Home > Matched to the Minotaur

Matched to the Minotaur
Author: Luna Joya







My magic is failing. Another boundary in the labyrinth fell to the void this morning.

The only possible fix? To meet my fated mate in the next few weeks, when I’ve lived centuries without finding her. The matching contract with a dealing demon seems a long shot. Yet Theo promises he has found my mate.

Without her, my kingdom and I will die. She could save us all, but I’ve lost hope. How could any human accept a match with a minotaur? Who could love a monster like me?









Haunted houses have never been my idea of a good time. Perched on a staggering cliff along the California coastline, the freaky mansion has turrets and stained-glass windows jutting out at odd angles. The sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean behind it as our car inches along the driveway, painting those colorful windows aflame in golds, oranges, and reds.

How could my best friends think this was the perfect way to celebrate our college graduation?

Reaching into the pocket of my hoodie, I close my fingers over my latest game piece creation to settle my nerves. “How did I let you guys talk me into this?” I ask for what feels like the hundredth time.

Rosemarie sits next to me in the backseat. “Because you love us,” she says.

“True.” I can’t argue with fact. Actually, I’m a tiny bit jealous of the effortless awesomeness my three friends possess. Like how Rosemarie accepts every part of herself, including the curves and scars that social media would pick apart in an instant. I, on the other hand, poke at each roll or dimple as if I could mean-glare it away.

“Besides,” she says, “it’s the best grad trip. A drive up the coast, a glorious sunset turning to a full moon, and an evening touring a historic landmark? We deserve this.”

But do we? Because what she’s raving about sounds more like torture to me than a party. Plus, the only thing I need from the post-grad universe is time to figure my shit out. Time without bills to pay.

“So how does this tour work?” I ask, stalling for a few. “Do we need tickets?” And if so, can I use the excuse of not having one to bail now?

From the front passenger seat, Ava pulls an envelope from her pink purse. Our group’s consummate organizer, the woman would put the anti-cluttering TV shows to shame. She had her college schedule arranged for maximum achievement while I debated which art theory class might be more fun. She waves the manila envelope that casts a dark shadow in the now growing twilight. “I have them here, in alphabetical order.”

“By what?” Val asks as she parks the car along the paving stones that lead up to the house. “Our fears or our kinks?” That’s Val. Vivacious and unapologetic. From her blazing red lipstick to her equally bold opinions, she always turns the conversation to our sex lives.

Well, at least to our imaginary sex lives in my case, since I haven’t gotten laid since I walked in on my whiny asshole of an ex a year ago on Halloween, banging his “study buddy.” I don’t remember the woman’s face, but I can describe—in excruciating detail—the naughty schoolgirl uniform that she’d tossed over the customized chess set I’d hand carved for his birthday.

I can also list each ugly insult Dirk the Jerk hurled my way. Stupid. Fat. Flake. Psycho. The cruel memories from months of gaslighting mock me, even now. I don’t need any help being haunted by awful things. Ugh, why did I have to think of him tonight when my stomach already twists in stress knots? I shake off the past, clinging to the present no matter how much that house terrifies me.

Maybe I can still wriggle out of this horror tour with the same stealth power I used to squeeze into these fabulous jeans.

“I sorted our passes by our names, of course.” Ava hands me my ticket, which indeed has my name printed across the front in fancy letters. “Here, Meg.”

This looks like the kinds of fancy embossed invitation I would expect for weddings. What kind of haunted house staff has time to handwrite my name in expert calligraphy? As the four of us pile out of the car, I shove it in the back pocket of my jeans with a beat-up paperback before sweat from my palm dampens it.

“Thanks,” I tell her. There goes my excuse to not go in that monstrosity of a house.

Val takes her ticket last, with a flourish of her manicured nails. Tossing her keys into her bottomless designer bag, she glances up at the house. “It looks like a demented wedding cake.”

She’s not wrong. The front door looks like a gaping maw, with two spindly columns as giant fangs—and not the kind I had imagined while binge-watching hot vampire boyfriend shows. Mismatched wings flank the entrance, guarded by gargoyles.

Spindly turrets shoot up from three towers that scream Victorian meets Gothic Revival, with a little Dracula’s lair tossed in for extra creep factor. Don’t get me started on whatever springs out of the center piece, because I can’t tell if it’s a bad take on a clock tower or a cupola. I took architecture appreciation courses, along with a lot of art history classes that I have no interest in pursuing as a career, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

Ava and Val head toward the front stairs. Those two have been tight since attending an elite grade school together, adding Rosemarie their freshman year and me after I transferred in from community college. I’m lucky they include me in everything—even this latest misadventure.

Fog rolls through in cold waves, and I shiver.

“You okay?” Rosemarie bumps into my side, as she does so often. Only this time, I stumble and have to catch myself. “Listen,” she says, “if you want to go—”

“And stay in the car alone? No, thank you.” I take a deep breath and focus on stopping my ramble. “Besides, I can’t let you three go in that place without bestie backup. If a creepy psycho nabs you, I would never forgive myself.”

“Funny. Here.” She slips one of her many necklaces over her head and passes it to me. “My abuela gave me this charm to ward off bad spirits.”

“You keep it.” Believing in ghosts, monsters, or magic to keep away evil? That’s not me. Plus, I refuse to separate her from anything that her beloved late grandmother gave her. “We’ve got this.”

“Truth.” She rattles the bracelets circling both her wrists, the rainbow of colors beautiful against her light brown skin. “I have my crystals. Nothing’s coming for us.”

Nerves have a giggle bubbling up through my tight throat. “I bet it’s actors inside with prop chainsaws and bad soundtracks of creaking chains and cackling witches.”

But Rosemarie doesn’t laugh. “This place is for real haunted. I checked out the history of it for the past century, and plenty of people have gone missing from the house and the grounds. Suicides or accidents, mostly with the cliffs, but some murders, too.”

My breath catches, and my chest goes tighter than Val’s body con dress. “Crap on a creep cracker.” Great, now I’m spoofing my mom’s favorite curse—solid proof of how scared I am. “We’re touring a friggin’ homicide house?” I stay far away from true crime, forensic shows, or anything else guaranteed to leave me checking the closets and under the bed before I sleep. “Why would they even offer that as entertainment?”

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