The sidekick in fiction has a long and honorable tradition. What would Batman be without Robin? Don Quixote without Sancho Panza ? Sookie Stackhouse without Tara Thornton? Or one of my personal favorites, Shrek without his annoying but good-hearted friend, the Donkey?

The sidekick in fiction may serve as a friend or confidant, but he or she is there as a foil—to show us another side of the protagonist. For example, Dr. Watson is the perfect foil to Sherlock Holmes’s wild flights of fancy and preternatural detective skills. Sherlock can be a sociopathic S.O.B. at times, but Watson shows us his good side. Like any decent sidekick, Watson also serves to prick at Holmes, adding tension and humor to lighten things up in between the serious business of solving the latest case.

An Otter Sidekick

In my own Fada Shapeshifters series, I had a lot of fun creating an otter sidekick for Tiago, the river fada who is the protagonist of Tempting the Dryad (Book 3). I knew I wanted animals in my shapeshifter world, but I figured a species who is part animal themselves (as the fada are) wouldn’t keep pets. Instead, the animals interact with the shapeshifters on an equal, one-species-to-another level.

Fausto is a river otter with silky brown hair and black-button eyes who first appears in Seducing the Sun Fae (Book 1). Faust is a river otter with a silky brown hair and black-button eyes. He’s strong, protective and a ladies’ man—just like my fada. *grin*

Tiago had brought his otter friend Fausto and was feeding him tidbits. He whispered something in Fausto’s ear and the intelligent creature hopped on the table to offer Cleia an oyster on the half-shell, chattering in a language only he and Tiago understood.

“Lady Cleia,” Tiago said, “Fausto has a gift for you—an oyster that he shucked himself.”

The otter set it in her palm.

“Why, thank you.” Cleia brought it to her lips, and with the help of a fork, tipped it deftly into her mouth. “Delicious,” she proclaimed.

Fausto chittered happily and scooted back across the table to shuck another oyster. (excerpt from Seducing the Sun Fae ©2015 Rebecca Rivard)

I gave Tiago a special Gift—he can talk to animals. Eventually, he teaches Fausto some rudimentary Portuguese. Fausto is a family man, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t flirt with Tiago’s love, the dryad Alesia.

We learn early that where Fausto’s concerned, food is the cure for just about anything. Here he attempts to comfort Alesia early in the novel. (Back story: Tiago and Alesia are best friends—but she wants more. Tiago has finally made the first move, but then he withdraws for reasons he doesn’t explain, leaving Alesia upset and wanting.)

Fausto appeared from wherever he’d been hiding. He rose up on his hind legs to gaze after Tiago with an expression of complete disgust that would’ve been comical if Alesia wasn’t feeling so bad. She crouched down to wrap her arms around him and nuzzle his neck. He made a comforting rumble deep in his throat.

Adeus, belo,” she said over the constriction in her chest. “Come visit any time—you don’t have to wait for Tiago. Compreende?”

The otter nodded. He pressed a bunch of leaves into her hand before loping after Tiago.

Alesia inhaled raggedly. She bit her lip and concentrated on breathing until she had herself under control.

Her fingers tightened on the leaves. The crisp scent of watercress filled the air. She glanced down. Fausto had given her a handful of early greens.

She let out a half-sob, half-laugh. “Oh, belo. Food isn’t going to make this better.” (excerpt from Tempting the Dryad © 2016 Rebecca Rivard)

Who’s your vote for favorite fictional sidekick? Let me know in the comments. And until next time, hugs and enjoy the read!

—Rebecca Rivard

USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Rivard writes about dark shifters, sexy fae and alpha vampires—which has to be the best job ever. Tempting the Dryad (#3, Fada Shapeshifters) is a 2017 RONE Finalist for Best Fantasy/Science Fiction Romance. Website: www.rebeccarivard.com