tom.” He smiled at me, humour showing despite his nerves. “I’m here for the job interview, and I’m a little bit early.” He looked around. “Have you sent many in to her?”

“No, that is…”

“The agency said that she didn’t ask for many candidates, so I should have a good chance.” Tom took a breath. “I’m sorry, I can’t stop talking. It’s nerves. Where should I put the flowers for her?”

“You could leave them here,” I managed to insert a few words. “But…”

“It would look better if I took them in, wouldn’t it, though?” Tom said thoughtfully. “Is she nice? I mean, have you been her secretary long?”

I struggled to find the right words. “I’m not her secretary, I’m…”

Tom blushed. “I’m so sorry. I know these are hired offices. Mum said it was cheap hiring an office for a few hours, but dad said it made sense rather than trekking all the way out to the main warehouse. But we live close enough so I could walk there if I got the job. It must be fun seeing all the different businesses come and go.” He looked around the well appointed foyer. “What is she like? I’ve only really found stuff about the business. But I saw a piece where she said she wasn’t fond of roses, so I got her these.” He placed the arrangement carefully on the reception desk. “But all the branding is pink, so I guess she likes pink. At least for the brand.”

“Pink is a lovely colour,” I said, “And the thing is…”

“I’ve checked the branding all across the different fronts.” Tom said. “It’s brilliant the way that it keeps the same palette and font but has subtle differences.” He looked a little uncomfortable. “I can think of some ideas to freshen them up. Mum said I should say stuff in the interview, but dad said I should hold it in reserve.” He shifted uncomfortably. “What do you think?”

“I think it shows you have initiative.” I said. “Listen…”

“I really want this job.” I could see the hunger in Tom’s eyes. “It’s not just a job. I love all this stuff. The detail is amazing. I know I’m general IT, but the subjects she covers are fascinating – I’ve been following her twitter since it was set up and there’s always something going on. I’ve always wanted a job like this.” He looked at me with pleading eyes. “Do you think I have a chance?”

I took a breath but I was interrupted by the office receptionist rushing back from the bathroom.

“Sorry about that, Ms Carruthers. I see you have your papers. If you go through to the Regina Suite, I’ll send the first candidate in.” She smiled professionally at Tom. “Can I help you?”

Tom lost every trace of colour as he realised he had mistaken his prospective employer for a secretary. “I’m really sorry, Ms Carruthers,” He mumbled. “I guess I don’t have a chance now, but please keep the flowers.” His shoulders slumped.

“Tom, isn’t it?” I said firmly. “You’re hired. I’d be mad to miss anyone willing and able to research to that detail.” I turned and smiled nicely at the receptionist. “Could you cancel all the other candidates, please. I’ve got the one I want.”


people inside building
From the British Library on Unsplash

I flicked through the vintage knitting patterns, but nothing really caught my eye. The junk shop in the corner of the neglected market hall was overflowing with trash and treasure and it was hard to sort the good from the bad in the dim and dusty light.

“I have some lovely ivory knitting needles.” The owner loomed out of the shadows. “They are quite rare these days, but I am lucky enough to have some in stock.”

I reluctantly took the needles he pushed into my hand. They were obviously plastic, with seam marks from the moulds still evident. “I don’t feel comfortable with ivory.” I said, with perfect truth, handing them back.

“I have a lot of vintage needlework items.” The elderly man shuffled around the heaped table and nearer to me. “There are some lovely things, you know, it’s a shame to part with them sometimes. You don’t get the craftsmanship these days.”

I struggled to keep my mouth shut. I had just come from a craft fair where the stalls could easily beat the ragged tat on offer here. “There are some beautiful things.” I murmured tactfully.

“How much for this print?” Ed asked.

I love my husband deeply, but he does have a habit of buying stuff. So far he had been lucky and had turned a profit with his car boot finds, more or less, but my heart sank at the thought of what he could find here. “We don’t need any more art.”

“That’s more than art, you know.” The owner shuffled towards my husband. “There’s a story about that.”

“Really?” Ed settled down to listen and I resigned myself to another picture on the wall.

“Oh yes, it’s quite a rare print, you see, but the value is in what the picture shows.” The owner leaned into Ed with a conspiratorial air. “The story goes that Prince Leopold, the one who was the son of Queen Victoria of blessed memory, well he gave the engraver a beautiful, solid gold chess set. But when the engraver sadly passed away, it was nowhere to be found and in his last will and testament he said that the set would go to the one who could find it. This print could be worth a lot more than I’m charging to anyone who can solve the clues.”

I tuned out of the rest of the conversation, ignoring references to Freemasonry and the Illuminati, and picked up an exquisite Tonbridgeware needle case that had been caught between two skeins of dusty yarn. Ed, of course, left with the print.

“Do you think it’s worth a lot more?” I asked as we strolled back to the car. “I mean, do you think you will be able to work out the clues?”

“They aren’t even clues, just details in the picture.” Ed couldn’t stop grinning. “But I’m pretty sure that I just picked up an original David Roberts print in a contemporary mother of pearl frame – worth thousands – for fifty quid. I think you could say that I found treasure.”