Authors: Juliet Madison
I Dream of Johnny
From the author of
comes a story about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo...
Getting three wishes isn't all it's cracked up to be when an unfortunate spelling error in Mandy's high-tech magic lamp changes her wish for a Greek God to a Geek God. His fashion IQ is in the negatives, he’s clingier than cling wrap, and he has a penchant for breaking into song at inappropriate moments. Before Mandy can request a replacement wish, she has to put up with him for twenty four hours, and the timing couldn’t be worse — it's her friend’s wedding day, her ex will be there, and the God of Geeks insists on coming along for the ride!
Juliet Madison is a naturopath-turned-author with a background in dance, art, internet marketing and perfume sales (yes, she was one of those annoying people in department stores who spray you with perfume). Nowadays she prefers to indulge her propensity for multiple careers by living vicariously through her characters. She likes to put these characters into extraordinary situations and take them on a challenging journey to discover their true passion and inner strength, weaving in some laughs, tears, romance and sometimes a touch of magic along the way.
Living near the beach on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, Australia, Juliet spends her days homeschooling her son and running her internet business, and her nights writing fiction while doing her best to avoid housework.
Juliet is a proud member of the Romance Writers of Australia and she loves to interact online with readers and writers. You can contact her on Twitter @Juliet_Madison, on Facebook at
, and through her website at
/, where readers can also download some free short stories.
I’d like to thank Kate Cuthbert and Escape Publishing for releasing this novella and supporting my career; my editor Julia Knapman for her keen eye; my critique partners Alli Sinclair and Diane Curran for their fabulous, efficient feedback on the manuscript and their encouragement when I wasn’t sure if it was too crazy an idea; and Dave Sinclair for suggesting the geeky middle name of ‘Fortran’!
Thanks also to RWA for being such a great organisation, my writer friends around the world, and the readers who buy my books. And thanks always to my parents and family for supporting my passion for writing.
To my son, Jayden, for your inspiring sense of humour and incessant watching of The Big Bang Theory.
It really shouldn’t be that hard. I mean, all I had to do was press a simple button. But deleting the answering machine’s greeting message would officially commemorate the end of yet another failed relationship. Another break-up, another ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, and a painful reminder of being the last single woman over thirty-five in my family and social circle.
But I had to do it. It would be childish to keep the message any longer than the two weeks that had already passed.
I’d just listen to it one last time...
“Hi, you’ve reached Mandy and Dan. We’re too busy canoodling on the couch to take your call —”
“Canoodling? Is that what you call
“Dan! Stop it!”
“Okay, Mandy and I are
and will return your call in about ten minutes.”
“Anyway, we thank you for calling. Bye!”
We’d only lived together for one month. One month! God it was good in the beginning...
No, Mandy! Be strong, don’t think about it. Just press the damn button!
“Hi, you’ve reached Mandy and Dan —”
I did it. All over. The End. Finito.
Okay. That wasn’t so hard. Right, time for a new start.
“Hi, you’ve reached Mandy and...oops.”
“Hi, you’ve reached
. I’m unable to...”
Sighing, I walked to the front door. Susan wasn’t due till 2 p.m. so who was here at the ungodly hour of 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning? I yanked open the door to find two perky twenty-somethings smiling and holding up a collection tin.
“Hi-ee, did you know that over seventy percent of cancer sufferers have to travel more than one hour to get to hospital for treatment?”
“We’re collecting donations to ensure that these patients’ transport costs can be covered. What amount would you like to donate today? Can I suggest fifty dollars perhaps?”
The rosy-cheeked girl came up for air and I chewed my bottom lip. They really knew how to send people on a guilt trip. And rightly so, I mean, those poor people.
“I, ah, I’ll just have a look and see how much I’ve got on hand.” I smiled as though I was used to giving bucket loads of money away and sauntered to the hall table where I kept my purse. My stomach twinged as I clicked open the clasp, knowing too well I really couldn’t spare any cash.
Let’s see...Susan and Peter will be driving me to the wedding today so no need for taxi fare...Monday I promised to meet Mum for a long overdue lunch before my shift at work...Tuesday night is yoga, although I could miss it just this once...and I need the train fare for Wednesday’s online marketing course in the city...
I plucked out a ten dollar note and a few gold coins, leaving behind the bare minimum to get me through the next week, barring the carefully allocated funds in my bank account.
“Here, I don’t have any more on me at the moment, I hope this will do.” I felt bad for lying, but even ten bucks was a stretch for me these days. I’d have to start selling off my valuables if business didn’t pick up soon, not to mention take extra shifts at The Gristle and Grill.
I gracefully declined their suggestion to enter into a monthly direct debit donation and farewelled the charity collectors, closing the door just as the phone rang. “Argh!” I tripped on a box of art materials I’d failed to put away and landed on my hands and knees. “Stupid box,” I said, getting to my feet as a voice travelled through the room.
“You’re unable to...oh crap? What kind of greeting message is that?” Susan laughed. “Anyway, just letting you know that unfortunately we can’t pick you up this afternoon, Peter and I decided to stay an extra night in the city so we’ll be going straight from here. Sorry hun, but I’m sure you’ll be able to get a cab and I can’t wait to see you! It’s been too long, looking forward to telling you all about our trip! Hey, are you still with that guy, Dan? Hope he’s coming tonight so I can meet him. Bye hun!”
Crappity crap. I’d definitely have to miss yoga class now. Either that or chase the charity collectors down the street and beg for my money back.
I wonder if there’s a charity to support transport costs of struggling artists...
I shook my head at my momentary insensitivity and headed towards the centre of the living room for Unwanted Task Two of the day: figure out how to connect and work new television, DVR, and Wii console. It would have been nice if my brother Michael helped me set it all up instead of doing a drop-and-run, but he did give me these technological rejects for free in favour of the latest models for his new apartment. I would just have to figure it out myself, he said it would be easy. But if worse came to worst I might need to sell them on eBay. ‘Mandy’s Magical Mobiles’ could certainly make room for a few household items alongside the dozens of handmade bedroom decorations for children. Then again, I
looking forward to trying out the Wii Fit program. God knows I needed it after the chocolate overdose of the last two weeks.
“Okay, here goes...”
Twenty minutes later I was cursing the Gods of Ridiculous Instructions and swearing profusely. How could this be so confusing? Why couldn’t it be just a simple plug in, turn on, and ta-da! What the hell did HDMI mean and what did that have to do with AV and wireless LAN? And did I or did I not require an Ethernet cable?
After trying and failing to reach my brother on the phone, I did what any self-respecting woman would do in this situation: throw the remote against the wall, swear some more, and give up.
I huffed and growled like the Big Bad Wolf and stomped out of the living room and into the hallway, tripping on —you guessed it —another box of art materials.
I kicked it out of the way and eyed my surroundings. Strips of plywood ready for cutting into cute shapes leant against the living room wall, craft materials were scattered across my dining table, and half-finished mobiles hung from an indoor clothesline waiting for the next coat of paint. Not only that, magazines towered on top of my bedside table, clothes waiting to be put away spilled out of the laundry basket, and about a million decorator cushions lay strewn on the floor because I hadn’t yet made the bed.
Hot, wiry frustration coiled up inside, and overwhelmed, I scooped up the cushions and threw them onto the bed, chucked a pile of magazines into the bin, and bundled a pile of clothes into my arms. I opened the wardrobe and instead of placing the clothes on hangers, I shoved them into the narrow storage shelf on top, pushing and poking to make room.
“I’ve had it with all this mess! I need more space!”
I pushed and poked some more, dislodging a worn-out pair of slippers and a pink box, which fell off the shelf and bumped me on the head.
“Bloody hell! What else can go wrong today?”
I sat on the floor, exhausted, shaking my head at the mess my life had become. I knew I should be grateful for everything that was good in my life —my health, my friends, my...well, sometimes my family —but here I was, thirty-six, single, with an ever-expanding waistline, and a business that, although prosperous in the beginning, was now taking a rather steep nose-dive into ‘just-a-hobby’ land. I was about to pick up the old slippers and throw them in the bin too when my gaze landed on the pink box that had almost given me a concussion.
High-Tech Magic Lamp
three wishes included.
“Ha! Three wishes. If only things were that simple. Make a wish and change my life, yeah right.”
The novelty lamp I hadn’t yet got around to opening had been given to me by my parents’ eccentric neighbour, Valerie, on my last birthday. She’d practically gate-crashed the party my parents had thrown at their house but at least she came with a gift. It was nice of her and she needn’t have bought me anything, but she’d insisted I could use some magic in my life (having just been through another break-up). I would have preferred a bottle of wine, an overpriced box of Belgian chocolates and a one-way ticket to the Maldives, but beggars can’t be choosers.
I slid my finger under the cardboard seal on the box and lifted the flap. Tilting the box to the side, the lamp slid out. A pink, plastic Aladdin-shaped lamp with —get this —a touch screen! Move over iPhone. I giggled at the silliness of it, this fake lamp, providing some sort of imaginary hope to down-and-out suckers in need of a miracle.
“Okay then, magic lamp. Let’s see what you’ve got.” Might as well humour Valerie, even though she wasn’t here. At least I could tell her I’d
the lamp next time I saw her.
I pressed the ON button.
Congratulations on receiving this magic lamp. Your life is about to change.
A magical jingle sounded.
Geez, how stupid do they think I am?
There were three icons on the screen: Make Wishes, Terms and Conditions, and My Account. I clicked Make Wishes. A little keyboard appeared on the screen underneath the words
please type in your wishes.
“Hmmm, let’s see. What should I wish for?” I dramatically tapped my temple. “I know!”