Flash Fiction & Release Day Blitz A Place of Magic by Merrie Destefano #ReleaseDayBlitz #UrbanFantasy

Flash Fiction- Waiting for Midnight by Merrie Destefano

PRIMROSE WOOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN a special place for me. Maybe because it’s right next to the cemetery and half my family’s buried there. I like to hang out down by the creek, where the dogwoods drop flowers in the water. If you sit really still you can hear the wind as it whispers through the tombstones, like it’s saying hello to all the dead folk.

That’s where I was on a dark autumn evening when she stumbled across my path. Honey blonde hair lifting in the breeze, lips parted as if she’d been speaking to herself.

The wind howled and circled, set the canopy of branches creaking above us, though the rest of the world was silent. I knew who she was in an instant, but of course she didn’t know me.

Jenna Black.

Senior at Bloomington High. Cheerleader. Class secretary. Member of the debate team.

Her father died of a heart attack last winter, two days before Christmas. I know right where he’s buried. Between Horace and Mildred Price. I wonder if he planned it, if he wanted to be stuck between those two for all of eternity. I know I wouldn’t.

Jenna stared at me. The startled look in her eyes pleased me. Especially since I was so invisible at school. I stood up, gave her a half smile. I was taller than she was, even though I was just a sophomore.

“Jake Miller,” I said with a slight nod, as if we were meeting on a dance floor. “Your sister’s in my Algebra class.”


Apparently even here I wasn’t all that interesting.

“You lost?” I asked.

She nodded. “I thought this trail led to the—”


Another nod, a bouquet of wildflowers held tight in one fist.

I ran a gaze over her, stopping at her lips, which parted as I licked mine. I moved closer until I could feel the heat from her body. She was trembling.

“That way.” I pointed toward the hill. The path was difficult enough to see in daylight, but at night it was almost invisible. “Careful you don’t turn to the left. People have disappeared and never been seen again when they accidentally went that way at night.”

Her dark eyes widened, looking for an instant like she was a fawn cornered by a wolf. Then she saw something in my expression that made her smile.

“You’re teasing,” she said.

I echoed her smile with one of my own. “Of course,” I told her as she made her way past me, toward that darkened rise of grass.

But in reality, I wasn’t teasing about the danger. Not one bit.



She came the next night and I was there, just in case. Not that I wanted to protect her from the forest or the wild spirits or the legends. I just wanted to see her again, away from her crowd of popular, we-can-do-no-wrong friends. She looked different in the woods. More vulnerable. She smiled and waved.

The next night she stopped to say hello.

The night after that we talked a little longer.

The night after that we didn’t talk at all.

It was all buttons and zips and our mouths pressed against each other, me tasting her skin, and her breath coming out in surprised little gasps. We stayed together a long time, listening to the creek and the wind and learning the language of the trees. And then finally, leaves in our hair and dirt on our clothes, we tidied ourselves up as best as we could.

She didn’t go to the cemetery that night. She left her wildflowers by the creek and the breeze tossed them into the water. Like an offering.

Every night for a month, we met at that spot, my secret place beside the creek. We’d stay together until the moon rose, covering each other with kisses, fumbling impatiently with our clothes until naked skin gleamed beneath pale silver light. We were wild gypsies, we were lost faeries, we were two teenagers caught up in the magic of a midnight wood. Nothing mattered but those moments we could be together.

Or, at least, that was how I felt.

Then one night she didn’t come. I waited until midnight, until the moon was hidden in the deep forest, before I realized she wasn’t coming.

She didn’t come the next day. Or the next.

Once again, I was invisible in the school halls.

But she didn’t know what I knew.

Together we had woken up something wild in the woods, something dangerous and primeval. Something that prowled about, hungry.

And it knew she would be back, for it spoke to her dead father on a regular basis.

They had become the best of friends.



I saw her on a Tuesday, I’ll always remember the day—it was Halloween. Her silhouette was lined in silver moonlight as she returned from that forbidden path in Primrose Wood. My blood started to thump through my veins, when I thought about the danger she had put herself in. She was laughing and singing to herself, out much later than usual, but I had grown attached to the forest since she stopped coming here. I could barely leave anymore. I rarely made it to school. I was like a ghost, haunting the cemetery one moment, a grove of willow the next. Some days I forgot to eat and had grown thin. Even my clothes were beginning to fray about the edges, for I would only wear that pair of jeans and that shirt I had on the last time she and I were together.

She was wearing a yellow dress and I smiled, for I realized it was the same thing she had worn the last time I held her. Perhaps she was as lovesick as I was and had merely taken a wrong turn on the path. Surely that was the reason for the winsome grin on her face and the blush in her cheeks.

She was coming back to me, barefoot, ruby lips aching to be kissed.

Then I realized she’d already been kissed. Many times. Her hair was a tangle, her dress grass-stained, her legs smudged with dirt.

She had been here, in my woods, with someone else.

Fire burned in my veins, hot blood pumping, heart a thunder of noise. My eyes narrowed and I hid behind a tall cottonwood, waiting for her, waiting for midnight to fill me.

And it did.

A black cold replaced my anger, my heart slowed until I could barely feel it, and when she passed, still singing, I leaped out at her. Fingers about her throat, I pushed her to the ground.

The wind swept up from the tombs, carrying a thousand voices and I knew she heard them as well as I.

My lips on hers, I took her last breath and pulled it into my lungs, I held her in my arms until her skin turned cold, as cold as my heart. All the wild gypsies and the lost faeries in the world were singing her song now, all of them dancing through the trees, making wreaths out of wildflowers and wearing them on their brows.

I took her to the creek and I laid her in the water, right where her first bouquet had fallen, the one that was supposed to go on her father’s grave. But this was her grave now.

I grinned wide at the silver moon, my thin bony legs dancing along with the gypsies and the faeries and the ghosts. I followed them up that low rising hill, toward the cemetery, but at the last moment veering to the left.

All of us laughing.

Jenna met me at the crest of the hill, where the path disappeared in midnight, dipping into the wild forest darkness. Her skin was pale and her hair wet and at first she seemed angry with me. But then neither one of us—me barely alive and her, a newborn ghost—could resist the magic of Primrose Wood.

With a wry grin, she took my hand, both of us knowing my flesh would be gone soon enough—I was that close to becoming a ghost myself—and we danced down that left path, seeing and recognizing the faces of my family and hers, all of them waiting for us.

There, in the forest deep, while the moon glistened above us, and the wind whispered about us.

And midnight reigned forever and a day.


A Place of Magic
Merrie Destefano

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy
Publisher: Ruby Slipper Press
Date of Publication: October 12, 2021
Number of pages:320
Word Count: 73,000
Cover Artist: Elona Bezooshko, 
Psycat Digital Ink and Motion

Book Description:

Halloween is the wrong time to visit Ticonderoga Falls.
Dangerous monsters hunt in the nearby woods.

The Prey...

Maddie MacFaddin.
For her, the nearby forest holds many memories, some joyous, some forgotten. But she has no recollection of Ash, the dark, magnificent creature who saved her life as a child, or that his kind preys upon humanity.

The Monster...

Ash, a Darkling fae.
Trapped in Ticonderoga Falls for a century, he’s required to host a Hunt once a year. Then, hungry, shapeshifting faeries will descend upon the villagers and harvest their dreams.

The Hunt...

There are rules about harvesting humans; the poor creatures are so delicate. If you take too much, they’ll die. Without dreams, they perish. And perish they do—now and then—despite Ash's efforts to keep them safe. Then he realizes Maddie is the prey his unwanted guests are after. But, try as he might, this time he’s not strong enough to protect her. The entire village is in danger.

Soon the Hunt will begin. And no one will be safe.



He nodded, head lowered. Then he lifted his gaze until he was staring into her eyes. One hand rested on her shoulder. “I won’t tell anyone your secret, Elspeth. You’re safe with me.”

Then he leaned closer, his scent overwhelming, his thoughts like the wind through the leaves, a wild rushing, his skin like the embrace of the forest. His lips touched hers and she could hear his heart beating. She slid her arms around his waist, leaning into the kiss, suddenly wanting more. She wanted to cast an enchantment, to lead him into sleep, to harvest his dreams. Wanted to walk into a dream with him, to see the hidden world on the other side of his eyelids. Wanted to know everything about him.

The kiss had only just begun and already she wanted another.

His arms were around her then, and the winter chill disappeared. In its place, fire crackled through her limbs, from her fingertips to her feet.

She could see it then, the world inside him. Tender and gentle as a spring morning, the shadows of night lingering at the edge of the wood, a handful of stars scattered across a pale sky.

She never knew that humans could be filled with so much magic.

It was her first Hunt and she had chosen her prey wisely.

About the Author:

Multiple-award-winning author Merrie Destefano writes lyrical tales of magic, mystery, and hope. Her traditional books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, and Walter Foster, while her indie imprint is Ruby Slippers Press. Her novels have won awards in both the science fiction and fantasy categories.

She worked for Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, Engaged Media, and PJS Publications, and her magazine experience includes editor of Victorian Homes magazine, Zombies magazine, Haunted: Mysteries And Legends magazine, American Farmhouse Style magazine, Vintage Gardens magazine and founding editor of Cottages and Bungalows magazine. Her co-authored art books include How To Draw Vampires, How To Draw Zombies, and How to Draw Grimm’s Dark Fairy Tales. Her edited books include The Man God Uses by Chuck Smith, Oil Pastel Step-By-Step by Nathan Rohlander, and The Art of Drawing Fantasy Characters by Jacob Glaser.

Born in the Midwest, Merrie now lives in Southern California, where she runs on caffeine, and shares her home with rescue dogs and cats. And although she dearly loves science fiction, in her heart of hearts, she still doesn’t believe airplanes should be able to fly.

WEBSITE: http://www.merriedestefano.com/

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