Damsel Under Stress (Enchanted, Inc. #3)


I glanced away for a moment, then when I looked back at her, I saw that her shoes looked even worse. The duct tape wrapping around them curled up around the edges, and the sole was coming off in places. I blinked to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. No, it was still the same way, and I was sure those shoes had been in better shape before I started thinking about them.

I could have written off a lot of stuff that had happened that day to chance. There were logical explanations for the train coming when I wanted it to, for Kim’s computer, the choking guy, the ceiling falling. But shoes didn’t change right before your eyes just because you thought they should. That is, it didn’t happen with me. I knew people who could do things like that, but I also knew I wasn’t one of them. At least, I shouldn’t have been.

If I wasn’t mistaken, I had somehow developed magical powers.


I forced myself to take a couple of deep breaths and calm down before I had a panic attack on the subway. I knew there were a lot of magical people in the city. It was entirely possible that one of them was on the train and shared my taste in footwear. Just in case, though, I focused on the shoes, trying to remember what they’d looked like before. I was fairly certain I felt the tingle of power in use, but much stronger than anything I’d ever felt from others doing magic near me. I blinked, and the shoes were right back the way they’d been before. Their owner didn’t seem to have noticed. She crossed her legs and kept her eyes on her book.

That sealed it for me. Even if I wasn’t really doing magic, this was suspicious enough to have checked out. I’d learned the hard way not too long ago that telling Owen when something odd and potentially dangerous was going on could save me a lot of trouble. I got off the subway at the next stop and walked back down Broadway toward the office. I barely noticed where I was or the fact that it was cold and windy as I hurried down the sidewalk. The pedestrian lights all turned to “walk” just as I reached them, but I couldn’t be sure that was because of magic. If you walked at the right pace and no one got in your way, you could hit the lights in synchronization like that. I was tempted to try something else to test my newfound powers, but I knew that doing magic where people might see it was forbidden, and I didn’t know the first thing about veiling the effects of magic from public view.

I had a lot to learn if this was for real. I wondered what had happened. Was this a weird side effect of Owen’s potion? Maybe it had backfired, not only making me susceptible to magic, but also able to do magic. Or it could have had something to do with whatever happened at the party. As much as I liked the idea of being able to get whatever I wanted with a wave of my hand, it was also a little frightening.

When I got to the MSI office building, I balked at the front door. It was like earlier in the morning when I’d felt compelled to go to the Spellworks store. My subconscious must have wanted to play around more with magic, but I overruled it and forced myself to open the door. I ran up the stairs and was breathing heavily by the time I got to Owen’s lab. He and Jake were in there working. “We need to talk,” I blurted as I burst through the doorway.

He looked up from the document he was reviewing with Jake, blinked, frowned, and then looked like he was having a root canal. “Can we have this discussion—”

“Now,” I interrupted. “Don’t worry, it’s not a relationship talk, but it is pretty damn crucial. Your office, ASAP.”

While he was still looking at me like I’d lost my mind—and maybe I had—I headed straight for his office. Only when I reached the doorway did I remember his wards. I could usually get into his private office because I was immune to magic, but what about now that I could do magic?

I was able to get through the door, but I thought my head would explode as I crossed the threshold. I couldn’t help but scream in pain, and that brought Owen running. He caught me as I swayed, still holding my head in agony, and helped me into the nearest chair. “Katie, what is it?” Now he sounded gentle and concerned but still a little distant.

“Something very, very weird is happening,” I said, choking back a sob. Before I could change my mind, I blurted, “I think I can do magic now.”

That got his attention. “What? How long has this been going on?”

“Today. I don’t know, maybe I’m imagining things. Maybe I’m going crazy, but it’s too much for coincidence. This morning, the slightest thought that it would be funny if Kim’s coffee turned over and spilled on her computer crossed my mind—and then it happened a few seconds later. I chalked that up to karma because she totally deserved it. Then some really strange stuff happened in the hallway on my way back here. I decided to go home because I had a headache that was getting worse, and on the train, there was this lady with really ugly shoes. I thought about changing them, and they changed, then changed back again when I wanted them back the way they were. So I got off the train at the next stop to come back here and see what was going on.”