WARNING: This chapter contains some strong language and innuendos/sexual references.
“Lydia!” Ebony exclaims in excitement. She races toward me and throws her arms around me, and I eagerly return her embrace.
“What happened?” she asks after we manage to pull ourselves apart. “The last thing I remember, there was this weird smoky smell, and then...nothing.”
“It’s a long story, sis. Come on, let’s get out of here. I’ll take you to...well, to where I’m staying.”
I can’t really tell her that I’m taking her home; it’s not my house that I’m currently residing in. I still don’t know where Ebony is supposed to stay, but maybe, just maybe, Dominic won’t object to her staying either. It’s not like he doesn’t have the room.
Once we arrive back there, we sneak upstairs to my room and begin chattering away like a gaggle of geese.
I tell Ebony that two years have passed since the night of her party. I apologize profusely for leaving her there that night, to which she replies to not be retarded because it wasn’t my fault. I confide in her that I left Cedar Grove because the pain of her death was too hard to deal with. I explain that to make ends meet here in Hillridge, I had to work as a stripper at night just to pay rent to keep a shitty apartment. I even throw in the full story of Abel.
That seems to change her tone instantaneously.
“You mean, that son of a bitch raped you to get your rent, and then he had the balls to come back later and say you were still due on it?” she asks with a look of scorn on her pretty face.
“Yeah, but I didn’t let him have it. I was such a fucking idiot to let him get away with it the first time.”
“Lydia, you had the power to stop him. Other girls wouldn’t, but you did. You still do. Why didn’t you do something?”
“I couldn’t risk the exposure, Eb. Witches aren’t supposed to exist. You know that. How would I explain it?”
“I’m sure that big spell book you’ve always been so fond of has some sort of memory eraser.”
“Nope, I’ve looked several times because I thought about getting rid of Abel a shitload of times. But there’s nothing in the grimoire.”
Ebony purses her lips in disdain. Clearly she isn’t satisfied with this. But then again, she was never one to be discreet. To Ebony, a perk of being a witch is having the ability to bend things to one’s will with little to no consequence. But she knows as well as I do that such behavior is too perilous. The last thing the world needs is a repeat of the Salem witch trials.
To lighten the mood, I continue the story of when I moved into this house, and tell her all about Dominic.
Her reaction isn’t what I was hoping for.
“Lydia, this guy saved you from getting raped again, and he offered you this awesome place to live in for free, and you actually accepted his help on both things?”
“Sometimes I think I’m the older sister here. Duh! For Christ’s sake, you know you can’t be with him!”
“I know, the curse. But I’m not in love with him, Ebony. He’s just a friend.”
“Keep telling yourself that. All relationships tend to start out as friendships. I can tell by the way you’re talking about him that you have a crush on him.”
“I’ll be fine, Ebony. Let me worry about that. I didn’t bring you back so you could worry about me. I’ve really missed you, sis.”
Lydia sighs but her face softens. “Okay, I’m sorry. I just can’t believe that it’s been two years since I’ve seen you. I don’t want to have to lose you again.”
“You won’t. And I refuse to lose you again, too.”
Ebony smiles and we hug. I loan her a pair of my pajamas and we both crawl into bed together, just like old times. I just hope Dominic takes well to the news.
The next morning, I wake up to the sensation of bright lights filling the room. I sit up with a start, surprised to see Ebony playing with magic by using a wand (yes, we do use wands, but mostly just when we’re children learning about our powers. And we’re nothing like Harry Potter).
“Ebony, what are you doing?!” I cry, a little too loudly. Ebony jumps, causing whatever spell she’s casting to fizzle away into the air.
“What the hell, Lydia?!” she demands. “You scared the shit out of me!”
“Sshh!” I warn her as I pull myself out of bed and sidle up to her. “Dominic might hear you.”
“So? Aren’t you gonna tell him I’m here?”
“Sure, but I don’t want him coming in here and seeing you doing this.”
“You really need to lighten up, Lydia. I won’t get caught. I locked the door. Besides, I’m really rusty after two years. I need the practice.”
“At least wait until Dominic’s gone. He’s been going out every day to get more things to fix this place up and bring it into the twenty-first century. You’ve seen how old-fashioned it looks.”
Ebony sighs and tosses her wand across the floor, and it rolls under the bed. “Fine.”
I’m slightly taken aback by her attitude. But then again, I guess it would be frustrating to have missed out on two years of your life that were stolen from you.
As if on cue, there’s a knock on the door.
“Lydia?” Dominic’s voice asks. I shoot Ebony a look that clearly tells her to let me do all the talking. She rolls her eyes, but sits down on the sofa.
“Yeah?” I reply to Dominic through the door.
“Are you okay? I thought I heard a scream.”
“Oh, yeah. I’m fine.”
I unlock the door and invite Dominic inside. He surveys the room and his eyes land on Ebony. Then he turns to look at me with a quizzical look on his face.
“Dominic, this is my sister, Ebony,” I introduce. “Ebony, this is Dominic Taylor.”
Ebony stands up, sashaying over to Dominic, and the two shake hands.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Ebony says as she skims her eyes over Dominic. I don’t feel particularly comfortable with this.
“Likewise,” Dominic replies, though he still looks perplexed. “I didn’t know Lydia had a sister.”
“I forgot to tell you,” I interject, realizing belatedly that I haven’t come up with an explanation for this situation. “Ebony called a while back, and she said she was coming for a visit. In fact, she’s thinking of moving here. I told her she could stay with me, but that was back when I was still at that apartment.”
“So, how did she know how to get here?”
Damn! I really should have thought this through better.
“Uh, well, she called last night and said she was lost...so I gave her this address and I was going to tell you this morning.”
Whew! That should suffice!
Dominic gives me another glance as he leans against the closed door.
He surveys Ebony, before finally chuckling and saying, “Lydia, it’s no problem. Your sister’s welcome to stay with us until she gets on her feet.”
“Thanks, Dominic. And I promise that I’ll get out of here eventually, too. We’ll probably rent our own place together. If each of us pays half of the rent, we should be able to afford a decent apartment.”
Is it my imagination, or do I see a look of melancholy cross over Dominic’s handsome face? Surely I’m imagining it.
But before I can dwell on it, Dominic excuses himself to go make some breakfast. It turns out that he’s quite the gourmet chef. Having grown up in Australia, he knows how to make a meal out of almost anything. It’s pretty sexy, in a way.
“Wow,” Ebony whispers mischievously after he leaves. “You weren’t kidding! That boy is fine!”
I grin like a Cheshire Cat. “Yeah, he is.”
“So, how is he?”
“Come on, you can’t tell me you haven’t jumped his bones at least once.”
I feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. Ebony, despite being younger, has always been able to read me like an open book.
“He’s...the best I’ve ever had,” I finally confess.
“Yeah? Come on, give me details! It’s been more than two years since I’ve been laid. Let me live vicariously!”
Ebony throws her head back into a loud guffaw. I blow a raspberry at her. I don’t want to tell her everything about my personal life, so I just share what I can. I tell her that our first time was in the hot tub, and I also tell her that he doesn’t disappoint “down under,” causing her to crack up again.
Dominic calls us for breakfast, but I must admit that it’s slightly awkward to be sharing a meal with these two considering what I’ve just revealed to Ebony.
But still, as I look at the two of them, I realize that a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel more accomplished and at ease than I have in a long time. I just know that everything is going to be fine.