Magic rushed up his arm, the wand in his hand glowed for a moment as he focused, and then it all fizzled out. Limp as a wet football game.
Bran shook the wooden stick and tried to figure out what went wrong. The set up was perfect. Ellis Holladay was the ultimate loser. Under appreciated, unnoticed in his new town, and with a ton of potential if he was just aimed in the right direction. Being a fairy godparent for Ellis was almost too easy.
Especially with Tawnya Brickle in the mix. Perfect smile, perfect curves, perfect social situation. She was everything Ellis needed. All the spell was going to do was make Tawnya look at him for long enough for natural attraction and destiny to step in.
Instead it looked like Tawnya was on a head on collision course with the school quarterback. She was going to cruise right on past Ellis instead of turning into the book store and finding him holding the last copy of the book she wanted to buy.
Attraction spells were never this hard in class.
Bran pulled his notebook from his back pocket and looked over the spell components for a Perfect Match spell again. Boy – check. Girl – double check. Mutual Meeting Place – the mall, triple check. All the spell did was bring them together.
He looked around at the early morning shoppers. No one else seemed to be running into waves of destiny and bliss. Maybe it back fired. He bit his lip. Hopefully the spell wouldn’t send Tawnya his way. That could prove awkward.
With a sigh, he turned and headed for the steps for the upper plaza. Maybe he could salvage the spell before lunchtime.
The mall music changed from the standard jogging music oldies to the latest hit single from the band Love Me. Sunlight split a cloud outside and sent a ray of light to illuminate Her.
The perfect Her.
The spell had backfired, a part of his mind screamed. But all the rest of his seventeen year old mind was focused on Her.
Tall, leggy, brown hair surrounding her like an aura of deep gold. Blue jeans, white shirt. Curves.
In the fey worlds where all the woman were ephemeral, dainty blondes she was the ultimate exotic prize. Maybe she would have a mind to match. They could hit the movies, maybe catch a basketball game at the school gym. Maybe she was in college.
The perfect woman moved down the stairs. Her smile snapped to a scowl, and then she moved with a vengeance.
Magic came cascading down around him. His head pounded with the fall out of something gone hideously wrong.
“What are you doing?” Perfect demanded.
Bran looked up, a little surprised she wasn’t yelling at him. He recognized the recipient though, Trisha Ellens, and her older sister Trista pushing her new born son in a stroller.
The Ellens sisters, that explained a lot. Magic happy harpies is what his dad called them. Fairy godmothers who liked the wand just a little too much. Trish was on target to graduate with him. He only knew Trista by reputation, but she was like her sister, times ten.
“We were just making some poor cinderella’s day,” Trisha said. When she shrugged her shoulders sparkles of fairy dust fell around her.
Perfect glared down the mall at Tawnya Brickle. “What were you going to do to her?”
“I was just gift-wrapping the school quarterback. She’ll thank me later.”
“No she won’t! That’s a terrible match up!”
Trisha shrugged again and smiled at her sister.
“It’s meant to be,” Trista said.
“True love,” Trisha added.
“They have nothing in common. He’s a man whore with a new ride every week. Tawnya is headed for college in two years. Why would she throw that away for a guy whose only accomplishment is the ability to catch a ball?”
“Throw a ball,” Trista corrected. “Don’t you ever pay attention?”
“Whatever.” Perfect folded her arms. “Undo it.”
“To late,” Trisha said. “My spells never break. This is true love.”
Bran felt the pull of magic. Not the warm wash of the spell he’d done, but the heavy, cloying, almost suffocating blanket of old dark magic welling up. Something bad was going to happen. He leaned against a wall, bracing for a storm, and then it washed away. Everything snapped back.
He opened an eye to see two mothers with strollers watching him.
“I told you, it’s a new dance move,” one said to the other as they walked by.
He ran up the stairs to the balcony and searched the crowd for Ellis, Tawnya, the Ellens sisters, or Perfect.
Ellis was easy to find, he was sitting on a bench engrossed in a book. Tawnya was flirting shamelessly with the quarterback who looked a little bit puzzled at why he was out of bed before noon, but game if there was a pretty girl involved. The Ellens sisters were MIA, but he saw Perfect making a bee-line for Ellis.
No good at all.
Magic got him within five feet of his target, but She was already there.
The boy pulled ear phones out and looked at her with a polite “Do I know you?” smile.
“How are you?”
“Good. I didn’t know you hit the mall.”
Ellis knew her? Bran wondered if it was against the fey law to pump a Cinderella for information.
“Eventually, even I have to go shopping.”
“Yeah.” Ellis’s eyes strayed back to the book.
Not one of the conversational greats. Ellis was officially an idiot.
“You know who else likes that series?” Perfect asked.
“Um?” Ellis’s foot tapped in time to the music he was listening to with one ear.
Perfect gave up and grabbed his arm. “Come on. Hey, Tawnya! Come here real quick.”
Tawnya Brickle turned, a half-scowl on her face. Seeing Perfect, she smiled. “Hey, Tracy.”
Perfect had a name. It didn’t fit her. Bran followed, drifting with the crowd so he could listen.
“Tawnya, this is Ellis.” Tracy held out the book Ellis was trying to read. “You two need to talk.”
“But, hey!” The quarterback made a grab for Tawnya as she started to drift after Ellis.
Tracy swatted his hand back. “You need to go home, shower, clean up, do your science homework, and get your head in gear before you become the biggest has-been since your father. If your grades drop any lower you won’t be playing next year. Remember?”
“Um…” He chuckled. “Hey, Trace. How’s it going?”
She really was tall, Bran realized. Tracy was glaring down at the football player. Without heels. That meant she was at least six foot tall, either that or the quarterback lied about his height. Maybe both.
“I don’t suppose you want to help me with my homework, do you?” he was asking.
Tracy shook her head. “Hard work never killed anyone.”
“But it might.”
“Nice try. Get going.”
The quarterback shook it off and wandered away, probably headed home, but at least not chasing Tawnya.
“See?” Tracy demanded of no one in particular.
Glitter filled the air, the mortals stilled, and the Ellens sisters reappeared.
“No magic,” Tracy said. “Very little effort. Work. It’s amazing how often standing up and doing something actually works. So much better than magic.”
“Why you little-“ Trisha cut her sentence off with a squeak.
Trista materialized a wand out of the flurry of magic holding time hostage. “Ungrateful little girl! That was my best true love spell! Now you’ll-“
“What?” Tracy demanded. “See the light? Learn my lesson?” She grabbed the wand. “I don’t think so.”
The wand burst into flames, and the magic cracked. Actually froze around him and shattered. Blasting through the fey minds at the mall and probably for a good few miles out. He wasn’t sure. By the time Bran woke up he was at home and the sun was setting.
It didn’t matter. He thought he’d lost Tracy Perfect but all he had to do was look. She was at school on Monday, wearing a white t-shirt with the rest of the freshmen. Fourteen years old, magic hating, Tracy Ellens. Her sister Trista gave her a ride and stomped past her in the hall.
Maybe it wasn’t a perfect match after all.