Gen 6 Epilogue

So much has happened these past seven years. I’m sitting here blown away as I’m typing up a new syllabus for the coming school year. I can hear my family downstairs so it’s hard to concentrate.

I can’t keep from grinning at all the memories I have, hidden like a box of treasures so valuable to me. My life has turned out better than I’d ever expected. After what had happened with Brandy and Ginny, I never thought I’d be happy again.

But I was so wrong.

My wife is so beautiful, funny, and has really been my partner and anchor through the years.

I’ll never forget her radiance as she walked toward me at our wedding. My dad loved her from the moment they’d met–an instant chemistry–and he was so thrilled when she’d asked him to walk her down the aisle as her “father”.

I was so nervous my knees actually shook.

But when our eyes met, all the jitters fled.

She gave me a little wave with her cheerful grin and I knew right then we were going to make a wonderful team.

I was so in love then but that love has grown exponentially.

When we kissed at the ceremony, it was like we were the only people in the world that mattered.

Even though I could hear my mother crying in the background. She loves Charlene, too, along with my younger brother and sister. Thankfully, my grandparents could come to Selvadorada for the ceremony (even my grandmother from Italy). We’d decided the jungles would be the perfect spot since our love for each other erupted when we were on the expedition.

When the ceremony was over, it was like we’d been on a very long journey with each other and I was so pumped it’d turned out this way.

But had it been that long? A part of me feels like I’m not remembering something…something very important to the both of us…but it’s like a very weird dream or a second life from another dimension.

Charlene’s graduation day finally came. She’d focused on ancient metallurgy with regard to mysticism as well as artefact analysis and material culture. She was so gifted.

I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Having her work alongside me in the field has been the best bonus and we bring our little bundle of joy along, too.

Speaking of her, I get such a kick watching my wife’s belly grow with our child–children, I should say.

Charlene always complains that she’s larger than a house at the end of the pregnancy, but I find her even more sexy.

She’s about to have our second child–a boy–in a few weeks and her back has been hurting quite a bit.

I’m always up for giving her a back rub because I love her body even though she doesn’t appreciate it. Why do women think they only look beautiful if they’re a size zero? I don’t find stick skinny women attractive in the least. I love my full figured wife.

And that brings to mind my beautiful, perfect, wild child who is Cheyenne. She’s only two years old but she’s already talking so much. She’s got the intelligence of her mother, thankfully.

And even though we think she might have ADHD because she’s all over the place, it’s easy to calm her down with a hug or a kiss.

I never knew how much I could love another person, but the feelings I get when I’m with her are indescribable.

I’d do anything for her.

Even when she’s sleeping, I love to watch her breath go in and out, marveling at the creation of her being.

And sometimes…I worry.

What if something bad happens to her?

But then Charlene comes along and talks sense into me. We can’t worry about things we have no control over.

She’s right, of course.

So, I take things day by day. Teaching her to play and sing.

To share in the love I have to give as her father.

And to enjoy every moment we have together as a family.

That wraps up this generation. I’ll be taking a much needed hiatus and will be back next year (hopefully by January).

In the meantime, I may post special short things with these characters, so stay tuned. If you follow me here and use the WP reader you won’t miss them.

Have a great holiday season!

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Chapter 6.55

Charlie

Oh my GOD! When I’d dreamed about heaven, it was all golden gates and pillowy clouds and angels lilting beautiful songs.

But I knew better now.

Heaven was having a secret dreamy professor boyfriend who was as brilliant in bed as he was on the teacher’s podium.

Heaven was knowing that if I screwed up in his class, I could make it up to him later. (And he wasn’t going to shoot me dead with his cold stares or horrific threats.)

My friend, Susan, turned to me and whispered, “Gosh, Charlie, Dr. Deathday is at it again! Can you believe he’s making us do our jungle research project in only one week? Doesn’t he realize we have other classes with projects due, too? I thought we were supposed to get two weeks! This just blows.”

Susan didn’t know that I was secretly banging our professor on the side. Heh, heh…if anyone knew, Dr. D could get in a lot of trouble, especially since he’s got my grade in his hand. Kinda a conflict of interest, if you know what I mean. And I had to make Myla swear on her new puppies’ lives that she wouldn’t spill. I was going to tell Susan once this semester was over. Dr. D was traveling to Al Simhara on a dig, and I wouldn’t have him as my teacher anymore so we were free from any trouble.

“Well, Susan, that’s why he’s got that name. If Dr. Deathday wasn’t an asshole, wouldn’t you be pretty freaked out?”

Suddenly, I felt a handsome pair of eyes shoot through me. “Miss Darby, what did you call me? Dr. Deathday and…an asshole?”

Oh shit.

He crossed his arms. “Meet me in my office after class.”

I didn’t know why I was this jittery with him. I mean, he was my boyfriend. But I didn’t want him to be mad at me. Once he closed the door, I explained, “Hey, babe, listen, I was just trying to put up the act that you’re my professor slash not my boyfriend so you wouldn’t get in trouble. I really didn’t mean to call you all those awful names even though, not gonna lie, one week to do that project is sorta horrible and a little bit on the garbage side but if that’s the way you roll then who am I to sa…”

He brought my face close to his and whispered, “How am I going to punish you?”

Oh baby…he could punish me in a thousand different ways until sundown, I wouldn’t squeal. And making out in his office had to be a bucket list phenomenon I hadn’t even thought of.

Soooooo hot!

Liam

It was the end of the semester and finally, Charlene and I could come out of hiding about our relationship. We were planning to visit my folks for the holidays. First Brindleton Bay to see my mother and her family then onto Del Sol Valley to meet with my father. I thought Charlene was going to explode when she found out my father was THE James Sanderson. Since I’d taken my mother’s maiden name to escape paparazzi, she never even realized there was a connection.

As soon as the first week in our appropriate bodies, I leased that apartment for Charlene and set it up as she’d had before. It suited her so well. I couldn’t fathom her living in that slum, plus, we could come here and be alone, away from my brother and Reed who didn’t seem to want to find his own apartment. After all that had happened (even though he didn’t know about it) I wasn’t going to kick him out.

As we lay together on the couch (after watching the newest Henry Puffer series on Simflix), I was overcome by emotion at how our lives intertwined so perfectly. I loved her in every way from her silly antics to her beautiful body to her brilliant mind. And I was ready to make things permanent between us. Why wait?

Charlie

I loved snuggling with my majorly hot boyfriend. How did I get so lucky? Oh yeah…cuz I was the genius who decided to ask a genie for a miracle. Funny how life worked out like that.

Liam said he believed we would have found each other without all the mumbo jumbo but I liked how it happened. Pretty unique if you ask me, and I couldn’t wait to tell our children about it. Oh wait. I was TOTALLY getting ahead of myself here. We’d only been official for about a month now. And I was going to meet his parents soon. What if they didn’t like me?

Threading my fingers in his, I asked, “So what do you want to do now? I heard there was a cool new movie your dad was in that’s streaming. It’s called Smerclock Clones, the Detective. It got great reviews. I still can’t believe your dad is like a superstar.”

But he didn’t make a snide comment back at me (because I knew he hated watching his dad’s movies and I was teasing him.) He just held me closer and swallowed.

Pulling away, he grasped my hands in his. I wasn’t sure about the nervous look he was giving me. Was he going to break up? Oh my GOD no!

“Sweetheart, I…need to ask you something.”

My mind was racing on what he could possibly ask me that would make his hands as clammy as a frog’s butt when he bent down on one knee!

And he reached into his pocket…

He slid a beautiful diamond ring on my finger and I stared at it like an idiot in a daze.

“Will you marry me?” he whispered.

Without pause, I breathed, “Yes, yes, oh yes, I’ll marry you!”

Liam

She said yes! I absolutely wasn’t sure if she would since we hadn’t dated for very long but…it felt right.

She tumbled on top of me and said, “Oh my GOD, babe, I’m so freaking happy, I can’t stand it. Are you as happy as I am?”

I stroked her cheek and said, “Happier. I love you, baby. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”

She jumped to her back and snuggled into me, holding up the ring to get a better look at it. I held her hand and said, “I wasn’t sure if this is what you’d like so we can take it back if you want and get something else.”

“Are you kidding me? You take this back and I’ll have to kill you. No, babe. It’s perfect! Oh…I love you so much! I can’t believe this is my life! How did we get so lucky?”

I laughed. How indeed?

*****

On our way to Brindleton Bay, we decided to take one more look at Glimmerbrook and see the Magical Realm for the last time. We hoped we could have a little vacation at a quaint bed and breakfast then do some shopping in the magic realm. There were some broomsticks and a magic wand that had caught Charlene’s eye last time but we were so devastated at what we thought was our cursed existence that we didn’t feel like buying anything.

But what was strange was the Magic Shoppe wasn’t in the spot where we thought it was. “Charlene, are you sure this is the place? There’s not a store anywhere like that here.”

She pointed and said, “Hmm…at least there’s a tavern. Why don’t we get a drink and we can ask the bartender about it. I’m sure we’re just turned around since it’s snowing and all.”

As we sat at the warm bar, the events of the last time we were here made me laugh. “Do you remember how plowed you got after a few of those magical drinks?” I asked her, musing at what at the time was annoying but now I found charming. “It’s funny now, but I was so exasperated that I didn’t even care.”

“Yeah, and not gonna lie, babe, I tried to get you to dance but you’re so terrible at it. I think that’s when I fell in love with you. It was so sweet to see there was something you weren’t good at!”

I snorted. “Are you kidding? I’m terrible at a lot of things. It’s you who are good at everything, Miss Full Ride Scholarship.”

I waved down the bartender and said, “Could you give us two of your specials of the house?” It worked out the last time. Those drinks were the best I’d ever tasted.

I saw the guy swirl in several different kinds of alcohol and shake.

Then he poured the drinks and added some fruit on the side. “Looks delicious, doesn’t it, sweetheart?” I asked.

“Let me be the first to try,” Charlene said as she pulled on her drink.

I did the same. It was better than I’d hoped. A mixture of mango and strawberry with a splash of something that tingled down my spine.

Wow!

Those drinks must have had a ton of alcohol in them because next thing I knew, I was facing Charlene confused as to why we were in that bar in the first place.

“Babe…uh…what are we doing here again?” my fiancé asked.

It was on the tip of my tongue. We were on our way to meet my parents and we stopped here because…? “Hmm…” I said, “Were we going to do some Christmas shopping?”

Her eyes clouded. “I don’t think so. I already sent your families’ gifts ahead like you’d asked. Maybe we wanted to sightsee? Where the hell are we anyway?”

It was crazy but I didn’t have a clue. Not one to be out of control like this, I said, “Listen, honey, why don’t we catch a suber to Granite Falls. I hear they have a wonderful chalet there. We can eat dinner then sit by the fire. Does that sound good to you?”

The Great Simllama

Humph…

Don’t give me that look, Insignificant One. I know what you’re thinking. That Liam Day and Charlene Darby deserve to have their memories of the experience that brought them together. Do not fear. In their subconscious, all that bonded them is still there. They have an attachment that is quite rare, I can assure you.

But don’t you see how I cannot allow my existence to be known? Glimmerbrook would be filled with despicable rubberneckers and inundated like a banal Simsneyland.

Heh, heh…Your mind is really so very transparent, I can hear all of your questions quite clearly. You want to know if what they’d experienced was real. Is Ginny a mermaid? Is there a Magic Realm and am I a talented Spellcaster or an all-powerful genie?

That, Little Flea, is for me to know and for you to debate for the rest of your pitiful existence.

Muahahahahahahaaaaa!

That’s it for this magical generation! Thank you for riding along with me and all the craziness. Next gen, we’ll get back to normalcy and…DRAMA! But since I really hate to be behind week after week (honestly, I barely had time to get this out), I’m taking off for a while. Next Wednesday will be the epilogue to this gen that will kick off next gen then the first chapter of Generation Seven will start at the first of next year. Hello, 2020!

See you next Wednesday!

Chapter 6.54

Warning: sexual situations (at the end)

Charlie

My body ached all over like I’d just gotten plowed by an eighteen wheeler and left on the side of the road for dead.

“What the hell did that blue hoodini dude put in those drinks last night?” I rubbed my throbbing forehead, hoping the knives that were being drilled into it would stop.

When I forced my eyes open, I blinked. Ugh. The side effects hadn’t worn off or I was still dreaming. Note to self: NEVER drink shots at a magical bar poured by a guy who looked like he belonged in a lamp.

Okay so the last thing I remembered was that drunken kiss I laid on Dr. D. And not gonna lie, it was pretty trippy to kiss myself but I was out of it, literally, so it didn’t matter. Right?

Then my surroundings slapped me as my hungover mind caught up with them. “Why does this place look so familiar?” I wondered.

That door and that desk and the rotting substance in that coffee cup looked almost like my old digs. But that couldn’t happen. I remembered MOVING out of there over a month ago. God, hallucinations were sooooo overrated. I didn’t drop a hit of acid last night, so what gave?

Coffee. That’s what I needed. And whereever I was in Glimmerbrook, I was sure somebody would sell some or I’d beg whomever we ran across to poof a mug for me.

Stretching, my back cracked loudly.

Geeze, my neck was so stiff. I hadn’t felt like this since…

Holy shit.

This WAS my old place. I remembered spilling the contents of a What-a-simburger meal during one of my study sessions and was too lazy to clean it up.

And there on the desk was my makeup…

And Ancient Metals textbook…

And…

Like in a creepy movie, I turned slowly toward the Henry Puffer mirror I’d gotten on sale for an insanely cheap price.

And when I saw the face that I’d been staring at with Dr. D’s soul in it for all this time, I wanted to shout to the rooftops.

I screamed, “OH MY GOD!”

Liam

Birds chirped loudly, berating my already pounding skull.

How much did I drink last night? I thought but couldn’t move. The bed was so comfortable, I sank into the mattress.

Maybe if I curled up on my side, the pain in my temples would subside. But it didn’t.

And then I remembered the events of last night.

“Shit,” I hissed, shooting up, making the room spin.

Thinking that maybe Charlene would be laying next to me, I whipped my head around to find it empty. Conflicting feelings of disappointment and relief startled me. On the one hand, I wanted Charlene, more than anything but…not in my body. That kiss was as close as I’d ever get. We’d both had a bit too much to drink and it’d just happened. But it was too weird for me. Shutting my eyes made it tolerable but I couldn’t keep that up.

I wondered where she was. Thinking about her traipsing around Glimmerbrook or even that magical realm made me nervous. “God…I’ve got to find her,” I groaned, trying to rub out the throbbing, hangover headache.

When I looked up, I realized I was in my bedroom–not in Glimmerbrook. And when I padded over to the mirror, I couldn’t believe who was standing there.

ME!

Charlie

So the genie actually did a 180 on us and gave us back our bodies. Like wtf???

Thinking that I’d actually flown back into MY body meant that Dr. D was probably back in his. AND my hair had suddenly grown to its original state (as well as my body put back on the thirty plus pounds Dr. D had worked off. Like really, genie? You couldn’t let me have one positive souvenir from our body switching, hellacious episode?)

So, I knew I wanted to see him. Like sooooo badly. I straightened my hair and put on my best makeup (honestly, I missed getting girlie-fied so much, it was beyond satisfying to get ready this morning.) Then I hustled my ass over to his house.

Before I could knock on his door, he opened it.

The butterflies that were already in my stomach did their own flip flops. “Hi,” I said in a dreamy voice.

He looked at me as if I was still that stupid student, coming over to his house to bug him. OMG! Did he like get amnesia or something in the switcheroonie?

“What can I do for you, Miss Darby?”

My stomach knotted so much, boy scouts would have been jealous. “I…uh…w-wanted to…um…ask you a question?” What was I going to say? Like, so Dr. D, we were on the expedition and we found a genie and he’d cursed us, switching our souls, and we lived in each others bodies for weeks and so, through it all, we fell in love (or lust, not sure), then we switched back but you have no clue about it because the stupid ass genie decided to get rid of your memories. Geeze. Just my luck.

Staring at me with his familiar cold gaze, he said, “What did you want to ask?”

I sighed and shook my head. “Oh…just forget it.”

I was about to turn around when he swept me up in his arms and kissed me!

“Is that what you wanted to talk about?” he breathed, hovering over my face. Oh GOD! He was soooo sexy, I could hardly stand it!

Then he lifted me up like I was made out of marshmallows or something, still kissing me. I soooo wanted to get all naked and touch…uh…stuff with him because, not gonna lie, I kind of dreamed about it while I was in his body. It was weird to think like that when I was him but oh baby, it’s not like that anymore! This was gonna be delicious.

Then suddenly, Zack appeared out of nowhere, crashing our moment right when I figured Dr. D was gonna carry me to his bed. DANG! Blocked by his little bro.

“Whoa,” Zack said. “Looks like things heated up in the jungle between you two. Hope you got a little work done, at least.”

And oh my LORD, Dr. D couldn’t keep his hands off me. All he did was nod and blow in my ear, which made things even more unbearable. “Yeah…we kind of…found each other?” I said, not sure “when” we were…like did we just get back from the jungles like when we woke up in our bedrooms the first time? But at that moment, Dr. D was driving me batshit crazy, and I was either going to jump on him right then (sorry Zack, you’re gonna get an eyeful) or we were going to have to hustle out.

Liam

Dammit. My brother was in the kitchen all this time. And he seemed surprised to see Charlene and me together. I could only surmise we had teleported into our bodies at exactly the same time we’d arrived in them earlier when we’d first made the switch. That would make sense. And that would mean nothing had changed since we’d gone to the jungle. No weirdness with Todd or animosity with Reed. No seeing Ginny (as a mermaid? Maybe that wasn’t real?) or finding a whole assortment of gurus, spellcasters, and strange phenomena.

But one thing that was real whether all the rest was just a huge hallucination was my feelings for the woman in my arms. “Uh…Zack, I think I need to talk to my girlfriend alone, if you don’t mind.”

His eyebrows raised. “Your girlfriend? Say no more, big bro. Me and Reed will go out for breakfast. You’ll have the place to yourselves. And by the way, Myla is going to be so happy about this news.”

We wasted no time. In a rush to the bedroom, our clothes flew off and we made passionate love–an experience I’d never forget.

When we’d finished and held each other, I gazed into her eyes, so happy for the blessing the genie had given me. And it wasn’t until that moment I’d actually realized it. From when I first met her and how she’d infuriated me to living in her shoes on a miraculous journey, I understood her more than anyone in my whole entire life. We were meant for each other. Complete opposites that fit together like puzzle pieces.

“I love you, Charlene,” I whispered, with my heart squeezing, not able to really share my indescribable feelings for her. Those words felt underwhelming. We were bonded in a way no one else could share.

“I love you, too, Liam.”

We cuddled for the rest of the morning. I marveled at how happy I was–that I’d found a precious treasure–something I’d been searching for and thought I’d never discover.

Chapter 6.53

Liam

Once we entered the sanctuary, the foreboding feelings only worsened.

It didn’t help that we were accosted by what looked like Frankensim’s mistress, hanging on the wall.

And once we found the spellcaster, my blood boiled. “I can’t believe it.”

“What, Dr. D?” Charlene asked.

“It’s HIM!” I yelled, pointing. “The genie!”

I marched over to him and ordered, “Take this curse off of us now.”

The man glided to his feet and surveyed us up and down. “Are you speaking to…me?”

“Yes, are you kidding? Take this curse off us now, fucking asshole, or I’ll wipe that smirk off your face.”

The genie arched his eyebrow and said, “Oh yes…you’re the impudent rats from Selvadorada. I see you have not changed. Pity.”

Charlene piped up, “No, we haven’t changed. We’ve been like this for weeks. You tricked us. You said you’d give us a blessing but you didn’t. You lied.”

He waved his fingers. “No, my dear, I never lie…I did indeed give you a blessing. But is it my fault you have not accepted this gift yet? I told you it would be up to you.”

I glared. “Stop talking in riddles. Tell us how to change back.”

“If you want us to do something, please, show us the way!” Charlene pleaded.

“I’ve told you all you need to know. It is out of my hands. Once a blessing is set in motion, it cannot be taken back.” He made a grand gesture. “After all…you asked for it.”

With a wave of his hand, a ball of fire ignited. “And now…it is time…

“for you to leave my sanctuary and never return.”

Before I could move, a shot jolted through me painfully.

And next thing I knew, I was standing in front of Elsebeth where she’d first said goodbye to us only moments earlier.

“Uh oh…don’t tell me he saw through the disguise,” Elsebeth said.

Charlene hung her head. “He…uh…was the one who’d cursed us.”

“Oh dear. No wonder no one could help you. If the great Simllama put the curse on you, there’s nothing you can do. I’m sorry.”

Then she added, “But look on the bright side. There’s a full moon tonight. That means free drinks at the Glowing Spindle. Tell the bartender Elsebeth sent you. Okay?”

She gave us detailed directions on how to get to the pub then said goodbye. Although the people here were a little strange, that was, at least, hospitable. Charlene looked like she was about to cry. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“How can you even ask that, Dr. D? We’re stuck and it’s all my fault. You’re going to be me for the rest of your life and I’m…”

I didn’t want to hear it. I cut her off, “Come on, Charlene. Free drinks are free drinks. We might as well get something good out of this bizarre place.”

Elsebeth sent us to a portal that took us right to the bar. Oasis Springs needed one of these. It would definitely cut down on pollution and the stripping of the ozone layer.

As Charlene ordered our flaming fizzes, our situation hit me full force. My mind sifted through all the details of what we were up against. Charlene didn’t have family so that would be easy. We wouldn’t have to explain things to her side. But what about mine? My mother would see right through Charlene’s behavior and know she wasn’t me. And what of my job? Every thought of what lie ahead made my stomach tighten in knots.

“Earth to Dr. D…now I’m gonna ask you what’s wrong. There’s a full drink in front of you and you haven’t guzzled it. What’s wrong with this picture?”

“I’m…not in the mood to guzzle.”

“Hey…you said yourself you wanted to forget about today and tomorrow and just live it up tonight. I think that’s a great idea.”

She lifted her drink and said, “Bottoms up!”

Sighing, I dutifully “guzzled” my drink, welcoming the warmth sloshing down my throat. It tingled, no doubt due to some sort of magical properties. Nothing would ever surprise me after this journey.

Charlene wouldn’t let us stop at one flaming fizz, so we had to down four. And that was fine by me. The alcohol effects were a welcome relief to the reality of our situations. I decided not to worry and go with it.

“It” happened to be dancing in laser lights with an almost inebriated Charlene.

I’ll never forget that one night when I found her dancing her heart out at that dive bar. She was so pretty and full of life. So different from me in her body.

And now, here she was in front of me in my body. She hadn’t changed. She was still that pretty girl, full of life and fun to be with. And if she wasn’t making me rage with anger, she put laughter in my heart so much that I found I didn’t take things so seriously all the time. Something I desperately needed to do.

She pulled on my hand and shouted over the loud music, “Come on, Dr. D! Dance!”

And I did. I danced for a solid hour, laughing my ass off and sweating like I’d run a marathon.

All of the dancing made us hot and thirsty. I asked the bartender to give us their best beer and he handed me two bottles of Golden Glitches with a wink. I shrugged and led Charlene out to a picnic table on the pub’s grounds.

As we settled onto the cold stone bench, Charlene sighed. “Who would have thought my life goal to become an archaeologist would force me to become something else.”

I cocked my head. “What do you mean?”

“Think about it, Dr. D…I can’t be a PhD certified braniac archaeologist with only a bachelor’s degree. And I can’t get another degree when you already have one. I’m stuck. And I’ll have to resign from your position. I’m sorry but living a lie just sucks. Maybe I’ll become a gay fashion model. At least you have the body for it.”

I stared, not believing what I was hearing. “Charlene, you’re not going to become anything but whatever you want to be. I’ll help you. Remember, I haven’t left your side. We’ll work on this together until you get that PhD. I’ll tutor you. There are graduate programs you can take online.”

I stuck my finger at her. “Remember. I’m still your professor. You’re not getting off that easy.”

She laughed. “Okay, Dr. D, if you say so. I’ll try my best not to screw it up this time. Here’s to a better future as each other.”

And we clinked our bottles.

The beer descended fast and tasted refreshing.

Amazingly, Charlene gulped hers down at record speed.

When she’d finished, she said, “Dr. D, can you get us a few more? These things disappear super fast.”

She didn’t drink more than half a bottle when she passed out. Her snores reverberated through the air and I shook my head.

What was I going to do with her?

She looked so innocent and beautiful sleeping there on the picnic table.

And damn it, I’d put her through rigorous workout sessions and she’d bulked up.

Which hurt my back as I had to get us to Glimmerbrook for the night.

Finally, I couldn’t carry her anymore and I slipped her on a couch at a park. She seemed to sleep easily there.

But I was anything but easy. I’d secured rooms at the Glimmerbrook Lodge and it was almost 3:00 in the morning. “Charlene, wake up! We need to go.”

She threw her hand over her eyes and said, “Wha? Huh? Just a few more minutes, Dr. D. You don’t have to be a hardass 24-7.”

She was so exasperating. I’d had enough. She was an adult. She could find her way back. “Fine. Stay here for all I care.”

She raised up and rubbed her eyes. ‘Okay okay! I’m up. God, you’re such a pain.”

I wanted to leave her there. I almost did, but something told me to stop. I didn’t know what it was…just a thought or a knowledge.

What if I’d hurt her feelings? I didn’t mean to. She just frustrated me all the time. I was being an asshole. Didn’t she call me that about a thousand times before this happened to us? I didn’t want to be an asshole.

I went back and wrapped my arm around her to make sure she was okay. “Listen, I’ll help you just…we have to make it to Glimmerbrook in 30 minutes.”

Charlene held my gaze for a beat too long. “Dr. D, I…”

And then before I knew it, she pulled me over the couch and kissed me.

But I didn’t fight it. I succumbed to the softness of her lips. The smell of her skin.

The beautiful person she was.

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Chapter 6.52

Charlie

That shaman dude wasn’t kidding when he said Glimmerbrook would be hard to get to. But thankfully, we found a bus in Granite Falls that stopped there. Trouble was, it was a three mile hike from said bus stop. But it was no problemo for ME to walk, but I had to practically drag Dr. D along. With all the working out, you’d think my body would perform better, but no. And let me tell you, he chewed me out endlessly for it, too. Woo.

Finally, we found the “magic shoppe” the guru said would be nestled amongst tall evergreen trees. It reminded me of this renaissance festival I once attended where everyone spoke in middle ages dialect and bowed and curtseyed all the time.

“Looks a little…” I started, trying to come up with the right word.

“Cheesy?” Dr. D finished for me.

“No…I was thinking more like cliche, but okay.” I mean, no one likes to be a Debbie Downer, but this joint had tourist trap written all over it. I hoped we weren’t being played by a guy who made it sound like our feet were the windows to the soul. (Like if this wasn’t happening to me, I’d think we were the most gullible people on the planet!)

“Come on, Charlene. Maybe the woman will surprise us.”

Poor Dr. D’s voice didn’t sound convincing. But I couldn’t blame his pessimism. I kind of was there with him in the “end of my rope” state of mind. But we had to uncover all possibilities, right?

When I entered, I was accosted by a waft of earthy spices that suspiciously smelled like a mix of weed and body odor.

“Welcome, my friends, I’ve been waiting for you.” A woman, who no joke, looked like Shama Kazi’s soulmate, sauntered up to us. “My name is Dahlia and it will most please me to help you journey to your soul home. Shama Kazi informed me of your struggles.”

I was kind of tired and wasn’t too sure about things. “So, hi, uh…Dahlia…yeah, like we’ve been through literal hell and back so I don’t want this to be a waste of our time. The last guy gave us crappy, yucktastic juice, and it grew hair that only Medusa would be proud of. Promise me we won’t have to drink anything.”

“Charlene,” Dr. D whispered, “You’re being rude.”

“If you would trust me,” the guru lady said. “It is but an easy thing to do.”

I cut her off. “I’m just trying to save us a lot of trouble, Dr. D, because I’m not drinking another gag-o-matic potion.” I kind of got the idea that she would make us drink stuff because there were tons of weird looking elixirs lining the shelves in this place.

Dr. D glared. “Then why the hell did we come all the way out here? We’re going to unearth every avenue we can. I want to get back to my body even if you don’t.”

“And so you shall!” the woman said with a crazy gleam in her eye, startling me. Sparkles shot out of her hands as she whipped them around like an out of kilter ferris wheel.

She uttered some strange words as glinting magic hurled toward us.

But nothing happened.

“Uh…like was that supposed to switch us? Cuz if it was, it totally failed.”

She scratched her head. “Your souls are but very strong. Tightly wound. It is beyond my capability. I am very sorry.”

Now Dr. D got on board with my thoughts. “You mean to tell us you can’t make the switch. I thought you said earlier it would be easy.”

“Yes, it should have been but…there’s something blocking my way. No matter. There still is hope. Follow me!” She briskly opened the door and ran along a trail. Dr. D and I had to hustle to keep up with her.

I was about to suggest turning back from following the crazy lady when I saw it!

The Spiritual Transformation Archway!

“It couldn’t be,” I breathed.

Dr. D smiled. “It is. Now I’ll get the genie to change us back even if I have to ring his neck to do it.”

Unlike before when I plowed through the archway, Dr. D did it before we could even discuss it! I gathered all my strength and followed right after him. Talk about irony!

As soon as my stomach stopped whooshing like I was going to plummet to my death (I hated that part), I arrived in this weird area that I could have only dreamed about (when I was drunk, btw.)

And there was this one guy who jettisoned into the air on a magic broom!

Like WHAT???

We both gaped at each other in amazement.

Then all at once, we laughed. “So, I get the feeling we’re not in Glimmerbrook anymore, Dr. D.”

“You said, it Charlene. I bet these people will have the power to help us.”

A somber lady with blue hair greeted us. “Welcome, travelers. If you please, follow me.”

Like no hi or hello, just “follow me”? Were we crazy?

YES!

Without one question on our lips, we both traipsed after her like she was the Pied Piper to yet another archway.

And popped out to what looked like a fancy garden in Alice in Funderland crossed with Wizard of Soz. I gazed up into the darkening pink sky, worrying flying monkeys were going to grab us at any moment.

Once she stopped, I asked, “Okay, lady, I don’t want to sound mean and all but seriously, we need to get this show on the road. Will you change us back into our original bodies?”

“I believe I can if you are willing. Clear your mind of all things and let your spirits glide.”

Then she did that same whippy thing the other lady did with all the sparks flying around and strange words flinging out of her mouth.

But this time, a weird moon glow hit Dr. D and his eyes went all wiggle waggle like he’d just got off the dizzy ride at Simsneyland.

But I felt zip. “What was that? Like a warm up spell or something?” I asked.

“Yeah…spell…warm…” Dr. D mumbled.

The lady put her hand on her chin. I didn’t like that look. We’d been getting that way too much. “Strange. That should have worked.”

Dr. D seemed to get out of his funk. “So you mean we’re stuck and you can’t help us?”

His words made my stomach grip in panic.

She smiled. “No…I believe you can be helped, just not by me.”

“Oh, God, Dr. D, they’re killing me here. Why should we even keep on with this? No one can help us. It’s all just a waste of time.”

“So, you want to give up, Charlene? After all we’ve gone through to get here? If you do, I’ll understand.”

“Dear friends, I promise I will help you. The mighty spellcaster of all the realm will be able to perform the task. I will speak to him on your behalf. There’s just one little problem…”

Liam

I was fed up and so was Charlene. We’d been led on one long laborious goose chase after another with these strange people in a strange land that honestly looked like something out of our childhood fairytales. The two women we’d met on this journey–Dahlia and Elsebeth–seemed weirdly eager to help us. I thought it was out of friendship to Shama Kazi, but why would he want to see us back in our own bodies? What did he gain except simple charity?

As we went from one place to the next, warning bells were going off inside me. And this latest, with Elsebeth having us dress and act like spellcasters ourselves, the foreboding feelings only intensified.

“You look like a proper spellcaster, Dr. Day,” Elsebeth said with a beaming smile.

“Thank you,” I answered, although I didn’t know why I’d be grateful. We were going to go under the guise of being two novice spellcasters whose magic went awry. According to Elsebeth, the man was almost all-powerful, but very prejudiced against people who didn’t possess magic. She called us wuggles (which suspiciously was the term used in K. J. Sowlings writings of Henry Puffer!) If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was just an elaborate dream brought on by that crazy potion Shama Kazi made us drink.

I went over to Charlene to make sure she still wanted to do this insane stunt. “We can back out at any time. I’m a little worried that something bad might happen to us.”

She gazed into my eyes and said, “I’m sure, Dr. D.” There was something in her look that made tingles ripple inside. What was strange was over time, I no longer saw myself when I looked at her. I saw who she was as a person. Someone who was definitely out of control, crazy sometimes, but also a person who I could count on to support me and make me feel comfortable.

My cheeks warmed and I said, “Then let’s do this, spellcaster.”

Elsebeth interrupted us, “So, your appointment is all set. He’s through the main archway, up the hill, inside a large sanctuary.” She lifted her arms and said, “Good luck and godspeed!”

Crickets chirped a trilly tune as we walked along a brick trail up the hill. I couldn’t help but feel almost euphoric. I truly believed this would work. Finally, after all this time, we’d be free from the curse. I couldn’t wait.

“Holy shit, Dr. D!” Charlene said in her most eloquent way as we stopped in front of the sanctuary.

I breathed out. “Holy shit is right.”

Charlene grabbed my hand and said, “This is it. No turning back now.”

I squeezed. “No turning back.”

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Chapter 6.51

Liam

I didn’t want to be there. I allowed Charlene to talk me into coming to Ginny and her husband’s home to hear her explanation. But I knew in my heart that no explanation would make up for her callousness in allowing me to believe she was dead all these years.

The night breeze whipped around us as I surveyed her house. It looked strange, to say the least. Like glowing sea coral. That house had to have cost a fortune as it was on prime real estate right on the ocean in a private cove miles upon miles away from civilization. Cell phones didn’t even work out here. Earlier, I believed that maybe Ginny was poor and that was why she couldn’t take a flight to see me, but this confirmed the obvious.

Her dogs looked strange, too. They played underneath the moonlight. I’d never seen dogs with coats like these. Maybe they were painted?

I sighed, not wanting to take another step. What was I doing here? I was a stranger. An outsider. Insignificant and totally forgotten by Ginny. Did I really want to see her happy and in love with someone else? It’d be like a shark attack emotionally. “I can’t,” I declared. “Let’s go back.”

“Dr. D…I know this sucks, but…don’t you want to at least hear her out?”

When I didn’t budge, she grasped my hand and said, “Come on. I’ll be with you. I told her you were my girlfriend anyway. I won’t leave your side, okay?” She pulled on my hand, urging me along.

Bracing myself and trying to keep my emotions in check, I clung to Charlene for support as we entered what looked like the ocean itself. What the hell?

Charlene introduced me to Ginny and her husband, Koa, as “Liam’s girlfriend”. Did I see a touch of sadness in Ginny’s eyes when she looked at me, “the girlfriend”?

Charlene broke the awkward silence, “So…like…sorry to cut to the chase, but my girlfriend here is a little uncomfortable. We just want to know what happened then we’ll go cuz we got a lot to do. We’re professors, after all, and like…our vacation is almost over. Gotta get back to school and teach and identify ancient amazing artifacts, you know, be an archaeologist? Something you used to want to do.”

If I wasn’t so upset, I would have laughed at Charlene’s little dig. She was a really cool girl, and I was so grateful to have her by my side in this situation.

Without pause, Ginny shared a story so miraculous, it was hardly believable. But then…I was residing in Charlene’s body. Anything was possible.

Six years ago, Ginny and her parents went scuba diving along the volcanic rock to see the lava flow underwater. A strong current split them apart and pushed them away from land. Ginny tried desperately to find her parents but was so lost herself, she decided to swim toward land for safety. Unfortunately, the current swept her further from shore as her oxygen tank depleted. Struggling to keep afloat, Ginny drifted down, where she thought she was going to drown but Koa was there to save her. She’d lost her memory during this ordeal until two years ago.

She stopped her story there as if that was a good enough explanation. Thankfully, Charlene interjected on my behalf, “Ginny, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t give me a reason for you to ghost me all these years. My God. We have cell phones. Internet is a thing, you know.”

Waving her arms, she said, “I couldn’t contact you, Liam, because…”

“Because I turned her into a mermaid for her survival,” her husband finished for her. “And I would appreciate you not talking about this to anyone. If word got out, mermaids would be collected for their tails. Thankfully, we are but myths to most of the world and we’d like to keep it that way.”

This knocked the breath out of me. Her dad told me about mermaids, but…them having the ability to turn a human into one?

Charlene countered, “You couldn’t get a word to me? A letter? Call me on a cell phone? Something? Geeze Louise, sister, these excuses suck.”

“I did, Liam. I saw a girl you were dating two years ago. We chatted and she told me she was going to the University of Archaeology and dating a professor there. It was you! And once she said your name, all my memories came rushing back. I wrote a long letter to you, explaining everything and for you to visit me. She promised she’d give it to you. When you never contacted me, I figured you were angry and never wanted to see me again. Koa and I got married six months later. I can’t be away from the ocean, Liam, I’m sorry, or I would have hopped on an airplane to see you. Honest.”

Charlene looked down at the floor. I was just as blown away, not knowing what to think. I knew she was talking about the student who had given me the note but that girl must have crafted another about Ginny instead of giving me the real one. Funny thing, the girl’s letter wasn’t too far off from the truth.

Koa turned to Ginny. “Darling, why don’t you let them meet little Leolani.”

“O-Okay…” Ginny answered.

Leolani? Was that one of their dogs I saw in the front yard?

Ginny left for a bit then came back with a cute toddler who looked like a mix of her and Koa. She stared at Charlene in my body and said, “This is our son.” She paused then added, “Liam, I’m really sorry that fate changed us, but as you can see, it’s all for the best.”

I stared at the little boy that should have been OUR son, not Koa’s. During the time I was with Ginny, I always dreamed of having a son or daughter with her beautiful fiery hair. And now…

I couldn’t take it any longer.

Charlie

Oh my GOD! Listening to Ginny’s bizarre story was like we were trapped in a live action rendition of the Little Mermaid only Prince Eric got ditched for the evil King Mer-dude in a strange AU bad sequel. And to put salt in poor Dr. D’s wounds, she popped out her mer-spawn and flaunted him in his face. Unbe-FREAKIN-believable.

Dr. D’s face paled then he slowly got up and walked out.

“Eheheheh…” I said, trying to squelch all the weird vibes swirling around. “Sorry, my girlfriend’s a little upset. She…uh…thinks I’ll be crushed by your perfect life that should have been mine but isn’t. I can assure you, she’ll get OVER it…heh heh…”

As I got up, Ginny collapsed into me and clamped down. Gad! Mermaids must have super strength abilities, too! I could hardly catch my breath!

“Liam,” she whispered, “I wish you and Charlie the best of everything in the world. I really do.”

“Thanks,” I said, feeling so weird to have this moment with her. It was like I stole it from Dr. D. But he couldn’t have handled it anyway.

I found Dr. D sobbing on the beach a little ways from the mer-mansion. It was so strange to see him cry. When I first met him, that was probably the last thing he’d ever do. I guessed he was breaking down his walls. I was glad about that.

When I sat down next to him, he sniffed then said, “I think she didn’t want to contact me even when she regained her memory. You heard her at the end. She was glad she got away from me.”

And right there he started bawling. I felt so sorry for him and wanted to take all that pain away. But I was helpless. Ginny was a big, awful mermaid cow who honestly had probably changed on the inside. She wasn’t human anymore and she certainly didn’t care about Dr. D. It was all so sad.

Gingerly, I stroked Dr. D’s hair (well, my hair, but the way things were going, it didn’t feel like mine any longer.) “You’re better off, Dr. D. I know it sucks hairy balls right now, but in a few months, I’m sure you’ll meet someone and…”

“No!” he cried, drawing himself into a ball. “I’m done with relationships. The two I’ve had screwed me over. I don’t need that shit.” His shoulders shook as he silently wept.

Instantly, I pulled him toward me. We just stayed there for a while as I rocked him, letting him grieve the loss of what could have been.

*****

We all woke up early to catch the next flight out, when we were confronted by an excited Shama Kazi. “Folks, I think I have the answer to your problem!”

Oh shit. I mean, seriously, I didn’t want to deal with this guy. He was like being on a bad stoner trip only without the fun giggling sessions and munchies. “Honestly, dude, we’re really tired and have a plane to catch.”

Dr. D stopped me and said, “Now wait, Charlene, maybe we should listen to him.”

“Look, I noticed in your feet outlines that you have what is called, ‘spiritual transformativation’.”

Dr. D said in an exasperated voice, “Transformativation? Like in the Archway of Spiritual Transformation? That’s how we happened upon the genie who did this to us.”

“I’m not sure about an archway, but I made a call to a woman I’d met on Magicher–a dating app for us spiritists. Anywho, long story short, I was telling her about your case. She thinks she has a spell that will get you flipped into your correct bodies! Only she lives in a secluded area which will take around a three day backpack hike over a mountain, but it is possible.”

My eyes widened. Would we finally get back to our bodies and be freed from the curse?

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Chapter 6.50

Liam

It was like I was in a haze or a dream. There. On the dance floor was a girl that looked just like Ginny Malcolm!

As I got closer I saw her orange hair, her petite face, her little mole above her lips. Without thinking, I wrapped my arms around her and whispered, “Thank God, you’re alive!”

Instantly, she pushed me away. “Hey, what’s your deal? Get off me!”

For a split second, I’d forgotten all about the curse and my idiotic problems. To Ginny, I was a woman. Charlene Darby. A stranger.

My shoulders sunk as I stammered, “S-Sorry, I thought you were someone I knew. Forgive me.”

She lurched her head back. “That’s okay. I have that kind of face. Don’t worry about it.”

Next, I heard a gasp and Charlene exclaiming, “Oh my GOD! Is that Ginny Malcolm?”

In a flash, Ginny’s face beamed as she flung her arms around Charlie. I’d never wanted my body back more in this entire nightmare. At least I wasn’t dreaming. That WAS Ginny Malcolm. She was alive and living here in Sulani. But how? And why hadn’t she contacted me in all of these years?

“Liam!” Ginny breathed. “I can’t believe it’s you! How are you?”

Charlie was at a loss for words. She just shrugged.

Then Ginny said, “Hey, I want to introduce you to Kaleo. He’s my…”

“Husband,” said a gruff voice coming from a guy who looked like he belonged in an action hero movie.

The word, “husband” took a moment to register and then it stung like a poison dart.

“No…no…” I whispered, “that can’t be true…” My stomach tightened so much I felt like I was going to puke. I had to get out of there.

Charlie

What the hell kind of psycho drama was this? If it’d happened in the movies, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we were in Sulani and I was staring at none other than Ginny Malcolm, love of Dr. Day’s life. WTF????

Oh she SOOOOO had some explaining to do.

“I…um…am shocked to see you but…glad.” I stuck out my hand to shake with Ginny’s husband’s. I noticed Dr. D’s face went pale and he’d fled the scene. Can’t say I blame him.

“Liam…you don’t know how many times I thought about you over the past two years. How are you?” Ginny beamed at me with a touch of sadness in her face.

I glared. It was time to get my bitch on. If Dr. Day couldn’t defend himself, I’d do it for him. This soooo wasn’t cool. “Two years? It’s been six. I thought you were dead, Ginny. Why the hell didn’t you contact me all of these years? Do you know what I went through? We were going to be married. You were my fiancé. Didn’t you think I had the right to know where you were?”

“I’m…sorry, Liam…it’s a long story. I didn’t regain my memories until two years ago and then by that time you’d moved on.”

I cocked my head. “Moved on? Why did you think that?”

“Ginny…why don’t we invite Liam over to our house so you can talk more? I don’t mind.”

I wanted Dr. Day to be there. I wasn’t sure what was going on with him right now but I knew he needed closure. “Can I bring my girlfriend, too? She’s worrying about me right now. I saw her leave in tears earlier.”

Ginny nodded. “Of course. I’d love to meet your girl.” Then she grinned at me and said, “I’m so glad you found someone special, Liam. I truly am.”

I searched everywhere outside the nightclub and then followed sand prints to a tiny lava springs.

God, Reed was even hugging Dr. Day. He must have known something was up. Like I wouldn’t have been upset by seeing Ginny. Only Dr. Day would care that much.

I walked up to them. “Hey…um…can I talk to Dr. Day…alone, please?”

The guys nodded. Reed blinked at me sort of giving me telepathy that he now understood the situation. Like yeah…this was the real Dr. D in MY body. It was like I knew our romance was over right then but I honestly didn’t care.

I stared at his stricken face and said, “God, Liam, I’m so sorry.”

Liam

Just hearing Charlene call me by my first name at this moment sent me into tears. I had been so emotional lately even before I’d seen Ginny. I’d heard that’s what happened to women during that time of the month–my emotions were definitely all over the place. And to make matters worse, seeing Ginny and her husband was like I was reliving her disappearance all over again only this time it hurt even worse. There was a finality to it. The death of our relationship for good.

“Is there anything I can do?” Charlene asked when I couldn’t respond. “God, I just want to slap her face and kick her ass.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks as Charlene wrapped her arms around me. And then I gave in, body shaking, crying on her shoulder.

Suddenly, rage shot up through the pain. “Why, dammit? WHY? Did she hate me so much that she had to make up a lie to get away from our life together? I don’t understand!”

Charlene shook her head. “Honestly, I don’t think that was it at all. She said she’d lost her memory until two years ago.”

“Then why didn’t she call me two years ago?” I was panicking and losing my shit. I hated being out of control. Hated the familiar terror seeping into my body as the reality of the situation gutted me. Just like what happened with Brandy. Just like when she first disappeared.

Holding me even tighter, Charlene breathed, “It’s going to be okay, Liam. I promise.”

At that moment, I really wanted to believe her, but I just couldn’t.

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Chapter 6.49

Charlie

Something was off between Dr. D and Reed. I caught Reed glaring at him during the flight but he was extra special nice to me. When I asked Dr. Day about it, he said not to worry. We just needed to focus on doing what the guru said. Not gonna lie, I was kind of over the moon about it. I was picturing getting my body back and starting on a program of the new and improved me. Being Dr. Day taught me that working out and eating veggies was kind of fun. I wasn’t going vegan but I definitely liked broccoli and tofu. Who would have guessed?

Reed took us to a pretty uninhabited part of the island near the volcano. “This is the home of Shama Kazi known spiritist of my island. Let me talk to him first for you or he’ll put his dogs on you.”

The shack gave me the shivers. It was like out of a Halloween movie tropical style. This was where we were going to find our answers? I kind of had my doubts.

“Todd,” Dr. D said, “are you sure about this?”

But Todd only grunted.

When Reed got back, he said, “Shama Kazi welcomes you with open arms except he’ll need payment.”

“Money, of course,” Dr. Day said. “Don’t worry, Charlene, I’ll pay. Anything to get my body back.”

“No…he desires your feet.”

I totally freaked out at that but Reed assured me he only wanted pictures. I bristled. What kind of creep needed photos of random strangers’ feet? But if that was all, I didn’t care what awful things he did with them. I wanted my body back.

He wasn’t anything like I’d pictured either. The guy was actually kind of cute and young. Weren’t shamans supposed to be 99 years old and wise with all the experience of the ages? I gave him a look. “How old are you?”

“Charlene, who cares?” Dr. Day said. “Let’s just see what he has to say.”

Anger flickered in his eyes. “If you don’t like what you see, you can leave. I don’t have time for difficult people who come in here begging for my help then spit in my face.”

Geeze, what got in this guy’s rattan basket? I backpedaled. “Sorry, Mr. Kazi, I meant no disrespect.”

Dr. Day cut in, “Look, we’re hoping you can help us with our souls getting back to our bodies. Do you have something for us to do or say or a spell you can enchant us with?”

He answered with a smile. “Ah yes, I believe I have the antidote you’re looking for. It should work instantly, too.” He glanced at me. “I see you’re very uncomfortable in this body and you’re ravenous to get out. I will help.”

He gave Dr. Day a potion. I was a little worried about it but heck. What did we have to lose?

Dr. Day threw it back like a mug of beer he was guzzling.

I did the same. Warm tingles zipped through my body. It was working!

But then Dr. Day’s hair turned blue and slithered out of his head like a bunch of slimy snakes. “Ahhh!” I screamed. “Dr. Day! What’s happening to your hair?”

“Very interesting,” the shaman said. “It would seem I was wrong. Souls are like roots of trees. They intertwine with the body they inhabit. It looks as though both of you are clinging to the bodies you possess.”

“What do you mean?” Dr. Day yelled. “Will we look like this forever? Can we ever get back?”

“The hair is only a sign of what’s inside. It will last another fifteen minutes. Do not fear about this. But as for your souls…you must give up what you know of yourselves and move on. Only then will you receive what you wish.”

“Give up what we know? Like who we were in our old bodies?”

“That is what I believe. But I’m not sure. I will do some research for you and will contact you later if I find out anything. Now…I believe I am due payment? Take off your shoes, please.”

Dr. Day rubbed his head. “God, okay fine, we’ll take off our shoes. Just give me a minute to process this.”

My mouth dropped at this news. “Omg…Dr. Day, am I stuck in your body forever?”

The dude must have taken a thousand pictures of our feet. What a weirdo!

Liam

The news hit me hard. It was like a heavy weight blanketed me. I was destined to be Charlene Darby for the rest of my life. What were my parents going to say? Or think? Would they not believe me just like Reed, thinking I was trying to take away my inheritance with a ruse?

In order to cheer us up, Reed suggested we go to a local bar called the Forbidden Mermaid. I got the feeling he was celebrating his victory over me. To him, this proved I was lying after all, and now, “Liam” was his. Charlene was all too happy to fall right back in his arms.

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But how could I blame her? At least she was able to move on with whatever life she could make in my body. I needed to do the same. Just thinking about having to go through three more years of college to get my pHD all over again gave me a sinking feeling. My life literally sucked. Cursed forever.

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“I can hear the music from here, Charlie. This is going to be fun!” Reed said.

Charlene turned her head. “Come on, Dr. D! Drinks on me!”

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I rolled my eyes. Drinks on her meant drinks on my bank account. That was another subject we were going to have to hash out. How to split my funds.

As we entered, the music base reverberated through me. I had to admit, the bar was breathtakingly beautiful with gorgeous paintings and stained glass of mermaids on the walls and lasers flashing everywhere.

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The patrons were all surrounding a girl who was dancing in the middle of the glass floor.

And then when I got a good look at her, all of the blood rushed out of my head.

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“Ginny?”

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Chapter 6.48

Charlie

Todd and I rushed over to my new apartment. There I found a very angry Dr. D.

“What the hell is this, Charlene? I specifically told you to come alone!”

I stepped back a little. He was TOTALLY scary when he got mad.

“T-Todd just came for moral support, Dr. D. I mean…who knew what I’d find and…”

Dr. Day shoved me out of the way and pushed Todd.

“Out! Now! And don’t come back until I say so.”

Todd gave me a sheepish look and stumbled out the door.

“My God, Dr. D, what the hell is going on?” I asked.

“Follow me,” he said as if he’d just attended a funeral.

“Oh no…it couldn’t be…”

“It is.” Dr. Day headed toward the bathroom door and everything added up. Honestly, I had blissfully totally forgotten about it because YES I was a guy right now.

When I entered, I had to stifle a laugh. Dr. Day must have bought out the whole drugstore. I’d never seen so many different kinds of pads, tampons, and even period cups!

He buckled over as if a cramp shot through him.

“Are you okay, Dr. D? I mean the first two days are the worst but you’ll get through it.”

“I think one is permanently stuck. It won’t come out. I…um…need your help.”

I cocked my head. “You just use the little stringie thingie. Did you try that?”

He nodded and said, “It fell off and then I panicked and called you. It hurts now. I think I’m suffering from toxic shock syndrome!”

I rubbed his back. “No…you’re fine. I’ll help you out. If that happens, you just have to dig…” But then I stopped myself. Did I really WANT Dr. D digging around there? Like HELL NO!

So, I performed the unsticking procedure. He grimaced and moaned the whole time. You’d think I was doing surgery on him. Men were such babies. God! We had to suffer the monthly curse almost our whole lives. He suffered once and you’d think the world was coming to an end.

*****

Liam

I fucking wanted my body back. NOW. Why the hell did that dickwad genie do this to me? What sadistic pleasures did he get by turning a man into a woman? Now I understood what women went through every single month. It wasn’t fair. Pain throbbed in my back and stomach and even down my legs. All I wanted to do was lay around. And what was worse, I wanted to lash out at everyone and everything.

After I retired for a bit, Charlene came in and checked on me. She was being so sweet and understanding. But I wasn’t appreciating her intrusions for some reason. In fact, her being so nice irritated me.

“Dr. D, please get out of bed. I made you something that will help take the tension off.”

I finally did as she’d asked, but I wasn’t happy about it. “The only thing that will take the edge off would be if you stuck a knife in my pelvis and did a mercy killing.” Standing only worsened the pain.

She glared. “Dr. D, stop acting like a ginormous baby and eat these cookies. I promise, it’ll make you feel better.”

Against my better judgement, I ate one. And then I ate three. For some reason, I had a voracious appetite.

Feeling a bit better, I sat on the couch with her.

“See? I told you the cookies would help.”

My eyes turned to slits. “Nothing will help until I get my body back.”

“Okay, yeah, so like about that…Todd says he found a shaman guru guy who might be able to help us out. Like he may be able to perform some sort of voodoo type thing. Only problem is…we have to go to Sulani.”

“Sulani?”

“Yeah…that’s where the dude is. I figure why not? We haven’t been doing such a great job at breaking the curse on our own.”

“Hmm…” I said. “I’m not sure we should trust a ‘guru type guy’. What if he makes matters worse?”

“Look, Dr. D…what’s worse than you suffering my periods? I mean, like, I can handle them. I’ve had them for the past ten years, but men just don’t have the mental capacity like women do. So what do we got to lose?”

She had me there. I used to think men were tougher in emotions and strength, but now? I’d been living in my own dream world. Women were way stronger than men if they had to suffer silently like this every month. I couldn’t even imagine giving birth to a child. I looked at Charlene with a greater appreciation. “I wonder that you would want to go back to this body at all. You’re a braver person than I am.”

“Honestly, Dr. D, being a guy isn’t all that fun. You have to hide your dick constantly when it decides to have a mind of its own. Seriously, that gets old.”

That made me laugh. “Yes, I guess you’re right about that.”

She gave me a playful look. “Now that we’ve decided we hate living in each other’s bodies, how about we do something we both like?”

I was intrigued. “Like what?”

She then suggested we have a Henry Puffer marathon. I hadn’t watched those movies since I was a kid. We made a bet that Lady Ravendancer Goth appeared in the second movie, but I knew she showed up in the first.

“What the hell?” Charlene shouted at the tv. “She’s in that mirror for one split second. That’s not fair, Dr. Day!”

I wiggled my eyebrows. “And now you have to do my laundry for one week.”

She pouted. “I hate laundry.”

******

After the third movie, we talked about Reed. I thought it’d be a good idea to tell him about what was going on. According to Charlene, the guy was basically in love with me, and I didn’t want him pining away needlessly.

So, the following day, we met up with him at my house. He glared at me. “You expect me to believe that nonsense? It’s just your feeble attempt to separate us.”

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I then relayed the time that only I knew about when Reed accidentally sent me a dick pic. I’d never even told my brother about it.

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He seemed to believe us then.

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I cautioned him not to explain the situation to my brother. There was no sense in getting any of my family involved. Not yet, at least. I’d decided this was our last chance. If the Sulani guru couldn’t help us then no one could. I’d then tell my whole family and try to get on with life as a woman.

Reed assured us that he could help find the shaman and he suggested he’d like to come along on the trip. I must admit, having him navigate the cliffs near the volcano relaxed me. He was a native, after all, and I didn’t want to be the lead in the search. Especially with Ginny’s memory looming over me like a specter. I’d taken a vow never to go back to Sulani again, but I was desperate.

Nervous jitters swept through me as we arrived at the Oasis Springs Airport.

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Todd came along as well for moral support. (And because it was his idea.)

After we’d checked our bags and went through security, Todd said, “I’m going to get some snacks. I’ll be right back.”

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Just then, Reed came up to Charlene.

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“Charlie, I’ve got a double chocolatte mocha for you, darling. Your favorite.”

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She lifted the side of her mouth. “Aww…you remembered from our date. Thanks, Reed.”

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It was good to see how Reed was embracing the fact that Charlene was residing in my body and that the break up wasn’t her fault. “I think I’d like some coffee, too, Reed. Where did you get it?” I asked, looking around.

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He blocked my way and thrust a finger in my face. “Ohhh, don’t think for a minute I’m going to help you out, you little hoe. Liam might be put under your spell, but I’m not that stupid to believe any of your lies. I’m only going along with this charade so when your tricks don’t work, I’ll take Liam home and get him some help.”

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Damn. I should have known that no one but Todd would believe us. And who could blame him? “Fine, Reed. You’ll find out the reality of the situation soon enough.”

“Whatever, bitch. Just stay clear of us once we get back from this trip or I’ll report your ass to the dean and get you expelled. Hypnotising unsuspecting people is against the law.”

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Chapter 6.47

Charlie

God, I’d made a huge disaster out of things. Typical, right? Without thinking, I just allowed my feelings to get ahead of my brain. Of course Dr. Day wouldn’t want to start a relationship with Reed. Whatever happened to my plan on getting him a GIRL-friend? And now, he was definitely NOT happy with his life like this and I was sooooo not going to break the curse. How stupid could I be?

After Dr. Day left, I heard a knock on my door. It was Reed.

“I really don’t want to do this now, Reed. Maybe in the morning?”

Jostling the bed, he said, “Liam…for what it’s worth, I understand. Coming to terms with your sexuality is one of the hardest things to do. I know it was for me. But I just want to say I won’t pressure you. Take all the time you need to decide.”

God, he was so nice. And that only made me feel three inches tall. It was like a bandaid that I didn’t want to take off but I had to. Rip it off and get it over with before I did anymore damage. “Yeah…about that…um…I’m not who you think I am, Reed, so…I can tell you now. I’m not gay, and I shouldn’t have led you on like that.”

“Sweetheart…I know what I saw tonight…and if you lie to yourself any longer it’ll only confuse you more. Can you honestly say that if we weren’t interrupted tonight that you wouldn’t have slept with me?”

Eek! A loaded question! How was I going to get out of this one? I REALLY liked Reed, but he wouldn’t want me in my original body. And that had to be my standard. Unless Dr. Day and I give up hope on getting back. I answered, “I mean…yeah…it probably would have happened, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. I have an obligation…”

He sat next to me and sighed. “I get it. An obligation to your girlfriend. I’ve been dumped for worse reasons.”

“I’m really sorry, Reed. I had a great time tonight but…the timing isn’t right. Not now.”

He jumped to his feet and padded to the door, saying, “Okay, Liam, I can wait. I believe you’ll come around when the timing IS right. I know what I felt tonight. You just need to come to terms with it yourself.”

I groaned inwardly as I heard him quietly walk out and close the door.

Flinging myself on the bed, I shook my head. “Why did everything have to be so messed up?”

*****

The following morning I was determined to do as much research as I could to redeem myself to Dr. Day. That note about Ginny was nagging at me, telling me not to give up hope on finding a clue. I went to the university and checked out as many books on Sulani mermaid lore as I could. Surely it would show me something.

One story struck a chord. In it, a mermaid lured a man to the water. From there, she kissed him, turning him into a mermaid. What if that note was true? What if the reason Ginny disappeared was because a mermaid, the mermaid she’d seen when she was a child, actually found her again and turned her into one!

But then if that happened, what could I do about it? She was lost forever.

As I was musing over this stuff, Dr. Monteira’s hushed voice startled me. “Hello, Charlie. Find any good information in that book?”

It was so weird hearing my name, it almost freaked me out. “I wish. Nothing but endless dead ends.” I slapped the book closed.

Moving toward the bookshelves, Dr. Montiera stopped me and said, “Why don’t we talk over coffee downstairs? I have something I want to discuss with you.”

When we arrived at the university coffee shop, I got a double chocolatte mocha (nothing like having the metabolism of a rabbit to enable you to guzzle extremely high calorie drinks!) Then I slid into my seat. Not gonna lie, I was kinda freaking out on the inside just being this close to Todd AKA Professor McHOTTIE sitting right next to me. Yeah, okay, I’d just gone from one hottie to the next but it had been kind of easy in Dr. D’s body. Seriously, the guy was like a dude magnet. But note to self–this guy knew I was a gal! WOOT!

Todd took a sip from his drink then said, “I wanted to run something by you first before I asked Liam. In my earlier research, I’d discovered a shaman who lives in Sulani. I believe he might dabble in cases like yours.”

“Well, heck yeah, doc, you don’t have to ask twice. Let’s go to Sulani! I’ve got nothing else to do.”

He pulled out his phone and scrolled through until he found a website about strange phenomena, voodoo, etc. “Well, you see it’s not that easy. He purportedly lives at the top of an active volcano.”

“Hey, what’s a little hot seat when we’re in the hot seat, am I right?” I asked, giggling at my joke.

He shook his head. “Yes, but he doesn’t like visitors so the trip might be all for naught.

“We’d have to somehow convince him to help us. Make it worth while for him, maybe.”

“Like give him a bunch of money? You know…Dr. D is loaded. I’m sure I can vouch for him to pay up. He HATES being in my body.”

“No…nothing like that. It seems the shaman has a bit of a…um…foot fetish.”

“A foot what?”

Suddenly, my phone buzzed. It was Dr. D! “Speak of the devil. Did you know we were just talking about you? Your best bud here has some good…”

“Shut up, Charlene, for once and listen to me!” he yelled. “Get over here at your apartment right now! And don’t bring anyone. Understand?”

“Omg, Dr. Day. Yeah…what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“Just get here!”

He clicked off before I could ask him anything else.

Todd arched an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”

My heart sped up as my mind raced to all kinds of awful things that might have happened to my body. “Yeah. Dr. D’s in trouble. I’ve got to go.”

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