Aurora Marakiari filled the silver bowl with water before setting it down on her work table. The metal felt cool in her hands and she channeled a gentle mesh of power into it.
"What are you doing now?"
"I'm going to do the final cleansing on the charm," Aurora explained patiently as she picked up the stone pendant that she'd just crafted. "It will purify it so that it will be a clean slate ready to attune itself to you and your desires."
"Oh, thank you so much," the girl said excitedly, clapping her hands together in a manner that reminded Aurora of a seal.
Aurora gave her a stiff smile. It hurt her sometimes to think that she was reduced to making silly love charms for girls in order to pay her bills. It was insulting. Here she was, a powerful witch of the fifth generation, making little charms! If my mother was here she would've surely scolded me, she mused to herself as she dropped in a sage leaf into the water. Mixing it around, she immersed the stone pendant and rubbed her thumb over the smooth surface five times on each side, each time representing a point in the five-star pentagram. She drew the pendant out, dried it with a clean white cloth, and threaded a black leather thong through the small hole, tied it expertly, then held it out to the girl.
"There you are, all done," Aurora said in sickening pleasantry. "That'll be five dollars." The girl handed over the money and returned to her friends, who were waiting near the door. They all giggled and the girl put the necklace on. "Have a nice day!" The bell chimed softly as they left, leaving Aurora alone in her store. Waving a hand in front of her face, Aurora went and lit a mint-scented candle to dispel the overpowering scent of the girls' perfume that lingered in her store.
Aurora poured out the water, dried it with a clean white towel, and set the bowl back in its place on the shelf. Sighing, she sat down behind her desk and picked up the book that she'd been reading. It was a simple book, one of those types that she liked to read in her free time to keep her mind off not only work but just heavy thinking in general. And it was just one of those days that she felt the need to read, to totally lose herself in something light. Especially due to the stream of giggling adolescent females that had been filling her shop for the past week and a half. They'd all been looking for love charms and other things of the sorts and they'd kept Aurora on her feet for quite a while, crafting the little trinkets. Stupid Valentines Day, she thought. She of course harbored the negative feelings toward the day as some single people held. She despised the couples that flaunted their partnership in public, unconsciously rubbing the noses of all singles in the dirt. However, she had to lend one thanks to the love-sick day, it was one of the peaks in her business since so many delusional adolescents liked to indulge in a lucky charm or two to land them the man of their dreams.
She contemplated her own life. Aurora had never made herself a charm like that. The things that she'd made for herself were more of the serious nature. A blessed crystal about her neck and a ring on the middle finger of her right hand made of pure silver with a single tiny diamond in it. Perhaps she should invest in making a love charm for herself since she had the worst of luck in finding a man, and if and when she did, it was almost impossible to hold onto him. It wasn't that she wasn't attractive. Aurora was at the healthy age of twenty-eight. Her hair was thick, lustrous and black, her skin a cross between pure cream and beige, soft brown eyes, and of course, her body was slim and willowy, kind of like a model's build, only she wasn't a towering five ten. So why am I still single? Aurora wondered, it can't be because I'm a witch because all the others in my coven have boyfriends or husbands or somebody!
The bells at the door jingled again and with a small groan, Aurora got to her feet. Expecting the regular clientele of adolescent girls, she got a huge shock when she looked up and saw a man. A very attractive man who brought in the delicious scent of cinamon and man into her store.
"Hello," Aurora said. She smoothed her hands over the tight-knit black sweater she wore and gave the man what she hoped was a smooth calm smile. "Can I help you?"
He looked around the store, his eyes darting a bit. He was nervous. Aurora felt her confidence boost up a notch. "I was looking for some... candles," he finished hastily. He reached out and picked up a candle that was on a display rack next to him.
"Candles?" Aurora asked, raising a single raven brow.
"Yes, candles." A faint red stain was seeping across his excellent cheekbones.
"Well, if you're here for candles, sir, I think that you would prefer another one," Aurora said. She took the candle gently from him. "Since this candle represents fertility in women. They're used to help couples get pregnant, so unless you're looking to impregnate a girlfriend or wife, I'd choose another candle." Aurora gave him a sweet smile, stepping just a bit closer. She breathed in, feeling her belly flutter when his scent filled her nostrils. Warm, musky, pure man. She licked her lips. "What are you really looking for? A love charm? Or maybe you'd be interested in these wreaths, they have been quite popular."
The man ran a hand through his silky red hair. "Actually... I'm not even quite sure why I'm in here," he said sheepishly. His hands went to rest on his hips. "I pass this place every week." His voice trailed off.
"And you've been meaning to come in?" Aurora offered kindly.
"Um, yes, sure," he said. He looked up at Aurora, his eyes a deep warm brown. "I was wondering... if you weren't seeing anyone, if you'd like to get a cup of coffee or something later."
He's asking me out, she thought, a smile curving on her lips. Aurora wondered if she should take the chance with him. I'll probably end up scaring me off, she thought, but what the hell. "Well, it is about time for my lunch break," Aurora said, glancing at the clock. It was eleven thirty. "Are you free now?"
He gave her a huge boyish grin as a look of relief spread over his looks. "Sure!" he said enthusiastically, and then in a more sedated voice, "That'd be good."
"Oh, I'm Aurora by the way," she said, holding out her hand.
"Jon." He enveloped her hand in his. Warm, calloused, a working man's hand. Aurora gave a small shiver when they released their hands, feeling his roughened skin against her softer skin.
Jon watched Aurora as she closed up the shop, locking away the valuables, turning off the lights, switching the sign on the door to "closed," then slipping on her coat. He held the door open for her as she shouldered her purse, buttoned up and stepped out into the frigid cold of winter.
"I know a good place nearby," Jon said, "I stop by every morning to get my coffee there."
"Sounds good, lead on."
The "good place" was called The Shack and it was located a few blocks away. It was a little café, rustic and quaint, its walls made of large stone bricks. Aurora was shivering by the time they got there and again, Jon galantly held the door open for her. Inside, Aurora felt like she had stepped into heaven. It was warm, not just in temperature but also in atmosphere. There was an empty fireplace, paintings of landscapes in rich colors, mood lighting, and there was a distinctive odor that made Aurora think of home and baking cookies.
"It's beautiful," she said, unbuttoning her coat.
"I'm glad that you like it," Jon said, shrugging out of his own coat.
He led her over to an empty table and draped his coat over the back of one oof the chairs. Aurora followed suit and they sat down. There was a little laminated standing menu perched between a white container holding packets of sugar and sweetener. Picking up the menu, Aurora perused through the menu and found her mouth watering as her eyes found the small pictures of the coffee shops wares. Cinnamon sticky buns, giant cookies, muffins, muffin tops, fresh scone, and tea cakes. Not to mention the delicious looking mugs of thick hot chocolate, different kinds of teas and coffees. Her stomach gave a small demanding hungry growl.
"I know what I want," Jon said, leaning his elbows on the table. "Do you need some more time?"
"Oh, there's just so much to choose from," Aurora said, giving a helpless look to Jon. She returned the menu to where she had found it and laced her fingers together to create a bridge for her chin. "What do you recommend?"
"Well, the hot chocolate is one of their most popular drinks here," Jon answered with a smile. "Along with their cinnamon buns."
"Then I'll get the hot chocolate and the cinnamon bun," Aurora said. She pulled from her purse her little wallet but Jon lay a hand over hers.
"I wouldn't feel right inviting you out then having you pay," he told her. He got to his feet. "I'll be right back."
Aurora watched him go up to the front counter and start talking with the employee behind the cash register. He said something and the employee laught. A few minutes later, Jon returned to the table bearing a small red tray laden with two steaming mugs and a plate bearing a large delicious lookin cinnamon bun that glistened with the sticky sugar coating. Jon turned the tray so that the red mug containing the thick chocolaty mix faced Aurora. She admired the thick look to the liquid and leaned in close to inhale the scent. It was intoxicating, rich, sweet, and spicy.
"Take a sip," Jon said.
.... There is more of this story ...