Jackie snorts, half in shock, half in.. something else. What, I’m not sure.
“What the hell is this?” she growls. “This old man is your DAD?”
“I may look old, young lady, but I’ll have you know, I’m young at heart,” Sinan says.
“Young at heart, my ass,” I say to my dad. “You’re just childish.”
“You wound me,” he says, clutching his expensive, silk shirt clad chest.
“I should wound you,” I grumble. “Mortally.”
Jackie holds her hands up, gesturing at nothing, clearly at a loss for words. She settles for pressing her long fingers against her eyes, as if trying to unsee the last few minutes of her life. I want to tell her that that doesn’t work; I’ve tried to unsee many things in my life, and they still haunt me.
Like my father.
I glare down at the old man who soul-swapped with my co-worker. He looks quite pleased with his entrance, and I want to hit him. But, he is my father, whether by accident or divine screw up. He did raise me after my mom died, but that was only fair, seeing as how she raised me alone for 11 years before that.
I sit back down on the floor, and tap Jackie’s knee. “Hey.”
“Are there more surprises waiting to leap out from under the bed, or was that all?” Jackie asks in a peeved tone.
“Well,” I tell her, “I don’t want to lie to you or anything..”
She sighs and removes her hands form her eyes. “Is this story going to take long, honey chile? I should probably start searching for an exit if I’m going to make it to the airport to get my mom.”
Sinan interrupts, like I knew he would. “Hold on, hold on,” he says. He leans toward Jackie and squints. “Wait a minute!” he huffs. “You’re a m-”
“Anyway, Jackie,” I rush in to cover his blunder, “you wanted to know how I ended up in this house.” I point to my dad. “He did it. It’s all his fault; blame him.”
“Can it, you tricky, trickstering, lying liar!” I shout in his direction. I swing my gaze back to Jackie. “You’ve just seen it for yourself, right? The soul swapping?” I wait for her nod, then continue. “Imagine this: you’re new in town. You need a cheap place to live in a decent neighborhood. You head to a real estate office to check the listings for places to rent. The extremely handsome broker shows you some lists, whispering in your ear all the while. The minute you sign the papers and fork over the cash – WHAM!” I slam my fist into the floor for emphasis. “You find out that your tricky father has done it to you again. That man – and I use the word loosely here, you foul beast – sold me his own house! Of course he failed to mention that it is inhabited by evil spirits, otherworldly creatures, and has 97 years left on the mortgage.” I sit back and fold my arms across my chest.
Jackie’s eyes dart between us Slaughters; she doesn’t seem to be able to decide between laughing her ass off, or leaping to her feet and running away screaming. She is a Child of the Blood, so maybe that has something to do with the detached way she is scanning us.
Behind me, I sense the old man sit down on my bed, and turn toward him. He places his hand-carved ebony walking stick beside him. He runs a hand through his long, snow white locks, and scratches the inexplicably dark hair on his chin. The lines in his face suddenly seem deeper, as if he is aging right before my eyes. I turn my head away, determined not to feel anything resembling love or admiration toward the man who dumped me the minute I reached the age of majority in our family tradition, but I can feel my resolve weakening. He is my father.
“Daughter mine,” he begins in a voice laced with sorrow and regret. “I would have done things differently if I had the chance.”
“I don’t believe that,” I declare, jabbing my nose in the air.
“Tis true,” Sinan says. “You needed to hone your power, and I could not be there to help you with it.”
“But why?” I hear the whine in my voice, and I know I am dangerously close to crying. Dammit. I hate crying!
“Your power is rooted in solitude. Tis why you can see the beings, and commune with them.” Sinan sighs. “This house.. We’ve been paying for this house for four hundred years. You’re the last of the line, and since you keep declaring that you shall never bear a child, this house is your responsibility.”
“I don’t want it!” I shout.
The floor rolls and dips, and my stomach drops.
“What the hell is this?” Jackie shrieks in my face. I am not sure, but I have a pretty good idea.
The house is waking up, and it is not happy with me.