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Chapter One: The Apothecary
“So how are customers liking the remodel, Serena?” Lydia asked, looking over a new display charms. There was everything from pentacles for witches to flowers and herbs magically preserved in resin for fairies and other nature creatures. "It’s good to see you back at it after so long.”
“Well, the number of witches coming in has gone down a bit but the number of other Nocturnals coming in has more than made up for that. Did I tell you that your daughter and I had a gargoyle in here the other day?” Serena, the apothecary shop owner, replied while helping her niece finish a potion they were working on. She ignored her sister’s last comment. “Tell your mom about it, Layla.”
“Yeah, he had big wings and talons. I got to help make the skin cream he asked for. Aunt Serena says rough, stony skin is a common gargoyle problem,” the thirteen year old said, tucking a loose strand of light brown hair behind her ear. she tried so hard to sound like she knew what she was talking about even though she was just starting her witch training.
“I’m impressed. It sounds like you’ve been a big help since Serena took over Grandma’s store. But are you sure you wouldn’t rather train with me at the clinic? We always need a few more healing hands.” Lydia asked, not for the first time since Layla had asked to apprentice under Serena instead of her mother. The daughter might look just like her mother with the same light brown hair and blue eyes but she leaned more toward her aunt when it came to behavior.
“Mom, I’m an earth witch. We both know that Serena should train me since she’s an earth witch too. I don’t belong at the clinic healing with the water witches. Potion making is something I actually have a talent for.” Layla said, putting a cork on the vial of potion she’d just filled.
“It’s true. She’s a prodigy.” Serena agreed, remembering two weeks ago when Layla had first considered working at the shop. She’d been trying to help at the clinic like her mother wanted but every time she attempted a healing spell failed. So when Serena saw how defeated her niece looked, she had asked Layla to help her make a potion. It went much better than the girl’s healing spells. Having her here was good for both of them.
“Fine, I wont ask again. Listen, I’ve got to get to the clinic now. We’re training a new doctor. I’ll see you at home and try to be good, Layla.” Lydia said, kissing Layla’s cheek before hurrying off.
“She worries too much.” Layla muttered before turning back to the potion. “What does this do anyway?”
“It’s a super fertilizer. This potion uses the dust of woodland sprites to make plants grow better and much faster. Put it in the gardening section, please.” Serena explained ask she cleaned up.
“How did you get that?” Layla asked incredulously while putting the new vials in their place next to a weed killing spray and a charm kit that creates a barrier around gardens to keep pests out.
“Well, in the past, witches and other hunters would track down the creatures with useful parts. The creatures would often die in the process but now hunting other Nocturnals is illegal. Of course, I’ve never done that. my ingredients that come from other Nocturnals are either sold or traded to me by that creature. Speaking of which,” Serena explained and jerked her head to the door as a particular customer came in.
“Ah, good morning Serena and Layla,” the customer, a vampiress, said cheerfully while removing a big hat and sunglasses. Then she shook her scarlet hair out and directed her black eyes on Serena. “I see you finally replaced that wooden door handle. Now I wont have to wear gloves to enter your shop.” She beamed, flashing fangs.
“Welcome, Nyssa. I’ve actually gotten rid of anything designed to ward off any species of Nocturnal. I cater to everyone. Speaking of, you ready for our business?” Serena asked, grabbing a package from behind the checkout counter.
“Gloves? Why would you need gloves to come in?” Layla wondered aloud. She watched as Nyssa set down her hat and sunglasses then took out a box of her own from her purse.
“Since you’re young, I’ll forgive you not knowing, Layla. There are only three things that wound vampires: wood, Fire, and sunlight. Thanks to your aunt, I don’t have to worry about the sun as much. As long as it’s not direct, continuous contact, I’m free to walk around with minor difficulties. She makes me a potion every week that negates most of the sun’s effects on me and in exchange, I give her a pint of my blood.” Nyssa explained, exchanging packages with Serena. The vampiress safely tucked hers into her black bag.
“Oh, because vampire blood is used to cure severe wounds and illness, right?” Layla said, looking at the box in Serena’s hands.
“That’s right. Too bad it can’t mend Serena’s broken heart or her sense of fashion. Seriously, you’ll never find another guy by hiding your assets behind aprons and braids. Let that black hair down and come out with me some time.” Nyssa walked around Serena and stole the hair tie off the end of the braid then untied her apron.
“Please, Nyssa. I’m at work. And I’m over Shawn, believe me.” Serena insisted, trying to keep her green apron on as she snagged the hair tie back. Her plaited hair was coming undone quickly and swaying down her back.
“But you haven’t moved on. When was the last time you even talked to a man that wasn’t a customer? You really should get out more,” Nyssa was full of concern for her friend. It wasn’t healthy to keep to yourself as much as Serena did.
Serena honestly had no good answer. After her ordeal with Shawn, she’d thrown herself into her work with the shop and had barely left it since. She’s moved from the apartment they’d shared to the loft upstairs too. This place felt like the only thing in her life her ex hadn’t damaged. Shawn had been like a hurricane, tearing things up at the roots and leaving them broken in his wake. Serena wished she’d never met him.
“I’ve been busy but it’s not like I never intended to get back out there. I just might not be ready yet.” Serena said honestly, taking pride in what she’d managed to accomplish in the last eight months.
“Well I hope you are ready soon. It bothers me to see you stuck where you are,” Nyssa said with a hand on Serena’s shoulder.
“Thanks for the concern but I’ll be fine. Maybe sometime I’ll let you take me to that club of yours.” Serena smiled, not wanting to be stuck.
“I’ll hold you to that. See you both Later.” Nyssa winked before leaving the shop. Serena sighed and went back to work.
Gracie_Tello: Very good! The descriptions and flow of the dialogue were very tastefully done. As an edit, in chapter 30 when you are talking about how Garrick's mother was married when she was barely more then a child, you have the word "barley" instead of "barely". The characters were really brought to life,...
KerryMI: One would think the idea of vampire loving man has been over flogged, yet this story's fresh perspective on Vampires, how they live and how they connect with humans is so effortlessly narrated that it almost becomes truth. Your writing was fast enough to keep me greedily turning each page but slo...
N_F_G: This story was fantastic! It was really enjoyable, and the characters and locations felt real to me as I read the story! Celeste was an amazing character, who survived all her struggles, and I felt the author did an excellent job writing about suicide and self harm- in a sensitive, authentic mann...
William Elliott Kern: Long story, the plot uncovered midway through the story. From beginning, the story was fast moving. Then dragged on for quite some time. The Author was good in describing her characters, their clothing, etc. but a lot of that disclosure distracted from the story moving fast.Not withstanding, the...
Lauren Kabanyana: It's simply amazing, the story is touching and has you captivated while reading! I loved it! Would read it over and over again. I applaud the way this book was able to evoke a mixture of feelings. I felt everything the two main characters felt from the start to end, i would recommend this novel t...
_Dusks_kiss: I never knew that one of my favourite childhood cartoons could turn into such a beautiful story. Tho there are many grammatical errors and writing errors, this story warmed my heart to 100%. I would definitely want this book to get published and I would also buy it. It’s amazing character develop...
uccowade: im not quite done....200 pages left. very well written. my only criticism would be the minor spelling, grammar and structure errors. needs more polishing....regardless I was able determine how word or sentences were likely intended to be written. errors we're relatively minor in frequency and...
Ro-Ange Olson: This is such a different romance story. I loved it. The book was very long and could be split into 2-3 books in my opinion, but I'd hate to have to wait to read the next part too. I loved the chapter from Darius's point of view. It was a really different way for the writer to cover time and also ...