The Magic Touch(9)

By: Dara England

“I am not in denial. I’m realistic about my life and you’re not, that’s all. Not everybody gets to live in a fantasy world, where they have the perfect life, the dream job…”

“And where they get their old girlfriend back?”

He returned his attention to the food. You let me worry about that,” he said. “I’ve got the thing with Charlotte covered.”

“I’m sure you do. No doubt in that peanut-sized brain of yours, you’ve even got a plan for how you’re going to work it all out, your way.”

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

“My plan is better.” She sighed in an it’s-your-funeral way.

“Not interested.” Before further debate could ensue, he cut her off with, “You haven’t tried your fried rice yet. What’s the matter, don’t fairies ever eat?”

She shrugged narrow shoulders. “If we want. It’s not a necessity for us like it is for you guys. Food and drink are something we take for the enjoyment, not for the need of it. Why? Would it make you more comfortable if I joined you?”

“Much more comfortable,” he said, covering up the unease her words stirred within him. This whole situation was too unreal. It was bad enough to be sitting on a park bench chatting with his godmother—his freaking fairy godmother. How was a guy supposed to handle that?

He watched her pick through the takeout bag at her feet. She had pretty, delicate little feet inside black lace-up sandals. Tiny silver charms dangled around her toes and ankles and jingled when she moved. It had been a long time since he’d found any woman other than Charlotte attractive, but…

Yeah, this was a dangerous direction his thoughts were taking. He was suddenly eager to escape.

“Hey, listen, I have to get moving.” He made a pretense of glancing at his watch.

She started to protest, “But you’ve only been here a few minutes. We’ve barely talked.”

“Uh-huh, but I’ve got a mountain of work to catch up on.”

“Work.” She narrowed her eyes. “You know, I’m not going to give up on this. Your days working in that office are over.”

“Right,” he said vaguely, discarding his chow mein carton and sliding out of his seat. “Listen, I’ll catch you later. Or not.” He hesitated. “You really don’t have to hang around, godmother.”

“Call me Ambrielle.”

“Sure, Ambrielle. I appreciate all you’re trying to do for me, but I really think you’d be better off going back to…” He wanted to say Fairyland but didn’t know if she’d take that as a flippant remark. Where exactly did fairy godmothers live, anyway?

She rescued him. “Sorry to squash your hopes, Danny, but I’ll be right here when you get back.”

“Right here? As in right here?” How could he work when every time he passed the office window he was gonna have to glance down and see her sitting and waiting, like some kind of vulture?

She smiled. “Maybe. Now you’d better rush off. Showing up late might cause trouble with the boss and that kind of thing could cost a man in your precarious position his job.”

He didn’t like her choice of words, or the scheming glint in her eyes as she said it. But what could he do? He turned his back on her, although it felt a little like turning his back on a wolf in a lamb’s skin, and returned to work.

Chapter Six

The rest of the workday was like something out of a twisted dream, the kind of dream where you can’t decide whether you’re supposed to be laughing or afraid. Danny had no sooner returned from his lunch break and sat down to work when the phone where he took his service calls died. A brief examination of the cord revealed it had been pulled from the wall connection. Neither Harry, in the cubicle to his left, nor Diana, on his right, had seen anyone tampering with the cord.

“These things happen,” Mr. Dolhouser, the office manager, said with a shake of his head when Danny reported the problem. Despite his boss’s words, Danny sensed the man somehow blamed him for the malfunctioning phone.

Danny collected his things and moved to an empty cubicle with a working phone at the far end of the office. But if he thought his troubles were over, he was wrong. Immediately after moving into his new workspace he discovered the hardcopy files he needed from his old desk were missing.