Friday, June 8, 2012
“Food, shower, bed,” Maggie muttered, stumbling into the kitchen. She lifted an arm and sniffed. “Shower, food, bed.”
She made it as far as the table before collapsing on a chair and resting her head on the smooth surface.
“Uh babe, no offense, but you reek like a long dead troll.” Declan’s hand rested lightly on her head then retreated.
“More like a chupacabra with enhanced magick,” she mumbled into her crossed arms. “Bad. Very bad. When we destroyed him his blood and guts went everywhere. Namely on me.” She moaned as his hands dug into her tight shoulders. Courtesy of his half fire demon blood, warmth sprang up from his touch. “Don’t stop.”
“Hm, I’ve heard that before,” he chuckled in her ear then reared back at the stench. “Why don’t you take a hot shower while I fix you something to eat?”
“I can do that.” She didn’t move.
“I’ve missed you.” He dipped his head quickly to place a kiss behind her ear. The only part of her body that wasn’t covered with chupacabra filth. And love that he was willing to touch her with his mouth.
Maggie smiled. “Oh love, I wish I had the energy.”
“Maybe I can persuade you since we have the house to ourselves,” he growled.
“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!” Courtney burst into the kitchen.
“I spoke too soon,” Declan sighed, straightening up.
“You’re back!” The teenager bounced up and down on her toes. She ran to Maggie than hopped back. “Eww!” She scrunched up her nose. “You smell really bad, Mags. Seriously, you need a mega-bottle of body wash.”
“Really?” She counted sarcasm as her middle name.
“But I’m so glad you’re here because the deadline’s in two days.” Courtney waved a sheet of paper in front of her. “And they need a check with the registration forms.”
Maggie lifted her head and finally got a good look at her charge.
“What in Hades happened to your hair!” she shrieked, staring at the girl’s vari-colored hair that ranged from robins egg blue to yellow to emerald to magenta along with bright turquoise tips.
“Isn’t it cool?” Courtney whirled around.
Maggie speared her lover with a glare fit to kill. “You let her color her hair!”
“She said it was a temporary rinse,” Declan defended himself.
The witch slowly got to her feet, feeling every ache and pain from her battle in Mexico. “Does that look temporary?” She gestured at Courtney’s waist-length locks. “That’s it. Next time I have to be gone for more than twenty four hours I’m getting a baby sitter. For both of you!” she pointed at Declan.
He held up his hands. “It was easier than listening to her beg for a tattoo.”
“Youngling not ready,” Elle, Maggie’s black widow spider tattoo/protector, that doubled as a tattoo on Maggie’s biceps chimed in.
“And I’m not ready for rainbow sherbet hair. Wash it out,” Maggie commanded.
“It rinses out gradually,” Courtney explained, still oblivious to Maggie’s anger. She hopped on a bar stool by the counter. “Besides, we need to talk about camp.” She waved the papers again.
“Camp.” Thoughts of a shower, food and bed disappeared.
The teenager’s head bobbed.
“What kind of camp?”
“This is a totally cool fashionista camp.” Her eyes sparkled with excitement as she again waved the paper.
Maggie frowned. Her idea of fashion was wearing lip gloss and mascara if she thought about it. The creatures she hunted didn’t care if she wore eye shadow or not. Luckily, Declan didn’t mind that she wasn’t in to all the make up and designer clothing the women entering his club lived by. Although she was willing to layer it on nights she visited his club because no matter what she liked looking pretty for her hot hot demon.
“And what happens at a fashionista camp?” Maggie asked her charge.
“It’s so cool. There’re no stupid games, swimming and or any of those lame crafts you normally do at camp. At this one you learn proper ways to wear make up, there’re workshops taught by Hollywood stylists and hairdressers. You learn how to dominate the world.” She finally thrust the paper at Maggie.
Maggie’s gaze skimmed the details and zeroed in on the bottom. She was positive her eyes bugged out like a Tex Avery cartoon character. “$4,000!”
“Well, sure. I mean, I’d be there for a month,” Courtney explained. “And you get free make up and hair products. Plus the camp is in Malibu.”
“Oh well, that explains it,” Declan murmured. He held his hands up in quick justification. “Better than her coming up with one of those leather pouches she’d sew. Especially after she almost flunked Home Ec.”
Bed. No, forget it, take me back to Mexico and another chupacabra. I don’t care how much blood and gore he’d spit on me.
When Maggie was named guardian of orphaned Courtney whose demon blood made her valuable among many, she hadn’t planned on dealing with a teenager filled with the usual emotional highs and lows and who considered fashion conscious Thea her best friend and Maggie the Wicked Witch of Texas. Then there were the times Courtney wanted to try her hand at magick and Maggie put a stop to it by casting a geas so she couldn’t talk about it.
Maggie took a deep breath. “I am not spending $4,000 for a month’s at a camp where you’ll be surrounded by spoiled wealthy girls who live by designer labels.”
“I need this,” she pleaded. “I will never ask for anything else again for the rest of my life.”
“Seems we’ve heard that before.” Declan rested his hand against the back of Maggie’s neck to keep her in her seat instead of raging back and forth. “Last month there were the booties you couldn’t live without. Shoes you wore twice and haven’t worn since.”
“Jeans guaranteed to turn you into a goddess,” Maggie added, shaking her head. “There’s no four grand for you. And don’t turn the puppy dog eyes on Declan!” she ordered, seeing the direction of Courtney’s soulful gaze. “He won’t pay it either.”
The girl’s hopeful expression darkened. “Then why can’t we pay for it with boom boom.” She gritted her teeth. “I hate that binding spell!”
“Better than you tweeting about magick among people who don’t need to know about it,” Maggie told her, suppressing a grin at her charge’s mutinous glare.
But Courtney wasn’t finished. “What if I earn the money? Can I go then?”
“You said the deadline to register is in two days.”
“There’s another session later in the summer. What if I have the money for that one.”
“And where do you expect to find a job that will earn you that kind of money?”
Courtney drew herself up tall. “I’ll find it. You’ll see. Deal?” She held out her hand.
Maggie and Declan looked at each other with that silent communication adults require when dealing with a teenager. Declan shrugged.
“Fine. If you can earn the money you can go. And nothing illegal!”
Courtney rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah, like I would. You’ll see! I’ll have the money.”
One week later
Maggie checked the roast, pleased to see it looked as good as it hopefully would taste.
“Where’s the kid?” Declan pulled her into an embrace with a sizzling kiss to follow.
“Working,” she replied, drawing him back for another kiss.
“She found a job already?”
She nodded. “She wouldn’t tell me where. Just had that smirk on her face when she left this morning. She called about an hour ago and said not to wait dinner for her.”
“I’ll get the wine.”
Maggie and Declan enjoyed their meal on the patio and were relaxing with a second bottle of wine when the back gate clicked open.
Courtney, looking less than fresh, walked slowly into the back yard. There wasn’t a trace of the vibrant teenager.
“What happened to you?” Maggie half rose from her chair.
Declan ran over and grasped the girl around her waist and helped to his chair.
“Oh honey.” He brushed hair from her face.
Courtney’s shoulders rose and fell. “I got a job at The Library,” she whispered as if she couldn’t speak in a louder tone.
“You wanted to work there?” Maggie was in shock since The (long e if you please) Librarian was known not to appreciate anyone working in the stacks. He considered the books, scrolls, and parchments his personal kingdom.
She nodded. “It seemed like a great deal at the time. And better than that nursery job at the Compound you wanted me to take. And pays better. Now I know why.” She started to reach for Maggie’s glass of wine. The witch swiftly put it out of her reach and conjured up a glass of Coke.
“What did you do there?” Declan asked, taking one of the other chairs.
“The Librarian wanted someone to catalog these new scrolls that had been found in a cave in Greece. What he didn’t tell me was that they bite!” She held up her hands showing tiny nip marks on her fingers.
“And is this job going to pay for Fashionista Camp?” Maggie asked her, thinking she’d see where this was going.
Courtney nodded. “Yes, and now I know why he was willing to pay so much. Can you use something to fix my owies?” she asked, holding out her hands.
Maggie laid her hands on Courtney’s which promptly healed.
“So I guess you’ll want me to see if the nursery job is still open?”
“Oh no!” The teenager drew herself up. Her eyes glittered with determination. “There’s no way those damn scrolls are going to get the best of me. Tomorrow I’ll be ready for them.”
“Fashionista Camp,” Maggie muttered, dreading what the girl would come back looking like.
“Look at the bright side, love,” Declan grinned. “We’ll have a month with the house all to ourselves.”
The witch shook her head. "Fine, but if she comes home with a rock or reality show star I'm blaming you."