Make Someone Happy

By: Hank Fielder

Massage therapist Joe Wells is in a little over his head with his first job at the posh Magic Touch Sports Spa. He’s also secretly falling for his friendly, sexy coworker, the top-notch masseur Andre Swift. All the clients clamor for Andre, and so far none have taken to Joe.

On the verge of being fired, Joe saves the life of a mysterious kitten belonging to a white witch, who grants him a wish: a magic touch that could save his job and maybe even win him Andre’s love and respect. As Joe’s stock at the spa rises to crazy and barely manageable levels of success, demand for Andre’s services drops off. Will Joe lose Andre to an out-of-control spell? Or worse—Andre’s love might prove to be only a result of the magic, just like Joe’s sudden talent.





One





DO YOU believe in magic?

There was a time when Joe Wells would not have asked that question of anyone, much less himself. Not seriously, anyway.

He didn’t believe in the magic in songs about starry nights or in wishing on sea-blue birthday-cake candles or in tossing silver coins into leafy, vine-covered enchanted fountains in the hopes of finding true love.

That all changed when he got to know Andre Swift, and then his whole life and everything he wanted depended on him believing.

It started one fire-orange autumn afternoon, on a cloudless day that seemed like every other day, but wasn’t. It began with an angry customer; but grumpy, demanding customers weren’t anything new where Joe worked.

“Where’s the magic?” Clement Tisdale, a wealthy, big-bellied investment banker with athletic pretensions, sarcastically complained. He stood in a kind of comic wrestler’s stance in the soft recessed-lighting glimmer of the stylish reception lounge of the posh Magic Touch Sports Spa. “Isn’t this supposed to be a magical place? I didn’t feel any magic in this guy’s massage.” He pointed at Joe.

Joe exchanged a quick, wary glance with wide-eyed Billie, who stood behind the reception desk, trying to look busy.

“I’ve fallen down stairs that made my back feel better than this guy’s crummy technique,” said Clem.

Joe cringed as his bespectacled boss, Fred Marden, nodded and took the verbal abuse from Mr. Tisdale. It had been Fred’s idea to use the words “magic touch” as a metaphor for the top-notch but clearly earthbound experiences he hoped to provide his spa customers, and it must have stung to have his little flight of fancy thrown in his face like this.

“Joe has been a Sports Pro here for only three months,” Fred offered calmly. “He’s young, still learning the ropes.”

“The ropes” included using a lot of in-house jargon. For example, the massage therapists were called “Sports Pros.” Massages were whimsically called “Magic Touch Sessions.” Customers were referred to as “Gold through Platinum-level Guests.” Getting your toenails clipped, sanded, and buffed was called a “Sports Pedicure,” and a haircut and shave was called “Smart-groom Pro Essentials.” But getting fired from the spa was still called “getting fired.” And that’s what Joe was afraid of.

Joe wanted to succeed at this job more than anything, but he was finding it wasn’t going to be easy. This wasn’t the first time he’d disappointed a customer, unfortunately. Getting fired would be a disaster for him. Among other things, such as financial stability, working here meant being close to Andre every single day, and being parted from Andre was as unthinkable as being parted from his livelihood—worse, even.

He knew he was really in the hot seat this time. Clem Tisdale was powerful. It would take some real magic to get Joe out of this mess. But as far as he could tell, this spa was about as far from magical as it got in Milwaukee, where he’d moved after graduating from massage therapy school in Omaha in the early part of spring.

Joe knew he didn’t have the “magic touch,” but he doubted anyone else did either. Not really. That was just whimsical marketing. Except, just maybe, when it came to Andre Swift. Maybe there really was a kind of magic in Andre’s technique. He had something special going on. Everyone loved him.

Especially Joe. But so far Joe had kept his feelings for Andre a secret. Joe didn’t want to jeopardize their budding friendship with a declaration of something greater, which might be rejected. He was biding his time, and he was also afraid. Massages weren’t the only experiences for which Joe exhibited a bright shade of green. Joe had never really been in love before.