Aunt Fabulous and the Talking Tattoo

Magnificent Maggie Fontaine has been around the mysteries of magic all her life. But when she wakes up with an underage hangover and a talking press-on priestess tattoo on her arm, all Mag wants is for both things to go away. When Aunt Fabulous turns out to have vanished overnight and it’s up to Mag to find her guardian, will the strange talking tattoo be a help or a hindrance?

Our Story Begins...

BUTTERY YELLOW SUNLIGHT spread between the edges of the drawn curtains, melting in pools of light on the hardwood floor of the Victorian bedroom, on the morning that Magnificent Maggie Fontanne woke up with an underage hangover and a talking press-on priestess tattoo on her right forearm.

It was the same Monday morning that her Aunt Fabulous happened to vanish, too—but Mag didn’t know that yet.

Mag reclosed her eyes and groaned. Sorry, but no. The ink under her skin was not liquid, and the priestess was not whispering an urgent hello.

All Mag knew, in these miserable seconds after waking, was that the bright sunrise made her eyeballs feel as if they were bathed in battery acid and orbiting the room on a collision course with the floor.

Oh bother.

The digital alarm clock on the nightstand glared a red-eyed countdown: twenty-nine minutes to get up, get dressed, and hustle to first period honors physics.

And ten minutes more to be late anyway, because hustling wasn’t happening.

Mag yanked the blankets all the way back over her head and escaped into the soothing darkness of her feather pillows.

This hangover—the first official hangover she’d had in her whole sixteen years of life—vividly accentuated her stance on the stupidity of underage drinking.

And why she was against bad judgment.

And how even just a few illegal beers could damage brain cells enough to hallucinate a tattoo coming alive—the fake tattoo that Mag’s best friend, Sherman, had gotten out of the rusty Gas ’N Go gumball machine for a quarter—the tattoo that moments ago had magically moved under the surface of her pale, white skin.

Not that real magic couldn’t make a tattoo come to life, it was just that Mag didn’t have that level of magical talent. She could levitate things.

That was mostly it.

And to be honest, if she could make tattoos come to life, Mag would have already rushed to The Zink Parlor to get a real tat of her mom in full photographic portrait. It would be as if her mom’s death more than three months ago had never happened.

Wait—the more Mag groggily imagined it, the more bizarre it would be to have her mother returning from the recent grave to live on her arm.

Because who would ever have any privacy?

Scratch that creepy thought.

In the dark cocoon of woolen blankets, which smelled vaguely of solvent after that nail polish accident, Mag dared to run the soft pads of her curious fingers over the press-on priestess on the inside of her wrist. The delicate skin itched super bad, as if the temporary colors had actually been manufactured out of mosquito juice.

Then Mag curled her fingers, unable to resist nail-scratching the itchiness—and yanked her hand away fast, holding her breath in the dark cocoon of blankets.

Had the ink design just fluttered again underneath Mag’s fingers?

She listened for that same voice she’d hallucinated upon waking. The silvery little voice that had urgently whispered: Hello?

Not a sound.

Then, bellowing up from the residential street below, a delivery truck’s engine bellyached with a combustible roar. The world went quiet again.

Mag exhaled, calming down. Her mouth tasted like dirty socks and vinegar. See? Her electrolytes were probably way off.

She oozed out of the bed covers, shielded her eyes with the back of her palm against the nuclear blast of sunlight, and stumbled like a zombie into the oceanic blue-and-white tiled master bathroom to submerge in hot water.

[end excerpt]