Hey all! Here is a scene from an early chapter in Book 7. Hope you enjoy!
The bell on the door tinkled when she pushed her way through. As always, the scents of sage, sweet grass, lemon grass, and cedar hit her immediately. The music was heavy with pan flute and drums, and the sounds of wind and birds. She was the only customer in the small shop, which was lit low with accent lights scattered across the ceiling. Melissa knew the man’s name. Walter Sturm was the owner and operator of the Caddo gift shop, Spirit of the Pines: Novelties and Treasures. Because she knew him, she had no reservations about stepping right up to the counter.
“Hello, Mr. Sturm. My name is Melissa Glasswell. I don’t know if you remember me but—”
“Sure do,” he said. “You are the girl who bought the boninite and had me sharpen it into a very fine arrowhead.”
“Right,” she said with an uneasy laugh. “And the ritual candles but that was a while ago.”
“Yes, I remember. What can I do for you today?”
“Well, I’m not sure.” She stared at him for a minute, deciding how to broach the subject. Then she just went for it. “I’m a were-raven.” He stared at her in silence. “But you probably already knew that.” There was no emotion on his face. “…Just like I know…that you’re a raccoon.”
“Your intuition is good for your age,” he said. “I was careful never to touch your hands when you were here. Or is that what gave me away?” he asked with a small grin.
Melissa shrugged a shoulder. “I don’t know how, I just kind of knew.”
“Well, how can I help you today, Miss Glasswell?”
“Okay, uh…as you may or may not know, ravens come of age at nineteen. And I’m only sixteen. But my mom is going to be gone for a while and I’m worried about getting Separation Syndrome. So I was wondering if there was something you had that might be able to help. You know, with my age problem.”
“You’ll need to talk to Lily about that.”
“Lily, you got a customer,” he called.
In a moment, fingers parted the beaded curtain behind the counter and a woman came through. She was about the same age as Mr. Sturm—early forties. Melissa thought maybe they were married but she saw no wedding rings. The woman had long, thick, dark hair pulled into a neat braid. Nothing in her face looked Native American but Melissa figured the hairstyle was for the benefit of the customers, to make her look the part of someone expected to be seen working in a Native American gift shop.
“Hello,” she said in a quiet but steady voice.
“Lily, this young lady wants to know what she can do about Separation Syndrome. She’s a raven.”
“Is she now?” Her eyebrows lifted with surprise. “Well, hello there, fellow traveler. I’m Lilith Roak.” She freely offered her hand. Melissa didn’t expect that but she was glad because she couldn’t tell what kind of were the woman was. She didn’t get a raccoon vibe from her, like with Mr. Sturm, but she knew this Lilith was were, that was for sure. When they shook, Melissa nearly gasped. The woman was a spider!
“Yes,” said the woman proudly. “A parson spider to be exact.”
“I didn’t even know were-spiders were a thing! I mean, I didn’t know they existed.”
She only smiled and waved Melissa back to the room behind the counter. Ms. Roak gestured to two chairs at a small card table and then sat down herself in the remaining chair. “Worried about Separation Syndrome, are you?” she asked.
Melissa nodded. She didn’t want to talk anymore than she had to, afraid she would say too much.
“May I ask why?”
Crap, thought Melissa. “I’d rather not say if it’s all the same.”
“So you’re running away from home then?”
“No—I didn’t say—”
The woman lifted a hand and cut her off. “There are only a small handful of reasons to worry about Separation Syndrome. Your demeanor tells me yours is not because you’re alone in the world with no family, nor that your family has planned to take several extended faraway trips without you.” Melissa blinked nervously but said nothing. “Relax,” Lilith said. “Fortunately for you, I don’t care.”
“So can you help me? I’ll try anything.”
“It’s good you feel that way,” said Lilith, standing and walking to a cabinet in the corner behind her. “Because there is only one sure way to hold off S.S.”
“But there is a way! I knew it!”
“There are a few methods but only one that is guaranteed to work.” She pulled out a box from the cabinet and began sifting through it. “The others…” she trailed off. “They don’t work for everyone and they don’t last as long. But this,” she said, turning suddenly to face Melissa and holding a small bottle between two fingers, “will absolutely work.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a solution. Both literally and figuratively.” She sat back down. “It’s called gí̱ransi̱ tou neroú.”
“What’s it called in English?” Melissa asked skeptically.
“Hm. So what do I do with that? Drink it?”
“No. You inject it. You will feel it working within the hour. The effects will be fully set in twenty-four hours after taking it.”
“Twenty-four hours? That’s definite?” The woman nodded.
“Great! I’ll take it!” she said brightly. “Wait…did you say ‘inject it’?”
Melissa had never had to give herself a shot and she didn’t want to start. “Like with a needle?”
“I can’t think of another way,” said Lilith. “Would you like to know how it works?”
“There is a gene in the body that controls the aging process. This solution will be drawn to that gene. It will attach itself to the strands of DNA and, for lack of better phrasing, trick your body into thinking it’s older than it is.”
“There are some known side-effects you should be aware of.”
She rattled off a list long enough to give Melissa a second moment of doubt. As if the injection part wasn’t enough, now she had to worry about a bunch of side-effects. The list included damage to the vocal chords, hallucinations, discoloring of the skin and hair, and even death.
“Nearly all of those are extremely rare,” said Lilith. “However, I suggest weighing the pros and cons before making your decision. We open at nine o’clock in the morning.” She stood up. “I can hold this for you for one day.”
Melissa stared off into space, lost in thought. She could decide not to take it, cut her losses, and stay home. She could just wait on updates from Ruthie, spend all her time wondering what was happening and worrying about the outcome.
Or she could risk it, take the plunge, inject the potion, which would ensure she could go after March and help with the mission. Taking the potion would guarantee she wouldn’t get S.S. and die. Although, she could still potentially die from the potion itself.
But she had been feeling a strong need to be out there with March, figuring out what their dream meant and using it to save the were world. She had to go. The reasons to take the solution outweighed the reasons not to. And that was all there was to it.
“No,” said Melissa. “I don’t need to sleep on it. I’m sure. I want to buy the solution.”
Lilith nodded, led her out to the store, and took her fifty dollars, reminding Melissa that it was a non-refundable purchase. Melissa reached the door before she turned back. “I forgot to ask—how long does this stuff last?”
Lilith smiled. “Forever.”
I had a lot of fun with that scene! As well as how that whole storyline develops. Let me know what you think in the comments and have a great week!