LADY MAGICIAN – in collaboration with Spark Flash Fiction.
Find more magical love stories in their LOVE IS MAGICAL issue!
It was the oldest library in Newcastle.
Books of all colors lined the walls, their spines cracked with age and use. The smell of leather and paper mingled with cherry wood smoke from the crackling hearths on each end of the room.
Lily Midnight paused behind the curtain to inhale the smell of learning and comfort and a lifetime of uninterrupted reading nights.
All this could be hers if she accepted the Magician’s proposal.
His letter had arrived in the post last week, its envelope rimmed in sparkly dust. She had smirked as she opened it, certain it was meant for Esmeralda Conklin next door. The Midnights’ manor might be large, but it was crumbling from the outside in. It had been decades since they could afford repairs. No respectable family would be inviting Lily Midnight to a dance or luncheon, no matter what the envelope said.
But inside was a rather imperative command to meet the Magician at his home on the hill above town on this day to discuss their upcoming marriage. Lily had wanted to laugh, but the sense of foreboding change that swept over her killed the laughter.
And that was how she found herself here, hiding behind the Magician’s brown velvet curtains, waiting for him to appear. She wanted a good look at him before she agreed to discuss anything, much less marriage.
She’d put her considerable climbing skills to use and shimmied her way up a creaky drainpipe and in through the window, rather than alert the servants to her presence. If he didn’t like her sneaking into his home, he shouldn’t have sent such her a hubris-filled letter. What kind of person proposed without ever saying hello?
A stiff draft shifted the fabric against her arms. She peered around it, waiting for the carved wooden door across the room to open.
“These are the perfect hiding curtains, aren’t they?” A low male voice said next to her ear.
Lily’s scream turned into a squawk. A young man with blue eyes that dazzled even in the dim light behind the curtain stood beside her.
“What are you doing?” she hissed.
“What are you doing?” he hissed back, but his lips twitched into a smile.
“I’m waiting for the Magician, obviously.”
“Really?” He tilted his head. “So was I.”
She glared at him. His grin made her feel like a dollop of cream melting into a hot chocolate. “Well, go wait somewhere else.” The last thing she needed was this dunce watching her discuss a marriage proposal with the Magician.
“Can’t,” he said blithely, adjusting his soft blue waistcoat.
“Because I told her to meet me here.”
Lily had never wished more that looks could kill. “Her?” she said through her teeth.
He swept the curtain aside and she shivered in the sudden rush of air. “Ta da!” He spread his arms wide and bowed to the empty library. The fires crackled in a long silence.
He peeked back at her, his smile turning sly.
Lily sighed. “How did you know?” She’d worked so hard to hide her secret. To forget the magic churning in her blood. If the townsfolk knew she was a budding magician as well as poor…
His eyebrows were a shade darker than his hair, making his eyes seem even brighter. He shrugged. “It wasn’t hard. When I felt the presence of a female magician, I sent a letter to every girl in Newcastle. You were the only one brave enough to show up, of course. The others would never besmirch their shoes with the dust outside my door.”
“I thought I was hiding it.”
“You can’t hide from me, dear girl.” He clasped his hands, his cheeks still bunched in a pleased look.
It could have sounded creepy, but instead she felt relief. At last, no need to bury who she was anymore. She had someone to teach her how to fix her house. Maybe she could have her own library.
She stepped closer, and the Magician looked wary.
“I realize the proposal might have been a bit…swift,” he said quickly.
“A bit,” She said drily. “If I let you teach me…”
The delight that lit his face made her knees bobble.
“One thing.” She cleared her throat.
“Teach me how to appear behind a curtain.”
He took her hand, and with surprising restraint, swiftly kissed her knuckles. “Right away, Lady Magician.”