Not long into my shift at the booth, Alma excused herself to go attend a meeting. Though this weekend was technically a business dealing for me, it felt as if I was on a vacation of sorts, so different the job was from any other I had. I really wondered if Alma ever took vacations. “Boss-man, sir, most valued of employees, your shift ended seven minutes ago.” claimed Aaliyah. “Oh. Right.” I responded, checking my phone to see where I needed to head next. I had noticed Jarod, Emma, and the twins stop by not long ago. I even had realized they started to work, but I didn’t quite discern that meant I could stop, probably because Aaliyah was on the stage at the time. Though I didn’t believe her singing to be magical per se, the effect it had on me might as well have been, since I easily could get entirely lost in the music. Hopefully, I didn’t actually mess up with a sale as distracted as I was. Looking at my phone, I found that I wasn’t scheduled to be anywhere for another couple hours, much to my surprise. Today, the convention seemed at least as busy as Friday was, but I somehow wasn’t as busy myself. “Hey, boss. Wanna roam around together some?” asked Brandon. I gladly agreed. We didn’t really hang out enough outside of playing Ancient Tribes of Earth in my opinion, though seeing him walk around in a girl’s body still disturbed me a bit.
“Thanks, man. You really wouldn’t believe how often I get hit on like this.” commented Brandon as we walked away from the booth. “I’m still completely bewildered as to why you agreed to it.” I admitted. “Well, I first found out I could do this when I was just a toddler. Brenna wanted to play some girly game, and I kinda became a girl to play with her. The high school thing really wasn’t as bad as she made it sound… I think.” he explained. “Umm… I really don’t need to know. As long as you’re comfortable with it, that’s fine by me. I just was worried you had been pressured into the change.” I told him. Brandon smiled at me, and it was disturbingly cute as he looked now. Then he… she?… said, “Thanks, man. I’m so, so glad my sister and I started working for you. We never really had a place to be ourselves before. Even our parents got a bit weirded out by what we could do. Life’s been so much more enjoyable lately, and I’m still asking myself if it’s real at times. It’s like ‘Don’t pinch me! I don’t wanna wake up!’, ya know.” I nodded and told him “I can understand the feeling a bit. I never thought my business would take off so fast, and I can’t believe how well things have gone, much less the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I’m glad you’re happy. You two are really doing great!”
I didn’t catch what he said next as I stared in disbelief. A high bounce ball was knocked out of a kid’s hand, clearly by accident, and flew over to a register, opening it before knocking money out of the clerk’s hands. The coins all seemed to roll in opposite directions, and the bills were caught by the fan, which had just turned back that direction. I quickly created a spell to move the bills back toward the register, attempting to make it seem like another breeze caught them. “Whoa. I wish I could’ve caught that on camera!” laughed Brandon. As we walked around more, I caught other unusual things happening, though none quite so conspicuous as that had been. Just when I was really believing what Alma had said about bad luck at the convention, I stopped seeing anything odd. Maybe there just wasn’t anything easy enough to notice for me to catch, but that didn’t sound right even saying it to myself. I was inclined to believe that something had changed, but I didn’t know what. We continued shopping, and Brandon bought a couple t-shirts large enough to be a night shirt in his present form. Although many things struck me as neat, I didn’t really see anything I’d utilize to any degree, other than the food I purchased and ate when we stopped near some food stands.
“Care to pose for me?” asked a girl with curly enough hair to remind me of Calandria Ewart. “Umm… sure.” I told her. She handed the camera to Brandon and asked me to dip her back as if I had “just caught her mid-fall.” I did as she asked, despite how embarrassed I felt in the act. She was very cute though her eyes, dark brown to the point of nearly being black, were looking in different directions. After the picture, she put sunglasses on and pulled a small, white rod out of her purse, which transformed into a long cane at the click of a button. “Thank you ever so much. I always wanted to try that.” claimed the girl. “Oh. No problem at all. Really.” I told her. Brandon handed her the camera, and I turned to go only to have the girl grab my arm. “Sorry, but might you tell me where your boss is? She wasn’t at the booth when I went looking for her.” claimed the girl. “I think she’s behind you, Maxine, although James is my boss too!” exclaimed Aaliyah, causing the girl to jump. “You two know each other?” I asked. “Well, no. I’ve been trying to get in touch with Aaliyah for some time, but she doesn’t reply to my emails.” explained Maxine. “Maxine’s been trying to hack into my game ever since she heard how totally awesome it is! I’m betting she was going to try hiring me as a pretense to look at code written by me. Great idea, huh?” replied Aaliyah. Maxine pursed her lips.
“Maxine Marveille Montgomery. Causing trouble as usual?” asked Alma, whom I didn’t see arrive. Portentia, who had arrived with Aaliyah, was staring at the other three rather inquisitively. “Oh my. Lady Pendreigh, what brings you to town? Trying to start fires with your business rivals?” asked Maxine. “You should know that I don’t need to do any hostile takeovers. They simply give me what I want when asked.” replied Alma. “You two are just so adorable!” exclaimed Aaliyah, looking altogether adorable herself. Alma glared at her and Maxine turned her head toward her. “Well, I see that I’m not going to get what I want here today. Meeting you, James, was a pleasure. If you want, we can have lunch while I’m in town,” said Maxine, holding a card up. I took it, causing Alma to roll her eyes at me. I was tempted to go, just to hear Maxine’s side on what just happened, but I had a bad feeling about Alma’s reaction if I did. She then excused herself and soon became lost in the crowd. “What was that about?” I asked. “You’re not really going to have lunch with that girl, are you, James?” asked Portentia as Alma said, “That girl is nothing but trouble, James. Be careful.” Aaliyah hugged my leg and smiled up at me.
“I have to admit that I’m a bit intrigued by that whole exchange. You three have amazing timing.” I told them. “I’m with James on that one.” added Brandon. “Well, there’s a contest for hacking my game. I entered, of course, and am going to win by default, since they all suck for even trying. Maxine was hoping to get an edge by looking at source code written by me. She’s even more trouble than Hugh, but not as cruel.” replied Aaliyah. “I know her from business. She works with part of my family in more nefarious pursuits.” explained Alma. “I knew there was something I didn’t like about her! How are we going to take her down?” asked Portentia. Alma sighed dramatically, but I couldn’t help being amused. Portentia really was all for stopping crime. “I thought she was rather cute. Kinda am wishing I would’ve met her when I’m more myself, if you get what I mean.” claimed Brandon, making Aaliyah giggle. I laughed too, amused at how Brandon could be interested even after what he just heard. “You’re not supposed to purposely go after the bad ones.” I told him. “Oh? Really? I thought they were supposed to be all the more fun.” he claimed. Portentia tugged on my sleeve and asked “What did he say? I couldn’t see from here.” I told her that Brandon seemed to like bad girls. “That’s horrible, Brandon! I’d have to turn you in when I caught you, and I would catch you.” claimed Portentia. This really was quite the day.