Chapter Six: Storm Warnings
Lightning crackled against the grey sky, while thunder groaned on the winds. Rain cascaded down from stormy heights to soak the earth with its hot tears. The three little pigs huddled under their blankets, and pretended they were not afraid. Princess Vanessa knocked on the giant doors of the castle where a tiny green vegetable would soon leave bruises down her back. Snow White ran through the forest as if death and the hunter were still following her. An arrogant crow flew into the mouth of a whale, meddled with beauty he could not understand, and destroyed it.
I was drinking hot cocoa and staring down a witch casually sitting at my table, drinking a cup of tea, and munching on my biscuits.
And what were we doing at 2:15 in the morning when all sensible fairy tale creatures were abed, safe in the warmth of their covers? We were discussing politics, dang magical politics. But when Jessandra Nightshade knocks on your door at 1:30 while a tempest rages outside, I dare you to shut the door in her face.
I'll enjoy seeing you as a frog.
"Emmaline, no need to get so crabby. I am simply stating that you are being unfair to my client."
Me- crabby at 2:15 in the freaking morning? Never.
"And as I've already said, Jessandra, I am not letting your client have her stepdaughter murdered."
"Why not, though? She's so . . . so, perfect." Jessandra pronounced perfect like it was venomous.
"Jessandra, you know the story as well as I do. Snow White is kissed by her prince, hacks up the poison apple bite, and lives happily ever after." Even if she is an annoying little thing with that high-pitched voice and obsession with singing about cleaning, she doesn't deserve to be killed by her even more worthless stepmother. "Jessandra, it's 2:30 in the morning, bother my supervisor."
"Manners, Emma, manners. I would hate to see you become a newt."
"As much as I would hate seeing you as a crow, Jessie."
Tension stretched between us, until Jessandra burst out laughing.
"So Emma how is the fairy godmother business?"
"Matchmaking idiotic princes with weeping princess? Oh it's my wish upon a star come true."
"Tell me about it. You should have become a witch like me, dear. Then everyone's too scared to complain to you. Oh, that's right, you just insult them right back, don't you?"
"They're royals – their egos can take it."
"Queen Cinderella came to my office yesterday demanding a love potion. Not for her husband mind you, but because she was jealous that some other beauty was being admired in the court. She wanted the center of attention again."
"She can never get over the fact that she once beat Snow White out for fairest in the land."
"Someone should really arrest her for animal rights violations. She forces those poor mice and birds into the worst outfits."
"I know, but who will stand up to her?"
"All she has to do is threaten to sing non-stop while cleaning the castle . . ."
" . . . And the nobles run for cover!"
"So, speaking of royals you want to hide from, I finally found Jeanette a match."
"The princess with damsel and distress etched into her face?"
"No! Who with?"
"Crown Prince Sebastian Alexander."
"Jack XXI's spawn?"
"Poor? They have their happily ever after. I bet they're thrilled."
'Undoubtedly, but anyway, Emma, you may wonder why I dropped why."
I feigned amazement. "It wasn't just for the pleasure of my company?"
"Well, there's always that, but actually we've receive another complain, Emma. The third this week, in fact."
"Someone has a problem with your attitude."
"So you can hunt them down and curse her for a hundred years, claiming it's to find her true love – again?"
"So it is a she. And Aurora did find a prince."
"She was supposed to find a prince by sleeping on twenty mattresses and feeling a pea."
I waved my hand airily. "Details. Details."
"Emmaline . . ."
"So you want me to bow down to their egos? Is that what you're asking me, Jessandra."
"No, just tone it down a bit. Please Emma, I like you, attitude and everything. I don't want to put you on suspension."
"But . . ."
"Emma, attitude is one thing when it comes from a witch. But fairy godmothers . . ."
"Need to be as sweet as spun sugar?"
"Jessandra . . ."
"Emma . . .."
"But if another prince hits on me . . ."
"Just be nicer this time. Do not refer to your customers as bigoted megalomaniacs."
"It's not like they know what those words mean."
"It's the principle of the thing."
"I hate principles."
"Emma, here's my bargain. Be good for two months, two months isn't that difficult is it? If you can, I'll make sure to reassign all matchmaking assignments to Glinda."
"The good witch of the North?"
'Well, I do give some preferences to my witches . . . But, regardless, I'm sure you'll find the offer . . . tempting."
"You know that's my dream come true?"
"Yes, no more prince questionnaires. No more crying princess begging you to hurry up."
"It's a deal. I promise my best behavior with the egotistical spawn."
Out loud at least.
I mean, how hard is it to avoid trouble for two moths?
I spoke far too soon.