One month ago Tucker Holmes had received the authentic Wand of Kronos through the mail by accident and had discovered its magical powers, specifically how to stop time on command. Using that power Tucker had improved his life dramatically, making a small fortune on cosplay girl calendars along with his best friend and roommate Maggie Yen. The duo also worked at Persephone's Books, which offered both a collection of authentic Ancient Greek and Roman books as well as coffee and a few of the more popular ‘popular’ books around. The store carried a Greek theme but the employees only had to wear name tags on their street clothes and not uniforms. Thus work was good, especially since Tucker was now assistant manager and their current boss, Jamie Mosley, was extremely nice and business-smart. Dozens of people came into the shop every single day just for a cup of coffee and a puzzle book, spending almost a couple of hours each doing Sudoku and Crosswords. Tucker and Maggie had even bought, not rented, a new apartment a few floors above Tucker's old one that gave them plenty of space. Life was good; at least when it came to work and money. Tucker's love life, meanwhile, was not so great.
Looking out his window Tucker saw Haley Leone, his former neighbor and biggest crush, climbing into a flashy convertible being driven by Charles Truman III, son of Charles Truman Jr., who was a local art dealer. Haley, being an art major, naturally loved artists or people who hung out with them, which was ‘Chuck the III’ all over. While Haley was shooting more for a career in acting or modeling she'd often talk about being a painter of photographer on the side. All the same, seeing her drive off with a rich man's spoiled son made Tucker a bit sick.
"She going out with that prick again?" asked Maggie from one of the living room couches, a controller in her hand as she played Samurai Warriors 2: Empires on her Sony Play Station 2. She and Tucker had a lot in common, both wearing glasses and both being big fans of Anime and the like. She also had a cute little body and a taste in women that they both shared. Currently she was only wearing a bathrobe and slippers, both pink, as she was planning going to bed in another hour or so.
"Yeah, and it's really getting to me," admitted Tucker, sitting down next to his friend and twirling his magic wand in his hands. "I'm tempted to just go out there and slash his tires, but that won't help matters."
"I keep telling you to just ask her out," Maggie reminded her friend, not taking her eyes off of the large TV. "She likes you and we both know it. She's probably just humoring that Truman prick until she can meet an artist or photog or something through him that she'll actually want to date."
"Right, and I'm a lousy painter," sighed Tucker, leaning back in his seat.
"No excuse," Maggie told him, continuing to play as she talked.
"You're right," realized Tucker, getting up. "Tonight's the night. I'm going to get her to dump him for me." Maggie looked at her friend in surprise, not used to him actually doing something he really wanted to do.
"I'll bet you won't even be able to accomplish the first part of that," laughed Maggie as she continued to play her game.
"Okay, how about if I win the bet then you wear a cute Japanese schoolgirl outfit for a week except for when you're working?" Tucker suggested to his friend. "If I lose, you get to hold on to the wand for a week."
"Tuck, if you manage to win over Haley tonight I'll let you make me a schoolgirl statue for a week," giggled Maggie, still not taking too much focus off of the TV. "You're on, tough guy."
Tucker smiled and quickly tapped his wand five times, causing time to instantly stop. Maggie was frozen on the couch, this time literally, her hands holding the controller just above her lap, her eyes focused on the screen that showed an unmoving image from the game.
With the seconds no longer ticking by, Tucker was free to do a wardrobe change, swapping his T-shirt and jeans for a navy blue suit with a black shirt and gray tie. To add to his upscale look, Tucker swapped his simple metal-framed glasses for sophisticated-looking black ones and slipped on a watch, a silver one that looked similar to a Rolex. "Later Mags," Tucker told his time-frozen roommate as he walked back into the living room in his new clothes. He proceeded to kiss her on the cheek and give her a hug, casually unplugging her controller as he strolled out of the apartment.
Ideally finding a car that had left a bit over a minute ago would be tricky in the city, as there were usually thousands of cars within a few blocks. When it was a bit later at night this was no exception, but Haley had dropped a hint as to where she was going that night when she and Tucker had spoken earlier, so the assistant manager knew where to look. Only a few blocks away from the apartment complex was Charlie's car, the rich guy was wearing an Armani suit, a gray one with a white shirt and red tie as well as gold accessories and slicked back brown hair. Haley was looking extra-sexy in a shimmery white dress, which was tied around her neck, showing almost total cleavage and revealing a fair amount of shapely back. The Italian blonde also wore expensive silver sunglasses and had a black leather purse that matched her heels. Together, they looked like they could appear in an ad for a luxurious lifestyle. "Tonight I'm going to make you mine," Tucker whispered into Haley's unhearing ear as he climbed into the back seat of the car. The vehicle's backseats were adjustable and there was a small storage space underneath them, just barely big enough for Tucker to fit into. Once the young man was settled into his hiding place he tapped his wand once again and time resumed.
"Tonight we'll be seeing some works from Rachel Hunt, she's really good at still life," blabbed Charles III, Tucker immediately rolling his eyes. Haley had told him as much earlier that day.
"Yes, I can't wait to see it," replied Haley, cleverly masking her lack of enthusiasm for Charles talking with her excitement at seeing the artwork. There was some more casual chatter that went back and forth for the next few minutes but Tucker tuned it out, waiting to hear the engine get turned off.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity Charles pulled up his car and Tucker could hear him talking to a Mexican valet. Figuring it was the best time to exit, Tucker tapped his wand. Once he was sure time had stopped he wriggled his way out of his hiding place, finding himself outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA for short. As it was a special evening exhibit that was by invite only the LACMA had gone all out, featuring not only valets but the bouncers in tuxedos. Haley, looking stunning and still as a mannequin, was standing next to Charlie as he stood frozen in the middle of handing his keys to a Mexican man in his forties with a large mustache and very little hair on his head, reminding Tucker a bit of Cheech Marin. Tucker walked by, casually slapping Haley on the butt as he did, and strolled into the museum, ducking into the men's bathroom. Once he was inside and felt secure he tapped his wand yet again.
Five minutes later and certain he was undetected, Tucker casually emerged from the bathroom and began to wander the exhibit section of the museum. It was full LA party, including celebrities from hot TV shows like Stranded and Malpractice. Tucker chuckled quietly to himself when he saw the celebrities, imagining Maggie would be kicking herself for not coming along. Almost everyone in the area was wearing a tuxedo, suit, waiter’s uniform or expensive designer dress, and many held glasses of champagne, tonic water, and other high-end beverages. Several people stood in front of the paintings and sketches done by Rachel Hunt; all impressions of South America that she'd created while visiting there. Many were landscapes that looked very vibrant; others were a bit more contemporary and had some usual additions like a toilet in the middle of the forest. Tucker casually glanced at the works of art as he grabbed a glass of champagne off a passing tray and began looking for who was probably the only woman in the museum without fake breasts.
It wasn't long before Tucker spotted Haley standing with Charles in front of one picture that depicted a Peruvian woman wandering through the tropical forests with a rifle in her hands, clearly a hunter. Not far away from the would-be couple was Rachel Hunt herself, chatting with a group of men and women in their fifties while she herself was maybe thirty, wearing a strapless black dress that stopped at her knees, black flats and long pearl earrings, her dark hair was done up in a stylish bun, her lips a shade of blue; unusual but dark enough to work with her outfit.
Since Charles III had a glass of champagne in his hand, Tucker saw an opening. When no one was looking he stopped time, drifting over to where his rival and the love of his life were standing. "This is for mistaking me for a doorman last week, you prick," declared Tucker as he casually tipped Charlie's glass downward and moved him forward slightly, making sure he'd spill champagne all over the painting. Laughing all the way back to where he'd been standing, Tucker made sure he had a good view then casually started time back up.
"Oh crap!" exclaimed Charles moments after he was no longer frozen, quickly realizing what he'd done. Unfortunately when he shouted everyone had turned to look at him. Haley held her hands over her mouth and was quickly backing away from her would-be date while Rachel froze as she saw the champagne drip down her masterpiece.
"You inept bastard!" screamed the artist, dropping her glass of red wine and tackling Charles before he could say anything, promptly hitting him in the face and driving a leg into his testicles. He went down on his knees, groaning. The other museum-goers circled closer, curious about the scuffle.
"Hey Haley, over here," Tucker called to his crush, revealing himself to her as she watched Charles get the crap beaten out of him by an older woman, suddenly a not very gentle one. That wasn’t anything she wanted to be associated with. Already, people were photographing the fight and before the night was out it would be posted on MeeTube.
"Tuck, you got an invite to this too?" asked Haley in surprise, instantly smiling and ignoring the brutal scene behind her. Two men were now trying to pull Rachel off of Charles but she hit them both and kept going, giving the rich kid a black eye.
"My friend Lance hooked me up," explained Tucker, trying not to watch his rival getting beaten so he could focus on charming Haley. "You talked about this shindig so I thought I'd check it out. I could always use more culture. Uh, you want get out of here for a second before this gets any uglier?" By now Charles was unconscious and in bad shape but hardly in any real danger, Rachel sitting on top of him and panting in a tired huff as the two men she'd hit earlier attempted to approach once again.
"Yeah; that might be a good idea," decided Haley, impulsively taking Tucker's hand, which he hadn't offered, and walking with him into the entrance area of the museum.
"Boy, I wasn't expecting that," breathed Tucker, trying to fight a grin as he and Haley walked hand in hand for a moment.
"Yeah, but I guess in some weird way he had it coming," decided Haley, suddenly bursting out laughing. “He’s such a pisello!” Now free to do so, Tucker laughed as well, causing a couple of nearby people to look at them strangely.
"So you want to check out something else here?" suggested Tucker, glancing around the museum. It was late, but other areas were left open to the exclusive party-goers.
"Not really," admitted Haley, looking at Tucker with a smile. "I only came to see Rachel Hunt, but I doubt they'll let anyone talk to her now. Why don't we call a taxi and just head home?"
"Sure, I'm on it," declared Tucker, pulling out his cell phone and contacting a cab company. A minute later he'd finished arranging the transportation. "We've got five minutes," announced Tucker as Haley casually paced the area, glancing outside while taking the occasional glance at Tucker himself.
"Hey Tucker, I've been meaning to ask you something," confessed Haley with a slight blush as she fingered her purse. "You and Maggie... are you guys, you know...?"
"Nah; we're just good friends," Tucker assured Haley, seeing a small relieved smile appear on his crush's face. "Maggie's great and all, but she was never really the type of girl I'd date, and besides she doesn’t really date guys."
"And what kind of girls would you date?" asked Haley with a sly smile, edging closer. The pair were now only about three feet apart, Haley just barely out of arm's reach.
"Well..." began Tucker, letting out a breath. It was his moment, and he considered carefully what to say for a moment, during which time Haley inched even closer. "Someone like you," confessed Tucker, and he quickly found himself leaning forward. Much to his happiness Haley was doing the same, and a moment later their lips met for the first time, if you didn't count all the times he'd made out with her while she was frozen in time.
"Excuse me, there's a cab outside for a Mister Holmes," announced the Mexican valet as he peeked his head inside, but Tucker and Haley were too occupied to answer right away.
* * *
Three days later Tucker was sitting in his apartment at the dining room table, attempting to replace the batteries in his camera. "Piece of crap," he muttered as he finished getting his camera to work again.
Charles Truman III would be walking around with a cane, at least for a while, as well as a neck brace, shiner and a new gold tooth. The incident had made the second page of most local magazines, much to Tucker's delight. The millionaire's son was now banned from LACMA, owned thousands to Rachel Hunt, and was without his recent arm candy, Haley having discarded his number. Rachel Hunt had almost suffered a breakdown but recovered, suing LACMA for negligence none-the-less. Charles had declined to press charges for being beat-up, so Rachel ended up more or less on top of the situation; aside from the damage the champagne had done to her poacher painting. Tucker had also used his wand to get hold of her appointment book and pencil in 'Meet with Haley Leone', followed by his girl's address and a time.
As for Tucker and Haley, Haley confessed on the taxi ride home she hadn't initially been attracted to him but found his kindness to be very sweet, her main reason for liking him. Tucker didn't care if his looks weren't his chief attribute, all the same happy to finally be dating his dream girl. The pair had ended up making out in her apartment together for over an hour and watching a bad romantic comedy before turning in. Tonight would be their first proper date, and Tucker was somewhat hoping for sex, though it wasn't the only thing on his mind. He was fairly certain he actually loved Haley for the right reasons.
Strolling into his living room Tucker had another lovely sight awaiting him. Maggie stood still, dressed in a cute Japanese schoolgirl outfit, just as she'd promised, her hands holding Rachel Hunt's face as their lips locked. Rachel stood with her right hand casually gesturing forward, her left at her side, wearing a white short-sleeved blouse and purple skirt with her hair done the same way as the night at the exhibit. Haley was remained patiently down in her room, frozen while holding the door open, having just let Rachel leave when Tucker had stopped time. "This'll make a nice scrapbook photo," chuckled Tucker as he snapped a shot of Maggie and Rachel in their frozen kiss, considering adding it to his computer archive.
To Be Continued in: Last Minute Plans