She scooped up the ring she’d made and the old wedding ring her customer had given her and took them both into her bathroom. Willa rested the two rings side by side in the middle of her empty claw foot tub. The non-reactive porcelain was a perfect surface to work her magic on since the metals couldn’t touch other metals or stone, nothing that might interfere with her spell work.
The bathroom also had no windows, making it the most private spot in her apartment. There was no risk of anyone peeking in on the second floor, but her magic made its own light. Someone might get curious. Especially in a town where weird was celebrated.
She shut the bathroom door then kneeled beside the tub, held her hands over the two rings and opened herself up to the metal and stones.
Heat and energy radiated off them and into her palms. It traveled through her body, settling in her chest with a comfortable pressure akin to the touch of a friend’s hand. She could sense each one clearly.
The ring she’d made pinged like a beacon sending out a signal. The stones were already searching for love, trying to call the emotion closer. The platinum was cool and quiet, but that would change when she was done.
The wedding ring, the sacrifice, ached with love but also the pain its last wearer had gone through. She concentrated on that, willing the metal to release the hurt trapped inside it, promising it new things, new chances, new love.
Both rings sat up, balanced on their shanks. They trembled under her raised hands and the power of the magic coursing through her sending a tinny buzz through the tub.
She focused her thoughts on the new ring and filled it with all the desires of her own heart while charging the stones with their job. Find Martin Burnside a new love. Draw love to him. Use your nature to heal his heart and provide him with a new joy in his life. Give him a love that will make his days brighter and his heart sing. Someone to laugh with. Someone to grow old with. Someone who will listen and understand.
Then she shifted to the wedding ring. Let go of your pain. Transform yourself. Give yourself over to the future. Love awaits you. A new path with new possibilities is yours for the having.
The wedding ring shimmered with light and then, like a tiny star exploding in slow motion, it dissolved into a million bright, sparkling specks of metal. The tiny fragments hovered in a cloud beneath Willa’s right hand, waiting for her to guide them.
She closed her eyes for a moment and looked inward until she latched on to the two separate energies filling her body and then, with a mental push, combined them as she moved her hands closer together.
When she opened her eyes, the new ring was engulfed in the cloud of metal that had been the wedding ring. The sparkling sphere of metal and magic danced between her hands.
She smiled. “Find him love. Bring him happiness. Give him a woman to be his partner in life.”
She brought her hands closer, turning her palms in and pressing the ring and the cloud into each other. The energies resisted with the rounded bounce of two parallel magnets being brought together, but that was typical. She focused her attention, gave them one more push and, with a soft sigh, the wedding ring cloud and the new ring became one.
The garnet ring clattered on the floor of the tub as the sparkle and light of the wedding ring disappeared. The energy filling her disappeared in a single exhale.
She sat back on her heels, a little drained from the work. The customer wasn’t the only one sacrificing. Each piece she made took a little from her, but it was worth it, and in a day, she’d be fine.
A good night’s sleep would go a long way toward restoring her, too. She picked up the ring, took it back to her bench and popped it in a small velvet box, satisfied with another job well done.
Then she scooped Jasper off the window sill and cuddled him like a baby. He put his paws on her chin and yawned, showing her his pink tongue and sharp white teeth. She nuzzled her nose against his. “Who’s a tired kitten?”
He batted lazily at her hair. She kissed his nose as she carried him into the bedroom.
Life was good in Nocturne Falls, and while Jasper was a great companion, he wasn’t exactly the man she’d imagined spending the rest of her life with.
If only her magic worked for herself. She’d make herself a ring just like the one she’d completed for poor lovelorn troll Martin Burnside. A ring to draw love to her.
But fae gifts didn’t work that way and even if they did, her father had once cautioned her about relying on magic instead of fate.
She sat on the bed and hugged Jasper a little tighter.
Fate really needed to hurry up.
Nick Hardwin drove through the streets of Nocturne Falls with one thought on his mind. This place was the epitome of a nice, peaceful town. Sure, it had dashes of weird here and there, but it was still essentially a nice, peaceful town.
In other words, boring as hell.
There were no two ways about it. For a gargoyle and former Army Ranger like Nick Hardwin, nice and peaceful translated into a real snoozefest. Granted, that had originally seemed like the perfect antidote to his last tour of duty, and that, plus the invite from his former master sergeant, Hank Merrow, who was the sheriff of Nocturne Falls, had been reason enough to move here.
Initially, the lack of action had given him a chance to shake off the stressors of being in country and adjust to being a civilian again—as much as his kind could be a civilian. The warrior mentality was sort of built into a gargoyle’s DNA.
But three months into life in this pleasant, happy little town and he was beginning to go a touch stir crazy from the sort of sameness of it all. Even weird got to be normal when it was the same weird all the time.