“What were you planning on doing?” Casey’s voice rang through the front room as she folded her arms over her chest.
It was just before midnight and she should be in bed with her girlfriend but supernatural occurrences always took precedence despite the closed sign on the door. She hadn't gotten much sleep since she started her paranormal investigation service alongside her regular shift at Witchy Wares.
“I was obviously going to ignore it until it went away.” Jac said, side eyeing the front door.
“You were going to ignore satanic markings appearing on your body? How's that working out for you?” Ellia asked from the corner of the storefront. Her floral attire was blending in with the wall of dried herbs and ancient runes.
“I ended up coming here, so not as well as I had hoped.”
“In all the years I’ve known you, you still haven’t learned.” Casey went straight for the computer behind the checkout counter. After 20 years of friendship it was bothersome that Jac was still stubborn as ever, Casey blamed it on her being a Taurus.
“Learned what, to assume everything is supernatural in nature?”
Jac the ever non-believer was still same from when they last worked a case together. A ghost could slap her in the face and Jac would insist it was the wind.
“To believe in something. I mean jeez, this is some serious hocus pocus etched into your body.” Casey’s voice rose as she typed into the computer.
“I'm not exactly enjoying the huge satan worshipper tattoo carved into my back.”
“There's a surprise,” Ellia said unwilling to look away from her sketchbook.
“Oh ha ha ha, glad to see you haven't lost your wonderful sense of humor,” Jac said, wincing before taking a seat.
“Glad to see you haven't lost your bedside manner.”
“Okay! Okay…” She'd always been the practiced middleman between them especially after she and Ellia started dating. “The both of you, it's like we're back at Grantham House.”
While Ellia and Jac couldn’t agree on much they always agreed on the horrors of the Grantham House, no matter how many times Casey tried to spin the tale otherwise.
“Oh come on it wasn't that bad.”
Casey still thinks fondly on her first time meeting Ellia, while Jac can only remember the multiple head injuries. Ellia still has trouble with cases that involve possession.
“Okay, I found something.” Casey scanned through the information on a web page titled: Rituals Gone Wrong 101. Research was usually her favorite part of an investigation, but the more she scrolled the more her expression fell. “You aren't going to like it, Jac.”
“Well it can't be as bad as becoming a Satanist.”
“They probably wouldn't accept you anyway,” Ellia said with a shrug.
“To remove the mark three souls must come together in complete harmony,” Casey read aloud hoping to over talk their bickering.
“Okay, nevermind. I'll just convert and save us the trouble.” Jac’s answer to everything was if it doesn't make sense, leave it alone.
“Save us all the trouble,” Ellia said under her breath.
“Hey,” Casey said as she moved from behind the counter.
“Jac needs my help, just like everyone who comes to my shop. And if it were anyone else you’d have accepted that already.” Ellia had never openly agreed to be part of her business but she wasn't going to let some past history between them get in the way of helping a friend or a possible new discovery.
“I get there might be some unresolved issues, but now is not the time.”
Ellia might not like Jac but she respected Casey above all else. Ellia caught Jac’s gaze and frowned. Jac was hunched over with her arms across her midsection as if in more pain than before.
“Sorry,” Ellia said, sympathetic to the girl's situation.
Jac shrugged and glanced away. “Yeah, it's no problem. Let's just get a move on.”
Casey smiled at the successful interaction before continuing. “Okay, great. So from what I've read online it looks like the tattoo actually marks you as some great evil next in line, and the whole three souls thing obviously means three people, so… that's strange.” Casey leaned closer to the monitor, hoping the explanation she read wasn’t as backwards as it sounded.
“Can't be stranger than your profession,” Jac said, readjusting herself in an unsuccessful attempt to get comfortable.
“Haha, very funny.” Casey rolled her eyes before continuing. “Seriously, it says once harmony is achieved the mark should disappear. But it doesn't actually say how we're suppose to achieve harmony…”
“We?” Ellia asked, unaware of her sudden inclusion. “Casey.”
“Case I can't ask you to--I mean especially not,” Jac said, shifting in her seat before nodding to Ellia. “No offense.”
“Oh offense taken.”
“Alright, enough!” Casey exclaimed. Their issues were officially becoming a distraction and it was time to put an end to it. “My best friend is marked for uncertain evil and possibly death. I'm not going to stand by and do nothing. Ellia, you're welcome to help, but no more. Please.”
The minute Ellia opened her mouth to respond Jac cut her off with a yell.
“What's wrong?” Casey asked, heart racing. Jac was doubled over and all Casey could do was rub her back.
“I don't know.” Jac groaned and pulled her shirt over her head in hopes of finding relief. “My back just started to burn…”
Ellia’s face fell at a glimpse of the bloody tattoo spreading across Jac’s back. “I'll go get some bandages.”
“I think I'm fine, honestly--”
“I know it's in your nature to be as defiant as possible, but can you trust that I know what I'm doing?” Casey took a seat beside Jac, but she couldn’t look away from her nasty wound.
“Of course I trust you.”
The internet's explanation of “achieving harmony” was coming together right before Casey’s eyes. Jac’s markings had stopped growing the minute they stopped arguing. It’d been years since Jac had declared her feelings but with ritual tattoos looming Casey took a chance and leaned forward anyway.
She felt Jac gasp against her mouth the minute their lips touched. She probably should have explained beforehand.
“Oh,” Ellia's voice swept through the sound of kissing and they instantly pulled apart.
“Wait it's not what it looks like.” Casey rushed to her side. “I figured out how to cure Jac.”
“Sure, make it sound like I'm diseased.” Jac said, lips red and cheeks flush.
“I don't think an ancient evil can be defeated by making out, Casey.” Ellia said rolling her eye as she pulled her sweater closed.
“Every fairy tale ends in a kiss!” It was a weak connection but not far from the truth, and by the look of Jac’s back they were running out of time. “I realized when Jac’s tattoo was growing, it reacted whenever we were fighting with each other.”
“So?” Ellia and Jac asked in unison.
“When we were all fighting.”
“Oh no no no no.” Jac attempted to push herself from her seat, only to end up sitting back now. “I don't know about you Casey but I didn't just kiss you because of some outdated witchcraft.”
“I know!” Casey was at her side again, Jac’s pale skin growing red by the second but whether it was from pain or the kiss was uncertain. “That's what made me realize what the curse was referring.”
“Now it's a curse?” Ellia asked raising an eyebrow.
Casey shook her head, it was possible she could have just explained all this earlier. “I got confused when it mentioned love being the only way to come together but I know what I'm doing now.”
“That's reassuring,” Jac said unconvinced that nothing would go wrong. “Look, Case I don't know if I can go through with something like that.”
“It's either that or you're stuck being the next in line for hell on earth.” Which wouldn’t sound so bad if it didn’t involve so much enslavement of the han body and soul. Casey's been up and personal with body enslavement, it isn't pretty.
“I did always prefer the summer.”
“That's not funny, Jac.”
“Well what about Ellia, doesn't she get a say in all this?” Jac was hoping their mutual distaste for each other would win out against the battle of true love’s kiss.
“It’s a surprise anyone remembered I was here this time.” Ellia’s tone was anything but light.
“It's not like that Ellia.” Casey wanted nothing more than to convince her girlfriend how much she was needed. “You're really important for this to work.”
“Oh yeah, how so Case? Cause you seemed fine just moments ago,” Ellia's voice rose as she gestured to Jac.
Jac’s posture had changed drastically. Her arms were across her stomach and she looked uncomfortable in her own skin.
“Three souls Ellia, three people.” Casey urged.
Ellia shook her head before taking a step back “I don't think I can…” Everything was happening too fast.
“She doesn't have to Casey, we can't force her.” Jac’s voice was raw and weak, even on the brink of death she was still trying to be the bigger person.
Casey knew it was a lot of pressure, Ellia hadn't known Jac like she had and most of their interactions were forced. But she was hoping there would still be something there, between them. And as Casey watched Ellia rush forward capturing Jac’s face in her hands, she knew they’d never be the same again.
Because true love's kiss was a lot more complicated when it involved three lovers.