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Coalite – Chapter 4

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“Uggggghhhh,” Val moaned the next morning. She sat up and rubbed her eyes before she noticed the outstretched hand offering her two aspirin and a glass of water.

“Good thing your final’s not ’til 10:30,” Lenny said as she handed over the items.

Val glanced over at her alarm clock and shot Lenny a smile before popping the aspirin in and swallowing with a long drink of water. She gasped for air after the long sip and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I owe you big time Lenia,” Val said. “Guess I better start cramming last minute before Judgment Time.”

Lenny resisted the urge to correct Val on her last sentence. This time, she could blame the fairy for making her friend’s drink so strong that it made her act a little more clueless. Fairy-made stuff tended to make humans a little more loopy and dazed than usual.

Val threw back the covers and began gathering sweats, a tank, and underwear to change into. Lenny brushed a strand of hair away from her face and began making the trundle bed that Val’s mom pulled out for her last night. Val looked over at Lenny as she hurried to the bathroom.

“I think I have your skirt and top from the last time,” she said. “Mom probably washed it – check my closet. It’s probably got a ‘Lenny’ tag on it. Mom’s idea, not mine.”

Lenny laughed as she puffed the pillow and stood up. Val headed off to shower and Lenny walked into Val’s closet in search of her clothes that Val borrowed from a previous time. She walked past a bar filled with a variety of dresses and found a clear hanger with a hot pink sticky note that read ‘Lenny’ scrawled across it. Lenny pulled the hanger from the bar, which contained her dad’s old Sergeant Pepper Beatles shirt and favorite dark blue circle skirt that fell a few inches above her knees.

“Sorry gotta change undies,” Val said as she entered the closet, towel wrapped around her body. She brushed past Lenny and swapped out the pair she grabbed for a plain bikini pair in pink. “Ugh I hate being on the rag. Really wanted to wear a cute pair to get me through this awful final and now–”

“Way too much info,” Lenny cut her off.

Val scrunched her nose up and stuck her tongue out at Lenny. She dug around in the drawer and threw a black pair of boy shorts at Lenny. “Yeah and those you can wear,” Val said. “Mom bought them for me by accident – never wore them and never will.”

Lenny caught the boy shorts and thanked Val, who dashed off to shower, groaning about her stomach cramping.

***

“You’re so lucky to be done with everything,” Val sighed as they headed to campus. “Thanks again for going with me.”

“No problem,” Lenny said as they pulled up to the student lot.

Val fished out her ID card and scanned it to get into the structure. The arm lifted and Val zipped in, driving over the speed bumps aggressively. Lenny gripped the handle on the door as they went over them and winced. Val muttered an apology before picking a spot and slamming on her parking brake.

“So what are you going to do?” Val asked Lenny as they got out.

Lenny picked up her bag and pulled back the flap to show Val her books. “I snagged my books before crashing last night and thought I’d sell them back.”

Val blinked and frowned at Lenny. “Wait, we stopped at your place first? Sorry, I’m sorta hazy about last night – think whatever was in that drink really messed me up.”

“Uh no,” Lenny said. “I grabbed them after I dropped you off and said I’d be back to sleep over.” Well, it was kinda the truth – Val had crashed the moment they got back and Lenny waited until Val’s mom had closed the door before she summoned her school bag and had it arrive through the window of Val’s room. She had contemplated just driving over to pick up her books in person but thought better of it, as Gran would probably be sleeping.

“Oh okay,” Val said. “Good luck trying to get anything decent back for them – I swear they are such cheapskates there! I’ll text when I’m done.”

“Good luck!” Lenny said as she waved goodbye. She headed in the direction of the campus bookstore, hitching the heavy bag higher on her shoulder. She spotted the long line spilling outside of the bookstore and sighed as she joined it, crossing her arms over her chest.

***

“Your total is $111.79,” the student announced as he read off the amount that Lenny could get back for her textbooks and materials. “You wanna take it as store credit or cash?”

“Cash please,” Lenny said as she fished out her student ID and driver’s license. She flashed both at the student ringing her up and he thanked her as he input it into the register and began counting bills out. Lenny stretched her hand out and accepted the amount and her receipt, stashing the money into her wallet and throwing it back into her bag. She rubbed her sore shoulder as she left the bookstore – she didn’t miss her War and Historical Conflicts class, as that had the worst amount of reading material required.

Lenny heard her phone vibrate against her wallet and she fished it out, frowning as she read the screen. She didn’t recognize the number and decided to let it just go to voicemail. If it’s that urgent, they can leave a message and a callback number, she thought.

She put her phone back in her bag and walked over to the cafe on campus to grab a smoothie. The phone continued to buzz in her bag and she bit her lip as she gripped the door handle, pausing to listen to her phone. Normally her phone wouldn’t ring this long, unless it was a call from a non-human. Unless you clicked the Ignore button, non-humans could continue to bug you until you answered or manually ignored the call. She stepped away from the door and pulled it out again – of course it was the same number calling her again. Lenny walked to a bench and slid across the screen to answer it.

“Hello this is Lenny Avionnet,” Lenny answered. “Who is this?”

“Well, well Miss Raincloud, nice to hear your charming voice again.” the male voice replied. “This is Baine from Shangri-La Nightclub.”

“The fairy bartender,” Lenny said. “Yeah I remember you. How did you get this number?”

“I have connections babe,” he said.

Lenny tightened the grip on her phone and shot back, “Call me ‘babe’ again and I’ll strangle you with an iron collar. What do you want?”

Baine chuckled as he ran a hand through his hair. “Wow kinky, you threaten all guys with a metal collar? Okay, on a serious note, there was a guy looking for you earlier today.”

“Must be a fluke,” Lenny replied.

“Why, you like girls?” Baine said. “Ah well anyways, he wanted to ask you about the stark raving mad she-demon who shadowed you after you left.”

Lenny straightened up on the bench and pressed the phone closer to her ear. “Who was this guy?”

Baine shrugged as he polished a glass at the bar, cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder. “No name but dark hair, trademark green eyes, and some kinda accent. Don’t ask me what though – I can’t tell the difference.”

“What’s so special about the succubus I dealt with anyways?” Lenny asked. She knew it was early to tell, but she had a bad feeling that her encounter with the succubus only caught the attention of an incubus. She hated them more than the female ones – as a child, she swore that she spotted one feeding off of a dead woman when her mom took her shopping downtown one early evening. According to Gran, demons had killed her parents and many other warlocks in a malicious act as revenge for the High Council’s act of exposing two demons to various magical torture processes with light and purity elements.

Baine put the glass down and held the phone in his left hand. “Listen, he didn’t say much other than he wanted to talk to you. Didn’t give a number or name for me to pass on. But I’m guessing he wants to know what went down last night. I’m sure you noticed, but your little stalker wasn’t acting normal for her breed.”

“She looked sickly,” Lenny admitted. “But really, nothing big happened – she took my keys for kicks, I got them back, and she fell after hitting an invisible wall I made. End of story.”

“Yeah well she never came back in,” Baine replied. “First time I ever saw this guy, but he knew that I saw you earlier and said I had to relay the news or something.”

“Great, that’s real helpful,” Lenny mumbled. “Yeah well, thanks I guess. Sorry you got dragged into this.”

“Don’t mention it,” Baine said. “And if you plan to have another epic showdown, please do me a favor and host it elsewhere?”

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