Christina Davenport, waitressing to pay the bills, has abandoned her childhood dream of becoming a magician—until she meets the mesmerizing Reynaldo the Magnificent. He hires her as his assistant for his magic and juggling show; she hopes she can play the role without cutting his giant ego in half.
Devon Park, a surgical resident, is escaping his own problems when he visits the street performers in downtown Boston. But the young doctor worries that the bruises beneath Christina’s makeup go deeper than the training accident she professes.
Convinced the doctor’s interest is more than clinical, the mercurial magician attempts to tighten his grip on Christina. Now she needs to decide—is the opportunity Reynaldo offers worth the price of admission?
The box arrived on a Tuesday and sat on the kitchen table for three days before Christina could bring herself to touch it. She’d assumed her father’s things had been tossed after all these years, but no—this remained. Mom had found it in the attic and decided that his last surviving possession would make an ideal twenty-fifth birthday present for his only daughter.
She almost sent the package back. But then she didn’t.
“Get it out of here, already,” one of her roommates told her. So she took it off the table, stuck it in the corner of her bedroom, and covered it with a green pashmina.
As a child, she’d memorized the contents of the tarnished metal case engraved with her father’s initials: three silver cups, a half-dozen red sponge balls, five decks of cards, a few magic quarters, a selection of spring-loaded wands, and various other doodads and thingamabobs handy for a close-up magician to have up his sleeve.
Pick a card, Chrissie.
She itched to hold the decks, palm the tiny objects the way he’d taught her, but another part of her wanted nothing to do with it.
She thought about it on the way to yoga, and on the way home, and after her long shift at the restaurant. And her sleep fractured, leaving her as wide-awake as the thrum of Boston outside her window.
This went on for another week, until she got the call that her boss, Rosa, was in the hospital, and the restaurant was closed. Now there was nothing to think about but the box, and what it contained. And the truth was, no matter how great her anger at her father and herself, her desire to open the box was greater. She craved the comfort of those old, familiar objects.
Swallowing the knot in her throat, she flipped the latch. It sounded louder than all the traffic on Commonwealth. Her fingers once again tasted the textures—the foam of the sponge balls, bits of red crumbling into dust; the shiny silver cups; the decks of cards engineered for tricks.
Pick a card, Chrissie.
Shuddering, she snapped the lid shut.
It was too late for her. Too many years had gone by, and her skills were shot. She might as well give the box away—to the owner of the magic store she passed on her way to yoga class. But she didn’t.