My eyes were saucers as I spoke. “Sounds pretty dubious to me. I think you should get your money back.”
He looked crestfallen. “Yeah?”
I nodded. “Sounds like you need a bullshit detector more than a dragon detector to me.”
He smiled sardonically. “Well, I didn’t say he was a good friend. C’est la vie, right?”
“So when does the necro roast happen? And how can I get in on it?” I changed the subject to something we would both undoubtedly enjoy more.
“Man! I wish you could. They haven’t given me a time. Everything is still up in the air, I think.” He gave me a serious look. “You gonna pay Dom a visit? I bet if you ask him nicely, he’ll keep you off those rosters.”
I cringed, and ran a hand down my face. “I don’t know. It’s a bad idea, for all kinds of reasons, but it’s starting to look like a lesser evil.”
He whistled softly. “What I’d pay to be a fly on that wall.”
I felt sick to my stomach at even the thought of that meeting. I couldn’t decide whether to put it off or just get it over with. For today, at least, I was definitely putting it off. On the other hand, I was gonna be bruised up and crippled until then.
I suddenly noticed the time on the microwave clock across the room. “Ack, I’m gonna be late for my other client.” I got up and went to gather my things. Christian walked me to the door, saying, “Call me if you need anything. Sounds like you might.”
“I’ll do that. Oh, Lynn told me to say hi.”
“You guys meeting for lunch this week?”
“Maybe. Probably,” he said cryptically.
“Ok, then, I will maybe probably join you. We won’t be working the shop for awhile, so my schedule is suddenly wide open.” I shielded up, stuck my tongue out at him, and walked out the door.
My next appointment was in Summerlin, which was easily a forty-five minute drive away. I had twenty-five to get there. I liked to be punctual, so the entire drive was a teeth-gnashing affair.
This client was also one of the few that I enjoyed training, though she and Christian couldn’t be more dissimilar.
She was a stay-at-home mom in her forties who had a compulsive eating problem. Her rich husband had left her for an eighteen-year-old several years ago, and she had proceeded to eat her way to over four hundred pounds.
At the start of our sessions a few years ago, I had started her out with the conventional methods of weight loss. I had soon learned that her need to eat when she got emotional far outweighed any discipline she may have possessed.
She was a sweet woman, and I grew to like her quickly, so it wasn’t long before I resorted to a more unconventional approach. I put a very minor enchantment on her. It wasn’t much, really. But every time she reached for food for any reason but simple hunger, she felt a sudden and overwhelming urge to go outside and play soccer with her kids. I had to tweak the enchantment slightly, when I realized she was dragging her two boys out of bed at three a.m to play outside. After that, though, it worked like the charm that it was.
Under my very specialized training regime, Sharon had lost over two hundred and fifty pounds and was approaching the best shape of her life.
I was only five minutes late to her house, but no one answered my first couple of rings. I was considering leaving, assuming she’d forgotten the appointment, when a harried looking Sharon answered the door. She didn’t look at me once as she ushered me in. I thought that was a little odd, but I followed her to her home gym.
I set her to work warming up, and she followed my orders. She still hadn’t said a word. “Everything all right?” I finally asked her. She was stretching, and I automatically corrected her posture.
She hunched her shoulders in a shrug. “Yeah, just had a bad morning.”
As the workout progressed, her mood didn’t change. She seemed preoccupied, almost frightened. The warning signs were all there, but I didn’t see the trap I’d sprung until four druids walked through the door.
“Jillian.” Collin inclined his head to me as he entered the room. Three druids I didn’t know flanked him. “I had a hunch it would be you.” Collin was my infamous Ex’s cousin, and one of his closest friends. He was also one of the few druids I had been on friendlier terms with before the big falling out. He had the raven black hair and striking blue eyes that were prominent in his family. He also had the classically handsome, aristocratic features that were common to his bloodline. And he was tall, as most druids were, towering well over six feet. His build, however, was unusual in that he was almost too slender, a trait that the other men in his family did not share. His brother, Cam, was one of the biggest men I knew, with forearms easily the size of my waist. Dom fell somewhere in the middle, build-wise, but I thought he was closer to Cam’s bulky physique than Collin’s almost frail one. Collin’s posture, however, was proud and elegant, which reminded me rather painfully of Dom.
“Sharon, out,” one of the druids ordered. He was a sandy haired brute that I didn’t recognize. She didn’t look at me once as she jogged from the room. I felt the familiar and bitter sting of betrayal.
I had been going over Sharon’s food journal and had it clutched in my hand. I set it down slowly, tensing for a fight.
“I have to admit,” I began, “I wasn’t expecting to see more of you again so soon.”
Collin froze, looking more than a little surprised. “More of us?” he asked, his tone deceptively casual. “You’ll have to tell me all about that. Who else have you seen?”
“Why are you here?” I shot back.
He spread his slender hands in a gesture of peace. “Not for the reason you seem to think. I just want to talk.”
I looked at him warily. “How’d you find me here?”
He waved a hand at the druid that had ordered Sharon out. “Walt here has been dating Sharon for the last few months. He noticed that she had an enchantment placed on her. He came to me for help to decipher just what it was. When I perceived the nature of the enchantment, I asked her to describe her personal trainer. The description sounded uncannily familiar.” Apparently our luck had run out a few times over.
Collin continued. “I couldn’t let an unregistered Other go unchecked. So here we are. How have you been, Jillian?” He sounded genuinely interested in the answer. Collin had always been one of the more amiable, easygoing druids. His affable manner had always made him a sharp contrast to his cousin, Dom, and especially his own brother, Cam. I supposed I was lucky it was Collin, and not Cam, who I was facing now. Collin, unlike the three men behind him, who were looking at me with loathing, seemed to wish me no ill will. Of course, I wouldn’t count on that. “Why don’t we go have a seat in the other room and talk?” he asked.