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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?
Aunt Fabulous and the Talking Tattoo
by Valerie Brook
Copyright © 2017 Valerie Brook. All rights reserved.
Published by Kickit Press/kickitpress.com
Cover and Layout Copyright © 2017 by Kickit Press
Cover Art Copyright: Irina Alexandrovna/Shutterstock.com
This is a work of fiction. Name, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events or locals or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction, in whole or in part in any form.
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.
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.
When Mag had moved in with Aunt Fabulous, this three-story Victorian had been negatory in the furniture department.
As in, Just Signed the Papers.
They’d air-mattressed the first night by the fireplace, chatting up long-lost family history, and the next day they’d hit the antique stores.
Aunt Fabulous had an eye for authenticity and the pocketbook to acquire it.
House becoming home over the months, the rooms now had a population of spoon-backed velvety armchairs, Carrrra-marble-topped side tables, ornately carved bookshelves, (cradling Mag’s full suitcase of paperbacks, because some teenagers did read), and a hall tree by the front door that held the coats and apparently doubled as a cast iron royal throne.
Mag cringed when she remembered her boozy Shakespearean reenactment last night with full supporting cast: the long black Trench, the furry Parker, and the blue wool Pea.
If no one was there to observe an act of embarrassment, was it still embarrassing?
Thank heavens her falsetto hadn’t woken Aunt Fabulous, sleeping in the attic bedroom upstairs. Aunt Fabulous had promised to continue Mag’s magical training while she stayed her sophomore school year in this rainy little town of Arcata, California. Mag loved her mom’s sister and didn’t want to disappoint her by being irresponsible.
That meant no trouble—magical or non-magical.
Mag shed her fleecy skull-and-crossbones pajamas, dropping them onto the cold tiled floor. Her bare feet squeaked. She climbed into the soaker tub.
Water gurgled into the sulfur-stained basin, warming her black nail-polished toes.
Okay, just ten minutes to lie back and relax. Armrests were molded into the tub sides for the ultimate spa situation.
A bar of oatmeal soap sitting on the lip of the tub suddenly slipped underwater like an Olympic tobogganer going for gold. Never mind.
Let the irresponsible beer vapors ooze out and be gone forever.
Tendrils of lazy steam rose up, moisturizing Mag’s cheeks, clearing her sinuses.
Okay, this was stupid ridiculous.
Just look at the fake tattoo already. Stop being scared and deal.
Better yet, just scrub the damn thing off super quick and be done with it.
Mag sat up, plunged her left hand underwater, snagged the Olympic soap, and flipped up her right inner wrist, oatmeal bar poised in the air and ready to strike down on the target zone like a jet fighter—except the tattoo was gone.
This situation had just notched up higher on the creepy scale.
Copyright © 2017 Valerie Brook. All rights reserved.