Chapter twenty-six

Norman and I both looked over at my grandmother. While her emotions were closed off to me, I could see the pain crinkling around the edges of her eyes and also the sadness shining.

"Dear heavens," she whispered.

I was out of my chair in a blink of an eye and strolled over to her side being mindful of the broken pieces of porcelain all over the floor. "Grandma." Without hesitation, I placed my hand on her shoulder gently to comfort her.

The second my hand landed on her shoulder, I became overwhelmed with intense emotions ranging first from excited and anxious to scared and terror. From within the whiteness, I could hear distant voices but they were too muffled to make sense of.

Before it could go any further, something or someone shoved back. Instinct took over and I went to catch myself only I was so dizzy that my vision blurred and I slipped or tripped and landed heavily on the floor. I vaguely registered pain radiating from my hand, but I was too focused on getting my breathing under control to care about anything else.

"Weston!" a voice, that I was sure sounded like my grandmother, called me.

Suddenly, hands were touching me.

"Don't touch me!" I screamed. Out of reflex, I used my magic to push the intruder away from me.

I vaguely heard the thud. I would have helped had I been in the right state of mind, but I was too caught up in overwhelming turmoil.

"Weston!" shouted my grandmother. "Get a hold of yourself!"

A flash of fear shot through me. That tone. It sounded too much like my mother's condescending one. With that knowledge, a surge of guilt and shame sparked inside me, outweighing the panic and the other turmoiling emotions still rattling inside me. Gradually, I started coming back to myself. I lowered my hands that I hadn't been aware were on my head. I shot my eyes up to look at my grandmother. She was staring back at me with concern.

"I'm sorry," I whispered.

My grandmother knelt, pushing away the broken mug, and grabbed a hold of my hands before I could protest. Luckily, there were no sounds or emotions this time. "Sh. It's okay. Just breathe with me. In and out slowly," she commanded softly. "You are safe. I want you to listen to me and do exactly what I say."

"O-okay," I said shakingly.

"Good. I want you to list five things you can see."

I obeyed and listed each thing out loud. "I see you. I see the floor. I see the counter. I see the table. And I see the cabinets."

"Good. List four things you touch."

I looked at her. "I can touch your hands, the floor, the counter behind me, and my glasses."

"Three things you hear."

I listened. "The fan, our voices, and...the rain outside. Am I...?"

She shushed me. "Not right now. Let's keep going. List two things you can smell."

That was a little difficult. I closed my eyes and sniffed the air. "I smell your flowery perfume and the apple pie you made two days ago."

She giggled at that. "Nice. Now, what do you taste."

"Taste?" That was even more difficult. I licked my lips. "I taste something bitter yet sweet and tangy. Tea?"

She nodded. "Now, how are you feeling?"

Thinking about it, my breathing was better and my sight was no longer tunneling or starry. The ringing in my ears had also dimmed immensely. A calmness seeped into me and numbed my panic. I watched as my grandmother bought her hand up. A part of me wanted to flinch away, but I held still. She gently touched my head and ran her fingers through my hair. I couldn't help but turn my attention away. She shouldn't be doing this. I shouldn't be burdening her like this. She was an elder. Wasn't I supposed to be caring for her?

"I'm sorry," I managed to get out. I felt stupid and unbelievably weak.

"None of that," she said, sweetly. "Panic attacks happen to any of us."

"It was more than panic. I felt your emotions and heard things that I couldn't discern."

My grandmother sighed. "I figured that was what happened. I guess it's time I told you the truth."

"What truth?"

"These deaths aren't random. The person who is killing is going after people with magic. I don't know who it is. But, Weston, sweetheart, you shouldn't get more involved. If this person gets an inkling of your magic, they will go after you next. I don't want to lose you. You are my only grandchild."

I grabbed her arms gently. "Grandma, you won't lose me. As much as I want to back out of this, I can't. Jessica just died."

Her eyes widened. "Jessica? Oh, that poor girl. But... She has no magic that I'm aware of. Why go after her?"

Footsteps approached as a voice said, "I think I know."

Lifting my head, I saw Norman walking over with a manila folder in his arms. "I didn't mean to cause any distress."

I shook my head. "It wasn't you, Norman." I stood up and leaned a little against the counter. "My powers are off is all. I didn't hurt you, did I?"

Norman smiled. "No, you just knocked me on my a... Uh, bottom," he said.

A small smirk formed in the corner of my mouth at Norman not wanting to curse in front of my grandmother before I frowned. "I'm sorry."

"No need for that. Besides, it's hard to control magic sometimes, right?"

I nodded. "That it is. But I want to know what you meant."

"I think someone wanted to shut Jessica up or maybe she wasn't part of the plan, to begin with. I think she had information. The other deaths all happened at night and this one took place in broad daylight. I think someone either knows something and is trying to throw off the trail or..."

"Or this was done deliberately because Jessica knew something she shouldn't have."

"Exactly. I was also kind of hoping you could help me. I can't do anything with it with my talent. So..."

I felt my grandmother's anger through the contact she still had on my shoulder. "Are you kidding? Didn't you see what happened? He doesn't have control over this. I haven't given him proper training yet."

Norman's calm emotions had a spike of guilt in them. "I..."

I sighed. "I'll do it."

My grandmother looked at me like I had grown a second head. "Weston, no."

I firmly placed my hand on the counter to keep myself from falling due to my stupid legs feeling like jelly. I hated panic attacks. "I don't have much of a choice," I said with as much conviction as I could muster. "We have to prove my innocence and we have to stop her from hurting who knows who else."

"Weston, don't do this, sweetheart," my grandmother pleaded. "You just experienced an episode with me. You don't need to accidentally have another one."

"If I don't more people may turn up dead," I said. "Besides, we need to stop the person. She has killed four people. She needs to be put to justice."

Norman looked at me. "Weston, I... Mrs. Ruth is right. We can talk more about this later. I only meant to come by and tell you what I found."

"It's okay, Norman. I'm just worried. What if we don't have that much longer to figure this out? What if she attacks someone tonight? I don't have foresight, but..." I paused, thinking.

"But what?"

"I might know someone who can help us," I said.

Norman looked at me as confusion swirled around him before his emotions settled to calm and he smiled. "Maxwell. We can speak with Maxwell. He may know something." His smile widened. "I can finally ask him about my future."

"Norman, his powers might not work like that."

"If you are sure."

"I am." Truth be told, I wasn't. But this had to be done.

My grandmother sighed. "Fine, sweetheart. I won't stop you. But I want you both to sit down." Norman and I obeyed. She took a seat as well. "The reason these deaths are happening is from an event that took place years ago. You already figured out the photograph. I was there when it happened. At the time, I was part of a coven of witches and wizards to help make sure none of us got out of line. It was me, Thomas Bloomsdale, Natalie Johnson, and Julie Hunter?"

"Wait a second," interrupted Norman. "Natalie Johnson? That wasn't the little girl's name when I did my research."

My grandmother glared. "I'll get to that. No more interruptions, please."

Norman nodded. "Sorry, ma'am."

I nearly laughed at Norman's hurt puppy dog look. He wasn't used to my grandmother's tones.

"Now, where was I? Oh, right. The night of the movie shoot, Julie had invited me to, was supposed to be a marvelous night. We all gathered. Thomas was there because he owned the apartment complex. Unfortunately, Natalie couldn't be there. So, instead, she dropped off her daughter, Hayley, who was also Thomas's goddaughter. So, he had to watch her. They were allowed to be extras in the movie. I wish my gift had been foresight. Maybe I could have warned them. But my gift is not. I stood with the crowd. But as soon as they did the elevator scene, the brake line snapped. Everyone was scared."

I rubbed my hands. "So, that is why I heard screaming and felt panicked."

My grandmother nodded. "Yes."

Norman looked at me. "Are you going to be okay?"

I sighed. "Hopefully."

He then smiled that dopey grin of his. "Well, I am here for you. You aren't alone."

I managed a small smile before turning back to my grandmother. "There is one thing that is bothering me. If this event happened so long ago, why are deaths happening now?"

My grandmother shook her. "I have no idea."

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