Chapter 09 sneak preview of my current work-in-progress:
Luca – Book 1 of the Demon Born Series (paranormal romance).
Pre-edit version. May change before publication.
Belle unhooked the red polka-dotted apron from behind the kitchen door and put it on. Curiosity urged her to check out what Aunt Dee and Lilah were scrying for in the dining room next door. But she didn’t want them to think she was desperate to know.
Some cooking would help put her mind at ease. What she needed was music, fresh ingredients from the fridge, and a warm kitchen all to herself—her perfect recipe to unwind and forget about crazy plants and unwanted soulmates. She switched on the digital radio, and humming and swaying to a peppy jazz tune, went to root through the fridge for veggies that could go into a hot chicken broth.
But she was making her way back to the kitchen worktop with her collection when she stopped in her tracks. The potted crocus Aunt Dee kept on the windowsill was swaying to the music with her.
Belle stared at it, tempted to take it and deposit it in the dining room with Aunt Dee and Lilah. After today’s commotion in Sweet Blooms, the last thing she needed was an excited plant in her vicinity. But the crocus merrily fluttered along, whipping its delicate purple petals from side to side in jazzy ecstasy. And despite herself, Belle smiled.
It was such a funny-looking little thing. And besides, if she went into the dining room with it, Aunt Dee would think she was snooping, and Belle wasn’t about to drop to that level. And humming again, she turned away from the plant and busied herself with her vegetables.
‘I can feel it!’
The disembodied peep had her whipping around.
For a moment, she could have sworn she’d heard someone talking, or… squeaking. But the only other sound in the kitchen was the music. With a shake of her head, she turned back to the carrots.
‘Ooh! I feel something too!’
Belle dropped the carrot and glared at the crocus. The voice had sounded like an excited fly drunk on helium. But the crocus’s thin petals fluttered and danced on. She was turning away again when suddenly one purple flower stretched up like a trumpet and squeaked, ‘This is it, Lilah. I think we’ve found him this time.’
Belle gaped at the plant.
‘Are you sure?’ Another flower squeaked beside the first. ‘I hate it when these things lead to a dead end.’
‘Not this time. This feels different,’ The first flower peeped. ‘There… point the ball there,’ it ordered in an excited squeak. ‘It’s a forest.’
‘How come we never saw that before?’ the second flower asked.
Belle yanked off her apron and burst out of the kitchen and into the dining room.
Lilah was sitting at the table with her fingertips resting on the scrying ball. And beside her, Aunt Dee was peering intently into its now cloudy interior. They both looked up, startled, when Belle charged in.
“You said you weren’t looking for my soulmate,” she said, glaring at them.
“Where you eavesdropping?” Aunt Dee asked. “It makes me think you might be more interested in finding your man than you’re admitting.”
Heat rushed to Belle’s face. “I happened to hear you,” she said through clenched teeth. “And you’re breaking your promise to not look for him.”
Aunt Dee gave her a haughty look. “Firstly, I made no such promise. And secondly, we might have been looking for my soulmate, not yours.”
That could be true. Belle shot Lilah a questioning glance.
“Oh, yes. That’s exactly what we were doing,” Lilah said, bobbing her head up and down a little too enthusiastically. “In fact we—” Her words ended in a yelp, and she snatched her fingers from the scrying ball.
Bright red light pulsed out of the ball like a signal flare. It blazed for a second and then dimmed before shining ferociously once again.
“What in heaven’s name?” Aunt Dee peered closer to the ball, which was now flashing like a red beacon.
“Don’t touch it!” Lilah warned. “It’s hot.”
Aunt Dee gasped. “Do you see that?”
“What?” Belle asked, stepping closer.
“Oh… nothing.” Aunt Dee immediately straightened. “I must have been mistaken.” And taking the scrying ball’s black cloth, she threw it over the glass surface, hiding it.
“How can it be nothing?” Belle asked. “The ball’s still glowing. Look.” She pointed to where the thick black cloth was doing its damnedest to not turn red under the force of the light pulsing through it.
“Ball’s not working,” Aunt Dee muttered. “Best take it back to your house, Lilah.” And standing, she tentatively gripped the ball’s wooden base and scooped it up, black cloth and all. Then with a quick smile for Belle, she hurried out of the dining room. “Don’t wait up for me, dear,” she called back over her shoulder.
Lilah rushed after her, shooting Belle a grin as she passed. “Exciting times,” she trilled. And then they were both out of the house with the front door slamming shut after them.
Belle squeezed her eyes closed in frustration.
As soon as the red light had flared in the ball, the uneasiness that had plagued her all these weeks had exploded inside her like a dam bursting its walls. These weren’t ‘exciting’ times. These were ‘oh-God-what-the-hell’s-going-to-happen-now’ times.
To be continued next Friday…