Home > Such a Witch

Such a Witch
Author: Celia Kyle

One

 

 

Aurora Rhonelle stood in front of her bedroom mirror, patting under her eyes. Were they puffy? They looked puffy to her.

In the wake of their very public engagement, her roommate Kelly Holloway and Kelly’s gargoyle mate, Ronun Fluevog, hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. And, thanks to their nocturnal celebrations, Aurora was willing to bet nobody else in the house had either. She certainly hadn’t.

Still, that was no reason she shouldn’t look her best. Stepping back, she admired the fitted, pink jacket and teal pencil skirt she was wearing. Swiveling so she could see the back, Aurora smiled to herself over the little darts she had added to make it hug her rump just a little bit more closely. Never one to go out of her way to call attention to her shape, she still took a bit of pride in her curves.

Smart, she thought. Looking very smart, indeed.

With that, she patted the pearls at her throat, tucked away a hair that was ever so slightly askew, and set off to meet the day. As soon as she was in the hallway, she could hear the good-natured laughter filtering up from the kitchen. Even with the very late night, everyone seemed to be up early and chipper.

The whole of Hollow House felt bright and welcoming—to the point where Aurora wondered if the house itself was enhancing the light streaming through its windows, just to give a little lift to the celebratory energy buzzing from the previous night’s excitement. The engagement, that is. Not the noisy, private celebration that followed. As a sentient house, it certainly had its fair share of quirks.

“All I can say is anybody who misses out on this party is gonna regret it for the rest of their fucking lives.” Kelly sat curled on Ronun’s lap at the kitchen table, looking every bit like she had been born there.

“Language,” Aurora said with her usual genial mildness as she walked into the kitchen. At her presence, the table expanded ever so slightly to make room for her. “I hope everyone slept well.”

“Small chance of that,” their other roommate, Tiffany Ufora, said shaking cereal into her bowl by the sink. She cut a sly glance over her shoulder, and Kelly descended into a fit of blushing giggles, digging her nose into Ronun’s shoulder.

“Sorry!”

“I’m not,” Ronun said through a contented grin. “If we’re keeping you up, you could just ask the house to soundproof your walls.”

“Huh,” Aurora said, getting the milk out for Tiffany. “I hadn’t thought of that.” She made her way to the counter and got out a bowl for herself, filling it with the sugar-free granola clusters she thrived on.

“You could try moving into the basement,” Nathan D’Orlock said. “I didn’t hear a thing.”

The resident vampire had emerged from his personal dungeon, shirtless as ever, and the world was a better place for it. The moment he emerged from the dark stairwell, the house slammed the heavy curtains across the windows, blocking all sunlight, and amping up the illumination from the overhead fixtures.

Kelly snickered. “Yeah, well, I’d say your attention was otherwise occupied.”

“Fair ’nuff,” he said with a smirk.

Nathan, Kelly, and Ronun shared a private laugh. Aurora looked at Tiffany, who just raised her eyebrows and settled herself at the table with a shrug. Nathan pitched himself into a chair and sprawled with the lazy ease of the eternally handsome.

Aurora had long since stopped being abashed by his perpetual partial nudity. At first, it had put her into a state of constant embarrassment, but that period had thankfully passed. Still, she couldn’t help stealing the odd glance at his chiseled torso, not to mention his leather-clad buns. Even if he wasn’t exactly her type, it was hard to argue that he wasn’t aesthetically pleasing.

“You’re looking sharp, Aurora,” Kelly said with genuine appreciation. “How do you do it every day? You must get up at five or something.”

Only then did Aurora notice that the rest of her roommates were still clad in their disheveled pajamas.

“I don’t get up at five,” she said, blowing on a fresh cup of coffee as though Kelly were being ridiculous. Of course, she wasn’t going to admit her alarm was set for five-fifteen. Aurora was usually showered, dressed and out the door before any of the household had even hit snooze for the first time.

“Well, whatever routine you’ve got, I want some pointers. You look amazing.”

“I like you just the way you are.” Ronun planted a kiss behind Kelly’s ear, earning him a delighted squeal.

“I’m serious! The gal has fashion sense out the wazoo, and clearly, the scratch to back it up. Maybe you could put in a word for me at the Judiciary. I could use a well-paying gig.”

“Most of it is thrifted, actually.” The words were out of her mouth in a flash, and she almost blushed at herself.

“You’re kidding,” Tiffany said as Aurora slid in beside her. “No way.”

Now that it was the focus of attention, Aurora had no choice but to soldier on and render her secrets. “It’s true. Careful thrifting and consignment shopping. I’ve got an eye for a bargain. Plus, I tailor things myself so it fits the way I want. It’s not that hard, really.”

“Damn.” Kelly’s jaw was slack. “Well, whatever you’re doing, keep it up!”

“I’ve always heard it said, ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you’re getting paid for.’ So, why not?” She blew on her coffee again and took a sip. “You should hear the rest of the junior investigators complaining about having to dress business casual. If it weren’t for the dress code, they’d all be in jeans and tee shirts.”

“Maybe you should campaign for that.” Nathan had that unreadable, cryptic look on his face again. “You’d really stand out then, huh?”

“Uh huh.” Aurora turned her attention to her breakfast, doing her best to keep his snark from getting under her skin.

“I’d say you’re not only dressing for it, babe.” Kelly leaned forward from Ronun’s lap and rapped twice on the table. “You’re working for it too. In early and out late? Is anybody else even there to notice the hours you’re putting in?”

“I like to think they notice.” Her voice was quiet. With all the excitement in the house, how was it possible that Aurora now found herself the center of the conversation? It wasn’t exactly a position she was comfortable with. Thankfully, Kelly’s flighty heart was ready to move on.

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