Gavin The Gargoyle
By Victoria Sue
“What is it?” Max muttered suspiciously prodding it none too gently with his boot.
“Hey, don’t,” I protested grabbing at the back of his jacket as he aimed again. “It might be worth something.” Max scoffed.
“To who?” He asked incredulously and glanced at his watch. “Gotta go.” I nodded absently not even a little bit concerned at my friend losing interest, taking the truck, and leaving me to hoof it home. I bent down looking at the weird stone thing. Like an ugly kid only its mother would love, or a squashed animal. I thought it was called a gargoyle, but I couldn’t be sure. It definitely reminded me of those old churches Gran used to drag me around to back in the day. She’d sure love it in her garden, but… I groaned and straightened up. Max had taken the truck. I wasn’t sure if I could lift the stone thing and I definitely couldn’t get it home.
I heard a chuckle behind me and turned seeing Mrs. Thakeray, Gran’s best buddy. “Hi Mrs. T.” I grinned.
“Hello Jeremy. How’s Eva?” She queried looking worried. “I’m going to bring her some of my lemon slices this afternoon.”
“Much better.” My gran had a stinking cold all last week and at eighty-three I had to be careful with her even when she wouldn’t be careful with herself. She was the most stubborn individual I had ever met and I loved her to death.
Mrs. T. nodded to where I was looking through all the junk. The church hosted bake sales, yard sales, and general “get rid of your crap” sales, then once a year they laid out all the left-overs, the junk that had never sold and just offered it free to anyone who would take it home. “You’re thinking of taking that?”
“Gran would love it and we could put it at the bottom of the garden.”
“They’re supposed to ward off evil, you know. The catholic church adopted them I believe.”
“Most people adopt puppies,” I teased. She patted me on the arm.
“How are you?”
I plastered on a smile for her. It was galling that absolutely everyone in this tiny town knew that my ex-boyfriend had skipped with what was left of our joint account when the small bookstore we had run successfully had to close. Not that we’d had any choice. The fire caused by next door’s faulty wiring had lit a match under six years of hard work. But worse than that I found out when I tried to make an insurance claim that the premiums hadn’t been paid for the last four months. And that was the tip of the iceberg. Not only didn’t we have any insurance, but his secret gambling addiction had cleared out all our savings.
I had some money of my own, but I left the city and came home to Gran to lick my wounds and work out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Six months later I still hadn’t decided, but I had done a ton of jobs for her that I felt dreadful about not noticing they needed doing when I visited, and the garden was looking good. Before I moved back—if I moved back—I’d make sure to hire someone to keep it neat for her.
A car horn dragged my attention to the parking lot and I waved at Mrs. T.’s daughter -in-law driving her hubby’s pick-up. A hurried conversation, lots of silent swearing, a near broken toe, and Gavin the Gargoyle was at the bottom of Gran’s back yard.
Sometime later something woke me. I blinked and gazed up at the skylight, the only window in the attic room that I had moved into at eleven years old when Dad had run off with his latest mistress and Mom had decided to go “find herself” somewhere in Peru. I was supposed to be staying for the summer, but Gran was the stability I never got at home, and I stopped acting out and settled down. My good grades were rewarded three months later when Mom arrived home saying she had a new job and it involved a lot of travelling and everyone agreed much to my delight I could stay permanently with Gran. I must have been insane to move away in the first place, but for a shy homebody like me, having an actual boyfriend, and someone who was as convincing as Michael turned my head as the saying goes.
I squinted at the moon that I could see through the window and picked up my phone blowing out a breath at the display. Three a.m.? What had I heard? I pushed my feet into some sneakers and pulled on an old robe. Gran slept downstairs and I crept down quietly. If it was nothing but my paranoia I didn’t want to wake her up. I checked both doors and all the windows as I made my way silently through the house but everything was secure. Gran was fast asleep. I went into the kitchen deciding to make myself a hot drink to take back with me and glanced out of the window at the back yard.
Then I did a double take. The gargoyle was no longer
at the bottom of the yard, but bang smack on the patio. I sighed. Really? The Halloween trick or treaters all went away with candy earlier, but I guessed bored teenagers might have done it. Although they must have been pretty fit teenagers to lift it. I huffed. Or just maybe not out-of-work thirty-seven-year-olds.
I’d better move it though before Gran got any ideas about having a go. She still woke up before the birds and she’d been convinced I might be crippled for life when I had dropped the damn thing earlier. I went outside sitting on the small bench and eyed the thing.
“What am I going to do with you?” I reached over and patted it on the head and huffed a laugh. “You’re not ugly are you? Gavin doesn’t suit you though. Maybe Geoffrey? Griffith? I leaned back and looked at the sky.
“How about Garryk?”
“Possibly,” I mused. “Maybe—” I wasn’t proud of the shriek I let out. My ability to go from half-asleep to some kind of kung-fu extra might have been impressive if I could do anything other than concentrate on pulling oxygen in. I gaped at the stunningly gorgeous man standing in front of me. His big smile wasn’t exactly what I noticed first though. “You’re naked.” As first lines went that wasn’t up there with the best.
He shivered. I pulled off my robe and handed it to him, before it even occurred to me my phone was up in my room. Every scenario ran through my brain at lightning speed. He’d escaped from a locked psychiatric facility. No, he was an escaped convict and had to take off those orange jumpsuits they wore because he would stand out. I slapped my head in disgust, because yes Jeremy, of course going naked would really help him blend in.
“Thank you,” he said shyly slipping his arms inside. “You have no idea what this means to me.”
“It’s just a tatty old thing,” I said lamely. He tilted his head consideringly and for an insane moment I regretted him covering up.
“I meant freeing me.”
Crap,he was an escaped convict. “Freeing you?” I croaked out and took a step back to the house. A naked insane escaped convict. At least there was nowhere he could have hidden an axe. Because you know insane naked escaped axe-murderers were also a thing. He stepped forward and I panicked. Unfortunately, dexterity is not my friend and I stumbled over a planter and would have gone down on my ass if he hadn’t caught me.
“You can have the money in my wallet,” I squeaked out. “And the robe,” I added.
Garryk smiled and held me effortlessly. “You freed me.” He waved at the empty patio. “What’s missing?”
I looked at the seat and the random planter I had tripped over. I didn’t see anything else. “There’s nothing there.”
He nodded looking pleased. “Exactly.”
“Maybe I can call you a cab?” I offered desperately.
“The stone gargoyle,” he said with another amused look that seemed to soften his eyes. I sighed. He smelled good as well. I suppose if I was going to die at least I was having a bucket-list moment first. Of course he hadn’t kissed me, but—
His mouth tasted so damn good my knees trembled. It was a dream of course. I was really upstairs asleep.
“No dream,” he said letting go of my lips. I was slightly mortified by the needy whine that left my throat. “I am Garryk Pemberton. I was trapped by a demon that wanted my lands and wealth hundreds and hundreds of years ago. I would only be freed when someone told me I wasn’t ugly.”
He gently used a finger under my chin to close my mouth for me. “I am yours. What will you do with me?”
Letting out a terrified squeak, I wrenched out of his arms and yanked open the kitchen door, slamming and locking it behind me and bolting upstairs for my phone. My fingers had pressed the nine and the one before sanity reared its ugly head, and I went to the landing to peer out.
I could see the whole yard, but what made me gasp was the stone gargoyle was back in its place at the far end. I laughed shakily and turned the phone off, near hysterical in relief I hadn’t called the cops because of some hallucination. I sighed and rubbed my head. It was stress. I got into bed and closed my eyes and in moments my breathing evened out and I was asleep.
Garryk smiled to himself. Jeremy was shy and scared, but he had all the time in the world to show him how well he deserved to be treated. The demon had said it had to be his soulmate that would free him, and now Garryk had been released once he could come and go at will. He knew Jeremy deserved to be loved and adored for the rest of his life.
And Garryk was just the gargoyle to make that happen.
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