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Authors: Kathy McCullough

Who Needs Magic?

BOOK: Who Needs Magic?
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Also by Kathy McCullough

don’t expect magic

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2013 by Kathy McCullough
Jacket art copyright © 2013 by Jose A. S. Reyes/Shutterstock

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McCullough, Kathy.
Who needs magic? / Kathy McCullough. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
Sequel to: Don’t expect magic.
Summary: Working at a vintage clothing store during the summer, teenaged fairy godmother Delaney Collins struggles to find her next client who needs a life-changing, happily-ever-after wish, while her romance with boyfriend Flynn sputters.
eISBN: 978-0-375-89892-1
[1. Fairy godmothers—Fiction. 2. Wishes—Fiction. 3. Magic—Fiction. 4. Dating (Social customs)—Fiction. 5. Summer employment—Fiction. 6. Vintage clothing—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.M478414957Wh 2013

Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.


for my friends


First of all, thanks to my editor, Wendy Loggia, for her guidance, encouragement and wisdom, and to all the people at Delacorte Press. Thanks as always to my agent, Alyssa Reuben, and my manager, Dana Jackson, for their loyalty and support. I’m also grateful to the book blogging community, notably Shanyn Day, Senator Sipes, Alethea Allaray, Alyson Beecher and Lissy Goode.

I dedicated this book to my friends not only as a clever way of covering all bases, but also because I’ve been so awed by their support. Special mention to my top “sales team”: Polly, Bud and Anne (Northeast region); Paula (Southwest); Lee & Paul (West Coast); and Rose (Great Britain). To chauffeurs and hosts Kevin & Jo, Missy & Sarah, Paula & Stan, Paul & Bronia and Bud & Polly. To cheerleaders Jen & Beth, Steven & Michael, Judy & Dave, Nancy, Janet, Lindsay and Marty. The Above and Beyond Awards go to Justin, Connie, Lupe and especially Cappi (aka Rebecca).

Essential feedback on early drafts of
Who Needs Magic?
was provided by my writing group (Mindy, Kate and Ellen) and by Eliza, Paula and the amazing Justin. Thanks to Max for all manner of brilliance, to Judy Y for allowing one of her Floor Model photos to make a cameo appearance, and to my author friends who are both confidants and mentors: Randy Russell, Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Carrie Harris, the LAYAS, the Elevensies and my fellow SCBWIers.

chapter one

It’s taking all my willpower not to point my Popsicle stick Theo’s way and recharge his phone battery so he can keep playing his war-on-the-high-seas game. But I’m forbidden from using magic in front of Theo. Dad and Gina don’t want to tell him about the whole f.g. thing until the time is right.

Like there’s ever going to be a right time for Dad to tell his girlfriend’s ten-year-old son, “Hey, I’m a fairy godmother.” I really think they should let me tell Theo that
a fairy godmother first, because at least I’m female.

I did manage to grant one wish for Theo without using magic. I insisted that Dad and Gina let us have Popsicles
to tide us over until Dad finishes scraping off the layers of burnt hamburger, hot dog, ribs, steak and whatever other mystery meats have built up on the park grill from holiday barbecues gone by. Not that I got a “Thanks, Delaney” or anything. Theo went right back to waging his electronic naval war with one hand while devouring the Popsicle he clutched in the other.

Now the Popsicle’s gone, the phone battery is dead and any second the whining will—


Ah, there it is.

“Why don’t you and Delaney play tag?” Dad proposes. Theo and I, who have nothing in common, since I’m five years older and a girl, experience a moment of complete synchronicity as we both stare at Dad in disbelief.

“They’re a little old for tag, Hank.” Gina shoos another fly away from the side dishes she’s set out on the corners of the picnic table to hold the tablecloth down.

“Not to mention, I’m wearing a skirt,” I point out. “And boots.”

“It was just a suggestion.”

What’s next? Patty-cake? “I’m taking a walk,” I say.

“We’re eating soon, honey,” Dad warns.

“I’ll be back in time,” I promise. As long as I make it back this century, I’ll still have returned before he’s gotten the first hamburger on the grill.

I cross the grass to one of the intersecting walkways that loop through and around the park, linking the soccer
field, the baseball diamond and the playground. In between are tiny tree-shaded pastures and lots and lots of picnic tables and grills, all of which are filled with families and packs of friends celebrating the Fourth of July.

Now that I’m free to use my magic, I subtly aim my Popsicle stick to stop paper napkins from blowing away, repair leaky balloons and send Frisbees back on their intended paths. I usually carry a chopstick with me, but a Popsicle stick makes an equally effective wand.

I’m ready to move beyond these little point-and-shoot wishes, though—the bit of Object Transference here, the dash of Atom Manipulation there. I want to experience the big f.g. magic—the powers I earned by granting my first big wish. But I can’t access those powers until I find my next client.

It’s been three months, which seems a pathetically long time. Not that I have a lot of fairy godmothers to compare myself to. The only other one I know of is Dad, and he got his second client in like two weeks back when he started out. Whenever I ask him why it’s taking me so long, he gives me a lecture about “Trusting the Process” or “Cultivating Forbearance” or some other chapter title from the latest “Dr. Hank’s Self-Help for the Hopeless” book he’s writing (so that non-clients can also benefit from his wisdom). To prevent myself from choking him to death, thereby eliminating the one parent I have left, I’ve “cultivated” the “process” of not bringing it up anymore.

I can’t believe I’m supposed to just sit around and
wait, though. That means big wishes are going ungranted and my full powers are going untested. It’s not like I can randomly pick somebody. The small wishes I can do for anybody. They’re just guesses. But the big wish is a meant-to-be thing. In the sense that I’m meant to be that person’s f.g. and meant to grant their major, love-finding, life-changing, happily-ever-after wish. It’s an emotional connection that only happens with one person at a time, and it’s why you feel their wish as strongly as they do.

I know from watching Dad that it takes more than wielding a wand to make a client’s big wish come true, and that magic, even if it is major pumpkin-into-coach, rags-into-ball-gown magic, is only a tool. The powers go beyond that, but if I don’t get more practice at it, I’m never going to know just how far beyond they go.

Shrieks of laughter and calls to dinner and shouts of “Heads up!” as softballs fly by rise and fall as I wind around the park. I pause in my small-wish granting to concentrate. Today might be the day. Could my next client be one of the kids in that family over there with all the pizza boxes? Or one of the two boys playing Frisbee? How about that couple making out on the beach blanket? Hmm, probably not any of them.

A cool breeze blows past. Back in New Jersey, July was hot and humid, but as Dad likes to remind me, here in the golden part of the Golden State, where everything is perpetually pretty and perfect, summers are all sunny seventies and dry desert nights. Maybe the wish I’m meant
to grant is being carried off on that same breeze, over my head, out of reach.

I make my way down to the playground. There’s a swing free, so I take a seat and kick my legs out. If I can get high enough, maybe I can catch the wish as it floats by. I’m not sure wishes work this way, but it’s worth a try.

“Be careful, Ms. Collins. Swing too high and you may fly off.” I glance down and see Flynn leaning against one of the swing-set poles, grinning his goofy adorable Flynn grin. I hadn’t expected to see him today, but here he is:
big wish, my first client
my boyfriend, all wrapped up in one oversized-army-jacketed, photography-obsessed, yearbook-editing prince. He lifts up a digital camera to take my picture. “Unless flying is another one of your powers.”

I leap off the swing and my boots crunch down into the sand. “Not so loud, Mr. Becker.”

Flynn wraps his arms around my waist and smiles. “Haven’t you heard? Paranormal is the new black. You should know that. You’re the fashion designer.”

“Shut up,” I say. “I mean it.”

“Make me shut up,” he says. And so I do.

You know how people say “there were fireworks” when they kissed? I always pictured that as fireworks going off overhead, in the sky, above and around you. But it’s not like that. The fireworks are inside; little explosions of energy and heat in every limb, every cell. Tiny sparklers igniting behind your eyes, in your ears. My whole body
flushes hot while my skin prickles from the cool air, and it almost seems like maybe
explode. “Happy Independence Day,” Flynn says when we pull apart.

“Go red, white and blue, or whatever.”

Flynn grins and takes my hand, and we start up the path away from the playground. It’s ironic that this Independence Day has come at a time when I suddenly have all these connections. Back in New Jersey, Mom and I would spend the Fourth of July inside, in the air-conditioning. Sometimes Posh, my best but also my only friend, would join us and we would watch marathons of old black-and-white TV shows, happy to be away from the heat and the crowds—independent.

Now I have a boyfriend, and Dad and Gina and Theo, and the yearbook people, and Cadie and the other kids at Allegro High I’ve only started to get to know. Plus, here I am today, in a crowded park, willingly, actively seeking yet
person to add to my life. It’s all pretty strange to me.

BOOK: Who Needs Magic?
9.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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