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Chapter 1 – Fate Comes Knocking

She sat alone in her sports car and silently scorned the rain that was pouring down around her. Her raven hair hung loose about her shoulders and she twirled a piece of it around her index finger as she contemplated her next move. The ritual should really be done outside, but she didn’t relish the thought of getting soaked by the downpour that was currently happening outside her car. Besides, there would be no chance to return to her hotel room before it took effect, so really the decision had already been made for her. She knew that she looked perfect and the rain would only make her look like a drowned rat. She wanted to look her best for the end results.
Decision made, she turned in her seat to face the bundle that sat on the seat next to her and unwrapped its contents. Using the illumination from the dashboard, she quickly moved the items around on the narrow seat as best as she could so that they resembled an altar setup. There wasn’t much room, but again, it would have to do.
With a clear, experienced voice, she started the chant that would begin the ritual. She called upon the ancient gods and goddesses to aid in her endeavor this night to gain that which she most desired. As she spoke, a green glow surrounded her hands and the temperature inside the car began to rise with her casting as the windows fogged. To a normal passerby it would seem as if there might be a couple inside the vehicle that were doing some heavy making out and the girl was left alone to her task at hand.
“I call upon you to bring him to me. As I will it, so mote it be,” she said finally as she picked up her boline, or black handled knife, and pierced her first finger. She waited a moment for the blood to well up a little before she turned it over and allowed a few drops to fall on the picture of the man that was propped against the door in the center of her makeshift altar. She smiled to herself as she thought, Now it was only a matter of time…

“Doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon,” Elayne Daniels commented from where she stood at the dining room window, her arms crossed protectively in front of her while she twisted a lock of her long, dark hair in her fingers. Outside a typical early spring storm was waging a show of force that couldn’t be ignored. The night was a dark one, illuminated only by streetlights and the bolts of lightening that flared every few minutes in the inky black sky.
“I’m glad we don’t have to go anywhere,” Elayne’s roommate, Connie Bonadero, commented from the doorway that led into the living room. Thunderstorms didn’t bother the petite blonde at all, but she knew that Elayne hated them with a passion and that her friend would be a bundle of nerves until the storm was over.
“Me too,” Elayne replied as she turned from the window and tucked her free hand under her arm. After the long months of winter, Elayne was glad that warm weather was finally around the corner, but she couldn’t help feeling restless. At first she thought it was the storm that had her on edge, but as she turned her head to gaze out the window once more, she knew that it was something else. “I feel something in the air,” she murmured, her blue eyes darting back and forth over the darkness as if she were trying to catch something that was just out of her line of sight.
Before Connie had a chance to reply, the doorbell chimed, filling the house with its cheery ringing and causing Connie to frown slightly. It wasn’t the first time that one of Elayne’s ‘feelings’ had produced such quick response so that wasn’t what was bothered her. The two women had been friends long enough for Connie to know that when Elayne said she felt something, she was serious about it and her hunch was usually backed up with an immediate response such as this one. The problem was what was it this time?
“You really should try to bottle that,” Connie said dryly as she chuckled, her green eyes dancing with merriment as she shook her head in mock disbelief. Connie knew more about Elayne’s special abilities better than anyone and had never judged her for it, probably because she had a few special abilities herself. “I wonder who on earth would be out on a night like this.”
Connie went to answer the door and Elayne moved to the archway her roommate had just vacated. A vague sense of leeriness crept up her spine and Elayne knew that she would be able to hear the conversation that took place at the door, but still remain unseen from her current location at the same time. Anonymity seemed essential at the moment, even though she wasn’t quite sure why. They had never had any trouble in the neighborhood, so she wasn’t worried about that, but there was a nag of something in the air that she couldn’t name and it had to do with whoever was standing at her door. Her powers of premonition weren’t that good, but she was able to tell that much.
“Can I help you?” Elayne heard Connie ask.
“Hi,” a friendly male voice answered over the din of the pouring rain. “My van broke down and I can’t get a signal in this storm. Is there anyway I could use your phone to call the rental place?”
“Sure,” Connie said hesitantly, but with a friendly tone. “Come in.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate it,” the man said as he stepped into the hall and Elayne heard the door shut. His voice sounds so familiar, she thought to herself, wondering who the man was.
“The phone is in there,” Connie instructed. As she heard the two approach, Elayne felt a crackle in the air around her, but didn’t know what it could mean.
She watched in complete surprise as Raoul Vasquez, the bass player of her favorite group, Middlemen, stepped through the doorway from the hall that led to the front door, his usual jaw length, dark hair hung in wet curls around his face and his clothes were soaked through as well. He was startled at first by Elayne’s unknown presence, but a beautiful smile soon spread on his lips in greeting. “Hi,” he said pleasantly before his tone turned dry for his next comment. “Nice night, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Elayne replied dumbfounded, not sure what else to say as she felt her mouth dry out. After all, here in her very own living room was a member of her favorite band and she was vaguely remembering how they were scheduled to be performing the next night in the nearby city of Lansing. What was any mature person supposed to say? Ohmigosh, it’s you. I love you…blah, blah, blah…
“Here you go,” Connie said as she handed Raoul the cordless telephone. He quickly thanked her again as he removed a business card from his jacket pocket and dialed. Within minutes he had relayed to the person on the other end that the rental van had just died for no apparent reason and wouldn’t start again.
“Thanks a lot,” Raoul said sincerely after he hung up and handed the receiver back to Connie. “We really appreciate it.”  He paused for a moment, then added, “I’m Raoul, by the way.”
The women smiled and Elayne finally gathered her wits enough to say, “I’m Elayne and this is Connie. You’re welcome to wait inside until someone gets here to look at it. It’s cold out there and you’re already soaked.” The natural caregiver in her also noted the fact that he had said ‘we’, even though he had come to the door alone. She wondered if the rest of the band or possibly members of the crew were waiting for Raoul to return with news of rescue. The temperature was only in the low forties outside and she couldn’t bear to think of him returning to a dead vehicle with no hope of heat.
Raoul smiled as he motioned his thumb in the direction of the door. “Thanks, but I should let the guys know that help is on the way.”
“You’re not alone?” Connie asked, apparently not catching his earlier comment. Her gaze immediately moved to the doorway with concern that mirrored Elaine’s at whoever might be out in the bad weather still. She was a humanitarian by nature as well and it killed her to know that someone was uncomfortable if there was some way that she could remedy the situation.
“No,” Raoul replied slowly as he shook his head and glanced at the two of them warily. “We were doing a sound check for the concert tomorrow night in Lansing and were going back to our hotel when the van broke down.”
It was obvious to Elayne and Connie that Raoul seemed a little anxious about letting the two of them know what the group’s activities were and his hesitancy was understandable considering who he was. It was a suspicion that both women understood had become part of the group’s lifestyle because of their stardom. It was sort of like a double agent kind of life when it came to the rich and famous.
“Well, we can’t let you guys stay out there in the cold rain,” Elayne stated matter of factly, her motherly instincts taking over. “I will not be responsible for you all getting sick and canceling the rest of your tour dates. Get out there and tell everyone to get inside where it’s warm. I’ll put some coffee on and we have plenty of towels for you all to dry off with.”
“Are you sure?” Raoul was clearly doubtful of the offer, but it was obvious that he didn’t want to go back out into the rainy night anymore than Connie or Elayne wanted him to.
“Of course we’re sure,” Connie told Raoul as she grabbed a couple of umbrellas from the hall closet and handed them to him. She was a small woman, only a few inches over five feet, but when she gave an order the person on the receiving end usually found themselves following it. Her friends always accredited it to the Italian half of her family, but she said that it was all about attitude. “I know that most of the damage has already been done, but this should help keep you all from getting much wetter.”
Raoul took the umbrellas gratefully with a warm smile, and then turned toward the door. “I’ll be right back with the rest of the guys then,” he promised as he stepped back out into the wet night.



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