Handbook for Mortals: Book 2 of the series Excerpt

Chapter 2

When Aunt Aldyth incinerated the entirety of the wedding venue giving several guests third-degree burns, questions naturally arose. What was responsible for the sudden gathering of clouds and weirdly synchronized lightning? Who was the oddly dressed man holding hands with Charles’ wife and surprise daughter, and what were they chanting? What happened to the Plain White T’s? Did Carrot Top and  Wayne Newton plan on showing up in matching t-shirts with my face emblazoned on them, or was it a coincidence?

The investigation began right away. Some fans speculated that Carrot Top and Wayne Newton were both trying to woo me, and because the two were such good friends they naturally had similar strategies of how to go about it. Others argued that it was meant as a show of solidarity regarding my recent accident involving an illusion gone wrong. Some people thought that the shirts weren’t actually identical, saying that while one of the shirts did depict me, the other actually featured my mother’s face, and therefore no fashion faux pas had been committed.

I hadn’t had a chance to ask them about it yet, but I knew I probably should at some point.

Oh, and we solved the freaky magic weather thing by wiping the mortals’ memories and fixing the trees with magic.

The next day, I had to take my mother and Charles to the airport so they could leave for their honeymoon. They would be staying at some fancy resort in the South Pacific, on some tiny island no one has ever heard of. If it were up to me, I would have sent them on a vacation to the Moana-themed Disney resort in Hawaii because I just really love that movie. When Mac and I get married, maybe we’ll honeymoon there! But Mac hates Disney movies, and sun. And singing. And a lot of things, really. But before you think something like “Wow, this Mac person sure sounds like a sad sack,” or “this could be a sign of major incompatibility between you two,” I would like to point out that people can change. Especially when they’re in a relationship with a super powerful witch.

“Zade!” yelled my mother as a car honked its horn at me.

“What?” I said. In the rearview mirror, I could see a car screeching to a halt. It would have hit me if it had been going any faster.

“That light was red!” my mom said, shocked.

“I know. That driver could have killed us all.” I could still see the car in the rear-view mirror, and suddenly it burst into flames.

“No, Zade, you ran the light.”

Had I? It was true that I’d been a little distracted, but wouldn’t you be too if you’d just been told you were the Chosen One prophesied a millennium ago? And had a boyfriend who didn’t like a lot of the same stuff as you? But I would have noticed if the light was red. I’d never run a red light before, even when I wasn’t paying very close attention. .

“I don’t think I did,” I said.

“Zade, your mother is right,” said Charles, who was sitting in the back seat. He’d been quiet for most of the drive. “The light was red. Don’t look so sad, I’m not trying to malign your driving abilities—oh no” he said as I took a sharp left turn into the airport. “It’s just, well, we could have called a limousine service.”

Sometimes even I forget how out-of-touch Charles is with the average person that he can afford to just throw around money on a limousine, even when he has a daughter who’s happy to drive him. Besides, I wanted to drive him. Most people may take doing normal stuff like driving your parents to the airport for their honeymoon for granted, but, well, that’s just something I’ve never had the chance to do.

“But we’re a family now. Maybe if you hadn’t abandoned Mom, we would already have plenty of normal family experiences. But I have twenty-five years of lost time to make up for, and we’re starting now,” I said as I swerved the car up against the white curb, and then hit the breaks hard. Charles gave a little groan of agreement, and then we all sat there in silence for a moment. I could feel my parents’ happiness at being reunited, and at having a daughter who was so supportive and helpful. But then they both got out of the car. I did too.

“Bye, Mom,” I said, after we’d unloaded their luggage from the trunk. I hugged her for a few seconds, and she gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then I turned to Charles, and threw my arms around him.

This, right here, was what I’d always wanted. He held me delicately in his strong arms, and nothing had ever felt so natural. This was the “normal” I’d been looking for when I’d moved out to Vegas. Until now, I had been like a traveler lost in the desert, parched and dying of thirst. Charles was an oasis in the middle of the Mojave, and I drank up every drop of his love like a life-sustaining elixir.

“Not too tight, Zade. I’m feeling a bit queasy.”

I pressed my face into his shoulder. The light fleece sweater he wore was so soft that I almost couldn’t feel it at all, even as I rubbed my cheek against it. I inhaled deeply.  He smelled aftershave and a rich, woody cologne.

“Zade, we need to check our luggage and the line is getting long,” my mom said.

Charles reluctantly pushed me off on him so he could look directly into my eyes.

“I love you,” I told him. “I love you so, so much.”

“I know.” It wasn’t like Charles to make pop-culture references, and I didn’t even think he’d seen Star Wars. But, I realized, he must have watched them all after learning they were some of my favorites!

I was so touched that I went to pull him into another quick hug, but he’d already turned towards my mom and the two of them were already rushing into the check-in area.

“And I love you, mom,” I called to her. “Have a good flight!”

After they were gone, I got back into my car. and had the GPS map a course to Mac’s apartment. Our relationship had been official for a month now, even though we’d been casually dating for the past six. I should probably get him a monthiversery gift, now that I thought about it.

As I merged onto the freeway, I pulled out my cell phone and texted Sofia.

Hey girlie 😊 I know we haven’t talked since my welcome home party. How’s your role in Cirque Du Soliel going? If the benefits are better over there, maybe I’ll join up too! J/k 😝 Anyway, I was just texting to ask if you remembered what cologne Charles wears? And we should totally hang out sometime! Love ya! Byeeeeeeeee ❤ ❤

Is Jackson just a Glamoured Charles? Part One: Motive and Means

in Lani Sarem’s Handbook for Mortals, there’s something strange about Jackson: He’s the lead singer of a band that already has a lead singer. He doesn’t seem to be friends with the rest of the cast and crew—except for the mysterious Zeb. He is only ever seen in the same room with Charles once, and when Zade does a tarot reading on him, she gets the feeling that there’s something more about him they’re trying to tell her.

All of this can easily be explained if we assume that Jackson is actually Charles (or, on one occasion, Zeb) magically glamoured to look like Jackson Rathbone. It might sound crazy, but let’s take a look at the evidence.

This was originally going to be just one essay, but I think it’s too long for a single post. In this one, I talk about the reasons why Charles might want to dress up as Jackson to seduce Zade, and how he manages to do so.

Continue reading “Is Jackson just a Glamoured Charles? Part One: Motive and Means”

Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 15: The Tower (Part One)

Previously, on Handbook for Mortals: Charles took the cast and crew out to dinner to celebrate the final rehearsal for the show’s new project. Before the premiere, Zade goes to Charle’s office to affectionately-yet-platonically celebrate, but Mac sees them hugging and proclaiming their love for one another and assumes that they’re romantically involved. When he confronts Zade just before she goes on, he gets a little bit rough with her, and basically calls her a slutty whore bitch, before angrily foisting his duties onto someone who doesn’t know how to do them.

Before we start, I want to let you know that this chapter is excessively long (because Lani needed to have exactly enough chapters to fill the Major Arcana, and no more), so I’m splitting it up into two parts

OK, so even I know that The Tower is the tarot card that means that shit’s about to hit the fan (because of Harry Potter, obviously), and we are in luck because THIS IS BIG FINALE OF ACT TWO, Y’ALL!  Continue reading “Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 15: The Tower (Part One)”

Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 3: The Hierophant

When we last saw Zade, she was in Charles Spellman’s office, and he demanded that she tell him everything. I have to admit, that’s a pretty good cliffhanger. Does Charles know that she’s actually magic? If he does, why? If he doesn’t, how does Zade explain her act? Does he make a pass at her? Does he reveal that he is also a magician?  Let’s find out!

It took about a week for Human Resources to process my paperwork and get me set up as an employee.

Oh. That’s disappointing. I’m sure we’ll learn how their meeting went later, though, right?

Continue reading “Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 3: The Hierophant”