Wish EXCERPT

Chapter One

“Hey! What the hell?” I glare at the back of a tall man as he walks away with my find.

I can’t believe he just took it right from my hands! If it wasn’t for his hurried strut across the lawn, I would go after him. But I’m in no mood to confront some snobby asshole in an Italian suit, driving a Benz. At least, not over an old bottle at a garage sale.

And he didn’t even pay the owner. Jerk! “I hope you drink from it and get an incurable disease,” I mutter in his general direction and turn my attention back to picking through crates filled with dusty glassware and jam jars—clear, aquamarine, and pink. To someone like me, who makes one-of-a-kind glass mosaics, this garage sale is a lifesaver. But before I get into why, let me introduce myself: My name is Ginnie Angelico. I’m twenty-six years old, originally from Colorado, and I have what you’d call a hybrid soul—half artist, half businesswoman. My appearance, on the other hand, is straight up Angelico. Everyone in my family has classic dark Italian features—espresso-colored eyes and hair, with olive skin and a “sprinkle of Gypsy” from my great-grandmother. I have no idea what that last part means, but my mother says it’s in our eyes, “a look.”

Look of what? Don’t know. Don’t care. My only concern at the moment is finishing my client’s order on time. I’m nearly broke.

Toward the bottom of the heap, a twinkle of cobalt blue catches my eye. “Yes!” I carefully pluck the bottle from the crate. Now I can finish Mr. Craig’s lampshade. He wants a piece for his study made entirely of blue and orange glass. Sure, I could go out and buy some, but that would go against my pledge to customers: 100% repurposed glass. 100% beauty. 100% unique. And for a thousand dollars a lampshade, I am not about to mess with my winning formula. Not when I’ve just been commissioned by the City of Albany, New York, where I now live, to create a ten-by-twelve depiction of the state animal for the capitol building as part of an initiative to support local arts.

Thank you, taxpayers. Because it’s just the break I need—a ray of sunlight beaming through an otherwise gloomy sky I affectionately refer to as my shithole of a life. Seriously. This last year has been hell. Hell with ugly-sprinkles.

I hear tires peeling off down the tree-lined residential street and look up to find it’s that shiny black Benz with the windows down.

What a butthole.

Nice hair, though. Through his open window I see his thick dark-red mane with golden streaks and a matching short beard. Dude’s probably hot, too, I think bitterly, though I can’t see his face. It amazes me how the rich assholes of the world always seem to have it so easy—good looks, nice cars, money—yet they run around being, well…grumpy, rude assholes. Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t they be smiling and spreading joy? They have it way better than most.

Maybe I should become an asshole. Then maybe I’d have it all, too, and not care what anyone thinks. Regrettably, I’m a good person with a good heart. I hate making people feel like crap.

I grab a few more jars from the crate and head to the table in the garage where the homeowner, a woman in her sixties, is all smiles. I debate whether to tell her some guy just took off with a bottle and didn’t pay, but she looks so happy. Why ruin it over fifty cents? I’ll just give her a little extra money out of my own pocket.

The silver-haired homeowner chuckles happily to a woman paying in front of me and throws a coffee maker into a plastic bag. “Okay. That’ll be two dollars!”

I raise a brow and watch the proud new owner prance to her car.

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” I say once it’s my turn, “but that looked like a brand-new Keurig.”

The homeowner nods with enthusiasm, her silver bun jiggling atop her head. “Yep! Only used it once.”

“So why not return it if you didn’t like it? Not that it’s any of my business.” I’m just a girl. Standing in front of a table. Asking for life to make sense.

The woman cracks an ear-to-ear smile, causing the corners of her eyes to wrinkle up. “Who’s got time for that? I’m retiring!”

“Oh. Congratulations.” I dream of the day when I have enough money for such a luxury, though I’d probably still do mosaics. I love creating beautiful new things from stuff other people have written off. “So I gather you’re moving?”

“Yep! Selling off the house and everything I own except my mother’s china and the photos of my kids and grandkids. Don’t want to be weighed down by anything other than the beach, the sun, and mango-tinis.”

Fair plan. “Well, good luck, then,” I chirp and hold out a five, more than enough to cover my stuff plus the bottle the suit-hole stole. “Keep the change.”

“No. You take them. On the house.”

“But I really hate to take charit—”

“And I hate to see things go to the landfill,” she replies. “Not when they still have use.”

Guess that explains why the suit-hole took that bottle from my hand and marched off. He must’ve had his eye on it when she told him this was really more of a giveaway, not a garage sale.

Too bad I didn’t arrive a few minutes earlier, because that old green bottle was pretty cool. It had gorgeous colorful cabochons—kind of like round, polished marbles cut in half—stuck all over it.

“Well,” I say, “I am a fellow non-waster of useful things, so I thank you. And happy retirement.”

“Oh yes! Happy indeed!” The woman trots away toward a man looking at a bicycle.

How lucky. I wish I could be like her. Not a care in the world. Just happy days ahead. But I have enormous financial hurdles to overcome, a struggling business I love with all my heart, and, well, a broken heart. I can’t say that my ex, Greg, was perfect, but I loved him. Enough to move from Colorado to New York State, buy a house with him in my name, and then loan him twenty thousand dollars to start his own real estate company. Oh yeah, and he also convinced me to quit my steady job as a teacher at the local Montessori in order to pursue my art full time. A few months later, I find myself cheated on, with a mortgage I can’t afford, and fighting for a fading dream.

I wish…I wish I saw this coming. But I didn’t. And I refuse to let Greg and his wandering dick destroy everything I’ve worked for. Which is why this recent uptick in orders is a godsend, a tiny glowing ember in my nest of despair. With a few strategic puffs and some hard work, I just might turn this ember into a fire worth something.

I get into my old yellow VW van—a collector’s item I rarely drive—which I inherited from my grandmother when I was sixteen. I’ll never get rid of this ’70s beast. Not ever. My grandmother passed away a little over a year ago, and I miss her like hell.

I crank the engine and listen to the sweet, bubbly sound of Bessy the Yellow Wonder Bus come to life. Seriously, I have no clue how this thing’s still running, which is why I usually drive my white workhorse—my Ford pickup. Sometimes I think Bessy is alive out of sheer will. She doesn’t want to go to the junkyard, and I don’t want that either.

I pat the dashboard. “Come on, Bessy. Let’s go home and make some art.”