“Regina!?” I was at a loss for words. Where was my client’s daughter? I started opening my business correspondence on my phone to check the name again. “James, care to sit down while you’re playing with your phone? We need to pick up Jarod and Laura, and I would hate to be late.” Jarod and Laura? I found the email from my client. “Sorry, but I have business with the daughter of Natalia Hamilton. She was suppose to be waiting for me here.” Regina smiled at me. She could be so dazzling, and the ruby red dress she wore was more than a little distracting with how it allowed one of her legs to be exposed through a slit up the side. “Yes, and you have found her. Please sit down, James.” She patted the seat next to her. “But your mother isn’t. Is she?” Regina never spoke about her mother. The two of them didn’t keep in touch as far as I knew, and her parents divorced before I met her. “Yes, I asked my mother to do me a favor and allow me to use her name. Can we go?”
I sat down beside her feeling more than a little uncomfortable. Regina was my client, but she was purposefully deceitfu… she leaned against me, wrapped her arm around my shoulder, and started caressing my ear with her finger. I felt myself swallow and was going to speak, but she said, “I’ve missed you, James. Please let me have this and treat me as well as you would any of your clients. You do treat them well, don’t you?” I swallowed again and opened my mouth to speak, stopping when she kissed my cheek. Her left hand was on my knee, and I didn’t know what to say. I accepted the contract. I really needed to start paying more attention, but all I saw were the much needed dollar signs and a way to escape what I unintentionally accepted. “James,” she continued, “you did agree to come with me anyways. Think of this as a mutually beneficial agreement. You get to keep your word and have fun with your job at the same time.” I didn’t want to ask what she was intending to get out of this.
Regina’s red manicured nails were caressing my leg as I started to talk, and I couldn’t keep the stutter from my voice. “Regina, I’m sorry that things have been strained between us, but why did you tell me that you hurt Emma? How was I suppose to take that? If you were being honest, I can’t condone such actions. I cannot fathom why you would lie about it if you weren’t.” Her fingers stopped moving. Then she hugged me tightly. “I thought you were suppose to ensure that I have a good time tonight, not bring up our troubles. Daddy would hate to think his money isn’t getting its worth.” I wrapped my left arm around her and gently brushed her hair with my fingers. “This is why I try to avoid crossing business and my personal life. I need to know, so I can finally know how to feel.” There was a long pause before she spoke. “I’m sorry, James. I truly am. I wasn’t trying to hurt her.” She must’ve felt me tense up for she started to speak more swiftly. How do you set a dog on someone and accidentally hurt them?
“You know how there are always rumors about me doing things to people? They’re at least partially true, but I honestly never mean to hurt anyone. Please don’t pull away from me.” She was holding me tightly and sounded on the verge of crying. “Listen, please. This will sound very strange. You probably won’t believe it, but please listen to everything before you judge me. Haven’t you noticed how things generally just happen to go my way? When I desperately want to keep you longer, we get stuck in traffic. When we play dice games with friends, you or I always win. When I’m mad at someone, they have a bad day. It just happens. I can’t help it. All I’ve wanted for so very long was for you to just give us a chance instead of worrying about what will happen with our friendship. I couldn’t help being furious when I found out you were interested in someone else. A random girl was getting a date with you, and I didn’t want her to steal my dreams from me. She got hurt because I was upset with her.”
A week ago I might have laughed. Several months ago I definitely would have. This week, of all weeks, I could give Regina the benefit of a doubt with her crazy story. I reached into my pocket and pulled out what change I had. “I’m going to flip this quarter. Tails and I win.” She was obviously confused. I flipped the coin. “Tails. If I get tails five more times in the next ten flips, I’m leaving. Heads. Tails. Tails. Tails. Heads. Heads. Tails. Heads. Heads. Heads.” She was looking relieved, but things had barely worked in her favor. “You don’t seem that amazingly lucky to me.” Just after I said that, the car hit a bump and the coin flew out of my hand. Regina slid into me, nearly kissing me as I caught her. “Things could be worse,” she said. I shook my head, rolling my eyes, and went to pick up the coin: heads. On the off chance, I took a deep breath and focused on the magic in the air. There was the typical sparse points floating through the air, but Regina might as well have been lightly sprinkled with glitter.
“You can use magic.” I hadn’t really even meant to speak out loud, but I was surprised by the turn of events. Regina very well might have hurt Emma unintentionally, assuming she wasn’t cleverly concealing the extent of her power. Her expression was amused and incredulous though as she pulled back and looked into my eyes. “Trying to top me for being a lunatic? Far more gentlemanly.” She started to pull closer once more, stopping when I carefully put a small orb of light between us using the residual magic from her skin. She went to poke at it, but I let the light disappear. “You’re as bad as Jarod, poking at things before asking questions.” Her red lips parted in shock. “Jarod knows about this? What have you two been doing?” I shook my head and placed it in my hand. “You somehow convince my best friend to go along with your evil scheme and then are shocked when he kept things from you as well? How did you convince him to go along with this?”
She hugged my arm and said, “My scheme wasn’t evil. I’ll let you ask him that when we get there. How did you do that!?” Regina would always be manipulative and knew how to be distracting. At eighteen, how many guys weren’t keenly aware when a girl pressed her chest against their arm? Luckily, the revelation of her using magic was foremost on my mind, so I distracted her by attempting to teach her how to see magic as Emma had instructed me. If Regina picked up the technique too quickly, there was a fair chance she was hiding something else. By the time we arrived at Jarod’s house, I was rather confident in her innocence. Jarod had opened Regina’s door to find her red in the face, cursing at the air. “Umm.. My parents were wanting pictures of us all together, but we can just take off if you’d rather.” She had been concentrating so hard that she hadn’t even noticed Jarod until he spoke. A deep red blush went clear down her arms at his voice, and her hands jumped over her mouth.
I laughed and told him “Let’s just give her a moment. We need to talk.” He didn’t look remotely comfortable as he closed her door. I stepped outside, waved at his parents, and motioned him around. “How long did you know about this?” His mouth worked through numerous beginnings to a sentence before he said, “About a week. Yeah. Sorry, man. I just hated to see things so awkward between you two, and I really don’t think she hurt Emma.” I shrugged and told him “I’m fairly certain she did, albeit unintentionally.” He gawked. “I was attempting to show her how to see residual magic on the way over. She seems to draw the stuff into the world like Emma.” He started trying to say several things at once when Laura walked up to us. “What are you boys up to, and why is Regina still in the car? Our dinner reservation is at six.” I raised a finger, asking for a moment, and opened the limo door again. “Feeling composed yet?” She playfully stuck her tongue at me, but then took my hand as I offered it. The anger I had been harboring for so long had melted away, and I felt wonderful for the loss of it.