Friday, March 06, 2009

The Pet Promise by Kate Steele

The Pet Promise
by Kate Steele

Cover art by ReneƩ George
ISBN (13): 978-1-59596-852-4
Genre(s): Paranormal
Theme(s): Magic and Mayhem, Gay and Lesbian
Length: Novella


To atone for his crime against Master Nerrin Arrian, Kail has just spent the last year as the master’s pet… complete with four legs, pointed ears, and a tail. With his term of service at an end, the master fulfills his part of the promise. He lifts the enchantment that turned Kail from human to canine.

There’s just one problem now. Kail’s fallen in love, and he’s resisting the final transformation from the bottom of his soul. He’s determined to stay with Master Nerrin… even if it means keeping the puppy ears and tail for the rest of his life.


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“And a pinch of sun-dried, prickly lerum.”
“That’s it?”
“That’s it.”
Master Nerrin Arrian, under the watchful eyes of his comrade and fellow practitioner of the magical arts, Master Saroyan Tanlion, wielded a pestle, grinding the ingredients he’d gathered together in a small yet heavy marble bowl. Once the dry ingredients were reduced to a fine powder, he added a few drops of goat’s milk, turning powder into paste.
Saroyan leaned down, his heavy hip-length golden brown ponytail swinging forward. Flipping it back with a practiced hand, he took a sniff of his friend’s spelled mixture and quickly withdrew. His expression was eloquent. “It’s a bit, um… aromatic.”
One look at his face had Nerrin laughing. “Only a bit?”
Nerrin’s infectious laughter invoked a reaction from the third party who also occupied his kitchen. The long-haired dog that lounged on the rug before the stone-lined fireplace stirred and lifted his head. His ears pricked forward with interest, dark eyes shone with canine curiosity, and his feathery tail wagged. At the sight of that earnest expression, Nerrin’s visage turned solemn.
“You could always keep him as is,” Saroyan suggested.
With an expression of shock, Nerrin turned toward his friend. “You know I couldn’t do that. I made a pact with him. It’s not a promise I could so whimsically break, especially not for selfish reasons.”
“I wasn’t seriously expecting you to. It’s just that I hate to see you looking so forlorn. For a man who has fought battles untold and dispatched his foes without remorse, you’re oddly sentimental about certain things.”
“Mm, perhaps… but I’ll miss him,” Nerrin replied, his somber regard returning to rest on the loyal and steadfast animal that had kept him company for the past year. For a man such as himself, one of high standing and reputation, to have such an undemanding and trustworthy companion was a luxury beyond measure. He sighed, and turned his attention back to the concoction he’d prepared. “No matter. What must be, must be. Now the next question is how to get Kail to swallow this -- as you so aptly named it -- aromatic mixture.”
“Roll it into a ball and wrap some bread, or better yet, some meat around it. I’m sure he’ll swallow it with no qualms,” Saroyan advised.
Doing as his friend suggested, Nerrin prepared the blended herbs, masking their presence within a cover of slivered meat. Offering it to the dog, he lavishly praised him, and lovingly stroked his head when the mixture was consumed. A few scant moments passed before the dog began to blink as though his lids were too heavy to hold open. The spark in his eyes grew gradually dull, and he wavered on his feet.
Nerrin settled himself on the rug, and urged his treasured companion to lie down with his head cushioned on Nerrin’s knee. Gently he ran his hand over the dog’s fur in long, caressing sweeps.
He felt his friend’s gaze upon him moments before a large hand settled briefly on his head. “I’ll let myself out,” Saroyan softly said. He took a few steps then paused before leaving the room. “You know, you might like him as a human… and you can always get another dog during the next dimensional shift.”
“I know. It’s just facing the uncertainty of change,” Nerrin replied. “I fear things will never be as good as they are now… and I really love this dog.”
I really love this dog.
Love this dog.
Love this dog.
This dog.
This dog… dog… dog… dog.
Those words, spoken in his master’s voice with such soft and heartrending melancholy, imbedded themselves within Kail’s fading awareness.

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