Title: The Magic Shoppe
Author: Shirley Hailstock
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Georgiana Castleton is gifted. But she knows all gifts come with a price. And hers is a short life. This will be her last Christmas and she’s resolved to her fate–until two mysterious men enter her life and revive her hope. But she has to get something for each of them. And it will take a miracle to do that. And even with her gift she has no guarantee that she will succeed.
Angus Fielding’s moves are those of a magician. Appearing virtually out of thin air, he saves Georgiana from the jaws of death. With inhuman forces stalking her, Georgiana knows his help also comes at a price. She doesn’t know what Angus wants…but her life depends on her giving it to him.
Lancelot’s sword flew off the wall. In an instant it turned, pointed toward Mr. Moorehead, its velocity squealing as it cut through the air and headed straight for him. He stopped it an inch from the center of his eyebrows. It hung there, without physical support, as dangerous as a speeding bullet, until he sent it spinning back. End over end it swept through the room. No one since Lancelot had wielded it. No one but himself.
The sword was Mr. Moorehead’s favorite. It wasn’t a toy and held no magic of its own. He’d chosen it as an antique, used it when he was alone and when he was nervous.
As he was now.
He hated waiting. And he’d been waiting over an hour.
The unmanned sword flipped skyward, fought invisible enemies, skillfully avoiding the light chords hanging from the ceiling. The activity kept his mind active and away from thoughts of his tardy guest. The hair on the magic dolls blew in the sword’s wind. A myriad of toys clinked, vibrating against each other on the display tables. The cacophony of sound made a discordant music that wasn’t at all unpleasant.
Sending the sword back to its place high on the wall, Mr. Moorehead checked his pocket watch. An hour and a quarter had past since the appointed time. He scratched his head and rubbed his short beard. Would the man not come? This was not the way to begin a job that relied on precise elements, deadlines and stealth.
Picking up a large crystal ball, he polished the glass in the soft glow of a single lamp, setting set his mind purposely away from the expected man. He surveyed the many toys filling every conceivable space in the magic shop. The kids loved coming here and playing with them. In his shop nothing every broke and he never shooed a child away.
The business was below stairs, on the basement level of a New York brownstone. He’d lived on the upper three floors longer than he could remember, much longer than any of the families living at street level today. He would hate to leave it, but time passed and his was nearing the end. If his guest refused his invitation or refused his mission, this would be his last Christmas.
Looking up, he raised his hand. The sword wielded about the room. Anger had it flying dangerously close to the toys, but he was a skilled artist. Suddenly the bell over the door tinkled. Mr. Moorehead swung around. The sword flew straight toward the intruder. Mr. Moorehead’s breath stopped. At that instant so did the sword. It stood in the air, vibrating back and forth, its tip only an eyelash away from the newcomer’s brow. The light was dim in the closed shop. He only saw an outline, not any details of the person standing by the door. Yet he’d heard the astonished cry when the sword nearly pierced the man’s forehead. Slowly Mr. Moorehead backed it away and let it clatter to the floor.
Relieved that his guest had finally arrived, Mr. Moorehead walked toward the man. The anticipation on his face fell when he saw the slip of a girl standing just inside the entrance. He did not recognize her. He knew everyone in the neighborhood, and they knew his magic shop closed at five. It was now past seven.
“May I help you?” he asked. “Are you here seeking a gift for a friend or relative?”
She looked at the sword on the floor, but said nothing about it. Neither did she move to retrieve it or step away from any danger it might still entertain.
“I am not,” she said, her voice stronger than she looked. “I am Georgiana Winifred Castleton.” Her thin shoulders lifted a bit. “I believe you are expecting me.”
He looked confused. The name meant nothing to him, but she spoke it as if it should. There was even the tone of nobility underlying the lithe of her speech. Although nobility had not crossed the Atlantic with the new Americans, Mr. Moorehead had witnessed the break between the colonies and their mother country.
“May I help you?” He leaned forward, not quite bowing.
She pulled a battered looking envelope from her sleeve. He immediately recognized it.
“Georgiana Winifred Castleton?” he frowned.
“George Castle,” she said. He immediately understood that this was not the first time she had used the bastardization of her given name as subterfuge. He checked himself, stifling a smile. It was one thing that sided in her favor. She had brash and that could come in handy if she were not a girl.
Mr. Moorehead tried to speak, but only made an incomprehensible noise. He bent forward and picked up the sword. “You are a girl.” He finally got the words out.
She jumped back, her hands going to her breasts as if he had scared her. “I did not know that. Thank you so much for pointing it out.”
She was only a hair over five feet, with long wisps of blonde hair that needed curling and huge brown eyes. It was impossible not to look into them.
“I was not expecting a female or a child.”
“Not a problem,” she said. “I can fix that.” In a wink, she spun fully around, her tattered clothes clinging to her slight frame. As she came back to face him, the girl was gone. Standing before him was a young man. His length of hair was a might too long. He had no whiskers, but a sort of peach fuzz on her chin indicating his young age. His gaze, however, was direct and penetrating. Gone was any appearance of weakness.
“You are late,” he said, closeting his astonishment in the censured tone of his voice.
Spreading her hands, she offered him a smile. Deep dimples creased her cheeks and changed her face from childlike to something different…something more.
“And you are playing with toys.”
Christmas in July Fete Sackful of Giveaways:
Grand Prize: $75 USD Amazon Gift Card
$10.00 Amazon Gift Card and an e-copy of A Very Romantic Christmas
(plus more prizes…)
Starts July 1, 2017 12:01 am EST and ends August 1, 2017 12:00 am EST
Author’s Favorite Holiday Food/Tradition:
For Christmas I love Sweet Potato Pie. As a tradition, at the first snowfall of the season, I bake cinnamon rolls.
Shirley Hailstock began her writing life as a lover of reading. She likes nothing better than to find a quiet corner where she can get lost in a book, explore new worlds and visit places she never expected to see. As an author, she can not only visit those places, but she can be the heroine of her own stories. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas, including her electronic editions, Shirley has received numerous awards, including the Borders Bestselling Romance Award and Romantic Times Magazine‘s Career Achievement Award. Shirley’s books have appeared on Blackboard, Essence Magazine, Amazon.com and Library Journal Best Seller Lists. She is a past president of Romance Writers of America.
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