The next couple of days went by very slowly. I hung around the house for the most part catching up on some spring cleaning. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t afraid to go out. Every time I thought about leaving, the men who could double as tanks guarding me reminded me that I was. Leo and Vance had called several times to check up on me but we didn’t talk much. I really didn’t know what to do, or what to say to either of them. My brain couldn’t handle the additional stress. Unfortunately for my brain, seeing both of them was inevitable. I worked for Leo and I needed Vance to help me with all the fairy stuff. Plus my stupid heart didn’t like being without either of them for too long. Go figure.
On Wednesday afternoon, I was reading the latest Janet Evanovich novel when I heard the buzzer. I looked at the clock and saw that it was almost two, time for a shift change. Maybe Tom had forgotten his keys.
“Hello?” I called through the intercom.
“Who is this?” I asked.
“Baby, it’s Chad,” he replied.
Oh, Jesus. “Chad, what are you doing here?”
“I heard about what happened. Can I please come up for a few minutes? I promise I won’t stay very long.”
“Yeah, okay, a few minutes. That’s it,” I said as I buzzed him in. Shit!
He hugged me tightly as soon as I opened the door. “Wow, this place brings back some old memories,” he gloated. “I remember when we christened every room in this house like it was yesterday. It was nice having all that extra space without the furniture, wasn’t it?”
Oops, did I just sneer? This was supposed to be our apartment together…until I found out about his extracurricular activities. Chad had wanted to move into a nicer building but I insisted on paying half the rent so we chose one I could afford. I had already given up my old place so I fought to keep this one. I really didn’t appreciate his reminder. “The clock’s ticking, Chad,” I snapped. “What do you want?”
He reached for me again, but I sidestepped him, giving him the evil eye. “I needed to see that you were okay with my own eyes. I can’t believe you’ve been sucked into this too. I’m so sorry, Karli. The last thing I wanted was for you to get hurt because of me.”
“You mean more than I already have?” Was he trying to piss me off?
“Kar, I already told you how sorry I am about that. Have you given any more thought to my offer?”
Ugh, hell no! “Sorry, Chad, I’m still standing firm on this one. I appreciate your concern, but as you can see, I’m fine.” I opened the door to let him out, and saw Vance fast approaching.
He glared at Chad before looking at me and asking, “Everything okay in here?”
“Yes, Chad was just leaving,” I said.
Amazingly, he got the hint and started walking out, but not without clipping Vance’s shoulder first. “Excuse me, asshole,” he said to Vance. “Call me if you change your mind, Kar. I love what you’ve done with our little love nest by the way.”
Vance closed the door behind him and asked, “What the hell was that about?”
“Nothing, he’s just being Chad,” I replied. “What brings you here?”
“My guy trailing him called me. He thought I’d like to know he was headed here.”
“So are you spying on me now?” I shrieked.
“No, Karli, calm down,” he said. “We’re pretty sure Chad is the cause of this whole mess. He is the one person you should stay far away from. It’s a security risk. Nothing more.”
“Oh.” Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions so fast.
“You up for some new tricks?” he asked.
“I suppose.” What the hell? He was already here. “I was just about to make lunch. You want some?”
“I’d love some.”
I started moving around my tiny, U-shaped kitchen making tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Vance helped, finding every little excuse possible to brush up against me. When we were done eating he said, “Well, I already know you can conjure a wardrobe and shock the hell out of someone. What else can you do?”
“Not much really. Just basic stuff like clothes, hairstyle, make-up. I tried changing my crappy car into a Mercedes once while I was in college but it didn’t even last long enough for me to get inside. The shock was actually an accident. I was freaked out and it kinda just flew out of my hand.”
“Well, combat magic is actually pretty advanced. Why don’t we start on a smaller scale? You want to try changing an object again?”
He walked over to my television. Shaking his head he said, “No, this just won’t do.” He closed his fist and opened it again, revealing a small mound of fairy dust. “Now watch. All I’m going to do is imagine what I want to see.” He sprinkled the glitter-like substance over my 26” set, changing it into a much larger model. “That’s much better. You need at least 50” to watch a game.”
“Wow, that’s a good one! Will it stay that way?”
“The strength of the spell lies in the strength of the individual,” he explained. “Any object that I create can be permanent if I choose to make it so.”
“So is that why you have such nice stuff?” I asked.
He gave me a guilty smile. “Maybe.” Ah ha! Gotcha!
“You are such a cheater!” I teased.
He gave me a serious look and put his arms around my waist. “Not where it counts.”
He moved in to kiss me but I backed away. “Hey, I thought I was supposed to be learning some magic here. Are you going to let me try changing something?”
He released me from his grip. “Of course. Where would you like to start?”
I looked around the room and spotted a flower vase. I conjured some dust in my hand and imagined a giant bouquet of Casablanca lilies. I sprinkled it over the daisies but they did nothing. Pouting, I said, “It’s not working.”
Vance walked up from behind me and placed his hands on my hips. “Try again.”
I closed my eyes while I gathered more dust. My hips felt about ten degrees warmer under his touch. I opened my eyes, redirecting my attention to the vase in front of me. I felt much more focused, like nothing but the vase existed. Sprinkling the dust over its surface, I watched the bright pink flowers transform into the image from my mind. “Wow.” I touched the fragrant petals. “That’s really cool. Will they last?”
“Yeah, they’ll last,” he said with confidence. “The normal amount of time for a cut flower anyway.”
Remembering the heat radiating from his hands I asked, “Is that because you did something?”
He nodded. “You did most of it; I just gave you a little boost. It’s all in the concentration. You simply need to remove all of the other elements in the room and focus on the task at hand. Do you want to try something without an expiration date?”
“Like what?” I asked.
I thought about it for a few seconds before I led him to my bedroom. I looked at my old, full-sized bed and said, “I’ve always wanted a big, four-poster bed.”
“More room is always better,” he breathed into my ear, sending chills down to my girly parts. “Shall we try for a King or Queen?” He splayed his fingers across my hips from behind again, reigniting the fire from earlier.
“Definitely King.” I recalled a photo of the Park Avenue bed from the Nicole Miller line. I saw it in a magazine once and wanted it ever since, but could never justify the expense since I was saving for a house. I threw some dust over my quilt and felt the air sizzle around me. I opened my eyes to find the perfect combination of form and function, with an extreme emphasis on style. It came complete with the gunmetal gray silk duvet and crisp, white Egyptian cotton sheets. “Wow,” I said, nearly breathless from the beauty of this piece of furniture.
“Impressive,” Vance agreed. He moved in front of me to test the mattress with his hands. “Pillow top...nice.” Turning towards me he added, “Feel like taking it for a test drive?”
I put my hand on my hip and narrowed my eyes at him. “You wish.”
“Yeah, I do,” he admitted shamelessly. “And your point being?”
I thought it’d be best to get the hell away from the bed since I had no point. “Ugh, is that all you ever think about?” I asked as he followed me back into the living room.
“Hey, I’m a guy. I think about it a lot. But probably no more than you right now.”
Mortified by his blatant remark about my hormone explosion, I whipped around and smacked him on the chest. “Hey buddy, now that’s just rude to call a girl out on the table like that.”
He laughed. “I’m just saying---”
“Yeah, yeah,” I interrupted. “It’s soooo funny that Karli really needs to get laid but can’t. Ha ha!”
He moved in closer, ready to pounce. “Hey, I never said you can’t. I’d be more than happy to help you with your little…problem.”
I launched for the door. “Okay, Mister, time to go.” I opened it for him and found Tom standing at his post. From the look on his face, I guessed he’d been eavesdropping on our conversation. I gave him a dirty look before returning my attention to Vance. “All right. I’ll take that under advisement. Now go,” I insisted.
He leaned over to whisper into my ear. “I’ll go, Karli, but I wanted to leave you with one last thought before I do.” I felt a light pressure in my head which turned into a memory of me and Vance on his bed, from his point of view. I was going down on him, clearly enjoying myself. He pulled back to study my reaction and smiled. I’m pretty sure my jaw was wide open in shock because he just laughed at me and walked away without another word. Bastard!