“ARE you certain you want to have the palm trees wrapped with Christmas lights?” I shaded my eyes to look up at where Beau had climbed a ladder and was holding a string of lights in his hands. Miss Elva stood below him, hands on her hips, a mutinous expression on her face.
“Did I ask for your opinion, Althea Rose?”
“Um…” No, she most certainly had not. But would I be a good friend if I didn’t warn her that if the lights were strung the wrong way on palm trees, then they could look a little…well, phallic?
Beau subtly swiped a finger over his neck, which I correctly interpreted as my dir
ection to shut the hell up, so I clamped my lips together and forced a smile instead.
“I have a vision. Do you even understand what that means? An artistic vision that will display my latest collection in all of its holiday glory.” Miss Elva swept her arms out, and I blinked against the sun that reflected off the mirrored discs of her elaborate caftan. She was essentially a walking disco ball today, and I had to admit – while glorious – it was a little much before I’d worked my way through my first cup of coffee for the morning.
“I’ve been known to have an artistic vision a time or two in my life, Miss Elva.”
Again, a subtle shake of Beau’s head came a touch too late as Miss Elva whirled on me.
“Well then as an artist,” Miss Elva accentuated the word artist so it sounded more like arteeest, “one would think you’d be supportive and not question what I am creating here.”
“I was just…” I threw my hands up in the air and backed away from where Miss Elva glowered at me. She’d been in a tizzy all morning, so who was I to try and stop her? If she wanted her palm trees lit up like penises, well, I guess that was her vision. I didn’t see Beau complaining, not like he would anyway, so I returned to the inside of Lucky’s Tiki Bar and took stock of what was left to do.
Was it crazy of Miss Elva to host a Christmas gala to launch her spring line of resort wear? Perhaps, though you wouldn’t hear me saying another word about it. She’d already yelled at me twice this morning – and that was just over the seating chart for the first row – so I was taking my cue from Beau and keeping my mouth shut from now on. Because that was what friends did, right?
“Remind me why I’m here putting together gift baskets instead of snuggled with my man?” I wandered over to where Luna was twining silver twinkle lights around a eucalyptus leaf wreath.
“Because he’s crazy busy with all the tourists that have come to town to enjoy Christmas in the Keys?”
She wasn’t wrong. Trace’s dive boat had been booked out for the whole month and he arrived home dead tired each night. The gallery I ran with Beau was also doing a brisk business in holiday gifts, so much so that I barely had time to help Luna and my mother with their specialty tonics line. Not to mention the fact that I’d become so busy that I barely had time for readings with my clients anymore. I still offered in-person services – I mean, I was the only psychic offering readings in Tequila Key – but for the most part I limited my appointments to
one day a week and booked out my calendar far in advance. I had to admit, I was enjoying this new balance in my life. I still got to work with clients when I felt like it, and at the same time I could indulge my creative side with my underwater photography. It didn’t hurt that I also got to spend more time with Trace, my handsome husband, because I was constantly needing to restock the gallery with new and fresh images.
Husband. Even I couldn’t believe where my life had gone in the past year, and yet, I had to admit – life was great. After a slew of crazy events, Tequila Key had finally settled back into its relatively sleepy rhythm, and I found that I liked this pace of life. It was nice not having to worry about finding a dead body or random zombie invasions in my backyard.
I shuddered at that particular memory. I still had moments when I would wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream where half-decayed bodies were stalking me through my backyard. I only wish that such a situation was a figment of my busy imagination, but alas, I’d had the crap luck to live through a zombie invasion. Okay, a necromancer, if we had to be technical about it. But, hey, walks like a zombie – talks like a zombie…it didn’t seem to be quite the time to split hairs over these things, right?
“I could be on the boat helping him.” I shook off thoughts of zombies and took the wreath that Luna handed me. She looked lovely today, as always, but there was a particular shine to her. I made a note to ask her if she was using a new skin cream – but knowing her it was likely just her glamor magick. As a wedding gift, Luna had finally taught me how to do the spell that would keep my clothes from being a wrinkled mess – the problem was, more often than not, I forgot to run said spell.
I mean, I’d embraced my magick, okay, but I was still me. Forgetful, busy, and not overly fussed with my appearance.
“How many times has Miss Elva saved your life?” Luna asked, her tone silky sweet as she grabbed another wreath and crossed the restaurant to hang it around the head of a wooden tiki statue.
“Oh, right. That’s why I’m helping,” I mumbled.
I turned at the sound and the dismissive sniff that emanated from behind me. My eyes widened as I took in the woman who stood just inside the door of Lucky’s, even though the sign was turned to closed. Her expression registered disgust, and her arms were crossed under
her ample bosom. She wore leather pants (in this heat?), a silky teal camisole, and a large statement necklace with peacock feathers and crystals around her neck.
“Hello.” I crossed to her. “I’m sorry but Lucky’s is closed for a private event.”
“If you can call this an event.” Her lip curled in distaste as she surveyed the tangle of Christmas lights on the floor in front of the bar. ...