“What?” the fairy asked, a worried look on her face.
“Well, I…I had an idea. Can you, ah, manipulate time? See, I was thinking maybe you could bring us back to just before I told you to get lost…”
Paige put a hand over her heart. “Oh my God, that would solve everything.”
But Davina was shaking her head. “No. Sorry, no can do. Turning back time requires like ten tons of red tape, clearance that I don’t and probably will never have, not to mention a unanimous vote of the regulatory court, and those old fogies are so conservative they never vote for anything. I’m still PO’d about their decision on de-legalizing… ” She trailed off and stared into space.
“Davina, what is it?” Mariah asked in a low voice. “You thought of something just now.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes you did, you crafty fairy, you. I distinctly saw that I-thought-of-something-just-now look on your face,” Mariah said.
“I saw it too,” Paige piped in.
“Well,” Davina said, “to tell the truth, I do feel that the three of you were a package deal, seeing how you all wished at the same time. Even though technically I’m not obligated, I feel obligated to see this through.”
Livvy felt a faint flicker of hope.
“So, what I thought of is this,” Davina said glancing left and right. “I can try to grant you a wish under the table. Because you relinquished a claim on the other wish, I’m not allowed to use Federation magic on you, but there’s magic out there on the black market I could get.”
Mariah looked all for it, but Paige’s expression was pinched. “I don’t know. I’ve had experience with bad magic.”
“Black market magic isn’t bad necessarily,” Davina said. “It’s just not guaranteed. Sort of like generic drugs. Same thing, but without the big company to back it up. Sometimes you hit a minor glitch but I should be able to handle whatever comes up. However, if we do this, you can’t speak of it to anyone.”
“She’s totally not kidding,” Paige added. “You have to be super careful.” She went on to explain how she’d gotten Davina in trouble when she’d mistakenly blabbed something to the wrong person and it had almost ended in disaster.
“But you do have to tell the guy involved. That’s Rule One that I had to learn,” Mariah said.
“No, actually, this is non-Federation, so the pamphlet doesn’t apply to her,” Davina said. “But it is generally a good rule of thumb to not keep secrets of this magnitude from your true love. So if we’re all agreed?” Davina arched her brow and looked at each of them in turn. “Good.”
The fairy then whisked away the gelato with a flat-palmed sweep of her arms and garbed herself in an austere black pants suit, aviator glasses and a short-brimmed trilby hat with a leopard band.
Leaning forward, Davina said, “Now here’s the thing, Liv. Because we’re using the street stuff, you have to be broad when making your wish. In fact…” Davina held her hands up in front of her, her eyes wide. “Pretend I’m Tiger Woods. I am the Tiger Woods of magic.”
“Oh, brother,” Mariah said.
Davina ignored her. “Now, you wouldn’t make Tiger tee off in a closet would you? Of course you wouldn’t. You have to give him room to maneuver. So think in broad terms. You don’t have a certain person in mind, do you?”
For one crazy moment, Livvy thought of Joe, the next door neighbor who had moved in not long ago. The man was ripped. Like Rambo ripped. He had a buzz cut and a wicked-awesome tat of butterflies on his upper arm.
He was also severely handicapped.
The property manager had told her he’d served overseas in the Army and come back disabled, which explained his military bearing, evident even though he used a wheelchair. This filled Livvy with compassion and admiration. She’d suddenly become eager to meet him. She’d gotten along very well with Henry, the man who’d lived in the apartment before. That sweet old guy had found love, gotten married and moved away, leaving his handicapped-accessible townhouse behind as a rental.
One Saturday soon after the ex-soldier moved in, she saw him and a friend coming out of his house. She had baked cookies for him a few days ago, but hadn’t seen him until now. Worried she might not get another chance before the cookies went stale, she hurried outside.
“Oh, hey, wait!” she called.
They stopped. The neighbor, dressed in khakis and an Army t-shirt, turned his chair toward her. He wore a cap and sunglasses and didn’t look like he’d shaved in a couple of days. His legs leaned toward the right, perfectly parallel—knees, ankles, feet, all side by side.
“I wanted to introduce myself,” she said, a little breathlessly. “I’m Livvy. I live next door.”
“Hey, good to meet you, Livvy. I’m Joe.” He flashed a dazzling smile at her. “This is Noah, my caregiver. Are those for me?” he asked, gesturing toward the bag of goodies.
“Yes. They’re to welcome you to the neighborhood.”
“That’s really nice of you. They look great.”
As he took the bag, Livvy noticed his eyes dropping to her breasts and lingering there. When he again met her gaze with a half smile playing around his full lips, her breasts tingled and she felt a flush of desire between her legs. A split second later she remembered he was in a wheelchair and got so flustered that when he invited her to go with them to the movies, she’d babbled a lame excuse. Later, she felt embarrassed and angry with herself. Having lived next to Henry for so long, she had always thought of herself as very accepting of and savvy about paraplegics. For instance, she knew that some of them had healthy sex lives, but for some reason, when faced with the prospect of actually having sex with a man in a wheelchair, she’d freaked out. Irritated at her apparent prejudice, she berated herself soundly and resolved to be more tolerant and open the next time she saw him, but hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him since.
“Earth to Livvy,” Davina said. “Do you have someone special in mind or don’t you?”
Livvy started, then shook her head. “No. No one special. I trust you to find the right man for me, Davina.”
Davina raised a brow and graced both Paige and Mariah with a smug look. “That, I shall,” she said. “Just make your wish.”
“Something with possibilities,” Livvy confirmed.