Happy Thanksgiving! I’m looking forward to a long weekend of writing as I close in on the finish line with this book. I have a “sketch” of the cover done, but once I have it in final form, I’ll post it here. Then I’ll need to work up the blurb. Blurbs are one of those things I have to be in the right mindset for– very different than writing the book itself.
If you missed the beginning of Could It Be Magic, go here for the first chapter. Now on to Chapter 5 of Jas and Amethyst’s romance.
Of course Amethyst wore the violet dress. She might not be girly 99.9% of the time, but that dress brought out the one one-hundredth of a percent.
She didn’t try anything fancy with her hair, just caught it back in a pierced silver barrette set with moonstones her grandfather had given her for her birthday one year. Melodie had lent her the white gold ankle bracelet her husband, Marl, had given her. Don’t lose it, Melodie had said in a way that Amethyst knew she meant it. Amethyst put a spell on it to make sure nothing would happen to it.
Getting ready didn’t give her time to be nervous. After she was ready was another question entirely.
The doorbell rang.
Amethyst took a long breath, picked up her clutch and coat from the chair by the front door and opened the door.
Jas, waiting outside, took one look at her and literally rocked back. Not much. It was clearly an involuntary reaction, not one for effect.
Amethyst stepped out and closed the door, torn between pleasure and self-consciousness.
He gave a slight bow, turned and offered his arm, not a trace of the smile or teasing lift of the brow she would’ve expected to accompany such a gesture. She stood, startled.
“I beg your pardon.” he said and began to lower his arm.
“No…” She slipped her arm into his, laying her hand on the sleeve of his coat. “Don’t apologize.”
He bowed his head and walked with her to the car where it waited in her driveway.
She sneaked a glance at him, caught off balance. Where was suave, insouciant Jas Harker? He seemed almost…flustered. He made only the briefest eye contact when he opened the car door and handed her into the seat.
Jas circled around to the driver’s side and got in. He sat still a moment, then turned and met her gaze at last. His eyes were intense in the dim glow of street and porch lights.
“I’m not often struck speechless,” he said. “But I was just now.”
It was the kind of thing that would normally have begged for a smart reply. Not this time.
She looked down at the clutch in her lap, suddenly shy. “Thank you, Jas.”
They stopped for dinner at a little Italian place in Nob Hill, the funky shopping and dining district just east of UNM. When Jas parked the Infiniti, Amethyst truly understood why the man came around to open the car door and assist the lady out. Climbing out of a low-slung car in a short dress and heels just wasn’t the same.
She’d eaten enough meals out with Jas that this part of the evening felt relatively normal. She was used to seeing Jas looking good in a jacket and tie. Only the slide of her hair on her bare shoulders and back, the dress hugging her in unaccustomed places reminded her it was anything but normal. It was when they were back in the car and Jas turned onto Rio Grande Boulevard that things got dicey.
The houses on Rio Grande Boulevard ran the gamut from ancient little adobes hugging the road behind coyote fences to multi-million-dollar estates whose manicured grounds ran all the way back to the river. Amethyst was pretty sure which type Jas’ business associate would live in.
As Rio Grande wound north, the house lights grew progressively wider-spaced, more elaborate and farther back from the road. The headlights illuminated winter-brown pastures, old, arching cottonwoods and fences of mortared stone and wrought iron that enclosed acres.
“You’ve gotten quiet,” Jas said.
Amethyst wetted her lips. “Have I?”
“Yes, you have. What are you worried about?”
“What am I worried about? Are you serious? I’m going to be so far out of my depth I won’t even be able to see a glimmer of light from the surface.”
“Amethyst, they’re people just like any others,” he said. “Certainly they’ll have more money and power than most. But you’re a wizard. You have power they can only dream of. If they knew what you are, they’d either fear you or seek your favor.”
She threw up a hand. “Sure, and when somebody asks me what I do, I’m supposed to say, ‘Oh, I’m the designated wizard at Magus Corporation. I do the magic so my boss can pretend to be a regular person.’”
“No, you tell them you’re a stained glass artist. It’ll be an excellent opportunity to meet potential clients. Or tell them you’re a systems proofing consultant. Or both. That will really impress them.”
“Along with my sparkling social skills,” she muttered.
He turned to her, his face illuminated by the glow of the dash lights. “I told you a long time ago that wizards have charisma. Do you remember?”
“Yes. And I seem to remember telling you some have it more than others.”
He shook his head and turned back to the road. “You have it, too. Your only problem is you don’t believe you do. It worked on me an hour or two ago. You look good—and at that moment, you knew it.” He slid her a sideways glance. “You saw the result.”
She gave him a skeptical look. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I think you might be a little biased.”
He smiled. “That comes dangerously close to accusing me of flattery.” He held up a hand when she opened her mouth to argue. “I might—might be slightly more susceptible, but I guarantee you, whoever saw you while you were in that state of mind would’ve felt it. That’s the whole trick to it—what you tell yourself. Walk into that room tonight knowing you’re a wizard, knowing that no one you see can best you in anything, and you won’t have to say a word. People will respond to it.”
“I don’t know, Jas. It seems….” She thought a moment. “Arrogant. Or something.”
“I remember when I met you. You looked like someone had dumped a bucket of water over your head.”
She put her head in one hand. “God. Don’t remind me.”
“What did you think when you first saw me?” he said.
“I thought, ‘The best-looking guy I’ve ever seen, and here I am pushing my P-O-S pickup and talking like I have the IQ of a ham sandwich.’”
“Well, what did you think when you saw me?” she said, challenging.
“I thought, ‘Good God. She’s a wizard, and she’s trying to move that P-O-S with sheer brute strength. This will be interesting.’”
She folded her arms. “Liar. You thought I was an idiot.”
“Not at all. I was intrigued.”
“Huh. And your point is?”
“You reacted to my charisma.”
“I reacted to the hot guy who appeared to help me push my truck.”
“And with all due modesty, to the truth. I didn’t pretend to be anything other than what I am.”
“Not much,” she muttered. “You pretended you weren’t a wizard.”
“Fair enough,” he said with a dismissive wave of the hand. “Then let’s say I didn’t pretend to be more than I am. Charisma only comes across as arrogance if you’re trying to sell a bill of goods. Are you more honest with yourself by believing you’re somehow less than others?”
“Well, no, but—”
“Then don’t project that.” He shrugged. “It’s entirely up to you.”
She leaned an elbow on the armrest, drummed her fingers on her leg and thought, wizard. In a way, it was a little like working the magic: taking the power within her and reaching out to shape reality.
Jas turned with a startled look then grinned. “Good! Now just turn it down a bit. You don’t want to overwhelm the ordinary folk.”
“Don’t make fun of me. You didn’t feel anything.”
“Indeed I did.” He reached out, laid a hand on her knee. “You’ll do fine.”
She wasn’t sure if the heat that went through her was from his confidence…or where his hand rested.