Chapter 9 Part 4
She was glad when practice was finally over. She found that she was dreading meeting Christian less than she was dreading Monday’s practice. It was a sunny November day and unseasonably warm. Paivi decided to walk downtown—it was easier than trying to explain to her parents who she was meeting. She didn’t want to tell a complete lie, so she told her mother that she was meeting Michaela at Al’s Café. It was the right place, just not the right person. Besides, she didn’t mind walking when it was so nice out. She felt a bit cagey and figured some fresh air would do the trick.
As she walked through the neighborhood, she looked at the houses as she passed. Every house looked slightly different, one story, two stories, red, brown. Most were neat and tidy. Some were a bit run down and looked out of place.
As she turned on to Grove Street she stopped in front of a large Victorian house. It was known as the Butterman Mansion and it was by far Paivi’s favorite house in all of St. Andrew. The imposing three-story mansion sat in a large garden surrounded by an ornate wrought iron fence. The house had been expertly painted in shades of purple and blue, accenting the delicate woodwork that made it resemble a gingerbread house. With a sigh, she crossed over a busy street into St. Andrew’s downtown.
Al’s Café was located in an old two-story brick building that dated from 1871. It was located in St. Andrew’s historic downtown and overlooked the Fox River. Paivi opened the heavy wooden door and heard a jingle. The girl standing behind the register looked up from a magazine she was reading.
“Hi! Welcome to Al’s. How many?” she asked with a smile.
“Hi, I’m meeting a friend.” Paivi paused as she scanned the downstairs dining room. There were a few couples sitting at the tables, but no Christian.
“Blond guy?” asked the girl.
“He’s upstairs.” She pointed to a staircase to the left.
“Thanks!” Paivi went around a corner and headed up a wide wooden staircase. As she entered the room, she could see Christian sitting at a table next to the fireplace and in front of one of the large windows. The room was large and airy with high ceilings framed by elaborate wood trim. A fire crackled in the stone fireplace, throwing shadows along the walls.
Aside from Christian, the room was nearly empty except for a table of three very loud middle-aged ladies sitting at the far end of the room and one very bored looking waitress.
Christian glanced up from the menu he was looking at, his face brightening.
“Hi!” he said. “Did someone mug you on the way over? Those are some nice black eyes.”
“Funny.” She took off her coat, hanging it on the back of the chair. “It’s from practice. Apparently my teammates don’t like me very much. Well, one, anyways.”
Paivi had been too embarrassed to tell her parents about the incident with Leyla. She figured getting her parents involved wouldn’t make the girls on the team like her any better.
“Really?” He raised an eyebrow. “Which teammate in particular?”
“Right, like you’re really interested. What are you going to do, leave her a nasty message in her green beans?” she snapped.
“Look, I know we’ve started off on the wrong foot,” he began.
“You think?” She leaned back, folding her arms across her chest and narrowing her black eyes.
“I want to make it up to you. If you tell me her name, I’ll make sure that after Monday, she won’t bother you again and everyone on the team will be nice.”
“I want to know what you’re going to do, first. I don’t want this getting any worse.” She touched her nose gingerly. “I don’t need any more black eyes.”
“Can you just trust me?”
“Um, so far, no,” Paivi replied.
“If I can do this though, then maybe you can trust me?” He played with his silverware.
“Maybe. A little. But why won’t you tell me anything?” She sat back, folding her arms over her chest
“Let’s just say, I have ways of taking care of it, and no one will know but me and this other person. In order to do that, however, I would need a name.”
The waitress approached the table, pen and pad in hand.
“What can I get for you?” She tapped her pen on the pad.
“I’ll have an Oreo shake please,” answered Paivi, without looking at the menu. It’s what she always ordered at Al’s, they were famous for their shakes.
Christian ordered a cheeseburger and a chocolate shake. The waitress headed off to put in their orders.
“So, are you going to give me her name?” Christian asked.
“Alright, Leyla Bianchi. She’s a junior,” she answered, fiddling with her napkin. She had mixed feelings about this. She wanted Leyla to leave her alone, but she wasn’t sure she wanted Christian to feel like he had won her over.
“I’ll take care of her on Monday. I know who she is and it won’t be a problem. By practice everything should be fine.” Christian was visibly pleased with himself, smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Paivi felt a little uncomfortable.
“Uh, thanks?” It sounded more like a question.
There was a loud burst of cackles from the table with the three ladies. Paivi jumped a little, she’d forgotten they were there.
“Now, I have a favor to ask you,” Christian began. “I need you to tell me who is going to win the big football game next weekend between Chicago and Green Bay, and the exact score.”
Paivi looked at him with a confused look on her face.
“What? How am I supposed to do that?”
He looked at her, raising an eyebrow.
“Okay, okay, I get why you asked me, but I can’t do that. I’ve never had any dreams about that kind of stuff. I mostly have dreams about myself, or family and friends,” she explained.
Christian looked up as the waitress approached, carrying their shakes and his cheeseburger.
“Here you go, Oreo shake.” The waitress set the tall glass and metal tumbler carrying the freshly mixed shake in front of her. “Cheeseburger and chocolate shake. Enjoy!”
Paivi didn’t waste any time digging in.
“So, let me guess, you’ve never really used your ability before?” he asked, taking a bite of his cheeseburger.
“Used it? I’ve just seen lots of things. They just come to me,” she answered through a spoonful of Oreo shake.
“Exactly. No one has ever taught you to use your ability though.” Christian popped a french fry into his mouth. “I’ve met other people like you. They could just turn it on and off. So try that and see if you can find out about next weekend’s game.”
“Okay Mr. Know-It-All, how do I even begin to do that?” Her spoon was paused mid-way from the cup to her mouth. “And why aren’t you asking these other people to do this for you?”
A shadow passed across his face, and Christian met Paivi’s gaze across the table.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” He looked away and continued. “Anyways, when they wanted to see something, they would concentrate on a person or event, and if they concentrated on it hard enough, they could see it. I’ve seen people do it, they kind of looked like they were meditating, you know, like Buddhist monks do.”
“And they didn’t have to be asleep?” Paivi was listening intently. She had never realized she could control it, her parents hadn’t told her that part. Is it possible they didn’t know?
“Nope, they could do it any time they wanted. The reason you see the things you do in your dreams is because you have thoughts of those people or events in your subconscious. You were concentrating on them without even realizing it,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Wow,” was all Paivi could say. She stirred her shake with the spoon.
“What are you going to do? Bet on the game or something?” she asked.
“I won’t worry you about that. The less you know the better. If I remember right, that’s how you wanted it to be,” he answered.
“But what if it doesn’t work? What if I can’t see the game?” She set her empty glass to the side.
“Well, you’ve got all week, I just need to know by next Saturday. You’ll get it, don’t worry.” Christian pushed his empty plate forward.
He waved for the waitress to bring the bill. She hurried over with the check, handing it to Christian. Paivi took out her wallet, but Christian held up his hand.
“My treat,” he said, opening his wallet, which was full of cash.
“Uh, thanks. I didn’t realize you were Mr. Moneybags. Where did you get all that cash?” she teased.
“That’s for me to know.” He threw down some bills on the table. “Come on, let’s go.”
They made their way down the stairs to the entrance. Paivi put on her coat.
“See you at school on Monday, I guess.”
“Do you need a ride?” he asked, scanning the street.
“No, thanks, I don’t live far and it’s not too bad out. I think I’ll walk.” She didn’t want to explain to her parents why some strange guy was dropping her off.
“Ah, here’s my ride. Later, then,” he said, giving her a quick wave.
A black SUV pulled up to the curb. Paivi turned to head towards home, thinking about what Christian had told her. She walked quickly, barely taking in her surroundings. She wanted to get home and see if she could really choose what future to see.
Join me Wednesday for Chapter 10 of Into the Shadows!