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The sorrowful mood Justin had been in all week flooded back to him once the first two customers entered the Pandora Café that morning. They had been open for business about an hour, yet the appeal of good gossip was lost on the townsfolk of Lakefield View. Something was off. They would usually be swarming the place like flies on a dead body. Maybe they were terrified they would be stabbed or thrown through a window?

Justin understood the reasons people may not have wanted to visit the café. If he was in their position, he wouldn't want to go anywhere near the scene of vicious murders too, but maintaining a distance away from crime scenes was very hard to do in the town. Death visited every house, on every street, at one point throughout the town's history. Although some places are to be avoided more than others. Now, the Pandora Café is such a place.

The daybreak had been beautiful despite its usual lateness, engrossing Justin from his limited tasks. Due to the café being quite literally dead, he found himself sweeping the same floor over and over and over again. He walked up the spiral staircase within the café to the indoor balcony area. Nobody had used it in over a week but he still wanted to busy himself with something... anything. No matter how bored he became, he would never wish to be anywhere else. This was Justin's sanctuary.

Tiffany remained behind the counter reading her magazine. Justin peered down at her, envying her ability to move forward. It saddened Justin to a certain extent, believing himself to be far weaker than his female friend. He could never ascend to the unbeatable strength Tiffany would often display in times of grave peril. Thoughts of the attacks from a week prior revealed Justin's weaknesses. In his own mind, he was his biggest enemy.

Snapping back to work, the timid boy moved some chairs around to better fit the layout of the balcony seating area. While dragging an out of place chair, an object slid from the seat. Justin kneeled on the floor to get a better look at it.

It was made of thin branches, a talisman of sorts, forming a ball around a doll in the centre, also made of the same sticks. Justin wasn't entirely sure of what it was but he knew it meant trouble. He pushed himself up from the floor, not taking his eyes off it, and called for Tiffany.

"What?" She shouted back.

"Come here!"

"If it requires me to move, the answer is fucking no."

Justin huffed. "Fine, I'm coming down." He left the brush in the balcony area and carefully made his way down the spiral stairs. Once he reached the bottom, Tiffany could see he had something in his hands. It piqued her interest and she stood from her seat behind the counter.

"What is that?"

"I'm not quite sure," Justin replied before he was close enough to show Tiffany what he found. "I could be wrong but it seems like it could have something to do with voodoo."

Justin offered Tiffany the doll, intending her to take a closer look, but she backed away. "I'm not touching it, and you shouldn't have either. You don't just pick random magical objects up off the floor. Come on Justin, I've taught you better than that."

"I'm sure it has something to do with that gypsy woman who attacked me and took my blood."

"You sure she's a gypsy and not a vampire?"

Justin had to pause while he thought about his answer. "I'm sure she's something else entirely. She had very powerful magic, and she could have killed me right there and then, but chose not to."

"You already told us about what she said," Tiffany reminded him. "She wants to raise the dead, yada-yada. She hasn't shown her ugly face to you since then, or to the rest of us, so I'm just going to ignore the problem and you should too."

Ashes of the Innocent (Abyssal Sanctuary #2)Read this story for FREE!