New to the story?
Click on the links below to read previous chapters of "Love Spells"
"You look incredible."
"I do, don't I?" Ellie laughed and burst into a bright smile. She and Miranda had just left the salon. They stood together outside the little shop as a pleasant spring breeze wafted through the air. "Thanks, Miranda. This is just what I needed."
The two women had spent Saturday morning at Ellie's apartment, sorting though her drawers and closets. Throughout the afternoon, they'd shopped at boutiques and visited the salon. Now, with new clothes, a new haircut, and a fresh new face, Ellie looked...well, incredible. No other word for it.
A new look, a new life.
Startled by the voice, she turned and looked about. Miranda had not spoken. The words came from inside Ellie's head, or maybe from somewhere deep inside her heart.
But she didn't want a new life. She wanted the old life she'd had before – only better. Instead of a lying, cheating fiance, she wanted a man who would love only her, a man who could be trusted.
"I'm glad you've finally given up those ridiculous thoughts about getting David back. Honestly, Ellie, you should be glad he's gone. I never did like him much, you know."
"Really?" Ellie hadn't known. She'd always supposed Miranda and her other friends had approved of the relationship. It surprised her to know how wrong she'd been.
"You were always so wrapped up in him, always trying so hard to please him. You lost yourself, Ellie. You forgot who you were."
"I'm not sure I ever really knew who I was in the first place." As they walked along Carlysle Street, Ellie caught sight of herself in the plate-glass window of a shopfront.
"And now?" asked Miranda, stopping beside her."Now, I'm seeing possibilities." She didn't want to say anything about magic, about the powerful forces that had begun to stir inside of her. Miranda would never understand. "I can't explain it, really, but I feel as if I'm standing at a doorway, ready to step through to something new and exciting. I feel as though I can actually make something of myself. I can make my life all I want it to be."
"Yeah, well, remember what they say." Miranda grinned and linked arms with Ellie. They began to walk again.
Ellie puzzled over the remark for a moment. Once again, she stopped. "What are you talking about? What do they say?"
"Be careful what you wish for. You might get it."
Ellie laughed. "I'll keep that in mind." Indeed. She would be very careful when she practiced her magic. She would keep her thoughts centered on the highest and best. With her love spells, she could not only win back David's heart, she could ensure his fidelity and devotion. With magic, she could do anything...couldn't she?
"How about we stop by Clancy's, have a few drinks, maybe throw a few darts?" Miranda asked. They'd come to the corner of Carlysle and 35th Street. The popular club was one of Miranda's favorites. She glanced at her wrist. "Four o'clock. Happy hour. Who knows, you might meet the man of your dreams."
Ellie shook her head. "Not now."
"Why not? You don't have anything better to do."
"Actually, I do have something planned." Ellie would be performing her ritual for the second night. She would not tell Miranda about that, of course. "You go on. Have fun at Clancy's. I can catch the bus from here." She gestured toward a nearby bus-stop.
A look of confusion swept across Miranda's face. Obviously she wanted to stop in at Clancy's but felt obligated to stay with Ellie and to see her safely home. "We don't have to stay long. We could just drop in for a minute or two."
Ellie placed a hand on her friend's arm. "Really, it's all right. Go ahead. Have a good time." She smiled. "It's been a long day. I'd like to go home, spend a little time...getting to know myself," she finished.
"Maybe that would be good. I mean it. You're changing, you know, right before my eyes." Her gaze swept over Ellie's small form. "I'm not talking about the new haircut, the new clothes, or the new shade of blush. I'm talking about you, about who you are. You've got a new attitude. I like it."
"So do I."
"It comes from throwing out the garbage." Miranda winked. "Seriously, girl, getting David out of your life was the best thing that could have happened. Your life is your own now. Make the most of it."
Ellie nodded. Let Miranda think whatever she wished. Let her go on believing David Cameron was part of the past. In time – once the magic happened – all would be right and there would be no need for explanations. Ellie's happiness would speak for itself.
But what if the magic doesn't happen? What if I get David back but he breaks my heart again? What if...?Questions haunted her as she bid farewell to her friend and hurried away, headed not for the bus stop, but for a quaint little magic shop a few blocks away.
The bell above the door jangled. Ellie stepped inside, closed her eyes, and let herself be carried away with the gentle music and sweet, pungent aromas. She stood in the center of the store...waiting.
A woman's voice floated through the air. "May I help you?"
Ellie blinked and opened her eyes; a profound disappointment coursed through her from top to toe. She stared down at her shiny new shoes with their narrow heels, wondering why she'd chosen something so unlike her usual style. Suddenly she felt awkward and unsure. Maybe it wasn't good to make too many changes all at once.
"I -- , that is, I was –, I mean, where –"
The petite blonde standing before her smiled and nodded. "You're looking for Stefan, I suppose." She nodded toward a door at the back of the shop. "He's doing a life reading. Do you want to wait? It shouldn't be much longer."
"A life reading?" Ellie's heart raced. "What's that?"
The blonde picked up a brochure. "Stefan does a lot of readings. Tarot, life readings, numerology, past-life regression..." Her voice droned on, but Ellie was no longer listening. She'd grabbed the brochure and was eagerly reading.
She looked up when she heard footsteps. The door at the back of the shop stood open now, and the craggy-faced man she’d met before came out followed by an older woman. He spoke a few words to the woman as she left the shop. He then turned toward Ellie. A smile lit up his face.
“Hello, again. I remember you. You were here earlier in the week. How is everything going?”
At once, his voice soothed Ellie’s doubts and uncertainties. She nodded. “I started the ritual last night. I’ve already had surprising results. That’s why I came by. I wanted to tell you the magic was working.” She glanced at the brochure she held. “And I think I’d like to learn a little more...about the readings you do.”
He walked behind the counter and placed a hand on the petite blonde’s shoulder. Leaning down, he brushed a kiss at the top of her head. “Thanks, sis, for filling in. Would you mind watching the shop for a few minutes more?” He looked again toward Ellie. “Why don’t you come in back with me? It’s quiet, and I can tell you about the different readings. I offer a few classes, too.”
Ellie sucked in a deep breath. A strange excitement surged through her body. Her knees felt weak; her skin itself seemed to tingle.
“Classes?” she croaked. “I don’t know. Do you think I --“
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears,” he told her, extending a hand. “Stefan Blackwell at your service.”
He had read her mind, had answered her question before she’d even asked it. She marveled at the power the man possessed. Someday such power would be hers, as well.
"Ellie Crawford", she whispered.
He smiled, took hold of her hand, and led her through the open doorway.