New Winslow S6E24
Andrew hummed softly along to the radio as he stocked the shelves at Forest Charms. It was a quiet morning and he was here alone, though Iris was on her way back soon. Luckily, there hadn’t been too many customers today and nearly all of those orders were going through the mail. The Christmas rush was long over and whatever had temporarily brought those heaps of college students here seemed to have died down as well. So they were back to their usual crowd of oddballs and people who traveled in for the thrill of getting their metaphysical supplies in the cursed town.
Andrew couldn’t help the disdain he’d felt the first time he’d heard someone talk along those lines, but he supposed that was their business. If they wanted to join him here under the curse, they could continue to play with fire. Then they could come to Forest Charms all the time, just like he did.
Of course he didn’t tell anyone that the curse had hit him. One, it was none of their business. Two, he didn’t want to become a sideshow for these people to gawk at. It was bad enough that they were excited by the concept, they didn’t need to have a living reminder of its veracity to talk to about it.
But luckily the only person to come in today had actually been Celine. She’d been here quickly, just to pick up a few supplies that she couldn’t get elsewhere without a long car ride. And she was absolutely swamped right now between the House of Pizza, her family, and Roman’s recovery. Not that she’d told him that, of course. But Andrew could see the lines around her eyes and he knew the sad smile she’d given him was in no way pitying about the fact that Roman was out and Andrew was stuck. But she’d gotten her supplies and left, leaving Andrew alone in the shop for hours.
It smelled nice in here these days though, a soothing blend of florals that he was tempted to replicate at home. And the books on the shelves had titles that intrigued him enough to pull them down and flip through. He had no actual plans of going any further with his magic than he had, but each time he’d thought that lately, he’d pulled more books back off the shelf to read during his downtime at the register. Today’s book was about herbal magic and he was doing his best not to bend it whenever he took peeks in between tasks.
Right now he was putting new products out on the shelves. This time it wasn’t crystals, though those seemed to go the fastest. No, these were jewelry. Lovely necklaces with small stones set into them. The price tags were decent, even with real stones. At least according to the packaging. But despite any issues he had with Iris’s work, she didn’t rip off her customers. Forget about them? Yes, all the time. But she never scammed anyone.
The bell above the shop door jingled, and he turned around to see Iris walking in. “Hi,” she said, sounding distracted in that way that made him nervous.
Last time she’d sounded like that, it had led to her poor advice getting Olivia possessed for a second time. And their friendship had barely survived it. So if she was distracted again, he needed to nip it now.
“What’s going on?” he asked, setting the box of jewelry down on the step stool beside him.
“Hmm?” Iris asked, going behind the counter and grabbing an old notebook from beneath it.
“The work you’re doing,” Andrew said. “Is this still about the missing pages from Harbinger’s book?”
She looked startled for a second and he didn’t bother resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “I was there too?” he reminded her.
“No, yes, of course you were,” she said. “Sorry, it’s just been a lot. Yeah, that’s what I’ve been working on. But a… a contact of mine said they’re underground.”
Excellent, exactly what they needed. “What do you mean, underground?” Andrew asked carefully.
“Just that,” Iris said. “And it confirms a feeling I had.”
She went to the other end of the counter, reached underneath, and pulled out a granola bar. “I don’t trust her,” she continued, “But her powers are strong and she likes showing off. She didn’t know what I was looking for, but she said it was underground.”
“And we’re just… believing her?”
Iris shrugged as she opened the granola bar. “I don’t know,” she said. “She says they’re underground, but she doesn’t know exactly what that means. It could be anything. A basement, a storage facility…”
Iris looked like she’d thought the same thing. “That too.”
“So what do we do?”
“Judith is looking through the archives still,” Iris said. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’re in the basement there. The library was a bust and so was Town Hall. I got into the Council’s meeting room, but was told by the same source that they aren’t in the basement, though I still want to check. My biggest fear is that they’re on Charles Baxter’s property.”
Andrew knew who it would be breaking into Baxter’s basement, so he almost hoped that they were in a grave somewhere. Not that that would be any better, but he supposed it was less likely that Iris would try to get him to rob a grave than to sneak into Baxter’s basement.
“Who is this source?” Andrew asked.
“I told you about Vivien, didn’t I?”
Ah, yes she certainly had. That day when he’d given her the ultimatum: tell him everything or he was gone. And based on what she’d told him about this Vivien character, he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of simply trusting her.
“What about on the property?” he asked.
“On the Alderidge property?”
Iris shook her head. “It’s a collapsed cellar hole,” she explained. “It’s basically filled in, even more so right now with the snow still on the ground. There’s nowhere to hide unless someone dug out a space. But I’m going to check there as well.”
“You’re going to stroll into a cellar hole on private property in the woods? Wait, who owns that property now?”
“The town,” Iris said. “And yeah. Last time I was there, I could feel the fire that had burned the building down. Maybe that vision was so strong because the papers are there.”
Maybe she was right. In that case, the solution would be easier than any of them anticipated. Not likely, since it never was. But maybe.
He couldn’t help the brief pang of guilt that even though he was all over Iris for not telling him things, he hadn’t been completely open with any of the others about what they were doing here. Of course he talked to them and updated them. But he hadn’t even told anyone about the Alderidges yet. Between Cleo’s family, Liv’s trauma, and Noah’s recovery, they already had so many things going on that it barely occurred to him that they may want to hear all the details. And despite that, every one of them was prioritizing getting him out of New Winslow, even if they didn’t have the time or ability to physically be at these meetings he’d been having for the past year.
Maybe he was a hypocrite getting mad at Iris for shutting him out still. But that didn’t make it less irritating. Though she’d actually answered his questions this time, so he’d take that for now.