Chapter One: Starless Night
"I seriously hate you right now," he practically growled to me from over his computer screen. His dark eyes pierced mine and I felt a shiver run down my back. I shifted uncomfortably from my position on the bed.
"I'm sorry," I muttered. "I didn't realize it was going to cost so much to call abroad."
He rolled his eyes and turned back to the computer. "Twenty dollars. What a fucking waste. Don't use my phone anymore."
"Fine," I said quietly and I got off the bed. He didn't say a word to me as I left the room and meandered down the hall. I opened the closet door as gently as I could and slipped my long black coat off a hanger. I shrugged it on, slipped into my boots, and left the apartment.
The night air was crisp and cold and I rubbed my hands together before taking off down the sidewalk. It wasn't snowing tonight, but it might as well have been. For an April evening, it was still surprisingly cold.
My journey took me to the park, where I sank down onto a wooden bench and heaved a sigh. I let my shoulders slump and the tensed up muscles in my neck relaxed. What the hell was his problem? I said I'd pay him back for the phone bill...so what was the deal?
I knew what it was...I'd known for a while. It's called a failing relationship. But like so many other girls I knew, I just couldn't let it go.
A warm feeling settled in my chest at that moment and I felt the corners of my lips turn up. "Welcome, Seth."
Feather light and invisible fingers slid onto my shoulders and then trailed down my arms. "You're so tense," a voice in my mind purred.
"What do you expect?" I sneered. "I can hardly let my guard down around him anymore." I clenched my hands, fingernails digging painfully into the palm of my hand. "What the hell am I supposed to do?"
Those invisible fingers gave way to invisible arms that settled around my shoulders and pulled me back against an invisible body. "You already know the answer to that one. Just leave him."
I leaned into that warmth behind me and let out another grand sigh. "That's easier said than done. I'd have to move all my stuff, find a new place to live, and try to get a job somewhere. And we both know how interesting my predicament here is..."
"This is true," a whisper tickled my ear and I grinned. Seth had been manifesting himself more and more frequently these last few weeks. Seth is my spirit guide. So yes, this means he is a spirit. But he also acts as my guardian and I'm fairly positive he's been watching over me all my life.
"Meredith," Seth spoke into my mind again. "Whatever you decide, I will be here with you."
I knew this. And I was more grateful than I could express with words. If it wasn't for Seth tagging along on every adventure in my life, I'd be pretty damn lonely. He shared my joy with me, comforted me when I was sad, and was always there to give advice on any problem I had.
I stood up from the bench and the warm feeling faded. I began to shiver. "I need to head back," I said to the darkness around me. I knew he could hear me. And I knew he'd follow me. That was what gave me the courage to face my boyfriend's wrath again.
The apartment was dark and silent when I got in. I quietly slipped off my boots and coat and entered the bedroom. The light was off and there was a lump under the bed covers.
I climbed in next to the lump and held my breath as it shifted around for a minute, half hoping he wouldn't wake up and tell me to sleep on the couch.
"Where did you go?" he asked. He turned around to face me and I could make out his piercing eyes locking onto me.
"I went for a walk," I said evasively. His stare was making me uncomfortable. Why couldn't he just let it go and resume sleeping?
Finally he sighed and turned back around. "Whatever," he muttered.
Well, I guess that was the end of that. I pulled the covers over myself and closed my eyes. I was going to sleep too, tension be damned.
When I awoke he was already gone. I sat up and rubbed at my eyes, clearing them of the crusty stuff gathered in the corners. Then I stood up and sauntered out to the kitchen. The world didn't look very cheery until I'd had myself a cup of coffee and a piece of toast.
With the coffee brewing and a slice of white bread in the beat up toaster, I moved over to the window and looked out at the alley behind our building. The sun was creeping up over the rooftops and beginning to shine on our fire escape. I watched as the rays stretched themselves across the sky, warming the air and giving life to the buds that were sprouting on the trees.
Montreal was only beautiful to me two times out of the whole year. First, when the entire city was blanketed in white snow and all the hideous grey was covered and secondly, when all the trees began to bud out and the flowers bloomed. So that makes it early winter and early spring After that it was just another ugly city.
The toast popped up then, making me nearly jump out of my skin and I could swear I heard a chuckle somewhere. I figured it was just Seth keeping an eye on me and shrugged it off. Although to be honest, he wasn't the only spirit that hung around me these days.
I plucked my toast out of the toaster and placed it on the counter. As I dug through the cupboard near the window in search of a chocolate spread, I thought back to my first few experiences with that pesky Ouija board I'd whipped up a few weeks ago.
I made it using the back of a pizza box and some black markers. I used a small juice glass as a planchette and sat down one night with it to see what would happen. I had asked if anyone wanted to speak with me and was completely overwhelmed when the juice glass began moving across the board on it's own. I had immediately wrenched my fingers away and watched in a state of shock as the glass spelled out various things that I'm sad to say I completely forgot to write down.
Ever since that night weird things had been happening around the apartment. Lights would turn themselves on and off, I'd hear strange voices late at night in bed and more often than not things would rearrange themselves in the kitchen.
Hence the reason I was digging around in the cupboard trying to find a chocolate spread for my toast. After a few more minutes of fruitless searching I gave up, throwing my hands in the air and letting out an exasperated cry.
"Look in your sewing drawer," Seth advised. I didn't even hesitate before stomping over to the small stand on the opposite end of the kitchen and wrenching open the drawer that contained all my threads and bobbins. Sure enough, a jar of Nutella was tucked safely away in beween a pile of spools.
"Thanks Seth," I grinned as I took the jar with me to the counter. My toast had cooled down, which would make it harder to spread the chocolate. "You're not the one who moved it now are you?"
I felt, rather than heard, him reply in the negative. Seth wasn't really the type to play pranks like that. I knew this, but I still felt compelled to ask sometimes.
My coffee had finished brewing, filling the kitchen with its energizing aroma and I inhaled deeply. I poured myself a cup and then filled another mug, which I took into the living room and set down on a wooden box that also housed the statue of a Celtic goddess.
"Good morning, Brighid," I greeted my patron goddess warmly. "Here's a cup of coffee for you as well. Enjoy!"
I took a sip of mine and winced. It was hot enough to scald tongues, so just for good measure I blew over each cup in an attempt to cool down the liquid. Then I went back to the kitchen and ate my breakfast in front of the window.
He returned that moment and as he came in the door he dropped a large box near his feet.
"What have you got there, Pierre?" I asked him. He didn't answer, but instead focused on getting his coat and scarf off. I watched him from the window as he picked up the box and carried it into the bedroom.
I tried again. "I asked you a question. What's in the box?"
"I heard you the first time," he muttered. "DVDs."
Oh. Looks like he'd ordered some new movies. And then it clicked. That's where he'd gone...to pick up his delivery.
"Would you like some coffee?" I asked, trying my best to be sociable. I knew he was still miffed with me about the phone bill fiasco, but the sooner I sucked up to him the sooner he'd quit being a pain in the arse about it.
"Fine," he said. I heard him drop down into his computer chair and I turned to get a fresh mug out of the cupboard. To my complete surprise, the cupboard door was hanging wide open. And I knew for a fact that it hadn't been a couple of minutes ago.
Oh well. I quietly thanked whoever had helped me out and reached into for a mug. I filled it with coffee, added some cream and sugar, and delivered the confection to Pierre, who was brooding over an email.
He barely acknowledged me when I set the cup down in front of him and so I returned to the kitchen. A typical morning, I thought to myself idly. When was something amazing going to happen?
"Interacting with spirits isn't amazing?" Seth whispered incredulously into my ear. I squirmed a bit at the sensation.
"Stop that," I ordered.
From in the bedroom, Pierre called out to me. "Stop what?"
"I wasn't talking to you," I replied. Pierre didn't know I could speak to my spirit guide. Actually, Pierre didn't even believe in my spirit guide. He was the most hardened skeptic I'd ever met and a complete atheist.
So you can about imagine how difficult that made things for a practicing pagan like myself.
At least Seth was there to hear my complaints. And complain I did. Sometimes I felt bad for whining all the time, but he never seemed to mind and he was always there with some kind of advice for me. But once in a while he would do something teasing like blow into my ear or trail his fingers across the back of my neck.
It was never really a welcome sensation and usually scared the bejeebus out of me.
I tipped my head back and let the last swallow of coffee slide down my throat before rinsing my cup in the sink. It was shower time now that I'd nourished myself.
I grabbed a clean set of undies from the bedroom, along with my favorite black dress and and then closed myself into the bathroom. This was my only real alone time. Seth knew better than to stalk me into the bathroom, so I could simply relax and focus on becoming clean without any peeping toms.
I washed and conditioned my hair, did the shaving thing, and scrubbed my skin raw with a homemade mixture of honey and brown sugar. It smelled heavenly, worked as a great exfoliator, and I paid less than ten dollars for it.
My euphoria was short lived though because suddenly the water went ice cold. I yelped a bit and jumped out of the spray as quickly as I could. No matter how much I fiddled with the knobs, I couldn't coax any heat out of the stupid thing, so I shut it off and reached for my towel.
Pulling aside the shower curtain, I froze. Someone had written the word DIE in the mirror fog. A chill raced down my spine and all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Something very evil was in the room with me.
And as soon as I felt it, it was gone.
I cautiously reached for the towel and began to sponge up the water in my hair. What the hell was that?
I honestly had never experienced anything quite so terrifying in my life...not of the supernatural persuasion anyhow.
I thought back to the Ouija board. I was careful not to do any of the things that would "let a demon out" but I couldn't help but wonder if I'd caught the attention of something sinister. My spiritual energy resonated on a higher level than most people so it wouldn't be entirely surprising if that was the cause of this evil entity messing with me.
I told myself I would do a purification ritual later and put the thought out of my mind. I had more important things to worry about today.