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Griffin's Protection
Author: Lola Gabriel





Oakley grilled dinner while the witch frantically explained over the phone that she hadn’t killed the demon and that the Immortal Council was going to kill her for a crime she did not commit, as one does.

Oakley flipped the steak over on the grill. The flames burst higher for just a second, lapping at the juices and sizzling the meat, before receding again like a scorned dog. “Right, Poppy…” He slipped his tongue over his teeth thoughtfully. How was he supposed to say this? “Look. I’m retired. I want to help you. But…” Ah shit. What was a good excuse? You obviously killed the demon and now you’re cashing in some old family favors as a disgraceful attempt to save your own hide? “But it sounds like there’s not much I can do.”

Ah, that was a good one. It didn’t work. She went back to asking him to listen, just listen for a second please, and blah blah blah. Yeah, he’d heard it a million times. He’d lived multiple centuries, been around the world more times than he could count, and he’d experienced just about everything. Oakley had heard it all, yet there was always someone who thought they could sweet-talk their way out of some mess they created. He bobbed his head indulgently, muttering a few things as she kept talking. He leaned over the grill and watched a glowing ember crumble and fall apart.

Poppy. All that he knew about her was that she was some witch who owned a shop in Minneapolis that got behind on her payments and got mixed up with some bad people. She got involved with demons, and lo and behold, she was arrested for murdering one of them. Apparently, she’d been having an affair, and when word was about to get out, she put the bastard in the ground.

What he knew about Poppy from Poppy’s point of view was that she was innocent, and she’d never do any of these things.

Right… He didn’t believe it for a second—an awful lot of coincidences in her story made her rendition unbelievable. He’d been on the Immortal Council a mighty long time, a mighty long time. Sure. She just happened to be the owner of the medicine that got the demon killed. Sure, she just happened to be the one who prepared the potion. Sure, she just happened to fit the exact description of the woman who killed him. Sure, she just happened to look precisely like the woman that the demon’s mate said was having an affair with the demon. All coincidences.

Totally believable.

In fact, the only reason he was still on the phone with her was because of Donny. Good ole Donny. A smile slipped across Oakley’s face before watering down into a grimace. God, he really was getting old. He was talking to a witch that was the, what, great-granddaughter of one of his friends? And it wasn’t even a big deal?

The call took a little while. She’d been arrested, her powers temporarily ripped from her, and she had been sanctioned to house arrest. She’d await trial, and then if all went well, she’d be released and her powers would be returned. If she was found guilty, she’d have a significantly worse time.

He zoned back in to the conversation. Her voice was quieter now. Softer, with a hint of desperation slipping out beneath the strength she’d been showing the whole time. Most of the entire conversation had been her, furious and frustrated. This was new. He lowered his spatula and listened more, waiting to hear what the witch had to say.

She sighed audibly from the other side. “Listen, sir, I…I’m sorry. I wish I didn’t have to call you, but I’m out of options. I need your help. Please.” A pause. “And I’ll understand if you don’t want to help, but I needed to try. I know you hold a lot of power, and…I don’t know, I know you’re supposed to be a computer genius and all the security footage vanished and nobody seems to be able to get them back. So I just…I just had to ask.”

He opened his mouth to tell her no, and that he wasn’t going to be coming back into the arena to help her out. He’d probably be backing a murderer, first off, and he’d worked too long and too hard on his reputation to have it dragged through the dirt in the shitshow this case was already becoming.


The word kept ringing around in his head. Probably. He’d probably be backing a murderer. But what if they were actually wrong about her? What if she genuinely hadn’t killed the demon and he let the descendent of Donny face the slammer or execution wrongfully? All the odds and evidence pointed one way, but maybe this was the one time where everything lined up perfectly and the wrong person got put away or executed. He’d retired. This was a game for the Immortal Council to decide.

He sucked in a quick breath, tossing the idea around in his head. Worst-case scenario, his reputation would be linked with a lying murderer, dragged through the dirt and stained. Best-case scenario…she was innocent, and he could help.

A scowl hardened on his face before he spoke. This would be the correct time to ignore his instinct, to live out his happy life and not get sucked back into the messy political world. But he couldn’t. And his instinct said he had to at least hear her out in person and see how much truth there was to this whole situation, even if it was just for Donny. He flipped the burger over one more time before speaking.

“Okay. Fine. I’ll come down there and see what’s going on. I’m not promising anything. But I’ll check it out.”

He heard a whoosh of relief from the other side. “Thank you, thank you. God, you’re the best!”

An uneasy feeling coiled around his guts, tightening and tightening. This was going to be…unexpected. He didn’t know what it was, or why he felt that way, but his instinct screamed at him that something here wasn’t going to go the way he expected. Maybe she’d try to kill him, marry him, or betray him. But this wasn’t going to go the way he expected. He knew that already, and his instinct was never wrong. His brain made bad decisions, his heart had been led astray, but his instinct, his gut instinct…when it spoke, he listened.



Poppy’s day had gone from good, to bad, to shitty, to downright abysmal.

Her day had started off wonderfully. The apothecary was doing well, business was on the rise, and she lived in Minneapolis—a fantastic progressive city. She’d wanted to live there since she was a kid, and part of her wondered if the delight and magic of the city would wear off with time, but it didn’t. Every day, she woke up and felt refreshed. Chasing the dream, living the life.

Until some assholes arrested her for killing a demon.

That was about the point where her day got significantly worse. A couple of men in suits brushed in through the shop doors, triggering the bell hanging over the door. A friendly little chime signaled the entrance of two very unfriendly guys. The second she’d looked at them, her shoulders drew back and her fingers clenched. Some characters didn’t need to say a thing to say who they were. Danger seeped off them, a certain sense of uncertainty and angst oozing off their sharp pressed suits and designer sunglasses.

She’d been right.

The moment she’d identified herself, they’d arrested her in the name of the Immortal Council. Then they’d cuffed her, brought in some assholes who cast a few spells on her before she could even figure out what was happening, and within an hour or two, she was on house arrest and powerless. Powerless, like a human. Powerless, like a person who’d killed someone and who was too dangerous to be given magical abilities.

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