Michigan can be a bitch at times to those who call her home. It could be showing a promise of a spring day full of sunshine and spring coming to roost, but that promise can turn into a slap in the face in the form of dark clouds and cold rain in the transition to a sleet hitting the window. If you call this state home, you take it as it comes and moves on with life.
Still, scowling at the gray toned weather did help as Willow Stone heard a drop of water hitting the bucket in the back. Also with the three leas calling out to the other like loons on the lake. It just made her mood darken more, looking at the bills she had to deal with while the owner of the Mocha Dream was on his honeymoon in England with his new bright wife.
Leaning back into the leather office chair, the patter of the rain only deepened her grumpy mood. “Thanks, Cliff, leaving me with the paperwork again like last time.” she thought, feeling the urge to just toss the growing pile into a paper shredder.
Part of her dark mood was also coming from the need to Change or Shift, depending on the werewolf or Shifter or, as some called themselves, Shape-changer or Skin-slipper, depending on the cultural background of said being and what they felt fit them. Willow tended to like the old school werewolf thing. Some might go by lupine or lycan.
So Willow Stone was just a single female werewolf who worked as the manager at a coffee shop on the tourist beat town of Lemon Hill. Yes, that was the town’s real name. Lost in the northern woods of Lower MI, it sat just 10 miles away from Huron’s white beaches and claimed the settlement date of 1766.
“Thinking of lemons, I could use a treat of a lemon bar.” Willow blinked, feeling the female need of something sweet in her moment of anger and annoyance at having to pay the bills to keep this place going.
Also, the full moon being in only two days was making her skin itch and her blood pressure go crazy. She tended to crave sweets around this time, before a Change would come calling and make her run, all furry, in the woods for a few hours.
Leaning back, the patter of the rain and the leaking matting call of the bucket also were sharper, and filled the void known as her brain. She still had a good two hours before opening at ten in the morning, which they only did twice a week due to deliveries and business reasons.
Willow leaned forward to look at the time on the clock. It was 9am sharp. “Mary’s late with the delivery again? Third time this month I think?”
Mary Bishop lived one town over and delivered homemade bread and rolls to their shop. As a baker, she liked to spread out her business, which had grown a lot in the last few years.
So why was she late?
“This is all I need.” Willow muttered, leaning over to let her upper body lay on the desk and softly, papers around. “Just please no more drama oh mighty gods of drama! Spare this one!”
Shuffling sounds of the back door opening, with a sound of two voices, indicated that two of the employees had come in a bit late also. Willow muttered more prayers to the drama gods and sat up to push away the chair and see who had dragged out their carcass to work in this weather. Peeking around the corner, she pushed back her fading scarlet dyed hair from her green eyes to smile.
Sandra Black was shaking off her neon blue umbrella and muttering something in German, which didn’t sound too good. Her other coworker, Simon Stills, was trying not to laugh as he dried off his glasses. Sandra was actually Apache, but her father had been German and was raised by her aunt from Lemon Hill, who had also raised her. Not much was known on about who her mother was after her father had given the baby to his sister; it just seemed she had inherited a trait from her native blood out of the blue: she was a shifter, becoming a coyote in her animal shape. All of her German side was known to be human.
Simon was the local dork who ran the geek hideaway, in selling card games and some other types. Anything from neon colors and Dragons, comic books and meet-ups, to cosplay parties, his shop was the hang out for many local geeks (which was Willow and Sandra), and also being a wizard did help him in this part of the marketing. The boy-man could pass for his late 20′s, even though he was actually pushing into his 90′s these days.
Looking up, Simon’s amber eyes glowed warmly at his friend, in pushing back his ash-brown hair that hung nearly to his shoulders. “Stone, nice to see you still alive!”
Rolling her eyes, the coffee woman walked out to her office as Sandra once more let loose some angry German words worthy of any death metal band across the pond.. “Hi Simon, you roll a one to come to this place?”
Smiling, he only reached out to touch the women next to him, muttering a few words in broken sing song “Nah, I got lucky in my roll and got an 18, unlike you a few nights ago. Sorry about Creek dying, again....”
Blushing, she walked over to him, her eyes narrowing at his daring to belittle the death of her character too lightly. Poking him the chest with a long finger and saying each word strongly. “Not my fault! Least she saved the party’s ass from that rock troll!”
Sandra blinked, “Oh, would you two stop! It’s just a bloody roll! Just take it like a wolf, Willow! You still have Mize to use till we do some epic quest to bring back Creek.”
Puffing her cheeks out a bit, the werewolf woman crossed her eyes when looking at her friend. Laughter rang out as Sandra started to laugh so hard, she placed a hand on the wall as Simon also joined in with a less harsh bark of the female. Shaking her head, Bishop only took to the barking laughter she was known for, as it added into her snorting.
“Ok Ok, enough moon ladies!” she said, blinking away the tears.
Willow laughed, letting the air out of her cheeks, feeling them sore and rubbing them, yet knowing it was worth the laugh from her friend. “Sorry, I had t.”
Smiling, the good mood now flowing, Willow heard the rumble of a truck she knew from the slight knock of the muffler, which only made the moment better. “Delight Bread is here now! Man, she was running late today!”
Despite the moody weather, she smiled, in feeling a shift in things more to her favor.
The truck’s shudder reached her ears as she tilted her head. With the opening and slamming of a door, it was the French cursing that got Willow to wince a bit. “Glad I only know a gist of what she’s saying. Mary must be pissed at being on a tirade like that this early in the morning.”
Mary walked in, water dripping off the leather coat on her 5′7 frame. She had been a former bodybuilder back in the day, turning into a baker lady and taking over her grandfather’s place in Ruckersville. She had walnut colored hair trimmed short and neat, and hazel eyes, and an owl-like nose, the hook of which showed in the light.
Without really thinking, Willow moved into the side kitchen to ready a hot cup of coffee with just a dash of sugar and creamer as the woman shut the door. The werewolf woman smiled, seeing the grateful smile of the older female as she took the brew and blew off the stream crowning the cup.
“Thank you much Willow! Nasty bit of weather coming off the lakes!” Mary’s slight accent crept into her words.
“Tell me about it, Mary! Also, what is the late thing again? Car problems?” Willow asked.
Simon and Sandra had moved in, hanging up their coats and getting to work on getting the store ready for opening.
Sipping the coffee, the baker woman considered Willow’s questions. “Think I’ve been hexed.”
Willow felt her brows reach to her hairline in at these four blunt words from the Brownie. “Hexed? By who and why?”
Finishing the last drag sip of the coffee and feeling it warming her chilled body, the Otherkin handed the cup to Willow. “I think it’s that telephone down the road from me.”
Simon, having heard some of the conversation, removed his black frames to make it look like he was cleaning them. “Mary, you know only witches can hex.”
Standing taller to fill the doorway and eye the wizard up and down slowly in a steady gaze, Mary enquired, “And what do you wizard types do?”
Her tone hit a nerve as Simon placed his glasses back on. Sandra also moved a step forward in case things got ugly. Beings like Wizards and Sorcerers had some bad blood with Otherkin from way back in the day which still occasionally reared up. Willow could feel the air thicken in a slow rise of anger, making the Brownie’s glamour shimmer around her if Simon did anything of power to her.
“We curse, which only black ones do. The thing is, to curse, you also have to deal with karmic backlash or some other price to do such magic. Now one way to tell if you have been hexed is if a delivery is delayed three times in a row in a matter of 7 days. Simon held his ground, not showing any type of anger.
Willow, sighed, grateful to see the shimmer of glamour shifting away as Mary absorbed this information and her eyes narrowed in thoughts. “Only happened twice in the last month...”
“So you’re not hexed, you just need a better truck,” Sandra put in.
Mary looked at the black haired woman and thought over her words more. “Maybe, well may as well unload the bread and get back to work. You need to open and I’m behind my drive time. Wizard, help me.”
Simon blinked at being ordered. Rolling his eyes, he grabbed his coat and followed the Otherkin back into the wet world. Willow, sighed, leaning on the wall and feeling glad the day was starting to turn.
Just then, she felt a shiver up her spine , something else was waiting to come.
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