THE QUEUE to The Palace was longer than normal. It snaked all around the block, and Edda felt bad for all the poor girls in skimpy clothes standing there. They would, no doubt, have frostbites by the time they got indoors. She couldn’t think of anything she wanted so badly she would willingly stand in a long arse queue, in sub-zero temperatures no less, to get it. ‘Thank gods for small mercies,’ she muttered as she got out of the car. ‘At least Angel had the good sense to make a reservation for us.’
Normally, they would use the service entrance to get inside the club, but there was nothing normal about this night, Edda thought bitterly. Something was off, but what? ‘It’s not just the cold doing it, is it? I feel like I’m in a magnetic fucking minefield,’ she complained, ill at ease. She looked around for Angel, desperate for her calming presence. She knew her friend would have stalked off for one of her standard perimeter checks, and sure enough there she was.
Edda chuckled at the sight of Angel who was standing across the street. Looking for all the world as if she was just having a fag. Minding her own business. ‘Look at her going all Miss Marple on us again; proper scanning the queue for níðingr and other unstable elements,’ she mused. The bodyguard antics always made her laugh, but truth be told she was eternally grateful for everything her avenging Angel did to keep them safe. Without that support, Edda wouldn’t be caught dead at a place like this.
Checks complete, Angel flicked her cigarette butt into the snow. She turned around, gave Edda a reassuring smile and crossed the street in a few long strides. Linking their arms together, she frowned and looked deep into Edda’s eyes as if searching for something. “Hmm, my wilting flower, let’s get you inside,” she said, cocking her head towards the doors.
Like a woman on a mission, Angel lead them straight up to the club’s two stone-faced doormen, Jonas and Conny, whose faces lit up at the sight of their saucy colleague. “Hey boys!” she called out, battling her eyelashes and flashing them one of her more seductive smiles.
“Evening ladies,” they guys greeted her in unison, bowing their heads in mock deference. Conny was practically devouring Angel with his eyes and said something Edda couldn’t hear. Between the two bouncers, she felt as if she was being torn between two strong forces. One trying to draw her in and the other trying to push her as far away as possible.
“Angel maybe,” she heard Jonas cut in, “but Edda looks like she’s here for a wake. Are they already dead, or did she come here to off someone?” he asked as if she wasn’t even there. “I may have to take her aside and search her, you know,” he added and Conny guffawed, clearly thinking it was funny. “Gotta make sure she’s not carrying anything under that dress,” he went on, grabbing Edda by the hips. She froze on the spot, mortified.
At a speed that put both bulky bouncers to shame, Angel pulled Jonas away from her friend and slammed him against the wall. Sure, they were big guys, but Angel had speed, technique and endurance on her side. Jonas cackled nervously as her right forearm pressed against his windpipe, and her left hand had his balls in a vice grip. “You best keep your fucking hands off her,” she hissed, adding a little more pressure for added emphasis.
She stared daggers at him for a few long seconds, and then, for the benefit of their audience, she flashed him a positively angelic smile. Leaning in as if she was about to kiss him, she purred, “don’t worry, babes,” against his cold cheek. “You and I will have a nice little chat about this later. Just the two of us,” she winked. Jonas, whose cocky attitude had been wiped right off his face, said nothing. He reached for the left-hand door just as Conny reached for the right, and together they ushered the two friends inside as if they couldn’t get rid of them fast enough.
Edda walked inside trying her best to avoid looking into people’s eyes. She went straight for the coat check, handed in her jacket and headed for the ladies’ room in the foyer. She hurried inside an empty cubicle, locked the door and sank down on the toilet seat with her head between her knees. ‘Fuck me sideways, that was weird,’ she groaned. ‘We’ve known those guys for years and they’ve never pulled a stunt like that. What the Hel is going on?’
Something was definitely wrong. Her heart was beating hard against her ribcage and she had to force herself to take slow, steady breaths to keep the looming panic attack at bay. ‘I bloody well told her we should stay at home, but she never listens to me,’ Edda whined feeling like a cranky three-year-old again. And, of course, almost as if she’d been summoned, supermum Angel chose that moment to appear.
“Hey sweetling, do I have to break in again?” she joked, but Edda didn’t really pay attention to her. She felt like a magnet being pulled towards some people and pushed away from others, and she was almost certain it got worse when Jonas looked into her eyes.
‘You’d think a lifetime as a fucking weirdo would have prepared me for shit to get weird, but this… I felt like I knew his mind. Not like I could hear his thoughts or read his mind, but I knew his intentions. Please, don’t do this to me. Not tonight. Just tell me what’s happening!’
“Alright, my love,” Angel quipped as she effortlessly scaled the cubicle wall, ball gown pulled up over her hips. “This is our night off and we’re at work. We have a table and a bottle of bubbly waiting for us,” she said, perched on top of the thin wall. With a loud clack of her stilettos, she landed on the tiled floor and stood there for a while, head tilted, just looking at her chosen sister.
“You’ve been hiding something from me,” she said, softly brushing her thumb over Edda’s left cheek. “Come on, darling, give me your hand and let’s go find our table. You’ll be more comfortable sitting in the restaurant.” Angel unlocked the door, washed both their hands and escorted Edda to their seats.
Annica, their shift manager, had saved them a corner table that gave them a great view of the whole seating area. Edda still felt queasy, but she was relieved to see people would not be walking past their table while they were seated. Again, small mercies. She needed to take control of this situation if she wanted to make it home safe tonight. She had no wish to end up in the psych ward again.
Feeling the magnetic push increase again, Edda looked up to see or of her least favourite people walk up to them. Helen fucking Svensson. The girl who painted a target on Edda’s back in their teens and went out of her way to make their school years as miserable as possible. Great! Thankfully, she focused her attention on Angel and, while they were talking, Edda tried to see if she had been right about the eye contact.
Randomly looking over the restaurant, she managed to meet the eyes of a few people and sure enough. She did feel something. It was vague and impossible to describe, but she was pretty sure it was about intention. In fact, it was still there without eye contact, but somehow that signal, or whatever it was, was amplified when she could look them in their eyes. ‘Loki’s loops! Someone is dancing on my grave tonight,’ she said feeling her hackles rise.
Snapping fingers brought her back to the here and now, and she was surprised to find Angels raising a glass in a toast. “To us, my beloved sister, and to a new beginning. Cheers!”
“Cheers, love.” Edda had no idea when the bubbles had arrived or if they had ordered something, but it didn’t really matter. She was going to concentrate on Angel and try to forget about everything and everyone else. “How can you be as cute as a button and still be a backstabbing bloody bitch? It always baffled me how that sweet mouth could form such foul words and still people treated her like a princess.”
“Yes, but look at her now,” Angel laughed, “and look at you. Who is the Queen at the banquet and who is the serving girl? A shitty attitude may be cool in school, but it doesn’t open any doors in real life.”
“I’ve never wanted to be treated like a sodding queen, Angel, but a tiny bit of human decency would have been nice. You know I don’t hate people, but I do hate her. Not for what she did to me, but for all the people whose spirits she broke. I tried for years to find a single redeeming quality in her, but she had none. I even tried feeling sorry for her, thinking you must really be hurting to be that evil, but I just couldn’t. I fucking hate her! I wouldn’t even bother pissing on her to save her life if she was on fire and…” Her words trailed off as she could see Angel doing her level best not to burst out laughing.
“But of course,” Edda sighed, realising the push had increased again. Interesting. Apparently, she didn’t feel it as much while she was talking. “She’s back ain’t she?”
Eyes glittering, Angel flashed Helen fucking Svensson one of her sweetest smiles and motioned for her to step forward. As elegantly as you would expect in this restaurant, Helen served Angel and said something nice to her. Then, as if it was an afterthought, she plonked the other plate down in Edda’s general direction and walked off.
“Club sandwiches, the best Sundsvall has to offer,” Angel beamed. “Two bottles of bargain bubbles and two plates of sandwiches. My treat!” Her excitement was contagious as she hummed happily, adding condiments to her clubs. Meanwhile, Edda couldn’t help wondering what had been done to her own sandwiches. There was no way she could eat something Helen fucking Svensson had touched. Or spat on, more like.
She took another sip of bubbles and to her surprise, they were quite nice. Actually, all things considered, this was quite nice. Sure, she still felt off, but in this little corner, with bubbles on hand and a bubbly Angel happily talking about whatever…No wait, that did not sound particularly happy.
“Hang on, how did we go from happy sammiches to Hunter and Gunilla?” Edda asked perplexed. Hunter was Angel’s estranged husband and the love of her life. But he was also the knob head who had knocked up another woman, Gunilla, while Angel was carrying their daughter, Juicy. When his cheating arse was exposed, she took the baby and moved in with Edda. But she never divorced him. She refused to spend a penny on something that wasn’t her doing.
Making an effort to pay attention to Angel’s annoyance with Hunter’s (mis)handling of their holiday agreement, Edda forced herself to clear her mind and took another sip of bubbles.
‘Haakon Goþe.‘ Edda sprayed her bubbles all over the table in shock as the voice was back in her head after a week’s “radio silence.”
‘Haakon Goþe. King Haakon the good. The reason we moved the Jólablót back a month. That’s what you were asking me about, isn’t it?
‘Gods, Vanadís, that’s hardly the most important question I’ve asked you today. Where the Hel have you been?
‘It was the church of course. Haakon wanted to follow in his mate Æthelstan’s footsteps and turn Norway to Christianity. Taking Óðinn and the Wild Hunt out of the equation of course, and making it all about the birth of some Christian progeny instead.’
‘Typical. We’re happy to accept other gods and other traditions, but they are not ok with our gods and traditions. Why couldn’t we just have a birthday party in December and keep our Jól where it belonged? Midwinter in midwinter?’
‘I thought you said we had more important matters to discuss? And you’re right. We do. He’s coming, so you better play our stones right.’
‘Cards, Vanadís. We play cards not stones. Now, who’s coming? ‘And what…’
Waving her napkin like a white flag in front of Edda’s face, Angel interrupted their conversation. “You zoned out again. Listen, I know something is wrong. I know you’re hiding something from me. I love you and I forgive you, but tomorrow you’re going to put all the cards on the table and we’re going to deal with whatever this is. Ok?”
“I’m so sorry,” Edda began, but Angel was not having it.
“Nu-uh,” she said waving her finger. “Don’t. I don’t want any apologies, I just want us to fix it. Tomorrow. Tonight, we party. Ok?”
“Are you not going to eat your sandwich?”
“What do you think? It’s been compromised.”
Angel rolled her eyes, wrapped Edda’s sandwich in a napkin and stuffed it down her bag. She would never let food go to waste. She poured the last of the bubbles into their glasses and raised her glass. “Drink up, systra mi. It’s time for the dancing queens to hit the dance floor.”
Now it was Edda’s turn to roll her eyes. “I’ll try ok, but no promises. Something is really off tonight and I don’t know if I can handle it.”
It didn’t take her more than a few minutes to realise dancing was not on the cards for her. The music was l-o-u-d, the floor was packed and the magnetic field experience was off the charts. She was drowning in a barrage of emotions, intentions or whatever it was, and her fight or flight instincts kicked in with full force.
Hyperventilating, she ducked and weaved her way out of the dancefloor and fled down the stairs. The restaurant was closing, so she could not return to their table. She made her way down to the basement instead. It featured a laid back cocktail bar and a small live music scene, but Edda’s favourite feature was the L-shaped bar and the columns you could literally hide behind.
She wasn’t surprised to find the cocktail bar virtually empty as people were dancing in anticipation of the fireworks. With a sigh of relief, she made her way to the end of the bar and pulled a stool flush with the column. A pint of Guinness appeared in front of her and she was too anxious to even wonder where it came from. She needed to talk to Vanadís about this madness.
Taking a deep breath, she cleared her head again and called for her, but there was no response. Instead, she felt like she was walking across a field covered in mist. But the mist was made up of people’s feelings. It was eerily quiet, but far from peaceful. No words. No pictures. Not even a thought. Yet she could clearly felt grief, regret, guilt, pain, agony and shame. She felt despair, desperation and anxiety. Lust and love. Love and lust. Greed. Desire. Jealousy. Attraction. Some of it was in the past, she thought. Some of it was happening right now. And some, she was sure, was about future intention. What would be.
Suddenly, someone was tapping her arm. Confused, she realised the bar had filled up and a smiling Annica was holding a microphone in front of her face and pointing towards the small stage. Two guys she had never seen before was up there, one by the piano, the other sat with a guitar in his hands. Edda wished she could disappear into the mist in her head, but no such luck. She gave her boss a glare and hoped to the gods this wouldn’t hurt too badly. She hated being put on the spot and unrehearsed performances with unknown people were, by definition, being put on the spot. She should have known though.
When the piano guy started out with the intro to ABBA’s Happy New Year in her key, Edda closed her eyes and allowed the music to take over. Someone took her hand and pulled her to the stage. “May we all have our hopes our will to try, if we don’t we might as well lie down and die,” she sang. Ouch, that one hit home.
One song flowed into the next, each one in a perfect key and from the list of songs she would normally sing. The crowd was lovely and, although the push and pull were still there, she felt more in control of the situation. Until someone came up behind her.
A pair of arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her back against a hard chest. A nose nuzzled her neck and she felt teeth bite into the soft flesh. Then a dark voice.
“Mine. All mine.”
© 2021 Lïnnéa Lucifer. All rights reserved.
The right of Lïnnéa Lucifer to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publisher.
First published online in 2021 on www.aswewrite.com and on Wattpad.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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