The Worry Curse, Part Twenty

Simmy curled his long-nailed fingers around the chain at her neck. The fiery metal burned against her skin as he drew the amulet out. "What do you want with it?" Laina pressed the chain against her chest and recoiled. He let it slip from his grasp and slowly lifted his gaze to…

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The Worry Curse, Part Nineteen

The echo of Laina's steps grew louder as she ventured farther into the alley. The chill intensified, as did smells of urine mingled with traces of cheap rum. She pulled her scarf over the lower half of her face. Layered graffiti webbed the building walls to her right and left with an…

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The Worry Curse, Part Eighteen

The bus wheeze-squeaked its departure as soon as Laina's boot heel hit the curb. Graffiti tattooed the dingy bodies of buildings and passers-by alike. Half-dressed toddlers screamed from the hips of terse-lipped teenagers. A frigid breeze whipped a fringe of ragged towels and stained clothing on the firescapes. Shoes dangled from their…

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The Worry Curse, Part Seventeen

"Thanks for the ride." Laina entered her apartment and turned to face Rory. "Goodnight." "You sure you don't want me to stay a while?" The starched collar of his indigo shirt gave a faint rustle as he leaned against the inner frame of the doorway. The scent of his musky-pine cologne…

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The Worry Curse, Part Sixteen

Laina stirred her float and studied its milky spirals. Greasy aromas flooded the diner, so she could almost taste the burger she ordered--she glanced at her watch--twenty minutes ago. "Got another date later?" Rory asked. "Huh?" She looked up from the entrancing eddies of her root beer. He propped his elbows…

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The Worry Curse, Part Fifteen

"Don't be afraid." The detective laid his hand on her shoulder as a door opened in the adjacent room. Beyond a pane of smoky glass, a troop of surly men marched onto a platform. Laina slid her icy fingertips inside her collar and itched under the medallion chain. "Like we told…

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The Worry Curse, Part Fourteen

At the right of the doorway, a fountain gurgled over an iron spire. Ornate moldings with gilded leaves framed a second door. At the cherry desk guarding it, a gaunt woman peered over her bifocals. Lines deepened around her lips as she spoke. "Go on in. Do not impose upon our…

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The Worry Curse, Part Thirteen

Laina slung her purse under her desk and grinned at her watch--two minutes early. As she pulled back her chair, a sticky note fluttered off the back and drifted onto the seat. As she turned it over, her smile wilted. Please meet me in my office at 9 AM - M.…

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The Worry Curse, Part Ten

A rusty blue hatchback hugged the curb near the sidewalk waste bin. Arden withdrew his key and unlocked its passenger door. "Say hello to my girl, Bessie." "No remote key fob?" Laina chuckled. "Funny." He held open the door, patting the top of the frame. "Talk nice to my car, now. She's…

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The Worry Curse, Part Nine

Cool sips of water trickled through her constricted gullet, easing her garbled voice. "Thanks. I don't think the police escort would've offered me a chance to decompress. I don't want to keep you late. You'll probably have to be at your office early in the morning." "No problem. My work day…

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