Cursed(The Thrice Cursed Mage Book 1)

By: J.A. Cipriano

“Then don’t come,” she replied, a smirk in her voice. “Continue standing there smelling like last week’s garbage.”

“Wait,” I said, calling out to her as she shoved open the door and disappeared through it without so much as a backward glance. Without thinking, I sprinted across the room and pushed through the door. She was only a few feet away. She shot furtive glances in both directions, reminding me of a mouse searching for cats. Satisfied no one was coming, she crossed the parking lot so quickly her white running shoes were practically a blur on the asphalt.

“Lady, stop, please. I accept your offer,” I yelled, and this time her shoulders stiffened. She’d clearly heard me, but other than that small reaction, she didn’t acknowledge me as she approached a beat up red Dodge Neon. She unlocked it and put the basket on the roof of the car before turning to me.

“Okay,” she said and that scared look flashed through her eyes for a second. It made me feel like a jerk for accepting her offer, and if I’d had any other plan, I’d have turned around and walked away. The only problem was, I had nowhere to go, and her offering me a shower and a ride to the police station sounded infinitely better than wandering around a town I didn’t remember.

“Thank you,” I said, allowing my gratitude to flood into my voice. “I really appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome.” She nodded before opening the back door of the tiny car and tossing the basket on the backseat. “Now let’s go. I want to be back home by 2PM. That gives us four hours.”

“I don’t think it will take that long. I’ll take a quick shower,” I replied, walking up to the passenger door as she slid into the driver’s seat.

“You never know,” she said, reaching across the car and unlocking the door for me. “You might be one of those girly men who needs conditioner and body butter.”

Chapter 4

Aside from being small, her apartment was rather nice despite everything inside looking like it’d come from thrift stores and clearance bins. All of it had personality to it, suggesting she’d put thought into everything from the green table with yellow legs to the gray couch with pink zebra-striped throw pillows.

A movie poster of Alan Rickman dressed as Severus Snape hung front and center above the couch. Hanging next to it were pictures of the actor in his various roles, and my eyes immediately locked on the one of Hans Gruber falling from the top of the Nakatomi building. “Yippee ki yay!” was written on it in golden ink followed by a signature I couldn’t make out, but since a similar John Hancock was on the Galaxy Quest photo beneath it, I was inclined to think it might be the man’s autograph.

“Well, someone has an obsession,” I said, tearing my gaze from the photos to find her a few feet away, old takeout bags in her hands as she tried and mostly failed, to clear off the cluttered space. A flush filled her cheeks as she stood there red-handed.

“Call me old fashioned, but it just isn’t Christmas until I see Hans Gruber fall off Nakatomi Plaza.” She shrugged and deposited her refuse into a trashcan stylized like R2D2. “And if you disagree, you can leave.”

“You know, when I was little I watched Die Hard a bunch of times.” I shrugged, not sure how I remembered it, but the memory had sprung into my mind when she’d mentioned Nakatomi Plaza. “Every night for an entire summer, I laid in my bed and watched John McClane take out terrorists. I was never much for surfing, so that was my own personal Endless Summer.”

“Well, good then,” she said, letting out a little sigh of relief before shaking herself back to reality. “The shower’s over there.” She pointed behind me, and I glanced over my shoulder and saw a closed door that looked even cheaper than the threadbare carpet.

“Alright,” I said, turning back toward her. She had another armful of trash. Evidently, she didn’t clean very often, but judging by the look of the place, it seemed like most of it may have been from the night before.

“I’ll try to find you something to wear. My ex left some of his stuff here, and he was about your size.” Even though I didn’t know her well, a wistful sadness seemed to fill her as she said the words.

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