Alice looked down at the necklace, smoothing one finger over it, still feeling completely shocked. It was pitch black still, the only evidence that something had actually happened to it. Would it really call to Styx if she rubbed it between her thumb and finger?
There was no way she was about to try it. At least, not now. She looked up to see Maya, Gabriel and Altair staring at her with shocked expressions. Azura was tapping one finger against her chin, expression thoughtful,
“A magnet,” she said, “huh.”
“Whatever that means, it doesn’t sound good,” Altair walked up to her, looking down at Alice, eyes fixed on the necklace. He stood close enough so that she could smell his cologne, “so, you can just call her now? Why would you want to? She seemed kinda scary.”
“I think she means…if I need help,” Alice murmured, and turned away from him. She was starting to feel uncomfortable with everyone staring at her, “look, she was just saying thank you. That’s all. Back to business as usual.”
Altair raised his eyebrows at her, “and the magnet remark?”
She shrugged, “it’s an expression. A magnet for trouble, right?”
Azura gave her a critical look, but she didn’t say anything, so Alice headed back to the front desk, ignoring Shakra, who was leaning against the doorway of the backroom, a concerned look on her face. Whatever it was she was going to say, Alice didn’t want to talk about it right now. She just wanted everything back to normal.
There was a sudden thumping and shuffling, and Alice looked back to see a short, round woman dart forward from behind the shelves, ushering her two children towards the door. The bell tinkled as she ran out, slamming the door shut behind her, she shot one, round-eyed look back at the shop as she hurried down the sidewalk.
Alice groaned. She hadn’t even remembered that they’d come in. They’d been there the entire time, hiding. “All these stupid gods are going to scare off my customers,” she thumped one fist down on the desk in frustration, then turned to Altair, who was currently rearranging items on the shelves, “I thought we’d agreed you have Sundays and Mondays off.”
“So it’s Monday,” she glanced over her shoulder at the calendar pinned to the wall behind the desk. The pages were marked here and there with red felt pen, shipment coming, and order more screaming Frisbees. “It’s your day off.”
“But I’d better keep an eye on you,” Altair said, “you know, in case Aphrodite comes to try to hit on you or something.”
Alice snorted and waved one hand at him, “Go! Do something fun, relax. Go visit the Witch’s Cup and get a coffee. It’s really nice.”
Altair rolled his eyes, “Oh very well, if I must.”
“You must, and grab me a coffee before you come back.”
“Ah! Ulterior motives! I knew it.”
Alice shook her head, unable to keep the smile from her face as he shuffled out the door. She folded her arms and leaned back in the chair, watching through the windows as he made his way across the street, jogging easily between a gap in the traffic.
“Oops,” Shakra was just settling into the chair by the fireplace, “look like trouble's coming.”
She was likely referring to the group of children that had just rounded the corner across the street, many of whom were pointing excitedly at Threads.
“Oh dear,” Alice stood up from the chair, counting at least six children of various ages, “maybe I shouldn’t have sent Altair away.”
“I can handle a bunch of kids,” Gabriel waved one hand dismissively, “I’m great with kids.”
YOU ARE READING
Alice Cunningham is back! First stop is Prague, a city drenched in ancient magic. It's beautiful, haunted and full of history. Maybe too much history. When Alice is confronted by a deranged and powerful witch with a grudge, she decides it's time to...