Mondays were usually pretty good for me on the writing front. I didn’t have work until later in the afternoon, but had to get up reasonably early in the day to take Girlfriend to class, so I was sure I wouldn’t waste it, too much.
She shot him a glare, and he sobered. “You’re right, time to be serious.” He took a deep breath and squared himself, preparing to give her the news about her folks.
“Look, Rain, I can see where you’re coming from, but life is never quite that simply, ya know? Your step dad is upstairs right now, he’s brought your mom, and she sounds pretty bad.”
“My mom?” Rain asked, incredulous. “Why would she bother coming for me? Oh, I guess if Myles is here, she would be too.”
“No, he called for her, actually. I think she might actually be worried about you kiddo.”
Rain blinked at him, unbelieving. Then she shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest.
“No. There’s no way. She hasn’t given me the time of day since Myles swept her off her feet. She’s forgotten about me, almost completely.”
Zig winced at her closed posture. This was gonna be harder than he’d thought.
“But she wasn’t always like this?”
Rain softened, unfolding a little. “Well, no. When it was just us, she was always really good about making time for me, even around work and everything. The whole single mom thing, ya know? She was all I had, and she knew it…” Rain trailed off, more confused than ever. She simply hadn’t thought about it til now, but her mom’s change was more than drastic, it was wildly out of character.
Zig moved a little closer, nothing threatening, but making his posture available for comfort.
“Rain honey, your step-dad’s a witch. And I’m pretty sure he has your mother enthralled.”
Rain gave him a look, clearly lost. Zig bit his lip to keep from swearing.
“Look, there’s not a lot of time to explain all this. Your mom’s up there, freaking out, and the more distressed she gets the harder it’ll be to suppress her memories without seriously messing her up. Your step-dad isn’t going to let her remember anything about magic or witches or fey – if she even knows anything at this point. We don’t reveal ourselves, it’s never worked out well for us. So he’ll have to shut her memories down, but the human mind doesn’t like to let go of trauma very easily. So the more upset she gets, the more he’ll have to cut away. You don’t want to give him an excuse to cut her ties to you. It’s not ethical, but if he had the justification he’d do it. We don’t want to give him that.”
Rain nodded, not completely following but getting that it was a time is of essence sort of moment.
“So what do we do? Do I have to go home with them?”
Zig nodded. “That’s probably the best option, for now. Here, gimmie your phone.”
He held his hand out and she obliged, slipping it out of her pocket and handing it over.
“I’ll plug my number into your phone and you can call or text me whenever, ok? I’ll make sure you don’t stay lost, or get kept out of the loop or anything, alright?”
Impulsively, he reached over and gave her a hug. “It’s gonna be alright kiddo. I won’t let you get forgotten.”
Rain wrapped her arms around him, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears. It had been a helluva day. When she pulled back, Zig let her go, giving her a pat on the shoulder. “Alright Rain cloud. Show time.”
Meliki hoped Zig had been paying attention, and had gone to fetch the girl. She couldn’t drain away this woman’s hysteria for long – not without her witch keeper noticing. She realized belatedly that what she had felt was not the witch feeding her anxieties, but rather relaxing his hold on them, letting her natural concern for her child show through. How many months had he soothed her, smoothing over her worries and distracting her with pretty parties and gifts?
“Oh darling, what have they done with her? Who are these people? Where’s Br-baby, where’s my baby?” She remembered at the last second her husband coaching her not to give away their identities. Who knew what kind of people had her daughter, or how they would use any information against them? Mary had never dealt with anything like this in her life. Sure, they’d lived in one of the poorer neighborhoods, before Myles, but still, it had been relatively incident free. She carried a mace with her and instructed Brooke to do the same and they’d been alright. Now, suddenly, this. Myles assured her everything was likely fine, that when Megan’s mother had called asking if Brooke needed a ride, that there was no need to panic. Children did all sort of rebellious things at this age, and she was probably just acting out against all the changes. But he would find their baby and bring them home, he’d promised her. Now, here they were, back on the bad side of town, in a tattoo parlor with a giant spider for a logo.
What had happened to her baby girl? How had she missed this?
As the wheels started to turn in Mary’s head, Myles changed his grip on her emotions, directing her thoughts back to the fey and her lackies. They were the ones leading her astray, they were the ones responsible for Brooke lying to her mother. Brooke was just young and confused, as long as we keep her shielded from bad influences…
Meliki raised an eyebrow as she felt the witch’s power shift, but said nothing. The mother had stopped sobbing and yelling, that was good enough for her. She was content to let the witch handle his own messes.
“Alright, you’re gonna feel a little woozy, but it’s not worse than being kinda drunk, ok?”
Rain gave him an are you stupid look. “I’m sixteen, I don’t know what it’s like to be drunk.”
Zig tilted his head in confusion. “Seriously? God, kids these days. They’re so boring.”
She pursed her lips at him, rolling her eyes “Get on with it, you said we have to hurry.”
“Right, right. Ok, so the well water still in your system helps your body assimilate fey magic, and in the absence of that magic, you’ll feel a lot like you did when you magic was fighting ours, but not as bad, cause you’ve only had a few doses. But I wouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery til you’ve had a day or two to get it out of your system, ok?”
She nodded and pushed herself to her feet. “Ok. Anything else?”
Zig stood as well, and raised his eyes to the ceiling, thinking. “Nothing I can say for sure in advance. I don’t understand your magic at all, but you’ll know when things aren’t right. Try to call or text as things are happening and I’ll talk you through it as best I can.” He shrugged, turning his attention back to her. “Sorry I can’t offer better than that. If it helps, daddy will probably have your house warded against any other witches, so it should help keep your own mojo in check. It’s probably why didn’t really know you had any, if you’ve been cooped up in there more or less.”
She nodded, unwilling to focus on the fact that she’d been reluctant to go out lately. She’d make a point of fighting that urge from now on.
“Alright then, that’s all I’ve got for ya.” He reached out and patted her arm again. “Best of luck kiddo.”
“Thanks,” she said with a weak smile and walked out the door.
She wasn’t ready for the door to dump her out at the top of the stairs.
She stumbled into the room, dizzy and off balance. The top of the shop was technically a mundane space, close enough to the sithen that she wasn’t feeling withdrawls yet, but enough that she felt the difference and swooned a bit.
Before anyone else could react, Mary rushed forward, sweeping Rain up in a tight hug. “Oh baby, my baby! What happened to you! My poor girl!”
The abruptness of the hug and the swell of Myles magic around her hit Rain hard in the gut, and she turned and retched on the floor.
“Oh good lord- are you drunk! She’s drunk-or high! What the hell have you given my child?!” She spun on Meliki, full of maternal fury. “She’s only sixteen- of all the irresponsible -I can’t believe – she’s a child!”
Myles moved to stand by his wife, wrapping his hands around her shoulders. “Dear, we should get our daughter home. She’s clearly not doing well.”
Urged into action, she swooped back to Rain, who had hunched over on herself and tried to keep the world for shifting beneath her.
“Come on, honey, let’s get you out to the car.” Any other thoughts had been chased from her by a gentle nudge from Myles, who was giving the fey a steady look as Mary ushered Rain out the door.
“I trust she’ll fully recover?”
“From everything I’ve done to her.”
He nodded and followed his two women out the door.