Damsel Under Stress (Enchanted, Inc. #3)


I instinctively reached for the seat belt, and Owen did the same. “Good idea, kids,” Rocky said, looking over his shoulder. “Rolls here has got a stone foot.” He nearly fell off the steering wheel from laughing so hard, and muffled laughter echoed up from under the dashboard. “Get it? It’s supposed to be lead, but since Rolls is made of stone, it’s a stone foot. Okay, Rolls, I’ve got her in reverse and nothing seems to be coming, so give her a nudge.”

The car backed out of the driveway. When Rocky had steered the car into the street, he shifted into drive and said, “We’re on the road. Give her some gas.”

If I’d had any second thoughts about maybe waiting for the next train and letting Owen handle the crisis, there wouldn’t have been much I could have done about it. Rollo really did have a stone foot. We all but flew down the neighborhood streets. If I’d tried to get out of the car, I’d have killed myself. I could only imagine what it would be like once we were on the open road.

“Brake!” Rocky yelled as we neared the intersection with the main road. The car screeched to a halt, fishtailing a little. After checking up and down the road, Rocky then called out, “Hit it,” as he spun the steering wheel by shifting his weight. I wasn’t sure the tires were actually in contact with road surface, we were going so fast.

“Aren’t you worried about getting stopped for speeding?” I asked.

The two gargoyles went into hysterics. “Who can stop an invisible car?” Rocky said between bursts of laughter.

“Hey, Rocky,” Rollo’s voice came up from under the dash, “maybe you should let one catch us someday. Wouldn’t it be funny to see how a cop would react to seein’ a car driven by two gargoyles? Wouldn’t it? Huh?”

“It’d be a scream.”

“I wouldn’t suggest it,” Owen said mildly, even as he white-knuckled the edges of the seat. “You know the rules about exposing yourselves to outsiders.”

“We wasn’t talkin’ ’bout exposing ourselves,” Rocky said, sputtering with laughter. “Just lettin’ ’em see we’re gargoyles.” He and Rollo found that highly amusing, providing their own laugh track once more. “Get it? Usually when you say you’re exposing yourself, you’re talking about the naughty bits.”

“And gargoyles don’t got naughty bits,” Rollo added. “Hey, Rocky, we got room to go faster?”

“Yeah, give ’er some gas. Pedal to the metal!” As the car shot forward, both gargoyles gave a hearty, “Woo hoo!”

Owen turned to me. “So, lunch?”

I wasn’t sure I could eat while we were breaking the sound barrier, but I needed something to distract myself from the speed at which the scenery blurred past. “Sure, why not?”

The hamper Gloria had packed turned out to contain individually packaged to-go type boxes full of Christmas dinner, still nice and warm. I was just about to dig in when I realized we were eating in front of our drivers. “I’m sorry, we should have offered you two something,” I said. “Would you like a snack?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Rocky said. “At these speeds, I’ve got to keep my eyes on the road. Besides, we don’t eat your kind of food. Unless you’ve got some pebbles in there?” He and Rollo found that highly amusing, as usual.

Rollo chimed in, “Or maybe some pecan sandies. Get it? Sand? Like we’re made of stone?” That was apparently even funnier. Gargoyle humor must be a matter of taste, I thought.

Guiltlessly, I dug into the meal. In spite of the high rate of speed and two-gargoyle driving job, the ride was fairly smooth. The way my necklace buzzed around my neck, I was beginning to get the feeling that Owen’s magic detector could turn out to be irritating.

“You won’t hurt my feelings if you take it off,” he said, and I only then realized that I’d been unconsciously touching it. “Remember, I told you it might be a problem around magical folk. Here, let me help you with that.”

I braced myself for the usual meltdown as his fingers brushed the back of my neck. He seemed utterly oblivious to his effect on me as he handed me the necklace. I put it in my pocket while he dug in the hamper for dessert, which turned out to be slices of chocolate Yule log cake with chocolate filling and icing. “I think I really like Gloria,” I said.

“I think she liked you, too. But I worry about how much she tries to do, keeping that big old house all by herself.”

“She’s not by herself. She’s got a brownie helping her.”