Kiss and Spell (Enchanted, Inc.) - By Shanna Swendson
They were expecting me, but I didn’t think they’d be expecting this. I arranged myself in the doorway and waited for them to notice me. I was just wondering if there was a sexy way to clear my throat to get their attention when Owen Palmer looked up from his notebook and said, “I’m sorry, but you’re not supposed to be here. I’ll call for someone to escort you out.”
On the one hand, it was nice to know that my boyfriend’s head wasn’t easily turned by every curvy blonde who came along. On the other, his lack of reaction made me wonder if I’d missed the mark. Rod Gwaltney’s reaction was more like it. When he noticed me, he looked like a cartoon wolf, with his eyes popping out on springs and his tongue unrolling to the ground. Yeah, I’d done it right, I thought, ever so smugly.
I dropped my voice down an octave or so and tried to create a hoarse, breathy tone that fit my bombshell exterior to say, “I thought you were expecting me.” I didn’t think that sounded like my usual voice, but Owen frowned in suspicion. Rod was still ogling me. I had to bite my lip to keep myself from smiling. This was too much fun. Then it became absolutely impossible for me to keep a straight face one minute longer, and I dissolved into giggles.
“Katie?” Rod blurted.
“I think she gets an ‘A’ for illusions,” Owen said with a smile as I let my va-va-voom illusion drop. “Nice work. You had us fooled. Where did you get the image?”
“From the Victoria’s Secret catalog, though I added clothing,” I said as I crossed the room and took a seat at the table where the guys were. I conjured myself a cup of coffee, not so much because I needed it but because I could, and that was a trick I never got tired of doing. “And, you know, that illusion stuff is harder than it looks—not so much the magic part as all the stuff that goes with it to make it convincing.”
Rod made an “ew, I just mentally undressed my sister” face but said, “Yeah, the trick to making an illusion work is to create the whole character: the voice, the walk, the body language, the attitude. Once you’ve got all that down, the magic is just the finishing touch.” And he should know, since he regularly relied on an illusion to make himself more handsome. Until very recently, it hadn’t worked on me, but a freak incident had turned my magical immunity into magical powers, so magic now worked on—and for—me.
Which was why I was there in an improvised classroom in the bowels of the Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., headquarters building. Rod was teaching me to use my newfound powers, while Owen was studying me to see how my magic worked. Apparently, my situation was rather unprecedented.
Rod continued lecturing me. “Most situations require only minor disguises, like a different hair color or clothing, but for more extensive alternative identities, I’d recommend creating a few regular characters. Work on those characters before you even add the magic, practice their voices and body language, and then it’ll be easier to pull off the illusions.”
“Not that she’s likely to need to create any alter egos,” Owen said.
“In our line of work?” Rod countered. “You never know when you’ll need a good disguise. Just remember, the attitude—the nonmagical part—is what’s most important.”
“I would think, then, that if you got good at the attitude you might not even need the magical part,” I said with a meaningful look at Rod. He was making improvements and had dropped the attraction spell he used to use along with the handsome illusion, but I still hadn’t managed to convince him that he could be attractive as himself. Although the illusion was better-looking, I missed seeing his real face.
He ignored me and changed the subject. “We should start working on defensive spells. Without your magical immunity, you’re vulnerable to attack spells, so you’ll need to be able to defend yourself.”
“But only in extreme circumstances,” Owen put in.
“That’s so annoying,” I said with a sigh. “I have magical powers, but can’t use them outside this room.” But I knew why. The same incident that gave me magic had restored Owen’s lost powers. Things in the magical world were still too touchy for that secret to be let out, given that Owen’s birth parents had been evil wizards. Our enemies had revealed that