A novella for the Some Enchanted
September 2002 - Zebra Books - ISBN:
Copyright 2002 by Deb Stover. All
" Deb Stover, the queen of time travel
romance, invents yet another unique form of
transportation to travel the road of love.
This story was enchanting." ~PNR
" A time traveling congressman, a meddling
ghost, and an accident-prone witch SOME
ENCHANTED EVENING is a veritable feast for
fans of the paranormal and supernatural and I
highly recommend it. This delightful anthology
is certainly deserving of RRT's highest
recommendation, A Perfect 10." ~Terrie
Figueroa, Romance Reviews Today
Crooked Creek Country Club--Present
that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just
happy to see me?"
States Congressman Jack McCullough adjusted
his Robin Hood tunic and cursed his aide for
her lack of taste in Halloween costumes. Why
couldn't she have found him a pirate, or
Zorro, or any costume that didn't
include tights? He definitely was not
a Merry Man at the moment.
course I'm happy to see you, Roxanne," he
lied. Pity she was the daughter of his biggest
campaign contributor. Twin mountains of milky
flesh curved above the almost non-existent
neckline of her costume. Any man unfortunate
enough to let her get on top would probably
suffocate before actually achieving orgasm. He
could see the Washington Post
CONGRESSMAN ASPHYXIATED BY MUTANT
a shudder, he popped an antacid to give his
teeth something to gnash besides each other,
and to douse the fire in his gut.
looped her arm through his. "Do you have a
tummy ache, sugar?" She pressed her breast
against his arm and patted his " tummy" ...a
lot lower than any anatomy book
held his breath to prevent the sigh that
threatened to escape. " Heartburn." And the
headache from hell. " Nothing to worry
fact, Jack's head had ached since this
afternoon when Roxanne's jet landed at a
private air strip near the country club. Of
course, Jack's head always ached when he came
Rocky Mountain town he'd grown up in had been
little more than a ghost town before the
legalization of limited stakes gambling. Now
it was a bustling gambling town, complete with
fancy hotels and fancier people.
should he care? He was the golden boy of his
party--being groomed for the White House.
squeezed his eyes closed as a particularly
brutal pain stabbed through his skull. " I'm
sorry, Roxanne." He squinted enough to blot
out most of the light. " I need some
baby," she cooed. " I'll get you some."
kept his arm and escorted him past vampires,
werewolves, Julius Caesar, Marie Antoinette,
and at least four other men in tights.
Poor bastards. He never should've put
in an appearance at this gig, but his
re-election was only a few days away. He
couldn't afford not to socialize--especially
on home turf.
lightning bolt flashed behind his eyes. He
grabbed his head with both hands as the room
became a frigging carousel. Even with his eyes
closed, the kaleidoscope persisted. Clutching
his skull, he surrendered to the pain and
he died now, he'd go to hell for sure.
he didn't die--at least not yet. He remained
semi-conscious and in excruciating pain as the
paramedics loaded him onto a helicopter and
transported him to Crooked Creek
Hospital--built from gambling money, no
money had made Congressman McCullough,
Cut the crap. Thinking like that was what
had his gut burning and his head pounding
already. He didn't want to die--not yet. There
were too many marks against him. Too many
things he needed to fix.
one thing he couldn't. Bryan.
kept his eyes closed, trying to blot out the
noise of the chopper. He concentrated on
sensations that reminded him he was still
alive. The excruciating pain, the blood
pressure cuff, the cold stethoscope pressed to
his chest, the peeling away of his frigging
tights. Well, at least something good had come
from this mess.
storm had kicked the wind into a howl by the
time the chopper landed and they wheeled him
into the bright emergency room. When he tried
to open his eyes, the pain stopped him. A
familiar voice made his heart skip a
it's Doc Randall. Can you hear me,
Oh, God--don't call me that. Something
burned behind Jack's eyes--the tears he'd
never shed at his best friend's
hear you," he croaked. " Bryan...my
" Bull." Dr. Randall asked the nurse to dim the lights.
He checked Jack's pupils with his penlight.
" Equal and reactive. Looks okay here, but your
BP is elevated. I ordered some blood
" Why?" Jack drew a shaky breath. The pain had eased,
and he forced his eyes open, shading them with
his hand. " Headache's better."
did Bryan Randall's father have to be on call
tonight? Why? To compound Jack's guilt? To
torture him a little more? Hadn't he done that
enough all by himself?
soon as we get some lab results, I'll order a
cocktail to take the rest of the edge off that
headache." He smiled and patted Jack's
shoulder. " Humor me. I want the MRI."
slithered through Jack. His heart surged
ahead, launching the pounding in his head into
renewed frenzy. " Why?"
men don't keel over at Halloween parties
unless drugs or alcohol are involved." Dr.
Randall cleared his throat. " And your lady
friend assured us you hadn't even had a drink
Let's make sure there's nothing serious going
on inside that hard head of yours."
eased his eyes open again to face his best
friend's father. Though older now, Doc Randall
still had the same twinkling gray eyes and
smile he'd worn thirty years ago when Jack's
baseball had found his office window. " How
serious? What are you looking for?"
older man didn't smile this time. His
expression turned solemn. " Though my exam
doesn't indicate this, I want to make sure
there are no masses or--"
" Tumors?" Jack let his eyes close again, and chased away
the sudden fear cloying from all sides. " I
guess we'd better do it then."
The storm stranded our technician here. None
of us are going anywhere." Doc Randall gave
Jack's shoulder a squeeze. " Want me to call
" No." Jack tried to smile, but that made his head
hurt worse. " Don't worry them."
wait." Doc Randall gave Jack's shoulder
another squeeze. " They're ready for you
released the brake on the gurney and Jack
reached for Dr. Randall's arm. " Wait."
is it, son?"
There it is again--son. " I...I need to
talk to you after this is over." Through the
pain and fog, he kept his gaze pinned on the
doctor. " About Bryan."
Yes, it is."
right, then." Doc Randall's expression was
solemn. "After the test."
had been a shitty excuse for a congressman.
Though he hadn't taken any direct bribes, he'd
definitely allowed himself to be influenced.
That was just as bad. Worse. He'd turned away
from Bryan when he'd asked for help over a
simple zoning issue.
now Bryan was dead. All Jack's fault.
kept his eyes closed as the pain increased
again. The room where they wheeled him felt
like a deep freeze, and the backless hospital
gown sure as hell didn't help. The orderly
heaved him onto a cold, metal table and left
going to give you some medication through your
IV, Congressman," a woman said. " And we have
nice, quiet music for you to listen to during
put headphones over his ears and slid him into
the tube. Jack felt the closeness and opened
his eyes. The top of the tube was mere inches
from the end of his nose, so he closed his
had to get through this. His dad claimed the
phrase " crooked politician" was redundant, but
Jack would prove him wrong. He'd make Dad
proud of him. He'd beg Dr. Randall's
forgiveness, though he would never forgive
sorry, Bryan," he whispered as the hammering
he knew the purpose of the headphones. No one
had told him that having an MRI was like being
inside a metal coffin while someone shot at it
with a semi-automatic. Even with "nice soft
music" playing through the headphones, the
came over him so suddenly he pressed his hands
against the sides of the tube. The spinning
resumed and the pain in his head escalated
from unbearable to nuclear before he drew his
heard a scream as the blackness swallowed
Mae Peabody came into this world on a moonless
night--the eleventh hour of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month, with an owl hooting
outside the cabin window, just as a star
streaked across the sky. Being born feet first
could've labeled her an oddity all by itself,
but with all this evidence plus the
star-shaped birthmark on her shoulder, the
citizens of Crooked Creek, Colorado declared
her a witch. At the spinsterish age of
twenty-three, she'd given up expecting the
good citizens of Crooked Creek to treat her
serving Papa a plate of ham and eggs, Daisy
refilled both their coffee cups and sat across
from him. He was talking nonsense. "I don't
love Mr. Randall," she said for at least the
hundredth time as she spooned molasses into
your mind to it." Hank gazed at her through
faded blue eyes. "I promised your ma 'fore she
died I'd see you was raised proper, and that
means findin' you a good husband before I'm
never been sick a day in your life." Daisy
squeezed her eyes closed and said a quick
prayer that he remained healthy. Without Papa,
she'd be completely alone. "You'll outlive
shook his head and took a sip of coffee.
never seemed to notice that the townsfolk
believed his only child was a witch, or that
no other children had been allowed to play
with her. Only the old Ute woman known as
Sarie, who'd lived down Crooked Creek Pass,
had ever paid Daisy any mind. She'd taught
Daisy about herbs and potions before she died.
As a result, Daisy Mae became the local
healer--called upon to deliver babies, tend
sickness, and mend wounds.
so, heaven forbid a young man should court
Daisy Mae Peabody.
because Adam Randall had come calling out of
the blue, Papa had decided Daisy needed a
husband. "Papa, I can't marry a man I don't
seen any others come courtin'." Hank drained
his cup and pushed away from the table. "Gotta
get to the mine."
was a fair man, but she knew arguing with him
once he'd set his mind was futile. She would
find another way to discourage Mr. Randall
from calling. "Be careful." She rose and
kissed Papa's cheek.
slipped his arm around her shoulder. "Don't
fret now, daughter."
nodded, but remained silent.
kissed the top of her head and opened the
door. "God give us a gorgeous mornin'."
stood behind him, wondering how she could
convince him that Mr. Randall wasn't for her.
If she was meant to marry, the right man would
come along. She believed in fate, and would
wait for a sign.
she wished she were a witch. Then she
would cast a powerful spell to bring her true
love. Oh, it was nonsense, surely, but...what
harm could there be? She closed her eyes and
wished with all her heart and soul.
Oh, please bring my true love to me, for I
will wed none other.
a moment, she allowed herself to breathe again
and opened her eyes. Well, it might help if
she actually had powers capable of casting a
in tarnation...?" Hank shaded his eyes and
ducked back from the door.
peered over her papa's shoulder as a blinding
flash of light exploded from the edge of the
woods. It looked like lightning and sounded
like thunder. The earth beneath the cabin
shuddered and Daisy gripped her father's
blinked to clear the bright spots from her
vision. The light vanished as quickly as it
had appeared. "What is it?" she asked, her
hell outta me." Hank pulled his hat more
firmly in place. "Reckon there's only one way
to find out."
nodded, staying close behind her papa as he
hurried toward the edge of the forest. The
spring trickled by on its way to the creek
here, and she raised the hem of her skirt
enough to keep it dry.
across the spring, Hank froze. Daisy stood at
his side, staring at the object. "What is
dunno." He removed his hat and raked his
fingers through his thinning gray hair.
"Nuttin' I've ever seen before."
took a step toward the long silver tube, but
Hank barred her passage with one strong arm.
No birds sang. No squirrels chattered.
"Eerie," Daisy whispered, but her father held
up his hand to silence her again.
"There." He cupped his hand behind his ear.
heard it, too--a low but steady hum. Papa took
a step back. She took a step forward, but he
grabbed her arm and pulled her back beside
sound of shouting reached them before the
townsfolk poured over the hill and into the
clearing around the Peabody cabin. Men, women,
and children in all shapes and sizes gathered
in a semi-circle behind Hank and Daisy.
is it?" ten-year-old Justus Brown asked,
tugging on Daisy's apron.
don't know," she whispered.
a spaceship," someone announced.
and excited murmurs rippled through the crowd
as Simon Hofsteader, president of the First
National Bank, stepped forward. He raised his
arm and pointed toward the tube. "I read
From The Earth To The Moon." His
expression grew solemn. "I believe even Mr.
Verne would agree that we got ourselves a
moon men is here to kidnap our womenfolk," someone shouted.
suck out our brains!" someone else
you had any brains." Hank Peabody scratched
his head and replaced his hat. Finally, he
faced the crowd with a huge sigh. "Nuttin' but
what is it, Hank?" Lemuel Tucker stepped from
the crowd, still wearing his newspaperman's
apron. "I got to put something in the
no spaceship." Hank stared them all down, and
Daisy stood straight and tall at her papa's
what is it?" Reverend Miller said, removing
his hat. "Nothing heavenly."
it Revelations?" Mrs. Miller asked
her husband, who patted her arm and shook his
do you know it isn't from outer space, Hank?" Mr. Hofsteader folded his arms over his
saw it land." Daisy lifted her chin a notch as
gasps and whispers surrounded them.
maybe you're one of 'em," someone shouted.
" And they've come to fetch you home."
right." A woman's voice called out this time.
"I remember when she was born. Maybe she
really come from one of them things
save us all," another woman prayed, and most
of the crowd backed away.
eyes burned with unshed tears, and she blinked
to keep them to herself. She had too much
pride to let any of the townsfolk see her cry,
and dear Papa didn't understand that their
words hurt her. They always had.
a shaky breath, she faced the crowd. "None of
you ever minded when you come calling on me in
the middle of the night to tend your ill or
deliver your babies."
said it landed," Mrs. Hofsteader said, her
eyes round and glazed. "That has to mean it
come from the sky."
Mae ain't from outer space." Hank heaved an
exasperated sigh. "Delivered her
don't matter," Mr. Hofsteader insisted. "We
got us a real spaceship right here. What are
we going to do about that?"
Moses," Justus said from behind them.
whirled around and saw the child snooping
around the tube. The boy's mother broke from
the crowd and grabbed him by the hand. Before
Mrs. Brown could drag the boy away from the
object, a bloodcurdling scream erupted from
a man in there!" The trembling woman
dragged poor Justus through the spring and
wrapped both arms around the squirming child.
"I seen his feet pokin' out the other
Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be
Reverend," Hank said. " With all due respect,
started toward the tube.
do it, Daisy Mae," Mrs. Miller said. " He could
green." Mr. Hofsteader narrowed his gaze.
" 'Course, maybe he's the girl's pa."
shook his fist at the local banker. " You know
damn well that I'm her pa, you horse's
banker stepped across the spring. " Why don't
we have ourselves a look, and--"
don't you all stop your nonsense and help me
get him out of here?" Daisy said. The crowd
fell silent as she circled the tube and found
the man's bare feet hanging out the far
alive?" the local mortician asked. " Ain't
never buried no moon man before."
Mae grabbed the man's feet and tugged. A moan
echoed from inside the cylinder. He was
definitely alive, and far too large for her to
move without help.
gonna kill us all!" Mrs. Miller shouted,
dropping to her knees.
you ain't gonna help us," Hank said, walking
toward Daisy, " then get the hell off my
Randall stepped from the crowd, his gaze
resting on Daisy. Was that accusation she saw
in his eyes? She certainly hoped so. Maybe
this would finally put an end to his unwanted
didn't utter a word, or make a move to help
them. Daisy turned her attention to the
stranger again. He was alive, but could be
father grabbed the man by both ankles and
hauled him out of the tube. Oh, my
Lord! His ears were the strangest things
Daisy had ever seen--bigger then her best
dollar flapjacks, and black as tarpaper. She
gasped, but recovered herself before anyone
This man is not from outer space. As far
as she could tell... She drew a deep breath
and leaned over to listen to his chest. The
steady thud of his heart sounded decidedly
human. She straightened and found him staring
right at her.
eyes were the bluest of blues, his hair dark
and gleaming. Warmth stole through her as her
gaze drifted lower. He wore a short robe of
some type that barely covered his...his...man
parts. Liquid fire suffused her cheeks and she
cleared her throat.
you hurt?" she asked.
blinked, appearing confused. Slowly, he eased
himself into a sitting position and reached
for his ears.
crowd went wild, and most of them ran
screaming down the mountain. " Yella bellies," Hank said. " Ain't no moon man."
he was, Daisy knew one thing for certain. He
was the most beautiful man she'd ever
rid of the ear covers, he stood slowly. Daisy
reached out to steady him.
mortician shook his head in disgust and
meandered away. He'd find no business here
today. The banker and Adam Randall followed.
Only Reverend Miller and his trembling wife
I pray, Hank?" the minister asked.
Don't reckon he's hurt that bad."
" Papa," she whispered, almost smiling. Sometimes her
father amazed her.
Miller struggled to her feet, staring at the
man in horror. Something seemed to snap inside
her, and she bolted. It sounded as if she
screamed all the way back to town.
" Well," Reverend Miller said. " Reckon I'd best see to
so." Hank chuckled as he stared at the
stranger. He aimed a thumb over his shoulder.
" You sure caused a ruckus, boy. They're all
gone now. Moon man."
man dropped the ear covers and swayed. Daisy
and Papa reached out to steady him. Suddenly,
Daisy remembered her ridiculous spell right
No. She wasn't a witch. Surely she hadn't
conjured or wished this man out of thin
Oh, please bring my true love to me, for I
will wed none other.
had been nothing but silliness. Not a spell.
She had no power. Did she? Not from a simple
if she had accidentally brought this
man here? She was responsible for him. He
could be hurt or dying or lost, and it would
be her fault for bringing him here against his
best take him inside so I can tend him." She
wondered if it would be better if he really
had come from outer space.
stray dogs, cats, hurt squirrels, deer..." Hank sighed. " All them hurt critters was one
thing, Daisy Mae, but this here's a
A stranger I might have brought here with my
foolishness. Daisy bit her lower lip and
met her father's worried expression. " He's
hurt, Papa. He needs help."
shook his head and half-dragged the man toward
the cabin. " Reckon we can feed him and send
him on his way."
followed them, determined to help the man.
Surely some of her herbs would do the trick.
He appeared healthy and strong.
Mercy. If she had conjured up a man
for herself, he would look like this
back of his short robe gaped open, revealing
the muscles rippling in his buttocks. She drew
a deep breath and tried to ignore the sight,
but she couldn't prevent a powerful dollop of
female appreciation from oozing through her.
He was one mighty fine-looking man, conjured
up or real. She tilted her head at an angle as
the men stepped through the back door ahead of
Yes, mighty fine. From both ends.