Chapter 1: An Interesting Tea
35 Portland Row, England
The girl knocked on the door, and waited outside the iron line, breathing steadily. I opened the door, and saw her. She was around two years older than me, with slick black hair and sparkling, deep brown eyes. So this was the new client. I welcomed her, shaking her hand firmly and ushering her to the door.
Inside stood the leader, my leader, of Lockwood and Company, Anthony Lockwood himself. His face was calm and welcoming as he stood up and said hello, but I could see confusion and sadness flitting across his face the split second he saw the girl.
I was the first to speak. “Hello there, please sit down, have some tea.” Lockwood simply nodded, falling back into his chair, one leg draped over the other, and his hands elegantly on his lap. I sat down as George Cubbins, my colleague, a chubby, sandy-blond haired boy, poured tea with a flourish. I picked up my cup, looking at the genuinely warm smile of the girl, who looked startlingly familiar. Our secretary, Holly Munro, had left early because of her ailing grandmother. She would be back in a few weeks.
“What are your talents?” Lockwood asked in a measured voice, but I could hear a little tremble in it. I’ve been learning to read people my whole life. I know what I’m talking about. And this, this wasn't normal for Anthony Lockwood, leader of Lockwood and Company.
“I have skills in Touch, but my primary expertise is Listening.” I looked at my hands.
“Would you look at that, Lucy, she has your Talent.” a mocking voice cut through. I shot a glance at the skull that sat in the kitchen, ghost jar abandoned.
We talked about her talent and where she learned for a while, all the usual. She passed the tests with flying colors, but as we sat down for tea again, Lockwood suddenly got up, as if pained by something. He walked calmly to the door, but something was clearly bothering him as he beckoned George and me to the kitchen. We hesitated, worried to leave the girl alone, but she nodded and gestured for us to go. We both looked back at her apologetically as they disappeared through the door.
She sat there awkwardly, sipping her tea, now colder, as we talked quietly together.
“George, Luce, I’m so sorry for this interruption.” he started.“But something has been nagging at me, as you may have noticed.”
“Oh, I noticed alright,” George drawled. “You were fidgeting, Lockwood. I’d never seen you this jumpy with a client, for god’s sake.” I nodded when Lockwood looked at me for confirmation, turning my eyebrows downwards apologetically.
“You did act pretty out of character, Lockwood,” I spoke honestly, and he took a breath. George and I waited for him to say something.
“She looks like my sister,” he said in one breath. George and I just looked at him. "What?"
''Well, Lockwood," George said acidly, "Your sister died years ago! You said so yourself!"
"That I did, George," Lockwood reiterated calmly. "She did die, and I did see her, but I can't ignore the facts. And, the fact is, she looks like my sister."
"But—" George started again before I shoved him. "Ow!" I put a finger to my lips. The girl was fidgeting, looking around, and we didn't have the time to argue while a client was here. I expressed it to the boys as such. Lockwood just nodded, and I hid my surprise as we all turned back to the doorway. Even the skull bit back a snarky comment as we walked back to the girl, whose name, I reflected, we had not asked yet. I broke the silence one more time.
“It can’t be…”
We walked through the kitchen door with fear and confusion. The girl stood up. Lockwood maintained a steady tone of voice as he spoke, but his pale face was paler, and his slender fingers tapped on the armrest of the chair as he draped his legs over it casually.
“I’m sorry for the interruption, please, everyone, sit down,” he said. Everyone sat down. The girl put her cup down with a clatter as they all looked at her in awkward silence.
“Well,” George said, picking up his tea, that had grown cold, to no-one's surprise. I could tell he was trying to fill the silence. “What’s your name?”
The girl paused for a time, then replied in a small voice. “My name… is Jessica.”
Chapter 2: A Confusing Conversation
READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING!!!!
Hey, my little freelancers.
I wanted you to know that I am so happy that this story is getting support, but I had a problem.
My best friend tried to kill herself.
She's refusing treatment for her clinical depression.
I'm staging an intervention.
I can thankfully give you a time before I leave.
I am going to try to keep our next update soon.
As soon as I can, I promise.
I am not giving up on this story.
The next update, either on this situation or this story, will be on the 13th of June.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lockwood only widened his eyes, while George and I had a competition to see who’s jaw dropped the lowest. George won. Lockwood spoke again, in a softer, more sweet tone.
“What’s your surname? Jessica as in…” he trailed off.
“Just… Jessica,” she said. “I can’t remember my real last name, and I don’t like to be called Jessica Fittes, but—”
“Fittes, as in Mariss— sorry, Penelope Fittes?”
She nodded. Suddenly, the ghost of the skull piped up.
“It’s definitely not her biological daughter. She doesn’t carry the taint of the Other Side."
Lockwood glanced at me. I knew he could sense the skull just as well as I could, though he couldn't hear it. I resolved to give him a sharp look so he could focus. He poor girl looked at us, and I noticed acutely that her hands were trembling, the saucer and teacup creating a quiet clatter. I reached over to slip her hands into mine, and she looked up at me with wide eyes that I only recognized as Lockwood's.
"Don't worry," I soothed the frightened girl. I understood her stress, I had felt it in this very room. "If you need a moment, we can give it to you. We're just jumpy from the Type 2 we had to deal with last night." I pulled a face. "It was making this at us as it ran down the stairs."
The girl gave a little laugh, with an upward quirk of her lips, and Lockwood did the same. As I looked between them both, the only difference was the longer hair of Jessica. I shoved my unease down with difficulty, forcing my face into a bright smile, hoping it didn't look pained.
"Well, we will decide." George said quietly. "Stay here." He didn't bother to keep the ice out of his tone as he got up, Lockwood quietly gliding behind him. The girl's frightened demeanour returned, but I gave her a comforting smile, and she softened.
"You passed with flying colours, Jessica." I whispered with a wink, and her eyes filled with what I could only describe as hope. "I'll be sure to put a word in."
Sorry if this makes you mad. It's a short chapter. But I had to give you something.
Feel free to ravage me in the comments.
See you next month, my little freelancers!
I love you all with my broken heart,
Chapter 3: Just An Interruption
Hey, my little freelancers.
Not an update on this story, sorry.
But an update on the situation.
Hey, my little freelancers!
An optimistic update on my situation, but no update. An update DATE, though!
I'm really sorry to the readers who are annoyed by this mild... hiatus?
It's gonna be awhile till I post anything. Leaving for... LONDON!
Exactly where my favorite book series is based!
I wish I could post, but my laptop is kind of not allowed to come.
Anyway. The situation. Um. It... worked?
The intervention was staged by me and a few friends, along with her parents, of course.
As a sort of apology, I'm going to give you a story form of it. Feel free to ravage me about the tea being spilled, I love constructive criticism!
The people involved:
Belle: the victim.
Sophia: an angel (also my support)
Manny: the comfort (she didn't want her real name on here, so her pet name is.)
Belle's parents: Belle's parents.
Let's get to it!
Belle: What are you all doing here? [We're sitting in a Ben & Jerry's]
Kather: Hey, Bellie.
Belle: [smiles] Kat, what's going on?
[I had a script, but everything left my head. I blanked out.]
Kather: Um. I know you don't want to bring this up, but...
Belle: Oh. I see what this is.
Kather: No, Belle, I... pleas—
Belle: Chill. I know what this is. It's about my suicide attempt, isn't it?
[All of us stare into our ice cream cups. Belle has always been the straightforward kind of person.]
Kather: Well, then you know that we love you.
Sophia: We need you to talk to us, B.
Manny: We care. If you aren't doing this for yourself, do it for us.
Belle's Dad: Please, Belle. I need you to stop this.
[Now it's Belle's turn to look into her cup. She looks up with determination.]
Belle: Guys. You are all. So. Fucking. Stupid.
Belle's Mom: What? Language!
Belle: I was so scared, Kat, 'Fia, Manny.
Belle: I'm never doing that again.
Belle's Mom: Then take the medication, sweetheart!
Belle's Dad: Karen...[Belle's Mom's fake name]
[Sophia envelops Belle in a hug as she cries tears of anger. I knew she was against taking the medicine. She never wanted to look sick. It makes her feel weak.]
The rest of it was yelling and hugging and I don't know how the B&J employees didn't kick us out right then and there, but she eventually gave in. All of us were crying, except maybe Belle's dad, but still, I knew he was shaken up as well. Well, the most important thing.
So we all broke out into full sobs, as the rest of the people in that run down ice-cream store left, but this time they were sobs of thanks
Next Chapter will come somewhere in late August.