Excerpt Tia put the last touches of color to the painting and turned it to show the young woman. "Something like this?"
The girl tipped the painting slightly, the sun catching the red of her hair both in person and in paint, though the warm, pleased smile was just in person. "That's great. It looks just like me. My father will be very pleased."
Tia smiled back at her; she was pretty, and seemed honestly interested in hearing about Tia's art. Plus, she'd actually sat still while Tia was painting, which was more than could be said for most people. "I'm glad you like it."
"Tia, right?" The girl touched her fingers to Tia's name, scrawled in the bottom of the painting, then fumbled in the pocket of her jeans for a wad of small bills. "I'm Kelly."
Tia took the cash. "Well then, I'm glad you like it, Kelly."
It wasn't until much later that evening, counting up her takings from a day of sketching and painting in the corner of the park, that Tia found a scrap of paper in with the bills, Kelly's name and number written on it in purple ink.
"I thought, maybe we could get coffee?" Kelly said, when Tia called. "Talk about art some more?"
"Not coffee," Tia said firmly. "Coffee first dates are for people who can't think of anything more interesting to do. There's a museum I know; they're hosting an exhibition of princess and witch art right now. How about that?"
"I... Sure." Kelly sounded a little thrown, but not in a bad way, which had to be a good sign -- Tia'd refused to date more than one person who'd felt strongly opposed to her No Coffee First Dates rule. "Saturday afternoon?"
"I'm not kidding," Kelly said, walking slowly down Tia's street Saturday evening -- the afternoon at the museum had turned into a walk in the park, which had turned into dinner, which had led to getting ice cream and, well, there they were. "The Latina Little Mermaid, she looked just like you."
"If I had fins, and spent all my time in a bikini." And had any magic at all -- there was some in Tia's family line, but it hadn't passed to her.
Kelly cast a sly, knowing glance at Tia. "I wouldn't mind, if you wanted to."
"I'm... just going to assume you mean the bikini, not the fins," Tia said. She hesitated, then touched the back of Kelly's hand, pleased when Kelly immediately took it, slotting their fingers together. "And I just realized, we haven't had coffee yet, so maybe you want to come up to my place and, er, have some?"
"I was sure you'd go with offering to show me your etchings." Kelly laughed, her hand tightening on Tia's, and didn't say no.
"How about if I offer to show you what I look like in my bikini?"
Kelly leaned in very close, her breath brushing Tia's ear and making her shiver. "How about you offer to show me what you look like in nothing at all?"
--from "A Stranger Brought" by Emily Moreton