Drea tosses a handful of her honey blond micro braids over her shoulder and pouts. “This is the thanks I get for coming to your rescue?”
“My.. what?” I stammer, confused as hell.
Drea squints at me. “Did you really drink so much that you forgot about me? I mean, I know you said before that you don’t drink, but after you called me, begging me to come over and bring ‘copious amounts of booze’..” She trails off as she gives me a pointed look and traces quotes marks in the air. “I swear, Sunshine! I just can’t figure you out.”
“I.. called.. WHAT?” I drop to the floor and curl into a tight little ball. I want to rock myself back and forth, maybe roll around a few times, but I can’t do that in front of company. I am not completely convinced that they’re the real deal and not more figments of the house’s imagination, but the look that Jackie is giving me seems to be real enough.
“Layla,” she says, after a long silence. “Is something bothering you?” she asks me seriously.
“Of course not,” I answer flatly. “Why on Earth would you think that?”
“Okay, Little Miss Smartass,” Jackie snaps, standing up and stomping over to where I am lying on the floor. She looms over me in her lime green leggings and plain white t-shirt. My necks hurts to view her at this angle, so I sit up and avoid looking directly into her eyes. “You have some explaining to do,” she continues.
“To start with, explain why you live in a house so haunted that my GPS was scared to lead me here.”
I freeze and Drea turns a blank expression to both of us. “This house is haunted?” she asks. I look at Jackie and Jackie looks at me.
“Anybody up for coffee?” I inquire of my guests.
“Start talking,” Jackie demands. I sigh, and watch the queen’s foot tap out a rhythm on my bedroom floor. I try my hardest to think of how to put my life into words that won’t make me seem a few sandwiches short of a picnic. But instead of coming up with a plausible answer, I get irrationally angry.
“What’s it to you?” I growl. “You shouldn’t even be here right now. I certainly did not invite you.”
“Yes, you did!” Drea interjects. “You sent me a message that said-”
“I wasn’t talking to you!” I roar. “Besides, I didn’t send you any texts; the house did.”
“You’re not making any sense, Layla!” Drea shouts. Her eyes are shiny with unshed tears, and I feel sort of guilty for yelling at her. Jackie, on the other hand, looks thoughtful. Her toes have stopped tapping, and she has one of her long, perfectly manicured fingernails pressed to her lips.
I can’t stand the short, tension-filled silence that follows my outburst, so I break it. “What?” I direct my sharp tone at Jackie. “What is it? Why are you looking at me like that? And don’t you have to get your mother from the airport?”
“Her plane doesn’t land for another ten hours,” the queen mumbles. She frowns, and I know this means that she is deep in thought. Frowning causes wrinkles, and De Lawd knows Jackie doesn’t want wrinkles.
Just as I am about to question her again, she snaps her fingers and points that acrylic nail at me. “I know what you are,” she says breathlessly.
“A pathological liar?” I quip as my blood turns to mud in my veins. Ice cold mud.
A sly, Cheshire Cat-like grin from Jackie creeps me out and makes the mud in my veins even colder.
She shakes her head slowly, as if savoring my discomfort. “I know what you are!” She claps her hands gleefully and does a little dance.
“What’s she talking about, Layla?” Drea asks, confused.
“Nothing. It’s nothing.” My reassurance to Drea sounds hollow, even to me.
Jackie points at me again, and declares, “You are a Child of the Blood.”
I open my mouth to deny the charge, but what comes out is “How the hell do you know that?”
“Simple,” Jackie replies. “I’m one, too.”
I swear by all that’s holy (and some things that aren’t), when Jackie says this, the house begins to laugh.