Don't Hex with Texas
“Okay,” he said, and I doubted it had even registered on his brain.
I got my purse and headed out. The pickup truck handed down to me from Dean when he got his new one sat in the gravel parking lot in front of the store. My New York friends would probably be equally fascinated and horrified to know I was driving something like this. It had definitely been a change from commuting to work on the subway. The feed store was on the edge of town, but in a town our size, it took less than a minute to get to the Dairy Queen on the edge of downtown.
The lunch rush, such as it was in Cobb, had only just started at the Dairy Queen, so I didn’t have to wait too long to get burgers for Nita and myself. Once I had the food, I headed over to the motel on the outskirts of the other side of town.
Once upon a time, the town had been on one of the main routes between Austin and Dallas, but the interstate had been built about fifty miles to the east, which meant nobody came to this town who didn’t absolutely have to. It wasn’t the most profitable place to run a motel, but the Patels had been doing a good job of it ever since they’d moved to town. I’d been in fourth grade, and the teacher had assigned me as a buddy to Nita to help her get used to life in a new country. We’d quickly become best friends, and now Nita was probably more Americanized than I was.
“Omigod, I just had the best idea,” she said as soon as I walked into the lobby. She opened the little gate that let me go behind the front desk as she kept talking. “I’m thinking we could put some potpourri in each of the guest rooms, have bagels and juice in the lobby, call it a bed-and-breakfast, and raise our rates by about twenty bucks a night.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said. “But who in their right mind would come to Cobb on purpose?”
She took a big bite of her burger, pausing to savor it. “That’s the genius of my idea. We hook up with the antiques stores in town, put together a brochure and a website, and advertise antiquing weekends.
We could also throw in a spa package. Do you think Kiki at the Kut ’n’ Kurl knows how to do facials?”
“More important—would anyone want a facial from a place called the Kut ’n’ Kurl?”
“Good point. I’ll give it some more thought.” I smiled, imagining it would probably get about as much thought as any of her previous wild schemes, which included theme-decorated rooms and taking the motel’s look back to its 1930s glory, complete with the metal lawn chairs she’d found on eBay. I recognized her impulse as the urge to do something bigger and better with her life than sit around in a small town and work for the family business. She wanted to stretch and grow, but she didn’t have an outlet for it. I knew the feeling. Not for the first time, I wondered if I’d made the right call leaving New York.
As I suspected, Nita was ready with a new plan before she finished her burger. “What do you say we take off and get out of here? We could get a place together in Dallas or Austin! I’m sure you and I could get jobs.” I looked at her expectantly. “Okay, so my dad might declare me no longer a member of the family, but I’m almost twenty-seven years old, so it’s not like he could bring me back forcefully, and I’m sure he’d get over it eventually, especially if I managed to find myself a nice Indian boy to marry, since it’s not like this town is crawling with them. I just know if I have to stay here one more second, I’m going to explode from boredom.”
“If you do, at least the explosion would give the rest of us something to talk about for a while.”
She threw a salt packet at me. “You know what I mean. What I don’t get is why you came back here.
You’d escaped. You were free! New York can’t have been so bad that you had to come back.”
Nita had been my friend forever, and I hated lying to her, but the existence of magic was a secret I wasn’t allowed to share. “Things got complicated,” was all I said.
“Then what do you think about going to Dallas, hmm?”
In the back of my mind, I hoped to move back to New York eventually. There wasn’t any particular reason why I had to live out my exile in Cobb, but it wouldn’t be fair to Nita to agree to move to Dallas with her, only to run back to New York at the first opportunity.
Fortunately, before I could come up with a way to say so without hurting her feelings, she was on to something else. Unfortunately, that something was me. “Now, really, what was it? Broken heart, love affair gone wrong? I know! You had a hot affair with your boss and had to leave your job when he dumped you for someone else, like Bridget Jones.” We’d had this conversation about once a week since I’d been back, and her theories were getting increasingly wilder. Her version of my life was starting to sound more exciting than the reality, even with all the magical warfare.