Chapter 7

Unbeknown to what Rachel was up to, Erin was happily on her date Marcello. Romantic music was playing, the dimmed lights, couples staring into each other eyes, made the perfect sensual ambiance "So, Erin, have you been enjoying yourself?" Marcello asked sipping his wine.

"Yes, and the wine is to die for, not to mention the company."

"It is my pleasure to serve a fair maiden as beautiful as yourself," he purred romantically.

Erin giggled giddily, and blushed softy. "I hope dinner is here soon through. It's not I'm not enjoying the music, but I'm starving. Last night with Rachel killed me. She is wonderful at what she does."

Marcello gave her a worried glance. "I thought you two were just friends, or are you working with benefits?"

Rethinking her words, she laughed uncertainly, "Yes, we are just friends, I was talking about the game I got her hooked on. There is a tournament next week, and she has been helping me out rasing my rank. There is nothing between us."

"Or the sheets?" he joked.

"I like strictly guys," she lied.

Taking a roll Marcello coughed to regain his serious demeanor. "I hate to be rude, but I must ask, why are you here?"

"I came here to see Madam Florence, but this weekend has been a waste."

"Yes, it has since she is dead now. The whole ordeal has left a-" stopping Marcello sniffed the air. "Do you smell a foul stench?"

Erin took a whiff to smell a familiar yet horrific reminder of the last three years. "Yes, but it is harmless."

The smell got closer and out from under the contour a figure popped up. "Hey, Erin are you having fun are your date?" Rachel asked with a stupid grin.

Sniffing the air around her friend Erin held back her own laugh. "Rachel honey, are you high?"

"As a kite, and damn do I have the munchies."

"So, your Rachel," Marcello grinned sinisterly.

"Well, duh, Captain Obvious. Are those mozzarella sticks?" Rachel asked changing to another subject.

"Here," Erin said handing her friend the plate. "And can you please go back to the room. I'll give you treat if your good."

"Really, a treat, epic! Then me and my magical dragon can share it!" Rachel exclaimed and rushed off.

Erin laughed hysterically, "If I knew that weed would do that to her I think I'll give it to her more often."

"Anyways," Marcello said a little peeved. "As we were discussing before total rudeness came in. Did you get to know Shannon well?"

"No, she kind of died after her show."

"Do you know anything about her journal."

Two wires seemed to click in Erin's head. "Your just using me to get info on Madam Florence?" she asked angrily.

"Not at all," Marcello lied backtracking. "How about we skip the rest of dinner, and go straight to my room for dessert," he purred.

"No," Erin said standing up.

Other couples began to stare and the music stopped "Now, Erin darling, your making a scene."

"Don't Erin darling me you pig," she yelled. Taking the glass of wine she examined it. "Five hundred a glass right?" she asked in a sweet tone

"Yes, I can only afford two just for us," Marcello said attempting to calm his date down.

Erin snatched the glass, and splashed the magician in the face. "Waiter, put this bottle on his tab, I'll be taking it for people who really love me."

Enraged Marcello grabbed Erin's arm and pulled her back. Gasp's echoed in the crowd. "Now, you listen here you ungrateful mental bitch. I use to be top dog in the paranormal realm. Ever since those friggin' psychic's came back out of the blue I have nothing. So, your going to tell me what I want, and I'm sure we can work something out."

A few officers had come to check on the scene. Before Erin could make a break from his grasp, a tray came whishing through the air, and bashed Marcello on the head. Cheers, and clap's erupted from the bystander's. Erin gazed upon her hero, "Your that Marvin guy from the show last night."

"Yeah, and your welcome," he nodded. "This guy is a jerk."

"Thank you," Erin said, before hugging her savior.

On looking cops began to walk over to arrest the unconscious magician. Marcello stood up brushed himself off, and threatened. "This not over," then vanished within a cloud of smoke.

Erin rubbed the back of her head, "I tend to attract all the sick puppies."

Then as if fate hadn't been cruel enough to the red head Larry made his heroic appearance. "I knew that man was evil. That just proves you need to come with me, Larry Columbus."

Erin had grown sick of the guys and just wanted to go back to the room. "Larry, you're a dork, and there has to be someone better suited for you," she said sweetly. "I'm too dead for you." Patting his arm, she grabbed the wine, and left for the room. Muttering to herself as she made a quick stop for the vending machines, "I would rather deal with a reaper then you. In the empty elevator, Erin sighed. "I can't believe he was jerk." Shaking her head, a chill consumed the space. "Not again," she groaned.

A light air touched her hair, and Erin turned to see nothing. Reaching the floor, Erin stepped out, and someone else hopped in. "Why is this place so, damn, cold," she heard the stranger mutter.

"Tell me about it," Erin nodded walking away. Entering the room she smirked happily as she spotted Rachel and Kay on a bed. Depression had set in and all she wanted to do was ball like a baby.

"Yo, Puff," Kay giggled. "Erin's back."

Ignoring the ghost Rachel was gazing at the ceiling. "Have you ever noticed that the ceiling is always above us?"

"Anyway's, how was the date with Minster handsome," Kay winked.

"Horrible, he just wanted to know what we knew about Shannon," Erin said sadly. "But, as least I know I can trust you two."

"I have a massive depression issue. My music library is like death this, suicide that. There is no hope, for me is there?" Jumping off the bed, the dilated Rachel glanced at Erin. "I smell cheese powder."

"Oh, yeah after the date went sour, I bought some cheesy snacks, and stole this extremely expensive bottle of wine. Plus, I would love to know how Rachel got high."

"It's a long and strange story, but it is relevant to the case," Kay replied.

"Awesome! Cheesy sticks!" Rachel exclaimed from out of the blue.

"Back to what you were saying," Erin chuckled.

"Oh, yeah, well we went and got the police report from those two guys. Then it got really weird. We think one of them may be Fated like Rachel."

"Fated," Erin interrupted.

"I'll get to that in a minute," Kay informed her. "While there we found Anita, Shannon's apprentice who ran off after a falling out with Florence. Her and Rachel got to talking-"

"Did you know cheese powder turns your fingers orange?" Rachel said dazed.

"Anyway's," Kay sighed with a light smirk. "The technically term for having a ghost attached to you is Fated which if you think about it, it kind of sounds corny. Then after the question session and we took Anita back to her room, she smoked pot with Rachel."

"I'm shocked that Anita is still alive. What did you find out?"

"No, shocking is finding out Shannon killed her family," Rachel pointed out.

"What?" Erin shouted astounded. "When did you find this out?"

Kay rubbed the back of her head. "Yeah, Rachel read ahead in the journal and we found that out. Cause, you see Anita told us that Shannon hated long cold winter's, and that she would stare into the candle light. Yeah, the reason behind that is, she murdered her family. She has been lying to her fans for years about how became psychic."

Rachel shook the bag of cheese curls, "No, more cheesy, cheese," she pouted.

"Give me that damn book." Erin went over to the bed and unlocked it. Flipping through it a note fell out. "Have you read this yet?" she asked picking it up.

"Nope, I didn't even know it was in there."

"You know I think we are just tiny cheese curls in this vast bag of a world waiting to be eaten," Rachel laughed.

"Before I read this section I really need to sober her up. Any ideas on how?"

"I have an idea, my mom did it to me once. Toss her in cold water the shock will awake some logic."

"As much as I would love to do that, we don't have time. I have a better idea, that might work." Taking a bottle of water she opened, and splashed her high friend. Rachel gave Erin a dazed and perplexed glance. "Damn, well, then I guess I have no choice. Sorry, Rachel but I need you to get of this intoxicated state." Erin swiftly poured the remaining contents out of the bottle on Rachel head.

A second past and Rachel ran a hand through the wet hair. "What the hell?" she asked startled. Kay laughed, and Erin was filled with relief. "Where are we, how'd I get wet again?"

"I'll explain after we exchange info on this case," Erin promised patting Rachel's head.

"Hold up for a moment," Rachel said quickly. Before Erin could say anything, Rachel shook her head like a wet dog. Flipping her mane she smirked at the disgusted Erin.

"That is gross," she complained.

"Consider that payback for the almost stabbing me, and pouring water on my head."

"Are you sure that you are not just mad her, for getting you wet?" Kay muttered.

Both girls blushed and gave the ghost astounded gaze.

"What," Kay began to defend herself. "It's in my teenage nature."

"Whatever," Rachel shrugged.

"So, tell me, why were you high?"

Confused Rachel sniffed her shirt, to smell the scent of marijuana. "I don't even remember having the joint," she confessed. "I'll tell you what I remember through."

Erin put her hand up to stop the brunette, "Kay has already told me, but at least your back to Earth."

"Sort of," Rachel muttered.

"Did you get the herbs so we can try to contact her soul?" Erin inquired though.

"Yeah, Anita had what I needed, but first how was date?" Rachel asked with no memory of Erin telling Kay.

"Like shit, Marcello was just using me, and that Marvin the magician guy saved me."

"So, he is still here, cause we have to interview him," Kay reminded Rachel.

"Oh, thank you, Kay. While we was getting the stuff you needed from the store I meet his sister in the store and she told me that Shannon's death has meant the end of his career."

"So, I'll mark him off the list," Rachel sighed. "But I don't like that Marcello guy."

"Neither do I, now," Erin said sadly.

Kay nudged Rachel in the ribs, "That is your cue to give your new pal a hug."

"I'll pass, comfort isn't my thing," Rachel admitted.

"That's okay, I don't need sympathy. I really want to know more about how Shannon killed her family, and got her 'god given talent'." Erin replied with a soft smile.

"That depends," Rachel began. "Do, you want to read it, or the short version?"

"Honestly, I would rather read it so I can get her take," Erin shrugged.

Grabbing the book she unlocked it, and turned to the page marked.

Well, here we are oh how the mighty fall in there own narcissism traits. I lost my cute little apprentice to my own sick fantasies. Now the man I fell in love with has up and left me. With no one to turn to, and winter's chill upon the memory of how I received this horrid gift has come to haunt me. As you might recall on the first page I said that ability to see the future is either given, or innate. Of course I was given this power, but not in the way I have perceived it be. It was not during an act of mistaken place and, but by a deal that has caused this untimely matter to come. If you are smart enough to figure it out, I am not the hero my fans adore. The other thing that should have become clear is my death has been planned for thirty years now. Yes, I know I have lied to the few people I am trusting this journal too, but please hear me out. I'll give you the truth to my power. If you judge me after reading this, then burn this forsaken book, and forget about my death.

February 4th 1970

Stuck in the middle of nowhere is difficult for a teenage, living in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter can cause cabin fever. My family and I lived in the cabin by the woods during the winter season to promote family bonding. All that it really did was lead to family arguments that broken the once happy bond. It was five of us, my mother, father, sister, brother, and me. The snow had made the roads close and we were going to be stuck there for another month. I wanted to go home to the city, listen to my records, and laugh with my friends. Of course that was out of the question.

The horrible day stills dances in my head and mocks me every time gaze into the light of a warm fire. I was sent out to get fire wood after I caused another fight with my mother about how I hate her. Oh, how immature I was back then. Being the youngest I found it fitting to rebel against them for everything. They loved my trashy sister for being popular, and my brother for being the star football quarter back. I was nothing more then a slave. My favorite hobby was frowned upon, but now I know everyone goes through that in life.

I sat in the snow wishing for death as my tears froze before reaching the ground. When a tree didn't fall on me, I wiped the stupid from my eyes. I pulled out my deck of cards and began my magic hobby. No, matter how good I was it was still shunned in society. I took the top card and hoped it was the Queen of Hearts, I smiled seeing that my trick had finally worked. Then a light airy giggle made me jump out of my skin. To this day I still remember word for word the conversation.

She jumped from the branch she was perched on. A white dress of innocence covered her frail body, a white corset laid under it, and it seemed like she had been plucked from a fairytale. Long midnight locks danced in the cold wind, and her grief stricken brown eyes made me feel remorse for her. Her childlike age seemed to almost match mine, as she stood in the freezing cold with a smile on her pale face. If it wasn't for the peril white dress, I could have mistaken her for snow itself. No, boots, or shoes covered her feet, and I wanted to ask why, or if she lost. However, if I knew back then what I know now I should have never spoken to this demon of the snow.

"Hello," she smile, tilting her head to the side. "I'm Alice. I really like your magic trick."

"Um, thanks," I replied apprehensively.

"Why are you here in the cold, death will surely come to catch you?" she asked giggling lightly.

"Why are you?" I questioned her. "I have a coat, gloves, and boots. You have nothing more than a dress."

She smiled once again, but this one made me feel uncomfortable. "That is simple, I feel no cold. Now, my turn for the answer of why are you out here?"

"Family trouble."

"Oh, I can help you for a price."

It was how she said the word price that set in my head in a frenzy. It had such a undemanding tone to it, but yet I felt like is masked a more sinister meaning. "You mean that you can talk to them for payment? I have nothing to offer you, but my deck," I told her. "Plus, what can a little girl do?"

"I can be quite persuasive, and the price is something that you already have."

My father being a car salesman had taught me one lesson: there is always a catch. "What is the catch."

"The catch is, if you want my services I need to take your soul."

"My soul?"

"It is a useless, thing, but yes. However, since your adorable I'll cut you a break. Let me help you, and I'll come back for my payment in thirty years. Also, I'll give you something to sustain yourself, something that will make you happy to go along with those adorable card tricks."

I held my hand out ready to make the deal. "So, you'll straighten out my parents, for my soul. I get to keep it through for thirty year's and you'll give me a special power to tie myself over," I made clear.

Alice denied my hand. "My deals are sealed with something else, more personal," she purred in my ear. "First through, I need a name."

"It's Shannon Florence," I replied. "So how do we make the deal stays?"

"Close your eyes," she demanded. I did, and before I could protest Alice's soft, feather lips grazed mine. "Now, the deal is set. Thirty years from now, at the stroke of midnight your soul will be mine," she whispered. "Also, the reaper that will take your soul will be the one person that you love the most." I glanced up to say something, but like the wind she was gone.

I touched my lips with my fore and middle finger wondering how that was suppose to seal a deal. Then my mind ran through her words one last time. "The reaper that will take my soul will be the one person that I love most," I pondered. I had no major man in my life, but my sister was the one person who cared for me.

I stood up, and raced home hoping that it was just a simple talk. The snow outside the door was lightly splattered with red dots. The lump in my throat had formed, and tears began to burn my eyes. Slowly I went in to see four unmoving bodies littering the wooden floor. A rifle laid next to my father, my mother must have grabbed hold of the butcher knife, and my older sibling's were making their way to the stairs. There was no life in the room, but me, and the only sound was my beating heart. With the fire out, and the freezing cold taking over the death I sat on the floor, curled into a ball, and sobbed. Then as a tear fell my nose I did something that my father always did to me when I cried for stupid mundane reason's: I slapped myself on the head. Standing up I went to my room to pack my things, and leave the life I once had behind. Before I walked out that door for the last time something caught my eyes. In the corner of the room was a tiny flame upon a candle, it seemed to have been mocking my misery. I snatched it, and lit the hay outside causing a fire to consume the cabin. The damned place burned behind me, leaving no trace of me or the family I ended up getting killed.

After that day I grew up past my age, I learned to hate teenage angst, and drama. I changed my last name, but always kept Shannon in order to keep a little part of my sanity. Every now and again I was able to get psychic vision's and soon used to it help other's rather than myself. I was still full of regret when I surfaced as a psychic and dubbed myself Madam Florence. No one knew the truth about my past, and I never told anyone until now. Even my apprentice had no clue why every time a candle was lit I would just saw into it. The flame reminded me of the stupid mistake I made over a selfish childish argument. All I ever wanted was to go back and stop myself from making that deal.

Through the years though I learned one thing. If I could ever manage to kill the woman I made the deal with, it would be broken. I never found her though no mater how hard I searched. Now, with my impending death coming near I have decided to lay all my cards on the table and confess to the lucky reader whom I have granted access to this horrid book.

There is one last matter to discuss in these finally pages. The first is I'm sorry to have lied to my fans, but they're quite fickle. The second thing is I don't want pity, I deserved this fate. The last and finally thing is the matter of my death. I knew that I was going to die at the stroke of midnight. My sister was to be the reaper, but I died before she could take my soul by someone else's hand. And I want for you find out, and put my soul to rest. If justice is not served to this murder I shall be unable to go to heaven or hell. On a last note thank you for listening and reading I hoped you enjoyed skipping to the nearend.

Erin closed the journal and bit her lip to keep from choking out the words. "Go, ahead say it," she whispered.

"What am I suppose to say? How your hero is a sham?"

Erin nodded.

"I can't," Rachel said honestly. "She is, was human, and we make mistakes. What is the point in crying over spilt milk? Hell, if I had the choice I would have taken it too. However, all happiness comes with a price," Rachel sighed heavily.

Kay threw the brunette a dark glance. "Don't listen to Miss. Negative. The main thing is that we follow our own path."

"Okay, ignoring the harsh truth that lies in front of us, What are we going to do?"

The two looked over at Erin making it her choice. She stood up closed the book, tossed it in her purse, and smiled lightly. "I say before we do the séance, we go check out Shannon's room, and question Percy more. Plus, we should see if the cops missed anything in that police report."

"Okay, so the case is still on!" Kay exclaimed.