Authors: Michelle L. Levigne
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy Romance, #Fantasy & Magic
Uncial Press Aloha, Oregon
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events described herein are
products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real.
Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely
ISBN 13: 978-1-60174-121-9
ISBN 10: 1-60174-121-9
Death by Chocolate
Copyright © 2011 by Michelle L.
Cover art and design
Copyright © 2011 by Victoria Conrad
All rights reserved. Except for use in review, the reproduction or utilization of this work
in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or
hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the author or publisher.
Published by Uncial Press,
an imprint of GCT, Inc.
Visit us at http://www.uncialpress.com
Some stories don't die--but they might be asleep for a long time.
Many thanks to my intrepid publisher for picking up these stories again,
and for encouraging me to write another misadventure of lovelorn Fae in the
This story might--and might not--be the last Fae adventure. It ties in
some characters and locations from the Neighborlee, Ohio books, most notably
the Divine's Emporium stories.
Queen Mellisande IV--the fourth Fae Administrator Queen of that name, and no relation
to the previous three--was dead of a surfeit of chocolate.
Such a thing had never been heard of, or even imagined, in all the Fae realms. It was like
one of the gods of Olympus being dead of too much ambrosia and nectar. Or a Fae not getting
tipsy after chugging an entire six-pack of diet cherry cola.
In short: impossible.
Yet she was dead, with a blissful grin on her face. That was entirely expected,
considering the ambrosial, healing qualities of chocolate. However, no one expected to find her
bloated to the point of strained seams in her official royal gown. This was her uniform of sorts,
worn for official public presentations and functions, and when the Fae Council was in session
and all the Fae in the Enclaves as well as the Human realms could tune in through the Ether and
watch as their duly elected government handled the careful administration of all things
It was a pity, too--about the gown, at least. The queen had just been elected and crowned
after the impeachment of the previous Administrator King, and the gown was still stiff and shiny,
practically fresh from the silkwyrm's lair.
The usual suspects: the administrators who had been rivals in the election, the upper
class Fae who thought they had previous claim on the silk from that particular silkwyrm, the
rabble-rousers who wanted to bring back the hereditary royalty, and everyone who had brought
Queen Mellisande chocolate to celebrate her election.
That was a lot of Fae, because most of the queen's congratulatory gifts were chocolate.
As evidenced by the fact that it had taken her nearly three months to eat her way through the
inventory of gifts to reach the chocolate that killed her.
Everyone who had brought the queen chocolate was notified by communication globe
not to travel, period, until they were taken off the suspect list, the investigators came to talk with
them, or they were given further instructions. Whichever came first.
"Okay," Epsibellah said, when the communication globe patiently strobed through green
to blue to green to yellow and back again, waiting for her response. "But does that mean I stay
here?" She gestured around Lori's kitchen.
Technically, it was Brick's kitchen in his big, two-hundred-year-old ancestral home in
Neighborlee, but since Lori and Brick were on their honeymoon, it was now Lori's house and
kitchen. Epsi was house-sitting and trying some exposure therapy to get over her agoraphobia
directly linked with being in the Human realms. She was an Enclave baby, which meant she was
terrified and broke out in purple and yellow spots when she was exposed for too long to alien
She had spent the last three days isolated in Brick and Lori's home, watching DVDs,
learning to bake chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies the Human way, and enjoying herself
tremendously. She had run out of chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Because her experiment
had gone so well so far, she had psyched herself up to venture out to the grocery store instead of
transporting Fae chocolate in to her.
Now the communication globe floated in the air in front of her, with the warning, and
she was frozen again, terrified to move. And wondering if she was smart to just stay in the
Human realms for the rest of her life. She had given Mellisande a boatload of chocolate as a
congratulation gift. Her election as Administrator Queen had been a triumph for Epsi, by
extension, because they had been classmates at Serafina's Fine Arts Academy for Magically
Slow Young Ladies of the Slightly Purple Blood. Meaning they were descendants of the last of
the royal line of the Fae, and had a hard time getting control of their magic when they were
children. Like Human children were a little slow in learning to walk or talk.
And when Epsi gave a boatload, it was exactly that: a boat the size of Cleopatra's barge,
the small one, for private day trips down the Nile when she wanted to get away from Julius and
Marc, made of chocolate and filled with chocolate.
Knowing Mellisande and her tendencies, Epsi was pretty sure that boat wasn't sitting
there in the royal gift cupboard-slash-warehouse, waiting to be eaten. With her luck, the queen
had floated the boat in that royal Olympic-sized pool of chocolate syrup that Epsi's wretched
distant cousin--but not distant enough--Theodosius had given her for her coronation gift. Then
she had gone deep sea diving, so to speak, and ate her way down to the life preserver of
That was a lot of chocolate to investigate. Epsi could only hope the queen had eaten all
of that first, and not recently enough for it to be considered the murder weapon.
Which brought up a point that hadn't been explained to her yet: How could chocolate
someone? Especially a Fae?
"Or do I have to come home?" she asked the communication globe.
"Processing," it responded, the magico-mechanical voice somewhat static-filled, owing
to the multiple dimensions it had to reach through between the Human realms and the
Bureaucracy Enclave where it originated.
Epsi sighed, knowing that "processing" was bureaucrat-ese for "wait until your ear
points droop." She looked around the kitchen and wondered if maybe there was some chocolate
she hadn't discovered yet.
Three hours later, she had ransacked the entire kitchen, drank two cups of hot chocolate
mix--not bad, but she decided to save the rest of the box for emergency rations, like in case of a
siege--and considered breaking into the crate of diet cherry cola that Maurice at Divine's
Emporium had given Lori and Brick as a wedding gift. Sighing, she crooked a finger, beckoning,
and the communication globe followed her as she went downstairs to the pantry in the
The communication globe was still strobing through the holding pattern by the time Epsi
hit pay dirt. At least, she hoped so. She found three bags of chocolate candy hidden away in the
cellar, wrapped up together in multiple layers of zipper bags, with a sticky note on each one that
emergency stash--use only when invaded by disgusting relatives.
It took her another ten minutes to get through all the layers. She ripped the first bag of
chocolate open. It looked like bridge mix, which was okay, but she preferred not to dilute her
chocolate with nuts and raisins and caramels. The delay hadn't brought her to the point of pain,
but she was feeling a sense of panic she had never known before, and that made her step back
and assess herself. There was no reason to dive into the bag headfirst, was there? After all, she
had a touch of purple blood, and even though the hereditary royalty no longer existed, she still
had some obligation coded into her genetics to act with class. So she paused to inhale the aroma
that escaped the bag, like wine connoisseurs would savor the aroma when the bottle was first
"Aauugghh!" Epsi staggered backwards, blinking furiously, feeling as if she had inhaled
liquid fire, with a good dose splashed in her eyes. She staggered backwards, tipping the bag. Half
the contents splattered all over the tile floor before she could think clearly enough to protect the
rest by clutching it against her chest. Even in pain and panic, it simply was not done to waste
chocolate. Despite how diluted her royal blood might be, there were some obligations she lived
up to. Respecting chocolate was one of them.
"Do you require assistance?" the communication globe inquired in that irritatingly calm,
"Absolutely!" Epsi bit her tongue to keep from shrieking that she had purple blood and
she deserved better than this. She was the one who had inhaled like a glutton. What was she
thinking, unwrapping something that Lori had definitely gone to a lot of trouble to keep sealed
up and hidden?
"Who would you like to call?"
"Will and Phill," she gasped, feeling a new wave of fire washing over her. And realized
she had been frozen in that position with the chocolate only inches from her nose. What had she
been doing, protecting chocolate that had tried to blind and suffocate her? She flung the bag
away and, with her eyes blinded by tears, staggered backwards, aiming for the stairs.
What was Lori doing with that stuff in the house? What kind of horrid relatives had she
been expecting, fearing, and hoping to kill?
"Hey, Epsi," Will said, as a wave of warm, flower-and-sea-scented air filled the room,
along with a gush of humidity that could only come from a South Seas island.
"Oh, honey, what happened?" Phill added, and caught hold of Epsi's hands. "You're all
"Poisoned chocolate!" Epsi gestured in the general direction of the bag she had thrown
away. She feared that when it hit the floor it had exploded, scattering the pellets like rat
"Why would Lori-- Forget it." Will took one of her hands from Phill's grip. "Brace
yourself. On three."
Epsi gripped their hands and when they had counted down together to one, there was a
flicker in the air signaling dimensional transfer. A second later they were in a room that echoed,
and with the sound of running water.
"Drink this," Will said. He held a container of something fizzing and smelling of
powdered charcoal, senna, and other bitter herbs up to Epsi's mouth.
She obediently drank, and drank, and drank until her stomach threatened to hurt. Will
took the glass away and a moment later a door closed.
"Off with your clothes." Phill got to work unbuttoning Epsi's shirt before she could
respond. "Standard decontamination procedure."
"What was in that?" she said, trying not to whimper.
"Clean you out from the inside. Detox, and a purgative, just in case you ate
"No, I only inhaled."
"Hey, Epsi, there's a communication globe out here trying to get in," Will called through
"Take a message!" she shouted, and finished shucking her clothes with Phill's help. In
moments, she stepped into the shower and was surrounded by a whirlpool of herbals, Epsom
salts, and warm water, suspended in the air so it bathed her from head to toe and saturated her
skin to pull out the impurities. And of course the standard undersea spell was mixed in, to let her
breathe water without drowning.
She could only hope the poisoned chocolates had been bought as a last-gasp measure
defense against the Dreadful Greats, the great-aunts, great-uncles, great-grandparents and other
not-so-great distant relatives who thought they had a say in how other people who actually had
lives lived those lives--who had tried up until the last minute to keep Lori from marrying Brick
and staying in the Human world.
Half an hour later, able to see again, but with her face and hands still slightly swollen
from exposure to the suicide bomber chocolate, Epsi settled down in the kitchen with Will and
Phill to indulge in a triple-chocolate brownie sundae. They had even brought in cans of chocolate
Reddi-Whip, so each of them had their own private supply of chocolate-flavored whipped
That was the test of real friendship, right there.
"That's insane," Will said, after Epsi finished explaining the announcement from the
communication globe, which had vanished while she was in the shower. The message had been
to simply stay where she was, not attempt to go into any alternate dimensions where
communication might be difficult, and be prepared to return to the central Enclave at a moment's