I forgot completely to post this this morning. So I guess it is an evening post instead.Enjoy!
On the first of the month a new chapter is posted from an as yet to be released book. The current book is Tansy Moves In. This is the first book of the upcoming Oak Hill Series.
Tansy stared at the book. The page containing her thumb print and oath were gone. Her finger was no longer bleeding. She dropped the pin on the work table when the page vanished and remembered hearing the slight ping as it connected to the surface of the table. Looking around, Tansy could see that the pin vanished as well.
“Well,” Tansy said. She could think of no other words to say and stared dumbly down at the book for a moment.
“Protection,” she remembered after a while. One of the reasons she decided to take the oath was to find some sort of protection against anything the Weathersby Family might try when she left the house in the morning to go to work. She lifted a hand to the book and was pleased to see the pages all turned now as though it was a regular book and not a doorstop shaped like a book.
“I guess that’s why all of the books on the shelf relaxed,” Tansy said to herself as she flipped through the pages. While the initial pages in control had been marked one through five as though they were each orderly lessons, the other pages simply had titles.
“To read the weather,” Tansy read on one. “To know planting time. To enhance night vision.” All wounded interesting in a vague way, but there was no order to them. Tansy flipped through the pages and finally spotted one that was titled “A simple charm to protect the wearer.”
“Well that seems like a possibility. Simple would be best,” Tansy set the book down on the table and opened the book flat so she could read it. It was listed like a recipe. She would need a few bits of silk string, the ability to make knots, the incantation listed in the book and a drop of her own blood to seal it. The simple charm was listed as ‘suitable for a novice’.
“I guess that is why it has so few things,” Tansy said. “And I am nothing if not a beginner. After a quick search, Tansy found one of the drawers held silk embroidery floss. It made her think of the friendship bracelets she and her friends used to make in junior high. She was pretty sure she remembered how to make them.
“And it does say the more knots you have the stronger the protection,” Tansy said. “And the bracelet is mostly just a series of knots.”
The incantation was simple and all it required was her concentration and focus as well as a repetition of the incantation with each knot. After the last knot, she needed to seal it with her own blood. The incantation was “Protect the wearer of this charm.”
Easy enough,” Tansy decided. She took five strands of the silk floss and a piece of tap. Tansy concentrated on tying the ends of the string together to form the first not to secure them. “Protect the wearer of this charm,” she said, focusing on the knot as she pulled it tight. The word charm fell heavily from her lips as it spilled out of her mouth. It felt like more than just a word. She taped the top knot to the table to hold it steady and spread the strings out. She lifted the first two strings in the line and began tying them in the first knot of the row. She tied the knot and again spoke the words.
“Protect the wearer of this charm,” Again the words felt heavy as they came out of her mouth. Figuring that meant that what she was doing was working, Tansy pushed forward. She made it to the end of the row and began the second. By the time she was halfway through the bracelet each of the words felt solid, like stones slipping out of her mouth. Tansy focused on the knots of the rows, making certain that each was secure as she moved. She wanted no loose knots, no gap in her protection.
Her throat became dry and she swallowed, pausing for a moment. She didn’t want to stop until it was done. Somehow the string started to feel like a living thing and she was worried about what would happen if she left it half finished. When the friendship bracelet was almost long enough to tie around her wrist, Tansy realized it would look out of place on her wrist at work. She decided to turn it into an ankle. With the protection around her ankle, she could hide it under both her pants leg and sock.
No one would question why she had an old school friendship bracelet on her wrist. By the time it reached the appropriate length for an anklet, Tansy’s hands were shaking slightly and even if her voice remained even, her throat felt raspy. Even though it was not warm in the work room, a line of sweat rolled tickled at her hair line.
Tansy reached the appropriate length and pulled up the piece of tape. She pulled a pun from the cork board and then lifted her left leg up. She balanced the left leg on her right knee and slipped the anklet around her ankle, pushing her sock out of the way. She tied the final knot, securing the bracelet to her ankle. As she tied the knot she said the final incantation.
‘Protect the wearer of this charm. The words were hard to force out and tansy’s voice felt thick as though the stones of her words somehow got bigger as she worked. There were scissors in the pen holder and she clipped the extra string off. Tansy dropped the scissors back in the pen holder and picked up the pin she pulled from the board. She pricked her thumb and let a bead of blood roll down her finger and fall onto the final knot of the anklet. Her blood hit the knot with a nearly audible thud. For a moment light danced over the knots. Then the light and blood disappeared. It was just a friendship bracelet, woven of pink and gray silk threads and used as an anklet.
Tansy let the pin fall to the table and promised herself she would clean it later. She stuck her still bleeding thumb in her mouth and promised to use rubbing alcohol on it when she went upstairs. She lowered her leg, placing her foot on the floor. A wave of tiredness hit her and Tansy lifted her spare hand up to rub her eyes.
‘Long day,’ she thought.
Tansy pulled her thumb from her mouth and saw the blood had stopped. Slowlt she pushed herself up from the table and stood. For a moment she stood, holding onto the edge of the worktable as she wobbled. She felt drained, physically and mentally. Tansy thought she could blame the day’s events on some of it, after all she had been burned out of her apartment. But she thought some of it might have been working on the anklet. “At least if it took something out of me, if might work as protection,” she told herself. “That’s got to count for something, right?”
Feeling less wobbly, Tansy bade her way back to the kitchen. She secured all of the doors, hiding the workroom once again behind the secret panels. Then, Tansy double checked all of the doors on the first floor and made her way upstairs. On her way, she picked up several of her shopping bags, leaving the others for later.
Upstairs she took out her cell phone, set the alarm for the morning and placed it on the night stand. She left herself a little extra time to get ready and commute back to the city. After that she rummaged in the bathroom’s medicine cabinet until she came up with a pre-moistened alcohol swab from the first aid kit. She hissed as she ran the cloth over her thumb, but felt it might at least prevent her from getting some form of blood borne illness from the pricking of her thumb.
“If all the spells require a drop of blood, then I’ll have to get a bottle of rubbing alcohol to keep in the workroom,” She told herself. The last of the sentence came out as part of a yawn and her words became indistinct even to her own ears. She kicked off her shoes, pulled off her clothes, leaving them in a heap and picked out an old t-shirt to sleep in. Once dressed for bed, she crawled beneath the sheets. Tansy fell into sleep the moment her head hit the pillow and remembered nothing until the alarm went off the next morning.
With the morning’s alarm came the momentary confusion. She stretched as memory returned. The fire. The drive to Oak Hill. The acceptance of magic. The anklet. She lifted her foot out of the covers and saw it there, knotted around her left ankle. The pink and gray were quiet colors, the pink nearly the same tone as her skin and the gray looking a little more like shadow.
“Even if I wear a skirt and heels it wouldn’t be that noticeable.” She let her foot down and sat up. “Not that I have any skirts, or heels for that matter.”
The ones she had were in the apartment. If the fire started in Chris’ apartment, she suspected there was little likelihood that her clothing was spared. “I suppose it makes moving simpler.”
Tansy got out of bed and moved to the bathroom. When in the shower, she tried to keep her anklet out of the spray, unsure what water might do to it. “I’ll have to ask someone about that. If they aren’t still avoiding me, that is.”
Tansy wrapped a towel around her after drying off from her shower and moved back into the bedroom. She rummaged around in the shopping bags until she managed to put together an outfit for the day. “It’s Friday so this weekend I’ll settle everything,” she said to the plastic bags, some empty, some still full scattered across her floor. She thought of the bags still down stairs. “Those too,” she thought.
Although the outfit was new, Tansy slipped her familiar lucky charm of a bumblebee necklace around her neck, tucking it into the neck of her blouse. The charm might or might not work, but she felt she could always do with a little bit of extra luck.
Normally breakfast was only a cup of coffee, but Tansy hadn’t brought any coffee to the house. She made a mental note to pick some up after work and decided it would be easier to go through a drive through on the way. Tansy made certain her phone was in her work bag and realized she didn’t have any lunch to add to it either.
“I’ll figure something out later.” The groceries she bought the week before had mostly been consumed and all that was left were the frozen meals Eunice left. Having nothing else she needed to grab, Tansy headed out of the door. Protection or not, she locked the front door before heading to her car. The car was as she left it the night before.
“I didn’t really think they’d put some sort of bomb in it,” Tansy told herself as she backed down the driveway. “Although maybe I had better put it in the garage to be safe.” Tansy didn’t know if the garage had the same protection as the house, but it would at least be out of public view.
Tansy shook her head. While she wasn’t the sort to believe there was good in everyone, she also wasn’t the sort to worry overly much about people trying to kill her. “Possibly trying to kill me,” she corrected the voice in her head. “It could just have been an accident.” As she turned on the road leading back to town, Tansy thought about the dark figure she saw darting through the ruins. Given the firemen chased everyone away, it shouldn’t have been there.
‘But no one else seemed to see it.’
It was a dark thought that sat in the back of her head as she drove. Tansy made it through town, traffic not really picking up until she reached the newer side of town. Here subdivisions sprouted up at each exit ramp. The subdivisions were loosely connected to Oak Hill, their children attending local schools, but like Tansy they worked in the city and only returned at night and on weekends.
Tansy joined the flow of traffic leading back to the city. She thought about stopping for coffee at one of the fast food places, but now that she was in the traffic, she didn’t want to pull out again. There was enough traffic and it was moving at a swift enough pace that it took most of Tansy’s attention to drive into the city. She thought about stopping as she drew closer to work but every place she passed looked crowded with people who apparently had the same idea.
Tansy shrugged off her morning coffee and headed into the office. She parked in her designated area, picked up her bag from the passenger’s seat and went into the building for her day in the office. She was earlier than usual, but she hadn’t beaten in Ms. Abbot. She was slipping her purse into a drawer as Tansy entered. From the hush around them Tansy suspected that they were the only two people currently in the office.
‘Which is good,’ Tansy said. She suspected her news would circle the office, but she didn’t want to start off the day being the morning gossip. Tansy stopped in front of Ms. Abbot’s desk.
“Well,” Ms. Abbot said. “You are nice and early today.”
Tansy blinked. For a moment it looked like there was a slight glow around Ms. Abbot. ‘Morning sun,’ Tansy thought, spotting the sun streaming through the large window behind her.
“There was a bit of an issue last night,” Tansy told her. “There was a fire at my apartment building so I am staying at my Aunt Eunice’s house,” Tansy told her. “I’ll need to change the address in my file.”
“Oh how dreadful,” Ms. Abbot said. Concern flared on her face. “I’ll make sure the address is changed. Do you have it with you?” Tansy nodded. She held out a piece of scrap paper and a pen and Tansy took it.
“Thanks,” Tansy said. Ms. Abbot blinked at her as though surprised, but then smiled.
“Of course,” she said. “Do they know what started it?”
Tansy shook her head as she printed out the address of Eunice’s house. “They didn’t when I left last night. They are supposed to call me about seeing if anything is salvageable sometime today. I shouldn’t have to meet anyone until after work though, I don’t think.”
Ms. Abbott nodded. “You just leave your cell phone on today then. We’ll call it extenuating circumstances.”
“Thank you,” Tansy said, knowing how Ms. Abbot despised cell phones during office hours. She handed the address to her. Ms. Abbot looked down at the address.
“Oak Hill,” she read.
“Yes,” Tansy replied.
“I see. That does explain a lot,” Ms. Abbott said as if talking to herself. “Quite a bit actually.”
“Excuse me?” Tansy asked.
Ms. Abbott seemed to shake herself. She smiled at Tansy. “Never mind. Just an idle thought. I’m sure everything will be sorted soon. Let me know if the officials in charge need you during office hours. I think we can spare some time for such a necessity.”
“Thank you,” Tansy replied. Having nothing else to say, Tansy moved past her and walked towards her cubicle. Behind her she thought she heard Ms. Abbot talking to herself.
“Oak Hill, my, my.”
When Tansy looked back, the admin was facing her computer screen as it glowed to life. Tansy tried to dismiss her reaction as she moved to her own computer and began her day’s work.