Man Eater, p.1Michelle McCleod
Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.
When loves finds wicked witch Trixie, it finds her lacking. If she doesn’t overcome her obsession with shoes, she might lose the only man who ever loved her.
Can a wicked witch who always puts her feet first change her ways before it’s too late?
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About Michelle McCleod
Michelle McCleod saw her first ghost at the age of 4 and has been running scared ever since. She also stole a rock from a real vampire who is probably still looking for her. On top of that, any psychic tendencies she has are dyslexic. Basically, the safest thing for her to do is stay indoors and write what she knows:Paranormal. Readers can find her online at: https://michellemccleod.blogspot.com/ and on Twitter at @MichelleMcCleod.
Everyone knows shoes make the witch. It’s not just their magic properties alone, but the design too. The finer the point, the higher the heel, the more wicked the witch.
When there are sales, we can be downright lethal and today's clearance sale at Magic Heels was no exception. There was a line out the door and the narrow New York store front held so many people even a sardine would feel claustrophobic. Competition was fierce and tempers had begun to fray. Someone had already been hexed into stone. Myself, I'd just elbowed past a witch with thick cankles and even thicker legs only to have her snatch away the very shoes I'd been eyeing.
Pretending not to notice me, she tried to shove her pudgy foot into my shoe. Before I could hex her into the fat cow she really was, she realized it was too small. Wrenching it off her clubfoot, she threw it to the floor and then waddled out the door, gaze fixed on the ground. No doubt embarrassed.
I narrowed my eyes and began to conjure up daggers when a gentle masculine voice behind me said, "I believe this is yours."
Surprised to hear a man's voice, I turned to find an attractive young man holding my shoe. Witches, by definition, are always female, no men allowed upon pain of death. Even cross-dressing wizards--it’s a thing for them--knew, if they were caught buying shoes at Magic Heels, they'd never make it out alive. The rumors said the last wizard who'd made an attempt was currently a pair of pink pumps with a black bow at the heel.
Magic Heels was not just the place to buy shoes in New York, they did superb custom work too. Something I imagined the wizard trapped in the pink pumps had learned firsthand.
But the man standing before me didn't appear to be a wizard. For one, he was too good looking with his black hair, eyes dark as coffee, and dimples. Yes, really, dimples. The cutest most adorable dimples I've ever seen.
Two, he'd swooped in while I'd been glaring at Footzilla and rescued my shoes, bringing them to me as if he were Prince Charming and I was Cinderella. Wizards with shoe fetishes didn't give shoes away. This piqued my curiosity.
"Thank you." I took the shoe and checked it for damage.
If that cellulite-ridden hag had stretched it out with her blubber foot...oh the things I would do to her. Forget the cow, I'd turn her into a fly and force her to live out her life on a bull's testicle. Better yet, I'd make her a parasite on a snake's anus. Or a booger in a dead troll's nose.
I had a meeting with a long-standing client the next day, and it would not do for me to show up in anything other than new shoes. And these were perfect. With their truth charm, it would be a snap to tell fact from fiction, just what my client needed to ferret out competitor secrets.
Fingering the velvet piping that edged the supple black leather, truth tingling up my arm, I studied Dimple Boy. Men didn't talk to wicked witches much. They're afraid we'll eat them, which was absolutely untrue...most of the time. Myself, I had never eaten a man. My kitchen was far too small for traditional cooking. With my busy schedule, I preferred takeout anyway. Of course, Dimple Boy had no idea the worst thing I'd ever done to an Ex was curse him with incurable pubic lice, which made his overture quite brave.
Satisfied the shoe had survived its uncouth molestation; I set it on the floor and slipped my foot inside. Bliss. The leather cradled my toes and cupped my heel, gentle as a lover's embrace. I sighed in pleasure. If feet could orgasm, I'd just had a doozy.
"Looks nice," Dimple Boy said.
What? He was still there? Talking to me? Could it be, he was flirting with me? A thrill went through me at the thought. New shoes and a man on the same day. It had to be kismet.
"Why thank you," I said, my voice a purr.
Our gazes locked. I licked my lips. He swallowed hard. He was just so damn cute, maybe I should eat him.
"M..m..my name is Wayne."
I extended my hand. "Nice to meet you, Wayne. I'm Trixie."
"Trixie?" His eyes widened as we shook hands. "I thought it was you, but I wasn't sure. Wow. You're the Trixie. I'm a big fan."
Oh goody. A fan. I always liked meeting groupies. They even had trading cards. Naturally, mine was worth the most.
I laughed and gave a shallow curtsey.This was fun. "Yes. The Trixie, in the wicked flesh."
He put a hand to his chest. His hard, no doubt muscular chest. "You're famous."
That's what happens when you single-handedly lower the price of gas by a dollar. The world thought I had performed some great humanitarian service by exterminating the OPEC gremlin infestation when really I just enjoyed pinching gremlin heads between my fingers. They popped like bubble wrap, the kind with the big bubbles. I love my job.
"Well, you know who I am at least," I said with a coy smile. "Can I ask you something, Wayne?"
"Anything," he breathed.
“What is a cutie-pie like you doing in a place like this?”
He pulled a stack of trading cards out of his back pocket. “I was hoping to get some autographs.”
"I see. Let me ask you another question.” I smiled at him and tried to make it alluring as opposed to my more usual cruel smirk.“Are you single?"
His cheeks turned pink, and his dimples deepened as if trying to drill cuteness into his core. "Yes."
I wiggled my toes, testing his answer and was pleased to learn no wedding ring lurked in his pocket. Even wicked witches fear a woman scorned. "Well, then, would you like to join me for a drink?"
Hopefully drilling wasn't confined to just his dimples.
A few months later...
"Wayne, honey pie, have you seen my leopard skin stilettos?" I asked from deep inside my closet. Nothing prowled better than a cat, and a silent walk with sharp claws was just what I needed to stalk a would-be assassin. New York's power CEOs were at each other's throats again. Sometimes, they were worse than the mafia. They fought dirtier too.
He peered into the closet, laundry basket balanced on one hip. "Leopard skin shoes? I didn't know you had a pair of those."
I pawed through the tangle of heels and ankle straps that covered the floor. How odd. Just the other day I hadn't been able to find my thigh-high boots. They were one-of-a-kind; leather with stilettos made of silver and combat charmed. My cousin, a Voodoo priestess in Sao Paulo, had them made for me. The craftsmanship from Brazil was impeccable, not to mention the silver was perfect for fighting werewolves, but now they were missing, as if they had never existed.
"You know," Wayne said leaning against the doorjamb, "If you would just use the shoe organizer I bought you, maybe you wouldn't have this problem."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "Not now, pumpkin."
He threw the laundry basket down. It landed on its side, my unmentionables slithering onto the carpet in a flow of lace-edged sa
I looked up at him. As usual, he was adorable. Pouting just made his dimples deeper. The only hitch in our three month old relationship? Wayne had a streak of freak in him. Sadly, it was not the kind that found spanking turn-on, but the kind that liked things nice and neat. I tried to overlook it, as men were hard to find and a witch couldn't be picky. I was working on a little spell to loosen him up anyway. That was the great thing about being wicked, I could change any man to suit my tastes.
With an impatient sigh, I said, "I don't know, sweet pea. Maybe when I don't have a new client waiting to meet with me." I began tossing shoes over my shoulder, trying to excavate something that would impress. "I have rent to cover. And you wanted one of those new blender gadget things. Magic can't conjure money, you know."
"It can't conjure love either," he said in a small voice.
I paused at that. Oh, dear. Wayne was mad. Not a good thing. Mad Wayne didn't cook or do laundry or let me tie him to the bed and have my wicked way with him. But I didn't have time to dither with his feelings. I had clients waiting. Messy personal issues would have to wait. So would messy closets. I was already late for my meeting.
Resigned to making-do, I shoved my feet into a pair of black patent leather heels, the toes tailored to a fine point with razor-edged steel tips. Sharp shoes for a sharp witch.
Watch out world, I will cut you.
"Hello, Trixie." Amelia greeted my appearance with a snarl that attempted to masquerade as a smile. She always worked too hard at her wickedness "I didn't realize you were going to try for the Solinex account too. I thought your boy toy made you give up assassin jobs."
"Amelia," I said with a regal nod. As for her boy toy jab, I just shrugged, but then I caught sight of her shoes; black boots with silver stiletto heels.
On her disgusting feet.
Noticing my gaze, she held out a leg. "Nice aren't they?" She glanced at my feet and sniffed. "Didn't you wear those last week?"
"Where did you get those?" I asked, the horror if it all making me dizzy.
"Magic Castoffs. Didn't you know? Vintage is the new black."
My heart stopped. My precious babies in a thrift store? Touching other people's mass-market shoes? My toes cramped at the thought.
"I don't normally shop thrift, but these were in the window and caught my eye."
"Yes, well," I said, trying to recover my composure. "I suppose they're nice as used shoes go. I wouldn't know, mine are all new."
"True style makes no distinction between new and old," she shot back.
"Maybe so, but fungus does, " I said with a too-sweet smile. With some research, I could come up with a hex that would prove my point. Right after I burned Magic Castoffs to the ground.
A few more months later...
I was back in the closet. Another day, another client, which meant another pair of shoes. I'd bought a pair of black velvet mules the week before specifically for today's meeting and now they were nowhere to be found. Damn. I would have a hell of a time closing this account without their 'black thumb' buckles to dole out crop blight. It was summer, agribusiness' busy season, and without those mules I was going to lose money big-time. Double damn.
"Sweet cheeks, have you seen my new shoes?" I asked.
"The ones from Magic Heels?" Wayne peered into the closet bringing the scent of bleach with him. He'd been in bathroom for the last hour. Something about scrubbing the shower grout with an old toothbrush because my cleaning charm didn't meet his standards.
"Yes," I said, hopeful.
"Oh." I slumped and stared at the gnarled mess of shoes in front of me. The pile looked smaller than I remembered. "Are you sure? They were on the kitchen counter."
"Well, in that case, I probably threw them out."
"You what?" I shrieked. At the glare he gave me, I smiled weakly. Clearing my throat, I said in a more reasonable tone, "I mean, you what?"
"You know the rules."
"Rules?" My voice went high enough to shatter a crystal ball.
He sighed and pointed to a sheet of paper taped to the dresser mirror. "You didn't forget our contract already, did you?"
Right. The contract. Wayne had been seeing a therapist who had some strange ideas. They said in order to make our relationship work, we had to have ground rules. For now I humored Wayne until I could perfect the spell that would get him off his neat kick. The ones I'd tried so far had been duds, almost as if he was immune to magic. This made our relationship a lot more work than I liked.
Wayne ripped the contract off the mirror and thrust it under my nose. "You've got two days to put away your stuff after which it's mine to do with as I wish."
I took the paper and gave it a dose of my Evil Eye hoping it would catch fire. It didn't. Damn. I batted my eyes at Wayne instead. “And you didn't wish to leave my shoes where I could find them, pumpkin?"
"I'm your boyfriend, not your keeper. Take care of your own crap. I'm tired of tripping over your shoes," he said, his words reeking of bad therapy. His watch beeped. "I've got to go."
"Go?" It used to be Wayne would pine for me at home, counting down the minutes until I would come home. I missed that about him and it made me ponder whether his therapist should meet an unfortunate accident. Definitely something extra painful, I mused to myself, picturing a fall off a New York skyscraper.
"I'm meeting my friends, remember?"
"Don't get jealous on me, Trix. I can't always be sitting at home waiting for you."
"Of course not." I held my arms out to him. "Come give me a kiss before you go."
He leaned in to plant a quick peck on my lips, holding his body away from mine and resisting my attempt to draw him into a deeper embrace.
"Maybe I could join you later," I said trying to close the awkward distance between us another way.
Wayne paused. "You always say that and never come."
He cut me off. "Don't make promises you won't keep, Trix."
Frowning, I reached for him again, but he avoided my touch. "I've got to go. Good luck with your new client."
I let my arms drop. "Sure. See you later."
"Don't wait up for me," he called over his shoulder.
"Okay," I said without enthusiasm. I grabbed a pair of pumps with ribbons that wound around the ankles like ballet shoes. There was no time to dwell on Wayne. Duty called.
Being a wicked witch sucked sometimes.
"Trixie," Sue said with a squeal. "I haven't seen you in forever." She folded me into a hug and we air kissed.
"How have you been?" Unlike most of my competition, I actually like Sue. We even tag-teamed on certain corporate accounts. For mutual profit, naturally.
"Good. I have the most divine shoes on. Look." She twirled on her toes, her velvet skirt fanning out around her apple shape. “These will give yours a run for their money, eh?”
I gasped in shock. My black mules danced on her feet, the rhinestones on the buckle winking mockery at me. "Where did you get those?"
"I conjured them," she said with a bright smile. "I didn't feel like shopping, so I did a spell and--Voila!--they popped into my apartment. Gorgeous, aren't they?"
"Gorgeous," I echoed with a tight smile. Well, at least the firebomb spell had put the thrift store out of business. Too bad that hadn't kept my shoes from appearing on my competition's feet. Stupid contract.
"You look good yourself." She gestured to my feet. "That's an interesting concept. Very avant-garde."
I looked down and swallowed a curse. I'd put on two different shoes. Not only were they different colors, but different styles. One was a blue clog, the other the pink ballet pump I'd intended to wear. How could I have made such a mistake?
A conference door opened and a man in a black suit with a gray silk tie stepped into the hallway. "Trixie?" H
I stepped forward, hand out. "I'm Trixie."
He ignored my hand. "We're ready for you. If you'll follow me."
"Of course," I said with forced cheer.
I knew I wasn't going to get the job the second they looked at my shoes and frowned. And that was the moment I finally reached my breaking point. Wayne and I were going to have to discuss these rules of his before they completely sabotaged my career.
I had just the shoes for the occasion, too.
I found Wayne hunched over a green beer at O'Shea's, a pub run by alcoholic leprechauns. A shoebox bearing the pink script of the Magic Heels logo sat at his elbow.
Skipping the small talk, I said, "Sweet pea, are you taking more of my shoes again?"
He leaned forward trying to hide the box. "No."
My toes cramped, but I already knew he was lying. It was obvious. Just to make the point, though, I lifted a foot. "Remember these shoes?"
He glanced down and slowly nodded.
"They're truth charmed. Don't lie to me, honeybunch."
He sagged in his chair.
"The truth, Waynie-pie."
"Okay." He sighed.
"Great." I bared my teeth in a pained smile. "First, what's in the shoebox?" Which of my precious shoes had he taken?
He gazed into his beer as if waiting for it to foam an answer, but beer didn't have any magic properties, even if it was brewed by leprechauns with kegs for livers. When he didn't say anything, I grabbed the box and opened it myself to find the razor tipped heels I'd worn just a few clients ago.
"Why do you keep taking my shoes?" The question came out louder than I'd intended and the tables around us went quiet, taking in the spectacle. Maybe I'd erase their memories later.
Still staring into his beer, Wayne said, "You left them in the middle of the living room for two days. Per the rules, they're forfeit."
I gave a mournful sigh. "Why do you do this to me?"
"Because all you do is work and buy shoes and then leave them everywhere willy-nilly. I thought maybe, without the shoes..." he fell silent.
"What, Wayne? You thought what?"
"Maybe you'd have time for me."
"But I do have time for you."
"Sure. When you want to. We do what you want, when you want. What about what I want?" He looked up at me, tears shining in his eyes. "I love you, but you don't love me. You can't."
Man Eater by Michelle McCleod / Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on40 votes