Brooms

“I wished for you too.”
-Practical Magic

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8. Chapter Eight

“Your mom doesn’t like me,” Rory said as he drove along the highway toward Sophie’s home. The orange leaves scattered through the road as they passed, and Sophie was disappointed to see that Rory’s car was exactly as expensive and old as she ex. She almost stopped to make fun of him but he’d sent her a look of warning, and she snapped her mouth shut instead.

“Gee, what makes you say that?” she asked as she rubbed the ache from her forehead and looked out at the passing trees. It had rained again in the three days she was lost. The road was slick with moisture again. The clouds hung low and heavy over the woods. Flashes of images raced through her mind of a dog with glowing embers for eyes, peering out at her through the trunks of trees.

“She didn’t exactly make it a secret,” he remarked as he concentrated on the road.

She turned to look at him, wondering yet again, the glamor of his magic was hiding. They’d only just met a few days ago, well more than a few days now, but she was starting to feel like she’d known him forever. And not in a cheesy romantic way either, she decided. But the way it feels when you live so far from home and you’re finally in the comfort of something safe and familiar again. Like coming home after a long trip away. Like being in her mom’s house. There was nothing to keep hidden from someone who was just as odd and magical as you were. It was comforting

“It’s just because you’re a bloodsucker,” she said. She’d meant it as a joke. One of the quips they’d been throwing back and forth since the moment they met. But his jaw went tight, and he gripped the steering wheel.

“I didn’t ask to be,” he said. She looked away and focused on the road instead.

“You didn’t know, did you? That when you did it—you’d come back? As a vampire?”

“No,” is all he said for a while. Then after a long pause, he spoke again. “She was going to wait to tell me. She wanted me to be an adult first. Didn’t want me to be stuck as a permanent teenager. She thought thirty was a good age. If I ever decided to do it at all. She wanted to be there. So I didn't have to do it alone.”

“Your mom?” She saw him nod sharply from the corner of her eye. “I’m sorry. I was just messing around. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I know.” She took a deep breath.

“I guess I’m just not used to being friends with vampires. Like I said, I’ve never really had to interact with your kind before. I should have known better.” He gave her another sharp glance.

“Did you just use the f-word?”

“What f-word? I’m pretty sure I didn’t say the f-word.”

“No, friend, you doofus.”

“Did I? Oh. It slipped.” She leaned against the door and tried to play casual about her slip-up, but she could see him smother a smile before going back to focusing on the road. He didn’t say the word back, but she could feel the change between them. Not two people of a different species interacting out of necessity. But two people sharing a space because they wanted to. As friends.

“Tell me about the dog,” he said after another long silence. The road from her mom’s house to the house she shared with Cara felt like forever even though she knew they’d be there in minutes. The conversation would quickly die, and they’d have to go their separate ways. Back to their lonely lives where they couldn’t have friends or be who they were.

“It was big,” she replied.

“And?”

“It wasn’t a dog.”

“I heard you mention something to your mom. I wasn’t trying to listen, but you know…”

“Ears of a bat?” This time he actually did smile.

“You could say that.”

“Do bats even have good hearing?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been a single standard bat before.”

“Good point.”

“Stop evading.” She took a deep breath and smoothed out her skirt. For someone who’d apparently been lost in the woods for three days, she didn’t look any worse for wear. Her clothes were still as crisp and clean as they were when she went to the cemetery.

“It was a Black Shuck,” she admitted.

“A Black Shuck,” he echoed.

“I know it sounds crazy. But I know what I saw.”

“I don’t doubt that.”

“I just can’t figure out what the hell a Black Shuck would be doing all the way here in the States. Or why it would chase me. Or where it even took me.”

“Maybe it was a familiar.”

“A very rare and unusual familiar.”

“Rare but not unheard of.”

“Have you met someone with a Black Shuck familiar?” He nodded a bony shoulder and pulled his sleek red car up alongside the house. Instead of getting out, she unbuckled her seatbelt and turned on him. His hollowed eyes were black. Not a brown so dark it appeared black unless hit by direct sunlight. But solid black.

“Remember my aunt? The one buried in the mausoleum?” he asked.

“The witch born to a family of vampires?” she questioned. He nodded. “Of course I remember. For me, it happened just a few hours ago.”

“Right. I remember. Well anyway. Her familiar was a Black Shuck. At least I think it was. It was a massive black dog. Acted like a dog. It was pretty friendly. I was just a kid last time I saw it, but it would always lick my face and let me ride on its back. But it’s eyes…”

“Like candlelight?”

“Yep.” She nodded.

“What happens to a familiar when its witch dies?” He shrugged again.

“You know more about them than I do. Vampires don’t have familiars.” She glanced over him to the front door. Where a slim black cat sat perched on a pumpkin, watching with vivid green eyes.

“I left him at my mom’s house,” she remarked with a nod in his direction. Rory turned his head to look at the cat who was now swishing his tail through a few crispy leaves.

“They’re not normal animals,” he said. “Whatever they are. That’s not a cat.”

“So the Black Shuck then?”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t magic when I knew it. To me, it was just a dog with weird eyes. I have no idea how they get to one place from another. No idea if they can transport you into another realm. All I see is a cat that shouldn’t be where it is.”

“I’ll do some scrying and let you know.” She went to get out of the car, and he turned to watch her go.

“You have my number?” She popped her head back in and grinned like a person who hadn’t been missing for three whole days. Her wildly curly hair framed her face and didn’t look the slightest bit messier than it had days before. He never thought he’d think it about a witch, but he was beginning to like the idea of being her friend.

“I don’t need your number. I’m a witch,” she reminded him. Then she shut the door and moved around the car. He rolled the window down and called out to her.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to conjure a hologram of yourself in my bedroom,” he said.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll use a mirror like any normal person.”

“Right. Normal people talk to each other through mirrors.” She waved him off and trotted up the steps to pat the unusual cat on the top of his head.

“You know what I meant,” she said before disappearing into the house.

 

I'M SO SORRY. I keep meaning to continue this story and then working on other things. BUT I had a block recently and part of the problem was that there was just too much to work on. So I asked someone to tell me which story to work on AND ONLY THAT STORY. And they chose this one.

Mostly because of the Black Shuck. Which we have been referring to as "Big Doggo."

So I managed to force myself to sit down and write another chapter. And they helped me narrow down ideas. And by help, I mean they sat and listened to me ramble for a good hour. And so I know what direction I want to go in now. Plot still has some holes I need to fill, but I'm working those out. I'm going to keep working on it today and I'm going to power through it and get this story finished. :D

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