Five Wishes - Book 1
For my Street Team. You know who you are. And you're fabulous. Thank you.
I clutch my lucky silver dollar firmly in my hand. I don't want to give it up, but this wish is really important, and I can't leave it up to chance.
I'm down to my last two hundred bucks. I'm a month behind in my rent, and I'm in pain from giving myself my own bikini wax in order to save money. Nothing can get between me and this wish coming true.
The wishing fountain is in the center of town, right next to my apartment. In fact, I can see it from my bedroom window, but this is the first time that I'm trying it out. I've been saving up my wish for when I'm desperate. And boy, am I desperate.
It's the ugliest fountain I've ever seen, bone dry with just a few coins, dirt, and a used condom at its bottom. But it's famous for its wishes. I'm not crazy to believe in it. It has a long history as a wishing fountain. It's been on the news. Katie Couric. Oprah.
I focus on my wish, pull my arm back, and release the coin.
Please let me get this role.
Please let me ace this audition.
With my wish out into the universe, I shut my eyes and throw the silver dollar into the fountain. It lands on the cracked plaster, making a loud clanking sound in the town square.
A breeze blows, which I take as a good sign. I swear I feel different, like I'm infused with good luck. I sure need some good luck. I open my eyes, half expecting an angel to appear, or at the very least, a leprechaun.
But I'm on my own. The sleepy little town of Esperanza isn't exactly bustling with people on its busiest day, and today it's particularly dead.
I step down from the fountain and go on my way. I don't have to go far. Just across the street to the diner, which is located on the bottom floor of my apartment building.
Built in the 1950's, the building is no-frills and covered in pink stucco. There are twelve units and four flights. I'm on the top floor, next to the landlord.
This location has its good points and its drawbacks. I get woken up every morning with the smell of fresh coffee brewing from the diner downstairs, which is a good point. However, I'm also tempted to eat a slice of Mack's homemade cherry pie to go along with it, which is a drawback.
And that's the other plus and drawback: Mack.
I open the door to the diner, making the bell ring. The diner is enjoying a lull in the day, that time between breakfast and lunch where everyone is busy at work or at home. Mack is wiping off a table but looks up when I enter.
"Sit anywhere," he says.
I take a seat by the window. Without having to order, Mack fills my mug with coffee. He looks like he does every day. He's a scruffy, thirty-something guy with perfect bone structure, thick dark hair, and blue eyes that will laser beam right through any woman directly to her uterus.
"I got pie," he says.
"I don't want pie. I'm an actress. Actresses don't eat pie."
"You're an actress?"
"You know that I'm an actress. So no more out of you."
At least I'm trying to be an actress. I've never actually gotten a job, but I've taken three classes, and a casting agent, who I met while shopping at The Gap, told me at the pocket tee table that I have what it takes to become a star.
"How about a sandwich?" Mack asks.
"I have to be skinny."
"You are skinny. You've got no ass, no boobs, and your collarbones are sticking out."
"I do too have boobs." It's true. I do have boobs. I'm a 36C, which is huge on my small, five-foot-two frame. I don't know what he's talking about. Is he blind?
Mack takes a step back and studies me. Most specifically, he studies my chest. He c***s his head to the side and squints, as if he's having a really hard time finding my cleavage.
It's not hard to find. I'm wearing a tank top and a push up bra. I'm the queen of cleavage. I'm cleavage and nothing else. I could signal ships at sea with my breasts.
He shrugs. "Yeah, maybe you do have boobs. But last time I looked, you don't have an ass."
"What the hell do you know? You don't understand what Hollywood wants. I need to be skinny."
"Okay. Okay. How about a salad?"
"No! Salad will bloat me."
"So, you'll fart. Problem solved."
"Mack, you don't understand. Being an actress is very demanding."
He plops down on the chair across from me and leans forward. His eyes are big and they suddenly turn dark and focus entirely on me. My heart does a little hiccup, which I try to ignore, but Mack always has this effect on me. If he was on the menu, he would be the house special. Delicious and probably very bad for my health.
"I'm not going to leave here without feeding you," he says. "I'm sure Meryl Streep eats."
"Nobody cares about Meryl Streep. They care about Angelina Jolie, and she doesn't eat."
At least I don't think so. I mean, she's awfully skinny. No bloat there.
"What the hell do you mean nobody cares about Meryl Streep? Deer Hunter? Sophie's Choice?" he says, counting on his fingers.
"Tomb Raider, Mr. & Mrs. Smith," I counter, sticking my fingers in his face. Mack shakes his head.
"Even skinny Angelina Jolie eats," he says, obviously annoyed with me.
"No, she doesn't."
"If I have to shove the food down your throat, that's what I'm going to do."
"That's charming, Mack. Violence against women. Not your most attractive quality."
Mack grins and raises an eyebrow. He drags his chair on the linoleum floor and puts it down next to me. He sits down so close that his knees graze my legs. I clamp my mouth closed, in case he really is going to shove food down my throat. But I'm not exactly scared. First of all, I'm hungry. Hungrier than Angelina Jolie. Second of all, Mack's chest is stretching the fabric of his t-shirt, making my hormones do the Take Me Mambo.
His hair is so thick and gorgeous. I'm sorely tempted to run my fingers through it, but I hold myself back. I hate that I'm so attracted to him. He's a gruff, contemptuous man. A confirmed bachelor, who I'm sure doesn't even like women. I mean, he's never been nice to me.
However, he smells nice. And even though his wardrobe is stuck in the Grunge period, he definitely takes care of himself, and his jeans fit perfectly in all the right places.
He scoots even closer. His cheek is almost touching mine. There's a zing of electricity between us, which feels fabulous, and if I'm not mistaken, is coming directly from him.
He touches my forearm, letting his fingers trail up and down in a sensual, seductive way.
"Angelina Jolie has nothing on you, Marion," he says, his voice low in his throat, deep and gravelly, like he's choking with desire.
At least, that's how I want to look at it. He probably just has phlegm.
Meanwhile, my tongue has swollen, and I think I might be having a coronary. "Okay. Pie à la mode. Two scoops of vanilla, and be quick about it," I hear myself say.
I'm immediately racked with guilt. I'm positive Angelina Jolie doesn't eat cherry pie and ice cream. But I have no choice. Since I don't drink or do drugs, pie is my only recourse against an overwhelming desire to jump Mack's bones.
"That's my girl." Mack pats my arm and hops up, dragging his chair back to the other side of the table and tucking it under. He trots to the counter to fetch me my pie. I catch myself staring at his ass as he walks, and I pinch myself. It's a psychological training technique I picked up when my mother tried to stop smoking. Every time I'm attracted to Mack, I hurt myself.
"I'm not your girl," I say to his back.
"Oh, yes, you are."