The duty of a witch’s cat is to help her to mate, thereby producing more little witches, and to assist her to become more magical—and doing evil is the easiest way to do this. But Turquoise’s mistress has problems getting a boyfriend and she refuses to be evil. Turquoise is going to find it difficult to get back to the fun of Hell.
A G-rated fantasy romance.
Turquoise scowled at his mistress.
‘How are you going to find a mate when all you do is sit indoors hunched over that computer?’ he demanded.
His mistress scowled right back at him. She had been working on a design for a pamphlet in which the client wanted far too many words and it wasn’t going well. ‘Go to Hell, Turquoise.’
He placed one paw on the keyboard. ‘That’s what I’m trying to do.’
Jane groaned and hit save. ‘Don’t do that! How’m I to keep you in the liver and chicken you’ve become accustomed to if I can’t make a living? And why do you keep on saying you want to go back to Hell? It’s rude, always moaning about the great times you had there, carrying on as though living with me is so dull!’
Witch and familiar gazed at each other in mutual exasperation. The fact was, Turquoise did sometimes find living with Jane dull. She was such a goody-goody. She refused to use her magic in any way that wasn’t obviously moral, which meant most of the time she didn’t use it, so she was weaker than she should have been. And she wasted time she could have spent on more worthwhile pursuits (such as brushing his fur) on things like picking up plastic and making sandwiches for the homeless.
Though he had to admit her nauseating niceness had been fortunate for him. The night those teenage boys had got hold of him the pain had made him think seriously of disincarnating, despite the penalties the Lords of the Wheel would have inflicted on him. Jane (typically!) had been coming home after staying back late at work. The next thing he knew, the louts had dropped him and were running off, swatting at the swarm of wasps that had so oddly appeared out of the night, and he was surrounded by the sweet smell of her magic. Dazed, he looked up.
His turquoise eyes met her tear-filled green ones. And the bond slipped into place.
She mistook his groan of dismay—he was now definitely tied to the mortal plane—for one of pain, and anxiously slid some more magic into him. Unable to resist, he purred. He didn’t even feel any pain from the leg a subsequent X-ray showed was broken. Though, as he’d subsequently pointed out to her, if her magic had developed the way it should she could have healed him properly herself and saved him the degrading visit to the emergency hospital.
‘Degrading?’ she asked, one eyebrow rising.
‘Being put to sleep like that,’ he snapped. ‘And that vet wanted to remove parts of my anatomy to which I am particularly attached while I was unable to defend myself!’
‘You didn’t seem defenceless. I think she nearly lost her finger.’
‘A gross exaggeration,’ he sniffed. ‘Anyway, your magic stopped the bleeding, and of course I can’t infect anyone, so I don’t know what she was complaining about. Now stop trying to distract me. The fact is, you should be more powerful than you are, and you’re not doing a thing about it.’
‘I study the craft!’
He groaned. ‘You study the craft,’ he mimicked. ‘And you’re conscientious, kind, and caring. I ain’t talkin’ about studyin’, kid. I ain’t talkin’ about what you do with what you got—know what I’m talkin’ about, kid? I’m talkin’ about—’
‘Have you been watching late night Humphrey Bogart films again?’ she interrupted. ‘And you think I’m boring!’
‘—I’m talkin’ about the juice, the battery power, the kapow factor (Turquoise had got into the vintage comics Jane’s brother had left in storage with her) which you lack because you simply won’t do what a witch has to do in order to increase her abilities.’
‘Well, what should I do?’
‘Evil is good,’ he said hopefully.
‘Evil is—’ he stopped. ‘You know damn well what I mean!’
‘Evil is out.’
Well, he’d had to try. Tempting was part of his job description.
‘Sex magic?’ he suggested. ‘Easy-peasy. You could get that cute guy you see on the tram. Or give yourself better luck on those … dating sites.’ He produced the term proudly. Who said he wasn’t modern?
She shuddered. ‘Going sky clad in a Melbourne winter? Sitting through another painful mutual interview over a cup of coffee? Can we look at doing evil again?’
And when he persisted she had gone into her bedroom yelling that unless he stopped hassling her he faced a future of cheap canned cat food, and slammed the door. Of course, a closed door is no deterrent to a cat—let alone a witch’s cat, so that hadn’t kept him out.
What had deterred him (at least for a while) from continuing with his campaign was finding her in tears on the bed. With a sigh, he leapt up onto the bed, padded over to her and licked her ear.
She opened her beautiful witchy green eyes at him and said, ‘Turquoise, I’m just not good at picking men. Every man I’ve ever loved has been a louse. Every. One.’
There had been only one thing to do. He snuggled into her and purred loudly. After a minute she lifted one hand and scratched him gently round the ears and under the chin, a delicious sensation that made him purr even louder, sending them both off to sleep.
The trouble, he thought now, was that she was right. His witch had an anti-talent for men. When she entered a bar, lots of men puffed their chests up at her, for the sake of her long black hair, trim little figure, and luminescent skin. And plenty of men seemed to contact her on the web. But somehow it was the ones with problems with alcohol or drugs, or the ones who were still-with-the-wife-for-the-sake-of-the-kids at whom she smiled and who came sniffing round her. Something in her had been damaged the day her no-good father left her soft, dependent mother for another woman on Jane’s thirteenth birthday.
And now here she was on this fine spring day: almost past littering, no mate in sight and no sign of power growth. Turquoise growled to himself. A familiar who didn’t help his witch achieve her potential had failed. And if he failed, there would be no fun in Hell next time around. A white cat sauntering on the street outside caught his eye. He leaned closer to the open window. Hmm. It was Musette. And she was in season.
‘You just be careful!’ Jane yelled after him as he slid out the window.
He tottered back two days later with one ear half torn off, a badly infected leg and a slashed open belly. His witch screamed, wrapped him in a towel and ran to her car.
‘You should see the other guys,’ he croaked as she drove to the vet’s. Fortunately, it was a comparatively short trip to the new Animal Hospital, and they kept long hours.
‘Shut up,’ Jane said. ‘And don’t claw the vet to death this time.’
Turquoise moaned pitifully. Could he help it if that’s how he reacted when they prodded him? Not to mention that in one of his previous lives he had been a tiger?
Jane drew up outside the hospital, ran around the car, scooped him up, and scurried in. The pretty nurse left the counter to
hold the door open, saying, ‘Goody’ll be with you shortly.’
‘Who?’ Jane said. Turquoise usually saw Susan, for whom he had a sort of grudging respect.
‘Our new vet,’ the nurse explained.
‘Tell her to put protective gloves on, because Turquoise’s really irritable, and he’s really—really s-sick!’ sobbed Jane.
‘Oh, Goody’s a—’
The door opened as the new vet ushered out a meek blue heeler and his beaming owner.
‘—guy,’ sighed the nurse. He was indeed. Tall, slim, with unfashionably long black hair, smooth brown skin and eyes dark as midnight. Even miserable as she was, Jane could see that he was a seriously—
‘Cute guy? I’m practically on my deathbed and you’re thinking the vet’s cute?’ Turquoise’s outrage made Jane smile a little even through her frightened tears.
The new vet smiled, too, and gave her a long look. ‘So Turquoise's been in a fight, has he? Let’s get him on the table.’ His voice was nice, too: a soothing baritone.
He shut the door and Jane became aware of something: this ‘Goody’ (and what kind of name was that?) was using some kind of magic on both Turquoise and herself. The kind he was using on the cat was obviously healing magic. The nature of what he was sending her was unclear, but it felt—she breathed it in—really, really delicious. Strong and warm.
‘You’re a magician,’ she said.
He took Turquoise, who for once neither struggled nor bit, out of her arms and put him on the table.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘And you’re a witch. A cute witch. And you can stop worrying now. Turquoise will be fine.’ He looked up at her, smiling broadly.
Jane went rigid with embarrassment. He had understood Turquoise! He was telling her he knew she thought he was cute. But then he thought she was cute—or so he said. But then why would he say it if he didn’t think she was cute? And if so—
‘Excuse me,’ Turquoise said. ‘Hurting here. You both think the other’s cute, right? Now can I have some attention?’
The new vet’s ears turned pink. ‘Sorry, Turquoise.’
He bent over the cat. ‘Hmm. Let’s get that gut wound fixed up. Nice work, Jane—a good stasis—but let’s see if I can …’ Jane stared as organs moved back into place and the gash closed, leaving a red scar.
‘I’ll stop there,’ he said. ‘If I go any further it’ll pull too much energy from the tissues. The body’s natural healing processes can take over from here. The leg abscess is starting to drain already, but I’ll help it along with a little penicillin.’ A syringe appeared in his hand and he gave Turquoise an injection so smoothly the cat barely stiffened. The vet held the torn bits of the ear together and when he let go, the ear was whole. He smiled. ‘It’s great to be able to work openly.’
Jane ran her hand down Turquoise’s spine, and felt him arching pleasurably under her caress.
‘You’ve gone a bit pale,’ she told Goody.
‘Er, have I? Must have overdone it a bit.’
Turquoise snickered. ‘Trying to impress, eh?’
Jane felt the corners of her mouth turn up. ‘You sent me some of your magic before,’ she said cautiously.
The vet’s eyebrows went up. ‘What? But that’s only supposed to happen when—’
‘When what?’ Jane prompted.
‘Can you send it back to me?’ Goody said, his voice urgent.
‘I’ll try,’ she said, closing her eyes to concentrate, reaching deep inside herself to look for his magic. But it had nestled into her. She couldn’t return it.
And Goody was getting more and more pale. She had to send him some of her own magical energy. Placing her hand on his chest, she pushed it into him. A weight of sadness lifted and delight bubbled in, fizzing like champagne, warm as the sun.
When she opened her eyes, she found he had put his arms around her.
‘Mmm?’ she murmured, less in question than in acceptance.
‘My magic went out to you without my knowledge because you are my true mate,’ he explained. Then he kissed her. Of course.
And of course any first kiss is magical.
But as Jane and the vet kissed a wave of magic surged out, and the possibilities changed.
It passed through the body of the pretty nurse in the reception area, changing an undeveloped egg in her body so that several years later she gave birth to a magic wielder who would become a mighty force for good.
A child at a nearby primary school did not utter the malicious remark she had been about to make to another girl about her handmedown dress and they were to be best friends all their lives.
Air thickened beneath a possum falling from a tree, so that it bounced off unharmed.
A cell in the breast of a young woman passing by did not mutate, and her children were not traumatised by her early death and her husband’s poor choice of a new wife.
A busy executive sitting in his car at the traffic lights changed his mind about canceling his medical appointment. He was given medication for his blood pressure and the stroke he had been going to have didn’t occur until he was 102 years old and asleep in bed.
Amongst the many direct and indirect results of these were that sixty-five people lived happier lives, eight pictures ended up in various international art galleries, several crimes were not committed, a company dedicated to fighting global warming did not fold, and three rose bushes were destroyed (this was the possum’s fault).
But to return to the cause of all this.
After Jane and the vet recovered from that first dizzying kiss and she promised to meet him when his shift finished and not to think he was crazy, they both glared at Turquoise until he stopped making retching noises.
‘Can I help it if I’ve got a hairball?’ he asked.
Jane and the vet got married so quickly that her mother told her everyone thought she was pregnant, which she very soon was.
It turned out the vet’s name was really Samuel Goode, which Turquoise thought hilarious. Jane gave birth—a short and easy birth—to twins, a boy and a girl, which as everyone knows are highly magical. So that part of Turquoise’s mission was fulfilled. At the moment, the twins are toddlers. They are convinced Turquoise is the world’s best soft toy and Turquoise is convinced they are imps straight from Hell.
Copyright © 2016 by Patricia Poppenbeek
A version of this story was first published in Little Gems: Turquoise. Anthology of Short Stories 2009 published by Romance Writers of Australia Inc.
Editor Joan Gillham.
This story is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This story, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission
Cat photographs by Lea Weaver
This story is part of a forthcoming anthology of light romances, most of which have a fantasy element, Romantic Gems.