"Liz, what are you doing back here? You were supposed to watch the register while I went out."
In the doorway was a short, round woman with a pixie cut and a very angry looking expression. Psyche immediately scrambled to put away the tarot cards. She showed a nervous reverence, bowing her head towards the doorway while straightening everything as fast as she could. Kimber, Lily and Diana stood up, looking back and forth at each other, unsure of what exactly to do.
"Who are you girls and Elizabeth, what the hell are you doing? Did you do a reading for them? Elizabeth?!"
"I'm Kimber and, well, yeah, she did a reading for me. Said adventure was coming," she said as she rubbed the pad of her thumb against her fingernails.
"I am so, so sorry! I own this place. I'm Delila, but you can call me Lady Raven," the woman said, holding out a hand for Kimber to shake, "Liz is supposed to be watching the counter. She is a new hire. I haven't trained her to do readings at all! Oh, gods, Liz, you didn't CHARGE them, did you?"
Kimber wanted to make sure she remembered the look that flashed across Psyche's face just then. It began as pure fear for her job safety, before slowly morphing into a pleading, puppy dog stare towards Kimber and Diana. For a moment, Kimber thought about lying, about using this moment as blackmail for, well, something. However, Lily, whose face was plastered with disgust, piped up to clarify.
"Yeah, like thirty-something dollars."
It was at this point that "Psyche", who was looking more and more like an Elizabeth with every passing moment, pressed the cash into Kimber's hand and scurried out of the room, back toward the front desk. Lady Raven called after her about how she better not think this was over.
"Girls, I am so sorry. Is there something I can help you with? What did you talk to Liz about?"
Diana recounted a brief account of the paranormal activity and the tarot reading. Kimber injected to clarfiy that she was not, in fact, crazy, but may have been a little overtired. Lady Raven laughed.
"I definitely have something for you and it should be a little more helpful than a tarot reading. Over here," she said as she lead the trio to a towering bookshelf of candles and wax sculptures, "This is a very special candle, right here."
In her hands, Lady Raven held a tall black candle with a long wick that bent slightly to the right. It looked hand-dipped, with bumps and crevasses that the maker had failed, or refused, to smooth out. It looked boring. It looked stupid. It looked, in Kimber's opinion, not something that would be special or helpful. That being said, the tarot card reading hadn't been particularly helpful either.
"This is a candle that wards off evil spirits and protects anyone within its light. No evil can come near it."
Kimber stifled a snicker. She was supposed to carry this thing around with her, to the library, whenever she wanted to be in the shadows. That seemed a little bit like overkill, but that was just her.
"Why are you so suddenly under paranormal siege?" Lady Raven asked, holding out the candle for Kimber to hold.
"Well, I'm writing a paper on magic mythos in the North East, and I guess it's just sort of gotten into my brain."
"Oh, so you're more conscious of it? The veil's coming down, huh?" Lady Raven said with a giggle.
Kimber laughed. That wasn't exactly the way she saw it, but it seemed a fair way to phrase it.
"What have you been reading, if I may ask?"
Kimber listed off a few of the books she was reading, including the little one with the questionable bibliography, Magical New York. Lady Raven perked up at the mention of it.
"Don't you love the section about Geneseo? I love the story about the witch and the talking bear."
"Actually, yes, I loved it," Kimber said, excited that someone else appreciated the little known tome, "But one of the books cited for that section is almost impossible to find. I really needed it for my paper."
"What book was that?"
Lady Raven had directed the girls toward the counter, where Kimber was now paying for not one but two protection candles.
"Oh, I think it was called 'The History of the Village of Geneseo'. It's misleading, cause apparently its actually about the magical history of Geneseo, not just the regular history."
Lady Raven started laughing. It was a rolling, belly laugh and it made Kimber uncomfortable, primarily because she didn't know why she was laughing. Diana and Lily had wandered away and were looking at scarves and incense and tchotchkes. There was a solid minute, which to Kimber seemed more like five, of Lady Raven's loud, ringing laughter.
"Are you okay?" Kimber finally asked tentatively.
"Yes, yes, I'm so sorry," Lady Raven said, inhaling deeply between words, "I just think that's so funny. My mother, she wrote that book. She's a history professor in Rochester. I can totally get you a copy if you needed it."
She placed the bag, containing two black candles wrapped lightly in crepe paper, onto the counter. Kimber looked up at her with complete awe. It was one of those mouth-hits-the-floor moments.
"That would be the best thing ever. In all seriousness, it would be amazing."
"Yeah, come back in a week or so," Lady Raven said as she waved goodbye.
The three girls headed out of the store, onto to Main Street, and all Kimber could think was how utterly coincidental the whole situation was. Maybe Psyche's meager tarot reading was right. Some kind of adventure was headed her way.