Choices

The Looking Glass 1

by Penny Brandon

Choices - Penny Brandon - The Looking Glass
Editions:Kindle - Second Edition: $ 2.99
ISBN: B07D8VDJ1W
Pages: 154

Marc was straight, always had been and always thought he would be, but when shown his true love in a magic mirror he was shocked to find out his true love was a man. Not only that, it was up to him to convince his true love they were meant to be together. All bad enough, but after finding Liam, the only way he's able to persuade Liam to go out with him is to offer him sex – even though that was something Marc was definitely not ready for.

Liam thought Marc was crazy. Marc was straight and he was talking about true love and making a life together, but Liam didn't believe in love and he certainly wasn't going to fall in love with a crazy straight guy regardless of how sexy he was. But he hadn't reckoned on Marc's pushy attitude or his offer of sex which, no matter how much he knew he should, Liam couldn't turn down.

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Excerpt:

Simon glanced up from his incessant paperwork as the light tinkle of the bell above the door announced the arrival of a customer. Glad of the respite, he pushed the bundle of inventory notes to the side. He stood and slipped out from behind the vintage walnut desk that functioned as his service counter, and approached the man.

“May I help you?” he asked, smiling.

The smile the customer attempted to give back was filled with confusion. “I’m not sure. I don’t actually know what I’m doing here; I was on my way for coffee…”

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The silence that followed the bemused confession was interlaced with the loud and continuous ticking of the antique grandfather clock situated at the far end of the shop. Sometimes soothing, sometimes irritating, never unnoticed, it ticked off a few seconds while the customer grew more confused, especially when he looked around and saw where he was.

Simon nodded slowly and brushed a dark strand of hair from his face. He was familiar with these types of customers; those searching for something though they had no idea what it was. He was going to have to show him.

He looked the guy over. Youngish, around mid-twenties, neatly dressed, suit and tie, smart haircut. Not his type, though cute if you went for the office look, but if the man was here for the reason Simon suspected, being his type would not have made the blindest difference in the world. The customer belonged to someone else.

Inwardly smiling this time, Simon inclined his head and took off his glasses, tucking them into his shirt pocket. “I think you may find what you’re looking for over there,” he said, indicating the back of the store.

“But I’m not looking for anything.” The tightly voiced remark only confirmed Simon’s thoughts.

“Then maybe something is looking for you.”

He motioned for the customer to follow as he headed toward the rear of the shop, noticing light brown eyes narrowing before the man reluctantly trailed after him, though he kept pausing and his eyes kept darting to and fro. He seemed more confused than ever, which was no less than Simon now expected. A lot of his clients were confused when they came here, but they all had a compulsion to find out what it was Simon offered to show them. That was what Simon was here for.

As they walked through the antique furniture and collectibles, the customer occasionally brushed his fingers against the larger, more opulent pieces. At one point he stopped and picked up an ornate frame, his fingertips caressing the heavily carved wood. Sensual, Simon noted, and smiled wistfully. Not my type, belongs to someone else, he reminded himself. Yeah, but it had been years.

The monotonous ticking got louder as they neared the far wall. The antiques here were older, bigger, heavier, and had been in the shop a long time—as had the piece Simon needed to show the man. At the further expression of bewilderment on the man’s face, Simon guessed he didn’t go for antiques; that his tastes ran toward a more contemporary look. That was okay. Simon wasn’t trying to sell him anything.

“Perhaps you’ll find something of interest in that corner,” he said, pointing. The man looked at him, his expressive eyes full of speculation. “Trust me,” Simon added, indicating the corner once again.

The man took a step toward the dark recess that housed the shop’s oldest piece. His steps were hesitant at first, but at a glint of reflected light, he moved closer.

The mirror stood six feet tall, its scratched and dented teak oval frame plain and simple while the glass surface was speckled and dusty. It did appear old, but not as in ancient, just neglected and unwanted. In reality, it didn’t even look like it should be in a shop like this. Maybe in some secondhand junk store with the bargain-basement pieces, but unlike the rest of the items in the shop, the mirror was priceless; its worth immeasurable.

“Do you see anything?” Simon asked, holding his breath slightly in anticipation.

The man glanced back at him, then stood in front of the mirror and gasped.

Some found the mirror on their own. Others, like this one, needed to be shown. All of them reacted the same way.

“What is it?” the man asked, his hand outstretched, his fingers a hairbreadth away from touching the surface. He wouldn’t touch it. No one did.

Simon smiled again. He always liked this part. It made all the years he’d been here tolerable.

“It’s your one true love.”

* * * *

“My what?” Marc glanced at the shopkeeper and then back at the mirror. The reflection was fascinating, simply because it wasn’t his own. It didn’t make sense, but then nothing from the first moment he’d walked into the shop made sense. He didn’t even know where he was or how he’d gotten here. He’d been heading toward his local coffee shop when he’d felt compelled to suddenly change course and enter a small nondescript alley. He’d never been down the alley before. In fact, he didn’t ever remember seeing it before, and once there he’d been even more compelled to push open the door of a little antique shop and step inside. Weird, but not as weird as looking at the mirror and not seeing his own image.

The man on the other side of the looking glass was tall, dark, and incredibly handsome. Okay, it was an old cliché, but Marc couldn’t think of any other way to describe him. He didn’t normally think of any way to describe a man. He didn’t particularly look at men at all, except in the friendly mate kind of way. But the reflection was different. It seemed to emphasize all that a man should be, all that this man was—graceful, elegant, and sexy. Shit, where did that come from?

“Your one true love,” the shopkeeper repeated.

“How?” And why and what the fuck! Marc didn’t voice the last of his thoughts, but the shopkeeper seemed to know what he was thinking.

“I don’t have any answers; I’m just here to show you.”

Marc tore his gaze from the image long enough to look at the man standing by his side. The shopkeeper was a little smaller than himself, his dark hair swept back off a high forehead. His eyes were a pale blue, and they stared at him with a quiet sincerity that was both disquieting and reassuring.

Marc pointed to the mirror, the image, still as confused as before. No, make that more confused. This wasn’t right, it couldn’t be. “But he’s a man.”

The shopkeeper cocked his head to the side. “Is that a problem for you?”

“Of course it’s a fucking problem.”

“Why?”

“I’m a man!”

“Ah. I see.”

“Do you?” ’Cause Marc didn’t. How the hell could a mirror show him his true love and how could he love a man?

“The mirror never lies.”

“Well it’s lying its ass off right now.” Marc glanced back at the image again. The man was smiling. He had an incredible smile. Marc bit his lip to stop himself responding. Since when did he ever notice a man’s smile? God. He curled his hands into fists to stop himself from reaching toward the mirror again. True love? Was any of this real?

“Is it magic?” he asked, needing some sort of explanation even though the shopkeeper had just told him he couldn’t give him one.

“It’s just a reflection of your heart’s desire.”

“I don’t desire a man.” Of that he was sure.

“But you desire true love, and he is the one who can give it to you.”

The shopkeeper sounded like he knew what he was talking about, but Marc had trouble accepting. Who wouldn’t?

“Do you know him?” The shopkeeper pointed at the mirror but didn’t look at it.

“No, I’ve never seen him before. Do you know him?”

“I can’t see him. Only you can. Only the one whose soul and heart belong to him can see.”

“I belong to him?” Oh, this was getting better and better.

“And he to you, but…”

“But what?” Did he want to hear more? Wasn’t he better off getting out of here before he started to believe?

“But he knows nothing of you. He will not recognize you as his love. You have to convince him of that.”

“I have to?” Marc shook his head. “You mean I have to convince a man I’ve never met that he and I are fated to be together?”

“Yes.”

“Even though I’m not attracted to men?” Marc really wanted to get that point across.

“Like I said, the mirror never lies.”

Taking a deep breath and trying to get his head around this whole bizarre mess, Marc tried one more time. “It’s never got this wrong?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

Marc tried not to keep staring at the image, but he found it really difficult to take his gaze off it. “Do you think he’s like me, or um…gay?”

“It would be a good bet he’s gay. It would certainly make it easier.”

“On who, him or me?”

“True love never runs smooth.” The shopkeeper smiled, which Marc noted but only in an offhand way. He certainly wouldn’t have said the smile was anything special. Not like the smile from the man in the mirror.

“Well mine’s off to a rocky start.” Marc glanced at the mirror again. The man’s eyes were a dark brown. They were beautiful. Jesus. “And where do I meet him?” he asked, a little stunned he was beginning to take this seriously.

“I’m afraid I don’t know, but my suggestion would be somewhere you don’t normally hang out, if you’re straight and he’s gay.”

“If I’m straight? That isn’t in question.” Or maybe it was. He sighed, no longer sure of anything. But how did someone go from being straight to gay, from liking women to liking men? No, not men, just one man. Just the one in the mirror. His man. Fuck.

“So I find this man, tell him he’s my true love and see how it goes from there?”

“You can tell him if you wish. Might not do you any good, though.”

Marc groaned. He took a long, lingering look at the man in the mirror and then faced the shopkeeper. The man seemed utterly relaxed and at ease, as if he had to do this type of thing every day. Perhaps he did.

“Who are you?” Marc asked, surprised he hadn’t actually asked what are you.

The shopkeeper smiled, emitting a sense of complete serenity and reliance. “My name is Simon. I am the mirror’s keeper,” he said, and then he turned and headed back to the front of the shop.

Marc followed, though he didn’t feel ready to face this new future that had been thrust upon him. He needed to think about this, work out what he was going to do, what he was supposed to do. He didn’t look at the mirror again. He didn’t need to; the image of the man with the dark eyes, the man he was apparently going to fall in love with, was imprinted indelibly on his mind.

“Thank you,” he said automatically as the shopkeeper—the mirror’s keeper—went to open the door.

“You’re welcome. And good luck.”

Luck? He was going to need a hell of a lot more than luck. He was going to need a plan.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Penny is a complete romantic who believes everyone can fall in love if only they’ll open their heart to the possibility, which is why she writes those hot, erotic stories that will always have a happily ever after. However, it doesn’t mean she’ll necessarily make it easy for her men to get there. A lover of things that go bump in the night, Penny’s imagination can sometimes run riot, so magic mirrors and evil dolls is only the beginning.


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