Falling into Place
The deep soulful voice of my favorite singer blared through the SUV’s speakers as I drove along the never-ending stretch of freeway between me and Louisiana. I was anxious to get to Emersyn, to see that she was okay, but then I thought of her freaking out if she saw me again and still didn’t know who I was. No, I’d have to think of another plan to get close to Emersyn.
Thinking of her now only made me have deeper thoughts about her. I remember every little moment we shared together. All the kisses shared and all the love-making under our favorite tree. Her long brunette hair tangled in my fingers as I stared into her mesmerizing eyes, noting how magical her one green and one blue eye looked in the morning sunlight. I can even remember how her voice sounded when she told me she loved me, a phrase she said to me every chance she could get. We were inseparable and so desperately in love.
And now that was all gone.
A single tear slid down my cheek as I angrily wiped it away, hating how emotional I got when I thought about her. A lot of blame fell on my shoulders regarding her death in 1927. That day has forever been stamped on my soul and I would never recuperate from it.
I couldn’t help but wonder if things would have gone differently if I hadn’t taken that investigation in the city. It was a smoldering hot August day, even for Boston, and I remember nearly sweating to death on my way in. Our old Ford Model T was chugging along the highway, carrying me to my destination in the heart of downtown Boston. A mother had called on me, sounding as frantic as any scared mother could sound, telling me of monsters visiting her son from within his closet. The monster only arrived during the night hours and only when a storm was brewing outside. I knew exactly what it was: an elemental. They were notorious for not only terrifying small children but only came out when the earth’s energy was at its highest, hence why it only ever came out during storms.
It was a simple banishing incantation and a blessing of the boy’s room and closet, but a case I could have sent Tristan or another to do. Instead, I was the one who had gone, only to return and find Emersyn dead in our bathtub.
The memory of her dead body made me want to throw up and I had to pull off the highway, coming to a complete stop to calm myself. My hands were shaking and my eyes burned from unshed tears. I knew it was okay to cry over her death, but that was ninety-three years ago. I have to let it go. She’s back now.
“Atticus! Where the hell are you?” Tristan’s voice made me jump as I sighed out.
“I’m on my way, Tristan. Have you found anything? Have you located her yet? What’s going on?”
Tristan’s internal chuckle gave me a slight headache. “What would you like me to answer first? Relax, big guy, I think I found her. I was following her little friend Brad around and overheard him talking about Emersyn and New Orleans. She must be there.”
I immediately thought about what that meant. She was in the city known for Voodoo and that scared me. Not to mention she was all alone now and Tristan had lost her. I’m seriously going to strangle that guy.
“The good news is that she’s close to Briar,” Tristan continued, piquing my interest.
“Briar is in New Orleans then?” When his thoughts confirmed my question with pictures of what he had seen in his head, I knew where to go. “I’ll meet you in New Orleans, Tristan. Don’t screw this one up.” I ended the connection and got back on the freeway, kicking it down. There was an anxious need inside of me that caused me to speed like a maniac. I needed to get to her, that much I could feel. She may not remember who she is yet, but I have to figure out how to fix that before the next full moon. Her life depended on it. And, so did mine.
As I entered the city of New Orleans, I remembered the last time I had been here. It was the fall of 1831 and Emersyn was the daughter of a wealthy cotton plantation owner. She was so gorgeous wearing those large antebellum-style dresses with matching ribbons in her hair. It was her third life and one of the hardest ones to get her father’s approval for marriage. At the time I was living my third life as well, being in my early 20’s and no established family ties to the south or to their cause, and they considered me an outsider. To her father back then, I wasn’t a proper suitor for his daughter, but little did he know that we were soul mates and nothing and no one would keep us apart. Over time he accepted my love for Emersyn, but that was our shortest time together. I only got to love Emersyn for nine years during that life and then she was taken from me again. Her kind heart got her hanged for freeing slaves and two days later, I swung next to her.
The city looks much different from those times, but so did everything else in this country. I have currently been alive for one hundred and seventy-seven years and in all of those years, I have seen some incredible things and some very unspeakable events. The Civil War being one of them. I pray we never have to see anything like that ever again. Those were some rough times. And don’t even mention the Great Depression. I lost my ass in those days.
What also comes to my mind when I think of these things is remembering how strange it was that Emersyn hadn’t returned to me until 1900. Normally, after we die and reincarnate, she’s just three years behind me, but this time was different. She was born fifty-seven years after me. It didn’t make sense but then again, neither did this life. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a warning of what was to come. After her death in 1927, she didn’t reincarnate again until 2002, seventy-five years later. Life without her all this time has been miserable and I wondered what I did to deserve this.
Someone honked their horn behind me, reminding me that I was still driving and needed to get out of my head. The stoplight had turned green and I was holding everyone up. I tore away from the stop line and headed for the French Quarter.
It has been seventy-five years since I’ve seen Briar, hiding from her because I couldn’t face her. I felt like I had failed her when Emerysn took her own life and that wasn’t something I could bear. But right now, I have to put my blame and my skeletons back in their closet so I could face Briar after all of these years. Emersyns life depended on it and I knew Briar was the only one who would know what to do next. After all, she’s the one who created us.
“Atticus, where you at? I’ve been sitting here for hours!” Tristan’s voice filled my head, blanketing the dark thoughts still swirling in my mind.
“I’m almost there, hold onto your pants.” I gripped the steering wheel tighter and turned off the main road, heading towards the French Quarter.
Several familiar buildings came into view and I felt like I had just time-traveled to the past. Most of the French Quarter that was now a huge tourist trap looked just like it had when I was last here in the 1830s.
“Hurry the hell up. I’m hungry,” Tristan whined, making me force him out of my head. He was seriously worse than a five-year-old sometimes.
I turned down a side road, parking my SUV along the curb line and then got out. The smell of the city hadn’t changed much either, I noticed. It’s amazing how a single smell can shove you right back to a time or place you haven’t been to in years.
“It’s about time!”
I whipped around, finding Tristan storming towards me with his arms out.
“I got lost,” I lied, shoving my hands into my back pockets. Where the hell is my wallet?
“Lost my ass,” Tristan retorted, “Let’s get some food before Briar’s shop closes up for the night.”
Taking a deep breath, I nodded towards the main street, telling him to lead the way. It was going to be strange seeing Briar after all this time and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Getting a full belly before an emotional roller coaster of a meeting was a good idea. I don’t know if Briar’s going to hug my neck until I can’t breathe or if she’s going to smack me upside the head until I get dizzy. I couldn’t blame her if she wanted to smack me around a bit, though. I’d deserve it.
As we searched for a place to eat, we finally decided on a few slices of pizza and brought them back to my SUV where we could sit in private.
“What do you think Briar’s going to say?” Tristan asked with a mouth full of pizza before wiping his mouth with a napkin. He looked over at me with pure curiosity, clearly waiting for me to talk and when I hadn’t, he asked that stupid question.
“I think she’s going to be pissed that we’ve stayed away for this long,” I replied with a shrug, eating more of my slice of pizza while staring straight ahead.
Tristan groaned. “Correction, you’ve stayed away for this long. I wanted to see her but where you are, I am.” The level of irritation in his voice was evident and I knew he was blaming me for keeping him away from her.
But can he blame me? Seeing Briar hurt too much, he must know that.
“Well, we’re here now,” I growled out, feeling my own irritations and wanted to end this conversation. I shoved the last of my pizza into my mouth, took a drink of water, and jumped back out of the SUV. When Tristan didn’t move, I stared back into the cab of the vehicle and glared at him. “Well, let’s go then.”
He got out of the truck and met me at the back of the SUV, still chowing down on his pizza. I was too anxious to wait for him to finish, wanting to get to Briar right away. Even though I had purposely stayed away from her this entire time, right now, I needed to find some answers to getting Emersyn back. She clearly wasn’t remembering on her own and hasn’t tried to seek me out yet and the full moon was quickly approaching.
Tristan followed along behind me as I walked down the dark alley that led to the street below us, the street where we’d find Briar’s shop. Being here reminded me of my past once more. The cobblestone streets beneath my feet were vibrating with the energy of the past and because I had actually been alive when these stones were laid, I could feel them stronger than anything else.
Images flashed through my head of the men who worked these streets, laying one stone by agonizing stone until it was complete. The days were long and brutal and the foremen were relentless. I had a friend working on these streets; his name was Christoph and we connected the moment we met. He was a short, stocky little fella but someone you’d want in your corner if things went south. The guy was also the best friend I’d ever had, even treating Emersyn like his little sister. I wondered then what had happened to Christoph all those years ago. It wasn’t long after these streets were laid that I was hanged for my crimes.
“Atticus,” Tristan’s voice and a smack to my arm pulled me from my thoughts as I looked in the direction he was now pointing.
A metaphysical shop appeared at the corner of the alley and the street below, a wooden sign with ‘The Mystic’ burned into it hung above the door. The glass windows allowing a peek into the store told me we were in the right place. Dried herbs hung from the ceiling and there were enough potions in there to last someone’s lifetime. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that this was Briar’s shop.
I looked over my shoulder at Tristan, seeing the excitement there. “You ready for this?”
Vigorously nodding his head, he pushed me from behind, trying to hurry the process up. Apparently, excitement is an understatement for him at the moment.
Once I pushed through the front door, a bell above us chimed to life, giving away our presence. The shop was quiet, not a single soul about, but the lights were still on. There was an overwhelming scent of sage in the air and I knew Briar had just smudged after a long day of business and people milling in and out of her place.
Then I saw her.
She stood up from behind the counter, calling out over her shoulder. “We’re closed sugars, come back tomorrow.”
I froze in my spot, staring at Briar, a woman I had looked at like a mother. The tears were burning my eyes and I blinked them away, not wanting to look like a sissy after all these years apart.
When she turned to look at us, she froze too, but it was her face that gave her away. A huge grin spread across her face and tears immediately began streaming down her face.
“My boys!!” She cried, storming over to us as all the jewelry she wore jingled and clinked together. I remember her being much taller, but that face was one I’d never forget. Her ebony colored skin looked a shade darker against her white skirt and matching shawl. The scarf wrapped around her head was white and turquoise with small feathers decorating one side. She wore about twenty necklaces around her neck, all toting some kind of stone or shell, and the rings and bracelets were the same. It was her kind eyes that gave her away, though. Copper globes that shined when she was happy were a beacon in the dark and I immediately felt the emotion climb up my throat.
“Mama B!” Tristan rejoiced, pushing past me to get to her. I watched her wrap him in a tight hug, not wanting to let him go.
Her eyes moved to me then as she stepped out of Tristan’s embrace. We stared at each other for a long moment, unsure of what to say or do, but then she came to me and wrapped me in one of her famous warm hugs.
At this moment, I felt all the stresses of the world just fall right off of me, as if her hug could cure my wailing heart.
“Oh, Atticus,” she mumbled into my chest, still holding me tightly. “Where have you two been all this time?” She stepped back and looked into my eyes.
“We’ve been traveling, Mama B,” I replied timidly, not sure what else to say, to be honest. It was a surreal feeling standing here in front of her all these years later.
“Well, I’m glad you boys have decided to come home.” She waved her hand toward the front door, the faint sound of it locking up greeted me and I turned to smile at her.
“Still using your gifts for minuscule things I see.” I could feel my grin reaching my eyes, something that rarely happens these days.
She snorted. “These old bones need all the help they can get. If I don’t have to walk all the way to the front door, then I’m not going to.” Her southern accent was thick and it was made clear to me how long she’d been living in the south. When I last saw her she had a northern accent and was less decorated.
“We’ve found her, Mama B,” Tristan interrupted, stepping back up to her, wanting that sole attention he always craved from her.
She reached out and took his hands in hers. “I know, sugar. I’ve met her and she’s beautiful.” Her eyes went dark then as she looked down and stepped away from Tristan. “But, I haven’t seen her since. There’s a wicked being looking for her.” Her hand came up to her chest as she stared off into space. “I don’t know who he is, but he tried to take me over with Devil’s breath.” She laughed, shaking her head before looking up at me. “But what he doesn’t know is that I’m much stronger than that magical powder bullshit.”
Hearing her curse made me chuckle. She was always a proper woman, never saying anything uglier than damn. But one mention of this dark being and I exchanged a glance with Tristan.
“When we were back in Baton Rouge, Tristan could feel him. He’s an ancient being and made the night sky pitch black.” She nodded, seeming to already know this. And I forgot that she actually did, being a mind reader and all.
Nodding, she replied, “Yes, I saw that as well. He’s a nasty little thing and I have no idea what he wants with our sweet Emersyn.” Then she gave Tristan a scolding mother look. “And keep your thingy in your pants, boy; you had one job.”
I burst out laughing, wanting to hug her again. I forgot how much I missed her.
Tristan’s cheeks blushed as he rubbed the back of his neck. “What can I say, Mama B? The ladies love me.”
Now she was the one to burst out laughing. She grabbed our hands then and pulled us farther into the shop, the lights going out one at a time behind us.
“If you know all of this, then you must know what’s been going on with Emersyn, right?” I had to know what she knew.
She stopped to look at me over her shoulder. “That’s just the thing, Atticus. I haven’t been able to locate her since she left my shop and that only means one thing…”
“He has her,” I breathed out, fear clutching its ugly hand around my heart.
Nodding, she looked between us. “We don’t have much time.”
“The full moon is in a few days, Mama B, what can we do?” Tristan asked, looking as worried as I felt with his brow pulled tightly together as worry lines formed across his forehead.
Briar walked behind the counter, pulling out an old leather-bound book before she began skimming through several of the pages. I recognized this book but I had never had the privilege to see what was inside. Maybe that was about to change.
As I leaned over the counter to take a peek, Briar tsked me and pulled the book out of my view.
“You know better than to snoop in a woman’s diary, Atticus,” she spoke with humor, her eyes sparkling.
I felt my cheeks heat as I smiled innocently at her, holding my hands up. “I didn’t realize it was that special to you.”
“And you’ll never know, am I right?” She cocked a challenging brow at me before she went back to flipping through the pages. Then she stopped, pointing at something on a page that I couldn’t see. “Ah-ha! Here it is.” I watched her read over it for a moment before she slammed the book shut and looked up at me. “How soon do you think you can gain Emerysn’s trust?”
The question caught me off guard. I only had a few days before the full moon and something told me that the Emersyn from this life wasn’t the type of woman to trust anyone within this time restraint.
When I didn’t say anything, Tristan took this time to speak up. “She may not remember you, Atticus, but there’s no way her soul doesn’t. You two have been soul mates since the beginning. I think you’ll surprise yourself if you go to her.”
He might be right, but I was terrified of scaring her off. I couldn’t lose her again, to death or because of fear.
“I don’t even know how to find her. And when I do, what happens next?” I scratched the back of my neck, staring down at the baskets full of stones in front of me.
“There’s one thing I want to try on her, but I can’t do that unless she comes here, Atticus,” Briar began, rounding the counter to stand in front of me before she took my hands in hers. “I can’t force her to remember who she is, but I believe a past life regression will help her open her third eye. Once that’s opened and her vibration is higher, it should act as a memory booster in a sense. Her soul is still the same as it’s always been, we just need to show her.”
I couldn’t help the anxious feeling gripping my stomach right now. It all sounded good, but what happens if this doesn’t work? Do I lose her for good? When the full moon arrives and she’s transformed into her full powers, will she never have the chance of remembering me?
“Let’s do this,” I finally replied, needing to try something. If it didn’t work then I’d beat myself up, but right now, I have to do something.
“Holy shit,” Tristan cursed out, causing me to whip around to face him. He was standing frozen to his spot, staring out the front windows. “Nila,” he whispered.
Nila. I hadn’t heard that name since I was a kid. Not a kid from this lifetime, but a kid from when this all began. Memories of Nila swam through my mind, remembering her and Tristan running through the highlands, getting into as much trouble as they possibly could. They were best friends and inseparable, much the same way I felt about Emersyn. But, how is she here? In 2020?
And then I saw her and my heart began to race. It was indeed Nila Merek, a true blast from the past. She died in 1345, I remember being at her funeral. It was impossible that she was here.
“Don’t be rude, Tristan, invite the girl in,” Briar spoke, the sound of trepidation in her tone. If she was uneasy and nervous about this, then maybe I should be too.
What the hell is going on here?