No observations as it’s late. I am in the process of just trying to catch up and if time allows, maybe get a bit ahead since I doubt I’ll do writing on our Thanksgiving Thursday.
Again, thank you all so much for your support.
Total word count: 29,149
2524 words behind.
You can read previous sections here.
I shake my head and return to the kitchen, leaving Moira and Rose to stare out at the strange stalker across the street who sits with his long legs stretched out in front of him, his arms crossed over his leather jacket, and seemingly immune to the cold that makes his breath white in the dark early morning.
Plugging my phone into the speakers, I move through my playlists until I find my indie folk listing, something a bit jaunty and a bit subdued. Mumford and Sons begins playing and I hum along.
In the mornings I have far too much to do to get ready, even if it’s just preparation and cooking of three soup choices for lunch. The thought has crossed my mind to hire another person to help with prep, but Rose and Isla usually come through when I fall behind. It would be nice though, I think as I begin the usual task of chopping onions. The chopping, while meditative at times, takes up a lot of time. Ha. Listen to me. What else could I be doing? An extra half-hour of sleep?
Before events took things off track, I had huge ideas of expanding, but I think those ideas will have to stay on the back burner until I see how things play out. I don’t believe in risking my livelihood and future, especially since I am in the process of discovering new things about myself. Like the fact that I am telekinetic or whatever it’s called when you can move something with your mind…although it was my arm…without actually touching the man. Is there a name for that?
A big booming knock on the backdoor startles me so much that my knife clatters onto the counter. What in the world?
I jog to the front, wondering if the Swedish stalker is still sitting on the bench. He is. So, who is knocking on the backdoor? Maybe there’s a whole army of witch slayers coming to take us down.
The problem with the backdoors in this building section is that they don’t have windows and there is no way, considering the current circumstances, that I am about to blithely open the door. Oh! I remember the stockroom does have a tiny window that looks in the back parking lot. I trot into the storage room, push aside the curtain and screech when the Swedish stalker presses his face against the window.
“Open the door, witch,” he growls.
My hand flies to my chest, probably to keep my thudding heart from bursting out.
Okay, this is not possible. He’s on the bench across the street. He can’t possibly be in two places at one time.
Rose and Moira run into the stockroom. Rose gasps, and Moira barks, and then growls as she jumps toward the window.
“How can he be there and across the street?”
“Astral projection,” Moira supplies.
“What?” Rose and I ask in unison. “Isn’t that something only witches can do?”
The backdoor rattles again with the pounding of a fist. “Open the door, witch.”
“Or what? You’ll huff and puff and blow my soup kitchen down? Go away, stalker.”
“I just want to talk.”
“And I want to fly, but it ain’t happening.”
“It could. Open the door, Sophia. We need to talk.” The tone of his voice drops, making him sound normal, patient. And I’m not falling for it. “We have much to discuss, especially in light of your show of force last night.”
Moira butts me with her muzzle. “What?” I ask her.
“He’s strange. Such strange vibes coming from him. One moment I want to trust him and then next I want to bite his leg in two. I don’t comprehend.”
I huff. “Sounds like a typical man to me.”
“Ha. Not typical though. I think he’s deliberately confusing me. I think he has powers. I think he could be really strong.”
Well that would be my worst fears confirmed.
I tap speed dial to call Mom to see if she has updates. “The big bad wolf is here to blow down my soup kitchen,” I tell her.
“He’s persistent. He can’t get in though.”
“He is knocking and shaking the building.”
“He shouldn’t be able to do that.”
“Uh, there’s no doubt he’s doing it.”
“A malevolent force should be repelled, like shocked and thrown back. If he’s bad, he shouldn’t be able to touch the door.”
“You want to tell him that?” I wait and wonder. “Are witch slayers malevolent forces?”
Silence hums over the connection as I wait for Mom to respond.
“Damn. Let me check into a few things. I’ll be there soon.”
If he’s doing what he shouldn’t be able to do, does that mean we’re under threat? Yet, if we’re being threatened, doesn’t that make him malevolent? I have so not had enough coffee for this puzzle.
“Look here, Anton. I’ve got work to do and can’t come out and play right now. Come back for lunch. I still owe you soup, right?”
“No tricks?” he asks softly.
“Not from me.”
“Okay. 11 am, when your shop opens.”
After a beginning of the day like that, I’m surprised that I can focus enough to create the soups for lunch, but I do. It probably comes from schooling at the culinary institute as well as having a lot of practice. Nine stockpots simmer on the stove ready for the lunch rush, their scents filling the air.
Nikki struts in, oblivious to the stressed energies around her.
“Gorgeous day. Cold enough for soup,” she says before donning her apron and going to the dining room to check that the condiments are full, the silverware is in place, and there are plenty of napkins.
Both Rose and I glance at each other. Usually Nikki is nonstop talk before she starts checking on things in the dining room. It must be me, I decide. The past few weeks have just readied me for anticipating stresses.
But Nikki appears in the doorway, her hand on her hip, her almond shaped brown eyes hurt. “Why did you take your dog to Smokey Dave’s instead of me? You didn’t even call me to tell me you’d be there. Do you like going places with your dog better than me?”
I could swear that I hear Moira snort in the storage room. “What? It was a spur of the moment decision.”
“I saw you dance with that big guy. Are you in love?” Tears are in her eyes. She is totally over-reacting and not being at all like herself. Just one more to add to the list.
Rose pats Nikki’s shoulder. Nikki glances between us, shakes her head, and then flounces into the dining room again. “I thought we were the best of friends,” she yells.
With a shake of my head at Rose, I go into the dining room. “It was late. I thought you’d probably be settled in for the night.”
“Maybe I’ll get a dog and hang out with it and see how you like it.”
Now this is verging on bizarre. Nikki never takes things like this to heart. She may be ditzy, but she’s always rational, if that’s possible.
“Nikki, it’s not like that.”
And then before I can react, Nikki is not Nikki any more but a blond Swede who has his huge hand clasping my throat. His breath is hot on my ear as he leans down. “Yes, Sophia. I have powers too. Things you can only imagine.”
“Crap, well that was one I didn’t imagine so you’ve got me there.”
“Literally. So, now we will talk.”
“Couldn’t we have done it a bit less dramatically…and without your hand around my throat?”
“Just trying to make a point,” he says, against my ear.
end of Day 18