Saturday 15 June 2013

EXCERPT #2: On Pins and Needles

Sierra and Willow meet for the first time...
“Willow, is Jamie one of the things you see out of the corner of your eye?”
She looked at me, surprised. “Yes, he is. How did you know about him?”
“I don’t know how this happened, or even how it’s possible, but it looks like you’ve got several poltergeists attached to you. They seem to manifest when you get angry or upset.” It was too soon to pry about why the mention of her father prompted such a severe reaction. And after testing the theory, I certainly didn’t want her to go there again.

“What do you mean by poltergeists?” Her eyes were wide as she looked around the office. “I remember watching the movie, but how can I have one attached to me? It doesn’t make any sense. Do you know what’s wrong with me? Does it have something to do with me dying so many times?”
She threw too many questions at me and I couldn’t answer them yet. I’d encountered plenty of poltergeists, but they were usually the mischievous spirits of dead teens or children. I’d never seen anything like this before, but just like the poltergeist phenomena, her reaction stemmed from strong emotional responses.
“I don’t know why or how this happened to you, but it has.” I was glad the charged energy was gone.
 “But I’m going to help you figure it out.”
“Really?” She looked so young and hopeful.
“Thank you, I knew meeting you was the right thing to do.” A small, apologetic smile curved her lips but the sadness lingered in her eyes.
“There’s just one problem,” I said.
“What’s that?”
“I’m going to have to ask you a bunch of questions you might not want to answer.” I paused to let that sink in. “Do you think you can handle it?”
Willow was thoughtful for a moment before she said, “Yeah, I can.”
“Good.” I hoped that I could handle this, because only a messy situation—or situations—could have put her in this position. The first thing I needed to confirm was how she’d gotten this condition, though I was pretty sure it was an inherited curse.
I felt bad for her, and could certainly relate to receiving a gift disguised as a nuisance.
She sat quietly in the chair, looking around.
“So, where are you staying?”
I pointed at her bursting backpack. “You’ve got a whole bunch of stuff packed in there.”
“Oh,” she said, hugging it to her chest and reminding me of Lavie’s peculiar habit. Except, I was certain this girl wasn’t stowing any severed demonic body parts. “Yeah, I’m staying with a friend.”
“I’m glad.” I probably wouldn’t have offered her a place to stay just yet, but it struck me as weird that she hadn’t made a day trip for our meeting. There was certainly something strange going on with her father, but now wasn’t the time to find out. “Look, I don’t want to overload you with prying questions, so how about you pop back in here tomorrow and we’ll get started? We can meet at…four. How’s that sound?”
“Okay, sure, that sounds good.” She instantly shot to her feet and placed the backpack straps around her shoulders. “I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.”
“Great.” I extended my hand and she shook it. “I look forward to seeing you again.” As hard as I tried not to make this feel like a business transaction, it kinda did.
“I’ve got a bit of money, so I can pay you for—”
“No, I won’t take your money.” This might feel reminiscent of the cases I usually dealt with, but I wasn’t taking money from a confused kid who also happened to be my half-sister.
“Are you sure? I don’t want you to think I’m taking advantage of you.”

“I know you’re not.”

“Thank you.” Willow flashed a pretty smile and headed for the door. She stopped just outside, turned and said, “I’m really glad I found you. I’ve always wanted a sister and you’re even better than I imagined.”
I smiled back and felt a warm glow inside. She might come with a few otherworldly problems, but who didn’t have some kind of baggage nowadays? “I’ll see you tomorrow, Willow.”
She strolled out the door and I turned back to my office.
After picking up the folders and stacking them where they belonged, I decided there was no way I would get any work done now. Besides, it was almost time to meet Papan in the city.
I shut the window, put on my mostly-dry jacket and made sure my dagger was still secured between sock and boot. I loaded up with keys, wallet, and phone before heading for the door, wishing Oren would hurry up and teach me the incantation to make my pockets deeper than they really were.
After closing the door behind me, I made sure it was locked before rushing for the stairs. I might have walked into my office in a morose mood, but I was now filled with a sense of hopeful energy.
I’d helped poltergeists before without being able to see them. I could handle this for my sister.
Wow, it feels good to say sister.
As soon as I stepped out of the building, I smacked right into someone. When strong arms wrapped tightly around my midsection, I struggled to squirm out of the vice-like grip.
Oh crap, not again!

ON PINS AND NEEDLES will be available on June 18, 2013:

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