Tom looked at Carlie, her back rigid, anger rolling off of her, as she looked out the door.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she hissed. “Do you have Sandi’s address?”
“Why would I have her address?”
Carlie dug her claws into her biceps. Just a little book, she thought, trying to get her demon back in it’s cage.
“The book could have been in the dollar bin,” he said. “It wasn’t written in English and you know we don’t sell a lot of foreign language books.”
“I’ll be back,” she said, pulling the the door open.
“Where are you going?”
She didn’t answer.
Sandi left the shop and walked around the corner to her car. She jumped in, threw the book on the passenger seat, and pulled away from the curb. She drove south for forty minutes, then slowed as she entered a sweeping circular driveway. She parked and walked toward the beautiful, gigantic, handmade door, that was, for all purposes, alive. She ran up the stairs, put both hands on the dragon’s side and waited. The dragon smiled, asked her for a date, then licked her face.
“Ewwww,” she said, wiping off her cheek. “I’ve asked you not to do that.”
“He’s waiting for you my bite size treat.”
‘Honestly, Henry,” she sighed. “You’re far to old for that kind of nonsense.”
“Dragons are never too old, my delectable tidbit.”
Sandi shook her head and walked inside. Mob boss, Joseph Marcuso was waiting for her.
“You got it?”
They went up the graceful stairway with the hand carved dragon rails. “Be polite, my lovelies,” said Marcuso, to the banisters.
The dragons smiled at Sandi and called to her in whispers. “Knock it off,” she laughed, and no biting, or nipping.”
The dragons pretended to pout, and she felt one lick her arm. She slapped at him and he chuckled. “Wee morsel. Will you be mine?”
“In your dreams, Scales.”
“My pretty one,” he sighed. “We would make such a glorious team.”
“In here,” said Marcuso.
“Wait in the hall,” she said, brushing past him.
The child lay on the bed, as still as death. Pale, frail and ghostly. Sandi walked to him and sat on the edge of his mattress. “Time for you to wake up, Conner.”
She didn’t need any focus items. She didn’t really use magic. She simply began chanting the spell she had become so familiar with, it was like singing a favorite song. And when she came to the end, she said the word that had been missing. The word written on the scrap of paper she found in the book.
The second she said it, she felt a flutter of wind, like a small tornado, flit through the room. She saw dark red ash, rise from the tiny chest in front of her. She heard screaming far, far away. Someone was enraged, that his curse had been broken. The she heard coughing, and the boy’s arms moved.
She got up, went to the door, opened it, and smiled. Marcuso rushed past her and fell to his knees next to the child. She walked down the staircase, pushing amorous dragons away from her. She stopped stopped by Scales and scratched him on his neck. He closed his eyes and sighed.
“How I love you, small one.”
“I’m not small, you silly dragon.”
“It’s all relative, my bite sized darling.”
“Too bad you’re not human,” she teased. “We could go out for a drink.”
The man suddenly standing next to her, stared at her with green eyes, then picked her up and kissed her.
They heard the door open and the dragon morphed back into the railing.
“Ah, you’re still here,” said Marcuso. “I can never repay you for what you’ve done,” he said, handing her a check for more money than she’d ever seen in one place in her entire life. “I want you to work exclusively for me. You can live here, or in the carriage house. You’ll be safe and protected. I’ll have my men bring your things over tomorrow.”
“Wait,” she said. “I’m happy doing what I’m doing.”
“I’m not. You know whoever threw the curse will come looking for you. You won’t be able to protect yourself with your little gun and no magic. Your signature is on the wind, loose in the world.”
“Just try it, and we’ll see how it goes.”
“Daddy?” called a small voice from upstairs.
“I have to go. The doctor is with him. Dominic will see to everything,” he said, nodding at the man standing at the bottom of the stairs. “Anything you want, is you yours. You have returned my son to me. I am forever in your debt.” With that he bowed, and went back up the stairs.
Sandi looked at the railing. It was quiet. The kiss lingered on her lips. She ran her hand over the dragon’s back, felt him tremble. She smiled, and scratched at her arm. Then she went down stairs to talk with Dom.
Carlie felt the curse break. Her Master was going to be furious. He would blame her. She would be punished.