The burn moved up her spine, picking across the skin of her shoulders and down to sit pins and needles in her fingers. Victoria clenched her jaw, waiting for her fingers to numb. Kevin looked at her across the library table, only his eyes visible over his laptop. “Vic?”
She snapped her book closed, stuffing it into her backpack with her notebook and cord. “I’ve got to go.” Kevin opened his mouth to say something. Victoria needed the grade, not him. She cut him off with a helpless gesture towards her phone, lighting up on the table. “It’s work. I’m so sorry.”
“Does your boss know you have a midterm tomorrow?”
She waved her hand, dismissing the question. The electric remnants of the summons lingered under her fingernails. “Sorry.” She said again and grabbed her phone. Victoria ignored his pitying look, she appreciated the sentiment but it didn’t help her at all.
The digital clock at the library’s exit read half past eleven, Victoria made it to her car at eleven forty five. It was only after she’d flicked on the headlights did she look down at the single text message waiting on her home screen.
It was only an address. Victoria sighed and started the engine.
Ten minutes later she pulled up to an old house blaring several different musical genres at once. She didn’t have to check the address again; this was exactly where Taylor would be. The rotting wood porch was packed with people. They spilled from the doors to congregate on the lawn in small packets of polo shirts and unseasonable crop tops. Cracked red cups already littered the patchy grass.
Victoria left her sedan double parked and half way onto the sidewalk. A few of the front yard party goers stared openly at her over-sized sweatshirt, legging, and running shoes. She ignored the sniggering and stalked purposefully towards the front door. Victoria was nearly inside when a second wave of prickling fire raced its way up her back. The pain left her skin tight and raw under her sweatshirt.
She growled deep in her throat and angrily fumbled for her phone with heavy fingers. The answer she was looking for took long enough for more stares to congeal around her. Finally Victoria’s phone buzzed and she asked someone where the upstairs bathroom was.
The bathroom tucked into the end of an upstairs hallway was locked. Victoria leaned into the door. “Taylor. It’s me.”
The seconds dragged by until the doorknob under her fingers clicked. Taylor looked up at Victoria from under her blond beachy waves of hair. “Took you forever.” Taylor drawled and leaned back to lie across the floor, her legs still crumpled awkwardly beneath her.
Victoria could smell vomit in the air but Taylor, as usual, looked eerily immaculate. “I was in the library.” She bent over to secure one of Taylor’s intricately looped wedges back on her feet. “I can’t believe you summoned me for this. Don’t you have a boyfriend who can do this?”
Taylor pointed a wavering finger at her from the floor. “This is your job.” The drunken girl said, enunciating each word with heavy syllables.
Victoria took a deep breath and held it for five seconds before she dared let it out. She could leave a job. Victoria could not leave Taylor lying drunk on a bathroom floor in frat row.
“Come on.” Victoria managed to get Taylor to her very wobbly feet.
Half hung over Victoria’s shoulder as they hobbled down the hall, Taylor leaned in and whispered into her ear. “Poor Vicky, You’ll get your revenge on me eventually I’m sure, don’t fault me for taking advantage while I have it.” Underneath the glassy inebriation, cold intelligence lurked in Taylor’s brown eyes. It was one of the reason’s Victoria had agreed to the bargain in the first place. Stupid people were boring, Taylor for all the brain cells she killed on these weekly binges, was interesting.
Taylor ran a finger across the back of Victoria’s sweatshirt, right over the binding tattoo.
Taylor’s touch was a electric, and it set Victoria’s skin twitching. She glared at the Summoner. “This isn’t what I had in mind when I entered your service.”
“That’s your fault. You serve me, and sometimes that includes picking up my drunk ass and taking me to Denny’s.” Taylor stumbled, forcing Victoria to catch her. Taylor giggled. “Its more fun than corrupting the innocent or sowing misfortune, isn’t it?”
Victoria smirked, feeling a bit like her old self. The stairs were difficult but she got Taylor to the landing and then to the porch. “Sometimes.Hell can surprise you.”
That got Taylor to wrinkle her nose. “You’d know I guess.”