This week, Week 28, at More Odds than Ends, I was gifted with the following prompt from ‘nother Mike. He always comes up with intriguing prompts. The envelope had no return address, and held only some dried flower petals. After letting it rattle around in my brain for a few days (OK, almost a week), I figured out a way to put it into the ongoing saga of the freelance cursebreaker, Jack McKnight. If you want to catch up, the previous installment is here, and the entire series is here.
Jack returned to the living room to find Rob turning an envelope over in his hands.
“What’s that?” Jack asked, setting his notes down on the table.
“I don’t know. I just found it in my pocket,” Rob sounded puzzled.
“Is it something you shoved into your pocket right before you answered the door?” Jack could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing up.
“Nooo…should I open it? It’s sealed.” Rob looked up from the envelope and held Jack’s gaze.
Jack glanced back at Monica and the others. His wife seemed to feel his eyes on her and turned her head in time to catch his eye. Jack gave a small sideways gesture with his head toward the kitchen. She raised one eyebrow and turned back to her sister-in-law and niece.
“Let’s go into the kitchen and get some hot chocolate…kicked up for us,” she winked at Julia as she herded everybody, including the dogs, into the kitchen.
Jack turned back to Rob. “Let’s put that in a circle and check it before we try anything,” he murmured.
Rob nodded and the two men moved into Jack’s office. Jack pulled the throw rug off the circle he had created with inlay in the wood floor and placed the envelope in the center of the circle. He raised the shielding around the circle and nodded to Rob. His brother-in-law closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. Jack switched over to magesight as well. Both men stared at the legal-sized envelope for a minute or so.
Jack glanced up at Rob. “I don’t see anything off, do you?”
“No, I don’t. I guess let’s see what’s inside,” Rob still sounded wary.
“I’ll open it. Regardless of what it is, it’s probably not keyed to me, so my opening it shouldn’t trigger anything that we may have missed,” Jack responded.
“Okay. Good idea. I’ll keep an eye out,” Rob said.
Jack lowered the shields around the circle and picked up the envelope. Nothing happened so he stood up and backed away from the circle. He turned the envelope over, carefully slid his thumb under the seal, and opened it. Jack pulled the envelope open wider and looked inside. He turned it upside down over his hand. Several dried rose petals fell into his palm.
“What are those?” Rob stared at the petals.
“Dried rose petals. Does that mean anything to you?”
“I do use them for some things. But I haven’t ordered any in a while…I get them from…oh, hell,” Rob raised his eyes to Jack. “I get them from Miranda Hawley, another witch. I remember her saying something about Armina Grove and Camilia Sharpe…about…rivalries?” His voice rose on the last word turning the statement into a question.
“Oh, hell is right. Somehow you got in the middle of a rivalry. I’m going to check in with my other clients and see if they did any business with Miranda Hawley,” Jack sighed. The last thing he wanted to do was get between pissed off witches. But there had already been one death. He couldn’t, in good conscience, ignore this.
I’m getting an inkling of where this story is going. I promise, once I do, I will be writing the whole thing out and turning it into a book. My prompt, The massive thunderstorm brings rain, hail…and a small creature (you decide what) to your doorstep. What is it and what are you going to do? went to Cedar Sanderson. I have a feeling she’ll figure out a way to work it into The Case of the Perambulating Hatrack.
In the meantime, if you’d like to join our jolly little prompt-writing crew, just head on over to More Odds Than Ends. Everything you need to know on how to join in the fun is right there.