Her skills weren’t cheap, but neither were the raw materials she worked with. And for the bigger, more difficult spells, like the one she was weaving into this piece, the customer was required to offer up something greater than just the funds necessary to pay for the item being created.
It had to be something meaningful, something dear, something that would require at least a little sacrifice to part with.
In this case, the man had sent his late wife’s wedding ring. It would be the last element of the design and would be transformed by Willa’s magic, irrevocably changed.
She freed the bezel from the mandrel and set it over the round garnet to test the size on the stone. Another perfect fit.
She picked up a file and started smoothing the top of the bezel. Her workshop window was cracked to let in the night air and the early May breeze felt nice. It was warm, but not unpleasant, and the sweet scent of honeysuckle wafted in, a sure sign that spring had sprung in Georgia.
Her apartment sat above her jewelry store, a nice arrangement that gave her a lovely thirty-second commute every morning. She’d come to Nocturne Falls on her way to Florida from Texas, headed to the Sunshine State with a job offer to work on a cruise ship in their onboard jewelry store, but the town of Nocturne Falls and its people, especially the vampire brothers who ran the town, had charmed her into staying.
And by charmed her into staying, she meant that the Ellingham brothers had made her a much better offer than the cruise ship. A store, an apartment and the promise that she could be herself. Pointed ears and all. Not bad for a woman who’d spent the bulk of her teenage years wandering from town to town, never quite sure she’d find a spot that felt right.
She’d been reluctant to take the deal at first. The cruise ship meant never being in one place for too long, which she liked. But then the Ellinghams had sweetened the offer. They’d promised to protect her if her past ever came calling. Other than running her shop and being a good citizen of Nocturne Falls, the only caveat was that she couldn’t sell the shop or the apartment. If she decided to leave, that was fine, but the shop and apartment remained the property of the Ellinghams.
Not a big deal. Not for someone used to traveling light. And often. Ultimately, it was too good an opportunity to pass up. She’d called the cruise line and given them the news that she’d found something better.
She probably would have gotten seasick anyway.
She smiled as she dropped the bezel into the pickling liquid. Life in Nocturne Falls was better than good. It was great. The money was fantastic, she’d made some friends, and being fae wasn’t something she had to hide. Plus, it was nice to be useful, especially to those who’d made her life here possible.
She’d just done an engagement ring for Hugh Ellingham. He’d sacrificed a very old, very valuable piece of family jewelry to make sure the ring would protect his bride-to-be as she went through the process of being turned into a vampire.
Willa had recently sold them matching wedding bands, so the ring had done its job. For her, that was the real payoff from the things she created, seeing the goal of her pieces achieved. Although if she was honest, in her heart of hearts she ached a little to see others in love when that emotion eluded her. She was thrilled for them of course, but it only intensified her own longing to have that kind of relationship.
But it would happen. Someday.
She shook herself and gave her muscles a quick stretch to wake them up before she started the job of epoxying the slice of moonstone to the flat of the garnet cabochon so that it could dry for twenty-four hours. After that, she took the bezel out of the pickling and called it a night.
The next evening, after an enjoyable day at the store helping customers and doing small repair jobs at the workshop in the store, she was back at the bench in her apartment. She preferred to do the big magical jobs here, in the privacy of her home.
She assembled the components of Mr. Burnside’s ring and began the process of setting the doublet. With the stone fitted into the bezel, she delicately crimped the edges to hold the stone in place. Jasper head butted her leg with greater force than usual in an attempt at getting her attention focused on him. The jolt threw her off-balance, and her tool slipped, slicing across her knuckle.
“Arn’ta rune,” she swore. It was one of the few fae words she remembered. Probably because it was a curse. Blood welled, trickling onto the platinum and over the garnet. She inspected her finger. The cut was deep, but nothing a Band-Aid couldn’t handle. She frowned at her cat, who was now chewing on his foot with the kind of intense interest usually reserved for catnip mice.
“Look what you made me do! Naughty beast.” She showed him her finger. “I’m bleeding.”
He sauntered off to the window, jumped up on the sill and settled in to eye her from a safe distance.
She sighed. “I’m not really mad. Promise. I know you didn’t mean it. I’ll even let you sleep on my pillow later.”
She jumped off the stool and went to wash up, bandaging her finger before returning to give Jasper a scratch on the head. Fae healed faster than humans, but not at the rapid rate of most supernaturals. Her finger would be sore for a few days, but it wasn’t going to keep her from her work. She sat at her bench, carefully cleaned up the drops of blood left behind, then finished setting the stone.
The pain of her throbbing knuckle added slightly to the time it took to get the ring done, but at last, it was completed and she was ready for the final step. The magic that brought her customers to her.