Prose Header


by Crystalwizard

Table of Contents
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
appear in this issue.
Chapter Five

I came home from a job interview three days later to find an expensive car parked at the curb outside the tower. It didn’t look like anything the city might own, and the residents didn’t park on the street, so I assumed Jason’s parents had come calling.

I walked past the building and cut through the alley instead of using my front door. A sharp knock on the service entrance got rapid response. I stepped inside, opened the stairwell door and started down the stairs. By the time I reached the landing, I knew what I was going to say. Provided Jason hadn’t deviated too far from my expectations.

I opened the door to the back hall, walked to my apartment and pointed at the lock. It clicked and the knob turned under my hand. I waited for a few seconds listening to nothing, slipped inside and locked the door.

I reset the wards then stole across the floor and pressed my ear to the bedroom door. This time I heard voices, but the words they were saying caught me off guard. Jason sounded downright angry... and not at me.

I stood listening to an intense argument for a few seconds then snapped my fingers. My clothes changed to rumpled pajamas and a bathrobe. My makeup vanished and my hair imitated a bird’s nest. I yawned a couple times to get in the mood, opened the door and stumbled into the living room.

I was an instant hit. Or at least the center of attention.

Jason’s face caught fire and he lost the ability to speak. The older man in the room proved beyond a shadow of my doubt that he was Jason’s father by dropping his jaw in an all too familiar fashion. The wrinkled woman standing behind him gasped and pretended to be scandalized, clapping her hand over her mouth. I waited for her to faint. She didn’t. I was disappointed but moved on.

“Wha’s all th’ noise?” I slurred my words for effect and yawned hugely. It didn’t work so I yawned again. This time Dad yawned with me then remembered he was angry and threw me a glare. I rubbed my eyes, smacked my lips and blinked at him. “Jason how come you didn’t tell me your folks were coming over?”

That got Jason’s attention and he remembered how to speak. He also remembered why he was mad. “I didn’t know they were!” He tried the furious son with wounded pride bit, failed at it and settled for clenching his fists.

I beamed a smile at his old man and offered my hand. The mother gasped again and the father turned crimson. Not surprising, but now I knew where Jason came by it. “I’m Lynda.”

Dad spluttered at me and did a worse job of articulating a simple sentence than Jason ever had.

I smiled sweetly and put on the innocent girlfriend act. “I’m so pleased to meet you. Would you like some tea? I think there might be some in the kitchen. If you’ll give me a minute I’ll put on something a little more presentable.” I giggled and ducked back into the bedroom.

Behind me, the explosion I expected didn’t happen. I snapped my fingers to dispel the illusion and changed into my grubbies. I figured his folks could handle bare feet, jeans and a tee-shirt much better than some of my other garb. Not that I wouldn’t have loved to see his father’s face if I walked back out in full regalia. I allowed myself a chuckle at the image, fluffed my hair and rejoined them.

They’d migrated from the middle of my living room to the kitchen. The old man and his woman were perched on the only two chairs my table had and Jason was digging through the cupboards. Three days and he still didn’t know where anything was. The fact that he couldn’t even boil water without setting off the alarm had a great deal to do with that. I’d let him cook unsupervised one time then banished him to more menial chores. I wondered what Mrs. Colters would say if I sweetly asked her to explain why her pride and joy was such a poorly trained klutz, then opted for the more practical course of action. I reached in a cupboard and got out two cups, left the door open on purpose and counted to three.

“Ow!” Jason winced, rubbed the top of his head and glared at the door like it wasn’t his fault he hadn’t noticed it was open.

“Sweety... Maybe you shouldn’t...” His mother reminded me of those irritating women who used to watch their little brats destroying the store where I worked and plaintively whined at them to stop. The only good thing about losing my job was that I didn’t have to put up with them any more. I wasn’t pleased to find one sitting in my kitchen. I forced a saccharine smile and put the cups on the counter.

“I’m fine, mom.” I stared at the cups and turned around to make sure I hadn’t cast a morph spell by accident. The face was Jason’s but the voice certainly hadn’t been. He actually had some backbone down in there somewhere. Maybe he needed a few more knocks on the head with a cupboard door. He caught me staring at him, sidled over to the pantry and started moving stuff around. I hoped he was looking for tea, but the glint in his eye made me wonder. I took the tea kettle off the stove, ran water into it from the tap and set it on a burner.

“You sure there’s tea in here?”

I wasn’t sure at all. I didn’t remember buying any, but I frequently go to the store and come home with stuff I hadn’t planned on. I turned on the burner instead of casting the spell and shook my head. “I thought there was. You want me to go to the store?”

Jason wheeled around and tried to decide if he should glare at me or look shocked. He settled on coughing instead. I grabbed a glass, ran water into it and pretended to be the worried significant other. “Are you all right?”

He gulped half the water, coughed some more and finished it off. “Yeah. I...” his eyes darted to his dad, then landed on me. “Yeah.” He was stuck. Right between his old man and me. And for the first time in a month, his discomfort wasn’t entertaining.

I took the glass back and gave him an out. “Why don’t you run up to the store and I’ll stay here with your folks?” I figured he could find the place since it was only a block away and I wanted a chance to pump his parents for information without his interference. I phrased it as a question and gave him the option of saying no, but he took the easy route. “Sure.”

“Just a second and I’ll get some money.” I set the glass on the counter and headed for my room.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2006 by Crystalwizard

Proceed to Challenge 274...

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