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Taffy’s Man (Part One)

In Spellfire, Texas, where love and magic happen, Taffy and Manny grow close as they work hand in hand to help each other solve personal problems. In Part One, Manny, a disembodied hand, encourages Taffy to put her life in order after it falls apart around her. Taffy, tooth fairy non grata, reassures Manny he is all the man she’ll ever need.

Magical fantasy erotic romance novelette, approx. 10,000 words or 34 pages.

Previously published as Things & Hot Taffy (Part 1) under the pen name Leanne Strange.

Taffy’s Man (Part One) is a free download, but only an excerpt is provided here.

Download the FREE e-book!
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Coming soon to other retailers:
Amazon | Apple | ARe | B&N | Diesel | Kobo | Lulu | Sony

Excerpt from Taffy’s Man (Part One)
Copyright © Lanette Curington / Lani Aames
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction.

Chapter One

Taffeta Trueheart slammed the empty glass on the counter. “Hit me again.”

The waitress standing next to the cash register blurred into identical twins then reformed back into one body and picked up the glass. “Are you sure you want another, Taffy? This’ll make your third.”

“I’m shhhure.” Taffy nodded and belched. “Hit me again, Harpy. I can handle it.”

Harpy Spellfire, night manager of Sinful Sundaes Ice Cream Shoppe, propped her hands on her hips. “You know how sugar affects you tooth fairies.”

Taffy frowned. “I’m not a tooth fairy anymore.”

“You may not be a practicing tooth fairy, but it’s still in your blood.”

“There’ssh no money in it, except for the kids who lose their teeth. Why, if I had a dime for every tooth I collected, I’d be rich—as rich as the rich witch my boyfriend left me for.”

“Sorry to hear about that,” Harpy called over the sound of the blender as she mixed the toffee shake. “You lost your job at Otto’s Oddities, sprained your wrist, and now this.”

“Thanks for reminding me.” Taffy stuck out her tongue at Harpy, but she wasn’t really mad at her.

“Hey, that’s what friends are for.” Harpy set a full glass in front of her.

Taffy stabbed a Spooktacular Straw into the frothy frappé and sucked until she made noises at the bottom of the empty glass.

“And as your friend,” Harpy continued, “I’m cutting you off after this one. You’re three shakes to the wind, and you’ll never be able to fly home.”

“I can’t fly anymore. The tooth fairy queen resshin…resshind…uh, took away my wings and wand when I quit the biz.”

“Gee, that’s too bad.”

“That’s okay. I never much liked flying anyway.” That wasn’t true, but Taffy didn’t want to admit how much she really missed flying. She shrugged then quickly laid her head on the counter to stop the room from spinning around her. “Besides, I could only fly at night and only to houses with children who lost their teeth. What a drag.”

Harpy laughed. “I love flying.”

“I saw you at the Valentine’s Day Picnic,” Taffy murmured. “It’s wonderful your wings are working. And it’s great about you and Derek getting married. I wish I could have been at the wedding the following year, but the tooth fairy queen called a shp-special meeting that day. On Valentine’s Day of all dayssh!”

Taffy felt and heard a thump on the counter, and found herself staring at eight fingers and two thumbs. She blinked, and a hand with only four fingers and one thumb came into focus.

“Hey, Manny,” Harpy greeted him.

Mano A. Mano, whom everyone called Manny, wore a dashing black leather bandana, pirate style, over and around his wrist. The knotted end trailed down along his pinky, where he wore a simple gold ring. Manny was a disembodied hand—or a hand-thing, as some called him.

The strange and magical city of Spellfire, Texas, was home to many unusual beings and creatures.

Without a day job to keep her on schedule, Taffy had returned to her natural tooth fairy hours—awake all night, sleeping all day. Since she started drowning her sorrows in sugar two weeks ago, she had seen Manny in Sins every night. But she’d never seen him dressed up like this before.

She raised her hand and waggled her fingers at him. “Hi, Manny.”

Manny tip-fingered closer to her then jumped as if startled when Harpy opened the cash register.

“Ready when you are, Manny. I’ll be in the back.” Harpy disappeared through the kitchen door.

Manny gave the thumbs up to Harpy’s retreating back then hopped into the cash drawer.

Taffy closed her eyes and let the sound of ruffling bills and clinking coins soothe her frazzled nerves. So she didn’t have a job and she didn’t have a boyfriend. Who cared? She would find another of each and get back on her feet soon—as soon as her wrist healed.

As a last resort, she could return to the tooth fairy biz. It paid a pittance, but she would have free room and board at the Tooth Castle. The tooth fairy queen might not like her, but Her Royal Pain-In-The-Ass would have to take Taffy back. Taffy was a Trueheart, after all. She could trace her fairy lineage farther back than any other tooth fairy at the castle, including the queen herself!

A sliding sound on the counter made Taffy open her eyes. Manny had finished counting the day’s receipts, the bills and coins stacked neatly beside the register. He tapped a piece of paper near her head with one finger.

She raised her head. The words on the flyer ran together then separated and became legible…

Taffy Pulling Contest at Sinful Sundaes!
Join in the fun of an old-fashioned taffy pull.
Winner receives a year’s supply of ice cream.

“You going to enter, Manny?” she asked.

Manny’s thumb and pinky stuck out and he twisted his wrist in a shrug. =Can’t,= he tapped in Morse code. =One hand.=

Manny was one of the few who knew she understood Morse code. Taffy’s maternal grandmother had been the telegraph operator at the Tooth Castle in the late 1800s. Grammamá insisted Taffy learn the series of dots and dashes. With a sparkle in her eye, she said one never knew when it might come in handy. Taffy now wondered if Grammamá possessed a bit of the Fae sight and foresaw Taffy’s friendship with Manny.

“Oh, sorry. I’m in the same boat with my sprained wrist.” She held up her left hand and showed him the bandage. “I saw the witch doctor today, and I can’t use it for two weeks. The taffy pull is in two days.”

Manny made a fist and scratched his thumb with his forefinger, as if thinking. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. =You can use your right hand and I’m a lefty,= he tapped.

She smiled at him. “You’re a genius! If we work together, we can win that taffy pull.”

She held out her right hand for a low five, and Manny’s fingers slid onto hers instead of slapping her hand. Her eyesight blurred and she blinked. Something shot into her palm, reminding her of heat lightning. She’d been struck a few times—another downside to the tooth fairy biz—while flying on stormy nights to some ungrateful brat’s house to make the exchange.

This sensation felt the same, yet different. The electric buzz that started at her hand turned into a warm thread spiraling up her arm and weaving its way into her abdomen…and even lower. This was the most unusual low five she’d ever experienced in her life.

Taffy jerked her hand free. She shouldn’t have lusty thoughts about Manny. His body consisted of nothing other than a hand—a sentient, sensitive hand, but only a hand nonetheless. Maybe another milkshake would make her forget what his touch stirred in her. Surely, she could talk her friend Harpy into just one more.

She reached for the empty shake glass, but Manny pushed it aside. He shook a “no-no” finger at her

She rolled her eyes, knowing very well what Manny was talking—er, fingering about. She really didn’t need any more. A couple made her tipsy, but more than that, like she’d had tonight, and she was on a sugar drunk.

Manny pushed the glass farther away and tapped out a message. She shook her head to clear it, and then listened more closely as he repeated it, to make sure she heard correctly.

“You want to walk me home?”

=Yes.=

“That’s sweet, but you don’t have to, Manny. I’ll stumble home safely by myself. It’s not far.”

He rapped the counter top loudly.

“Hey, no need to get upset with me, buddy. Stop being so insistent. All right, already, you can walk me home.”

Manny dipped his wrist in a nod. She smiled at him, but found it odd that a bodiless hand wanted to walk her home. So how did a hand walk a woman home? With quick little fingertip steps, she imagined.

He hopped on her left shoulder as she grabbed her purse and stood up on wobbly legs. “Okay, little guy, let’s get outta here before Harpy throws me out. I’m cut off, you know.”

He took an indignant stance with thumb akimbo.

She chuckled. “Sorry, Manny, didn’t mean to imply you’re short, so don’t go getting all huffy on me. Y’know, you have very long, strong fingers.”

He slid down until his palm rested on her shoulder then squeezed affectionately. Nope, he wasn’t mad at her. Manny was something else. No wonder everybody in Spellfire liked him. Well, almost everybody. Otto the Ogre and Frightful Frieda didn’t like anyone.

She smiled at him and started out the door. Manny was light on her physically, but somehow, she felt safer with him accompanying her. She liked having him for a friend. It beat that deadpan boyfriend…er, ex-boyfriend.

“Hey, Manny, where do you live?”

=Boodoirs,= he tapped on her shoulder. She couldn’t hear the taps, but feeling them worked just as well. =By the fishpond.=

“I didn’t know they had a guest cottage in the back.”

=They don’t.=

“Oh, hmmm—” Before she could ask about it, her foot slipped on the edge of the curb and she grabbed the lamppost to keep from falling. “Whoops!”

Manny gripped her shoulder to keep from tumbling off. He shook a finger at her.

“I’ll be careful. Not to worry,” she assured him.

He rubbed her cheek, his knuckles a soft caress against her skin. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the gentle stroking of a man’s hand. How long had it been? Even her ex hadn’t touched her in such a way. He’d been too rough and brutish. She really didn’t miss him at all and was glad to be rid of him.

Taffy turned down a side street that led to a residential area. A waist-high wooden fence enclosed the first yard they came to. Manny jumped off her shoulder and onto the ledge created by the top cross board holding the pickets together. He finger-walked along now at her side.

“I’m staying at my friend Shai’s townhouse. Shai is off on a wild two-week vacation in France with her boyfriends.” Taffy sighed. “She has two nice guys at her beck and call, and I can’t even find one!”

Manny stopped, and Taffy did, too, to listen to what he had to say.

=You’re beautiful, smart, and sweet. Any man would be lucky to have you.=

“Aw, thanks, Manny.” She started walking again. “You’re a sweetheart yourself.”

Manny hopped on her shoulder just as they reached the end of the block. When Taffy stepped off the curb, a figure dressed in black came out of nowhere and snatched her purse out of her hand before she could react.

“Hey, come back here!” she shouted.

Before all the words left her mouth, Manny took a flying leap and landed on the purse snatcher’s back. Wide-eyed, Taffy watched as the force of Manny’s attack knocked the man to the ground. Manny jumped to his neck, flipped him over, and wrapped his fingers around his throat. The man made horrible gurgling sounds, kicking and pulling at Manny. He finally managed to free himself from Manny’s powerful grip, scrambled to his feet, and raced away.

Taffy gaped at Manny hurrying back to her, purse trailing behind him by the handle hooked around his thumb. He leapt up on the narrow ledge of the concrete base of the nearby lamppost and presented her purse to her.

“Oh, wow, that was incredible, Manny. Thank you.” She took her purse. “You are amazing. My hero.”

She reached out to touch him, running her fingertips across his knuckles and down the side of his pinky. She took him in hand, her fingers pressing into his warm palm. Then she did something she never thought she’d ever do…she leaned over and placed a kiss just above his row of knuckles.

The kiss sobered her and left her breathless. She picked him up and sat him on her shoulder then crossed the street to the next block.

His palm rested near the curve of her neck, and his fingers dangled casually on the skin exposed by her off-the-shoulder blouse. His thumb gently rubbed the back of her neck. His touch now sent her senses reeling. How could she be attracted to a hand?

There was much more to Manny than just a hand, of course. Somehow, he saw without eyes, heard without ears, and comprehended without a brain. All that suggested magic was involved, bad magic. More than likely, someone had placed a curse on the man Manny used to be.

“Here we are.” Taffy turned onto the walk leading up to the three-story townhouse. “Shai said I could stay as long as I want, but I’d like to find a job and get a place of my own before she returns.”

Inside, the delicious cool air hit her and everything fled her mind except how tired she was. She didn’t think she could make it to the guest bedroom. She kicked off her shoes on the way to the sofa and flopped down on it.

“No point in going all the way across town this late, Manny. You can crash here tonight,” she offered with a yawn. “Pull up a pillow or just bunk with me on the sofa. I have to get up early to go job hunting tomorrow.”

She snuggled in, closed her eyes, and drifted off to sleep.

Download the FREE e-book!
Smashwords

Coming soon to other retailers:
Amazon | Apple | ARe | B&N | Diesel | Kobo | Lulu | Sony

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