From now until Halloween, the Manuscript Mavens are running a Choose Your Own Adventure® story, in which YOU vote on what happens next! Every morning brings a new author, from the Mavens to the just-sold, to the best-selling. And every night brings a new twist!
(No idea what's going on? Read the "rules.")
One by one, she snagged the tip of the gloved fingers in her mouth and ripped the leather free. When she was done, she looked at his bare hands and gasped. "Why, sir..." she breathed, her entire body going hot as her mind danced with a hundred possibilities.
"You're all thumbs!" she said with disbelief. He sighed, the air rushing from him like a squished zombie lung. He flexed his ten thumbs, trailing one across her nipple one last time but her body failed to respond. Both their shoulders slumped as the sexual tension in the room fizzled like the beakers surrounding them.
"Curses," she whispered. "I was really looking forward to that." She started to pull her clothes back on, thanking heavens that her stays were broken and would no longer be cutting into her undead flesh.
"Just one curse, I'm afraid." He let his head drop to his hands, his thumbs tugging at his too long tresses. "I was kinda hoping you'd be able to help me with it, too."
She sighed, flicking a fingernail against one of the boiling beakers: plink… plink… plink. She admired her many different fingers: index, ring, pinkie.
"I blame your sister, really." He continued, holding his right hand up and inspecting his cuticles. "It was she I was first in love with. She I wooed in my carriage that night. She my life has always revolved around. But then when I couldn't," he coughed, his nubby thumbs covering his mouth, causing Mary to shudder and look away. "Well, your sister cursed me for being so fumbling. I hate to say it, Mary, but she's kind of a witch."
Mary stopped pinging the beakers with her fingernails. "I know," she admitted. "It runs in the family. Along with a few other things. Doesn't every family have its skeletons? Or rather zombies?" She felt a familiar pinch of hunger in her stomach and stole a sidelong glance at Lord Nightshade. Idly she wondered what sort of defense he'd be able to muster with his hands being as ungainly as they were.
She could feel her senses leaving her, the clarity she'd felt after eating Dr. Hemlock dissipating. "Any idea of that handsome Marquis of Moonlight is still around?" she wondered out loud. "I'm feeling a might peckish. Perhaps a snack will help fuel the flames." She hopped from the table and began pacing around the lab, peering through boiling beakers of various colors, watching the way the light played off her ever-dried out and deadening skin.
"Is that all you ever think about, Mary?" Lord Nightshade asked. "A man stands cursed before you, begging entrance to your body. A tragedy stirs about your village and your sister is goodness knows where, ready to strike again. I can't even leave this place without coming back here because my stupid imp can't ever figure out what I'm pointing to and only knows how to turn right. And here you are asking about a snack!"
Now he was up pacing as well. Mary had to admit, he was working himself up to a rather tasty smelling sweat. She licked her lips. "Seriously," she croaked. "I think we need to find this Moonlight guy posthaste. Or maybe, since you brought him up, your impish driver is available?"
"Mary," Nightshade growled. "You don't want to eat the imp, his brain is rotten and he's a horrible driver. Even killed a man once while I was in the carriage. But that is not the point. Do you not see we have bigger issues than your stomach! Get a grip on yourself!"
He was making her feel stupid. Just like Hemlock made her feel stupid. She was quite tired of feeling stupid. "You've never truly understood me, Nightshade," she said. "You know I can't think on an empty stomach." She stalked closer towards him, knocking beakers from tables as she passed. "And here you are complaining about too many thumbs. Perhaps the way to end the curse has been before us all along." She pulled one of his thumbs into her mouth, her lips closing around the soft, tender flesh.
His eyelids flitted shut. "This isn't what I had in mind when I said we needed to find a way to break the curse," he groaned. He felt her tongue wrapping around his skin, her teeth encircling the joint. He stepped back until his hips rested against one of the tables. He could feel the steam from the tipped beakers behind him. His skin tingled, his every nerve alive as if he were on fire.
"You know, Mary," he gasped. "I really think you must realize that…"
(A) his voice turned into a scream as Mary's teeth ripped through his flesh. Somehow Nightshade didn't feel as if this cure was going to turn out so well for him, after all, things hadn't ended too well for poor Hemlock…
(B) "My coat is on fire," he said, rather dully. "And your sister has reappeared over there. And I think I might have figured out how to save the town from tragedy. And I'm certain it might have been you I loved all along. I think. Oh, and it appears the combination of liquids we've spilled are combining to create some sort of cloud of elixir to rid us of our curses. You're no longer a zombie, my fingers have returned. We are saved." He turned back to his cuticles. "And I think it might cure the zombies too. Just saying, is all."
(C) Before he could finish, Mary tried to say something, her words garbled by Nightshades thumb in her mouth. "Huh?" he asked. "I said," she said, "That I finally remembered what it was I was trying to remember before…."
(D) "Oh curses," Nightshade mumbled. "It's that infernal Marquis of Moonlight here to rescue the damsel again. I hate it when he does that!"
YOUR TURN: You decide what happens next! Leave your vote in the comments by 8pm (5pm Pacific) every day between now and Halloween---Tomorrow's story continued by Ann Aguirre with the twist YOU choose!
Today's continuation brought to you by Carrie Ryan.