A set of butterfly pins--on right
A Starbucks gift certificate
A book dedication
A download of Minder
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Among the northern tribes there is a legend passed down from generation to generation about shape-shifting Minders—guardians of the innocents—and how they came to be.
It is said that nowadays only a handful of Minders exist, hunted to near extinction by a fearsome beast. Of the remaining Minders, only one wears a garnet-studded collar, the symbol of protection and royalty.
Even when my aunt told me the story, and handed me an ancient garnet-studded band, I had no idea the tale applied to me.
After all, it’s only a legend…
We left Bayforks about five o’clock and once again cut through the forest. A Monarch butterfly fluttered over my head for a moment then flew away.
We were almost home when a deer leaped across our path.
“Oh look.” My aunt pointed at the tawny blur.
I’d already seen it. My butt twitched and quick as a cat I gave chase. I couldn’t believe my speed. I bounded easily over a fallen log. My blood hummed with joy. I chased the deer for a quarter of a mile through the winding forest then leaped. As I reached out to grab its flank, the deer kicked out with small hooves that caught me square in the stomach.
“Oof.” I flew through the air and landed on my butt, jolted back to reality.
“Oh crap. Not again.” I drew up my knees and put my head in my hands. What’s wrong with me? I began to shake.
I heard racing footsteps but I was too embarrassed to look up. Aunt knelt beside me and put her arms around me. Her subtle fragrance enveloped me as she laid her cheek next to mine and rocked me as best she could. Her racing heart belied her calm manner. “It’s okay, Rora.”
“How can you say that, Aunt? I just chased a deer,” I mumbled.
To my surprise she laughed. “Not your usual reaction, I grant you. Come on, let’s get cleaned up. We can talk over dinner.”
I winced and grabbed my stomach as I rose.
“Are you all right?”
Before I could respond she raised my shirt. Goose bumps rose as the wind blasted my bare skin. I looked down. Two hoof prints stood out red against my toned abs. “I’ll be black and blue by tomorrow,” I grumbled even though I have no one to blame but myself.