Horses with Wings
&
Love of All Things

an excerpt





Chapter One

"You marry him!"

"Oh no! There is no freaking way I'm going to marry him! You marry him!"

"Are you out of your ever-loving mind! You are the older sister, and undoubtedly, it's your responsibility to protect your younger sibling from having to walk down the aisle with some random guy who resides deep in the backwoods of British Umbrellia. Therefore, I suggest you suck it up, big sis, and get that snazzy wedding dress selection started, because you, my friend, are so going to marry him!"

"It's like that, is it? Well, if we are going to go down the road of obligatory obligations, then I suggest you look no further than your own familial duties, you overly tanned, blindingly bleached-toothed, super sponging princess. Plus, since you are younger than me by two whole years, you need to do what I say, and I say you are going to get yourself engaged to this quasi-important prince from the unceasingly rain-drenched boonies. And it's British Columbia, you twit, not British Umbrellia."

"I know that, you dullard! I was just trying to be witty. Seriously, this is coming from the poster girl, and three years running top polling choice by all those in the know, for most indisputably vapid miss in all of the Western United States?"

"Yeah, trying to be witty and failing miserably like you did eighth grade French. Also, that happened one time, not three, and you and your friends were the only ones who were in the poll, which was conducted, I might add, because I wouldn't let you borrow my brand new limited-edition crystal encrusted strappy sandals for your trip to the beach to add to your already several shades past the acceptable bronzing for one of your coloring, tan."

At first, Tucker Bay wasn't really sure he should be loitering outside the room in which his two sisters were bickering over which one of them was in no way, shape, or form going to become a bride. However, since he'd just finished binge-watching the second season of his third favorite sitcom, he figured he'd give them a listen, because from past eavesdropping experiences, he knew the squabble in progress would likely provide a similar level of quality entertainment.

"Look, I've done lots of research on the net about your husband-to-be, and I have to admit he is really cute. I think the two of you would not only make a darling couple, you would also get along swimmingly. I mean, both of you think curling is actually an exciting, rather than mind-numbingly boring, spectator sport, and you also share an inexplicable and extreme fondness for gooseberry pie. Really and truly, if those aren't signs of a match made in heaven, I don't know what is."

"It's not me who likes those things, you dolt, it's Tucker. Anyway, I've looked up your future groom as well, and it appears you both want to be heavily involved in promoting continuing good relations not only between all winged horse shifter groups, but also with humans, and all other supernatural creatures wherever they may be, so you can eradicate forever every last single solitary conflict between the entirety of entities inhabiting the Earth. Come on, you couldn't hope for a stronger foundation for a happy marriage than having ridiculously unrealistic work goals in common."

"Yeah, I've kind of gone off that. I'm thinking about giving law school a go. In any event, it's Tucker that has been talking lately like he'd want to involve himself in the never-ending morass of assholes that form those groups' representative committees. Going to that one interspecies meeting was enough to change my mind, but good."

"Okay, here's the thing, I can't go because we live in sun-blessed Southern California, and this guy lives in a downpour deluged province in Western Canada. You know what the humidity there will do to my hair! I will be a walking haystack of frizz from the very first moment of my undoubtedly soggy arrival, and I don't have the time to spend every other hour of the day running my locks through even the largest plate hair straightener."

"Well, there is no way I can go because you know how extremely temperature sensitive I am. That moist, cool air they have up there will chill me to the bone, and I do not look my best when I am in the clutches of uncontrollable shivering. In addition, since I have worked super hard to get my body in the svelte and toned condition it is presently in, there is absolutely no way I will now deign to hide it under ten to twelve layers of mid-weight fleece."

Even though Tucker Bay was only eleven, he knew his sisters weren't really that worried about foofy hair or chilled toes. In reality, they were both very responsible, and had always treated him with kindness and care. He also understood one of them would likely give in at any moment, and this argument would turn on a dime, because they were discussing it like this was a very big deal, and when that happened, their natural protective instincts for their family would eventually and inevitably take over. Tucker was about as a keen an observer of his sisters' daily interactions as any boy his age could be, yet he still understood that the pokes and prods they made at each other were all really just for fun, and he honestly had to give them full marks for creativity in relation to the exchanges taking place in this particular quarrel.

"You're right, Tawny, you have done a great job keeping yourself in top-notch shape, and I know how you hate cold conditions of any sort. So, don't worry. When the time comes, I will sign the marriage contract. It's really just symbolic anyways. You know dad would never push us into anything we were unwilling to participate in voluntarily."

"Thanks, Tamsin. You are seriously the best sister ever. But I cannot allow you to put yourself in that position. The document may not be technically enforceable, but it will still be out there, and since word of these things always gets around, there is a possibility it could limit your romantic options. I know for a fact you have your eye on a few people as potential boyfriends, or girlfriends, and you should be free to pursue whomever you so choose, without the noose of this token agreement around your neck."

Having heard the mindset shift commence as expected, Tucker decided that before his sisters got to the likely very loud, "I'm going to marry him! No, I'm going to marry him!" part of the conversation, because it was definitely now heading in that direction, he would have to take decisive action. There was simply no way he could allow his sisters to sign the paper if they didn't really want to, and though some of their reasons seemed frivolous, they were obviously only taking on the task to prevent someone they loved from having to be saddled with it.

Through his entire life, his sisters had taken care of him and made sure he was always safe and happy. After being the recipient of so much loving consideration, Tucker felt it was high time he did something for them for a change. So, if signing this marriage thingy would take away one of their worries, he would be happy to put his signature on it, even if his cursive was still not super great. He also wasn't really sure what they'd meant by it being symbolic, but he did hear them say they wouldn't be forced to marry anyone, so he would just ask them what the word really meant later. Actually, he'd probably just wait, and ask his parents after they got home.

Tucker headed to his dad's office and found the document in issue sitting in the middle of his father's large ornate desk. There sure was a lot of writing on the thing. He noticed the name Laird Roan had been written at the top of the contract beside the designation of party one. So that was the guy's name. Tucker picked up his dad's fountain pen, (both his parents had a penchant for finely-nibbed writing instruments), printed his name beside party two, and then signed as neatly as he could in the corresponding spot at the bottom of the paper. He noticed his was the only signature on the sheet, and Tucker wondered why for a moment, but then thought it probably wasn't important. In any event, he'd done what he could to help his sisters, and that was what really mattered.