Visiting Faythander is a nasty business. Forget the fairies and unicorns, most people come back with lost memories and mental problems. Olive Kennedy knows. She's the therapist who treats patients suffering from Faythander's side effects. Despite her empty bank account, she takes pride in her job as Houston's only Fairy World medical doctor. She's never failed to cure a client--until now.
As if battling the forces of evil wasn't difficult enough...
I don’t believe in karma. Once, I gave twenty bucks to earthquake victims, thinking hey, maybe tomorrow my luck will change, maybe I can pay the utilities this month without sacrificing my grocery money. The next morning, my car broke down. Transmission. Nine hundred bucks. Don’t get me wrong, I still think we ought to help others, but not because we expect the universe to pay us back.
I do believe in magic. Not magyk. Not Magick. Not the stuff that Wiccans or warlocks practice. I believe in the old stuff—the real, honest-to-goodness, straight-from-fairy-world kind of magic. Am I crazy? Maybe, but not because I believe in magic.
I knocked on apartment 31C off Champion Forest Drive. Standing on the porch with my hands in my pockets and my breath coming out like puffs of cumulus clouds, I wished the guy inside wouldn’t have taken five minutes to open up. Houston was a damp place in November.
The door cracked open.
Elmore stood a little taller than me, with a paunch belly and pale skin. He was in his mid-twenties, but if he were young enough to attend high school, he would have been labeled a nerd. He ran his hands through his greasy, uncombed hair as he stared at me through thick-rimmed glasses. His T-shirt read 100% Pure Middle Earth.
“You the shrink?”
“Yes.” I’d stopped correcting people a long time ago. If they wanted to call me a shrink, let them. I’d been called worse. “My name is Olive Kennedy. Dr. Hill sent me.”
He looked at my purple Doc Martens, my dark, reddish hair cropped in a bob, and then stared at my slightly pointed ears. His brow creased. “He said you were a shrink, not a Ren fair geek.”
Ren fair geek? Look who’s talking.
Elmore took a step back. “I’m sorry you came all this way, but I’m feeling awful today. Maybe you ought to come back next week.” The door started to close, but I held it open.
“If you’re not feeling well, don’t you think I should see you now before you get worse?”
“I’m getting better.”
“You just said that you’re feeling awful.”
“Then may I please come inside?” I asked.
“I’m not sure you can help me.”
“We won’t know until I try, right?”
“Are you sure you won’t mess me up even more?”
“Elmore,” I said, “Dr. Hill trusts me. There’s a reason he sends me to all the patients he can’t cure. Because I can.”
Elmore gave me one last glare and then opened the door. I adjusted my backpack and stepped inside. It smelled of sour laundry, and it looked how I’d expected. An Advanced Dungeons and Dragons poster hung over the couch, collectible AT-ATs and homemade lightsaber hilts cluttered the end tables, and overstuffed shelves stood along the walls. I spotted a few Star Trek collections, Dr. Who DVDs, and the typical Robert Jordan books. His décor looked promising, although I wasn’t sure he qualified as my patient. If I didn’t find what I needed, I would prove to be a liar. Worse, I wouldn’t be able to help him.
“Mind if I have a seat?” I asked.
He nodded at the couch.
I placed my backpack on the floor and sat across from him.
“I hope Dr. Hill told you I’m a hopeless case,” Elmore said.
“He didn’t use those words exactly.”
He barked a cheerless laugh. “Did he tell you that I’ve suffered with depression since I was twelve? He’s prescribed every drug in the book. I’ve attended therapy sessions, I’ve been in and out of the mental hospital more times than I can count, and the panic attacks won’t go away. I really don’t know why you’re here.”
He clasped his hands, and that’s when I saw the scars. Elmore’s file said he’d attempted suicide twice. Raised keloids crisscrossed his wrists.
“My methods aren’t like the other doctors,” I said.
“I’ve heard that before. You’re all the same.”
“Are we?” I brushed back clumps of hair to draw attention to my freakish ears. This worked half the time. “I’m not much different from you.”
He shrugged. “Not bad. But my friend Whitmore’s prosthetics look better.”
Score zero for me. “I’m sure they are. Mine were incredibly cheap.” As in completely free—a donation from my elven daddy’s DNA.
Tamara Grantham was born and raised in Southeast Texas. She earned a Bachelor's degree in English from Lamar University. After marrying her husband David, she followed him through his training to become a burn surgeon, which consisted of moving from Vidor, Texas to Galveston, Texas, then to Tulsa, Oklahoma, back to Galveston, and they finally settled in Wichita, Kansas. Tamara and David have five active, sweet, and almost always well-mannered children, ages zero to ten years. Their two pets, June--the Jack Russell Terrier, and Chester--a black cat, help to keep the house lively (in addition to the children.)
When Tamara isn't writing or tending her children, she enjoys taking walks through the woods, eating chocolate, and very infrequently, she enjoys a good night's sleep.