“Hey...” Lucas’s voice woke her, his hand gently nudging her shoulder. Emma opened her eyes, squinting a bit at the midmorning sun through the windshield. She glanced around them, surprised to see they were back at her apartment complex in Idaho.
“When did I fall asleep?” Emma asked. She couldn’t remember much of the drive back. They had spent some time drinking and dancing at the club. Then afterward, they had a late night/early breakfast at a 24-hour diner nearby with his siblings and their mates. Emma had never experienced anything like that before, a night out with friends, talking and joking and laughing.
It had been... nice.
“Not long after we left Portland,” Lucas said. Emma looked to the window again, squinting a bit sleepily at her apartment building. She yawned and looked back at him. The car was still running, and he was sitting in the yellow zone. Emma frowned.
“You’re not coming up?” Emma asked. Lucas just smirked a bit.
“Naw... I have to go home.” Lucas said. Emma stared at him, dumbfounded.
“You haven’t slept... it’s a seven-hour dri-” Emma began.
“I’ll be fine. Done far worse on less sleep.” Lucas said. Emma licked her lips a bit, feeling a strange tightness in her chest. Had she said something? Done something? Emma opened her door, and got out, gathering her spare clothes from the back seat. Emma hesitated a moment at the door, looking in at him.
“I had fun tonight. Thank you.” Emma said. Lucas grinned.
“I told you-you would.” He said. Emma looked back to her apartment, feeling a bit strange that she’d be going up alone. She looked back to him and frowned a bit.
“Will I... see you again?” Emma asked hesitatingly, unsure if she wanted to hear the answer.
“You’re not getting rid of me that easy. I’ll try to be back in a week or so.” Lucas said. Emma felt a strange warmth fill her, and she smiled in turn.
“Okay,” Emma said and shut the door. He waited until she was safely inside the gated doorway before she watched him drive away.
One month later...
Emma stood, staring up at the sign of the storefront in front of her. It was the typical neon purple, lit up with a gypsy style writing that said ‘Psychic’. ‘PALM READING’ was in large letters across the window. There were moons and stars decorating the windows and overhang.
Emma thought it was some serious tacky overkill.. but then again, that was probably the point. Humans liked all that silly stuff. It caught their attention.
It would have been a seven-hour drive to get there if she could drive, not that she had a car anyways, but since she didn’t, she had to take the bus, which took just over a day. It was dark by the time she was able to get to the store, and despite the long journey there, Emma couldn’t help the extreme hesitation she felt.
It had been four long years since she stood there. She remembered clearly how desperate she felt then. She was only fifteen at the time, and she didn’t know what else to do after what happened in Browning. Emma took a slow breath, forcefully keeping herself from thinking too much on that memory.
Emma glanced back to the road, seriously considering just forgetting the whole thing when the silver bracelet in her pocket suddenly felt oddly heavy as if reminding her why she’d come here in the first place. Emma firmly pursed her lips and looked back at the storefront.
Lucas had been making the seven-hour trip between Willamette Oregon and Hayden Lake Idaho every few weeks. Sometimes he didn’t stay long, only a few hours. Others he stayed for a few days.
Despite everything complicated in her life, for the first time, Emma felt she may actually find some semblance of happiness.
But... there was something she had to do first, and it scared her more than anything.
She stood in Salem Oregon now, only a short drive from Willamette. Not that she let Lucas know that, she was afraid of what he might think of what she was about to do.
She glanced back behind her toward the street, once again feeling the extreme hesitation. Out of all the human imposters she came across, this was the only true witch she found.
Building her courage, she finally took a deep breath and headed for the door to make her way inside. The bell above the door ‘dinged’ once, and Emma kept her eyes forward rather than glance around at all the strange things the woman had for sale. The strong scent of incense burned her nose. It made her eyes water, and she coughed a bit.
“Why are you here?” Nadya asked, appearing through the curtain of beads. Emma quickly glanced over at her. It was almost disturbing how silently she moved. Nadya was around twenty-five, Emma figured, and she had a very curvy form which she liked to show off with her gypsy-style garb. Her hair was long and black and draped down to her waist in a thick loose braid and her skin was slightly caramel colored. Emma figured she must play the part for the human crowds, but with Emma, she dropped the charade.
“You know why I’m here,” Emma said quietly. Nadya emitted a deep sigh. Emma pursed her lips, already getting annoyed.
“I know what you want. But it’s clear you neither took my advice nor are you ready to take my advice... so let me reiterate, why are you here?” Nayda said.
“But I am-” Emma began defensively.
“The kaleidoscope of your aura is screaming you aren’t,” Nadya said coolly. Emma went silent for a moment, glancing back to the window.
“Please I... I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t want to keep living like this.” Emma said. She didn’t look back at her, but Emma could feel Nadya’s scrutinizing gaze.
“I will do you no more favors. That spell won’t last forever. It is you who needs to-” Nayda began.
“Favor? I paid for that ‘favor,’ so by definition, it’s not a fucking favor!” Emma snarled, looking back at her. The look on Nadya’s face turned inquisitive.
“You’ve changed...” Nadya said curiously. Emma grit her teeth a bit, and glanced away from her.
“Look... I didn’t come here for games. I... I know I need help. I just need to know how to control it.. so I won’t hurt anyone else. Does your offer still stand or not?” Emma asked. It went quiet for a time, and just as Emma thought she wasn’t going to respond...
“You aren’t using your given name, are you?” Nadya asked, seemingly out of nowhere.
“What?” Emma asked, confused.
“The name you were born into, what is it?” Nadya continued. Emma furrowed her brow.
“What does that have to-” Emma started.
“If you want my help, you stop questioning me. The name, give it to me.” Nadya said. Emma hesitated a moment. Nadya watched her curiously.
“It’s... Megan.” Emma said reluctantly. Nadya looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Child of light... strong and capable. That name suits you much better. Your mother named you, did she not?” Nadya said. Emma frowned but said nothing.
“All right then... you must do two things before I will do anything else for you. Firstly, you will start using your given name. You have no idea how much power is held within a name. Nuh... ” Nadya said, holding up a hand when Emma opened her mouth to argue.
“You want my help, we start with this. Got it?” Nadya said. Emma watched her for a moment, pursing her lips a bit.
“Okay...” Emma said.
“Good... secondly, I’ll need you close by. Go home, sort out your affairs, and be back here in a month.” Nadya said and disappeared into the back.
Emma stood there for a moment, a bit dumbfounded before she turned and headed back out onto the dark street.
One month later...
Megan stood, looking down at the I.D. in her hand that listed her name as Emma Everett. It was the name of a woman she’d stolen the wallet from along the Canadian border. In Browning, when the man who caught her asked her name, it was the first thing that popped into her head. She hadn’t truly used Megan ever in her life, aside from when she was a baby, her father rarely even used it when they’d had their talks in the woods.
Megan tossed the I.D. in the trash. She’d have to find somewhere to get a new one. She cast a glance around. Everything she owned fit into just two duffle bags. This whole thing felt weird, and she still wasn’t sure if she should do it.
Megan sighed deeply and pulled open the drawer she had purposefully saved for last. She stared down at the silver bracelet that sat atop a ripped dirty piece of paper. With some reluctance, she carefully wrapped the bracelet into a cloth and tossed it into the open duffel bag on the table. Megan looked down at the folded paper as she fiddled slightly with the handle on the drawer. For a moment, she seriously considered just shutting it.
Megan grit her teeth a bit. She clearly remembered the day she got that damn piece of paper. A cousin from a US pack, the son of her father’s dead sister, someone she had never even known about, showed up unexpectedly at her haven in Browning. She had been so furious about her father sending him to bring her home. When she refused, he’d offered to take her to her mother instead. Megan had to admit, the fleeting temptation had been there, but the anger at both her parents far outweighed any sense at the time. She’d said a lot of things that day she felt guilty about later, and she had acted incredibly hostile toward him. So he left, but not before he’d scribbled out an address on a receipt he had in his pocket that he left beneath a rock. The printing of the receipt had long since faded, but the penned address was still there. Megan stared at it, the conflicting emotions arising in her for what felt like the thousandth time. She must have thrown it away over a hundred times, but she could never force herself to let it go, even though she had never once looked at it. With a frustrated huff, she snatched it up, shoved it inside her pack and zipped it up.
She heard his car drive up into the parking lot of the apartment complex. Since she’d been shifting more often, her senses were sharpening. Megan glanced toward her door, he didn’t bother knocking anymore, not that she minded, and waited for him.
“Hello hello,” Lucas said the moment he came through the door holding a bag of groceries. He paused upon seeing her bags on the table, and he furrowed his brow with confusion. Before he got the wrong impression that she might be going home with him, Megan quickly spoke.
“I need a ride to Salem,” Megan said. Lucas watched her oddly.
“Massachusetts...?” Lucas asked uncertainly.
“No... Oregon,” Megan replied. It went quiet for a moment.
“Why?” Lucas asked.
“There’s just... something I need to do,” Megan said. Lucas set the bag down on the chair.
“You moving? Or just visiting?” Lucas asked. Megan cast a brief glance around and sighed.
“Moving,” Megan said. Lucas was quiet for a moment.
“I... can take the bus if-” Megan began.
“No... I’ll take you. Don’t get me wrong.. I’m happy you’ll be so close, but.. you do know what’s there... don’t you?” Lucas asked. Megan pursed her lips a bit.
“Yes,” Megan said. Lucas was watching her a bit uncertainly.
“Is... that the reason you’re going there?” Lucas asked. Megan took a slow breath.
“Yes,” Megan said. It was silent for a moment.
“Emma-” Lucas started...
“It’s Megan...” Megan said. Lucas frowned.
“What?” He asked.
“My real name... it’s Megan.” Megan said. Lucas watched her, and she hated the expression of hurt on his face.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Lucas asked.
“I just did,” Megan said. Lucas took a deep breath. It was quiet for a moment.
“Megan... I can take you to your mom, you know.. I’ll go with you, you wouldn’t have to see her alone... but that Coven there in Salem.. you don’t want to get mixed up with them, trust me.” Lucas said, his tone sincere. Megan pursed her lips a bit.
“I don’t understand you. She’s one of them too you know, so how can you trust her more then-” Megan began.
“Because she’s your mother, she wouldn’t do anything to hurt you or use you. And from what you say... she’s not in a Coven and doesn’t practice. So obviously... she’s far more trustworthy then-” Lucas said.
“Don’t you hear yourself? She doesn’t practice.. so how could she help me?” Megan snapped, getting angry.
“The fact that she doesn’t, and can control it.. means she’ll know exactly how to help you,” Lucas said firmly.
“I just... I can’t see her! Please just understand... The witch there offered to help me, she has helped me already.” Megan said.
“At what cost?” Lucas practically growled. Megan stared at him for a moment, a bit startled by his sudden anger.
“She... she didn’t say what-” Megan began.
“What did it cost you for that fucking bracelet? You got it from them, didn’t you?” Lucas asked. Megan pursed her lips. She hadn’t told him anything about it, but she knew he’d seen it.
“What does it do anyway?” Lucas asked. Megan swallowed a bit and glanced away.
“Megan... what did it cost you?” Lucas asked again.
“What does it matter? I got it before I met you. It has nothing to do with you.” Megan said firmly. Lucas took a slow breath, and she glanced away from him.
“I can’t talk you out of this?” Lucas asked, his tone a bit cold.
“No... I need to do this. You wouldn’t understand-” Megan began.
“Then make me understand. What happened in-” Lucas began.
“I told you... I’m not ready to talk about it!” Megan shouted at him. Lucas said nothing, and Megan sighed with frustration.
“I just... I need to do this. Please... I have no intention of joining them, I just need to learn to control it.” Megan said. Lucas was silent for a long thick moment, and Megan fidgeted uneasily. Finally, he sighed.
“Fine,” Lucas said and picked up all her bags. He turned and headed out the door. Megan frowned, he was obviously angry. She paused for a moment before she sighed and slowly followed after him.