Did you miss Chapter One?
I’ve been looking for someone–no one in particular–just
someone … anyone, who could reverse the curse. And I
found her. Call it luck or call it fate, but I found her. I sit in the corner
of her café, watching her as she happily darts back and forth from
customer to customer. It is opening night of Listen: It’s Old Fashioned,
and half of the town is excitedly filling up the joint. That’s my girl.
For the past month, I’ve been living as this woman’s pet. Her
cutesy little doggie, Wanda. Not tonight, baby! I’m all man, tonight.
No fur, no doggie drool, no panting, no dog breath, no fleas, no ticks,
no strange and unrelenting desire for someone to scratch me behind
the ears! Not tonight, folks! I am me once more.
Penny, the young niece of one of my darling Maeve’s friends, sits
in the window seat near my table. She keeps whispering to that stupid
cat of hers and occasionally glancing my way and giggling. I smile.
Making nice. The girl thinks I’m a hero for bringing her cat up here to
the café. I suppose it’s nice to be adored even by a little fan, so for now
I’ll smile and wave whenever she glances over.
The cat, whom I unaffectionately call Fuzzball, hops out of the
little girl’s lap and comes over to my table. “So what are you going to do,
Wanda?” Fuzzball asks me, hopping up into the chair across from me. I
grumble to myself as I try to ignore her. “I know you can understand me,
Wanda. Don’t ignore me.”
“It’s Chuck,” I say in a whisper, and I notice a slight dog-like snarl
in my voice. I clear my throat.
Penny is suddenly right beside me. She smiles brightly. “Thank you
for saving my kitty,” she says, and I nod.
“No problem, kid,” I say, my eyes still lingering on Maeve.
Penny picks up the cat. I’m not looking at her, but I can tell the kid
is staring at me. It’s flipping weird, the way she is standing there next
to me petting her cat. She’s not freaking blinking! I feel like I’m being
sized up by a Care-Bear version of the Godfather.
“I know who you are,” she says, and I almost choke on the muffin
I’ve just ordered.
I have to sip my Irish coffee to keep from gagging. “Excuse me?” I
question, wondering if this little girl knows my secret. I’m not sure if
that would bode well or poorly for me.
“Busted!” Fuzzball exclaims.
“You’re Chuck Lowry,” she says. “You’re on that really bad TV
Well, isn’t she a little charmer, I think to myself as I realize she didn’t
mean that I was Wanda, but that she recognized me from television. I
smile. “Oh, come on, it’s not that bad?”
“My mom says that show flopped,” she says. “She says it was
because the acting was so bad.”
I frown. “Why don’t you go sit on your little seat over there by the
“My name’s Penny,” she says.
“I know who you are, Penny. Now beat it,” I say, and she giggles
and hurries back to where she had been seated moments ago. She
keeps staring at me. I do my best to ignore her and focus on Maeve.
There has to be a way to make Maeve realize who I am without
actually telling her, right? Maeve is the only witch I’ve managed to
find, but she doesn’t even know it! Somehow I have to find a way to
make her realize she’s a witch so she can help me, but I can’t say it! I
can’t actually tell her I’m her cursed pooch. Or at least that’s what that
she-devil who cursed me said. Telling would be against the rules.
Maeve already knows that Wanda has something special going on
after I barked up some magick to help her take down that crazy
woman, Eleanor, who was trying to kill her. But she hasn’t said
anything about it to anyone.
Maybe she thinks she imagined it? Who knows? But it’s a step in
the right direction for her to have seen something like that, I suppose.
I watch Officer Sparkly Eyes leave, and I’m relieved. That man is
some serious competition, I can tell. I’ve already played it all out in my
mind how this breaking the curse thing is going to go down.
Somehow I’ll reveal to Maeve who I am, she’ll practice with her
newfound magical abilities, and then I will be all man again all the
time. And I do mean all man. When she realizes I’ve been her four-legged
bestie this whole time, she and I will get close. Really close.
I mean, I am me, after all.
There’s some rather interesting characters here tonight. The dead
girl’s brother and his fellow Navy buddies and the ex-husband of
Crazy Eleanor. What a laugh! What’s fun is everyone in this café
thinks I’m just some stranger probably on my way somewhere else.
They don’t know I’ve been living among them for the past month,
learning the local gossip. I bet I would freak them all out with all the
information I know about them that I learned as Wanda, Maeve’s
Sidekick … I like that … though I’d definitely like to be a lot more than
That’s when it hits me! I know how to win Maeve over. I know
about her. A lot about her! She was a songwriter. And I’m a celebrity. I
wonder if I could make her gush if I pretended to recognize her? Oh,
yeah. This is happening. I glance over at Penny who is still staring at
me. “Hey, kid, come here,” I say.
She jumps up, cat in arms, and comes to stand by my table. “Yes,
sir?” she asks politely and gives me a little girly grin.
“Do you have a phone? One with internet access?” I ask.
“No, but my aunt does,” she says, pointing toward Gracie who is
currently having a minor freak out about ruining her sexy red top.
Apparently, a customer spilled coffee or something on her, and she’s
scrambling for napkins
“Do you think you could do me a favor and borrow your aunt’s
phone so that I can look something up?” I ask, attempting to smile
brightly at her. I’m more used to talking significantly older women
into doing what I want. This little rug rat is a different story.
“Are you going to steal my aunt’s phone?” she asks.
“What! No!” I exclaimed. “I got lost coming into town and need to
look up a map.”
“Oh,” Penny says and plops Fuzzball into my lap. “Be right back!”
She skips off toward the counter over to Gracie. The two of them
exchange a few words, and then Penny points in my direction. I
awkwardly wave at Gracie, and the woman frowns. However, I notice
she does hand the phone over to Penny.
“What are you going to do with the phone?” Fuzzball asks.
“None of your business,” I say to the cat, and someone at the next
table turns and looks at me like I’m crazy. I lower my voice and
whisper to her this time. “Stop talking to me. People are going to
think I’m nuts.”
“You are nuts. You were a dog a few hours ago,” Fuzzball retorts as
Penny makes her way back to us.
I wave a thank-you at Gracie from across the room, and she nods
in my direction. I tap at the phone and type Maeve O’Dare into the
search engine. After taking a moment to memorize the names of her
songs, I google myself.
Surely Hollywood is going nuts wondering where I am. Much to
my disappointment, the only thing I can find is information on Jenny
Loves Charlie rerun dates. This can’t be right. I slip out for a moment
to make a phone call. I know someone is missing me.
While standing outside, I call up my agent. The guy, I imagine, is
having a freak out wondering where his big shot is. I actually manage
to get him on the phone, but he’s dismissive. “Chuck? Haven’t heard
from you in a while,” he says.
I know I can’t tell him anything about the curse. For one, he would
think I’m crazy, and for another Selena, the witch, told me I’d croak if
I did. “Yeah, sorry. I’ve been out of town,” I say. “You know, visiting
family and …”
“Chuck, listen,” the man says. “I figured you’d gotten my notice
since you haven’t called me in a month. I dropped you.”
“What!” I shout. Not exactly what I was expecting to come of this
phone call. “What do you mean you dropped me?”
“New clients. That sort of thing. No hard feelings, right?” he says,
and then he mumbles something, and I suspect he is talking to
someone else in the room with him.
“No hard feelings!” I exclaim, and he hangs up.
My next thought is to call my mother. The woman is probably
worried sick trying to figure out where I am. I should definitely give
her some sort of excuse to settle her mind. My mom’s voice answers,
“Chuckie! You know better than to call me this late,” she says.
I frown. “Uh … yeah, well … I haven’t spoken to you in like a
“Really? A month?” the woman asks. “Didn’t you come see me on
“That was over a month ago!” I say. Did she forget when my
“Okay, and? Have you been drinking?” she accuses.
“No!” Well, yes, technically I have, but … “Never mind, Mom,” I
say. “I was checking in.”
“Alright Chuckie, next time call at a decent hour.”
She hangs up, and I stare at the phone in my hand. Wow. Literally
no one has missed me. Not even my own mother. That one stings. I
wish I hadn’t called anyone.
I return the phone to Penny and tell her to thank her aunt for me.
I really need another drink after that phone call with my mother. I
order myself one and wait. Slowly but surely, the place starts to clear
out—including my little minion, Penny, and her kitty-cat assistant.
The lights dim, but I remain seated. Soon it’s just me, my lovely
Maeve, and the little punk she hired. I hear her whispering with the
kid for a minute before he leaves, and Maeve gets back to work.
Time to put on the charm.
I can see that she’s quite annoyed that I’m still in the café, but I
suspect she won’t be soon. Time to put my game plan into action.
“I’ve got to say, Ms. O’Dare, I’m quite impressed. What made you
go from Hollywood big shot to coffee shop owner?” I ask as she passes
“I’m sorry?” she asks, and I can see this befuddled look in her eye.
I put on the charm. It’s mostly small talk at first about her song‐
writing, but I can tell I’ve got her attention. Her cheeks flush a beau‐
tiful shade of pink.
It’s so cute that she’s embarrassed because she thinks I’ve “recog‐
I talk her up, telling her I’m a big fan.
I smile big–ladies love my smile. I’m hard to resist.
I can tell I really have her eating out of the palm of my hand with
the all the flattery I’m dishing out.
Then she notices my shirt.
Shoot. Maybe rummaging through her stuff to find clothes was a bad
I can tell I’m losing her. I do the unthinkable. Help with dishes.
“Well, it has been a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Lowry,” she says,
evidently finished with what she needs to get done for the evening. I
can tell she is ready for me to leave. I would be too after working such
a crazy shift, but I’m determined.
Go big or go home. “You know, Maeve, I would love to buy you
some lunch or get some coffee. I’m only in town through tomorrow.”
“Sorry, Chuck, but I’m working,” she says with her nose scrunched
Did she just turn me down?
I don’t get turned down! My mind scrambles for a response. I’ve
never been turned down by a woman in my life. I hold out my hand.
“Well, that’s a shame,” I say with the warmest smile I can muster.
She takes my hand as though she is trying to shake it, but instead I
clasp her hand between both of mine. Our eyes meet, her cheeks go
rosy again. “I could have sworn I felt … a little magic between us.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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