Eight

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Madame Zena's shop is unassuming

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Madame Zena's shop is unassuming. I'm half expecting to see a neon sign, flashing lights with an illuminated hand in the middle. Instead it's a small brick house with a few flower pots on the stoop and a wind chime making noises in the breeze. Next door to the house is a tiny bakery, no doubt the location of the birth of my whimsical cupcake. As we walk past the door I press my face to the glass.

"What are you doing?" Xavier asks.

"Looking for the keebler elves," I say. "What do you think I'm doing? I want to see the bakery where you paid five bucks for a cupcake that has turned my life upside down."

He tugs at my arm. "C'mon. We need answers."

He buries his hands back inside the pockets of his sweats as I follow along. When we get to the large red door, I bring my fist up to knock but before I get the chance, it swings open. Again, not at all what I expected. I was prepared for a wrinkled old woman with a long flowing skirt, a gypsy scarf wrapped around her head with hoop earrings dangling from her ears and a crystal ball tucked under her arm for good measure. What I do not expect is the woman standing in front of me. She's a short blonde thing wearing jeans torn purposefully at the knees and a Fallout Boy t-shirt.

She smiles at Xavier. "I've been expecting you," she says. "Welcome back."

"We aren't here for me. We're here for her." He gives a curt nod toward me.

"I know."

"You're Zena?" I ask, still unwilling to believe that the person behind my time-travelling pretend husband from the future could be almost normal.

"That's me." She steps to the side to let us pass. "Come in."

Xavier shoulders past her and scowls. "What the hell is up with your overpriced cupcake, warrior princess?"

I slap him hard on the bicep. "Don't be rude."

Everything in her house is stark white to the point where it's blinding with the exception of her furniture. Against the bright white of the walls and the floor, a small yellow sofa sits topped with loads of multi-colored throw pillows. She points to it. "Mr. Morgan, wait here while I speak with the young lady."

X stiffens defensively. "There's nothing you can say to her that you can't say to both of us."

"Xavier," I say softly, "please just sit. For me."

Resigned, he flops onto the couch. Now that he's sitting, I see how small it truly is because his body takes up three quarters of it. Zena spins and heads toward the back of the house. I cast a glance over my shoulder. "I'll be right back. I promise."

He rolls his eyes, slouching further on the couch and pulls out his phone.

When we reach the back of the house, I'm finally awarded with something that meets my expectations. The room Zena leads me to is missing a door, and is covered with beads strung vertically in the doorway. There's the palm reading vibe I'd expected.

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