Kalila pushed open the shop door and stood for a moment, getting her bearings. Everywhere she looked, human females huddled over shiny new shoes, gawking and fondling them as if each one were a prize. She sniffed in irritation and made a beeline past spike-heeled pumps, strappy sandals, and metallic gold flats.
“Can I help you?”
Kalila spun around. The clerk was young, weak-chinned, and clearly eager to please, which was exactly as he should be. “I need new boots,” she informed him. “I’m a musician, and I want something that will look good on stage.”
The clerk quit staring at her breasts long enough to glance at her feet, then led her to a wall display. “Something like this, maybe?”
Kalila raised her eyebrows. “You think I’m crazy? I’d break an ankle in those heels.”
“I hate wedges.”
He motioned to a low table cluttered with ankle boots in soft forest colors. “These have been popular this winter.”
“I’m not an elf, so why would I want boots like one?”
The clerk bit his lip and pondered a moment, then redoubled his efforts. He showed her fur and fleece cuffs, buckles, ties, and straps. Short boots, tall boots, black, brown, leather and suede, all were met with haughty djinn disdain. Kalila had finally consented to try on a pair of leather riding boots and was waiting while the clerk rummaged in the back room, when something caught her eye.
Four-inch heels, patent leather, platforms, cuffs and tassels…all the things she had spurned, but…she walked over to the boot as if in a trance. This was perfection. This was glory. This was—
“Uh, ma’am?” The clerk was by her side, waiting with a box.
Kalila shoved the fancy boot at him. “This is what I want. Three pair.” She fumbled in her purse for her credit card.
“Don’t you want to try them on first?”
“Just ring them up, will you?”
While the clerk fumbled in the storeroom, Kalila waited at the counter, nearly bursting with impatience. In her mind she could already see the photo shoots and videos with her feet in these wonderful, magical boots. She barely gave the clerk a chance to put them into shopping bags before she snatched them out of his hands and hurried out the door.
In the parking lot, Ricky was sitting in his Lexus, sending emails and text messages on his Blackberry. Kalila slid into the front seat and opened one of the boxes, ripping apart the tissue paper in her excitement. She held up a boot for his inspection. “What do you think?”
Ricky stared in unreadable silence. Finally he said, “I thought you were going to get something practical.”
Men! Kalila slid back the seat and squirmed as she took off her shoes and pulled on the glorious new boots. When she was shod to her satisfaction, she set her feet against the glove compartment, ignoring Ricky’s glare as her heels nicked the leather.
“There’s something you need to understand, Ricky Landon,” she said, as she rubbed an imaginary spot of dust off one of the toes. “Sometimes the last thing a djinn should have on her feet is a pair of sensible shoes.”