Blood & Curses

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 14: Kalfou

“You disappeared the other night at Blush,” Victoria commented as she walked down the sidewalk in front of the old creole townhouses along the French Quarter.

“Let’s just say, the night took me somewhere else,” Eleanor remarked, a small smile splaying across her lips. Victoria stopped in her tracks and grabbed her sister’s hand.

“It’s Adrian isn’t it?” she asked her sister. “He’s bad news, Eleanor. This isn’t like you to get wrapped up with a man like that.”

“I’m not wrapped up,” she replied as she snatched her hand away. “I’m just enjoying myself, something you have a hard time with grasping these days. There’s nothing between Adrian and I but I am going to find out if that rehab center he owns is legitimate or not.”

“Eleanor…”

“I’m fine. You should worry about yourself and your ghost boyfriend,” she said as she started walking ahead, waving her hand in the air behind her at Victoria.

Victoria caught up to her. “He’s not my boyfriend. We’re…not anything really.”

“Pfft. You have feelings for him,” she stated. “Or do you forget that I can feel the emotions of others through my touch as well as make them feel mine?”

“That’s…that can’t be true,” Victoria mumbled as she slowed her stride. Eleanor slowed with her as she watched her sister hang her head in thought.

“Victoria…it’s not the end of the world to actually feel something for someone,” Eleanor explained. “I know there are scars on your heart, especially with the situation Daniel placed you in all those years ago, but I don’t want you to be afraid of what real love looks like.”

“Afraid? Why would I be afraid? I’ve seen what the love of men look like,” she said, putting distance between herself and Eleanor to keep from touching her.

“Daniel was an ass. I’m glad he died during the plague. He was a sham of a man and he wasn’t right for you, but this guy. Henry is something different. I can see the change in you when you’re around him. I don’t have to touch you to know how he makes you feel,” Eleanor admitted.

“How did we even start talking about this? I thought we were talking about you and Adrian?” Victoria redirected. “What’s this about with a rehab center? When are you going?”

“I haven’t decided on the day yet. Besides, it’s hard to find time when I’m trying to get the massage parlor into the black and I’m off traipsing through all of New Orleans hunting down this shop that apparently doesn’t want to be found. Who doesn’t put a location on their page?” Eleanor asked. “I don’t see how that helps their business.”

“They’re underground which is a good sign. I think that gives then some authenticity,” Victoria pointed out. “I mean, there’s a chance it could be a gimmick but I have to try.”

“For who? Thomas or Henry?” Eleanor asked.

Victoria gave her sister the side eye as they continued through the night. They walked in silence, glancing down alleyways to see if they had missed any store fronts that weren’t so obvious. Eventually, they found themselves in front of Blush.

“Let’s get a quick drink before heading home. Even if we found the store, there’s no chance it would be open at this time of night,” Eleanor declared.

“You go. I’m going to keep searching for Kalfou,” Victoria stated. After giving her sister a desperate look, Eleanor disappeared behind the doors of Blush, leaving Victoria alone near the street.

“You’re looking for Kalfou?” a man said by the side of Blush. He was leaning against the wall, a trail of smoke burning from a cigarette in his hand. Dropping the bud and smothering it under his foot, he blew smoke from the side of his mouth and walked over.

He was dressed in a loose fitting pant suit, his hands deep in his pockets. Victoria wondered if he was a regular at the club.

“What do you know about Kalfou?” he inquired as he got closer.

“I’m looking for the store. Do you know where to find it?” she questioned.

“Depends,” he said. “Why do you want to know?”

Victoria sighed. “I think whoever works there may know how to help me.”

“Ah,” he smiled. “You’ve gotten yourself into some trouble I see, so now you want Mama Eshe to dig you out.”

“I guess you could say that,” Victoria played along. “Do you know where I can find her?”

The man held out his hand and looked in the opposite direction. Understanding the rules of exchange, Victoria pulled some bills from her wallet and laid them in his palm. Quickly putting the cash into his pocket, he turned his head back to her with a brilliant smile.

“The name is Zane. It’s a pleasure doing business with you,” he said with a short bow. “Follow me.”

Victoria had no idea if he was leading her into a trap or actually taking her to her desired destination but she obliged. He led her through the streets of New Orleans talking about the rich history of the city. She was entranced with his words as he weaved his eloquent stories.

He was tall and dangerously thin with coffee colored skin. His hair was black and cropped short with an angular face and adorable dimples that deepened when he smiled.

Victoria enjoyed the walk and his company as they turned down one of the old cobblestoned streets. The road was only wide enough for walking and narrowed even further as they continued through a black iron gate. Once inside, it revealed a small stone courtyard with a tiny fountain in one corner and a red door off to the side with one small window beside it.

Zane stretched his arm out in front of him, offering her entrance before him. The door contained no sign to indicate that it was the place she was looking for but she wasn’t about to back out now. Grabbing the knob, she turned it and pushed the door open to reveal a soft glow from dozens of candles set up around the store.

The floorboards creaked underneath her weight as she stepped over the threshold. A bookcase lined the wall beside her while a table sat in front of her filled with crystals, herbs, and oils. Zane closed the door behind her as he walked in after her.

The window by the door had a window seat that contained bones, shells, and coins along with more candles that were dripping wax onto the wood. A few oil lamps flickered about the place as Victoria dodged herbs and makeshift figures hanging from the low ceiling. Zane had to slouch slightly from being so tall.

“So what’s a vampire want with me and my shop?” a woman asked from behind a small counter. More shelves were behind her filled with various occult objects.

“How did you know?” Victoria asked.

“I’ve seen your kind many times before and I know just about every vampire in this city, but I do not know you,” she shared.

“My name is Victoria Elderidge. My family and I moved here a few months ago,” she explained. “I saw your shop and thought that—”

“There’s nothing for you here, child. I can’t undo what has already been done,” she announced.

“But you’re Mama Eshe, right? Your store is named after the keeper of the crossroads?” Victoria inquired. She wasn’t about to leave with no answers.

Mama Eshe eyed her suspiciously, her beaded jewelry twinkling in the light of the candles around her. She had smooth brown skin and was wrapped in colorful fabric. Dreads dangled down her shoulders, as she looked Victoria over with her dark, intelligent eyes.

“That is right. So I take it you are here for someone else and not for yourself. It’s refreshing to meet a vampire that isn’t here for selfish reasons. Why have you come looking for me?” Mama Eshe inquired.

“I live at the old Ashford Estate. Have you heard of it?” Victoria stepped closer to the counter, feeling more confident than she did before.

“I know of it, yes. There’s a darkness over that place but I suppose that’s befitting for a clan of vampires. You would never catch any of my folk around those parts,” she replied.

“Why? Its grounds are protected—”

Mame Eshe’s boisterous laughter rang throughout her store as Zane chuckled under his breath behind Victoria. “Protected? Oh, child, you obviously don’t know what those Ashford’s got themselves into.”

“But you do,” Victoria declared. “I need to know.”

“You seem mighty determined to seek out trouble and that’s exactly what you’re going to find if you keep on,” Mama Eshe said as she sipped some tea from a cup that was resting on her counter.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” Victoria assured. “Now please…”

Mame Eshe sighed as she set her drink down. “Hoodoo is pure folk magic, plain and simple. People usually involve saints within their rituals as well as the Loa. But Haitian Voodoo? That’s something completely different.”

“Yes, that’s what I need to know. What is it? How does it work?” Victoria asked.

“I may be a mambo, a priestess of Voodoo, but whatever curse befell that house, I know nothing about,” she confirmed.

“Please,” Victoria said as she took the pictures Henry had taken out of an envelope from within her purse. “These are pictures of the ritual space. This is the sigil upon the ground, the altar, and some other objects used. Does any of this look familiar to you?”

Mama Eshe glanced over the pictures littering her counter. She held up the picture of the sigil and the altar, her eyes growing wide.

“No wonder my store name attracted you here,” she said. “This sigil conjures Kalfou, one of the spiritual aspects of Papa Legba. He controls the crossroads between this world and the spiritual world. What happened to the people who participated in this ritual?”

“They’re separated from their physical form but their spirits are still attached to the grounds. It’s how they’re able to keep the protection barrier up to keep out the vampire they were targeting,” Victoria answered.

“And yet, you and your family can cross this barrier?” Mama Eshe asked.

“I suppose so,” Victoria replied. “We’re not sure why we’re the exception.”

“It’s because Kalfou wants you there. You must benefit him in some way,” Mama Eshe warned. “Whatever you decide to do, child, I would advise you not pursue this any further. Kalfou is not known to make deals that benefit the living, or in your case, the undead.”

Victoria mulled over what she was saying. As much as she wanted to heed the warning, she also wanted to help the Ashfords, even if in part it was for her own selfish reason to be with Henry.

“Are you going to help me or not?” she finally asked.

Mama Eshe shook her head. “I hope you know what you’re getting into. Come with me.”

She rounded her counter and stepped over to a door with beads hanging over it. Moving the beads aside, she ushered Victoria to step through. Victoria obliged and gazed upon the small circular table with two chairs seated near it. More candles flickered from shelves along the walls as Mama Eshe strode over to a cabinet and opened it. She took out a small leather pouch and began to pour different herbs and mixtures inside of it. Coming over to Victoria, she snatched a single hair from her head and dropped it inside.

“Now sit,” she said as she took a seat in a purple velvet Queen Anne chair. Victoria sat in an identical chair opposite Mama Eshe. The priestess waved for Zane to come forward. When he did so, he was holding an old leather bound text within his hands. Bowing, he offered the manuscript to Mama Eshe.

Opening the book, she thumbed through the weathered pages until she landed on the same sigil that was in the picture Victoria brought. Spinning the text around, she pushed it out in front of her to the middle of the table. Victoria leaned forward in her chair to get a better look.

“I can’t read this,” Victoria said.

“It’s written in a dialect but don’t focus on the words. Focus on the feeling you get from this and the words will reveal themselves,” Mama Eshe stated.

Listening to her directions, Victoria focused on the picture of the sigil until she noticed the foreign symbols of the text begin to mesh into one another becoming a readable version. She gasped as the symbols took on a life of their own, revealing their secrets to her and the ritual she would have to undertake to save the souls of the Ashfords.

“These ingredients and items…” Victoria started.

“Will not be too difficult to find with my help,” Mama Eshe finished. “The only item that may cause you trouble is this one.”

Mama Eshe pointed to an item on the page that Victoria knew wouldn’t be an easy task.

“The blood of the enemy?” Victoria asked. “Why would we need that?”

“To undo the ritual, you need to have a link to the target of the original spell. Kalfou will take nothing less,” Mama Eshe warned.

“Adrian isn’t going to just give us his blood,” Victoria said. “Not unless we ambushed him and took it from him. That would start a war.”

Mama Eshe shrugged. “It’s up to you. How badly do you want to help these people?”

Victoria sighed. “I want to make things right.”

“Were you the one who put them in this predicament?” Mama Eshe asked, eyebrow raised. Victoria knew where she was going with this. “You’ll find a way.”

Victoria nodded as Mama Eshe stood up from the table and closed the book. She held it out for her to take and Victoria accepted the book, stunned that Mama Eshe trusted her with such a rare item.

“Don’t look so surprised,” Mama Eshe stated. “Consider this a loan. I’ll be expecting a favor in return when the time comes.”

“How do you know I’ll make good on that favor?” Victoria asked. Her kind weren’t known for making deals and keeping promises.

“Call it…good faith,” Mama Eshe said with a wicked grin. A shiver coursed its way down Victoria’s spine at her words. “Take this with you as well.”

Mama Eshe placed the pouch of herbs and other items in Victoria’s hand. Wrapping her hands around Victoria’s she gazed into her eyes. “Remember what I said, child.”

Placing the book and the pouch in her purse carefully, Victoria walked back through the beaded door and through the store. Passing Zane, he nodded to her with a smile, as she exited the shop. Victoria couldn’t put her finger on it, but as she walked the darkened streets, she couldn’t shake the feeling of being under watchful eyes.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.