“Why, sure,” says Karen, always the mediator between Marnie’s moods and the rest of us. She smiles deliberately at her sister and Marnie subsides. The front door slams and Leslie comes in, looking cold.
“The wind’s really picking up out there,” she says. “Feels like something big’s brewing. Kelly, how likely it is one of those trees is going to come down on a car?”
A sudden gust roars down the fireplace and the flames leap up. “It’s never happened before.” I put the chakra music on, the music that always gets us moving eventually, and begin to pour wine. Olivia settles into the place of honor and we begin to pass the presents.
Marnie brings up GianCarlo; Olivia blushes like a bride when pressed for details. But when the time comes for the ritual to start, she leans forward on her dark purple velvet pillow, and looks directly at me over the mounds of wrapping paper and piles of books and bathsalts. “Kelly, I know you’ve gone to a lot of trouble and that you have something really special planned, but I just have to tell you - I don’t think I’m ready for group sex.”
“What?” I stare. And then I remember. The last short story I wrote, the first short story I’d written in ages and ages, had been anthologized in a volume of fantasy erotica. My tale of amorous elves had been enthusiastically received by my publisher, but ever since they’d first read it, I can feel my coven sisters wondering where my own experiences ended and my imagination began.
But how many times do I have to tell them you don’t have to commit murder to know how good it might feel to kill someone? “Olivia?” I say. I can see where she may have thought something like that, because the whole atmosphere is very sensual and romantic and the silk cushions on the floor are piled around the central dish of candles suggestively. “How- how could you think that?”
She looks around and shrugs.
“Okay,” I say. “You’re right. I do have something special planned but I don’t think it involves sex. I suppose it could involve sex, but I think it’s probably unlikely that it will - not that you wouldn’t be thrilled if it did-”
Jasmina, on my left, gives my forearm a gentle nudge. “What’re you up to, Kelly?” Her soft Jamaican lilt intensifies. “You look like the goose that wants to lay the golden egg. So do it, before you burst, woman.”
“I’m going to conjure Johnny Depp.”