"Relax. All we're going to do is talk about what makes the perfect man," Rachel said. "Let's start with your fantasies."
"That's going a bit too far, don't you think?" I hadn't even shared my fantasies with any of my exes. My policy was strictly, "don't ask, don't tell."
She shook her head, her disappointment in me clear from her expression. "You are so repressed. Everyone has a fantasy or two. Okay, I'll share first. I like this role-playing game where you take a strip of silk and—"
"If you love me, you'll stop right there. I'm happy with my state of repression. When the hell did you turn into Sassy McSlutty?"
She flashed me a wicked grin. "Have you ever been to something like a Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, or Tupperware party? I hosted a party for naughty bedroom products. I guess you could call it a fuckerware party." She laughed at her own joke. "Anyway, the rep told us to be more open and honest about our sexuality. It's good advice."
I had to ask, didn't I? She hadn't invited me to her nasty soiree. Not like I'd have gone. I hadn't spent much time with my sister recently. I made no secret about my dislike for Ted, and allowing a little distance to grow between us was easier than addressing my disapproval. Besides, he'd tried to control her and got jealous when we got together to have dinner or do a little shopping. In any case, I noted how much she'd changed since I'd last seen her, and guilt weighed upon me.
"Can you belay the sex toy conversation? Let's finish up this love spell." That was the third grenade I'd fallen on for Rachel in one day. It had to be some sort of record. Reminder to self-call Guinness in the morning.
"Okay, you don't have to tell me about your dream guy. Just write on the parchment exactly what you want in a man. Blue eyes, great build, big..." I blinked up at her, pretending to be scandalized. "Big heart, I was going to say," she laughed. "Jeez, Janie, get your mind out of the gutter."
I bit back a catty comment involving a pot and a kettle.
I hesitated when it came to writing about my dream lover. What did I want in a man, specifically? How could I express what my perfect man would be? I chewed the end of my pencil and thought it over. He'd be honorable, smart, and funny. I would feel safe, happy, and above all, loved when I was with him. He'd be my best friend and a romantic like me. After a minute, I decided my Romeo ought to be inspired by my romance novels.
I want to find a lover just like the men in the books I read.
Good enough, I decided, and set down the pencil. After all, this wasn't serious, and I'd never get any well-needed rest if I didn't appease my sister first. I yawned, hoping she would notice and move things along.
She handed me the tiny pink votive and a pack of matches from Pete's bar. "Light it and burn the spell paper."
Why write down all the stuff if I was going to light it on fire the next moment? I knew better than to try to make sense of this occult mumbo jumbo, though, so I did it.
She grabbed a decorative bowl from my bookshelf and dumped essential oils of rose and jasmine in it. "Rose for love, and jasmine to add a little spice to that big...heart you wanted," she explained. She swept some of the ashes from the paper I had burned into her hand and mixed it into the oil.
I viewed the slimy mess with skepticism. This was going to change my life?
"Last step," she said. "I need something of yours. Something you're going to wear every day." She examined me, her critical gaze coming to rest on my pendant. "That'll work."
My hand closed around my necklace, a small piece of butterscotch amber, carved into a rose opened late in bloom. I bought the pendant for myself several years ago when my last serious relationship ended. I wore it almost every day without fail.
"You can have it right back." Her tone underlined her annoyance with me. "I'm not going to do anything to it." I released my death grip on my pendant and entrusted it to my sister. She rewarded my trust by promptly submerging the amber in the cloying oil and ash mixture.
"Damn it, Rache. Now I'm going to smell like a French whorehouse...er, a French witch."
"When you wear this charm, you will attract to yourself exactly the type of man you described on that parchment." She continued reading Viola's instructions without pausing to acknowledge my indignation.
She handed the dripping pendant back to me while I grabbed a Kleenex to wipe the sludge off as quickly as possible.
"The charm will retain its power until the goal of the spell has been fulfilled and you have found true love. At least that's what it says here. Or is that word 'dove?' Vi has a little arthritis and her handwriting sucks."
True dove? Maybe I should go to a pet store and end this whole charade.
She shrugged and folded the instruction sheet. "That's it," she said. Her lips curved into a sinful smile. "Maybe you'll get some now. How long has it been, five years?"
I laughed, relieved to be done with the strange spell casting. I hoped Rachel had gotten this crazy magick stuff out of her system now and I could go back to my former witchcraft–free life.
"It's been a long day," she said. "What do you say we sack out now?"
More agreeable words had never been spoken except maybe for "have some more chocolate," "you won the jackpot," or "you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."
I agreed, grateful this day was finally behind me. Compared to today, tomorrow couldn't be anything but a vast improvement.