Chapter 1:

☆A Mysterious Stranger☆

Magic Makes my Life Less Lonely!

I brushed my hair, working my way through each strand carefully. I didn’t mind having long hair, though it was a pain having to constantly brush it.Bookmark here

“Elio! I told you! Just look at all these tangles and knots!” my comb scolded me.Bookmark here

“I know, Tooth...but I can’t always be brushing and combing! I have things to do,” I said as I got up and made my way downstairs to the main room of the cottage. Bookmark here

The walls were a pastel blue, with plants and bookshelves almost everywhere you looked. The sun-catchers on my windows split the morning sun into tiny rainbows that shot around the room like confetti made of light. Being a night owl, that was definitely the only part I loved about the morning...and espresso!Bookmark here

“But you must take care of yourself! You always do this,” the little comb in my hand reminded me.Bookmark here

“Of course, Tooth, I know! I’ll try to be better about it. Let’s see the time… My first client should be here any moment now…” I turned to a pair of wall clocks and squinted before giving up trying to decipher the time. I decided to ask them instead.Bookmark here

“Good morning Tick and Tock! Could you please tell me the time?”Bookmark here

“Why, it is 8:20!” the older one, Tick, responded.Bookmark here

“Of course it isn’t, you old pendulum! It is 8:25!” Tock corrected snarkily.Bookmark here

“Now, now, it is too early to fight, you two! You’re always just a bit off from one another!”Bookmark here

“It is because Tock is hyperactive! Always in a hurry!”Bookmark here

“You’re just running far too slow!” Tick shot back.Bookmark here

The two clocks continued to bicker loudly in the background, but I paid them no mind.Bookmark here

“Well, I have at least five to ten minutes before the client shows up! I should be able to make some coffee for myself, and them!” I said to my comb.Bookmark here

“Maybe have some food, too? You promised to take care of yourself!” Tooth whined.Bookmark here

I stopped combing my hair and put Tooth onto the countertop so I could make some quick espresso.Bookmark here

“Yes, yes! I’ll just toast this,” I said as I held up a day-old baguette to show my little comb. It smiled at me approvingly.Bookmark here

As the oven preheated, I popped open a can and was welcomed by the bittersweet aroma of fresh coffee. I spooned a few heaps into my espresso pot and set it on the burner.Bookmark here

“Who is the first client today, Elio?”Bookmark here

“I think it’s Rosetta, or maybe Irina?”Bookmark here

“You don’t remember?” the comb questioned while hopping around on the countertop.Bookmark here

“It’s too early, Tooth!” I said as I sliced the hardened baguette in two. Bookmark here

“Well, whoever it is, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the espresso!” Tooth giggled.Bookmark here

“I hope so!” I placed the baguette onto a tray before sliding it into the oven. Five minutes should be good. Bookmark here

My little comb was right though, I needed to review the schedule for the day—hopefully it wouldn't be too packed! With a curious stride I found myself over at my desk, reading through the schedule. Hmmm, it was Rosetta, after all! She is the local florist in the nearby town of Windbloom. Unusual for her to seek out my help—oftentimes I was the one requesting HER services. I wasn’t blessed with a green thumb, to my dismay. Grabbing a new appointment sheet, I sleepily treaded to the front door. As it opened, I was greeted by the most beautiful, sunny day. The cool morning air brushed lightly upon my nose and lips. I could still smell the dew on the flowers and grass lingering in the air around me. Living in the countryside certainly did have it’s perks! Reaching my mailbox, I stuck the schedule sheet to a little makeshift board I had set up above it. Can’t forget to post that, otherwise no one could sign up for tomorrow! Bookmark here

Since I was here, I decided to check if the morning mail had come. Let's see...oh! There was something! I pulled out a small stack of letters. Hmmm..nothing, nothing, junk, ad… Oh! This looks like a fun catalog to flip through! I’ll save it in case I want to treat myself later. Turning back towards my cottage, I slowly dragged my feet down the path as I flipped through what was surely going to be a tempting shopping spree this evening. The catalog was filled with many cute little decorations and clothes from some new boutique in the city. Crystalis...I hadn’t been back there since, well...I don’t plan on ever going back! At least it was nice to have an option to order; now I could shop while staying nice and cozy at home! I smiled as a couple items caught my eye.Bookmark here

“Elio! The espresso is done!” I heard Tooth yell from the kitchen just as I opened the door. I placed the mail on the entry table and went to take the pot off the stovetop. Carefully, I poured the shots of espresso into a pair of tiny, tulip-painted cups and placed them on matching saucers. Breakfast must be ready by now, so I bent down to peek into the oven. The baguette looked to be golden brown—perfectly toasted. After putting on my oven mitt, I retrieved the tray and let the baguette cool atop the counter. Bookmark here

“Tooth, do you think Rosetta likes sugar?”Bookmark here

“Hmmm...I think she would, but put a couple cubes just on the side in case she doesn’t!” The comb skipped about, pleased with its suggestion.Bookmark here

“Good idea,” I said as I pulled some butter and a jar of homemade blackberry jam from the refrigerator. With some tips from Rosetta and perhaps a little magical help, my berry bushes had done quite well this season! Bookmark here

I spread the butter and jam evenly over both pieces of the toasted bread and took my first bite. The jam was sweet, and had a pleasant tartness that complimented it. Together with the creaminess of the butter, the flavors created a sweet harmony. The baguette itself was initially crispy, but fluffy and soft after biting into it. I’m so glad Tooth talked me into this, but I’d never tell! Bookmark here

“How is it?” it asked sweetly.Bookmark here

I just nodded as I licked my lips, turning away from the little comb. It would be ready with an ‘I told you so’ if it saw me enjoying the food as much as I was. There was a light knock at the door.Bookmark here

“Oh! It must be Rosetta!” I placed my breakfast down and went to finish setting the table.Bookmark here

“Just a second!” I quickly grabbed two small spoons and some cubes of sugar to place on the saucers. Careful not to disturb the creamy layer on top of the espresso, I made my way to the table in the middle of the living room. I placed one cup on each side, and went to answer the door.Bookmark here

“Sorry to keep you waiting!” I said as I opened it. Bookmark here

“No problem, Elio! I was just admiring your begonias. It’s good to see you!” Rosetta was such a pleasant woman, with no airs or graces. She came dressed in a simple blue sundress and boots. On her head she wore a bright flower clip to keep her lavender hair out of her face, and her trademark warm smile was spread across her face. Rosetta nodded politely before she stepped inside, I showed her to the table.Bookmark here

“Oh! Thanks for the espresso! I’m sorry it’s so early.”Bookmark here

“No worries! Make yourself comfortable!” I said as I sat opposite her. “What can I do for you today?” I plopped a couple sugar cubes into my espresso. The spoon made a twinkling sound as I stirred, awaiting her response.Bookmark here

“Ok,” she replied excitedly, “I’d really like to have your help to create a new flower!”Bookmark here

“A new flower?” I repeated before bringing the cup to my lips for a sip. Rosetta wasn’t usually interested in such things, she never even cross bred her own flowers! She was more the type to take the plain and turn it into the extraordinary! I wondered what role magic could possibly play in her request?Bookmark here

“Yes, I need a new one that is a bit...different from normal flowers.” She placed a sugar cube into her cup and delicately stirred it before partaking herself.Bookmark here

“Well, what’s different about this new flower? Would you like it to be striped, or perhaps spotted?” I mused. Bookmark here

“No, I need it to illuminate my garden, actually.”Bookmark here

“Wow! How interesting…” I leaned in, curiously “...but what for?”Bookmark here

“When I’m working at night I want to have a better view of everything so I can tend to the flowers appropriately. And besides,” she said cupping her face, “won’t that be so pretty?!”Bookmark here

“It does sound beautiful! Extremely so! Where did you come up with this idea?”Bookmark here

“Have you seen the new lanterns they put in town? They absorb the light of the sun during the day, and glow at night!”Bookmark here

“Oh? Those enchanted lanterns finally got installed here? I used to see them in the city.” Bookmark here

“Yes! So I thought, why not have something similar? Lanterns would likely be easier, but I must consider the aesthetic of my garden!”Bookmark here

“I see… So basically you’re looking for me to create a bioluminescent flower…”Bookmark here

“Bio-wha?” She tilted her head to the side in bewilderment.Bookmark here

“Never mind! I think I can do this!” I mirrored her excitement. It would be fun to create something as lovely as a glowing flower! Bookmark here

“One other part of my request—could you make it from lavandula?”Bookmark here

“...Lavandula? What is that, exactly? Is that like lavender?”Bookmark here

“Precisely! I’d like it to be a type of lavender, but with a soft yellow light. Can your magic do that?”Bookmark here

“Magic can do anything!” I grinned. “There is one caveat though…”I said before taking a quick sip. Rosetta leaned in, intently hanging on my next few words. “Basically, I can only enchant the seeds. Full grown lavender won’t be able to be imbued with magic. It would be a light spell and...I’m afraid I might burn it.”Bookmark here

“Understood! I kind of figured I’d need to grow it myself,” she said while digging in her dress pocket. She gave up after a moment and shifted in her seat to search her other pocket. “So I came prepared! Here you go!” she said as she extended her hand, filled with about six or so seeds.Bookmark here

“Are these...lavender seeds?” I squinted at the contents of her palm.Bookmark here

“You bet!” She nodded as she grabbed my hand and dumped the seeds into it.Bookmark here

“Ok, let me do the shouldn’t take me too long.” I said before downing the last of my espresso and heading over to my desk. Bookmark here

“Hey! Finish your breakfast!” I heard a tiny voice yell from the nearby kitchen countertop. Rosetta turned and saw Tooth yelling at me before she let loose a peal of laughter.Bookmark here

“Tooth, you’re as cute and caring as ever,” she exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Rosetta,” it said with a little bow, “but please help me convince Elio to finish his food. It will go to waste!”Bookmark here

“Tooth, it’s ok! This spell won’t take too long. I’ll finish it after, I promise!” I arranged the seeds on my desk and pulled a dusty old tome from my bookcase. Flipping through its pages, I searched for an illumination spell—maybe a glowing charm? Which option would be enough to make the flowers shine with light, but not harm the seeds?Bookmark here

“There it is… This should be gentle enough to work,” I said, pointing to a glitter glamor. A simple trick really! The lavender wouldn’t emit actual light, but rather store the magic I put into the seeds now and illuminate at night. Bioluminescent, just like the lanterns Rosetta saw! This was assuming it worked the way I imagined it would—we’d have to see after the flowers were fully grown. I placed my hands above the seeds, closed my eyes and recited the incantation:Bookmark here

“Glitter and glow, in the darkness of night… Sparkle brightly with golden light!” Bookmark here

As I spoke, I visualized a stream of small yellow stars shining from my fingertips and flowing into the seeds. Magic was a complete matter of will, requiring focus and a bit of imagination. I opened my eyes and was relieved to see it was just as I had seen in my head! The seeds glowed brightly with a golden gleam. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash! As the light subsided, I noticed the seeds had changed from an earthy brown to a faint shade of yellow. Bookmark here

“Oh my! How beautiful! Golden seeds?” Rosetta gasped as she cupped her cheeks once more, looking upon my work.Bookmark here

“There you are,” I said excitedly, scooping the seeds from the desk and into Rosetta’s excited hands. “These should light up your garden nicely. Please let me know how they work after they’re fully grown!”Bookmark here

“Thank you, Elio! I absolutely will!” She smiled. “So, how much for your wonderful work today?”Bookmark here

“I think…” I stared at the ceiling and pondered for a moment. ”Does five gold sound fair?”Bookmark here

“More than fair,” Rosetta said as she pulled the coins from her jingling pouch. “You undercharge, if anything!”Bookmark here

“Living out here doesn’t cost nearly as much as it did in the city, so I’m happy to charge less. My expenses are much more manageable.”Bookmark here

“Fair enough,” she said, before getting up and heading towards the door. She stopped for a moment. Hesitantly, she spoke once more as she turned the handle. “Despite what happened, and what they might say in the really are a talented wizard!” She smiled encouragingly one last time before shutting the door behind her. Bookmark here

As it closed, I felt a flash of heat run across my face. My palms grew cold and clammy. I know she spoke with kindness, but I couldn’t help feeling embarrassed.Bookmark here

“How could she know about that…” Bookmark here

“Elio...are you ok?” Tooth was quite intuitive and was always the first to sense a change in my mood. It was quite impressive actually, an enchanted comb being so sensitive to others.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m fine, Tooth...”Bookmark here

“Then it’s time to finish your breakfast!” the little comb insisted.Bookmark here

“I’m on it.” I saluted Tooth in a silly manner that made it giggle sweetly. I returned to my plate and took another bite of baguette. Tasting it again, I felt my embarrassment slowly begin melt away.Bookmark here

“You know Tooth? You truly are a wonderful little friend.”Bookmark here

───── ⋆⋅☆⋅⋆ ─────Bookmark here

If I ever had time between clients, I liked to relax outside in the garden if the day was nice and the sun was shining. Today was one such day. I lounged in my chair with a cool mint lemonade in my hand while Tooth sat on the table beside me. My garden was my little sanctuary, a secluded patio surrounded with mounds of beautiful plants and flowers. I felt lucky to have my magic and Rosetta's guidance in this moment, knowing fully well nothing here could flourish by my efforts alone. The patio furniture completed the aesthetic. The table was small and dainty in the shape of a butterfly, with two matching chairs on either side. Whenever I sat there, I imagined I was resting on the beautiful wings of a real butterfly. A previous client had offered the whole set to me as payment for a simple spell. The trade was definitely in my favor, but he was more than eager, so I accepted it gladly. Bookmark here

I sipped my lemonade, savoring the sour and refreshing liquid while Tooth hopped around the table watching the birds fly by. A slight breeze swept gently through the air, carrying the sweet scent of flowers with it. I laid back and watched the clouds float lazily across the bright blue sky above. Bookmark here

“This is heavenly…”Bookmark here

“Oof!” Bookmark here

I looked down and saw poor little Tooth land with a thud on the ground. I leaned down to pick up the comb and brushed the dirt off of it. Bookmark here

“You ok, Tooth?” Bookmark here

“Yep! I just wasn’t watching where I was hopping. Sorry!”Bookmark here

“It’s ok, silly. I guess I’ll need to wash you off later.” Bookmark here

“Probably!” it said, before letting free a carefree laugh. “I’m just happy you’re taking a moment for yourself!”Bookmark here

“Well, I’m lucky I have a gap between clients today!” I sipped the last of my lemonade, sucking on a cool mint leaf from the bottom of the glass. Bookmark here

“That’s not usually the problem, Elio! You just sleep too much, and never leave the house!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, well...that’s why I have you and the others to keep me company, right?”Bookmark here

“Well, I am happy to do so!” Bookmark here

The comb and I exchanged a smile. It was so sweet, wanting to take care of me. Tooth was the first of my enchanted household items I brought to life. I had originally done it in an attempt to have it brush my hair for me since self-care was not my strong point these days… It was quite unexpected that instead of combing my hair, Tooth took on a mind of its own! I still had to comb my hair by hand, but I gained a friend to talk to! It wasn’t long before I had enchanted a few other objects around the cottage. I enjoyed listening to their thoughts; some were insightful, some snarky, and others were so sweet! Best of all they didn’t drain me like my interactions with actual people, and my anxiety never spiked! Some might think it’s weird, but it was nice to have friends.Bookmark here

“Do you hear that?”Bookmark here

“Hmm?” I put an ear to the air and listened. From the cottage I could make out some heated voices. “Oh dear… Time to head inside, I believe.” Bookmark here

I took my empty glass and little comb-friend, and headed back inside. We were greeted by a shouting match.Bookmark here

“I SAID it’s 5:30!” Tock yelled.Bookmark here

“Of course it isn’t! It is 5:35!” shouted Tick.Bookmark here

Oh my, time to play mediator. I placed my dirty cup on the countertop and prepared to head into the fray. Bookmark here

“Oh no you don’t! In the sink please,” Tooth protested from my pocket.Bookmark here

“Ugh… Fiiiiine….” I picked up the glass and washed it hastily.Bookmark here

“Thank you.”Bookmark here

In the living room, the two clocks squabbled and bounced on the wall.Bookmark here

“No, you won earlier! I adjusted my time accordingly! Now you’re wrong!” Bookmark here

“I changed my time too! I gave up because I thought you were right!” Tick yelled back.Bookmark here

“Hey, you two. It’s only five minutes! It’s not worth getting so worked up—” Bookmark here

“Time is the only thing that matters,” Tick pointed out to me.Bookmark here

“Yeah, Elio! How is anyone supposed to be on schedule if no one is keeping track of time?!” Tock was exasperated at this point.Bookmark here

“It’s ok,” I pleaded, “The next client isn’t for at least another twenty-five or thirty minutes. Either way, we have plenty of time.”Bookmark here

The twin wall clocks grew quiet. Tick huffed and puffed as if it were a steam-clock, while Tock grumbled to itself. Bookmark here

“That’s better,” I exhaled, relieved the fighting had ended. At least I had thirty minutes of peace until the next client, and what a client she was! Irina, the town gossip. She was an elderly woman who had an ear to nearly every door in the region. Somehow she had tabs on not only the small town of Windbloom, but also the city of Crystalis where I used to live, far away! Maybe she was secretly a witch spying on her fellow magic users…what a thought! Truthfully, I enjoyed her visits immensely. I tried not to let on that I was excited to catch her latest scoop however, because if she knew, she might never leave! Maybe I should take a small cat nap before she gets here to bolster myself for whatever drama she has prepared for me? I retired to my bedroom and laid down on my comfortable bed. There came a tiny yawn from my pillow.Bookmark here

“Sleepy as usual, Cushion?” I asked my fluffy pillow. Cushion was by far the cutest object I’d enchanted, and that was confirmed when it opened large and shiny eyes as it heard me.Bookmark here

“I can’t help it, Elio, it’s just...soooo comfy here,” it said sleepily.Bookmark here

“Yes, I think I’ll join you for a bit before Irina arrives.” Bookmark here

“Irina’s coming today?” Cushion yawned again. Bookmark here

“Yep. There’s only enough time for a power nap, I’m afraid.” I said as I fluffed and kneaded the pillow. Bookmark here

“That tickles,” it giggled. “Well, let’s make the minutes in dreamland count!” Cushion closed its eyes as I laid my head down. Bookmark here

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Really? How is that possible? Tick and Tock must’ve been off by a whole lot more than five minutes! I quickly got up to check the door while Cushion called out to me with a small lazy voice.Bookmark here

“Elio…” Bookmark here

“Yeah?” I turned back.Bookmark here

“Could you take me to the living room?” it blinked sleepily. “Since I’m awake anyway, I wanna hear the latest juicy details Irina is sure to bring!”Bookmark here

“Sure, Cushion.” I grabbed the pillow and placed it gently onto the couch in the living room as I made my way to the door. Bookmark here

“Thank youuuu—!” It trailed off as the knocking came again.Bookmark here

“Coming!” I said while reaching for the door handle. I opened it and was greeted by Irina, her silver hair in an ornate up-do—almost blinding in the sun.Bookmark here

“Hey Irina!” I nodded to her respectfully.Bookmark here

“Hello, dear!” she broke into a crooked smile before walking in.Bookmark here

“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a bit ahead of schedule today!” She waddled towards the closest chair and plopped down at full force into the seat. So that’s why! Tick and Tock weren’t THAT off...I think?Bookmark here

“That’s quite alright! How are you? Would you like some tea?” I said as I went to join her at the table.Bookmark here

“No tea needed, thank you, dear. I’m afraid I’d spill it; my arthritis is back with a vengeance!”Bookmark here

She was about to spill the figurative tea anyway, but I didn’t bother to tell her that as she wasn’t privy to such expressions.Bookmark here

“Should I prepare your salve?”Bookmark here

“It would be much appreciated, dear.” Bookmark here

“No problem, Irina! Let me get started.”Bookmark here

“Yes thank you. Now…” She shifted back and forth in the chair, and cleared her throat. “Let me tell you all about this pickle I’ve found myself in,” she said somewhat under her breath. Here we go! Let the gossip begin.Bookmark here

“Do you know that old coot, Mr. Bartel?”Bookmark here

“Hmmm, actually, I’m not sure. Could you refresh my memory?” I turned briefly to look at her, then shifted my attention back to the mortar I was using to prepare her salve. As I ground together a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, and matcha, I heard her throw her hands up in surprise at me not immediately knowing the man she spoke of.Bookmark here

“He’s the hat maker! You know, Bartel’s Hats?” She crossed her arms in frustration.Bookmark here

“Oh yes! He’s actually quite famous in Crystalis! I remember!” He was trusted to make the hats for the royals I’d heard. The chair creaked as she shifted again before continuing.Bookmark here

“Well, you see…” she trailed off.Bookmark here

I plucked an aloe vera leaf from its pot as I waited for her to continue. I scraped the gel into the mortar and began to mix and grind the ingredients together with the pestle. After a moment of awkward silence I prompted her to continue…Bookmark here

“Yes? What about Mr. Bartel?” I turned to find Irina with her hands over her mouth, covering a large grin.Bookmark here

“He’s...single!!” She finally burst out.Bookmark here

“Oh? Is he?” I smirked. How cute, a crush! I never thought Irina was one to get like this. “And what led to this discovery?”Bookmark here

“Ok so, last week he actually dropped by my shop and needed a few things mended. I saw that dreadful Mildred!” The infamous Mildred, Irina’s sworn enemy in town. There was nothing really wrong with her from what I’ve heard, the two just didn’t get along. “She was all over him! It’s obvious she’s interested, but he didn’t seem to reciprocate her advances!” Bookmark here

“Ah I see! So, I guess she won’t be your competition this time around!” Bookmark here

“Well, I don’t know. That Mildred…she’s a wily one! So I thought, why don’t I ask Elio for some help?”Bookmark here

“Now, now, Irina… We’ve been through this. You know I can’t do curses, I’m a Wizard!”Bookmark here

“But—” Bookmark here

“Despite your persistence, I’m afraid I can’t help with that.”Bookmark here

“Drat, well one of these days you’ll help an old woman out with a hex or two.” She burst out a mischievous dry cackle. “Anyways, I’ve come to ask for the next best thing!” Bookmark here

Oh? Irina might be more wily than her nemesis…Bookmark here

“What would that be?” I finished mixing the salve and poured it into a glass bottle. Bookmark here

“I want to get Mr. Bartel’s attention so...I want you to make me a magic perfume,” she declared!Bookmark here

“A perfume? Sure I can do that! But...what kind of magic? Perhaps a spell to draw people’s eyes to you?”Bookmark here

“Brilliant. That would be most excellent! I knew I could count on you, dear.” She clapped her hands a couple times with excitement.Bookmark here

“It might take me a couple of days. Could you tell me what his favorite flower or scent is? That will help make it more personal.”Bookmark here

“Oh, definitely! I can find out,” she nodded excitedly! Bookmark here

I waved my hands over the cap of the glass bottle, and whispered the words of healing. A couple twinkling stars floated down into the bottle and swirled inside it like a starry sky. I walked the arthritis-curing mixture over to Irina and handed it to her.Bookmark here

“There you go!” I held the bottle in my open palm. She grabbed it gently and smiled.Bookmark here

“Thank you dear! Nothing else works as well as your concoctions. I hope one day you are able to share your gifts with more people.”Bookmark here

“Maybe one day…” I said politely.
“Well, if it makes you happy being all the way out here...Don’t let me rain on it, I suppose.” She waved her hand in the air as if to clear it. “How much do I owe? The usual?”Bookmark here

“Tell you what, since you’ll be buying the perfume, how about seven?”Bookmark here

“Just seven gold, lad? That’s very generous. I promise to not pester you for any cursing or hexing...well at least not too much,” she teased while digging in her purse. Before I knew it, she had pulled out a few more gold than the amount we’d agreed upon and shoved it into my hand.Bookmark here

“Keep the extra, dear. Get yourself something nice,” she said with a wink. “I’d best be off! I have quite the backlog of garments to mend, myself!” She raised herself up slowly, and shuffled towards the door.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Irina!” I smiled and waved at her.Bookmark here

“Have a good day! See you again soon!” She waved from the door before shutting it behind her.Bookmark here

“Not much juicy gossip today!” Tooth piped up from the countertop in the kitchen.Bookmark here

“Right?” Cushion yawned. “She has a crush, though!” Bookmark here

“Quite interesting, indeed. Who is this Bartel fellow?” Tick chimed in from his spot on the wall.Bookmark here

“I’m afraid I don’t know much about him, he’s just a famous hat maker. That’s all I really know.” I rubbed my bottom lip and smiled. “It is pretty cute that she’s found a new infatuation at her age, isn’t it?”Bookmark here

“So cute!” Tooth yelled in adoration.Bookmark here

“But...that Mildred.” Cushion yawned. Bookmark here

“Well, to be fair, Cushion...we’ve never met Mildred!” I added.Bookmark here

“True, but I already think she’s a sneak.”Bookmark here

“Hehe, well I think we all do! It’s because Irina has a way of drawing you in with her stories,” Tooth pointed out. We all erupted in laughter. Bookmark here

“Elio, I believe the time is 7:16!” Tock joined in the conversation.Bookmark here

“Well, I believe Irina was my last client today?” I glanced at today's schedule sheet lying on my desk. “Looks like I’m free for the rest of the evening!” Bookmark here

“You should think about having dinner!” Tooth always reminded me to eat, and I appreciated it.Bookmark here

“Yes, right as usual Tooth! Maybe I’ll do that now!”Bookmark here

There was a soft knock at the door. Bookmark here

“I guess Irina might’ve forgotten something?” I looked around the room before opening the door. “Everyone, do you see anything Irina might’ve forgo—” I was cut off in surprise. It wasn’t Irina at the door. A man was at the door, but not one I’d ever seen! His hair was a dark navy, and his skin had a grey undertone to it. The clothes he wore indicated he was quite well off, from his cravat to his boots. They were well tailored, and hugged his body tight enough to see a faint hint of his muscular frame. I had to stop myself from staring, as I felt my face begin to flush. I gulped pretty loudly, and tried to greet him politely but he spoke before I was able to clear the lump in my throat.Bookmark here

“Are you the wizard? I’ve come to seek your assistance.” he said, with two of his particular teeth gleaming in the twilight. “May I come in?” Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.