Journey of Souls
Standing in front of the closed door, Justine hoped she didn't look as ragged and exhausted as she felt. Her knock was tentative. She silently pleaded with all her heart that Patrick would answer the door, that he would be there. When she got no response, her heart breaking with each additional second that passed, she knocked again, this time more firmly. He had to be there. He just had to be.
From inside the room she heard a bump and then a loud curse in his masculine voice. Justine fluffed up her hair in a gesture known to women for thousands of generations and attempted to put on her most complacent smile. When she finally heard the lock being clicked back, her heart seemed to flip flop belying her cool self control. Watching the door knob turn so slowly almost destroyed her composure. Finally the door opened.
Patrick’s eyes stared at hers, dancing merrily. She realized with distressing regret that he was drunk, and still half dressed in his evening attire.
"Hey, baby." He stumbled to her and drunkenly pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly, cherishing her.
"I was sure that you hated me. I'm sorry, I really am, I should have told you about Liz, I just really didn't know how." Patrick’s words rolled out quickly, jumbled and slurred. Justine backed him into the room so she could close the door, guiding him to the large, unmade bed.
"I don't hate you, Patrick, but I do feel that you at least owe me the story." Truth, she had wanted to say truth, but in the light of his blinding sapphire eyes, it seemed too strong of a word.
With his arms still around her, Patrick collapsed onto the bed, pulling her down with him and laughing happily.
"Let's talk about it now, clear the air." His sour breath assaulted her face as she eased out of his arms and looked around the room to find the bottle of Jack Daniels sitting on his bedside table, uncapped and half empty. This confirmed that he was wasted. Justine was getting tired of dealing with drunks.
"No, Patrick, we’ll talk about it tomorrow, there is time." Her voice was warm and soothing to him. He stared at her, his eyes like identical hearts with her name painted across them. He eagerly ran his large hands swiftly up and down her petite shoulders, unsure of whether or not he was trying to give or receive comfort.
"Oh, you didn’t come here to talk then." He smiled his devious yet somehow distractedly charming smile and leaned in to steal a kiss. The sour taste of whiskey assaulted her tongue before she could respond either positively or negatively. His body covered hers as he grabbed at her breasts hungrily.
"Patrick," she said pushing him back gently, "You need some sleep. Just let me hold you tonight." He stared at her, dimwitted and hurt.
"Okay, Justine, we shall sleep. But you have to stay and hold me all night. I need you here now, I love you, Justine." And so she did stay. She watched his eyes close peacefully knowing that tomorrow both he and she would pay for the night's events. Him for the excessive drinking, her when she got the entire story on Liz.
Once his breathing had become regular, she stroked his head which lay at her breast and reached over to turn out the light before saying, "I love you too Patrick, I'm so afraid of it, but I love you too."
Justine woke up at eight A.M. and looked down at Patrick's still-sleeping face. Thinking quickly, she
ordered room service for him--strong coffee and a fresh pitcher of water with two aspirins. Gingerly, she crawled out of the bed making sure to cover him back up, before she kissed his forehead and exited the room quietly.
Back in her own room which was identical to his, Justine sat on the bed and sighed. She brushed back the need for a mental breakdown and noticed a single rose in a crystal vase sitting on the same round table that held the now empty bucket of ice. She hurried to the rose assuming Patrick had sent it to her but had forgotten to ask about it in his inebriated state. She sniffed the sweet red English rose deeply, before removing the small gift card attached to it with a lovely white ribbon.
Merry Meet Again, my Witch.
You came to my door last night, but did not knock.
I wonder why?
Find me, if you dare.
Before she even had time to contemplate the note, Justine’s phone was ringing. She rushed to it, expecting it to be Patrick with his grumpiness as rotten as the headache that he surely had. To her surprise it was a female's voice on the other end of the line.
"Justine, I hope I didn't wake you." The speaker paused, "Actually I wasn't sure to call your room or Patrick's." There was a little squeal of happiness on the other line.
"Who is this?" Justine's voice was harsh after the night she had experienced.
"Oh, I'm sorry, it's me, Claudia." Instantly Justine felt warm and sorry for the hardness in her voice.
"Oh. Hi, Claudia, how are you?"
"If you have the time, I'd love to have breakfast with you." Justine paused for a moment, instantly paranoid over Claudia's intentions since she was, after all close to Liz.
"Yes, I would like that. I need to jump in the shower. How about half an hour from now?"
"That would be perfect. I'll meet you downstairs in the Rose Garden Café in half an hour."
After agreeing with Claudia, Justine softly hung up the phone and rose to take a shower. She found herself wondering if working at Spectrum was always such a dramatic puzzle of interesting situations.
had arrived at the café before Justine and sat in the lovely rose
garden that looked out from the Cavalier Hotel onto the endless
"Thank you so much for coming, Justine."
Justine seated herself and smiled at Claudia. The look of warm friendliness on Claudia's face changed quickly to an earnest seriousness.
"I'd like to speak to you very honestly and openly on a couple of matters." Justine couldn't find the right words to reply to this information.
"Is that alright with you?" Claudia's voice still carried a somber tone and her eyes brimmed with insistence.
"I guess so." Justine sat up straight, her defenses instantly alert. She also felt somewhat hurt, having had friendly feelings for Claudia.
The laugh that rushed out of Claudia was nearly as startling to Justine as the somber tone had been.
"Justine, I like you. Please relax."
Justine unfolded her arms and forced herself to appear casual and not sit on the edge of her seat. She breathed in slowly.
A blonde god of a waiter appeared to take their drink orders. Knowing that coffee would not only bolster her courage but awaken her brain as well, Justine ordered a whole carafe.
The two women wistfully watched the buff waiter depart, both of them arrowing in on his posterior that looked like it had been sculpted by the gods themselves. Once he was out of site, Claudia quickly leaned in, placing her warm palm on top of Justine's hand.
"I spoke with Liz late last night. How is Patrick? For that matter, how are you?" Claudia's luminous green eyes sparkled with genuine concern as well as curiosity. Feeling tongue tied, Justine fought for simple words.
"He or we are fine," she managed to stumble out.
"Good, I'm glad. Liz feels like an ass, and so she should!" Claudia's words seemed to vibrate with the ups and downs of a roller coaster.
"I didn't know, Claudia, I had no idea, about her and Patrick, I mean." Justine paused when the waiter approached with the steaming coffee. After taking her first sip, she responded.
"Well, at least now, I know why she hates me." The bitter laugh that emitted from her own throat surprised Justine, and she quickly sipped more coffee realizing how tired she was.
"Oh, Liz doesn't hate you. She does hate Patrick, though. But then again, they say there is such a thin line between love and hate." The words tumbled easily out of Claudia’s mouth while Justine stared at her dumbfounded.
"But, honestly Justine, you're better for Patrick. I love Liz, I do, I don't always like her or understand her motives, but over the years she's sort of become like a daughter to me." Claudia took a healthy sip of her coffee. "But I'm not here to talk about Patrick or Liz, I'm here to talk about, well, me and you."
"Me and you?" Justine’s voice sounded as bewildered as her question she was sure.
"Well, yes, but not like that." Claudia laughed, patting Justine's hand again.
The waiter returned again, clearing his throat before smiling deliciously at Justine. The two women gave their orders and waited anxiously for the gorgeous blonde waiter to move on.
"What I mean, Justine, is your gift, your vision, the sight or sixth sense as some people call it. Call it what you will, it can be both a blessing and a curse. I know and understand this, because I have the same gift. I'd like to help you understand it and use it when needed, discard it when it becomes too much."
Claudia paused, watching Justine's reaction.
"Justine, don’t look as if you don't know what I'm talking about. Since your employment with Spectrum, your gift has been noticed, although I'm sure you've known about it for much longer than that. Since you were a child would be my guess.
Justine thought about how to word her response.
"Well, yes, I've been aware of it for quite some time, but lately it's like it's become huge and, well, at times like yesterday at Yorktown, unmanageable."
"First things first”, Claudia said with finality. “The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. That's just the simple laws of nature and energy. You may not even intentionally use it but say, for instance, when doing an investigation, you may instantly 'turn it on' without even being aware of it. It's as natural to you as breathing.” Justine stared at Claudia, finally feeling like at last there was someone who understood!
"Then, Justine, there are a few rules to follow with it.” Claudia continued, “Firstly, try to never use it in matters of the heart. I'm not speaking of the love you have for your parents, or friends. I'm speaking of the love you have for Patrick, or well any others who may come your way. And if you do use it in love, be prepared to be hurt. Love in all its facets is not always a beautifully wrapped present to hold. It can be negative and hurtful to know each and every thought your lover has. It's also unfair to them and rather unethical. Everyone deserves the right to free thinking. There is a boundary you should never cross, for your sake as well as the one you love."
The tempting aroma of the food sitting between them wafted on the summer air ignored, as the two women sat face to face, eyes locked in serious communication. Justine’s gaze switched to the sun-sparkled ocean waves while absorbing Claudia's words carefully. Claudia reached over and covered her hand softly again.
"Justine, I know it's hard, and a lot of it doesn't make sense—yet. But it will. Patrick is precognitive, for lack of a better word. A seer of the future, but he's not empathic like you are. Patrick could very well see the future of your relationship if he wanted to. Hopefully he has stronger ethics than that. There is a very strong, special magick between the two of you. Try to hold onto that, but understand like in all great loves, there will be trials." Claudia laughed when she saw the spooked look on Justine's face.
"I know, Justine, you're not totally sure if you love him yet, I know the answer to that, but I'm not going to tell you, you're going to have to figure that one out on your own."
Claudia finally sampled a bite of her eggs and smiled happily out in the warm air. Somehow, her bright energy always seemed to amaze Justine. There was something mystical, powerful about the woman that Justine couldn't seem to put her finger on, but knew existed and deeply admired.
Justine nervously took a sip of her coffee, the appearance of the wonderful food twisting knots in her stomach.
"There is another thing we should discuss, well, many actually, but this one is the most prominent at the moment," Claudia paused sipping some freshly squeezed orange juice.
"Conroy," she said simply.
"Conroy?" Justine asked, surprised.
"Oh yeah. I love Conroy Justine, in ways that he doesn't even realize. However, being that he is both a businessman and a scientist, there are a few things you need to be warned about. He will use your gift to suit the needs of Spectrum, not always keeping it in the best interest of you. He knows your gift, a man with his knowledge and experience in this field would have to be blind not to."
"But Conroy wouldn't.." Justine finally interrupted.
"Yes, he would Justine. He has, with me. I'm getting old, I don't take the risks I did when I was younger." She paused, her face serious with gravity. "If you ever feel placed in a position by Conroy, 'for the better of Spectrum' as he'll tell you, that you don't feel comfortable with, don't do it. Do not let him exploit you, because he will if you let him." Claudia, quickly glanced at her watch, and stood to go. Justine stood up too, her meal still left untouched.
"Justine, there are many more things we should discuss, but now is neither the time nor place. When we get back home after the conference, I want to take you somewhere safe and teach you how to use your gift, to shut and open it on whim. If you ever need to talk, please feel that you can come to me."
Claudia hastily dropped some money on the table, barely glancing at its amount, before she leaned in and held Justine tight. It was a hug Justine hadn't realized that she needed so much.
"Thank you," she said, before Claudia turned to walk away.