At first she wanted advice on how to get an older man to leave her alone. She’d flirted with him at a bar, let him buy her drinks and cop a feel while he showed her how to play pool. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, but Casey was young, barely twenty-one, and not used to warding off unwanted advances.

I told her what I tell everyone, “Tell him the truth, Case. You’re not interested. If he doesn’t back off, then lie. How many times have you seen Hope and I pose as girlfriends?”

She laughed, “That last time, on your birthday, I thought the guy’s eyes were going to pop out of his head! I’m surprised he didn’t ask the two of you to have sex right there on the bar.”

“It worked, though, he left us alone and we got our free drinks.”

She took a deep breath, “Yeah, okay. I can do this.”

* * *

She grabbed me on the street a few weeks later. Her eyes were as wild as her untamed hair and her tone was strident. “Rowan, it didn’t work! I told him he wasn’t my type and he called me a tease and a whore!”

I laughed at the obvious oxymoron, but she didn’t get the joke.

“Roe, this isn’t funny. You have to help me. Can’t you, you know, banish him?”

I rolled my eyes. “Casey, just ’cause I changed the weather so your barbeque wasn’t rained out doesn’t mean magick is to be used carelessly. Remember what happened after that little favor?”

She frowned, “It’s rained on every single one of my days off work since then.” Her eyes brightened for a moment, “Can you do something to fix that?”

“No.” I replied firmly. “Power comes with a price and I warned you about it. Why don’t you talk to that cop friend of Aimee’s before resorting to magick.”

“Roe,” she used her best wheedling tone on me, but I knew all her tricks. “I know you can do something.”

“Casey, my abilities don’t exist to solve your problems. Figure it out yourself.” I walked away, my exasperation easy to read.

* * *

I ran into her outside work about a month later. I didn’t have to be an empath to know something was seriously wrong. Her eyes were sunken and haunted, her vivacious personality shrouded by fear.

“Casey, what happened?”

Her voice was plaintive, “I tried to take care of it myself, Rowan, I really did.”

“What did you do?”

“Remember that guy I was having trouble with? Some of the guys from work had a talk with him.”

There were few women in our workplace and the men often treated us like sisters. At times it was stifling, but at other times it was useful. “Did it help?”

“Oh yeah. He’d leave the bar if I went in with one of the guys or just ignore me if I was out with Aimee.”

“Sounds like you handled it well. What’s the problem?”

“Someone’s been following me and I’m afraid it’s him.” She sat down heavily on the steps outside the office.

“What do you mean following you?” I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach and I never ignored that feeling; it meant someone was in danger.

“A rusty old pick-up follows my car most nights.”

“Have you seen the driver?”

“It’s too dark and he doesn’t get close enough. It’s usually after I get off work or leave a bar. One night it followed me out to my aunt’s.”

Casey’s aunt lived along a narrow, twisty road with a ten foot drop into the ocean on one side and a mountain of loose shale on the other. Driving it in daylight was taking a chance, in the middle of the night it was insanity. Whoever was following Casey was up to no good.

“Did you talk to Aimee’s friend?”

“He couldn’t help. Until he commits an overtly hostile act the police can’t do anything.” The more she talked, the more I felt her fear.

Her wide brown eyes pleaded with me, “You’re my last hope. Can you do something now?”

I nodded, ideas stirring within me, “I can’t promise anything. You know there are often unforeseen consequences to magick but I’ll come up with something; visit me later.”

Relief poured over her, filling the places where fear once resided. I sighed and prayed to the Lady that she wasn’t pinning all her hopes on me. I had Power but how it manifested was seldom up to me.

* * *

I spent the afternoon creating a personalized talisman for Casey. When she arrived I was ready.

“So, here’s the plan. Hang this from your rearview mirror while I talk to your car for few minutes.” I handed her a dream catcher made of feathers, leather and crystals.

She raised her eyebrows in skepticism as she took it, “What are you doing?”

“The problem is he’s following your car so we’re going to make sure he doesn’t see it.”

“You’re going to make it invisible? That’s awesome!”

“Not invisible, only less noticeable. The problem is that your car’s very recognizable. If he doesn’t notice it then he can’t follow you.”

Casey shrugged and hung the amulet in the car while I ran my hands over the body of the vehicle, pulling energy from the Earth into me and molding it into the shape I wanted it to become before releasing it into the car. My Power laid in my ability to transform elemental energy but people liked to have something tangible to hold onto so I made trinkets. It didn’t hurt anyone, and if anything, helped me focus my energy on the task at hand.

I finished pouring Power into the car, confident in my work. No one with ill intent would notice Casey’s car. She’d be safe from her stalker.

* * *

Less than two weeks later she rushed into the office. She tossed the talisman down in front of me.“You have to break the spell!”

I looked up in puzzlement, “What happened? Didn’t it work?”

“Oh, it worked. I haven’t seen the pick-up since then but I’ve been in nearly half a dozen accidents. Yesterday a cop almost plowed into me while I was parked at a gas station! Parked! In board daylight. It’s like I’m invisible!”

I looked down at the talisman, looked up at her angry face and burst into laughter. Who knew there were so many people out there with ill intent in their hearts?

“What? What’s so funny?”

“There’s a cosmic lesson to be learned here.”

She frowned, “I don’t get it.”

Of course she didn’t and I didn’t explain it to her.