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Today’s installment comes once again from the Last Call: Denouement.
Kelsey turned back to Mina. “Speaking of bitching, what has Nana in a tizzy?”
“A boy at our place.” Mina shook her head, remembering the oddness of a creeper attack in a city. “He’s a demon magnet.”
Kelsey blinked. “Like monsters are following him around?”
“Going out of their way to do so.” The Trojan shuddered. “I saw some stuff these last few days…” He trailed off as Kelsey hurried away, dragging her sister Courtney along with her. “Is she always that flaky?”
Mina shook her head. “She’s never that flaky.” She glanced up at the thick beams of the ceiling. Sure enough, a flash of brown scampered up there.
Edrith was a brownie, and she looked after the bar. Six inches of obnoxious old lady, Edrith looked remarkably like Rita. For some reason, she’d chosen Mina to be the new bouncer a few years back. The brownie squinted down before walking away. Mina could almost hear the abusive litany. Edrith mirrored Rita’s emotions, and something they had said had the old witch very upset.
Mina leaned against the Trojan and dropped her voice. “Something’s up.”
“What do we do about it?”
Mina considered the options. “Normally, I prefer confrontation.”
“Dick. However, I could change behind the bar and eavesdrop from afar.”
“That’s good to know, but I think we’ll go with the first option. Frankly, I can’t piss Rita off anymore, and believe me, truly good excuses to give her shit are few and far between.”
“Yay, yelling at my boss.” Still she pushed out of the Trojan’s arms and headed down the hall. However, the women weren’t in the storeroom, the kitchen, or Rita’s office.
I knew I should have gone wolf.
Anger stirred in her chest. “They must be upstairs.”
The Trojan tossed her a smirk. “Not necessarily.” He walked over to a wall, and began running his fingers over it. “This place has been here for a damn long time. And Rita’s family kept it going through Prohibition.”
“A rotgut room?” She examined the wall closely. One panel of wood seemed to be a slightly different color. “Nobody mentioned it to me in two years.”
He grinned down at her. “The best way to keep a secret—”
“Is not to tell anyone.” She swiped the off-color panel, and a section of the wall swung inward.
On the other side stood a glorified broom closet. A bare bulb illuminated Rita and her granddaughters.
Mina put her hands on her hips. “Are we interrupting?”
Rita glared at the Trojan. “You want me to tattle all yer secrets?”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Make my fucking life. Get me stuck on this side.”
Her brain kicked into overdrive as the implications washed over Mina. She had known that Rita knew something about the Trojan’s mysterious friends, but this sounded like Rita might know quite a bit.
And if they find out I’m asking, he gets kicked out… and it would kill him.
Her hands curled into fists as she pushed the thoughts away. She was not going to sabotage his life. She tried to take a calming breath, but the air that huffed out of her nose nearly singed her nostrils. “Start talking.”
Courtney took a step back and Kelsey’s eyes went wide, but Rita just sighed. “There are spells that can call out to demonic energy. It’s possible the boy’s been… cursed, fer lack of a better word.” Rita folded her arms over her chest. “The problem is how t’break it.”
“And this had to be kept from us because…?” Mina tried to hold back her anger, but the shock on their faces irritated her even more. “I’ve known you were witches from the beginning and never said a word until that gods-be-damned poltergeist hunt at the school last summer. I have worked here for two years, and this is how much I’m trusted?”
Rita winced as Kelsey held up a hand. Mina’s teeth bared in a snarl that stopped whatever they were about to say. “I’m getting my lunch and heading home. I won’t be in for my shift tonight.”
The Trojan slipped out of the room with a feral grin, and she slammed the door shut behind her. Before she could stalk off, he had her wrist in his hand.
“There’s something I really want to do.” His grin slipped into something boyish.
Her temper subsided a little, but she couldn’t keep the snap out of her voice. “What’s that?”
“I want to go ice skating at PPG Place.”
Her anger evaporated. “I haven’t been yet this year.”
He tugged on her arm. “We’ll grab lunch downtown, too.”
She skipped a few steps. “What about Kevin?”
His face fell. “Okay, let’s head home.”
She wrapped an arm around his waist. “As soon as we take care of this, I expect to go ice skating.”
“With hot cocoa.” They headed for the kitchen and the alley beyond where she had parked her car.
Thanks for reading.