A few months ago Jordan Castillo Price asked me if I'd be interested in contributing a short story to an anthology she was putting together. I didn't have to think about it twice—it was a no brainer. Especially, considering the other authors involved.
The tricky bit was deciding on the story. Fortunately, I have a Moleskine notebook where I jot down stray ideas, disembodied dialogues, and other random bits and bobs. One struck my fancy right away: a comic take on the old trope of the narrator looking into a mirror and describing what he sees. In my version he does just that, but the visage in the mirror isn’t his own reflection.
This is how it happens in the final telling:
A blond man with blue eyes and cheekbones sharp enough to etch crystal looked at me from the mirror. Even my regrettably caffeine-starved brain registered the wrongness of this image. I knew for a fact that my own coloration was dull brown and the less was said of my cheekbones, the better.
Mirror-man waited patiently while I stared. His good looks were as overdramatic as the sky outside. His left brow twitched in a familiar way. "Good morning, Detective Mulligan."
“Good morning, Leslie,” I said. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” I was aiming for sarcasm but I’d had too few hours of sleep to hit the bullseye.
He gave me a toothy smile. “I'm happy to see you too, Buttercup. Or should I say Teddybear?”
I scratched my—admittedly hairy—chest. “Whatever you want, Les, just get on with it.” Leslie Morland, assistant to Captain Karl Parker, my boss, had many excellent qualities. Short-windedness wasn’t one of them.
“The Captain wants to see you as soon as you get in.”
“You could’ve called on the phone, like normal people. Or, even better, leave a note on my desk.”
“Biannual test of alternate communications—Captain’s mandate.” His lips formed a lewd curve. “And I wouldn’t want to pass up my chance to see you in your morning glory. Besides, I wanted to be sure you actually made it in before noon.”
“I had a late night,” I grumbled, and it was true—I hadn’t gotten home from the stakeout till the wee hours.
“So I heard. Nonetheless, Captain Parker would love to see you in person, the sooner the better. I’ve been waiting for you to rise for the last twenty minutes. You should really put a mirror into your bedroom.” His leer deepened. “Over the bed would be ideal.”
“Not in your dreams,” I retorted. Departmental use of mirrors for communications was strictly regulated and safeguarded with multiple layers of security hexes, but nothing was ever a hundred percent safe. There was always a small chance one of those rogue hacker wizards—wackers for short—could get through. In over a decade on the Force I developed a healthy dose of paranoia.
Leslie pursed his lips—they got a lot of exercise. “I beg to differ. Everything’s possible in my dreams.” His voice switched to business—more or less. “Pleasantries aside, when can we expect you to grace us with your manly presence?”
“Forty minutes. Now go away; I need to shave.”
To get to this point, however, I had to figure out who was looking into the mirror and who was looking back and how all this came about. The process involved figuring out the man character’s name, job, his back story, and the world around him, where mirrors could do funny things. It was an exhilarating process, filled with possibilities and potential, and I succeed a little too well. One Hex Too Many is the first my story entirely set in an alternate universe/reality, but not the last one. I’m already working on the sequel.
If you like m/m paranormal romance and or urban fantasy Charmed and Dangerous is guaranteed to have something to tickle your fancy. It’ll come out on August 25, but is available for preorder on Amazon already. Have fun!
(Isn't that cover just sexy?)