Soulless in Seattle Chapter 2
By Melissa L. Webb
I stood behind the check-in counter of the Hotel DenMark, filing my nails with a yawn. My passion pink nail polish was chipped in several spots and I was in dire need of a manicure. I filed away, trying to give my mind something to focus on.
It was a losing battle.
I tossed the emery board on the counter behind me in disgust and glanced out onto the empty lobby. I was bored. Bored out of my little blonde head. It was a Sunday afternoon in the beginning of February and no one was checking in.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. Most of our rooms were full, but no one graced our lobby, lingering like they normally did. No one needed anything. The phones stayed silent.
For some strange reason, everything was calm and quiet, and it was driving me crazy. After all the excitement I had lived through lately, absolute nothingness was wearing me out.
Ever since Christmas, after my parents had gone home from their vacation, things had calmed down in my life. Nothing had tried to kill me. I was learning to harness all the power that flowed within me.
I was also beginning to learn when to use magic, much to my friend’s relief.
Hey, a girl summons one little God and everyone comes unglued. I just didn’t get it. It wasn’t as if I had gotten anyone killed.
Well…coming close didn’t count in my book. Either you did, or you didn’t. And I definitely didn’t.
Anyway, control was good in their eyes. I wasn’t completely out of the doghouse yet, but it was a start.
Moving to L.A. was the best decision I had ever made. I just wish I had done it sooner. But then again, the Fates always knew what they were doing. Maybe I hadn’t been ready to embrace my witchyness until then. I mean, after all, it had taken me a while before I was willing to accept that I was anything but a freak, even this late in life. And trust me, 23 was way late to find out what you really were.
No wonder why I was always trying to play catch-up with my friends. It was only natural.
I sighed as I stared at the clock. I wondered what Van and her sister were doing. I still thought it was strange she hadn’t mentioned her sister was in town. Did the clueless witch that shared her apartment embarrass her?
That thought stung as I contemplated it. But it only lasted for a second. That wasn’t who Van was. She had welcomed me with opened arms since the first day we met. She was my best friend. She’d never let my naïve actions come between us.
Something else must be going on, but what?
My boredom was put on hold as the front doors opened. The girl of the hour was back and I had a million questions I needed to ask.
She hurried to the counter, a worried look on her face.
“Is everything okay, Van?” I asked immediately, worried at the sight of the frazzled pixie. She was normally so calm and collected. The rock to my off-kilter days.
She looked at me, shadows as thick as smudges under her blue eyes. “I don’t know yet.”
“Why? Is it your sister? What happened?” I had never met any of her family, but I knew how much she loved them. It would rip her heart out if something bad had happened.
“Jenny’s worried,” Van told me quietly. “Something strange is going on with her family.”
Her sister, Jenny, lived in Seattle with her husband and son. I shivered at the thought of the child in danger. I could only imagine what Van was feeling.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Van shrugged, the weight on her shoulders taking up far too much room. “It started at their store. Little things. Lights going on and off. Stuff moving by itself. Voices with no source.”
I frowned. Sounded like some kind of haunting. “There’s a ghost in the store?”
She nodded. “Yes, but that’s not the problem. Their store has always been haunted. No,” she told me seriously, “whatever is in the store now is scaring the ghosts.”
“Okay.” What do you do when something scares ghosts?
“It’s spreading. Things are happening at their home. They see things out of the corner of their eyes. They aren’t the only ones occupying their house now.”
She had my full attention. Someone else living in your home? That was the creepiest thing I had ever heard. “So what is it?”
“It’s never more than a fleeting darkness to Jenny and her husband. But…they think it’s appearing to their son, Mackenzie. They hear him talking to someone at night.” She sighed, leaning wearily on the counter. “He’s changed. Jenny says he’s not the same bright, inquisitive 10-year-old he used to be. He’s become sullen, withdrawn.”
Mmm, sounded like a teenage thing to me, but 10 years was a little young to start, especially if he came from a good home. And if Jenny was anything like her sister, it was one of the best.
“My sister is hoping Mac will talk to me. He’s always loved his Auntie Evangeline. He used to talk to me for hours about nothing just because he could. Maybe he’d be more open with me now.”
I looked around us, half expecting her sister’s family to be right there. “So, when do you get to talk to him? Is he in town, too?”
She shook her head. “That’s the thing. She wants me to come to Seattle. Talk to Mac in his own surroundings.”
Wow. It looked like Van was headed north for a few days. “When do you leave?”
“She wants me to come as soon as possible. Jenny’s afraid to wait any longer.”
That made sense. When something was wrong with your child, help couldn’t come soon enough. “I suppose you’re leaving with her today.’
“No. She’s already gone. A Djinn who owed her a favor popped her here and back. She wanted to talk to me in person, but needs to be there when Mackenzie comes home from school. She…” Van stopped, staring down at the counter. “She doesn’t want him to know how serious she and James are taking this.”
Hmmm. Was Van’s sister afraid of her own son? What was going on in the Emerald City? “Well, I guess this means a road trip is in your and Danny’s future.”
Van shook her head. “The high school is testing this week. Danny can’t leave his classes,” she told me, a sigh coating her words. “I’m going to fly up there alone. It’s the simplest way to go.”
Van’s hesitation filled the air. That was the last thing she wanted to do, and I couldn’t say I blamed her. Taking a journey alone, no matter what waits at the end, is always a daunting task.
As I stood there, taking in Van’s despair, an idea suddenly started to take form. I knew I still needed to find a way to repay Van for everything she’d done for me.
Like a miracle, she had risen up out of nowhere to help steady me in my time of need. I wanted to do the same for her.
I was going to go with her.
But forget the airplane. Flying was so passé. We would do it in style. An adventure worthy of a witch and a pixie.
“Van,” I said, holding back a squeal. “I’m coming with you. That is, if I can have the time off work.”
She looked at me, the gears in her head turning. “Are you sure? It’s just going to be a lot of boring family time. Nothing too exciting for the great Maxie Duncan.”
“Oh, come on,” I told her. “I don’t have any siblings. I’d love to experience some Auntie time. Even if it’s only vicariously.”
“Okay,” she said with a smile. “I’ll go book our flights. You don’t mind if we leave tomorrow morning, do you?” She turned around, no doubt headed for her office.
“Wait,” I called, practically bubbling over from the anticipation. “We’ll take my convertible. It’ll be fun.”
Van stopped, turning back around, a smile haunting her lips. “It would only be a three day drive,” she said, thinking it over. “Three days wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference.”
My face lit up as the smile I was holding back came out to play. “It’ll be an adventure. You and me on the open road. Some quality BFF time as we Thelma and Louise it up the coast.”
“Deal,” she said, the smile now full fledged. “Just as long as you don’t drive us off any cliffs.”
“You have my word.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” she teased as she walked away, no doubt to preplan our trip. That was Van for you.
I shuffled through the paperwork behind me. It had been a long winter and I was ready for a vacation. True, this would be nothing like a tropical paradise getaway, but a vacation was still a vacation.
Who knew working 9 to 5 could lead to cabin fever?
I couldn’t wait to go home and start packing. I just needed to take a short trip down town first. After all, a girl needed to stock up on essentials before hitting the open road.
This would be my first time seeing the West Coast in all its glory. It would be like one of those coming-of-age movies where the girl discovers everything about herself while seeing the sights.
It was going to be awesome.
Coastal highways, best friend bonding, and tacky souvenirs. This was going to be the road trip of a lifetime.
After all, when a witch hits the road, adventure’s sure to follow. Right?
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb