Mostly Magic

Second Book of the Kindling

Excerpt #1

MostlyMagic72lgBitteschön,” Daniel said.

The German scientist was clearly amused. “Your accent is not so good, Dr. Woodruff, but your stories about your mountain and your opa are wunderbar. You do need to write the book, I think.”

“Maybe I will.” He had included some uplifting and humorous stories about Pops and Woodruff Mountain in his speech, because there was a distinct lack of encouraging news about their battle to save the honeybee.

The line after the lecture seemed to have transformed into a group of smiling and laughing people standing in the aisle. He didn’t know why. He hadn’t been that entertaining. Not after functioning without any decent sleep over the past few days. He leaned his head to look down the line again. He caught sight of someone in the middle of all the laughter—a girl with short blonde hair, wearing a colorful patchwork jacket.

An older woman stepped up to clasp his hand. “Oh, Daniel, you were magnifique,” she said in her pleasing French accent. “I adored your stories. Wenzel is right. You do need to publish the book.”

That was odd. Dr. Dubois had never called him by his first name before. “Merci beaucoup, Dr. Dubois,” he said. “But I need to learn how to write first.”

“It is a pity I am not younger. You are so amusing. I would go off to Firenze today avec tous les jeunes.” She surprised him with a quick air kiss toward both cheeks and flounced off.

What had gotten into everyone?

“Yes, you must!” Francesca Sartori, a young Italian scientist who was part of the host committee, nearly bounced with excitement. “Vogliamo mostrarvi Firenze!”

Francesca took his hand. Between one breath, and the next, everything went black.
Francesca—sitting in the middle of a chaos of flickering lights and loud noises—the sound of people beginning to panic. Daniel was there, behind her eyes, as she sat in the passenger car of a train—hearing what she heard, feeling what she felt.

The train was moving under her, and not a smooth and rapid ride, but a bouncing, rough movement as she tried to cling to her seat.

I don’t want to see this.

There was the sound of something hitting the outside of the car, like huge hailstones pummeling tin. She looked toward the windows but there was nothing outside. Only blackness.

The man across from her dropped his newspaper.

All she could see—all Daniel could see—was that paper, crumpled on the floor. Everything else was gone.

Shut it off now.

The car shuddered and began to tilt. Then there was nothing but screaming.

Shut it OFF!

He wanted to scream as well, until the newspaper finally winked out of existence.
Francesca must have let go of his hand, because he staggered back a step, trying not to react when he found himself standing in the conference room, completely blind. His heart was pounding in fear, her fear, made worse by his own realization that he hadn’t been on that train with her.

He had a vision of Francesca’s future just from touching her? But his dreams, his visions, they were always his future, not someone else’s. This had never happened before. No. He had to have been on the train with her. But this vision had felt different. It wasn’t his future.

“Dr. Woodruff? Are you all right?” Francesca’s voice came in that lyrical accent of hers.

“Yes,” he managed to say. “Scusi, Signorina Sartori. I…I skipped breakfast. Big mistake. You’re—you’re going to Florence? On the—”

“Frecciarossa! Yes. You will come with us?”

“Uh, no. I don’t think…” Damn. He couldn’t just tell her not to go—tell them all not to go. “I—” His cell phone interrupted them, the cheerful tones of “Flight of the Bumblebee” ringing out. He shrugged apologetically at the laughing reaction from the group as he dug out his phone. There were thank-yous in several different languages, and he heard the group start to move away from him, still chattering.

Daniel slipped his phone into his pocket without answering and tried to find the edge of the table behind him. He almost knocked over someone standing right next to him and tried not to tread on any toes as a hand took his arm to steady him.

Scusi,” he said. That overwhelming sense of fear—Francesca’s fear—faded a bit. But he had to stop the group from getting on that train, or at least slow them down so they missed it.

The problem was, there was no way to know when what he had seen was going to happen. On the way to Florence? On the way back? And at the moment he couldn’t see well enough to follow them. He let out a frustrated breath.

“Hello?” an amused voice said.

Daniel realized someone was still holding his arm. He blinked desperately but still saw only a gray, murky fog and a vague blob that was someone short standing in front of him, wearing a lot of bright colors. The girl in the patchwork jacket whom he had seen in the line. “Scusi,” he said, straining to see her through the fog. It seemed she wasn’t a girl at all. She was very much a woman—a petite woman, but definitely a woman. As the fog cleared, he could see that there was a very curvy figure beneath that vivid jacket and black slacks. And everything about her seemed to change color as she came into focus—her eyes, her tousled pixie haircut.

“Dr. Woodruff?” she said, releasing his arm. “You look like you need to sit down. Can I get you some coffee or water or something?” She scanned the room.

“No. No. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.” He assumed she had come up to thank him for the speech.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” she asked.

Daniel felt the brush of her fingers on his arm again. He focused on her face. A very pretty woman.

“I promised myself I would not buy into the whole absentminded professor thing. I really did,” the woman said with a dazzling smile. “I’m Mel. Mel Noblett.”

For some reason he felt inclined to smile, but suppressed the urge. It must be her accent. It reminded him of home, but she wasn’t wearing a conference name tag. “You weren’t at the conference?”

“No, but I did catch your closing speech, which was fascinating, by the way. I liked the part about the stock tips you get from your bees,” she said. “And the research you’re doing with the Meyer insecticide. Sustain, or whatever it’s called.”

She didn’t look or sound like one of Meyer’s corporate drones. They had shown up in expensive suits with boardroom pallor and German accents. Maybe they’d gone outright Bond villain and sent in a seductress. If so, he considered sending them a thank-you note. “And you are?”

The dazzling smile faded a bit. “Mel Noblett,” she pronounced carefully, as if he were mentally deficient. Oh, right, she had said her name before. “I was passing by and heard all the laughter in here—”

“They weren’t laughing at the effects of Meyer’s insecticide,” he said. He rubbed at his temple. A dull ache was building behind his eyes. She was probably one of those environmental journalists who had been hounding him, trying to get the dirt on Meyer. No tourist would wander into a hotel conference room full of academic types with all of Bologna beckoning outside. “As much as I appreciate a lovely face and a familiar accent—if you are from Meyer, the answer is still nein and will always be nein. If you are from the press, everything is in the press release from the conference. If you are neither, I apologize, but I’m in a bit of a hurry.” He turned to put his presentation and notes into his satchel while scanning the room for Francesca and her entourage.

“The ‘lovely face’ comment gets you points, but I’m a bit offended that you would think I’m from Meyer.” She had circled to stand across from him. “Do I look like one of their corporate goons?”

Daniel looked up. Her eyes seemed to have changed color a bit, close to the blue of one of the many patches on her jacket. Her feathery hair was several different shades of blonde. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “No actually, you look like…” He considered it for a moment, thinking he might have seen her face before somewhere, but he needed to find Francesca and something to get rid of this headache.

You look like you could use a drink,” she said with a concerned frown.

“Drinking is what created the problem in the first place,” he lied. “But thanks.”

“Whatever it was, it must have a powerful kick. Sambuca? Grappa? Or way too much Tuscan wine? You were doing much better when you were giving your speech,” she said. “I tell you what: you give me a story, and I’ll give you a hangover cure that you’ll pass down to your children and grandchildren.”

“Tempting, but no thanks.” He shoved his papers into his battered satchel. “Creative though. Usually you guys only offer to buy me drinks. No one ever throws in a hangover cure.”

“I can picture guys and gals offering to buy you drinks,” Mel said.

He tried not to smile, but failed. His looks had resulted in him getting hit on, a lot, by both sexes, but no one had ever been quite so blatant pointing it out.

“A smile! I knew you had teeth in there somewhere.” She gave a satisfied smirk.

“Yes, and I bite.” He growled halfheartedly as he tugged off his tie and tossed it in his satchel. “Who do you write for, Ms. Noblett? I’ll be sure to let them know you are one of their more creative correspondents.” He picked up his satchel and headed down the aisle.

end glyph

Want to read more?












bnbutton (85 x 87)









end glyph