Chapter Eleven: The chapter wherein the handsome detective sees Hero to her door, and Jenny helps Hero get her messages.
The rest of the date, or not date, with Kyle went pretty well. It took a while for both of us to shake off the calls from dead people and the murder issue, but we managed to make plans to meet at Dee’s the following afternoon. He was a little concerned about letting me drive myself home. Something about preters and using our powers being tiring, I had a flash of Jenny in the sushi parking lot. After her transformation and the hunger that almost overwhelmed her.
I didn’t know if ghosts calling me really counted as me using my powers, and I felt fine and told him as much. But I settled for letting him follow me home in his car.
I wasn’t surprised that he parked on the street in front of my building and met me at my car before I’d had time to even get out.
“So, thanks for helping me with the investigation,” I said getting out of the car. I noticed that he held the car door open for me. I hoped he wouldn’t ask to come up to the apartment; I didn’t want to have to explain Jenny waiting for me there.
As we walked the short distance to the stairs he answered, “It’s my job to investigate.” He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked at me, “And I wish the circumstances were better, but it gives me a chance to spend time with you.”
I met his eyes and swallowed. He was serious. I wasn’t sure what to say. He’d made it totally clear that he was interested, and I didn’t know what I wanted. Would I be interested if he wasn’t part of the preterworld? Would I even consider a date, starting a relationship with him? I just didn’t know. Other than being with Dee and Jenny, I’d never really felt like I fit anywhere. I didn’t bother much with relationships.
He kept his eyes locked on mine, “Hero unless you tell me otherwise, I’m going to keep trying with you.” His voice was low. “When this is over, I want a real date.”
I bit my lip and gazed at him.“ You’ve got the worst timing ever.” I whispered. “I’m not promising to consider anything until I resolve all this stuff with Dee.” I made my voice sound firmer, stronger because, at the moment, I really wanted to forget everything except for him.
He nodded, “Fair enough.” He smiled, “But I can’t deny everything in my nature.” He tilted my head up and kissed me.
There wasn’t any hesitation on his part, none of the tentative, fumbling of a first kiss. There wasn’t even anything soft about it. His lips almost claimed mine. Firm and demanding but promising so much more. I felt myself lean into him and wrap my arms around his neck. He pulled back a second and looked into my most likely dazed eyes, and all I saw was heat. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me closer, and I felt the heat from his hand on my lower back. He kissed me again, with the same insistence. He broke the kiss and gently shifted away from me but kept his arms loosely around me. My hands rested on his shoulders and I blinked at him, still dazed.
I was far from inexperienced but kissing him was far more than I’d ever experienced. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I tightened my hands on his shoulders, just to keep my knees from giving out.
“Hero,” his voice was raspy, “You should go inside, now.”
I blinked at him again, trying to find something to say.
“Seriously Hero, you said you weren’t ready.” His voice was a husky whisper.
I licked my lips and finally found my voice, “You’ll have to let me go.” I tried to smile, to make it a joke, but I don’t think it worked.
His hands tightened briefly on my hips and then fell away. He took a shuddering breath, “You are amazing.”
I found it hard to take my hands off him but forced my fingers to unclench from his shirt. “Uh-huh, I’m amazing.” I shook my head. “See you at Dee’s tomorrow?”
He nodded, his eyes never leaving my face.
I turned to walk up the stairs. I could feel him watching me. When I reached the top, I looked back and saw him waiting to make sure I got inside. He stood gazing up at me, with his hands shoved in his pockets. I waved and smiled.
Jenny pounced on me the second I walked in. And I mean that almost literally. She was standing next to the door and grabbed my hand as soon as I walked in.
“Jenny, what the hell?” I sputtered as she clenched my hand tighter.
“Wait,” she hissed and slowly loosened her grip on my hand. “I was just checking.” She said and dropped my hand as if that explained anything.
I flexed my hand, certain that it was bruised around my keys. “Checking what? Your grip?” I looked at my hand and the imprint of my keys in my palm. “You almost broke my hand.”
She rolled her eyes at me, “I was nowhere near breaking it. I was making sure he didn’t use any of his mojo on you.”
I followed her back to the couch and sat heavily. “Mojo? I think the 60s wants its slang back.”
“Well, what else should I call it, his superpowers of seduction?” She grinned at me.
I groaned, “Ok, I’ll take mojo. Jeeze, I told you I was fine. And he offered to help me solve Dee’s murder.”
She raised an eyebrow at me, “So you spent the last four hours talking about business?”
I shrugged, “Not all of it.” I shot her a glance, while I walked to the couch. I sat down heavily, knowing that I must still be wearing a dreamy expression. All I wanted was to talk to my best friend about a guy. A guy I was finding harder and harder to resist. I wanted an evening of ice cream and girl talk but wasn’t sure Jenny could do that. I wasn’t sure that she could or would overlook what he was long enough to let me moon over him. “Can you be my best friend for a few minutes and not my preter guardian angel?”
She rolled her eyes at the guardian angel part but nodded and sat next to me.
“Ok, as a best friend, can we talk about the super-hot guy who likes me?” I asked.
Jenny paused her moment and then laughed. Really laughed. I realized then, that I hadn’t really heard her laugh since we got the news about Dee. I hadn’t seen her be anything other than scared or angry in days. She laughed a little longer and had to wipe away tears, before taking a deep breath.
“So the date portion of the evening went well?” I could tell she was trying to muster up enthusiasm.
I smiled back at her, “I think so.” I thought back to kiss at the door. “No, it went really well.”
Jenny leaned back and folded her legs underneath herself, shifting into her girl-talk comfort position. “And, I take it you like him?”
I thought about the question. I was pretty sure that looks-wise he was way out of my league, but I knew that it wasn’t just his looks that I liked. I nodded slowly, “Yeah, I think I do.” I paused, “and it’s not just his looks either. Sure, he’s way to hot for me, but he’s genuine and funny and nice.”
“He’s not too hot for you,” Jenny said, and then grinned, “And he’s sex-walking?”
I felt myself blush, “Ok there is that. But really, he’s…”
Jenny cut in, “Genuine, a nice guy? Charming?”
I mock scowled at her, “Yeah he’s all of those things. Does that sound dumb?”
Jenny shrugged, “Not dumb, a little like puppy love.” She paused, “But it’s also been a long time since you’ve been excited about a guy. Even if he’s a lilu and designed to be charming and attractive to, well, anyone he can eat,” she waved away my protest, “I’m happy that you’re happy.”
Jenny nodded. “I won’t promise to like him or anything, and I’m still going to tell you everything I’ve learned about them. But, for now, he seems good for you.” She looked me over, “Maybe not that good, since your clothes are all still on.” She gave me a saucy smile.
“Jenny, did you want me to make out with the sex demon on the first date? When do I ever do that?”
Jenny nodded, “I guess you’ve never been the slutty one.” She tossed her hair back, “That’s all me.” She said with a smile.
We both laughed. I had to admit that it felt good to be able to just talk to Jenny again. Even if she wasn’t willing to warm up to Kyle, she was at least considering it.
“Are you going to see him again, like on a date?” Jenny asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. He’s offered to help me investigate, so I’m going to see him tomorrow. After the lawyer,” I paused, “You do remember you said you come with me tomorrow.”
Jenny nodded. “I am there for the lawyer meeting.” Jenny cast a glance at her calendar. “Did you hear from Aidan about a lemuria teacher yet?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Are we done talking about the guy?”
I smiled, “I haven’t yet, and Kyle said he look into it too.” I shrugged. I didn’t know what to do about learning how to be a lemuria but more and more it seemed important to figure it out. But then again, if Dee had told me everything years ago, I’d have no problem calling my mother.
Jenny glanced at my kitchen table, “Ok, but I kind of thought of something you might want to try. You said the message on your phone told you to call your mother right?”
I nodded. “I got another call while I was with Kyle. The same message, and this time I’m sure it was Dee.”
“Huh, I wonder why she can’t just tell you how to call your mother.” Jenny toyed with her hair.
I shrugged, “The connection is always really bad, maybe something is preventing her from giving me a longer message?”
She continued to twine a strand around her finger, letting it unwind and starting over. I knew this action. It was her “I think I’ve done something foolish and I’m stalling so I don’t have to tell you move.”
I narrowed my eyes at her, “What’d you do?”
She tried to look innocent and failed. She stopped playing with her hair. “So my cousin Andy, he’s not an expert on lemurias or anything, but he knows a lot about preters in general.”
I nodded and gestured for her to continue. If I let her get off track now, it would take forever to get her to admit to whatever she’d done.
“Well, he’s never heard of a lemuria using a phone to talk to the dead. He said it all sounded like human stuff. You know those ghost hunting people.”
I shrugged, “So your cousin thinks I’m a fake?”
Jenny started to shake her head and then shrugged, “I don’t know, but it’s weird. Like your powers work differently than other lemurias.” She glanced at the table again. I followed her eyes, but whatever she was looking at must have been hidden behind the towering pile of mail.
“Ok, so I’m weird. I’ll be sure to let Aidan’s friend know.” I was getting a little worried. Jenny had gone back to twisting her hair, and still wasn’t getting to the point.
“I bought a Ouija Board.” She blurted out. “I know it’s dumb, probably dumber than just using a phone, but I thought you could try it.”
I tried, I really did, but I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. A Ouija Board. A kids’ board game that she probably picked up at the local mega-mart. Jenny looked abashed but got up from the couch and grabbed the box. My laughter turned into giggles when I saw the board was made by the same company that made all the kids’ board games I’d ever played.
Jenny slapped the board into my lap.
I gasped out an apology and finally wrangled my laughter. “Really, I’m sorry. I just didn’t expect this.” I pointed at the board. “I mean these guys make snakes and ladders and checkers and stuff.”
Jenny cracked a smile. “I know it’s hokey, but I thought it might work.”
I glanced at the box again, telling myself I wasn’t going to laugh again. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed.” I held up the box, “this was really…” I paused considering the correct word, “considerate.”
Jenny grabbed for the box, but I slid it away. “I knew you’d think it was dumb. It was just something my cousin said about lemurias using them, or at least something called a ‘talking board’, but they’re the same thing, I checked on the internet.”
I looked at the box, “Wanna try it?” I cocked my head at her, “Unless you think I’m going to go all Linda Blair on you.”
“Haha.” She sat next to me on the couch, “You don’t have to bother with it. It wasn’t one of my best ideas.”
I opened the box and pulled out the board. Cardboard and plastic with the manufacturer’s name stamped all over it. “Let’s try. It can’t hurt, right?”
I laid the board on my lap and snapped the pointer piece together. I turned to face her, “So, you want to help?” I gestured to the pointer and rested my fingers on it.
She glanced at it, “I don’t think I can. I think you have to do it, like alone.”
I was tempted to point out the instructions on the box that clearly said play with your friends but restrained myself. I glanced at the rest of the instructions, I figured it couldn’t hurt, besides I had no idea what I was doing. I laid my fingers lightly on the plastic pointer and tried to “clear my mind,” as step one said. Mostly I felt silly like I was in junior high school and at a slumber party. I felt a kink in my back from sitting awkwardly on the couch. I’m pretty sure my nose was itching, but I kept my eyes closed and reminded myself to think of nothing. That led to a whole lot of thinking, like how could you think about nothing, just by doing that you’re thinking about something. I shifted a little on the couch and thought about the phone calls.
Dee telling me to call my mother. I started repeating “calling mother” in my head, but that reminded me of the old Bewitched tv show and calling Dr. Bombay. I switched to thinking about my mother in general before I started giggling thinking about tv witches.
I started remembering summer I spent with her, the way her long black hair hung so perfectly straight, the perfume she wore, something musky and vaguely floral. All of it started flickering through my mind. I thought about the picture of me and her, the one that was missing from Dee’s mantle.
I kept thinking and concentrating. I was about to give up and felt the hair on my hairs prickle. Then something moved. I heard Jenny gasp and opened my eyes. My fingers still rested on the plastic pointer, but the pointer had dropped to my knee. The board was gone. It slapped against the wall and stayed there.
“Is that supposed to happen?” I whispered to Jenny.
She stared wide-eyed at the board.
“Jenny?” I hissed, “What do we do?”
She tore her eyes away from the board, “I don’t know. It’s supposed to spell out words and stuff, not fly.”
I refrained from mentioning that I knew that much. I wrapped my hand around the pointer and reached for my phone. It seemed crazy, but so far everything I’d done with my powers involved technology, the phone calls, the photos from the wedding, and even the tv. I switched the phone to the camera and looked through the display. I saw the board and I saw it glow. “Mom?” I asked.
I glanced back at the camera display, the yes on the board glowed. Ok, really, really weird, but it seemed to be working. “Is this the right way to call you?”
The display showed the “no” glowing on the board.
“Um, how do I call you?”
I glanced at the display, nothing. The glow around the “no” had even faded. I felt the pointer in my hand and it seemed like someone was tugging on it. I glanced at Jenny, and she was still pale and staring at the board. I opened my hand and the pointer joined the board on the wall. I hit record on the phone as the pointer started to move. I tried to keep track of the letters, but the pointer was moving too fast.
Finally, the whole mess slid to the floor.
Jenny and I sat in stunned silence for a few minutes. Neither of us seemed able to stop looking at the board on the floor.
Jenny finally broke the silence, “I guess this was a dumb idea.” Her voice was barely a whisper.
I looked at her, “No, it wasn’t.” I glanced down at my phone and pressed the playback. B-R-E-A-K-S-P-E-L-L. I showed the video to Jenny, “What does that mean?”
Jenny frowned at the display and paged through the pictures. “Um, break spell.” She looked up, “as in the spell that Dee cast to keep you from using your powers?”
I shrugged, “That or whoever we were talking to can’t spell.” I tried to laugh at my weak joke but was feeling far too creeped out. It was one thing to think about talking to dead people, but it was another to see it happen. I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with this at all. I started to shake.
Jenny put her arm around me. “It’s ok Hero, it worked. Kind of. But I’d thought that with Dee begin…” She paused, “I thought that would break the spell.”
I suddenly felt light-headed. I lowered my head toward my lap, “Jenny I don’t feel right. I feel sick.”
“Oh,” she dug around in her purse and pulled out a candy bar. “Eat this.”
I chewed a mouthful of chocolate and at her insistence another. Once she was sure I was eating, Jenny hoped up and went to the kitchen. She handed me a bottle of water.
I finished the candy and sipped at the water and started to feel better. “What happened?”
“Low-blood sugar,” Jenny answered. “I told you our powers take energy.” She glanced at the board on the floor, “I think that must have taken a lot of energy.”
I kept sipping the water, “I really have to find another lemur.” I said shaking my head at the board.
“But it worked!” Jenny was practically bouncing on the couch, “It really worked.”
I couldn’t see why she was excited. The more I considered what had happened, the more I found myself shaking. After all, the ghost of my dead mother just flung a Ouija Board across the room and talked to me. And the Ouija Board seemed to be telling me that Dee’s death wasn’t enough to break the spell that Dee had cast. Somehow, I didn’t think I was going to get a lot of sleep.
Jenny and I spent most of the night just talking about what we’d seen. I hinted around about calling Kyle, suggesting that maybe he’d know something about Ouija Boards, but by Jenny’s response, I figured that I’d already pushed her goodwill toward him as far as she was willing to go.
Eventually, we both decided we had to go to bed. Jenny curled up on one side of the bed and I lay staring at the ceiling. I wondered about the spell, and how I could break it if I didn’t know anything about magic. I thought about the Ouija Board and wondered what my mother would have to say. I wondered if I’d ever find a way to talk to her.
And that led me to think about Sosostris, and who would have wanted murdered Dee. I found my thoughts running in circles, and finally forced myself to think about Kyle. Tomorrow we’d start our investigation, and I was trying to decide what to wear. I chastised myself for being all gaga over a boy and finally turned over and tried to force myself to sleep.