That Kind of Magic, Tom Bont, TWB Press, Amore Moon, short story, romance, paranormall

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Tom Bont

Orpheus: A Modern Greek Tragedy
Iron Broderick




Short Story

Paranormal Romance

14,100 words

by Tom Bont

Roman and Feleena, both widowed, meet under strange circumstances, but nothing is ever normal when the ancient Muses of Music and Dance are involved. Roman and Feleena loved to dance with their spouses, but in their grief, both refuse to let go of the past and dance with someone new. Unknown to them, their beloveds' souls are stuck in ethereal limbo until they move on with their lives. Through a mysterious dating service and the not-so-subtle help of an endearing waiter, they are thrust onto a magical dance floor where they waltz together but resist the pull of their hearts. When it looks as though grief will win over new love, the Muses scramble in a last-ditch effort to save the relationship before two souls are lost in oblivion forever.

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Chapter 1

Roman scowled at his GPS. The device had been malfunctioning all day long. He wanted to get to the rec center before it closed. Ellya High School’s 20th reunion was in a few weeks, and he’d gotten roped into checking out the sound system beforehand.

“Continue 0.6 miles,” the GPS droned in an unfamiliar voice.

It normally sounded like his wife, Shelbie. Or what Shelbie would’ve sounded like if she were still alive. Now it sounded like a man with a Greek accent. Roman had tried punching in the various voice settings but couldn’t get rid of him and get the female voice back.

“Your destination is on the left.”

Roman had heard horror tales of people blindly following their GPSs off cliffs or into rivers. He didn’t think he’d ever be that guy. Yet here he was, in the middle of suburbia on California Drive, miles from his downtown destination. The large manicured lawns and antiquated address signs told him it was a nice neighborhood. He punched the Cancel Route button.

“No. Continue 0.5 miles. Your destination is on the left.”

He pressed the Cancel Route button again.

“Are you sure you really want to do that? You’re almost there. Continue 0.3 miles.”

He eyed the device suspiciously and pressed the button again. There was a delay long enough that he thought he’d broken it. “Route canceled. You have arrived at your destination on the left.”

He stopped and looked out the window. A garage sale. He stared at his GPS. The checkered flag was waving like it just won the Daytona 500. “This is not where I wanted to go. I have half a mind to browse the garage sale and look for a replacement for you.” He pulled the device from the dashboard, turned it off, and threw it on the passenger seat next to his briefcase.

A three-shelf bookcase, crammed full of books, sat at the edge of the driveway across from his car. He didn’t usually stop at garage sales, but he was a sucker for well-thumbed novels. Yellowed pages turned any book into a classic. Besides, as fast as he read, used books were easier on his wallet. And since he was already here, he decided to give the shelves a go.

After parking down the block, he made his way back to the sale. A quick glance around showed nearly everything on sale belonged to a man. Women roamed around with armfuls of shirts and slacks. When he stepped up to the bookcase, he saw a box containing women’s dance shoes next to it: felt-bottomed swing and cowboy boots, as well as a few pairs of Tango stilettos. They were well-used but still in good shape. When his gaze fell on a pair that looked like Shelbie had worn for years, his chest constricted.

A deep sense of nostalgia for the dance floor gripped him. To dance again. Yeah, that’d be nice. He’d have to try it with a new partner and hope she could get to a Waltz twinkle without kicking his ankles, though.

Next to the box stood a rack with numerous women’s dance outfits: ballroom and pleated-fit flare skirts and sequin competition dresses. He tried to concentrate on the treasure pile of books, but the dance clothes kept drawing his attention.

“Let’s be amazing.” The statement he always recited to Shelbie before the competition music started flowed from his mouth as if she were standing there in front of him. He’d been thinking about calling up their old dance studio, taking a few refresher classes, but seeing those dresses turned his simple nostalgia into a full-fledged internal pledge. As soon as he got home, he—

A woman’s voice said from behind him, “Can I help you find anything?”

He turned to a cute auburn-haired woman, about shoulder-height to him, and tilted his head to the books. “No thanks. I’m just browsing.”

“Odd name, Just Browsing. I’m Feleena.” She laughed.

He felt a bit silly as a blush heated his cheeks. “Oh...I...I’m Roman.”

Her perfume was undemanding and lively, which made him think of a meadow of daisies under a blue sky, and when he looked into her sleepy brown eyes, butterflies beat about in his stomach. Those eyes seemed to be waiting on him to...take the lead? He’d seen that look in Shelbie’s eyes numerous times before. And not just on the dance floor, either, but when she needed him to make the next move. How strange to find two women with that same allure. I’d dance with her.

When she smiled, the cutest little dimple on her right cheek winked at him. “Okay, Roman. If you need anything, let me know.” She took off toward the house but threw a quick glance over her shoulder at him.

He turned to look over the books, but an immediate desire to talk to her about the dance outfits, as well as to not let her out of his sight, forced him to twirl back. He wanted to say, Don’t leave. I’m a lonely sound technician. I live with a stray cat. I want to dance with you even though I miss my wife. Instead, all that came out was, “Um, miss,” a little more hesitant than he’d intended.

She stopped. “Yes?”

In hindsight, he was glad his self-preservation instinct took over; he could think of no way to explain his motivations and not sound like a babbling buffoon. “Your name? Feleena? Like in the song El Paso by Marty Robbins?”

“Yeah.” She laughed as she sauntered back to him. “My dad was a big fan.”

He shared a quick chuckle with her. “Me too. Sad song. Happy, too, though.”


“Sure. Feleena finally learned how much the young cowboy loved her. I’m a guy. Fessing up how much we love a woman is approaching the apex of romanticism. Add in a bullet wound and it doesn’t get more tear-jerky than that.”

“Tear-jerky? Oh, goodness.”

The sound of her giggle was like Christmas bells jingling in the air.

“Are you sure there’s really nothing I can help you find?” She swept manicured fingernails toward the dance clothes. “I thought for sure I’d seen you looking at my old dresses there.” She looked at him with those expectant eyes again.

“Busted.” He forced himself to break eye contact. “My wife and I used to dance.” He looked down at the box of shoes. “And the same dance styles by the looks of what you have here.”

“What was your favorite dance?”

“The Waltz,” he whispered. “But my wife died a few years ago.” He looked at one of the tables nearby to hide the sudden well of tears. “Lot of men’s clothing here. May I venture a guess? Your husband’s stuff?”

She put her hands on her hips and surveyed the items scattered around her yard. “Roger died two years ago.” She folded one arm across her stomach and rubbed her neck with the other hand. “I finally got around to cleaning out his closet.”

He slumped his shoulders. “Sorry for your loss.”

“It’s okay.”

He looked at the shoes and the outfits for sale. “ don’t dance anymore?”

She shrugged. “I don’t dance socially. I teach now.”

“What style?”

“Smooth Ballroom. A little Country.”

He took a deep breath and thought of those country boots sitting in the box. “Two-step?”

“Sure. A few barroom dances, too. Cotton-Eyed Joe, East and West Coast Swings.”

“So why are you selling your dancing stuff?”

“Too many memories...of Roger.” She sighed. “I bought all new outfits and shoes.”

“I’ve thought about getting back on the dance floor.”

“You should.”

He’d already made up his mind to do just that, but saying it out loud almost felt like...well, like he’d be cheating on Shelbie. That’s nuts. We used to social dance with other partners all the time. “I don’t suppose...”

She raised an eyebrow.

What the hell do you think you’re doing, Roman..? “Well...” Just say it. Her eyes, they keep asking me... “Would you consider dinner and dancing? With me? I mean...”

“Miss Grey?” a chubby woman called from behind her. “Will you take eight dollars for these two ties?”

Feleena stared into his eyes, her face neutral, her sleepy brown eyes no longer waiting expectantly for him, as if she’d turned on her teacher eyes, a look that dance instructors made when their students mistook the closeness of the dance with an invitation to become more intimate. And he’d acted just like a student.

“Roman, I don’t go out with men I don’t know. Especially men who walk up off the street.” She pointed at the bookshelf. “Help yourself to whatever books you want. On the house.” She quickly turned around to address the chubby woman. “Ten dollars, Mrs. Hamilton.”

The woman held up the ties and studied them with the eagle-sharp gaze of an experienced garage sale shopper. A soft tisk escaped her lips followed by a look like she’d smelled something sour. “I don’t know...”

Feleena was quick to turn the tide. “I think Alex will like them. They’ll look good on his broad chest.”

Her sour look changed to one of delight, as if she imagined the possibilities. “My husband would look nice... Okay. Ten.”

Watching Feleena walk off, two fives in hand, he had to peel his eyes from the way her jeans hugged her backside. “Wow.” After a quick breath to soothe the sting of her rebuff, he scanned the bookcase.

Romance titles. That’s just great. Rub it in, universe, rub it in. Well, hell, Roman. A silver-tongued-devil you ain’t. Give it up, man. You’re a life-long bachelor now. He grabbed a few of the more action-oriented tomes. Maybe I’ll find some advice for lonely widowers in one of these.