Welcome to the final day of the October Frights Blog Hop. Getting to share my words with you and read yours has been a lot of fun. I hope we’ll all keep in touch. I have so many ideas on the back burner as I’m sure you do.
Today, I thought I’d go back and give you a last taste of Echoes of the Past. The book is on sale for 99 cents USD all month. https://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Past-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B014X8XLLY
Tasha opened the shop door, and Michelle reluctantly followed her inside. The store smelled of incense and age. Some of the books moldering on the shelves had to be a hundred years old. There was some kind of punk music playing in the background—not a musical style she enjoyed. She looked around her. There were crystals of every shape, size, and color, some on chains, others in dishes. Cones and sticks of incense, burners, and candles in every scent known to man littered the counters. She noted the numerous apothecary jars filled with powders of various colors all neatly labelled.
If I look hard enough will I find eye of newt and mandrake root? Michelle relaxed. I don’t think I have anything to worry about here. There’s no way this woman will figure out my secret.
The young Goth girl standing by the cash register didn’t even look up when the bell attached to the door announced their arrival. The open magazine on the counter engrossed her. Dressed entirely in black, a spiked dog collar around her neck, she had short, spiked, black hair with tips dyed to match the blood-red lipstick she wore. She was quite pretty if you could overlook the ghoulish make-up and way too many piercings. “Can I help you?” She didn’t take the time to look at them and sounded as bored as she probably was. The place didn’t look as if it had had customers in days.
“Yes, you can,” Tasha spoke before Michelle could turn tail and run.
“My friend is here to see Audra. Is she accepting clients tonight?”
The girl’s head jerked up, like a bobble-headed doll pressed too hard. Surprise and excitement glowed in her startling, black-lined, green eyes. She smiled, showing off teeth so white, they must recently have been bleached. She looked from Michelle to Tasha and back to Michelle again. “This is like, so cool. Audra said you were coming. She always knows.” She pointed a black-fingernail-tipped finger at Michelle. “You’re Michelle, right?”
Tasha gasped. “How did you know her name? That’s freaky!”
A frisson coursed down Michelle’s spine. What was going on here? There was no way this woman could know her name. While Michelle believed in ghosts, witches and warlocks were the stuff of fairy tales. Tasha!
“You called ahead and made an appointment, didn’t you? You’re pretty sure of yourself,” she accused.
“As God is my witness, I didn’t call. How could I? I didn’t even know you were going to go through with it. I waited all afternoon for you to call and tell me you were going on that case and leaving right away. That’s why I’d arranged to meet Simon at The Copper Kettle, too. He’d have been there if it hadn’t been for that accident, or are you going to accuse me of arranging that four car pile-up, too?”
Tasha tried to look indignant, but the combination of awe and fear on her face spoiled the look.
Her expression convinced Michelle she was telling the truth.
The girl behind the counter giggled self-consciously and closed her magazine. She’d been following their conversation closely. While she might have been told to expect them, she seemed slightly spooked, too.
Michelle’s level of discomfort rose.
“This is so awesome! Audra said you’d be skeptical. Your friend is right. She didn’t call or anything, but Audra knew you were coming. She even told me you’d be the dark-haired one, and I should treat you with respect. Are you a witch, too? I’ve never been told to be especially nice to anyone before.”
Tasha laughed. “Let me think, I’ve heard her called something like that, but I’m sure it started with a ‘B’.”
The girl giggled again, the innocent sound at odds with her macabre appearance.
Michelle glared at Tasha. “Very funny. I love you, too.”
“Go on back, Michelle. She’s waiting for you.” The girl pointed to Tasha. “Sorry, but Audra says you’re to wait out here with me.”
“Dang! I wanted to sit in on the audience.” She made a face and pouted. “You’ll tell me everything, promise?”
Tasha then fell into the overstuffed chair in what must be the reading-waiting area. “Okay. You’re on your own. Since it’s my idea, I’ll pay.”
“No, you won’t,” the cashier interrupted. “Audra says there’s no charge.”
Michelle looked from one woman to the other, shook her head, and turned to face the heavy black velvet drapery separating the audience area from the rest of the store. She felt a sense of impending doom.
What the hell is going on here? I should just turn around and walk out of this place.
As much as the idea of leaving appealed to her, she realized she couldn’t do it. It was like watching two cars speeding toward each other. You knew something bad was going to happen, but you were powerless to stop it. She separated the curtains and stepped through.
She’d entered a different dimension. Gone was the punk rock music in the background. Even the smell was different in here. How was that possible? Michelle looked around the small enclosure, her gaze coming to rest on the woman standing behind the small, round, black-cloth-covered table. She blinked.
If you wanted someone to pose for one of Macbeth’s witches, Audra would be the perfect choice. The woman, old and bent, resembled everyone’s Halloween-inspired image of a sorceress—minus the warts. She had long, gray hair, which probably hadn’t seen a comb, or shampoo, for that matter, in years.
The minute Michelle sat on the chair in front of the seer, she knew she wasn’t a fraud. The spirits were with this woman, and Michelle had long since learned to respect the spirits even if she didn’t like the hold they had over her.
The woman sat after she did and smiled. The gesture transformed her. Suddenly, instead of an old crone, the woman who sat before her had an ageless beauty and wisdom about her. Her sightless eyes remained as before. She was calm.
Instantly, Michelle relaxed. “What are you?” she whispered.
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