Believe In Magic

Here’s my most recent 1k challenge, Believe In Magic. Unfortunately not a winner but it came in 2nd place.

Believe In Magic 1,000 Words

As soon as she walked into the room, she knew she’d made a mistake. But Ellie Whitley didn’t back down from challenges, and she didn’t plan to start now.

Captain Sebastian Navarro, dressed as usual in jungle fatigues, looked up from papers spread across his desk and frowned.

So what else was new? Ellie had yet to see anything but annoyance in those ebony eyes when he looked at her. She knew he was capable of other expressions because she’d caught him smiling with Father Joseph and the children at the orphanage. But never a smile for her. Not that she cared. Nope, not one teeny tiny little bit.

She cleared her throat. “May I have a moment of your time, Captain?”

“What is it, Miss Whitley? As you can plainly see, I’m busy.”

Ellie swallowed. Quit your cowering, child, her grandfather’s voice rang in her ears. “I won’t take long.”

He laced his arms across his chest and stared—no, make that scowled—at her.

“The boys are enjoying the soccer goals you put up. They play every day after school.” She smiled to herself, recalling their excitement. “They’ve divided themselves into teams. I wanted to surprise them with shirts and—”

“You want a donation.” He leaned forward, elbows on the desk.

“No, this is my treat. But Father Joseph insists it isn’t safe for me to go into town alone.”

“Smart man. Are you asking me to go with you?”

No…definitely not…I mean…I was hoping you could spare one of your men. Maybe Jorge Santiago? He’s nice and always helpful.” And, unlike you, he enjoys my company.

Ellie wouldn’t have thought it physically possible, but the grooves marring Navarro’s forehead deepened.

“Santiago and the others are too busy for frivolous errands.”

Her heart shrank in her suddenly-too-tight chest. “I understand. Thank you for your time, Captain.”

She whirled around, ashamed of the burning behind her eyes. How many times do I have to caution you, child, do not display your emotions in public.

“You didn’t let me finish.”

His gruff voice startled her and she swung around, colliding with his hard chest. She tried to jump back but he gripped her arms.

At six foot three, he loomed over her. She sucked in a deep breath.

He contemplated her, his dark eyes glinting with speculation. “You’re afraid of me.”

“That’s silly…no…I…no.” But the tremor in her voice betrayed her.

“You should be, if you know what’s good for you.”

She huffed out a mirthless laugh. “No one’s ever accused me of anything as sensible as that or I wouldn’t be muddling around in a jungle orphanage in a war torn country.”

He tightened his grip then abruptly let go, but didn’t step back. “You could always go back to your cushy life in Chicago.”

“Cushy? What makes you think my life was cushy?”

“Because you’re Eleanor Parker-Whitley, granddaughter of legendary billionaire financier Armstrong Parker.”

She shivered despite the midday heat. You’re weak, child, just like that daddy of yours. No! She wasn’t weak. And she wasn’t useless. Ellie lifted her chin “Then you’ll know my grandfather disowned me when I attempted to make my own way in the world.”

Navarro pierced her with his dark, intense gaze. “I’m sure he’d welcome you back if you asked.”

“Well, I’m not asking.” She crossed her arms. Her grandfather would love it if she came crawling back. He enjoyed crowing over her failures.

“How old were you when your parents died?”

Her head jerked back. Her parent’s death may have been front page news once, but that was seventeen years ago. “Seven. Why?”

He reached out and caught one of her unruly blond curls between his fingers. His expression full of regret, he let the strands fall from his hand. “He hurt you. Yet you still care deeply for him, crave his approval.”

She lowered her chin. Was she that transparent? “What makes you think…?”

He pressed a slender finger to her sleeve and drew a shape on the thin cotton. “It’s right there.”

A surge of sensual awareness raised the hairs on the back of her neck and she glanced down. “What? What’s there?”

He lifted her chin. “Your heart, Eleanor. You wear it on your sleeve.”

Her stomach sprouted wings and fluttered. She didn’t like her full name but his deep rough voice made it sound sultry instead of matronly.

“You shouldn’t look at me like that. That look makes me want things I can’t have.” He stroked his thumb across her jaw. “Do you know what I did last night?”

She shook her head, intrigued by his strange mood, mesmerized by the glint in his dark eyes.

“I looked at the night sky.” He shook his head slowly, a bewildered expression on his rugged face. “I saw that magic you’re always telling the boys about. That’s very dangerous.”

Ellie’s heart began to pound. What was he saying? “Why?”

“Because I’ve tried my best to resist you, mi corazón.”

“Why?”

“Men like me don’t deserve magic.”

“According to Father Joseph you’re an honorable man.”

“Stupid man.”

“You called him smart a few minutes ago.”

He traced a fingertip across her eyebrow. “I did, didn’t I? Honor aside, I’m too old for you.”

“Father Joseph says you’re only thirty-six.”

“Do you and the good Father discuss anything besides me?”

“Sometimes we discuss Sister Mary Agatha’s sudoku obsession.”

He laughed and Ellie’s breath caught in her throat. She uncrossed her arms. He stepped even closer.

Madre de Dios, do you have any idea what you do to me?”

Ellie glanced down. Her eyes widened. Oh my. “I do now.”

He muttered something in Spanish but didn’t move.

Disappointment punched her in the stomach. “Aren’t you going to kiss me?”

“If I kiss you, mi corazón, will it end up in Father Joseph’s confessional?”

Her eyes widened, her face split into a grin. “Didn’t you know? I’m protestant.”

He growled low in his throat just before his lips crashed into hers.

The End

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