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by Michelle L. Levigne
Description: Maurice used his Fae magic to help the downtrodden and abused. But when he went too far, the Power-that-be decided he needed to learn humility, self-restraint, and mercy. They took away most of his magic, shrunk him down to 5 inches, and slapped wings on his back that no self-respecting Fae would be caught dead in. Then they exiled him to the Human realms, to work out his sentence helping Humans. His destination: Divine's Emporium, a curiosity shop touched with magic, on the edge of the odd town of Neighborlee, Ohio. His parole officer: Angela, the proprietress of Divine's Emporium, touched with magic and a shadowy past of her own. His sentence: Help the Humans who come into Divine's to find answers, freedom, their own magic, and true love. Not necessarily in that order. His problem: How does a five-inch-tall Fae, invisible to most Humans, win the heart of the ugly duckling who has caught his interest, his sympathy, and then his heart--when she can't see or hear him?
eBook Publisher: Uncial Press, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: November 2010
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [395 KB]
Reading time: 257-360 min.
Somewhere between three and four in the morning, they came to a castle straight out of a Disney movie, with white stones and gold edging on all the roofs, and dozens of turrets and towers, all with pennants flying. He braced himself for an onslaught of servants and courtiers and an evil prince--or worse, a too-good-to-be-true prince--who would try to steal Holly away from him.
To his surprise, the castle was empty of all inhabitants. He and Holly wandered, exploring the treasure room, the massive library, the throne room, the armory. They said less and less as time passed. He had never been so content with silence before. Every time he looked down at Holly, who stayed arm-in-arm with him, she was looking up at him, smiling. He couldn't help smiling back at her.
They ended up in the great hall of the castle. It was set up for a ball, with trestle tables groaning with a feast. There were instruments in the musicians' gallery, but no musicians. Yet music played, and there was a sense of movement and the whisper of shoes on the flagstone floor and ball gowns rustling as they swirled around dancers' legs... But the room held no people. Maurice kept hold of Holly's hand as he unhooked his arm from hers, and bowed. "My lady, will you do me the honor of this dance?"
She curtseyed. "I am honored, kind sir." Then she slid into his arms and they spun across the floor, in and out and around the invisible dancers. And the music played on and on.
Faintly, in the distance, Maurice heard a scraping, grinding noise. He knew it didn't come from inside the dream, but he was at a loss to identify it. Then it occurred to him that it was the familiar sound of snow plows scraping the streets clean. Why was he hearing that, in the middle of Holly's dream?
Even as he asked himself the question, Holly slipped out of his arms. She looked around the castle hall with real sadness on her face, and he felt as if someone had punched him right under his ribs, stealing his breath.
"Hey, don't stop the fun now." He reached to take hold of her hands.
Holly stepped away, out of his reach. "It's almost morning. Will you be back tomorrow night?"
"It's your dream, remember. You make the rules."
"Not all the time." She smiled, but it was the saddest smile he had ever seen.
"Princess Holly." He went down on one knee and caught hold of her hand. "Ruler of this wondrous kingdom, will you grant this lost soul permission to return to your kingdom?"
"Most gladly, Sir. I'm sorry, what did you say your name was?"
"I'm--" His voice caught.
Holly vanished and the world around him faded to shades of gray.
And then even that vanished. "...Maurice."
In the main room of Divine's Emporium, Maurice staggered back from the Wishing Ball and sat down on his makeshift couch, watching Holly turn over in her bed and slap blindly at her alarm clock. Then she opened her eyes, looked around, and smiled, glowing just like she had during their adventure. He raised a hand to trace the curve of Holly's cheek, and before his fingertips touched the cool surface of the Wishing Ball, she vanished.
"See you tonight, kid," he whispered. "Read something really cool today, and dream about it, okay?"