Don't Hex with Texas

Page 5


I looked away, trying to think of something I could say to distract her, and noticed the side window with plastic sheeting taped to it. “Is that what happened last night that spooked your brother?” I asked.
“Yeah, it was the weirdest thing. I was on duty, and I went into the back right before midnight to check something, then when I got back out here, the window was gone.”
“Was anything stolen?”
“Not that I could tell. The computer, TV, and cash were all here. I called Ramesh over, and he sent me home. He didn’t want me working alone at night if stuff like that was going on, so he switched shifts with me.”
“I guess you had a bit of cleanup work to do.”
“That’s the weird thing—there wasn’t any glass. No rocks or bricks inside, either. It was like someone just took the glass out of the window. Isn’t that spooky?”
“Yeah.” She had no idea how spooky it was. I’d actually seen something like that happen once before. Owen had zapped the glass out of a window when the restaurant we were in caught on fire and the doorway got jammed with people trying to escape. Somehow, though, I doubted that was what happened here. Not only were there no magical people in this part of the world, but nothing was missing, so why would someone even bother? “You know, it was probably some senior class prank, part of a scavenger hunt,” I said to reassure her.
“You’re right, but don’t tell Ramesh. I hate working nights, so this new arrangement is fine with me.
Well, I hate working here, period, but until my dad enters the twenty-first century and lets me move away, or until some nice Indian boy drops by to take me away from all this—or until you agree to run away with me—I’m stuck.”
I was afraid she’d go back to nagging me about why I’d left New York, but she didn’t. We chatted about how much we hated our current jobs until it was time to force myself to head back to the store.
Sherri hadn’t waited for me to get back from lunch before taking her own lunch break, but Beth, Teddy’s wife, had come to my rescue, ringing up customers with a baby on her hip. She flashed me a smile as I squeezed past her to get to the office, then once I’d put my purse away, I took the baby off her hands. Babysitting sounded a lot more pleasant to me at the moment than dealing with the store.
“Thanks,” I said when the minor rush subsided. “I guess Sherri was hungry.”
She rolled her eyes. “That girl needs a keeper.”
“That girl needs a jailer.”
“Ted said to let you know that the Internet access should be working now. Frank will be here in a moment for the afternoon shift, Dean’s MIA, as usual, your dad’s making a delivery, and Ted’s off checking his test crops.”
“So everything’s about as under control as you can get around here.”
“Exactly. So go sit down and catch up on paperwork. I’ve got the register if you’ll watch Lucy.”
Lucy was teething, so she tended to eat paperwork, along with anything else that came anywhere near her mouth, but it still sounded like a good trade-off to me. It was hard to concentrate on the bookkeeping, though, when all I could think about was Nita’s missing window. When Owen did that spell, the window had returned a while later. I wondered if that would happen this time. And then I reminded myself that it couldn’t be magic. We didn’t have magic around here. I was immune to magic and I’d never seen anything magical being hidden from other people. I’d discovered during my parents’ visit to New York last Thanksgiving that I’d inherited my magical immunity from my mother, and in her whole life in Cobb she’d never noticed anything that made her think of magic.
That was one of the reasons I’d come here when I needed to get away. It was the last place where my magical problems were likely to follow me.
“Katie!” Beth called from the front. Her voice was a lot more pleasant than Sherri’s screech.
“Someone’s here to see you.” I got the impression from the teasing singsong of her voice that whoever was there was male and good-looking. My heart rate went bonkers, and I could practically feel the adrenaline rushing into my system. I kept an extra-tight grip on Lucy as I stood, for fear my suddenly rubbery limbs wouldn’t be able to hold her.
When I got out into the store, that surge of emotion deflated instantly. The man waiting to see me wasn’t dark-haired, blue-eyed, and just a little shorter than average. He was tall and blond, though he did have blue eyes. “Well, if it isn’t Miss Katie Chandler, come back home from the big city,” he drawled.