The Summer has rapidly transformed into crisp and chillier days, boots now create that satisfying *crunch* as you step on golden leaves fallen from the trees and Starbucks is promoting their Pumpkin Spice Latte’s almost everywhere. Just like that, we are in Autumn. Anticipating Halloween at the end of October, it is optimal time to start getting your spook on by reading a collection of magical and mysterious fictional tales in Magic and Romance (with sapphic characters of course).
Magic and Romance is a cross-genre collection of Sapphic tales by the bestselling author, Niamh Murphy.
No matter your preference of genre, this collection of Lesbian short stories is sure to feature a plot you will have a passion for! Perhaps you like reading historical romance or contemporary rom-com? Vampire thrillers or magical fantasy? Gothic horror or YA adventures? One thing is for certain. You are going to love Magic and Romance!
Magic and Romance: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories by Niamh Murphy
Are you ready to fall in love with this compelling collection of exciting, magical, and adventure-filled stories? Then start reading now with this short sample straight from the pages of In Rhythm.
IN RHYTHM [EXTRACT]
‘One, two-three. One, two-three,’ the rhythm went around and around in her head.
Kara clung to Felix as he led her this way and that. She focused on each move before it came. The heel turn, box step, into the lift… She tried to forget the pain in her feet. They were close to the end, it would soon be over, just a couple more moves. Then she could go home, have a bath, sink into the warm water…
“No, no, no, no, NO!” Kara and Felix jerked to a halt as their dance instructor, Ruby, yelled. She was a young woman, only twenty-five but already she had several trophies under her belt. She was tall, dark-haired and dark-eyed, beautiful, but intimidating. “Kara, are you even listening?” She had been giving them a tough time all evening, pushing them, over and over and over until Kara felt the music had no meaning left.
“We were in perfect time!” But Felix’s protest made him sound like a whining toddler, not a grown man of twenty. He was acting the diva which usually annoyed Kara, but today she was just glad his anger wasn’t aimed at her.
“What does timing matter, if you two look like you’re wandering around a supermarket?”
Kara stared at the floor. She knew she hadn’t been feeling the music, she wasn’t feeling anything right now. She was exhausted and just wanted to be done with this routine, done with this training session, and done with this competition.
Kara hated it when Ruby got angry. Not because Ruby was vicious or cruel; it was more because she hated to see her upset and hated to be the reason she was upset.
“You looked bored!” Felix tutted, infuriating Ruby further. “Both of you, but Kara, you just look like you want to be somewhere else entirely. There was no heart, no soul, no connection between you. You look like you are just going through the motions, and that will not impress the judges tomorrow.”
Kara knew exactly what Ruby meant. But she didn’t know what to say; she looked up at her and just felt stupid. Kara wasn’t ‘getting’ this dance, they were dancing to a love song, and, although she got on with Felix, pretending to be in love with him was just weird. He was her first dance partner, and she was starting to think that maybe she should go back to dancing solo, or just quit entirely.
“Come here.” Ruby held her arms open and Kara wondered why she wanted to suddenly hug her. “I won’t bite.”
Cautiously, Kara took a step forward and Ruby grabbed her hands and moved her into starting position. She was soft and warm and smelled so good. The thrill of being so close to Ruby sent a rush of excitement through her body that she wasn’t quite prepared for. The sensation of Ruby’s hand on the small of her back made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. As she moved her own hand onto her teacher’s waist, she had to remind herself to breathe.
But then she felt dread sink into her stomach as she realised she was going to have to dance with Ruby and dance well. There was so much spinning through her mind she wasn’t even sure she could remember the steps.
But then the music started, and she had to move.
It was intense. Kara’s heart was racing, her muscles were tight, and she felt herself stumbling through the moves. All she could think about was the heat from Ruby’s body, the smell of her perfume.
She had to admit that in her most private fantasies she had thought about this moment. About what it would be like to dance with Ruby, to be this close and hold her instructor’s body against her own. But now that it was happening she was numb, unable to think, and unable to move.
“Free yourself,” Ruby whispered. “Forget about the moves, forget where you are, forget who you are, just feel it.”
Ruby tried. She tried to let go of all her thoughts, all her worries about the competition, the analysis of the moves, the aching of her overworked muscles. She relaxed her grip on Ruby, relaxed into her, allowed herself to trust this woman, to trust her teacher, to be led by her, and then suddenly it just felt right.
She wasn’t dancing, she was flying.
She was soaring around the room with Ruby. She didn’t remember the steps, she knew them; they were part of the music and part of her. For those few brief moments, Kara was part of Ruby and Ruby was part of her, and both of them were a part of the music, moving as one across the room.
Then it was over.
Too soon it was over and they stopped, panting for breath. The exhilaration of the dance rushing through them, making them giddy with laughter. Ruby’s eyes were bright, looking straight at Kara, and Kara knew she’d felt it, too, knew that Ruby must have felt the intensity burning through them.
“That was amazing,” Ruby said.
Kara went to reply, to tell her she agreed; that it was wonderful, liberating, the most uplifting dance she had ever known, and that dancing with Ruby was the most powerful experience of her life.
“Well, if you could only dance like that all the time, we’d be alright.” Felix had broken the moment. He grabbed Kara by the waist, giving her a friendly squeeze of delight. “You did awesome, kid,” he said, grinning.
“Now see what you two can do.”
Ruby was no longer looking at her, no longer smiling. It was back to business, back to coaching, and, as Felix took Kara into starting position, she felt like a cold, wet fish. All the life and all the music were gone.
Kara took hold of Felix’s hand, she tried not to look at Ruby and tried not to think about how it had felt to dance with her. She had to think about Felix now; she had to focus on dancing with him.
Suddenly Felix was pulling her, the music had started, and she hadn’t even noticed. She was two steps behind. Kara had to catch up, to jump ahead: she was back in the rhythm but she knew it wasn’t neat. The dance was a mess already.
Kara pushed away thoughts about what Ruby might say, how disappointed she would be with her. She pushed away thoughts of the competition, the judges staring at Felix and her, the audience watching them, the other dancers laughing at them.
Worst of all would be failing in front of Ruby. Ruby watching her, disappointed, Ruby–
It was the lift. It was the lift already!
Kara hadn’t been thinking, she hadn’t been aware of where they were, she hadn’t jumped, she hadn’t given Felix the leverage he needed.
It was over so quickly.
One moment Kara’s feet were in the air, and the next she was lying winded on the ground as Felix yelled out in frustration.
It took Kara a second to catch her breath. Ruby was at her side immediately.
“Are you alright?” Ruby asked. She placed her hand on Kara’s shoulder: the intensity of the touch burned.
“Yes,” Kara managed to say, “I think so.”
“My ankle…” Felix said. The girls looked at him, he was pale and speaking through gritted teeth. “I twisted it as I went down.”
Ruby rushed to him, leaving Kara’s side, leaving behind the sensation of her hand on Kara’s shoulder. But there were more important things to think about now. Felix had been hurt before, he usually took it well and Kara hadn’t seen him in quite so much pain before.
As Ruby leaned down and lay a hand gently on his ankle, he had to stifle a cry.
“Okay,” she said softly.
Kara could see she was concerned, there was no emotion showing, she was completely poker-faced and that meant the worst.
“We’ll get you checked out, just in case.” Ruby forced a smile, but Kara and Felix knew what ‘just in case’ meant; ‘just in case it was broken,’ ‘just in case it couldn’t be danced on,’ ‘just in case this was the end of their ballroom championship campaign before it had even begun.’
Kara knew she should be worried about Felix, about how much pain he was in, and felt guilty that all she could think of was the competition, the dance, her career. It was her fault, it was her fault they had fallen; she hadn’t been paying attention, she hadn’t been focused on the dance, and now it was Felix who was struggling to climb up off the floor.
“Do you need a hand?” Kara stepped forward to offer her support to Ruby as she struggled to help Felix to his feet.
“You’ve done enough already,” Felix snapped.
The words stung, they hurt all the more because they were true.
She didn’t say any more to either of them.
Ruby helped Felix hobble out of the training room, while Kara watched, not sure what to do. She thought about waiting in the training room or heading home and forgetting about the whole thing. But she knew that running away would only make everything worse, so she gathered everyone’s belongings and followed them out to the car.
The journey to the hospital was silent. No one had anything to say, and Kara knew they both blamed her. Felix and Ruby had put in so many hours, training her up to enter the competition, helping her to reach the level she needed to in order to compete with the highest grade of ballroom dancers, and now she had ruined it all.
She suppressed a choking sob and stared out of the window at the darkening horizon.
When they reached the hospital, rather than follow them into the doctor’s office, Kara waited outside. She wasn’t sure how long they would be, and she didn’t know if she should wait for them or try to get home. Her body ached, her feet were sore, her muscles hurt, she was bruised where she had fallen, and it was all for nothing. Weeks of training, for nothing. There were less than twenty-four hours to go before the competition and Kara wasn’t even sure if she would be ready, let alone Felix.
“Do you want a ride home?” Kara looked up to see Ruby.
“What’s happened? Where’s Felix?”
“He’s waiting for his X-Ray results, but even if it isn’t broken he won’t be dancing tomorrow.”
Kara had known that already, she had known and yet the confirmation was still devastating.
“I’m sorry, it’s my fault,” Ruby said. Kara was startled: Ruby shouldn’t be apologising! “I shouldn’t have pushed you both to dance again, you were way too tired, it was too much. It’s just… you two are the first dancers I’ve trained, and I know you’re both so good! You could walk that competition tomorrow. But now…”
“No, it was me! I should have been focusing more, I should have–”
“Felix tried to take the blame, too, but we all know who pushed for that final dance.”
Kara stood up. She couldn’t let Ruby take the blame for her fall, for ruining everything. “But–”
“No buts,” Ruby said firmly. “There is no point, anyway. Blame doesn’t solve anything. Now, it’s getting late, shall I take you home?”
Kara nodded as her heart sank. Ruby was right, there was no point blaming anyone, it wouldn’t change the fact that the competition really wasn’t going to happen.
It was all over.
What the audience is saying? ★★★★✰
Do you want to learn even MORE about this collection of short stories? Well for the rest of October, exclusive spooky content including character profiles, inspirations and behind the scenes secrets will be featured on @authorniamh Instagram.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite collection of WLW short stories is! How about that one book that doesn’t necessarily have a horror-themed plot but is a little bit spooky and never fails to get you in the Halloween mood?
If you enjoyed this, you will love our list of 12 FREE Spooky Lesbian Stories to Sink Your Fangs Into