How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

Prologue

There was no getting around the fact that Tinker Bell was a little bitch.

The tiny, white powder-puff bichon frise with professionally manicured toenails scampered under the thornbush and out of sight. Aghast, I stared at her diamond-studded collar swinging perilously from her leash like a noose swaying from the gallows. It was way after curfew. We were deep in the forest, and my evil boss’s perfumed purse ornament had just taken off after an imaginary squirrel.

“Tink!” I hissed, trying to catch glimpses of white in the murky undergrowth. “Come back here, you spoiled-rotten little Q-tip. You’re going to get me fired!”

I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open, having been up since dawn to walk the dog and then in the Fairyland salon by six thirty, dressed in my silver gown and ready to start my day. Trish the stylist had twisted my long, brown hair into a tight updo topped with a delicate pearl headpiece; after which Helga had lined my green eyes in purple and my less-than-pouty lips in glossy pink.

At 7:02 I delivered to my boss, aka “the Queen,” her usual breakfast of three raw almonds, two grapefruit slices cut into thirty pieces, one hard-boiled egg (miraculously yolk-free), a pot of Earl Grey tea with precisely two drops of honey, and the morning’s newspapers—edited to remove all references to the Mouse—before sorting through her mail, reading the customer-feedback forms in what we in the Fairyland front office jokingly referred to as the Box of Whine, polishing her Magic Mirror, sorting her pencils according to length, and feeding Tinker Bell two spoonfuls of Russian caviar.

At ten I had to raid the kitchen to steal several bright red apples, since Snow White’s poisoned ones were all rotten. At noon I was called to the Haunted Forest, where Hansel and Gretel (aka Brendan Borowitz and Stella McPherson) had been caught making out behind the Candy Cottage. (“Gretel was applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save her brother after the witch had tried to kill him. Isn’t that touching?” I told the traumatized children, pale from witnessing their first pseudoincestuous atrocity.)

Mac Weintraub as Jack took a post-lunch snooze and accidentally rolled off the beanstalk around two. I had to check if anything was broken before I called the insurance company. Oh, and did I mention Miranda Clark? She was playing Rapunzel when the air-conditioning broke in her hot, cramped tower, and she fainted. Fortunately I’d thought to bring along some spirit of hartshorn to revive her, along with serious contraband, an ice-cold can of Red Bull.

“You’re a lifesaver, Zoe,” Rapunzel whispered, popping it open and guzzling it in one swallow.

Not a lifesaver, actually, more like a psychic lady-in-waiting working behind the scenes to save my fellow Fairyland cohorts from imminent disaster while trying to anticipate my boss’s every whim. Though, at midnight, maybe not so much.

The iPhone in my pocket trilled the strains of “Every Breath You Take” right as Tink’s furry butt slipped out of my hands. “Where are you, Zoe?” Her Majesty inquired in her nasal voice. “I want to go to bed, and I need my Tinksy Winksy.” There was an ominous pause. “I hope you haven’t lost her.”

I shivered at the veiled threat in her icy tone. “No, ma’am.” Not yet. “Tinksy wants to stay out longer.”

The Queen yawned. “Very well, then. I’ll wait up.”

Oh, please don’t, I thought as she hung up. “Tink. Where are you? Come back here!”

We weren’t supposed to leave the park perimeter. It was strictly forbidden. Did I dare go farther?

Either that, or lose the dog.

Right. I did not want to think