He saw her the moment he walked into the dealer’s room. She was manning a booth whose name across the top read: Witches & Wizards. Even though she had her back to him, he found himself drawn to her like a swimmer to water. There was something about her overall appearance that had him mesmerized!
It started with her hair. Jet-black, it cascaded down her back in large, loose waves and curls. Tiny and compact looking, she was wearing a fringed, black vest over a long-sleeved, dark blue, pullover shirt, and a pair of blue jeans that clung to her like a second skin.
He continued to stare at her back, thinking that even from this angle, she looked amazing! Then she turned around, and he got the full blast of her extraordinary beauty. Her eyes, which seemed slightly slanted, shone darkly in her sharp-boned, olive-skinned face. Her lips, which looked bare of any lipstick, were full, but not bloated. Her nose seemed to be both straight and perky at the same time. The sight of her took his breath away.
Without taking his eyes off her, he found himself drifting in the direction of her booth. At first, she didn’t notice him; she was too busy showing some guy a couple of comic books from her booth’s inventory. He waited until the guy left before he made his move.
Randomly, he picked up a comic from one of the rows of boxes in her booth and asked, “How much is this one?”
She pointed toward the comic in his hand. “It’s right there on the cover—$2.50.”
He could feel his cheeks prickling. “Oh, sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” Then while he was reaching for his wallet, his gaze fell upon the first comic in the row of boxes he was standing in front of. Putting down the comic he had been holding, he pulled up the other and asked, “Wait a minute, is this you?” He angled the magazine so she could see which one he was holding.
She smiled and nodded. “Yes, that’s me.”
“Wow! Did you draw it?”
She shook her head. “No, my brother did.”
“That wouldn’t happen to be him, would it?” He motioned toward a guy in the booth with her. The guy was tall and, had light, curly brown hair, and looked to be somewhere in his mid to late twenties. Presently, he was busy showing a female customer some of the dragon and wizard figurines they sold as well.
“Yes,” she said.
“He doesn’t look like you.”
“Different mothers,” she replied, like it was normal for everyone to have multiple parents.
He took his eyes off her for a moment, and looked down again at the cover of the comic. It showed her character looking all fierce-like, while wearing some kind of leather outfit, and gripping a pair of Glock-like pistols. Dropping down out of the sky on a pair of wings, she was landing in the midst of a firefight between the cops and some really nasty-looking bad guys. She looked as if she could take on the whole town all by herself.
He sighed. Even as a cartoon figure, she looked amazing!
“What’s it about?” he asked.
“It’s about a witch who helps the police fight criminals.”
He frowned and pointed toward the cover. “A witch!” he exclaimed. “But she has wings?”
“That’s because she’s both a witch and a fairy.”
“You can do that?” he asked, his voice rising slightly in surprise, “mix witches and fairies?”
“In comics,” she explained, “you can do whatever you want.”
He looked back at the magazine in his hand and nodded as if he agreed, even though somehow, it seemed wrong.
“So, do you want it or not?” he heard her ask.
He nodded, “Yeah, yeah.”
He kept looking at her image on the cover. Like her brother, both the cartoon version, and the real person before him looked to be somewhere in their mid to late twenties—a perfect match for his twenty-seven.
“Five dollars,” she said.
“Yeah, sure,” he replied, pulling out a five-dollar bill from his wallet and handing it to her. He watched with curiosity as she stroked the bill a couple of times before she put it in her register.
“What was that for?” he asked.
“What you just did with that five dollar bill? Was that some new way to check to see if it was counterfeit?”
Instead of answering him, she replied, “There are three more issues in the series if you want to look for them.”
Prying his eyes away from her, he shifted his attention back to the boxes, and began to search through them to see if he could find the other three. He did.
“We have a card reader, if you want to use a credit card,” she said to him. He nodded and put all four of the comics down then handed her his Visa Card. After she swiped it and gave it back to him, she said in the most casual way, “Why don’t you go for a cup of coffee after you’re done looking around the dealer’s room.”
“Yeah, sure,” he mumbled, as he stashed the comics he had just bought into his backpack, and moved off to continue walking around the dealer’s room. About a half hour later, he found himself entering the Starbucks next door to the lobby of the hotel. As soon as he walked in, his heart began to beat like a humming bird inside his chest. She was there . . . in the Starbucks, along with her brother.
Approaching them as they stood side by side, he said, “If you two are here, who’s minding the store?”
She replied, “Oh, we have someone who drives our truck and helps with the comics.” He wondered if that person found her as amazing looking as he did?
“You guys order yet?” he asked them.
“Well, why don’t you go ahead and order whatever you want, and I’ll pay for it.”
She frowned. “You don’t have to do that.”
“But I want to,” he told her. “That’s why I’m here; to spend money.”
“OK,” she agreed then all three of them got in line.
None of them ordered anything exotic. In fact, they all ordered the same thing—coffee black. Her brother ordered two.
“What’s the second one for?” he asked.
“It’s for Fred back at the booth,” he replied. Then taking his and Fred’s coffee with him, her brother headed back toward the dealer’s room, leaving the two of them alone.
After they sat down, he asked her, “So what’s your name?”
“Bianca,” she replied without hesitation.
He nodded. “Sounds like it could be a good name for a witch.”
“And yours?” she asked, looking at him steady-like.
“Thomas Diangelo,” he told her.
“Italian!” she replied, sounding slightly surprised.
“Yeah, I know, I don’t look Italian.” It was true. Instead of dark, greasy hair, he had curly blonde hair, blue eyes, and a nose that was straight as opposed to hooked. “I think a couple of my ancestors might have been fooling around with some of their Swiss neighbors while everyone else was out working in the fields.”He took a sip of his coffee. “So what nationality are you?” She was definitely a mixture.
“I’m a little bit of everything,” she replied, confirming what he had thought. “Lithuanian, French, Irish, German—”
“And with some Southern Pacific thrown in as well,” he added, indicating her eyes.
She nodded. “One of my grandmothers owned the Japanese equivalent of an herb and spice shop.” Then before he could ask, she said, “You’re probably wondering where my brother and I have our shop?” He stared at her a moment. How did she know? “Salem, Massachusetts,” she replied without hesitation.
He almost laughed. “Again with the witchy stuff,” he said.
Instead of agreeing with him, she suddenly stood up and asked, “You want to go for a walk?”
He blinked a couple of times in surprise, but agreed. Then he too stood up. “So where are we going?” he asked.
“I have to get something for our booth.”
“OK, but you haven’t even touched your coffee yet.”
“That’s OK,” she replied. “I don’t really like Starbucks that much anyway.” Strange, he thought.
After tossing both their coffees into the trash, he followed her out of the Starbucks, and across the lobby of the hotel to the elevators.
“Where are we heading, one of the rooms where they’re holding author events?”
She turned to him. “No, up to my room,” she replied, her dark eyes boring into his like twin pools of hot tar. “You don’t mind, do you?”
“Not really,” he replied, trying to appear nonchalant while feeling his body heat up.
“Good!” she replied then turned back to face the elevator door.
He stared at the back of her head while they waited for the elevator to arrive. He thought, either I’m about to get very lucky, or very disappointed.
The sky had already turned a pale, puffy grey as he reached the outskirts of Salem. With the temperature hovering just around thirty degrees, and the weatherman forecasting a storm ahead, he wondered if he might not be heading into a different type of storm. God, he hoped not—not after what he had given up for her: his girlfriend, his apartment, his job. But then again, how could she not blame him for wanting to be with her, especially after what they had done in her hotel room?
Now, as he entered the town, the fear he had been feeling bubbled up even higher inside his gut. Would she allow him to stay with her, or would she force him to leave? He hoped not; if she did, he’d be devastated!
After parking his car and the U-Haul (the same U-Haul that contained his entire worldly possessions) next to the curb across the street from her shop, he paid both parking meters—one for his car and the other for his U-Haul—then headed for her store. He just hoped to God she was there!
She was . . . and she was alone! Perfect!
Easing the front door closed, he stood for a moment in the silence (there was no music playing on the sound system), and watched as she stood with her back to him at the rear of the store. She was putting comics on shelves.
As he started to walk forward, she turned and saw him. “What are you doing here?” she asked, looking at him with almost as much surprise as he felt looking at her.
Blinking away the shock at what he was seeing, he explained, “I had to find you; I had no choice. I’ve been haunted day and night by your image.”
She frowned. “That’s impossible! You have an enchantment upon you. You should never have been able to remember me.”
“But I did—eventually. Your image kept popping up inside my head like rabbits in a field. I saw you in my dreams, in my waking hours. I even saw you reflected in my mirror when I shaved in the mornings. It was like you were calling to me, but I didn’t know who you were.”
“What about the comics you bought?”
He shook his head. “At first, I completely forgot I even had them, but finally, I was able to remember, not only who you were, but what we did in your hotel room.”
“Sounds like the legend,” he heard a male voice say behind him.
He turned around to find her brother standing by the front door. Her brother looked neither happy nor sad to see him.
“What legend?” he asked, as he turned back to Bianca.
“There’s a legend amongst our people,” she explained. “It says that if a human is able to remember what he or she has done after mating with one of us, then they are fated to become companions for life.”
For life . . . For life! He didn’t think she could have made him any happier than if she had given him a million dollars!
He lowered his eyes from her face down to her very pregnant belly. “It’s mine, isn’t it?” he said quietly.
She looked at him almost apologetic-like, her dark eyes lowering a bit. She nodded.
He felt his chest swell up. “Is it a boy or a girl?” he asked, feeling as if his insides were being bathed in sunlight.
She looked back at him. “Don’t know yet.”
“What about wings? Will it be born with wings?”
She smiled and replied, “There’s a very good chance.”
Returning her smile, he replied, “Personally, I think that would be fantastic if it did!”