Spotlight: Beyond the Wild Wood by E.M. Fitch
The faery queen has forbidden Aidan from stalking his prey, but Cassie should have known that nothing would keep him from what he wants: to steal her away forever into the realm of the Fae.
Cassie struggles to pick up what’s left of her life, keeping true to her promise to watch over her best friend’s son. But despite the faery queen’s promise of safety, the shadow of Aidan is ever present in her mind, haunting her dreams and turning forest shadows into nightmares. The rest of her friends are getting ready for college, but not her. The Fae haven’t left yet. Cassie knows because Laney lingers still, drawn to the son she gave up, the foliage at his window sill bright green and flourishing at her touch.
Laney’s son is safe in the arms of his adoptive parents, and the babe has Cassie to watch over him from afar. That should have been enough for the new faery, but it wasn’t. She couldn’t let her son go. Laney watches him from afar, motionless, ageless, addicted to his tiny movements and contented sighs. The thought of leaving him is unbearable, even if she knows leaving is the only way to keep her best friend safe from Aidan’s grasp.
When the faery queen’s threat of departure becomes all too real, Aidan takes matters into his own hands, throwing the Fae into a battle that risks their very existence. His action impels Laney to choose which side she really belongs on—human or faery—and forces Cassie to decide just who she can trust, at last, with the truth.
And there, in the center of it all, he stood. Tall and straight, face blazing with want, Aidan’s blue eyes found Cassie’s gray ones. He held that gaze, locked it into place, and Cassie walked forward, drawn by him, pulled to him through determination and, yes—somewhere deep inside herself, in a place she didn’t want to examine—a pinch of desire.
His lips quirked up into a grin at the sight of her, and a curious, playful expression lit his entire face. He raised his hands, and then his eyebrows, his expression screaming, I did this for you, you know?
She nodded and allowed her wonder to show on her face. She ignored the shouts, the chaos erupting all around her as the screen finally landed amidst the crowd gathered in the library parking lot, just beyond the car that had smashed into the sidewalk. People screamed as the giant inflatable screen came crashing down on their heads.
“Help us!” The shout went up and was carried on the wind toward the soccer field. Dozens stampeded, either toward the parking lot to help, or toward their cars to escape.
Cassie didn’t move. Aidan was so near, she could clearly see his wild blue eyes. She felt the world revolting around her, the chaotic energy of the wilds of the forest mingling with the unknowing and terrified humanity. Worlds crashed and collided, not in the midst of a drunken high school party, or in an auditorium full of teenagers, but in full view of the leaders of their community. Mr. Fisk, the First Selectman, was somewhere on grounds; the town hall with the state police barracks was lit up across the street. Store owners, librarians, soccer moms, parents and children—everyone was there. Everyone was watching this unfold. Cassie couldn’t even imagine the aftermath; all she could do was stare with open wonder into the icy blue eyes that stared at her.
He didn’t advance; instead, he stood quite still. She stayed caught in his gaze, and then took a small step forward. His smile widened, and he nodded.
Cassie heard a high-pitched, “Help him!” echo from the parking lot.
She recognized the voice of her boyfriend organizing a count. “One, two, heave!” A series of grunts followed this, and then a piteous voice cried out, “He can’t breathe!”
A screech of sirens stirred in the wind, and Cassie broke eye contact. She turned to look at the long, winding road leading to the library parking lot, saw the wash of red and blue revolving against the backdrop of the trees beyond. Before Cassie could see any more, the wind caught her hair and whipped it into her face.
When she looked back for Aidan, he was gone.
To her left, the gazebo, under a pressure no one could see, collapsed.
About the Author
E. M. Fitch is an author who loves scary stories, chocolate, and tall trees. Her latest novel, OF THE TREES, is a Young Adult horror/fantasy inspired by haunted cemeteries and the darker musings of W.B. Yeats. Its sequel, AT WOODS EDGE, will be released in the coming year from Month9Books. She is the author of the Young Adult zombie trilogy: THE BREAK FREE SERIES. Her story, BETWEEN SHADOWS, was recently featured in the Fragments of Darkness anthology; and her new collection of short stories entitled THE VEIL: GHOSTS, GOBLINS, GHOULS is coming soon! She has been published in Pulp Metal Magazine, Under the Bed Magazine, and her short stories RELEASE and THE CREEP were featured respectively in CHBB’s Lurking in the Shadows and Lurking in the Mind anthologies. When not dreaming up new ways to torture characters, she is usually corralling her four children, or thinking of ways to tire them out so she can get an hour of peace at night.