Spellbound, Book 1
An odd energy swirled in the evening air. It was like something was coming, about to happen. The only thing was, Chandler Gray couldn’t tell whether or not it was something good or something bad.
About two weeks ago, she'd started to feel a restless need to do the unexpected. Random exotic ideas often consumed her thoughts, which made it impossible for her to sleep or do her work. Soon the push and pull between exhaustion and nervous energy was almost more than she could stand.
“This is ridiculous!” Chandler sighed in frustration and turned away from her computer screen. She glanced over at the clock and saw that it was 6:45 p.m. It felt much later.
Removing her reading glasses, she pinched the bridge of her nose and yawned. Moments later, she shook her head and grinned as she recalled the suggestion her friend Kara had made to her the last time they saw each other.
“Chandler, you need to get laid. Not just a one-night sort of thing, but a whole weekend event. Find some young stud with a beautiful body and a ton of stamina. A few dozen toe-curling orgasms later and you’ll feel much better.”
Sex was always Kara’s answer to any problem. Tired of being stuck in her funk, Chandler began to consider it as a possible solution.
Exhausted, and more than a little bit hungry, Chandler put her glasses back in their case and shut down her computer. After she took a few minutes to straighten up her desk, she headed into the kitchen to see if there was anything in the house to eat.
As she stood in front of her open fridge, she scanned its meager contents. Old containers of Chinese food and a few other questionable items occupied the shelves in a haphazard order.
Chandler grabbed the closest container and took a whiff. She scrunched up her face as the pungent aroma found her nostrils. She opened a few more containers before she determined that almost everything belonged in the garbage.
Grabbing the trash can from under the sink, she began to empty the contents of the fridge until all she was left with was a packet of Swiss cheese and a couple cans of soda. Clearly, if she wanted something decent to eat tonight, she would have to go out and get it.
Once she decided upon her favorite bar and grill, Chandler grabbed a jacket, her purse and her car keys. As she maneuvered her Jeep Cherokee out of her neighborhood, she followed the winding road until she reached the main street that led to downtown Castleton. After she passed by the local college, The Regal Bar & Grill came into view. For a Tuesday night, the parking lot was full of cars. When Chandler looked up at the marquee, she understood the reason. A band was scheduled to play tonight at seven-thirty.
Chandler hated large crowds of people, and considered going somewhere else, but her mouth was all set for her favorite burger. When she wanted something, she found it difficult to deny herself, even if it pushed her comfort level.
One of the reasons Chandler had made Castleton, Massachusetts her home was because it was the opposite of where she’d grown up in Boston. It was a small coastal town with a community of friendly, laid-back people. Full of trees and close to the ocean, the environment tended to keep her feeling grounded and relaxed. At least it had until recently. Now, something was missing. She had a few good friends who more than made up for her estranged family, but it wasn’t enough. She felt lonely.
Exiting her vehicle, Chandler hit the lock and started to head toward the front door. She stopped moving and looked up when something from the corner of her eye caught her attention. It was a shooting star. Not caring if it made sense or not, Chandler wished upon the star. She closed her eyes and silently asked for something to happen. She didn’t care what it was as long as it was something more exciting than what her life had become.
She was still staring at the sky when her stomach growled. She grinned and patted it. “Okay, okay,” she said and started walking again.
As soon as Chandler stepped inside the building, she was ambushed by a mass of undistinguishable voices. If she’d hoped to deplete her nervous energy, this was probably the wrong place to come. When the fragrant smells of French fries and pizza found her nose, she knew there was no turning back.
Since the main dining area was packed with people, Chandler headed into the bar and found an empty bar top table to sit at. After she placed her food and drink order, she watched as the band finished setting up. In the dimly-lit bar, surrounded by all the people, she settled into the mood of the evening. Perhaps this was what she needed.
It wasn’t long before the waitress walked by with a tray of drinks carefully balanced in one hand. She stopped long enough to give Chandler her rum and Coke before she continued to make her rounds.
She was about to take a sip when a woman looking to be in her early sixties came up to her and asked, “May I share your table? Everything else is full.”
Chandler surveyed the room to validate the truth of her statement. When she found that it was accurate, she took a moment to study the woman before she gave her answer. She knew a good portion of the town’s inhabitants, but this lady didn’t look familiar. The woman was tall and sinewy with long silver hair that hung to the middle of her back. She was dressed in skinny-leg jeans tucked into knee-high boots, and a loose-fitting tunic-style shirt that hung just above her knees. Around her neck she wore a unique crystal pendant attached to a thick silver chain. It sparkled and changed color as it caught different angles of light.
The woman didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary, but there was something different about her. She was eccentric, that was clear, but there was something more. A word popped into Chandler’s head the more she tried to figure it out. Magic.
As Chandler studied her, the woman grinned. A few minutes passed before she broke the spell by saying, “I can figure something else out if not.”
“No, please, have a seat.” Chandler gestured to one of the empty chairs. She felt embarrassed for having hesitated so long.
“Thank you, my dear,” the lady said as she began to haul herself up onto the tall bar stool. She’d just gotten situated in her chair when the waitress from earlier returned. This time she stopped and placed a chilled bottle of hard cider on the table. The older woman nodded and then turned to focus her attention on Chandler. “I suppose introductions should be in order. My name is Zee.”
“Nice to meet you, Zee. My name is Chandler.”
“Chandler.” Zee cocked her head to the side as she regarded her. “That’s an unusual name for a girl.”
“I think my father wanted a son. He’s the one who named me.”
“That’s a silly thing to do. But, nonetheless, the name appears to suit you.”
Chandler chuckled. “Definitely makes me unique.”
“Nothing wrong with being different. In fact, I believe it is quite crucial. Keeps people on their toes.” Zee winked. Then she reached for her cider and took a sip.
“So, Zee,” Chandler slowly began, toying with her glass. “I don’t remember seeing you before. Are you new to town or just passing through?”
“I’m here for now. Hard to say how long.”
“What do you do?”
“I help people with things.” The answer was a bit cryptic.
“What kinds of things?” Chandler raised her drink to her lips and took a small swallow.
“Just things people need, things they desire.”
The vagueness of Zee’s answer appeared to be done on purpose. It only made Chandler more curious.
“And you procure it for them?”
“I provide the opportunity for them to acquire it if they so choose.”
“So I take it that you’re getting something for someone in this town, correct?”
“Someone I know?”
“Quite well, in fact.” Zee’s smile grew.
“Why, you, my dear.”
“Me?” Chandler tilted her head, feeling confused. “How is that possible? I’ve never even met you before tonight. And even if I had, what could I possibly want that you could obtain for me? I have everything I need. I have financial stability, a nice house, good friends, and a career I enjoy.”
“Yes, all fine things for sure, but you’re missing one very vital thing.” When Chandler didn’t reply, Zee continued by saying, “Love.”
Chandler shook her head, amused by the direction of the conversation. This lady was more eccentric than Chandler realized. “You can tell all that in the short time you’ve spent with me?”
Zee nodded. “I see a good deal about you.”
“I’d like to believe in love, I really would, but—”
“It has disappointed you.”
“My life is less complicated without it.”
“You can be with someone and be lonely.”
“Only if you’re with the wrong person.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what. If such a person out there truly exists, I will be more than happy to let them in and allow them to complicate my life.”
“Good.” Zee appeared pleased by Chandler’s admission. “That’s all I was waiting to hear.” Then she stepped down from her chair.
“Are you going somewhere?” Chandler looked between the full bottle of cider and the woman.
“Not to worry, my dear.” Zee gave her a reassuring smile. “I enjoyed our visit. Thank you for humoring an old woman.”
Before Chandler could say anything else, the woman was gone.
The evening had taken an unexpected turn that Chandler couldn’t have predicted. If anything, she had an interesting story to tell.