Cursed(The Thrice Cursed Mage Book 1)

By: J.A. Cipriano

“I normally don’t come to this laundromat,” she said by way of an explanation I hadn’t asked for. “I normally use the one in the basement of my apartment, but it’s been on the fritz and you know how it is.” She moved over and began gathering up the spilled basket of laundry a few feet away. “They say only death and taxes are absolute, but I don’t think the people who say that have to deal with laundry and dirty dishes.”

Before I could stop myself, I knelt down next to her and began helping her put the clothing into the basket. As I dumped a pair of socks with red racing stripes down one side into the blue plastic basket, she wrinkled her nose at me.

“Mister, not to be rude or anything, but I just washed these, and you smell like the inside of a dumpster.” She smirked at me, her blue eyes full of humor. “I’d appreciate it if you don’t touch any of them. I really don’t want to have to wash them all over again with people like that around.” She nodded over my shoulder toward the downed thugs.

“Fair enough,” I replied, moving back from her as heat filled my cheeks. Was I blushing? No, that was impossible. I didn’t know much about myself, but I was reasonably sure Mac Brennan didn’t blush. “I did wake up in a dumpster this morning.” I shrugged and my cheeks turned their temperature up a notch or two. The jerks.

She stood, holding the basket of clothing to her chest and stared at me very hard. “Why did you wake up in a dumpster?” The words came out of her mouth slowly, like she had weighed the question and wasn’t sure if she really wanted to know the answer.

“I’m not sure.” I looked at my shoes because they were suddenly very interesting. I’d missed a spot of blood on my right toe or gathered a new one. I kicked at it with my left shoe, trying half-heartedly to smudge it off before I stopped suddenly, not wanting to draw her eyes to it. “I have no memory. The only thing I know is my name.”

“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” she replied, and I couldn’t quite understand the tone of her voice. It almost seemed like she was questioning what I’d said. To be fair, I wasn’t exactly a reliable source and my story was ridiculous. I mean, how many people wake up in dumpsters with no memory and crazy kung fu skills?

“It sucks because I’m sure I was supposed to be doing something. I have this feeling something important is slipping through my fingers with each passing second.” I let out a slow breath.

“Have you tried going to the police?” she asked, taking a step backward away from me. At first I thought she might be afraid of me, but as I stared into her eyes, I questioned that assessment. It seemed less like she was afraid of me and more like she just wanted to go. It made sense. She likely had things to do.

“Not as of yet.” I glanced back at the thugs. Neither of them were moving. Good. The last thing I wanted was for them to get up and force me to knock them out again. “As silly as it is, I’ve been trying to clean myself up since I woke up in a dumpster.” I tugged on the waistband of my pilfered khakis trying to pull them up a little bit. It was no use, they were still dragging on the ground. They’d do for now, but eventually I was going to wear holes in them. I had half a mind to roll them up, but then I’d look like the big box store version of Huck Finn wearing loafers. No, that wasn’t happening.

“I know I’m going to regret this,” she whispered like she was talking to herself before meeting my eyes with her own, and for a second I got the feeling she was trying to read my thoughts. “But would you like to come back to my place and shower? Then I can drop you off at the police station.”

“I don’t think I can accept that,” I said as she turned and sashayed toward the exit. I felt almost guilty for bothering her. Okay, I lied, I felt really guilty. Maybe I didn’t need to go with her, maybe I shouldn’t get her involved at all? I did have a strange devil arm, after all, and she seemed too nice to involve in that weirdness. Besides, I likely just had to do a Google search on my name, and I’d find my social network profile. If not, there was always the phone book. How many Mac Brennans could there possibly be? While that might only give me a phone number and address, it likely wouldn’t take long to track them all down. Surely one would be me.

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