Kristin Montgomery is more than a little shocked when her aunts inform her they're fairy godmothers. Worse, after dropping that bombshell they hand her a wand and head off on a world cruise. Now Kristin's uncomplicated life as a CPA in San Diego has disappeared like magic and she not only has to deal with her burgeoning magical powers, but also a reluctant—and distractingly sexy—magical arbiter.
Tennyson Ritter is a historian. A scholar by choice, he is yanked from his studies to act as arbiter for the newly chosen fairy godmother. He doesn't want to waste his time with a woman who doesn't know anything about magic or the magical world, but soon the beguiling Kristin draws him away from his books and into her life.
But before Kristin can hone her skills and pass the tests necessary to fully claim her powers, she and Tennyson must work together to defend the world – both magical and human – against those that would claim her powers for their own.
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About the Author
GABI STEVENS lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her engineer husband, three daughters and two dogs. When she's not writing, Gabi teaches eighth grade gifted language arts and literature, plays volleyball, and enjoys games.
GABI STEVENS lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her engineer husband, three daughters and two dogs. When she's not writing, Gabi teaches eighth grade gifted language arts and literature, plays volleyball, and enjoys games. She is the author of The Wish List, Wishful Thinking, and As You Wish.
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The Wish List
By Stevens, Gabi
Tor BooksCopyright © 2010 Stevens, Gabi
All right reserved.
1 HOW TO BE A FAIRY GODMOTHER:
â€¢Never Reveal Yourself to Your Charges.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
THE AUNTS HAD summoned her.
Their cryptic message had left her alternately curious and worried. Why were they so adamant to see her? Something about a job and â€œitâ€™s time.â€?
Kristin Montgomery parked her Camry in front of the bungalow in Mission Beach and locked the door. As usual sheâ€™d found a great parking spot. She shouldnâ€™t have. Parking in the crowded streets of the little beach community should have been a bear, yet a space always waited for her whenever she came to visit the aunts.
Kristin inhaled deeply. The ocean breeze played with her hair, and the fresh sea air contained a tang that always smelled of adventure to her.
Today the smell of adventure was even more powerful.
Donâ€™t be ridiculous, Kristin. She turned up the walk. Deep pink bougainvillea bushes lined the path to the door. The house seemed normal from the outside, still as charming and quaint as the day her aunts moved in when she was a teenager. The cottage was some seventy years old and had a value of over seven hundred thousand dollars. Only in San Diego could a tiny box with a postage stamp yard be worth so much.
The three old women werenâ€™t really her aunts, and they couldnâ€™t really summon her, but Kristin loved them. But why had they sent for her?
She rang the doorbell, then tried the door. As usual, it swung right open. â€œHavenâ€™t I told you itâ€™s not safe to keep your door unlocked?â€?
Chaos greeted her. Suitcases, bags, and a huge trunk yawned in the living room in front of her. Clothes draped over the sides, maps and papers filled the pockets, and a lone shoe sat in one bag while its mate lay on the floor.
Aunt Rose walked out of the study, her arms filled with a jumble of clothes. â€œOh, tosh, dear. No one would harm us.â€? She brushed a kiss against Kristinâ€™s cheek. â€œItâ€™s good to see you again, love.â€?
Kristin eyed the tiny white-haired woman. â€œDo you need any help?â€?
â€œNonsense. Iâ€™m not carrying bricks.â€? Rose placed the top three items into the first suitcase and the rest into the second.
Kristin followed Rose. â€œAre you moving?â€?
Aunt Lily entered the room. â€œDonâ€™t be silly, dear. Weâ€™ll explain in a moment.â€? Tall and lithe, Lily clutched a large bottle of sunscreen and towels draped over her arms. Her iron gray hair sported three pairs of sunglasses and two hats sitting at a jaunty angle.
â€œPlanning an outing to the beach?â€? Kristin raised her brows.
â€œOne does not take suitcases to the beach, dear,â€? said Lily. With a tilt of her head, she deposited the sundry items into the nearest open suitcase, then arranged them in an orderly fashion.
â€œSo whatâ€™s going on?â€?
â€œItâ€™s the Time of Transition,â€? said Rose with a bright smile.
â€œTransition?â€? Kristin wrinkled her forehead.
Hyacinth, the aunt who completed the trio, strode into the room with brochures, pamphlets, and other papers sticking out of a purple folder. â€œYou havenâ€™t told her yet, have you? You didnâ€™t start before I was here, did you?â€? Her short silver hair bounced on her scalp as she shook her head scoldingly at Rose.
â€œOf course not, Hyacinth. We wouldnâ€™t do that to you.â€? Rose lifted her shoulders in an endearing shrug. â€œWeâ€™re a team.â€?
â€œBut youâ€™re here now.â€? Lily moved to Kristin and took her hands. Rose and Hyacinth gathered around her as well. They exchanged glances with one another, as if sharing a conspiratorial secret. Lily said, â€œWeâ€™re not really your aunts, dear.â€?
Kristin stifled a laugh. â€œI know that.â€?
Hyacinth burbled out a puff of air. â€œAnd as much as I hate to admit it, weâ€™re getting old.â€? She lifted a finger as Kristinâ€™s mouth opened to protest. â€œItâ€™s true. Weâ€™ve gotten slow and thatâ€™s a problem.â€?
â€œBut itâ€™s the Time of Transition, so we can celebrate,â€? said Rose. â€œOur tenure has come to an end.â€?
â€œExcuse me?â€? Kristin eyed the three old women. What were they talking about?
â€œYour turn to take over, dear,â€? said Rose. She turned to her companions. â€œWhat time does the taxi arrive?â€?
â€œThirty minutes,â€? said Hyacinth. â€œDamn, weâ€™ll never be ready.â€?
â€œOf course we will, and watch your language. It just doesnâ€™t suit us to curse,â€? said Lily.
â€œNone of our charges can hear me,â€? said Hyacinth.
â€œKristin can,â€? said Rose.
â€œShe hardly counts. Sheâ€™s one of us now.â€? Hyacinth examined the suitcases. â€œWeâ€™d be better off if we combine some of these. We might not be able to handle so many bags.â€?
â€œYou may be right, Hyacinth.â€? A rare frown touched Roseâ€™s face, but an instant later it dissolved into her customary smile. â€œIf we need more room, we can always buy more suitcases.â€?
â€œOr zap up a couple,â€? Hyacinth said.
â€œMaybe not. Our powers will be in flux and our wands might act up,â€? Lily said.
Kristin held up her hands. â€œHold it. Wands?â€?
â€œYes, dear. Wands. But we canâ€™t be sure how reliable theyâ€™ll be.â€? Lily reached into a bag and transferred its contents to another case. â€œStill, we should take fewer suitcases. Definitely.â€?
â€œWait.â€? Kristin waved her hands until the aunts looked at her. â€œLetâ€™s start over. First, where are you going?â€?
â€œOn a world cruise, dear,â€? said Rose, combining the contents of two bags. â€œItâ€™s been so long since weâ€™ve traveled.â€?
â€œFor a vacation anyway,â€? Hyacinth added. â€œItâ€™s our retirement gift to ourselves.â€?
â€œRetirement?â€? As far as Kristin knew, the aunts had never held jobs. She always thought it odd that they seemed well-off despite no visible evidence of income, but she never considered it her business to ask. â€œRetirement from what?â€?
â€œWhy, being fairy godmothers.â€? Hyacinth closed one now-full suitcase. â€œItâ€™s the Time of Transition. Time for us to step down.â€?
Uh-huh. Fairy godmothers. Kristin drew a deep breath. â€œYouâ€™re joking, right?â€?
â€œWe wouldnâ€™t joke about such a serious matter,â€? said Rose. â€œNow where did I put my brush?â€?
â€œHere it is.â€? Lily handed it to Rose. â€œ â€Fairy godmotherâ€™ is such an inaccurate term. Really weâ€™re more like liaisons, but people seem to understand â€fairy godmotherâ€™ better. Iâ€™m sure your arbiter will explain.â€?
â€œArbiter?â€? Kristinâ€™s brows drew together.
â€œThe person appointed by the Council to oversee your transition.â€? Hyacinth closed another suitcase. â€œSometimes they can be a pain in theâ€”â€?
â€œHyacinth,â€? Lily said sharply. â€œAnyway, Iâ€™m sure your arbiter will be fine.â€?
Kristin scrutinized the aunts. They had never shown signs of delusion before. â€œWhen was the last time you had a physical? A complete examination? Maybe you should postpone your trip and make sure youâ€™re healthy enough to go. Youâ€™ve admitted youâ€™re old.â€?
â€œShe doesnâ€™t believe us.â€? A bright laugh tinkled from Roseâ€™s throat.
â€œI blame the modern world,â€? said Lily with a sigh. â€œNo one believes anymore.â€?
â€œSome still do.â€? Hyacinth cocked her head at Kristin.
â€œWell, naturally Kristin does,â€? said Lily. â€œShe is Arcani.â€?
â€œArcani?â€? Kristinâ€™s voice rose in pitch.
â€œA member of the magical world,â€? Rose said.
â€œLook, Aunties, I love you, but I donâ€™t believeâ€”â€?
â€œDo you remember your seventh birthday?â€? said Lily.
â€œSure. I begged my parents for a pony. I didnâ€™t get one.â€?
â€œOf course you didnâ€™t get one. We arenâ€™t irresponsible.â€? Hyacinth snorted at the thought. â€œYou didnâ€™t get that pony because you couldnâ€™t have cared for it. Your parents didnâ€™t have the money to board it, and you certainly couldnâ€™t have kept it in your backyard.â€?
â€œBut thatâ€™s what I wished for.â€?
â€œYou wanted a pony so badly. Your every wish on every star was for that pony.â€? Lily sighed at the memory. â€œEvery dandelion you blew, every time you went through a tunnel, every wishbone you broke, you spent that prayer on your pony.â€?
Kristin wrinkled her brow. â€œHow do you know that?â€?
â€œJust because we didnâ€™t get you a pony doesnâ€™t mean we werenâ€™t listening,â€? said Rose with a smile. â€œThat was the year we sent you Mr. Pickles.â€?
Kristinâ€™s jaw dropped. Mr. Pickles had been her cat and the best companion sheâ€™d ever had. The animal had been the friendliest creature on the planet. She wore him draped around her neck as a child, used him as a confidant when she was a teenager. Her heart had broken when she had to leave him with her family when she went off to college. But Mr. Pickles had waited for her, and during every break and vacation, the animal gave her the emotional support she needed as she took her first tentative steps into adulthood. She would have sworn more than once in their many years together that the cat understood English. Mr. Pickles had died last year, a well-loved and dearly missed friend.
â€œMr. Pickles.â€? Hyacinth chuckled. â€œI always thought it was a ridiculous name, but he liked it.â€?
Her knees weak, Kristin plopped onto the sofa. â€œWhat do you mean, â€he liked itâ€™?â€?
â€œYou donâ€™t think weâ€™d send you an ordinary cat, do you? Cats can be so contrary, but Mr. Pickles was special.â€? Lily patted Kristinâ€™s shoulder.
This was absurd. Kristin calmed herself. â€œLook, you canâ€™t be serious about all this.â€?
â€œWhy not?â€? said Lily.
â€œBecause . . . because . . .â€?
â€œNow youâ€™re just being stubborn.â€? Hyacinth sat beside Kristin and hooked her arm around Kristinâ€™s shoulders. â€œWeâ€™ve been watching over you for years.â€?
â€œBut thereâ€™re no such things as fairy godmothers.â€? Kristin rubbed her forehead.
â€œNonsense, dear. Weâ€™re standing in front of you,â€? said Lily.
â€œWeâ€™re really quite famous,â€? added Hyacinth.
Rose nodded. â€œYou studied the Brothers Grimm.â€?
â€œWell, yes, butâ€”â€?
â€œThey were great historians. They wrote about us. Well, not us, but our predecessors.â€?
â€œAnd now our time is up. The Time of Transition is here.â€? Lily crossed to an antique armoire. She opened the doors and pulled out a slender case that looked as if it could have held a flute. â€œYou must choose.â€?
Lily opened the case. Inside lay three slender batons. Gnarled, yet with a smooth patina, each switch glowed with its own colorsâ€”yellow, red, and black. Ornate handles of beautiful filigree work wound up the bases. The gold that encased the yellow wood held gems in a classical design; the green verdigris of the red wand looked like vines twisting up a stalk; the stark geometric designs of silver contrasted sharply against the black wood of the third. Kristin picked up the red wand. It tingled in her hand and warmed her palm.
â€œWell done,â€? said Rose, clapping her hands.
â€œThat one is like mine,â€? said Lily. â€œMagic with a good dose of reality. It suits you.â€?
â€œHow can it suit me? Iâ€™m a CPA.â€? Kristinâ€™s sense of frustration grew.
â€œYou chose it.â€? Rose shrugged and spread her hands.
Kristin drew in a deep breath. â€œAunties, you canâ€™t thinkâ€”â€?
â€œAdmit it. Thereâ€™s a part of you right now thatâ€™s hoping weâ€™re right.â€? Hyacinth crossed her arms over her chest.
And in that mix of emotions that swirled through Kristinâ€”the shock, the disbelief, the exasperationâ€”there was a spark of hope, a wish that it all was true. â€œFine, but that doesnâ€™t mean Iâ€™m magical.â€?
â€œArcani, dear. Sorry to hurry you, but weâ€™re running out of time here.â€? Lily pushed the case back into the armoire and then closed a third suitcase. â€œYour apartment lease is up in a week.â€?
â€œHow did youâ€”â€? Kristin interrupted her own question. They knew. Somehow they knew.
â€œYou can move in here,â€? Rose said as she closed the trunk. â€œWe wonâ€™t be here for months, we need someone to care for the house, and you love it. Besides, this house knows magic. The test will go smoother here.â€?
â€œWhat test?â€? asked Kristin, feeling more overwhelmed by the minute.
â€œThe Time of Transition is a testing period to see if you are capable and worthy of the job. Your arbiter has the final say.â€? Hyacinth tightened the straps on the trunk. â€œBut we have faith in you.â€?
Kristin tried to form an argument, but no words sufficed. She had to say something. â€œAunties, I donâ€™t have powers. Not a twinge, not a hint. Logic, sure, but magic? I donâ€™t even have luck.â€?
The three ladies stopped, looked at her, and burst out laughing.
â€œWell, of course you do,â€? said Lily. â€œThe gifts of a fairy godmother donâ€™t come into bloom until the age of twenty-seven. Three times three times three. Quite the magic number. Your birthday was only last week.â€?
â€œEven then, it takes years to come into the powers fully.â€? Hyacinth sat on the trunk. â€œIt took me a decade.â€?
â€œA decade?â€? Kristin stared at the three women. â€œJust how old are you?â€?
â€œNinety-seven,â€? said Hyacinth. â€œItâ€™s been a great journey, but Iâ€™m ready to rest.â€?
â€œI stopped counting at eighty,â€? said Rose. â€œIt just isnâ€™t polite to celebrate birthdays and expect presents after that.â€?
â€œSeventy years is long enough at any job. Now we have time to take our little vacation, and then see where the Magic needs us,â€? Lily said.
Questions whirled in Kristinâ€™s head. Ninety-seven? Wands? Magic? She shook her head. Impossible.
â€œI know this is a lot, dear,â€? said Lily, patting Kristinâ€™s arm. â€œBut one of your tests is adaptability. We werenâ€™t allowed to prepare you.â€?
â€œThis is insane.â€? The words burst from her lips. â€œYou actually believe you are fairy godmothers and Iâ€™m next in line.â€?
â€œOoh, that attitude wonâ€™t help you.â€? Rose shook her finger at Kristin. â€œYouâ€™ve lots to learn in the next few weeks.â€?
From the street a car honked. Hyacinth poked the curtains apart and looked out. â€œTaxiâ€™s here. Iâ€™ll tell him we need help.â€? Hyacinth bustled from the room.
Excerpted from The Wish List by .
Copyright Â© 2010 by Gabriella Anderson.
Published in May 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Excerpted from The Wish List by Stevens, Gabi Copyright © 2010 by Stevens, Gabi. Excerpted by permission.
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