It’s three days to the publication of Becoming Magic and today I started thinking how in folk stories, three is magical and that number has entered our own lives in ways we might not really notice at first. Jack had three magic beans. The first time I pitched a book to a literary agent (someday I’ll write about this rather painful memory), he asked for three things: a 3-page synopsis, the manuscript and proposals for three more books.
I can’t help but wonder if Jack had five magic beans would I have been asked for a five-page synopsis? And five more book proposals?
At any rate, I’m hoping the magical number three will work for me today. I’m going to post three excerpts from Becoming Magic. And if the day is as magical as Jack’s beans, you’ll be intrigued enough to climb the Becoming Magic beanstalk to find the treasure.
She gathered her notes and then slapped them back on the table, turning to him. “Look. We’re obviously going to be working together since there’s no talking my bosses out of this, so let’s lay down a few ground rules.”
He sat back in his chair. “Go ahead.”
“I know you’re a big movie star and you’re probably used to getting your way with women without even having to work for it, but let me just tell you here and now, there’s nowhere to get with me. I’m not looking to get laid, and your charming ways are not going to work with me. Okay?”
A light frown creased his handsome forehead. His eyes were very serious and he nodded. “Noted.”
In a probably vain attempt to keep from looking too vulnerable, she forced herself to take a deep breath. “I would also like to say that I don’t like dirty jokes. They make me uncomfortable and are mostly just rude, not funny.”
The frown on his forehead had deepened. But he just nodded. “Got it.”
“And finally, I don’t like to be touched. I’m not going to let you touch me to further my career, and I don’t care if you fire me. So don’t go for the brush-the-boob casual move or the light hand on my back or pinching my butt or whatever. None of it. I don’t enjoy it and if I don’t enjoy it, you have no right to enjoy it.”
He sat for a moment after she finished speaking, his expression very sober. Then he stood. For a moment, she thought he would just walk out of the room and she wondered what would happen if he went to Sabrina or Walt with what she’d just said. Her heartbeat pounded in her chest, thundering against her ribcage. But she raised her chin in defiance. If she was going to be working in Hollywood again, she was damn well going to do it her way.
He didn’t leave the room, however. After a moment, he asked politely, “Was there anything else?”
She’d expected indignation. His polite acceptance took her by surprise. “Umm, no.”
“Then we can get to work.” He held out a hand and she took it, bemused. He shook her hand and dropped it. “One condition of my own, however. I’d appreciate not being lumped into the same category as an abuser when I don’t think I’ve earned it.”
“What were you feeling right then?”
“Right then?” He studied the screen. “Betrayed, I think. She was supposed to accept the rose. She was supposed to kiss me and later, she was supposed to make love to me. Because it was magic.” He shrugged, then glanced at her. “Sorry, was that too much information?”
“Maybe a little, but I did ask.” She watched onscreen Connor walk away—toward his trailer, probably.
“Why did you ask?”
“Why did you answer?” She countered him neatly, then hit the pause button. “But since you did, I’ll answer your other question. Yes. There are so many things I’d cut from my life if I had a delete button. Things that I worry not only delayed my reaching my eventual goal but may actually prevent it.”
She hesitated, again torn between blurting out her whole sordid story and hiding it away in the dark reaches of her soul. Hiding won. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
He reached across and caught her hand. “That’s not really fair.” His thumb caressed her knuckles. “I told you mine.”
“Your what?” Her heart pounded in her throat.
“My secret. My too much information. It’s only fair if you share yours.”
Why did his lightest touch set her skin afire? It was so hard to think. And whatever the wine was, it must have a much higher alcohol content than she was used to. Or maybe he’d refilled it more often than she’d thought. At any rate, she felt like everything pleasant was intensified—like the feel of his light caress—and everything unpleasant had faded to the background. How much did Hollywood even matter, anyway?
She answered herself almost instantly, jerked back to reality by her need to conceal her too much information. “It’s not the same thing.”
“How so?” He closed his fingers over hers.
“I—mine isn’t so pleasant. Even yours is romantic and sweet. You just wanted her to love you as much as you loved her. But mine is—not that.”
“How do you do that, anyway?”
“Do what?” He blinked innocently.
“Charm everyone. Her. The waitress the other night. Sabrina and Walt—”
“Oh, if you’d heard the talking to Walt gave me about none other than little old you, you’d know he’s not so charmed.”
“Oh, he’s charmed. But anyway, other people. People you’ve never even met like my sister. They’re all so taken with you. I don’t get it.”
“Well, that’s flattering.” He quirked an eyebrow at her.
She laughed a little. “I mean, I do get it. Sort of. But you and I—well, we know each other a little better, don’t we? It’s not like we’re passing acquaintances and I’m already charmed by you. I mean…”
She trailed off, but he nodded understanding. “Yes, that’s true. We’ve both seen a little of what makes each other tick. You’re wondering how others can see I’m someone worth investing in.”
“Well, yeah.” She shrugged. “For want of a better way of putting it.”
He paused, thinking. “I believe it’s like anything. It’s like picking up a book by an author you’ve never read before and deciding you want to read it. Or even listening to a song all the way through. You don’t know you’re going to like it. You might even hate it. But you sort of judge it from the beginning notes of the song or the first line of the book. I’ve got a good beginning note, I guess.”
She smiled. “I like that way of putting it. Like choosing a dessert. I can tell from the smell that you have some ingredients I like.” Her glance caught his and she felt her face heat up a little as she realized what she had said. “Or something like that.”
Thanks for reading. Hope your day is magical!