Read A Fluffy Tale Online

Authors: Ann Somerville

Tags: #m/m, #gay romance, #M/M-romance, #fantasy, #fluff

A Fluffy Tale

A Fluffy Tale

Ann Somerville

 

These stories are a
work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be
construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events,
locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

‘A Fluffy Tale’
Copyright © 2007 by Ann Somerville

Cover image
©kalou1927

 

All Rights Are
Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For
more information please visit my website at
http://annsomerville.net

 

License
Notes

 

This
ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be
re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book
with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share
it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not
purchased for your use only, then you should purchase your own copy. Thank you
for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

Published
by Ann Somerville

Chapter 1

A shrilling three inches from his ear had
Julian upright and awake in under a second, but though his eyes were open, he
couldn’t see. Once upon a time, he’d thought he’d gone blind in his sleep. Now
he knew better.

“Pyon!”

Instantly his vision cleared as his kem jumped
off his head. He looked down, just in time to see Pyon’s tail disappear inside
his chest.

Julian sighed. If Pyon would stick around
after he messed up, then Julian could explain the problem. But no, he always
ran away and by the time he showed up again, his kem had forgotten the problem
and Julian’s scolding had no impact.

No one else had this much problem with their kem. At least, they said they didn’t.

He yawned and climbed out of bed,
scratching his stomach. The clothes on the bedroom floor were scattered about
as if Pyon had been playing again. Julian really wished his kem would leave his
stuff alone. He grabbed clean underwear and a shirt from the laundry
pile—another day for keeping the jacket on, and he really had to make time for
the ironing this weekend—and dove into the bathroom.

Pyon reappeared just in time to make Julian
nearly spill coffee on himself as he collected his
usual breakfast Danish from the bakery on the way to the bus stop.

“Damn it! Pyon, don’t do that!”

Pyon jumped back inside again, but
immediately stuck his head out again through Julian’s chest, green eyes bright
and innocent. A complete
lie
,
of course. Julian looked down at his kem and shook his head, waggling his hand
clean of the spilled drops of coffee. “You’re going to land me in hospital, you
know that.”

Pyon gave a sad little meep and
disappeared. Julian walked out of the bakery, sipped some of his coffee to
lower the level, took two huge bites of his Danish, and then looked up the
road.

Crap! The bus was already heading down the
road to the stop. He ran for it, tossing the coffee and shoving the Danish into
his jacket pocket.

“Wait!”

He just managed to squeeze on at the end of
the queue and spent the twenty-minute journey with a strange woman’s ginger kem
staring at him the entire way, her face almost in his, curious eyes watching
him unblinkingly. Pyon didn’t rematerialise, for which Julian was grateful.
He’d had to write a letter of apology to the transport company the last time
his kem got playful and ran amok on a crowded bus. It wasn’t like he could stop
Pyon, but he felt bad about that man’s arm. They should have been more careful
about the way the doors opened, but still…

He arrived at the office exactly on time,
and heaved a sigh of relief as he slid past reception and the hawkish gazes of
Carol and her sleek silvery kem. Pyon popped his head out, all round-eyed and
enquiring as soon as they were clear.

“Now don’t start messing around,” Julian
warned. “You’ve got me in enough trouble this week.”

His kem chirped, materialised fully on
Julian’s shoulder, and then ran off down the corridor, long tail bouncing
cheerfully as he loped along, planning mischief. Julian shouted after him but
only for form’s sake. His kem never did a damn thing he told him to. At least
it meant he could pick up another coffee and finish his breakfast in peace as
he read the morning’s emails.

He worked on the most urgent files, and
handed them back to the paralegals who’d assigned
them. The office buzzed with the quiet noises of keyboards and conversations,
everyone too busy to chat idly until they’d cleared the backlog. An hour later,
Pyon appeared, looking for cuddles, his nose twitching. Julian never believed
those innocent eyes, but no one had called his desk to complain about his truant
kem making a nuisance, so perhaps Pyon had only been socialising with the other
office kems. He kept hoping Pyon would pick up some good habits from the
others, but he never did.

He yawned his way through the more boring
tasks, filing and preparing pro forma documents on autopilot. Pyon spent the
time as he usually did, sometimes curled up on the pile of papers in the
in-tray, or walking over the desk, occasionally running off with an excited
chirp as he spotted a friend across the office. Everyone was used to him,
though that didn’t stop the grumbling when Pyon’s excitable nature got the
better of him again. After each little excursion, he always came back for a
petting, and then he’d dematerialise for a few minutes. Recharging for more
naughtiness, Julian’s Mum used to say—about the pair of them.

It was Gillian from Probate’s sixtieth
birthday so they had cake for morning tea, and a little gift presentation.
Julian always liked birthdays in the office because the local cake shop did
smashing fruit and chocolate cakes, and the office broke out the good coffee as
well. It seemed like everyone was there this morning—no one off sick or on
leave—but the cake was big and Julian got a nice big slice with lots of lovely
icing. He was starving as usual—it always seemed an age until lunchtime.

Gillian blushed and got very emotional
about the present. She’d be retiring soon and this was her last birthday in the
office, so people had pushed the boat out for her. She made a little speech,
people applauded heartily, and as the clapping died down, Julian looked across
the crowd of co-workers. He blinked at what he saw.

“Who’s that?” he whispered to Liz, pointing
discreetly to the handsome stranger standing next to a gaggle of paralegals and
looking distinctly bored by the proceedings. The guy was tall—taller than any
of the other men in the room—with sleek, black hair and strong, aristocratic
features. He looked like a high-priced male model, and the last Julian had
heard, Clarke, Saxony and Markham weren't hiring any of those.

“Oooh, he’s the new solicitor. Zachary
Ledbetter. Disputes—they say he’s really sharp. Picky too.” She nudged him.
“Good thing you’re not in his section.”

“Piss off,” he muttered, looking his fill
at the astonishingly good-looking Mr Ledbetter before the man caught him at it.

Suddenly Pyon, who for once had been
behaving pretty well and spending the party playing with a ball of paper
someone had tossed down for him to keep him out of trouble, chirped and bolted
across the room—straight towards Zachary Ledbetter.

“Pyon, no!” Julian yelled as quietly as he
could, but Pyon paid no attention. Julian grinned painfully and sidled over,
hoping that Pyon was just distracted by someone’s kem or a new possible toy.

But luck wasn’t with him because Pyon
bounced off Ledbetter’s feet, squeaked with delight and then scrambled up the
man’s leg with his usual hyperactive speed. Startled, Ledbetter spilled coffee
all over himself just as Julian reached him.

“Pyon! I'm sorry, let me wipe that up for
you. Pyon, naughty!”

Pyon meeped and disappeared. Typical.

As Julian dabbed ineffectually with a
serviette at the soiled and expensive trousers, he looked up and found he was
being stared at by two pairs of eyes—one cold, green and human, and the other,
the golden gaze of the biggest kem he’d ever seen. He was
gorgeous
—and so was his host.

“Um…I'm really sorry. I have no idea why
he’s so badly behaved.”

The man stepped back, shook his foot and
his hand, and then extracted an immaculate handkerchief to wipe his fingers, disdaining
Julian’s efforts while keeping up his unfriendly gaze.

“Don’t you? I do.”

And with that snide remark, he turned and
walked away, his tawny kem still seated firmly and regally across his shoulders
like a luxurious scarf.

Julian’s face burned hot with
embarrassment—and then anger when he realised how rude the man had been. The
paralegals were staring at him. He got to his feet.

“Pyon again,” he said with a sickly smile.

“You’ve blown it now, Julian,” Edward, one
of the assistants in Debt, said. “That’s your chance of moving up a grade gone
for a while.”

“Piss off,” he said low enough for Edward’s
malicious ears alone. “It wasn’t me, it was him.”

“Always is. Still, you certainly made an
impression.” Then he sniggered like a schoolboy, grimy creep that he was.

Julian wondered why his troublemaking kem
couldn’t have made this smirking rat spill coffee all over himself instead of
Tall, Dark and Snotty. Edward
deserved
coffee-stained trousers, and more.

Morning tea was over by then. Julian
snagged a second piece of cake to take back to his desk, but he felt too gloomy
to do more than pick at it. What did that bastard mean by that comment? What
did he ‘know’? They’d never met before—Julian hadn’t even seen him in the
office. Supercilious damn solicitors.

He groused and grumbled his way through to
lunch, and took himself bad-temperedly to the building’s shared canteen. He
half-hoped he might see Ledbetter, but at the same time, the humiliation was so
recent and painful, he didn’t know if he’d have done more than stutter at him.
Pyon popped in and out but Julian was too distracted and cranky to do more than
admonish him half-heartedly.

Anger gave way to depression as he realised
Edward’s catty remarks were probably true. Julian had been looking for
promotion and changing sections was part of that. Now Disputes was closed to
him, most likely—he might even end up with a formal warning, depending on how
mean the guy was. People weren’t usually blamed for their kems’ behaviour but
Pyon was just such a damn pest. Cute but a nuisance.

And naturally, just as Julian thought that,
his nuisance reappeared and sat in front of him, head tilted and his mouth
open, showing his perfect pink tongue. Julian couldn’t resist scratching him
under the jaw, which made Pyon purr and snuggle.

“Why do you have to be so naughty, hmmm?
You’re sweet when you’re like this, but then you go off and ruin my life.”

No reply except a sad little squeak. Julian
patted Pyon’s head. “Okay, enough of that.” he said, shoving Pyon gently away.
“I guess I’ll need to work harder if I want that promotion.”

The afternoon dragged and his depression
over the stupid coffee trouser thing didn’t really lift. It didn’t help that
Edward seemed to be always there, smirking knowingly whenever Julian had to
make a photocopy or fetch a file. It made him want to ask if the man had any
work to do, but Edward was well in with the partners, untouchable, and able to
get away with just about anything. His kem was actually really sweet and well
behaved, far too nice for someone like Edward. But no one chose their kems and
kems couldn’t choose their hosts, so Lilbi was stuck with Edward just as Julian
was stuck with Pyon. It wasn’t fair.

He got off the bus one stop early so he
could pick up groceries. He was out of cheese and bread, and he figured he
might as well pick up something for supper too. Shopping had to be thought
about, since the supermarket sent Pyon crazy with delight. Julian had tried
doing big shops less often, but that just given Pyon more chance to run riot,
and Julian had now been banned from two supermarkets as a result. So now he
just did quick runs at a store near the apartment, grabbing things as fast as
he could, and apologising if necessary when he paid. So far it had sort of
worked, but it was a damn nuisance having to shop every second day or so.

He liked the little store though, with its
cool, shady interior and piled-high stock, the scents of spices and weird
vegetables not exactly tempting but now familiar. One good thing about his
regular visits, was that the shopkeeper now knew him well and was indulgent of
Pyon madly dashing around as if he hadn’t seen the place at least a couple of
hundred times or more. The man smiled at him as Julian rushed in, and his kem
chirped in delight to see Pyon, who immediately jumped off Julian’s shoulder
and rushed over to lick and cuddle his friend. Julian hoped that would keep the
little brat out of mischief long enough for him to grab the essentials. He
raced around, knowing where everything was by now, dumping it all in his basket
and hoping to get out of here in under five minutes, which was as long as Pyon
could usually behave himself for.

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