Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spellbent: Chapter One, Part 3

"What time is it?" Cooper asked.

"A little past nine -- the sun's just gone down."

Cooper rubbed his face and scratched his chin through his short dark goatee. "How's the sky?"

"Dry. The nearest cloud is in Indiana, I think."

"Well, then it's time for us to earn our rent money." He reached over the side of the bed to retrieve his jeans. "Three thousand from the farmers for a nice little rainstorm -- not a bad payment for a night's work, huh?"

The doorbell rang downstairs.

"I'll get it," Cooper said, slipping on his Levis.

He thumped downstairs. I peeled off my sweat-soaked tee shirt and panties, tossed them in the hamper, then started digging through the dresser for some fresh clothes. Everything in there was a hopeless jumble, but at least it was clean. A year back, Cooper pissed off a sylph and she nixed all his housecleaning charms; it took us forever to get our laundry mojo working again. As curses go that one was pretty minor -- probably the faery equivalent of writing on your face in Sharpie marker while you're passed out -- but there are few things more embarrassing to a modern witch or wizard than being forced to use a Laundromat.

I heard the front door creak open, and then our neighbor's cheerful greeting: "Hey, man, everything okay over here? I heard someone holler."

"Hey, Bo," replied Cooper. "Yeah, we're fine, sorry if we disturbed you."

"Oh, ain't no thing, just makin' sure you folks is okay," Bo replied. "Miz Sanchez brought me some of her tamales earlier 'cos I fixed her tire, and she told me to make sure you folks got a couple dozen."

I heard a paper grocery bag rattle open. "Hey, these smell great," said Cooper. "That was really nice of her."

"She's real grateful for what you two done for her little girl."

I clearly remembered the afternoon Mrs. Sanchez was running from door to door, panicked to near incoherence because her 6-year-old daughter had disappeared from the apartment complex's pool. Cooper knew enough Spanish to ask for one of the girl's dolls. After that it was easy enough to go back to the privacy of our apartment and cast a spell to track the kid's spirit to the other side of the complex. We found the little girl in a run-down garden apartment. Thankfully, she was okay; the creepy old pedophile who rented the place hadn't done anything more than feed her ice cream.

Spellbent coverOnce the girl was safe with her mother -- and no one the wiser that we'd used magic to find her -- I called the cops on my cell phone while Cooper impressed upon the old man that he was never, ever to go near a child again. The old guy was so frightened by Cooper that he practically raced to the police cruiser like jail was going to be some kind of safe haven.

Cooper can be pretty fierce when he gets angry. To me, that's one of his sexiest traits. It's not just about being able to tear the house down; it's about being willing to do it in a heartbeat to protect the people who genuinely need your help.

"Anyone would've done the same," said Cooper. "Please be sure to thank her for us."

>> Go on to Spellbent: Chapter One, Part 4