“You shouldn’t worry.”
Ricky watched Maura make sweeping gestures over a china cup. It crossed his mind to ask what she was doing, but he suspected he didn’t want to know. “That’s what Kalila always says.”
“It’s true.” She peered into the cup and beamed in satisfaction.
“Did they at least tell you where they were going?”
“No.” She placidly set the cup in front of him. “I helped them remove their makeup like I do after every show, and then they left.” She gave a little shrug. “Drink your tea. It’ll help you relax.”
Ricky peered into the cup of murky liquid. “Are you sure this is tea?”
“Positive. I’ve been working very hard on my spells.”
“I see.” The problem with Maura was that hanging around the band made her hanker to be more than an ordinary mortal. It wasn’t enough that she was a gifted cosmetic artist who could make Vic show up on camera and mute Nevin’s fairy sparkle – she wanted magical powers. Ricky pushed the cup of suspicious liquid aside. “I think I’ll wait for it to cool.”
He picked up his BlackBerry and scrolled through his messages, hoping to distract himself with the needs of his other clients, but none of his emails were urgent.
He picked up his cup of “tea” but the odd-looking greenish liquid still didn’t appeal, so he set the cup aside and returned to his BlackBerry. He checked the weather. He tried to read the news.
Maura was now in a corner of the room doing something that involved colored powders and chanting. Ricky tried to ignore her and had almost succeeded in immersing himself in a human interest story when a tang of smoke caught his attention.
Thinking it some errant spell of Maura’s he looked up, but found Kalila standing in front of him, still hazy around the edges. “Where have you been?”
“I’m back now, so why does it matter?”
“It matters because you didn’t tell me. You and the others walked right out like you didn’t owe anybody any sort of explanation, or—”
He could tell from the look of amusement in her eyes that she was only pretending to listen. She would do as she had always done; djinns didn’t obey humans except when it suited them. “Your equipment is loaded,” he said. “We can leave anytime.”
As they headed toward the door, Maura called after them. “Wait, Ricky. What about your tea?”
“Uh, I think it’s gotten cold. Thanks, though. It was a nice thought.”
He followed Kalila out the door, and after pausing a moment to consider, Maura darted after them.
Abandoned on the low table, the china tea cup darkened and cracked. Caustic liquid oozed out, burning a groove in the wood as it flowed across the surface. In thick acrid drops, Maura’s tea dribbled off the edge, and unseen by human eyes, began eating a hole in the concrete floor.