Bad Blood

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On Sunday afternoon, Stella took Cora along with her grandmother to the mall

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On Sunday afternoon, Stella took Cora along with her grandmother to the mall. They needed a mini fridge to store Made with Magic. It had become a pain to store it in the kitchen fridge. Like most Sunday afternoons, the mall was crowded with people, families swinging a large array of shopping bags, teens taking advantage of one of the only places they could loiter, and sales people trying to sell them the newest face creams.

Cora moved out of the way as a boy flew past, the girl piggybacked on him screamed for him to slow down. Cora didn't care for the mall, but it beat another Sunday in front of the TV with Willow who insisted on the cartoon channel.

"I wonder," said Stella, "how much it costs to get a booth here."

Cora thought that she would rather not work in such a crowded place despite that it always had the strongest aroma of one of her favorite foods, salted pretzels.

"We could always call to find out," Agatha said. "And would you slow down? We aren't running a marathon last time I checked."

Stella did slow down. "Sorry, Mom," she said. "I would hate to spend all day here." They were on their way to the department store. It would no doubt be as crowded, especially since there was a sale. Agatha had the catalog in her hand. On the way here, she'd read to them all of the sale items. "I do need a new coat," she'd said. "And Willow could use a pair of those cute mittens." Agatha didn't knit. It was her only reservation as grandma.

"We're here for the fridge," Stella had said. Now she led them through the double doors at of the store, holding up her hand to the fragrance sales men and women. The first floor always smelled like cologne and face power. Cora glimpsed herself in a mirror as they went along to the third floor where the appliances were kept.

They hadn't made it to the escalator when a shrill voice called out, "Stella. Cora. Look, Tilly, it's Cora and Stella Emerson."

Oh, no.

Cora thought to hide behind a rack of men's shirts when her mother waved to them.

"Oh, my god, Blythe," she said, leading Cora and Agatha over to her friend.

Blythe and Stella kissed cheeks. No matter how much they tried they couldn't have missed Blythe her in her bright red coat with the white fur trim and her daughter in a matching brown with black fur trim. Blythe's red lips came down on Cora's cheek next, leaving a bit of spittle and a possible lipstick smudge. "I was telling Tilly how we should pay you guys a visit soon," she said. She hugged Agatha. "What a coincidence we'd see you here."

Cora tried to avoid Tilda's piercing gaze. Her brown eyes were like molten lava on Cora's skin. Cora gazed at a row of men's watches and wondered if she'd be required to buy a gift for Beau this Christmas. She'd texted him back goodnight last night and so far there'd been silence. Not that she was one of those paranoid types who thought if a boy didn't pay her attention twenty-four seven he'd slighted her. In fact, another text from him would have come across as desperate. Not that she would have minded a bit of desperation.

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