Knowing that didn’t make it easier. She couldn’t believe she had been so lacking in good judgment, taste or sensibility.
Honestly what had she done? She had taken one look at a pretty face and forgotten everything her mom had taught her about survival. It sucked so bad she might as well put a gun to her head and pull the trigger. Except she didn’t own a gun because she didn’t like them. Besides, pulling the trigger on a gun was pretty final. She had issues with commitment and she was so freaking dead anyway, so why bother.
A taxi horn blared. In New York the sound was so common everyone ignored it, but this time it made her jump. She threw a glance over one hunched shoulder.
Her life was in ruins. She would be on the run for the rest of her life, all fifteen minutes or so of it, thanks to her own foolish behavior and her shithead ex who had screwed her, then screwed her over so royally she couldn’t get over the knife-like sensation in the pit of her stomach.
She stumbled into a narrow trash-strewn street by a Korean restaurant. She uncapped a liter-sized water bottle and chugged half it down, one hand splayed on the cement wall while she watched the sidewalk traffic. Steam from the restaurant kitchen enveloped her in the rich red-pepper and soy scents of gochujang and ganjang sauces, overlaying the garbage rot of a nearby dumpster and the acrid exhaust from the traffic.
The people in the street looked much as they always did, driven by internal forces as they charged along the sidewalk and shouted on cell phones. A few mumbled to themselves as they dug through trash cans and looked at the world with lost wary eyes. Everything looked normal. So far so good?
After a long nightmarish week, she had just committed the crime. She had stolen from one of the most dangerous creatures on Earth, a creature so frightening that just imagining him was more scariness than she ever wanted to meet in real life. Now she was almost done. A couple more stops to make, one more meeting with the shithead, and then she could scream for oh say a couple of days or so while she figured out where she would run to hide.
Holding on to that thought she strode down the street until she came to the Magic District. Located east of the Garment District and north of Koreatown, the New York Magic District was sometimes called the Cauldron. It was comprised of several city blocks that seethed with light and dark energies.
The Cauldron flaunted caveat emptor like a prizefighter’s satin cloak. The area was stacked several stories high with kiosks and shops offering Tarot readings, psychic consultations, fetishes and spells, retail and wholesale sellers, imports, those who dealt with fake merchandise and those who sold magic items that were deadly real. Even from the distance of a city block, the area assaulted her senses.
She came to a shop located at the border of the district. The storefront was painted sage-green on outside, with the molding at the plate-glass windows and door painted pale yellow. She took a backwards step to look up. The name DIVINUS was spelled in plain brushed-metal lettering over the front window. Years ago her mother had on occasion bought spells from the witch who owned this shop. Her boss Quentin had also mentioned the witch had one of the strongest magical talents he had ever met in a human.
She looked in the storefront. Her blurred reflection looked back her, a tired young woman, built rather long and coltish, with tense features and a pale tangled ponytail. She looked past herself into the shadowed interior.
In contrast to the noisy none-too-clean surroundings of the city street, the inside of the shop appeared cool and serene. The building seemed to glow with warmth. She recognized protection spells in place. In a display case near the door harmonic energies sparked from an alluring arrangement of crystals, amethyst, peridot, rose quartz, blue topaz and celestite. The crystals took the slanting sunshine and threw brilliant rainbow shards of light onto the ceiling. Her gaze found the single occupant inside, a tall queen-like woman, perhaps Hispanic, with a gaze that connected to hers with a snap of Power.
That was when the shouting started.