New Winslow S6E13
Celine Beckett’s voice was so quiet that Iris almost didn’t hear her as she was counting inventory at the far end of Forest Charms. But then she turned around from the shelf she was stocking and Celine was standing almost close enough to touch. Iris jumped, gasped, and nearly knocked down the jewelry display.
“Celine, hi!” she said breathlessly. “Um, how are you?”
“I need to talk to you when you have a minute.”
Iris looked around the empty store. There had been two customers today and Andrew was off, so it had been a slower day than she’d had in weeks. Hopefully because of the snow falling outside, not because her business was doomed. “I’m free right now,” she said.
Celine nodded, and Iris led her toward the counter with growing dread. “I’ve got some seats out back,” she said. “Do you want one?”
“I’m fine,” Celine said, glancing around the store.
Iris waited as Celine looked around in a way that she knew went far beyond physical vision and sent a wave of pure envy through Iris. Then, satisfied, Celine leaned in closer.
“I can’t figure it out.”
Iris waited again, sure she’d missed something. But Celine just shook her head. “I’ve been watching the room at the hospital to see if something is lingering. Nothing is. I’ve been doing every search spell I know. I’ve searched our entire house and store. But I don’t know how Roman got out of New Winslow.”
Shit, how had Iris not even considered that was what Celine wanted to discuss? It wasn’t like the thought hadn’t tugged at her ever since Andrew called to tell her what had happened.
“Do you think something else was involved?” Iris asked, awkwardly trying to move back into a professional mindset after bracing herself for a lecture.
“It has to be,” Celine said. “He doesn’t have any magic in him, God love him. And it’s not something he’s studied outside of the curse. I looked at all the books he downloaded and none of them are dark magic. Half of them are bullshit, but none of them are demonic. And he swears that he didn’t make any deals to get out. I believe him, but if none of us did it, then something else has to be involved and I don’t know what their aim is.”
“I know the rituals he was trying on his own,” Iris said. “Most of them were ones that we found during research and either set aside or hadn’t gotten to yet.”
“One was blood magic,” Celine said.
“Oh, that one,” Iris said with an eye roll she knew was inappropriate for the conversation. “That was a mess. But it wasn’t a summoning.”
She saw a bit of tension leave Celine’s shoulders at that. “You’re sure?” Celine asked.
She remembered that spell all too well and laid out the details for Celine as she scribbled them down on a piece of paper. Things had been so terrible since Iris fucked up with Olivia that the genuine smile Celine gave her was nearly shocking. “Thank you,” Celine said. “I still need to find out what happened, the sooner the better. But I was terrified something was going to come to collect.”
“Unless he found something and didn’t tell any of us, it’s nothing like that,” Iris said.
“Thank you, Iris.”
She was still scared of Celine, that was never going away. The gentle pizza shop owner and mother of three things aside, Iris could never quite gauge the extent of Celine’s abilities.
“How’s Roman?” she asked.
“Better,” Celine said. “They want to release him tomorrow.”
“He’s not coming home, right?”
“No,” Celine said quickly. “No, we can’t risk that, not yet. He’s going to stay at the Countess.”
“It’s a good place.”
“It’s always fascinated me, but I don’t really know it,” Celine admitted. “But it’s close, so we’d rather keep him there so me and the kids can see him.”
“The couple who run it are good people,” Iris said. “They’ll be able to help.”
“You know my father managed a few hotels?” Celine asked suddenly.
Iris looked at her, a little unsure where Celine was going with that. “He’s retired now, but I thought about doing it too,” Celine continued, gently brushing the tip of a succulent that was on the glass countertop. “I was a grad student when I came here to help Dr. Jennings investigate the curse, but I was seriously considering dropping the program and going into hospitality. Then I met Roman and he couldn’t leave, so I decided to stay. But it’s always been at the back of my mind, somewhere, you know?”
She cleared her throat and looked around the shop. “Oh, well, maybe in another life,” she said with a self-conscious laugh. “I should go. You’ll tell me if you hear anything?”
“Of course,” Iris promised.
With a tight smile, Celine left. The bell on the door jingled behind her, breaking the silence as Iris stood alone in her shop again.