Blake Maxwell needs a perfect gift for his niece. Unfortunately, he’s running late. And Treasures, the best magical toy shop in town, has just closed for the night. But he’s hoping the beautiful magician owner might take pity on him.
Ivy Treasure has been working late, inventing new enchanted toys. They’ve closed up the shop, about to finally go home for the night. But the very attractive man outside clearly loves his niece, and could use Ivy’s help ... and Ivy just can’t resist opening the door.
And for Blake and Ivy, the night might end up full of enchantment after all.
“You’re Ivy Treasure.”
Ivy Treasure, leaning against the shop’s front counter like a beautiful cozy sweater-wearing woods-nymph, gave him a tiny wave, and another small grin; and then had a sip of tea.
“Okay,” Blake managed, “but you’re like an actual genius, that pop-up crystal labyrinth palace, the flying moon-wings that actually work -- my nephews went through like five sets --”
Ivy Treasure. The youngest Treasure scion. Eventual heir, not imminently so but in the future, to their father’s and grandfather’s -- and however many generations back it went: more than several -- great and powerful toy-making empire. An heir both in terms of the business and the magical talent; Blake knew next to nothing about the magical toy-shop industry, but even he’d heard Ivy Treasure’s name: as a creative force, as a brilliant magician, as the next generation of the family.
He’d expected the Treasure heir to be older. He wasn’t sure why he’d thought so. An assumption.
But Ivy was maybe his age, maybe even younger -- and that smile, those eyes, that waist, those bared forearms under shoved-up sweater-sleeves, slim but visibly strong --
Ivy had started out, years ago, by reinventing the shop’s fantastical window displays and social media accounts with equal parts virtuoso imagination, approachability, whimsy, and just enough cheekiness to draw people in like a magnet. They’d built the crystal labyrinth palace -- full-sized, a demonstration of the small-scale version -- overnight, for New York’s winter holiday festivities a few years ago.
Blake had meant to go wander around, given all the discussion and wonder and awe about the construction. He hadn’t had the time, buried under work. Hadn’t made the time.
“Hmm.” Ivy’s eyebrows went up, a craftsperson given a conundrum. “How quickly was that? They’re meant to last a while, unless you leave them in direct sunlight too long. Because, you know, moon-wings. But now I’m wondering if I should go back and try to improve that.”
“Um. No. My nephews are destructive whirlwinds. Your wings are awesome. I wanted adult-sized ones.”
“All right, I know, they’re for kids and exploring --”
“No, I mean I did make a few adult-sized sets. For me, and a few friends and willing test subjects. They’re a bit harder at that size -- it’s a question of scale and expansion -- but it’s certainly possible.” Ivy’s eyes danced like stars, across a gold-flecked mug and scented tea. “I do appreciate someone who’ll put on a pair of fluffy wings and sit on a moonlit cloud with me.”
Blake looked at Ivy Treasure’s face, absolutely lit up with mischief and genius and invitation, wearing a smile like a banner of kindness, like the generosity that’d opened up the shop after hours and worried that Blake might be cold and offered a hot beverage and soothing conversation.
He thought, I so would, with you; and then he heard his voice, and realized that he’d said the words out loud.
He felt the wave of red across his face. His cheeks. His ears.
“Oh,” Ivy said lightly, not quite blushing, tucking the wavy strand of hair back again. “Oh, well. Thank you. Are you warm enough? I’m not much of an herbalist but this one should be a warming tea, I mean with an actual charm, not just, er. As tea.”
“Oh,” Blake managed. “Um. Yeah. Thank you. It’s great.” It honestly was. And maybe he and Ivy and the toy rocket ships could all collectively forget his sudden attack of heartfelt unasked-for words.
“Good. I’m glad it’s helping.” Ivy hesitated as if about to say something else, but instead only shifted weight against the counter, and glanced down at their own tea, and back up. Every motion drew attention, not dramatic, but simple, unstudied, swift as the flick of a heron’s wing. “Did you say you needed a gift for your niece, then?”