“I don’t know, guys. Maybe we’re moving too fast,” I said to my friends on the phone. Michael and I had spent Halloween together, not to mention solving that crazy Christmas curse, plus a dozen dates in between, and now this.
“Wait, what? Where is this coming from? You’re crazy about Michael. And it’s a weekend getaway for a wedding. It’s not like he’s putting a ring on your finger,” said Lexi, my best friend and fellow time-traveling witch.
Lexi had a point. We were going away for a wedding, but not ours. Michael’s friend was getting married in Chicago in 1960—the period my boyfriend was from—and he asked me to be his date. The groom was a warlock and the bride a shifter, and Michael was the best man. At the time, a supernatural wedding sounded like a blast, but now I had cold feet, hence the conference call to my witch-in-time colleagues and confidants.
“True, but I’d be suspicious. What do you think his intentions are? How well do you really know him?” chimed in Mariana on the other line.
“I say trust your instincts,” weighed in Nuala.
What were my instincts saying? I thought for a second. Michael just wanted to go away for the weekend with his girlfriend. Nothing more, nothing less. I really needed to chill out, and yet I couldn’t. I was breaking all the rules dating Michael. Whose rules, you might ask? Well, mine. I never dated warlocks, and I never, ever fell in love with them. It scared the bejeezus out of me that my relationship with Michael was heading into uncharted territory.
I thought about the wedding. My heart pitter-pattered in anticipation at the thought of seeing Michael in a tux standing at the altar. Good gravy, when did I start having so many feelings for the guy? I visibly gulped. I’d give anything for a cold case to be delivered right now and buy me some time to think. Taking a couple of days, going back to 1980, and solving a mystery sounded lovely, even though I had just gotten back from a case. I looked around in desperation for the unscripted delivery box from the Agency of Paranormal Peculiarities that would often magically appear, but the only thing I saw was Agatha, my feline familiar, snoozing on the back of the couch.
“Besides, if he hurts you, we’ll group together and curse him a hundred different ways,” Nuala added helpfully. That got a smile out of me and reminded me why I loved these girls so much.
There was a knock on the front door. “Shoot, guys. I gotta go.”
“Have fun! It will be fine,” Lexi said.
“If it’s not, you know where to find us,” Nuala added.
I clicked off with the crew and took a second to smooth out my outfit and check my reflection in the hallway mirror. The dress was vintage, my hair platinum, and my expression anxious. My magical powers fed off my nerves in response. I could feel the electricity humming through my veins, causing my fingertips to tingle.
I took a calming breath, plastered a mega-watt smile on my face, and opened the door to greet my guy.
“Hello, beautiful,” Michael said.
“Hello, yourself,” I replied, eyeing Michael appreciatively. He was dressed in navy slacks with a black belt, and a white button-down dress shirt. A dark-gray trilby hat topped off the look. “Sorry, that was lame,” I said, shaking my head and realizing I sounded like a dork.
Michael removed his hat and bent to kiss my cheek. The moment his lips made contact, magic released. The electrical current flowed from my body and zapped Michael’s lips.
“Hey!” Michael jumped back, rubbing his hand on his mouth and then smacking his lips together as if they were numb.
“Sorry!” I jumped back too and touched my cheek. It had been a long time since we’d shocked one another.
“Everything okay?” Michael asked, concern etched on his face.
“What? Yeah. Absolutely. It’s been a crazy week with work, that’s all. I’m definitely ready for some downtime,” I lied, holding the door open for Michael to come inside. I closed the door behind him, pausing to close my eyes and take a deep breath to calm myself down.
“Afternoon, Agatha,” Michael said to my familiar.
I turned and caught Agatha mid-yawn. She stared at Michael for a beat before closing her eyes and returning to her catnap without so much as a hello.
I shook my head. Unless you had a bag full of kibble or a can of tuna fish, Agatha couldn’t be bothered. Agatha liked the feline life, and who could blame her? Lazy days sleeping in patches of sun and wild nights chasing shadows up walls. If I get a chance to be a familiar, I’ll probably pick the feline form too. Although, I’d want to tag along with my witch on cases, unlike some cats I know.
“I’m almost packed. Just give me a minute,” I said to Michael, lying once more. The truth was, I hadn’t packed a thing. I just got back the night before from a cold case in 1995, and before that, it was 1972. A mixture of decades lay about my floor—stonewashed jeans and a flip phone clashed with a tie-dye dress and bellbottoms. Not to mention the pleated skirts and coordinated gloves, hats, and heels that I wore for my dates with Michael back in the fifties.
I scurried up the old farmhouse’s wooden staircase and disappeared into my bedroom. The suitcase sat open on my bed. I did a circle about the room. It’s tricky vacationing back in time. It’s not like you could pack your regular wardrobe and toiletries. I had collected a fair share of products from previous dates, but at that moment, I was drawing a blank where half of them were besides on my bedroom floor.
“Need help?” Michael asked from the doorway.
I jumped about a foot in the air. Michael was lucky I didn’t respond with a ball of electricity to his chest. As it were, my hands were already up in a defensive position, ready to strike.
“You sure you’re all right?”
“Yes, sorry. Like I said, work’s been crazy.” I shook my hands to dissipate the energy. “I can’t seem to find half of my stuff these days.” My room was certainly evidence of that. I was wearing the only clean, appropriately styled dress I owned for our jump back in time. I wondered if I could hire a member of the Agency‘s Clean-Up Crew to come in here and organize this mess. It wouldn’t be nearly as exciting as their regular job—but maybe one of the members would like to make a little side cash.
“I thought of that.”
“You did?” I cocked my head to the side.
“I stopped by Bloomingdale’s. It was for a case,” Michael quickly clarified. “But then I saw the dress rack and thought of you.”
I visibly paled, which is saying something, seeing as my skin is porcelain to begin with.
“But I can return them,” Michael said, reading my expression. “I just thought it would be easier having a wardrobe at the ready given this weekend.”
Michael was right. This weekend was sure to require plenty of public events, from the rehearsal dinner to the wedding itself and everything in between. If I had my stuff together, I would have outfits laid out for every occasion, like a woman in the early sixties would. “No, you’re right. It’s smart. So, where are they?”
“At the hotel. I had them shipped there.”
“You seem surprised.”
“It’s just—” I thought before I continued, not wanting to offend Michael. “I guess I’m not used to someone taking care of me.” And maybe that was part of my problem with dating Michael. He was a nice guy who seemed to genuinely care about me, where I was more used to taking care of myself. I had to be, tracking down the slums of the paranormal world day in and day out.
“I’ll try not to make it a habit,” Michael joked. “Are you ready, then?”
I took one final look about the room and tossed a couple necessities into my handbag. “I suppose so. Let’s go.”
* * *
“We’re headed out,” I said to Agatha as we descended the staircase. She replied by covering her face with her tan-dipped paw. “Shall I ring you if I need anything?” I said louder than necessary. As my familiar, Agatha was the one person I could get in touch with if things got dicey, and oftentimes they did. Agatha buried her face deeper under the paw. “Perhaps you’d like a souvenir from Chicago?”
“Will you knock it off and get to getting? Can’t you see I’m trying to take a nap here?” Agatha replied grumpily.
“Love you too,” I replied in a sing-song voice.
Michael looked at his watch, and I knew he was eager to head out. Generally, for work, I had a specific spell to use to jump back in time. All of us cold-case-solving witches used the same one. The spell granted us a week in the past to solve a cold case and included a special clause that our presence in the past wouldn’t affect the present. Michael and I used a similar spell in our travels, leaving out the crime’s unpunished phrase from the original, but still, rules were rules. We couldn’t stay in the other person’s time period for more than a week, and we have to make sure not to mess with the future.
With one hand holding my purse and the other holding Michael’s hand, I let him whisk us off into the past.
The past is behind us,
But close to our hearts.
Cosmos guide us to depart,
Time travel to the past,
No time ripple will last,
Nineteen sixty is our time,
For an experience that transcends a lifetime.