Here’s part three of Athena’s Gift.
Bailey, Taylor, and Haley stood off to one side as Justin left the small shop. The three girls – a trio of young witches who found better luck working together than working solo – drifted up to the counter. “We would’ve left yesterday except for the fact that Bailey’s mom is in the hospital,” Taylor said.
“Mom and I don’t get along but I just want to make sure she’s home before I leave,” Bailey said with a shrug. “Look, Athena, can we get about a couple months’ worth of the usual from you? I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get this stuff where we’re going.”
“Where is that again?” Athena asked.
“A small town in the heart of the Bible Belt,” Taylor said. “For a short term internship with one of the paranormal ‘specialists’. Should be fun to see how often we get Bible thumped while doing this.”
Athena frowned. “The Belt is no place for you three. How long are you going to be there?”
“Six weeks,” Haley said. “Then it’s back here for the rest of our summer break.”
“I’m still not sure you three should be going down there without one of us supervising,” Athena said. “Who are you interning with?”
“Dr. Craig Speight,” Bailey said.
Athena relaxed. “He’ll keep you out of trouble,” she said. “Listen to him and don’t argue when he tells you something, unless it requires you putting yourselves in danger or getting you three into his bed. I doubt either things will happen, but you never know with him.”
“We’ll be fine, Athena,” Taylor said.
Athena sorted through the shelves. “Here you go. Don’t lose any of it and keep it hidden while you’re not home.”
“We will,” Taylor said. The three girls took their boxes and left.
The day wore on. Athena dealt with a few more customers, but the shop was quieter than usual. Athena felt a strange energy coming from the front of her shop. She left the counter and walked over to the door. She began swearing. There was a spell cast on her door that would drive off the sensitive. Most of her customers were among the more unusual members of society.
It took Athena fifteen minutes to counter it. A presence nearby moved closer to the shop. Athena kept her powers active but returned to the counter. It didn’t take long for someone to walk through her door.
The emanations from this person were overwhelming. Athena brought up her defenses and released her hold on her own energy. “I was hoping for a challenge,” the person said. The voice was such that Athena couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman. “I can see I’m going to be disappointed.”
“Don’t count on it,” Athena said. “I take it you’re thinking to take control of this city?”
“It almost isn’t worth the effort,” the being said. “But I must have a new power base and this will do well enough for me.”
“Don’t think we’ll let you take over our home without a fight,” Athena said.
The entity smiled. What Athena could see of its face looked human but she couldn’t be sure. “You can try.” It turned and walked out of her shop.
Athena waited a few minutes before checking her door. There were no further spells cast on it. She went over and picked up her phone. She hit speed dial on a number she only called in times of emergency. “Athena, I’m surprised,” Justin said. “You’re not usually calling me.”
“We have a problem, something far larger than our petty squabbles,” Athena said. “I’m calling a meeting of the Circle tonight.”
“I’ll be there,” Justin said. “Does it have to do with the spell put on your shop earlier?”
“That’s part of it,” Athena said.
“We may have our differences but even I wouldn’t do something so low as to cause you that kind of grief,” Justin said.
“I know,” Athena said. “You and I have a friendly rivalry. This is not that.”
“What time are we meeting?” Justin asked.
“Seven tonight, my place,” Athena said. “That should give me some time to get things set up.”
“I’ll be there at six to help you,” Justin said. “With both of us warding, it’ll take an army to get through it.”
“This thing doesn’t need an army,” Athena said.
“We’ll see,” Justin said. “Check yourself for something. Whatever visited you may have tried another dirty trick.”
“I will,” Athena said. “See you at six.”