”Its simple really, ” Emilie sighed, her face showing none of the annoyance that she felt at the couple before her, ”You pay me what you owe, and I finish my work. This is the last session before you get exactly what you want. Don pay, and everything that youve seen these last five months goes away. ”
On the other side of the posh living room, the older couple had very separate reactions. The woman, who looked to be in her mid-fifties, was fidgeting in her pearls. Her pink wool skirt and expensive white button-up couldn hide the nervous sweat collecting on her brow and messing up her perfect makeup.
Her husband seated next to her, dressed immaculately in a designer suit and perfectly coifed hair, couldn help but frown at her remark. His disdainful expression made his botoxed face appear almost like a misshapen Ken doll that was permanently in a bad mood.
”Why bother with this final session?
” He argued,
”It looks like weve already got exactly what we wanted; they
e in love and its only a matter of time before he puts a ring on it and the companies merge. ”
Emilie flicked an imaginary lint from her stylish black dress, mentally rolling her eyes at his nasally, whiny voice.
Shed been hired by Mr. and Mrs. Donovan five months ago to layer hexes on their son, Paul, and Mildred James, daughter of a rival company. The Donovans wanted the merger to appear as if the pair had fallen in love with each other, putting pressure on the James family to agree to a merger.
They were clever, never mentioning or suggesting a merger. They didn even suggest buying the company outright, preferring to keep up the belief that the rivalry helped with innovation and kept them competitive.
For five months, Emilie had been meeting individually and together with Paul and Mildred, layering them with hex after hex and slowly changing their thoughts. At the first meeting, shed whispered in their minds that they found the other attractive, making polite small talk and leaving each other with a good impression.
From there, it was putting them in a situation to see the body of the other, which came was done easily with a friends pool party at their mansion. The two were salivating for each other by the end, and phone numbers were exchanged under her watchful eye.
Then the first date. Paul was a gentleman the entire time and Mildred appreciated his sincerity. At least, that was what Emilies hexes told her to think.
Then a few more dates, a first kiss, and a first night sneaking out together like Romeo and Juliet, to a night of beautiful passion and love.
All of it was orchestrated by Emilie so that the pair believed that fairytales existed and not that the Donovan seniors and other plans.
”I see you did not take note when I explained how this all works when we first met. ” Emilie exhaled, reaching for her cup of tea on the mahogany coffee table.
”As I stated, hexes are like a chain; they
e more powerful when linked together, creating a structure that does what its supposed to do. Now, by itself, each link isn very powerful. It needs the whole chain in order to be worth anything. ”
Emilie took a dainty sip of her tea. Shed had hundreds of years to refine the elegant and dignified motion, making her look like a queen and they the gypsies in the palace.
She also did this to put the Donovans on edge, showing them that she didn feel threatened by them in the slightest.
It worked because she could see out of the corner of her eye that Mr. Donovans face was twitching with disgust at her lack of respect.
Emilie lowered her teacup before continuing, looking the two in the eye. ”Now, image what would if that chain, not tempered in fire nor completely finished was suddenly- ” without a second thought, she dropped the cup, letting her crash to the floor as it splintered into a hundred pieces and causing Mrs. Donovan to jump in surprise ”-pulled. What do you think would happen? ”
”Do you know what- ” Mr. Donovan stammered, his face red with anger but Emilie didn give him a chance to finish.
”Do you think that chain is going to survive very long with just a bit of pressure? ”
Emilie waived a finger and the pieces of the teacup came back together in her saucer as if it were never broken.
This simple act of magic seemed to quiet their protests. In her mind, Emilie chuckled at the fear and wonder in their eyes. Shed been doing that since childhood so long ago that such actions were normal in her life. Sometimes she forgot that this common thing called magic was not so common for these mortals.
As if nothing had happened, she placed her teacup and saucer on the coffee table and crossed her legs.
”Heres whats going to happen, Mr. Donovan. I receive the final payment that is owed. Paul and Mildred will go to a very fancy restaurant, and Paul pulls a ring from his pocket, gets on a knee, and Mildred cries beautifully with the love she feels overflowing for your son. After they kiss, the hex is permanent, fully part of their minds. Even if you tried to convince them otherwise, theyll want the merger to happen to bring everything under one roof.
”That is if you
e a good boy and do as you
e told. Don pay, and the hex remains incomplete. Paul and Mildred go to a very fancy restaurant, and Paul has a change of heart. Instead of asking for her to be his wife, he says that they should break up. In her shock and anger, Mildred pours her champagne over him and calls him several names while people are recording and posting on social media.
”Not only does the merger not happen, but this incident spurs Mildred into taking over the James family holdings. In a few more years, shell have taken the market from you and will be making offers to acquire your holdings, completely dissolving the Donovan family fortunes.
”Now, you might be thinking that Paul will take over when you
e too old, and you
e right. But we both know the reason you didn offer an acquisition is that it would be your company going away and not theirs. Paul doesn have the belly for this line of work and your holdings will be nearly gone three years after he takes over. This experience will leave him a hollowed man. Hell get into the bottle and lose woman, wasting his vigor away to provide you bastards but not heirs.
”In the end, its Mildred looking down on him from a leather chair, watching as her once true love now bitter enemy signs the contract turning over the Donovan holdings to the James family. She gets everything shes ever wanted, and you
e left with next to nothing as you waste away in a third-class retirement home. ”
Emilie casually glanced at Mrs.Donovan, whod been quiet this entire time but looked like she had a question burning her tongue.
”Maam, if you have to ask yourself what happens to you in that scenario, you don want to know the answer. ”
Mrs. Donovan instantly deflated, her slightly hopeful expression collapsing like a sack of groceries in a wet paper bag.
Mr. Donovan coughed into his fist and Emilie could see that the calculating pig was trying to way his options. His brain was churning over the idea that maybe the witch was wrong. Maybe he could convince his son to go through with it. Maybe he could get Paul to remember all those good memories he had with Mildred. Maybe he could turn this around and still get everything he wanted.
”Mr. Donovan, ” Emilie said, pouring herself another cup of tea, ”you didn hire me because you wanted a maybe. You hired me to give you a guarantee. Do you really think that theres any maybe in talking your way out of this? Either I walk out that door a million dollars richer and you get that merger, or I walk out empty-handed and you lose everything. ”
Emilie took a sip of tea, never breaking eye contact.
”So. Whats it going to be then? ”
Mrs. Donovan looked sharply at her husband, her eyes begging him to give in and give up the money so that they could keep their way of life. Mr. Donovan looked at her with a sour expression as his thumbs ran over his fingertips, an involuntary gesture of his displeasure.
Emilie continue to hold his stare, her posture relaxed conveying her readiness to make good on her threat.
After some time, Mr. Donovan exhaled sharply, and Emilie knew that she had him.
From his vest pocket, he pulled his phone out and made a few quick taps on the keyboard.
She heard her phone ding from her purse and, after pulling it out and scrolling for a moment to keep him off balance, scrolled down to the notification that one million American dollars had been transferred to her account.
Satisfied, Emilie deposited her phone back in her purse and stood, surprising the Donovans.
”A wise decision on your part, Mr. Donovan. ” she smiled, settling her purse at her elbow.
”Congratulations on your sons engagement. I expect not to receive an invitation. ”
With those parting words, she turned on her heels and strode out the front door of the immaculately designed townhouse, leaving the Donovans just as shocked and bewildered as when they first met her. Even the butler gave her odd looks as she strolled out without a care in the world.
Manhattans Riverside Drive was bustling as she crossed the street and headed to the park. While love hexes were not her favorite kind of job, she appreciated that the Donovans were in access to a park area that made vanishing into the unknown easier.
Just passed the Soliders and Sailors Monument, Emilie disappeared down the path and reappeared on the cobbled walkway heading to her home.
The favorite of her seven residences, her Vancouver mansion in Jerico Beach was a sprawling combination of old-world charm and modern elegancy. Shed modeled it after an Italian villa shed loved for a time during the 1920s and had recreated it as best she could while making sure it had every modern luxury available. Over 10,000 square feet of European architecture overlooked Burrard Inlet and off in the distance one could barely glimpse Mt. Bishop.
The home had everything she loved; access to both sea, sky, and land while also boasting the comforts of living near a large city.
Though blustery and overcast in New York City, Vancouver was chilly with clear skies, and Emilie quickly climbed the stairs, unlocking the door with a thought and sighing in relief as the comfort of being home embraced her like a warm hug.
She left her designer handbag and heels in the foyer before heading to her master bathroom, intent on a soak in her extra-large jacuzzi-style bathtub.
She didn use magic to fill it, but let the water come at its pace through the pipes. Watching the heat steam off the bubbles reminded her to take things slow. Although she was young for a witch, her three hundred years of life had taught her to cherish the simple and mundane pleasures in life.
Soaking her troubles away, Emilie thought about the future. Shed purposefully blocked three weeks out of her busy schedule to take a little vacation for herself but was undecided on what to do with that time and where she would go.
She could visit Paris. While the first home shed ever bought had burned to the ground during the French Revolution, shed continue to maintain rights to the land itself through her offspring. Though not classically French in design, her home on the Ille-De-France was like living in a five-story glass house, full of plants, water features, and sunlight. It gave her an opportunity to visit her good friend and fellow French witch, Lise.
Emilie also considered her decadent penthouse in Tel Aviv. That was her favorite city for a party and its growing tech scene was a great place for her to scout out new startups to invest in.
She considered that but decided against it. After all, vacations were meant to be free of work, not searching for more of it.
She finally decided on the Maldives and a relaxing stay at her favorite resort island. The resort boasted every amenity one could hope for and appealed to her passion for going carbon negative. Plus, the nymphs near the island were always down for a good time there.
Decided, she summoned her phone and started making the reservations. After all, just because she could magic herself a reservation, doesn mean she should. Could you imagine if every witch was using their magic to save some money? Economies around the world would collapse in on themselves.
Shed just completed her reservation and was in the process of looking at additional things to do when a knock sounded at her door.
Emilie froze, her heart sinking down to her ankles. Shed painstakingly placed wards around her property better than any guard dog or security system. If anyone stepped past the property line she would have been alerted.
Emilie was a powerful witch, with once-in-a-lifetime strength and control. It wasn through unwarranted pride when she said her wards were immaculate.
There was only one other witch more powerful than her in this time that was capable of matching her in strength.
She didn look forward to such a meeting, which was apparently about to happen on her doorstep.
Steeling herself, she stepped from the tub and quickly summoned a black dress from her closet and pulled her red hair into a bun. With a sigh, she made her way through the house and slowed when she could see the silhouettes of multiple individuals on the other side of the frosted glass front door.
Opening it wide, the crisp air was frigid on her barely dry skin as if she was being visited by death itself. Funny, thats how she always described the woman dressed in black with a string of pearls around her neck standing at the head of this group.
”Hey, mom. ” Emilie said with a forced smile at the woman who brought her into this world, and the woman who banished her from the magical one.
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