Home > Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(17)

Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(17)
Author: L.H. Cosway

“Hi honey, listen I’m not sure I dealt with things properly the last time we spoke. Please give me a call when you get this so we can hash things out. Talk to you then.” Then the message cuts off. The second is from Nicky. “Hey Tegan, answer your bloody phone would you! My God, I’ve called like twenty times. Anyways, Amanda tells me the two of you have been hanging out, I hope I’m not being replaced? Only joking. Right well call me. Bu-Bye!”

First I call my dad, but it only rings out twice with no answer so I give up, almost relieved not to have to speak to him. I leave a message on his voice mail instead, doing my best to sound cheery and stable, and not like my entire life and perception of reality has just been ripped out from under me.

“Hi Dad, I got your message. I’m just calling to let you know that I found a job, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that I’m not going to starve or be kicked out of my apartment. And about the whole college thing, well, I am going to go back, I’ll probably repeat in September. I don’t know. I need to figure this out for myself. Please don’t worry about me, I’m fine,” I laugh and try to sound light-hearted, “or maybe I’m just going through some kind of quarter life crisis, who knows. Anyway, I love you. Talk soon.”

Then I hang up and sit silently for a moment, thinking about my dad, and hoping he isn’t lonely living in our house all by himself. I call Nicky shortly thereafter. We talk and talk for a long while, saying so much but at the same time absolutely nothing at all.

On Monday morning I get up and set out for work, despite tossing and turning all night, trying to decide whether I should or shouldn’t quit my job at Indigo. Most people think there is something sinister about their boss at one stage or another, but it’s a whole other matter when you know for a fact that yours is a warlock. On Saturday I’d been excited to discover that there had been a real spell cast on me and that Marcel and Gabriel were going to discover what it is. But the more I think about the whole situation, the more hesitant I am for them to unravel the magic within me. It feels sort of invasive, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with two men I barely know using powers on me I have no chance in hell of understanding. Delving into places inside of me that I don’t even know about myself.

As I arrive at the shop I bump into Gabriel who is just leaving. He informs me that he and Marcel will be out all morning and that I’ll have to take care of things until they get back. I nod and smile, while secretly I’m terrified something will come up that I don’t know how to deal with. Like a customer wanting something important from that back room, for instance. And what if that happens? All I’ll be able to do is stand stock still and stare at said customer wondering what they are, and what they need those specialist back of the shop things for.

I spend some time fixing up the bookshelves, which have clearly not been sorted in quite some time. Later on, I’m sitting at the register painting my nails an ever so pleasant shade of blue black when the last person I want to see enters the store. Rita. After the way she treated me before, I don’t exactly have very many warm and fuzzy feelings towards her. In fact, warm and fuzzy are probably the last two words I would use to describe this girl.

She’s got a sleeveless, knee length black dress on, with bare gaps on either side where the front of the garment is secured to the back via long rows of safety pins. Her hair is a mess, but that’s clearly intentional, and she’s wearing her New Rock boots again.

Chewing on a wooden toothpick, she steps up to me, then leans back against one of the display shelves. Her black rimmed eyes watch me for a moment before she asks, “So, are Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee not around today then?”

“Huh?” I say, my vocabulary astounds me sometimes. Then a second later, after she’s raised her eyebrows at my slowness, I get what she means.

“Oh, Marcel and Gabriel, you mean? No they aren’t in.” I tell her and then continue painting my nails.

She grins, making her way towards the staff door. “Right well, um, I’ll just be in the back then.”

“Hey,” I call. “Are you allowed to go in there?”

Rita doesn’t answer, probably pretending she hasn’t heard me, and disappears through the door. I get up and follow her, finding her in the “special” back room, rifling through a chest of drawers.

“I hope you’re not planning on stealing those.” I say in a stern voice as she stuffs a bag of dried herbs into her black leather bag.

Rita looks up. “No, of course not. Gabriel lets me borrow stuff all the time.”

When I don’t leave, she sighs. “God, you can go on back out front. I’m not lyin’, you can ask Gabriel when he gets back.”

I plonk myself down on one of the big beaded cushions and continue watching her. “What’s that you’re taking?” I ask, while folding my arms.

Rita shrugs. “A bit of this, a bit of that.”

“So are you a witch then?” I blurt out.

She turns and looks at me now, and smirks. “Is that supposed to be a put down?”

“Uh no. I just presumed that since Marcel is a warlock, then maybe you’re like him too, especially since you’re here taking a five finger discount on all those potion ingredients.”

She doesn’t even flinch at my accusing her of robbing and being a witch.

“Oh so you aren’t as ignorant as most people. Well done you,” she answers, mildly sarcastic. “But no, technically I’m not a witch, since according to the backwards, arcane rules you’ve gotta be from one of the twelve families to use magic. But I’ve got the ability, same as my mum does, and we practice too. We’re a whole helluva lot better than those elitist snobs, because we work hard for our talent. They think because they’re born into magic that they don’t have to strive for it. That’s why they sit back and rarely ever use it. Complacency makes their powers weak, I’m telling you, if ever a time comes when one of them has to go up against one of us, they won’t know what’s hit them.”

“Who’s “them” and “us?” I ask.

“They are the Marcel Girards of this world, in other words, born into magic. Silver spoon in their mouths. We are those who practice magic, but do not belong to one of the magical families.”

“Oh.” I say, remembering my lecture from Saturday in Ethan’s office. “So, who are these families then?”

Rita pauses a moment. “You’re telling me you know Marcel is a warlock, yet you don’t know who the families are, how does that work?” she tilts her head questioningly.

“I’m extremely new to all of this.” I answer.

“How new?”

“A couple days new.”

Rita lets out a low whistle. “That’s sort of unheard of, why would Marcel tell you what he is just because you’re working for him? He’s had employees before who never knew.”

“It’s complicated, and Marcel wasn’t the one who told me. It was, um, someone else.”

“Gabriel?”

I shake my head.

“Then who?”

I take a second to consider whether to answer her or not, but then I remember that if she knows about Marcel then she must know about the vampires too, plus she is a wannabe witch.

After a moment I say, “A vampire.”

“You’re friends with a vampire? No way, Marcel would never give someone even remotely associated with the vamps a job.”

“Special circumstances, I guess.”

Rita closes the end drawer she’d been looking through. “What kind of special circumstances?” she asks, suddenly interested.

I don’t know why, maybe I’m just in the mood to talk about myself. Or maybe I want an outsider’s perspective, but for some reason I tell Rita the whole story. How I met the vampires. How I met Marcel and Gabriel and their theories about the spell cast on me. The whole “meeting” scenario on Saturday night. Everything. She stands still and listens, and when I’m finished she almost looks flabbergasted.

“Girl, you have had one eventful fortnight.”

“It’s really confusing to be honest. I don’t know what to believe.”

“You want my advice?” she asks, not so aggressive all of a sudden. I nod.

“I wouldn’t trust anyone if I were you,” she tells me bluntly. “Not the vamps, not Marcel or Gabriel. Once they’ve discovered what’s different about you, they’ll either use you up ‘til there’s nothing left if it’s anything of worth, or they’ll throw you away and forget about you if it’s something useless. They’re all being nice to you because of the mystery, the possibility that you’re something they’ve never come across before. You saw how Marcel was with me last week?” she continues.

“Yeah, he was kind of rude.” I admit.

“You probably thought that was because I’m some sort of massive bitch, right?” Again, I nod.

“Well,” she smirks. “You’d only be half right there, but that’s what the warlocks and witches are like with anybody not from one of their families. Kind of incestuous if you ask me. They hate me because they think I’m a pretender, trying my hardest to be one of them. I’m not though, I do my own thing. My mum taught me everything I know about magic, and I practice it with more integrity than Marcel’s got in his baby finger. Yeah, I kiss his ass, but that’s only because he’s got the supplies,” she pats her bag, now full of stolen herbs.

“What about the vampires?” I ask. “Do you think I can trust them?”

“I don’t deal with the vamps, so I can’t really advise you on that. But I’d say they only want you for the very same reason Marcel does, and it ain’t your pretty face, hun. They’re all after power, and if you can give it to them then they’ll treat you like the Queen of Sheba.”

I rest my chin in the palms of my hands. My forehead crinkles with worry. Well, hasn’t Rita just gone and thrown one giant sized spanner in the works. I suppose it’s a good thing, because I need to know if I’m being conned. We’re both silent for a few moments, and my brain buzzes with questions and ideas. Rita’s mention of there being others like her piques my interest. Subconsciously, I wonder if there are enough amateur magic users out there to overthrow the hierarchy of these twelve families I keep hearing about.

Tentatively, I ask, “So…exactly how many of you are there, unofficial magic users that is?”

Rita looks at me a moment, as though considering whether or not to answer. Then she looks down and coughs. “Three,” she says finally.

“Only three?” I ask in surprise. By the way she’d been talking I was expecting a much larger number. Then I consider how rude I must sound, so I adjust my tone. “Is that including you and your mum, or after?” I say.

“Including,” says Rita, with something like embarrassment on her face.

“Oh.”

Suddenly she gets defensive. “Look, it’s not all about numbers you know. We aren’t trying to build an army. We practice magic to better ourselves and our quality of life, to further our understanding of the universe. Not for power or accolades. Or status,” she snorts, and I can tell she’s referring to the twelve families when she tells me this.

After a moment, I smile. “You surprise me Rita.”

“I do?” she questions. “How?” and then she sits down opposite me, seemingly finished stealing supplies.

I breathe deeply. “I don’t know exactly. Your reasons for practising magic just sound so noble, it’s last thing I expected from you to be honest.”

“Yeah well, maybe you should learn not to judge by appearances,” she pauses. “Or by however loud and aggressive a person might be. Sometimes they can’t help it,” she winks.

“I suppose so,” I tell her smiling, and then we both fall silent for a minute.

“You’ve sort of f**ked up an already dire situation for me,” I say, interrupting the quiet.

“Sorry about that,” Rita sighs, then looks contemplative. “What d’you think you’re gonna do now?”

“Not a clue.” I answer truthfully.

“Well I’ll tell you one thing not to do, no matter what, don’t allow Marcel and Gabriel to study you. You’re new to all this, and it probably seems like fun and games. But believe me there are sinister undertones to this business, and you don’t want anyone connected to the politics like Marcel and Gabriel knowing personal things about you.”

“Yeah, but – I’ve sort of already agreed to let them do this.”

“Then you’d better figure out a way to get out of the agreement if you know what’s good for you,” says Rita, rising from her seat and turning to leave.

I sit there, dejected, and scramble through my thoughts, fumbling to figure out a way to settle this predicament.

“Hey wait,” I call to Rita and she stops in the doorway, turning back to me. “How am I going to explain all those missing items?” I ask, eyeing her bulging handbag.

She laughs, scratches her head. “Oh…um, just tell them I bulldozed in, took all the stuff and did a runner. Don’t worry, they won’t blame you for not stopping me. Besides, Marcel will find a way for me to pay him back, he always does,” she sighs.

“Oh, all right then.” I pause a moment to think. “Um, Rita, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” she nods, while also glancing at the exit, perhaps she’s worried about Marcel returning and catching her in the act.

   
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