“You have to go back, Callie. You’re in real danger.”
Go back. Danger. For two days the words haunted her. Now she was on the road, the rhythmic sound of the tires on the highway putting her into a trance. Danger, danger, danger. The minute Aunt Mallory opened the letter with an Alabama postmark, everything changed.
She didn’t want to go back. Of all the nerve. She’d been exiled in New Jersey for seven years, and now Mom and Grandma Jo decided she must return at once.
Callie hit the gas pedal. The angrier she got, the faster she drove. What should have been a fourteen-hour drive due south, she’d cut to a mere ten hours. She’d never traveled so far on her own, and convincing Aunt Mallory to let her do it wasn’t easy. Especially since her old Volkswagen convertible, the ‘Dixie doodlebug,’ had over 150,000 miles.
Her heart skipped at the road sign, ‘Welcome to Alabama. The State of Surprises.’ No shit, Sherlock. Not even a mile away was another green and white sign proclaiming ‘Entering Central Time Zone.’ More like the twilight zone.
Callie’s tension eased a bit as she neared Piedmont, the small town bordering Georgia and surrounded by the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In the gathering dusk, the rolling hills had a magical, ancient vibe. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad here. It’s not like she had a choice anyway. Aunt Mallory made that clear. Mom and Grandma Jo had convinced her aunt she needed to come home where the coven could help protect her.
Callie rubbed her sore face. She’d clenched her jaw so long her temples throbbed. She consciously relaxed her facial muscles and rolled her shoulders. Much better.
The cell phone rang. Aunt Mallory again.
Callie smiled. “What? Are you going to call me every hundred miles?
“Smart aleck. Where are you now?”
“I’m about to enter the huge metropolis of Piedmont. According to its sign, the name literally means; ‘the foot of the mountain.’ Population: 4,964.”
“Great.” Aunt Mallory let out a whoosh. “I’ve been so worried about you falling asleep at the wheel. I still think you should have spent the night somewhere along the way. You remember how to get to Mama’s house?”
“Pretty much. The GPS can help me navigate the back roads if I get lost.”
“Call me if it doesn’t recognize the dirt roads.”
Callie rolled her eyes. “I know, I know.”
Aunt Mallory sighed. “Glad you’re almost there. Tell Mama and Ginnie I said ‘hey’ and call me when you arrive.”
Callie couldn’t speak around her tight throat. I’m really going to see them again. Silence haunted the air.