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Authors: Robin Alexander

Ticket 1207

BOOK: Ticket 1207
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Ticket 1207

By Robin Alexander

 

Ticket 1207

© 2014 by Robin Alexander

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions
.

 

ISBN 13: 978-1-935216-68-1

First
Ebook
Edition: 2014

This
Ebook
Is Published By

Intaglio Publications

Walker, LA USA

www.intagliopub.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

_______________________________________________

 

Credits

 

Executive Editor: Tara Young

Cover design by:
Tiger Graphics

 

Chapter 1

Shawn Masterson jogged the slick streets of the French Quarter buffeted by a mid-December wind. Rain and the cold kept the tourists and revelers tucked away inside the bars and restaurants. Her running clothes were soaked, and only the heat she generated with the exercise kept her from hypothermia. She squeezed the plastic bag in her palm to make sure she didn’t drop it as she kept her pace in front of the cathedral. The usual vendors and tarot card readers had packed it in, unwilling to suffer the dismal day. Even the Christmas lights around Jackson Square lacked their usual warmth and excitement as steady rain soaked the streets.

“This is the day,” Shawn said softly. “I will ask her out, or at least ask for her phone number.”

Of course, Shawn gave herself this speech anytime she went to the shop, which was often. She’d broken every piece of jewelry she owned just for an excuse to visit with the jeweler. The opportunity to have a private chat never seemed to come. There were always other customers, or Rene, the perky sales clerk, inserted herself into every conversation. But this was the day. The weather was sure to run off anyone with any sense. No one in their right mind would be shopping on a day like this, and it was the lunch hour. Hopefully, Rene would be gone.

*******

“Oh! She’s updated her chalkboard sign in the window.” Rene laughed and slapped the counter as she read, “
Yo
man being a tool? Fix that fool. Come see Theo.”

Jill Searcy chuckled as she replaced a watch battery. “I like the one from yesterday better. ‘Got fungus on your feet? Make them nice and neat. Come see Theo.’”

Rene folded her arms as she stared out the window. “Maybe I should pay her a visit and see what she can do about this perm,” she said as she fingered a lock of fried blond hair.

“You may as well go down to the casino and waste your money there, or you might get lucky and win enough to buy something at the beauty supply store that’ll fix that mess on your head.”

“Ah-ha! You said it didn’t look bad. You lied!” Rene whimpered as she ran a hand through what could only be described as an electrified poodle ’do. She’d wanted waves, but what she got was a head full of frizzy ringlets.

Jill set her tools aside and switched off the light above her work area. “It’s the weather, you know what humidity does to hair. Does Nadia like it?”

Rene released a sigh. “She says she would think I’m beautiful even if I was bald. She always tells me the sweetest lies.”

You are beautiful, and I’m so jealous I could punch you right in the forehead, Jill thought as she gazed at her cousin. They were the same age and had grown up together. Everyone would comment on Rene’s looks, then gaze at Jill sympathetically. A tomboy, Jill was usually covered in dirt and smelled like a wet dog caused by sweat brought on by hard play. Rene would’ve rather had chewed off her own foot than wallow in the dirt with a football. Her favorite hobbies were dress-up and makeup.

All her life, Jill heard, “Oh, Rene, you get prettier by the day, and, Jill…you’re so athletic. That was actually the kinder version. Rene was blond with a creamy complexion and a shapely figure. Jill’s hair was as dark as coal and did exactly what it wanted regardless of hair care products or styling tools. Until she got into her late thirties, she was so skinny that her mother accused her of having an eating disorder regardless of the fact that she ate like a horse.

The only person who made her feel good about herself was her father. “This little button nose,” he would say as he touched the tip of it, “is my mother’s. Your hazel eyes are mine. This little cleft in your chin is also my mother’s. She was very beautiful, and so are you.”

Rene, of course, garnered all the male attention that Jill happily lived without, but neither realized that they had something else in common. It was no surprise when in her senior year Jill announced that she was a lesbian, but Rene turned the world on its ear when she also came out. The entire family, with the exception of Jill’s father, accused Jill of corrupting beautiful, innocent Rene by giving her “the gay.”

Rene stood on her toes. “I think I see Shawn, she’s headed this way. You should ask her out.”

“If she was interested, she would’ve asked me out or at least flirted. Ten to one, she has a girlfriend, maybe even a wife. Women who look like she does don’t stay single for long, unless there’s something wrong with them.”

“If I was single, I’d take the chance.” Rene folded her arms.

The bell on the door jingled, and Shawn stepped in, her clothes soaked along with the baseball cap on her head. “I’m sorry to come in like this,” she said, looking embarrassed. “I thought the rain had stopped when I left my apartment.”

“That’s okay,” Jill said with a smile. “Rene, would you run upstairs and get Shawn a towel while I have a look at whatever she’s broken?”

“Sure.” Rene started off, then stopped. “Shawn, how about a cup of tea or maybe coffee to help warm you up?”

“Coffee sounds great.” Shawn wrapped her arms around herself and stayed near the door.

“You’re not going to hurt anything in here,” Jill assured. “It’s drafty over there.”

Shawn took off her hat and ran a hand through her light brown locks. “I’m soaked to the bone. I’ll just wait over here until Rene gets back. I broke the face on my watch again,” she said with a frown.

Jill motioned for her to come closer. “Do you work in construction or something like that?”

“I’m a botanist. I spend a lot of time in fields gathering samples, but lately, I’ve been in a greenhouse with steel valves hidden in the foliage.” Shawn’s sneakers made a squishing sound as she ventured closer to the counter where Jill sat. “Have pity on the accident prone,” she said as she handed the bag containing her watch to Jill with a sheepish grin.

Jill opened it and inspected the watch. “I’ll have to order another crystal, I know I don’t have this in stock,” she said as she watched a bead of water run down the side of Shawn’s cheek and across her full kissable lips. It seemed so wrong to envy a raindrop. Shawn was always something special to look at with her bright blue eyes and her glossy long hair that Jill longed to run her fingers through. Even soaking wet, she was stunning.

Shawn rubbed her bare wrist. “I should wear something else when I work, but my grandpa gave it to me, and it has sentimental value.”

“Here’s the towel,” Rene announced as she walked back into the room. “I’ll get your coffee as soon as it’s finished brewing. Do you run every day?”

“I try,” Shawn said, grateful for the towel. She wished that Rene would leave them alone again, but Rene took a seat. Shawn dried her face and wrapped herself in the large towel. “Thanks for this.”

“You’re welcome. Did you notice the shop that opened up across the street?”

Shawn looked over her shoulder and could barely make out the sign hanging in the window because of the moisture on the glass. “Theo Brasseaux’s Shop of…”

“Voodoo,” Rene said with a laugh. “Jill’s afraid to go in there.”

“I am not. I don’t have the ills her signs claim they can cure,” Jill retorted.

“Nadia, my partner, says she can’t wait to go see what it’s all about. She believes in that kind of stuff.” Rene looked Shawn over. “Do you?”

Shawn shook her head. “No, that’s just for the tourists. You can’t visit New Orleans without hitting a voodoo shop, right?”

“Exactly,” Jill said with a nod as she slipped the watch into an envelope and tore off a perforated ticket. “You know the drill. I’ll call you when I get the watch repaired.”

Shawn took the plastic bag from the counter and stuffed the ticket inside as Rene went off to see about the coffee. Her opportunity had arrived, but instead of asking Jill out, she lamely said, “Christmas is getting close, do you have all your shopping done?”

“I do it all online. I hate crowded stores and waiting in long lines.” Jill smiled wryly. “Besides, it’s not my favorite holiday. I don’t even bother to put up a tree anymore. Try not to judge the Scrooge too harshly.”

“I don’t.” Shawn shrugged. “Too much family, or lack thereof, mounting credit card debt because of gift shopping, pressure to attend parties, and feeling like you have to be cheery when you don’t feel like it bums a lot of people out.”

“You don’t like Christmas, either?”

“No, I love it. I like the lights and the food. I guess that means I’d like Vegas, too, but I’ve never had any desire to go there,” Shawn said as she unwrapped the towel from her body and dried her face again.

Rene poked her head through the door in the back. “Shawn, what do you take in your coffee?”

“Just black, thanks.”


Ew
, I don’t know how you do that.” Rene disappeared again.

Shawn finally gathered her courage and jumped on the opportunity. “Speaking of coffee, would—”

The bell on the front door chimed, then clanked when it was slammed against the wall. A small black woman charged in sporting a long printed dress and matching turban on her head. “Emergency! I need a jeweler and quick, or my aunt’s gonna float up in here and whip my ass and
yo
ass, too!” She gave Shawn a long exaggerated look. “People pay me a
lotta
money for my advice, but I’m gonna give you some for free. Buy an umbrella, fool.”

Jill was already perturbed by the interruption because she was very curious to hear what Shawn was about to say. “Don’t come in here and insult my customers,” she snapped.

The newcomer gave Jill a pointed look. “Do you know who I am?”

Jill shrugged. “No clue.”

“Theo Brasseaux, and if I wanted to, and I might, I could make a horn grow outta
yo
forehead.”

“Don’t threaten me with that crap,” Jill shot back as she stood.

Rene came out of the back of the store with Shawn’s coffee and stopped in her tracks. She plastered on a huge smile. “Hello, how can we help you?”

Theo held up a pearl, then tugged on a leather strap around her neck. A garish-looking claw popped out of her collar. “This here’s the talisman my momma gave me, and the pearl fell out. Now if it ain’t in one piece, there ain’t no magic. That means my aunt’s spirit can get her hands on me and everyone around. If it ain’t fixed and soon, she gonna come up in here and start whooping on some ass.”

“Your…dead aunt,” Shawn said.

“That’s right, I ain’t stuttered.” Theo set her gaze on Jill. “You the one that fixes stuff, I seen you in the window. You gotta fix this right now.”

Jill pointed at Shawn. “As you can see, I have a customer I’m currently waiting on.”

“My aunt don’t wait in no lines when she’s handing out an ass whooping.” As the words came out of Theo’s mouth, a gust of wind rattled the door. “Aw, shit, we all
gon
’ die.”

Jill rolled her eyes. “That was the wind.”

“Have you ever had diarrhea so bad you feel like someone went at
yo
ass with a wire brush?” Theo glared at Jill. “You about to. I’ll make a five-foot flame shoot outta
yo
butt.”

“Threaten me one more time, and I’ll bounce you out of here so fast your head will spin.”

“Now wait a minute,” Rene said, still smiling. “Let’s just take a breath.”

Shawn held up her plastic bag. “I’ve already got my ticket, just call me when you’re ready,” she said as she backed toward the door. She didn’t believe in voodoo and wasn’t afraid that fire was going to shoot out of Jill’s ass, but it was shooting from her eyes as she glared at Theo. She felt that if she was out of the way, Jill could take care of whatever Theo needed. Shawn accepted that her opportunity had passed, and unfortunately, she had another appointment to keep. “I’ll see y’all later.”

With disappointment, Jill watched as the door closed behind Shawn. She bit the inside of her lip as she returned her attention to Theo. “You sure as hell know how to make a first impression, don’t you?”

“My aunt is
gon
’ make an impression on my forehead if you don’t put this back in the foot,” Theo said, shaking the pearl.

“That’s a foot?” Rene squinted at the thing hanging at the end of the leather strap around Theo’s neck.

“It’s a talisman,” Theo said coolly.

“It’s a dried-up chicken foot on a cord that looks like you varnished it.” Jill’s right eyebrow shot up when Theo pointed at her. “Don’t threaten me again.”

“You want me to ask you nicely?” Theo cleared her throat. “Please, fix my talisman before my aunt comes up in here and slaps the white right off
yo
ass.”

“Take it off, and I’ll have a look at it,” Jill said with a sigh.

Theo shook her head. “Can’t. You
gon
’ have to look at it while it’s on my neck, but the cord is long.” She slapped the foot onto the work pad beneath Jill’s light and set the pearl beside it. “I ain’t taken it off since my momma placed it on me. The magic will be broke if I do.”

Rene made a face. “You sleep with it on?”

“Every night,” Theo said with a nod. “And it ain’t easy, that damn thing kicks me in the ear the whole time. I tuck it under my pillow, it comes right back out.”

Rene realized she was still holding Shawn’s coffee. “Aw, man, I forgot to give this to her,” she said as she took a sip. “Awful, absolutely awful, I don’t know how people drink this stuff.”

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