Getting close to wrapping up the preview of Meridian Chronicles: Keeper & The Soul Key.
The last chapter goes out at the end of this month.
Across the street from Tallulah's, Stephanie's bar was not open. Stephanie and the staff hustled around to get things prepared for the day. In the back, Stephanie was digging for a pen in her desk when she came across a photograph of herself, and Meridian took by one member of the staff before the car accident.
She sat back in her chair and examined the picture, recalling the evening's events. She noticed in the picture right above Meridian's head; a small white orb hovered. Stephanie looked closer at the picture, taking her nail and raking it across the orb. She left the desk and walked out into the bar area, where the photo was taken, and studied the picture and then back to the wall.
One of her staff took notice. "Stephanie, is everything all right?" Alexa asked with concern.
"No I am fine; look I need to run across the street to Tallulah's. I will be back later." Stephanie grabbed her purse, dropped the picture inside, and walked across the street.
"Stephanie, what brings you over? Tallulah is resting, is there anything I can do?" Esmra asked.
"Well I can talk to you; do you have a minute?" Stephanie asked in haste.
Esmra stepped back and said, "Sure come in, I can make us some tea."
The pair walked back into the kitchen where Stephanie took her seat and placed her purse on the table so she could dig out the picture. "I am sorry to barge in unannounced, but I have so many questions."
Esmra turned the burner on, "Questions about what?"
"Look at this picture, do you see anything odd?" Stephanie handed Esmra the photo as she seated herself at the table.
Esmra examined the picture and shrugged. "No, not, why?"
"Well, that last day we were at the hospital, they never allowed me to go into the room because there were too many in there at once, they wouldn't let me in. Remember?" Stephanie said.
Esmra nodded. "Yes, I remember, then Aiden passed away."
"Yes, but you all also told me that Meridian didn't make it either, that the state was taking her. Well, there was never a funeral for her, was there? Was Meridian's family found or contacted? I don't mean to be nosey or pushy. Everything with her was so odd. I loved her a lot and was glad to help. But things don't add up. Why didn't we have a service for her? Some staff asked me and I could not give an answer." Flustered, Stephanie stared at the picture.
Creaks in the staircase from Tallulah's footsteps interrupted the conversation, "I thought I heard voices." Tallulah remarked as she rubbed her eyes.
"I am sorry, did you get any rest?" Esmra asked.
Tallulah made her way in, yawning, her hair was frizzy and unkempt. "Oh, I did for about an hour. I feel better." Tallulah looked over to Stephanie. "So what brings you over?"
Esmra interrupted and took the picture from Stephanie and handed it over to Tallulah. "Stephanie brought this picture over and asked if I noticed anything unusual, and she had questions about why there wasn't a service for Meridian." Esmra and Tallulah locked eyes for a few seconds.
Tallulah cleared her throat and sat down at the table next to Stephanie while Esmra continued to get everyone a cup of tea. "Esmra, should we tell her?"
Stephanie said, "Tell me what?"
Esmra turned around to set down the teacups, shrugging her shoulders. "I can't see what it would hurt now."
Stephanie studied the faces of her friends in confusion. However, she remained patient for the information. Tallulah and Esmra spent several hours reciting to her how all things passed with Meridian and why there wasn't a human funeral service for her. As they recounted the incidents, there were times Stephanie struggled with the news and information shared with her, often staring in disbelief. However after some time to think things through and connect her times shared with Meridian, the many oddities that troubled her, now made more sense.
Stephanie had heard everything from Etheria to fairies right down to the demons at play. Tallulah raised an eyebrow and said, "Stephanie, now please keep this under your hat."
Stephanie nodded. "Of course, yes, I am sorry I didn't mean to pry, I couldn't understand, but it all makes sense now, especially that Meridian had to have a fake ID to get a job. So now what? Have these guides you talk about, have you heard from them?"
Esmra said, "No, but I think in time we will, it has been difficult with Tallulah. I can understand, she looks to Meridian as her daughter and she wants to know where she is."
Stephanie stood up from the table, "What do I tell everyone?"
Tallulah glanced upward, taking the last sip of her tea. "Just tell them we located Meridian's family, and they wished to have her returned home. Not a total lie, but it will keep people from thinking you are crazy." Tallulah winked and stood up to walk Stephanie out the door.
After Stephanie left, Tallulah closed the door and locked the house up while Esmra quickly went upstairs to grab the book she had been reading before Stephanie came over. When she made it downstairs, she rushed into the kitchen, "Hey, I want you to come back to the kitchen, I got a book to read on demon possession." Esmra said.
Tallulah drug her tired self-back into the kitchen with reserve watching Esmra flip through the pages of the book. "What in the world are you looking at that for?" Tallulah asked.
"You had a strange visitor here before Stephanie came over, it was a woman, she wore sunglasses and was looking for you. Her mannerisms were strange; she seemed to be casing the place claiming to be looking for you." Esmra said.
Tallulah peered over Esmra's shoulder while she pointed to the most recent chapter she read. "See here, look. Demons, they can take possession of humans who are open to it, but they do not always come through the human to make someone believe they were possessed. Not all possessions are like the ones we saw with Raina." Esmra said.
"Are you saying my latest visitor was possessed?" Tallulah asked with a smirk and a raised eyebrow, "We need dinner, you know. How about we get our minds off these things and do something normal?"
Esmra shut the book and took a deep breath. "Okay, but I want you to read this when you can. I understand in our world we can come across those people who may be a little different and you and I have always been ones to welcome any person from anywhere. We never let the things that most people judge others to sway us. But this was different. It wasn't what she looked like, how she was dressed, or anything like that. It was a feeling I got, and with the way things have become, I am worried is all."
Tallulah didn't verbally respond to Esmra, she glanced down at the book, turned a few pages and looked back up at Esmra before turning away to go into the pantry hunting for something for dinner. As she toggled through the many shelves in her pantry, her voice was muffled and barely audible. "Say no more, I will read it."
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