Part IX http://www.deviantart.com/art/Keys-III-63716735, by Catherine-Elizabeth
Tuesday dawned clear and warm. She arrived at work an hour early, just to be safe and was well into her work as the other partners came in. That should reassure them, she thought as Felicity nodded at her when she passed by the door. She’d already been there three hours when Jason called.
“Lunch? One o’clock at Revise. The chef has chicken, fresh from some farm upstate.”
“Sure.” She grinned as she held her cell phone to her ear. She felt good. His call last night had put her in a good mood and her nausea had disappeared. “I have something to talk over with you.”
“Uh oh.” He laughed. “Bad news or worse news?”
“It’s not bad. Just something we need to discuss.” She briefly wondered what he’d think about going to her parent’s for Thanksgiving then pushed the thought away. She’d find out at lunch. “See you at one.”
“See ya.” He blew a kiss into the phone and clicked off.
She sighed and dropped her phone in her pocket. Ying wasn’t sure if he was ready to meet the parents but November was still weeks away. It would be fine, she decided, and went back to work.
At lunch, she was shown to a table, the waiter whisking the RESERVED sign away with a flourish. Jason arrived as the water glasses were being filled. “Sorry about that. A call came in just as I was leaving.”
Ying noticed him spin the watch on his wrist. She smiled at him, her usual warm glow returning, just like every time she saw him. “No worries. I just sat down.” She looked around. “Pretty fancy for lunch.”
“The chef is a high school buddy of mine. He was just hired here, a real coup for him since he’s only twenty-seven.”
“Good for him.” Ying sipped her water as the waiter placed menus on the table. “What’s the specialty here?”
The waiter nodded. “The chicken, madam. Organic, local, fresh chicken, roasted or grilled.”
She grinned across the table. “Sounds wonderful. I’d like it grilled and placed atop a salad, no onions please.”
He nodded. “And the gentleman?”
Jason handed the waiter the menu. “Roasted, and I’m starving so I’ll take the scalloped potatoes and the side salad. No onions for me either, I’m meeting a client later.”
“Very good, sir, madam.” He tucked the menus under his arm and left.
“So,” Jason took her hand across the table. “What’s the discussion.”
“Mother was quite cross at me Sunday night, I mentioned that yesterday. She wants us to come for Thanksgiving.” Ying held her breath. This was where guys usually started backing away.
“Fantastic! I’d love to.”
Ying blinked at the speed of his happy response. “Don’t you have family to visit?”
“They’ll understand.” He twisted the watch around again. “I’m looking forward to meeting the people responsible for the lovely young woman sitting across from me.”
Another wave of well-being flowed through her. “You will get everywhere flattering my parents like that. I warn you. Mother can be…demanding. But if she likes you, you’re in and never escaping. Trust me.”
Jason laughed. “I’ll take my chances.”
After meeting her client Ying was at her desk, making notes and organizing her thoughts on the best products for her. She absent-mindedly stroked the key she now wore as a necklace. The move made her nauseous, as usual. For a moment she wished it would give her the warm glow she got whenever she saw Jason. It sucked feeling sick so often. She stopped tapping her keyboard. Warm glow. She looked up at the far wall of her office. Every time she saw Jason. Every time he played with his watch. His antique watch.
She called Eleanor, skipping the pleasantries. “Your group have a watch artifact?”
After a short pause, Eleanor said, “Let me look.”
Ying could hear Eleanor pull down the ancient book and flip through the pages. “No. At least not that I can find at the moment. Why?”
Feeling more and more angry, Ying blurted, “Because I think Jason is using an artifact on me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Not totally.” Ying took a breath. Maybe she was just reading too much into it. “He said it’s a watch that’s been in his family. Every time he plays with it, I get a warm, loving glow.”
“Every time? Or just every time you notice it?”
Damn her for being so logical. “I don’t know.” Ying drummed her fingertips on the desk, furious that it could be that she was being manipulated into liking him. “I know it’s every time I notice. How can I be sure?”
“You could have him bring the watch in. Tell him you’d like to get it appraised.”
“If he knows it’s magic, he’s not going to show it to you. And even if I can get him to your shop, how would you know if it’s an actual artifact?”
“We have tests. But it’s up to you.” Her voice was eager. “We haven’t identified a new artifact in decades. It would be a feather in my cap to bring a new one in.”
Ying understood Eleanor’s enthusiasm. “I suppose it would. Is there some way to counteract the magic?”
“You don’t like being manipulated.”
“No. I don’t.”
“Usually not. I’ll do some research. Love artifacts are fairly common. I’ll let you know.”
“Fair enough. I’ll see if I can get him into the shop. We’ll work it out from there.”
“Excellent. Take care, Ying.”
“I will.” Ying clicked off. She had to think about how to get Jason to the shop.
End Part IX: 938 Words
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