The Magic Touch(2)

By: Dara England

As she strolled further into the room, she took in the wreckage that was the living room. The furnishings were tasteful, she noted with approval. The brown leather sofas and armchairs fit well with the dark oak floors and the warmer color scheme of the walls and trim. But what would have been a cozy effect was spoiled by the way every available surface was cluttered with magazines, dirty clothes, used dishes, and odd bits of litter.

Danny broke into her observations. “I’m warning you one last time, you’d better get out.” He moved to the coffee table and snatched up a cell phone resting amid a scattering of old newspapers. “Last chance,” he said. “I’m going to make that call.”

Ambrielle sighed. “Put the phone down, Danny. I know as well as you that you’re bluffing.”

“You’ve got to stop talking like you know me.” But he set the phone down, as she’d known he would.

“I see I’ve come none too soon,” she remarked, more to herself than to him, as she removed a pair of tennis shoes from an armchair and dusted off the seat. “Your housekeeping skills are deteriorating as fast as your relationship with Charlotte.”

As soon as she sat down, the little dachshund, now wide awake, sprang into her lap, tail wagging furiously, eyes begging for attention.

“Brutus, get down,” Danny ordered absently, but clearly his mind wasn’t on the dog. He appeared disturbed by Ambrielle’s actions, no doubt because they signaled her intent to stay awhile.

Ambrielle scratched behind the disobedient dachshund’s ears before gently pushing it back to the floor, where it crouched at her feet and gazed up at her with adoring eyes. At least she had one ally here.

“Look,” Danny said, “I’m sure you’re a very sweet person and doubtless you have your reasons for whatever it is that you’re trying to do here. But you can’t just let yourself into my apartment without being invited. I’m having a bad night, it’s been a long, difficult week, and— Are you listening?”

She pulled her attention back from the series of framed family photos lining the end table at her elbow. “Why don’t you visit home anymore?” she asked. “You keep pictures of your mom and dad here. Clearly you love them. Why don’t you ever go back? I know your mom misses you.”

The remark stopped him cold. “How do you know my family?” he asked.

“Hey, no need to get overprotective,” she admonished. “I wouldn’t hurt any of them for the world. But I love that you worry about them.”

“Are you somebody I used to know back home?” he asked, suddenly studying her in a different light. “Did you go to Longfield High?”

“Definitely not,” she laughed. “But I watched you go there. I saw every prank you ever played on the lunch lady and even watched you join the basketball team to impress Hottie Haley Hart. Watched you get kicked off the team, too.” She sobered at the memory. “That was a depressing show. Couldn’t you have at least tried to get our team a basket once in a while? The other fairy godmothers were laughing me off the sidelines.”

He made a strange, choking sound. “The other what?”

Chapter Two

“You heard me.” She picked up an empty mug from the end table and examined the brownish stains ringing the bottom. “Do you think you could wash this out and bring me some more of whatever was in it? I’m usually snoozing at this hour, so I could use a cup or two of coffee to pick me up.”

He didn’t seem to hear the request. “What did you just call yourself?”

She sighed. “Honey, I hate repeating myself. I’m only gonna give you the rundown one time and then I’ll field questions. So keep quiet and listen and try not to say “what?” too many times. It makes you look stupid and I know you’re not an idiot. You’re a bright guy when you want to be.”

“Thanks,” he said sarcastically. “It’s always nice to get a good report from my fairy-godmother. Seriously, I think it’s time for you to go.”

“And leave all your questions unanswered and your life in a shambles?”