Read Silent Doll Online

Authors: Sonnet O'Dell

Tags: #England, #Magic, #Paranormal, #Supernatural, #Vampire, #Urban Fantasy, #dark, #Eternal Press, #Sonnet ODell, #shapeshifter, #Cassandra Farbanks, #Worcester

Silent Doll (8 page)

BOOK: Silent Doll
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“Did you get any sleep at all?” I asked her when she didn’t say anything, just sat sipping her coffee.

“A little. I mostly catnapped. How about you?”

I smiled softly. “Don’t worry about me.”

Incarra took another sip of her coffee as if she needed it to fuel the minute lift of the eyebrow she gave me. I shrugged.

“I’m more worried about
y’know
…” I made spooky gestures with my fingers. A shiver ran through her entire body. Which wasn’t a very long trip.

“I think I’m going to need some time with regards to
y’know
. I need to just go away for a while, think over how I feel about that, and decide if I want to put myself in a position where I might experience that again.”

I stayed silent, just looking at her. All the makeup was gone, although her outfit was the same, and she looked tired. That didn’t really bode well for the continuation of our friendship.

“Well, I guess that’s the best I can expect, right? I mean, I have laid a lot of crap about me at your feet in one night. I understand if you want to bolt.”

It hurt a little, I guess, to realize that I could never keep a friend when I let them really in, let them see the truth. The more rational part of my brain told me it was probably safer for Incarra if I didn’t try to involve her further. The other world was dangerous, and if I let her stay away, the spirits of the dead wouldn’t bother her. I wouldn’t be responsible for ruining her life.

“I guess it’s for the best,” I said.

Incarra looked at me, her eyes widening, and put her coffee down on the table as I barged on ahead.

“I mean I understand.”

Incarra balled her hands putting them on her hips. “Stop it.”

“What?”

“Trying to break up with me.”

I burst out laughing.

“I’m serious.”

“I know,” I said through fits of giggles, “that’s what’s so funny.”

She kicked at me so that to dodge I had to roll off the couch, but it didn’t stop me from laughing. Eventually she gave in and started laughing with me. It took us a few minutes to run down. Incarra looked at me, her face serious again as I wiped the beginnings of happy tears from the corners of my eyes.

“You know I wasn’t trying to end our friendship. I just want time to decide whether I ever want to visit that other world with you again. We can still hang out during the day and stuff.”

I felt a strange feeling of relief, even though that same rational part of my brain was telling me to make her run, to get her away from me and my crazy existence while she could. I wasn’t good for her. I was beginning to think that I wasn’t good for anyone. I leaned back on my arms and stayed sitting on the floor next to the couch, still grinning.

“I do think you should answer some more of my questions, though,” she said, reclaiming her coffee. “Like, what do you actually do for a living?”

“I’m a paranormal investigator.”

Incarra looked around my living room as if she was searching for a rain coat, one of those trilby hats and some dark Jackie O. sunglasses.

“You’re a supernatural gumshoe?”

“That about sums it up.”

“When is Joss Whedon going to write you a series?”

I playfully jabbed her with my bare foot and she made an oof sound, nearly spilling her coffee.

“Careful!” she scolded me.

“Oh no, the sacred nectar—did it spill?”

Incarra gave me a glare.

“How much does an investigation earn?”

“As I’m only one of three in the county, about five hundred an hour–but that’s negotiable depending on the size of the job.”

Incarra spat coffee.

“Sacrilege,” I cried, hopping up to get a clean cloth from the kitchen.

“You make five hundred bucks an hour, and your spare room looks like a hobo did the decorating. What is all that junk?”

“I’m just trying to trace something back to its source. It’s sort of my pet project at the moment.”

“Right, that’s not cryptic.”

I looked at her and considered. I’d told her about the other world; her reaction hadn’t been bad, but to confess that I wasn’t human was just a step too far. I skated around the edges of the truth, a route I was used to.

“I’m trying to trace my family.”

Incarra would understand that; after all, she was the product of a drunken one week stand. Her mother was a free spirit and using a condom had still been just a suggestion. He vanished and nine months later Incarra was born. She tried to trace him but she wasn’t sure she even had the right name—apparently her mother had forgotten the basics before hopping into bed with the guy. Like “Hi, my name is” was so hard.

Incarra’s mom was a good person, a good mother. I knew that she loved her daughter very much. She even married straight away so that her daughter would have a strong male role model in her life—it wasn’t her fault her step-dad turned out to be a jackass that walked out sixteen years later.

“You’re trying to find who? I thought, no offense, both your parents were dead.”

“My mother and my step-father are.”

Incarra’s eyes went wide. I’d always referred to the man who’d set out to raise me with my mother as my father—but I hadn’t known any different then.

“Wow. Heavy. Is that what you’ve been dealing with? Apart from the whole switch?”

“Yeah. I mean, I know a lot about my step-father. In fact, you met his mother, Virginia.”

“The old woman, the witch of the woods?”

“I think she prefers to be called Virginia, but yes.”

“So, does that explain the weirdness of two worlds? ’Cause your parents were a mixed marriage. Wait, you said he was your step-father?”

“You’re right, I did.” I watched the little cogs in her brain move, then grind to a halt.

“I’m confused.”

“I’ll try to explain. Mom came from there too. When she met my step-father, she was already expecting me and she was running from something, perhaps someone. They wanted a life together with me, so they came over here.”

Incarra’s cogs started up again. “Does that mean you belong on that side?”

“I’ll belong anywhere I damn well want to.”

Incarra was a little taken aback by my outburst. I took a deep breath.

“Sore spot?”

I held my fingers apart to demonstrate this much. She nodded and took a sip of her coffee.

“So, you’re trying to find your mom’s family, and your biological dad?”

“Yes. From what I can gather from bits my mom let slip and things Virginia gleaned in her own searches, she came from a large clan of people, but I have no idea where they are.”

Incarra nodded slowly, like a bobblehead dog, and put her coffee down again. She took a deep breath, placing her hands on her knees.

“Right. Let me get this straight; your mom got knocked up by an unknown party and so ran away from home. Ran so far in fact that she crossed realities. Now, don’t bite my head off if this is a stupid question, but why on earth would you want to find those people?”

I’d thought about that many times myself, but as I told her then, I only had the one answer: “I can’t stand not knowing where I come from.”

“I understand that–I do–but when I was searching for my father, I was looking for a man who merely couldn’t hold his liquor and had commitment issues. You could be looking for people who were so horrible that your mother didn’t want to raise her child around them.”

“I know, but I have questions…about why I can…” I raised my hand and the flame that came to it was small, very small. On this side I was weak. I had little power at all. Incarra watched the flame flicker; it was no bigger than that on a candle. I closed my fist around it.

“Where’s your Hagrid when you need one?” she asked with a queer smile on her face as she patted me on the head. “You’re a wizard ‘arry.”

I smacked her hand away and pushed my chest out at her. “Harry Potter never had these.”

Incarra giggled, and I smiled at her. It was nice to see that we could still be comfortable with one another.

Chapter Nine

Incarra left a couple of hours later, after I made some breakfast to see her on her way. I soon had my hands buried in hot soapy water, doing the dishes, listening to music on the radio, and letting my thoughts drift as I sang along.

I found myself thinking about the tickets. Aram had thought I sent two to him and I, of course, thought he had sent mine. So, if we hadn’t sent them to each other, who had sent them to both of us, and why? I mean, the show had been enjoyable, but there was no reason I could think of that made it a must-see.

I looked back over my shoulder at roses on my coffee table: another mysterious gift. I’d never had a secret admirer before. Men who sent me flowers usually took credit for them.

I put the last of the dishes in the rack to drain and dried my hands on a towel, then went to examine the box. I dug around through the tissue paper and found the cream-colored card, rereading the strange, one line messages.

“Roses are red, huh? Well, whoever he is, at least he can observe the obvious.”

I flipped the card over in my hand; nothing on it, not even an embossing of the company name. I checked every side of the box for a clue. Had these people not heard of a return address? I threw the box down, a little cross. I was looking a gift horse in the mouth, but getting flowers from someone who didn’t have the balls to tell you who they were, how much of a compliment was that, really?

I got dressed—nothing fancy, just a pair of black jeans and a red blouse, then headed into the spare room and pulled out some pages I’d printed from Wikipedia to continue my research on the phoenix.

In ancient Egyptian mythology and in myths derived from it, the phoenix is a sacred firebird. Originally, the phoenix was identified by the Egyptians as a stork or heron-like bird called a benu, known from the Book of the Dead and other Egyptian texts as one of the sacred symbols of worship at Heliopolis. Said to live for 500 or 1461 years—depending on the source), the phoenix is a bird with beautiful gold and red plumage. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises.

I was so glad that wasn’t true. Imagine having to go through puberty again.

The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible — a symbol of fire and divinity. Tears from a phoenix can heal wounds.

That I knew was true. I’d experienced the healing process and I was sure my tears had actually helped heal an injury on another person. This deserved further research.

I turned to my laptop and clicked on the internet provider link, then waited patiently as it dialed, I had wanted to install broadband, or maybe go wireless, but unfortunately, as with a lot of people of magical descent, the router blew up when I got too close to it. So I was stuck with the Stone Age slow way of getting online. Finally I managed to load up Google and put in
Bennu bird
. I clicked on the first link.

The Bennu bird serves as the Egyptian correspondence to the phoenix, and is said to be the soul of the Sun-God Ra. Some of the titles of the Bennu bird were “He Who Came Into Being by Himself”, “Ascending One”, and “Lord of Jubilees”.

Great
, I thought, with titles like that, I was betting other phoenixes, if there were any—and my mom had to have come from somewhere, so that made it likely that there were—had to be egomaniacs.

The name is related to the verb “weben,” meaning “to rise brilliantly” or “to shine”. The Bennu bird was the mythological phoenix of Egypt.

To shine? That would at least explain the golden color of my aura, but there was nothing remotely Egyptian about me, or at least when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see it.

According to ancient Egyptian myth, the Bennu had created itself from a fire that was burned on a holy tree in one of the sacred precincts of the temple of Ra. Other versions say that the Bennu bird burst forth from the heart of Osiris.

Gross!

The Bennu was pictured as a grey, purple, blue, or white heron with a long beak and a two-feathered crest…

I leaned back in my chair, stroking my chin. Descriptions of what a phoenix looked like varied not only among different cultures but within those cultures. I had gone through Egyptian lore thoroughly again and again. I had researched Heliopolis trying to find any sort of connection to a group that followed or worshipped the phoenix. I thought it would have been a good way to conceal what you were until times came when, like now, you could walk around freely acknowledging what you were. I couldn’t find anything: no sect, no secret organizations, no whispers.

I closed my eyes, letting my head drop back, and tried to concentrate. I had found that if I focused deep inside myself, I saw the bird that before had always been in my dreams. It no longer flew at me but sat there as if on a perch, staring at me with my own eyes. Its body was mostly a deep, crimson red, the feathers on its wings paled from crimson, to orange, then to glittering gold. Its tail feathers were large, spindling out to frail lines that became like peacock feathers in fiery colors, eyes of gold flashing in an inner light.

BOOK: Silent Doll
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