Grave Obsession / Chapter 6
With a click of the mouse Bryn said, “The directions to New Orleans are printing. We can pick up a local map of the area when we get there.”
“Why are you even bothering to print out directions? There's a navigation unit in your car,” Michael said as he shook his head.
“I like to think of it as a just-in-case measure.”
“OCD,” Michael said with a hearty chuckle. Bryn had never been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but that never stopped Michael from teasing her about it. Bryn liked everything in its place, and tended to go on cleaning frenzies at least three times a week. Her organizational skills were excellent. She hated to leave anything to chance and planned for everything. At times Michael found her compulsion over-the-top and annoying.
Bryn collected the the papers from the printer and placed them in a blue folder. “I also printed out the locations of several motels and inns in case we decide to stay a couple of days.”
“Of course you did. What about work? Can you just drop everything to run off to Louisiana at the last minute?”
Bryn waved her iPhone in the air, “Taken care of! I sent a message to Karen. She's going to oversee the Kingston/Morgan wedding until I get back.”
Bryn co-owned a wedding planning business, Countryland Weddings, with Karen. Michael thought it to be the perfect job for her to put her OCD to good use, proving to be very profitable.
“What about your job?”
“We just finished a small job a couple of days ago. We don't begin work on the new hotel until next week.”
“That shouldn't be a prob--,” Bryn's sentence was cut short by the buzz of the doorbell. “Wonder who that could be?” Bryn made her way to answer the door. She opened the door, letting in a cold rush of January air.
“Well that's odd,” Bryn commented as she looked left, then right, seeing no one there. Just as she was about to shut the door, she glanced down to see a brown, paper-wrapped package propped against the jamb. She bent to retrieve the package and closed the door.
“No one there?” Michael questioned as he stood and stepped toward Bryn.
“No, but this was,” she said confused as she handed the package to him.
He inspected the package curiously. “There's no post mark or address. This must have been hand delivered.” Michael carefully unwrapped the mysterious package revealing a worn, leather-bound black book. “Entity of the Witch?” He glanced from the book to Bryn's bewildered face, “Well, that's what it says.” Michael handed the book to her.
Bryn apprehensively took the book from Michael. She traced the embossed outline of the willow tree on the cover, and noted what looked like a pentagram engraved in the trunk of the tree. “I've never seen anything like this before,” Bryn stated as she absently sat on the couch, tucking a piece of blond hair behind her ear. “Mrs. Morales must have left this for us.”
“I thought she couldn't help us.”
“No, not couldn't—wouldn't. I guess she changed her mind.”
Bryn gently opened the book noting its delicate condition. The pages were thick and yellowed with age. “The whole book is hand-written,” she said with amazement as she turned through several pages. The ink, she assumed originally black, had faded to gray. The manuscript was pinned eloquently in what appeared to be from a steel nib. Bryn would have taken it to be from a quill if it had not been for Karen having a nib pen displayed on her desk at the office. Karen was an antique collector on the side and always gave Bryn history lessons on her newly acquired pieces.
“There is a page marked here,” Michael stated as he pointed to a thin black ribbon between two pages nearing the back of the book.
Trying to be as careful as possible, Bryn parted the pages which held the mark. “This is interesting. It's referring to the binding of a love lost with a witch's spirit.”
Michael leaned in closer skimming the page. “Mrs. Morales said Lila attached her spirit...ghost, or whatever to me.”
Lila drew her brows together, “According to this, Lila will strengthen as you grow weaker. She will consume you until you're dead, then you will pretty much be hers.”
Michael slammed the book closed. “The hell I will! There is no way I'm spending eternity tied to that crazy bi...” Michael's rant was interrupted by the eruption of exploding glass coming from the kitchen.
Michael grabbed Bryn's upper arm as she started to run to the kitchen. “Stay here,” he commanded with a stern look. He waited for Bryn to nod, then released her arm and slowly moved toward the kitchen.
Just as he turned the corner to enter the kitchen, silence replaced the explosions, causing him to take pause. He took a deep breath, and stepped into the kitchen. It took several seconds before his wandering eyes could send the message to his brain to comprehend the sight before him.
Pools of red wine puddled on the tile, glistening like spilled blood under the florescent light. Wine ran down the brown-sugar painted walls in lines reminiscent of bloody tears. Shards of glass from the broken bottles littered the floor. The wrought-iron wine rack was overturned, but not damaged. A sharp intake of air came from behind Michael causing him to jerk his head around.
“Bryn, Jesus!” Michael had to catch his breath, “You scared the shit outta me. I thought I told you to stay in the living room.”
“The noise stopped, so I thought it was safe,” Bryn said as she took in the damage. “My God, this is...”
“Yeah, I know—unbelievable.” Michael shook his head in disbelief.
“She did this, didn't she?” Bryn said as more of a statement than a question. She stepped around Michael carefully minding the broken glass on the floor.
Michael grunted in agreement. “I don't suppose there's any other explanation for it,” he said while he up-righted the wine rack.
“I guess this answers one question,” she said with a sigh. “Lila is definitely bound to you, and not the house. She knew we were reading that book, and she heard what you said.”
Michael gave Bryn a troubled look. In his heart, he knew Lila was never bound to the house. He could feel her all the time within himself. As long as he carried her spirit with him, no one around him was safe; more importantly, Bryn wasn't safe.
“Bryn, I know you don't want to hear this, but you aren't safe around me. I'm a danger to you and everyone else I come into contact with.” He stepped over to her, putting his hands gently on either side of her face, forcing her to look at him. “She sees what I see, hears what I hear, goes where I go.”
Bryn pushed Michael's hands away, “I'm not some scared little girl that you have to protect from the bogeyman, Michael. We've been through this already. Lila's little temper tantrum hasn't changed my mind. I'm far beyond being scared—I'm pissed! She broke a 1995 Margaux that I was saving for something really special!”
Michael was in awe of Bryn. He hated to admit she was right. She wasn't some scared little girl. She was strong, perhaps more than he. The stubbornness that rolled off of that woman was more than he could handle at times, but he could not image not having Bryn in his life. She was everything that he lacked within himself.
“So, where do you keep the mop bucket?”
Bryn smiled in triumph and pointed to the cabinets under the sink.