Broommates

March 28, 2010

“$500 HISTORICAL RESIDENCE. THREE SUITES AVAILABLE – (NORTHSIDE)”

Miranda sternly told herself to think affirmative thoughts, then clicked the link to see the full posting.

“Three charming and spacious rooms available at the Boyne House in Northside,” it read. She imagined that “charming and spacious” was realtor code for “drafty and small,” then mentally kicked herself because that was not a positive thought in the least. The ad continued, “Each tenant would be responsible for a proportionate share of the utilities expense, as well as any general repairs and maintenance work that might arise.” Miranda suspected that such needs would certainly arise, or they wouldn’t have been mentioned. “Please contact Anthony Singleton for further details.”

“Sorry, Tony,” murmured Miranda. “Not today.”

She looked at the pictures posted at the bottom of the page. The house seemed large enough, but reminded her of something out of a bad horror film. It was dingy and covered in overgrown ivy, and the garden in front could hardly be called cultivated the way it was exploding helter skelter in all directions. Equally untended trees shaded the sides of the house and littered the ground with their leaves. Some small part of her mind whispered, Bay and rosemary for protection. Lavender and lemon balm for healing. Willow and holly for protection. Apple and hazel for healing.

Out of curiosity, she clicked on the Google Maps link. She raised an eyebrow. She zoomed out to get a better look. She blinked a few times, just to be sure she was seeing what was there and not what she wanted to see.

“Beatrice!” she shouted. “Kitty! I found the perfect place!”

* * * *

They clustered around the computer, regarding the email silently. Finally, one of them spoke.

“I’ll bet there’s a porn somewhere that started like this–”

“Jesus, Parker,” said a second.

“What? It’s probably true.”

“This is the first response we’ve had,” the third muttered. “If we don’t get someone in here soon, little landlord Fauntleroy is going to kick us out.”

“Or you could get a better paying job.” Parker smirked.

“Says the Amazing Faustini.”

Parker’s smirk vanished. “It’s better than Anthony Singleton, fundie and volunteer firefighter.”

“Guys, I know this is a crummy situation, but maybe we should focus on–”

“Relax, Booker,” Anthony interjected. “We’re focused. Okay, so do we write these ladies back or not?”

Parker crossed his arms over his chest. “Sure, why not. What’s the worst that could happen?”

* * * *

“One of them could try to rape us.”

Miranda rolled her eyes at Beatrice. “And then you would beat him until his bruises had bruises. What’s your point?”

Beatrice shrugged, running a hand through her close-cropped blond hair. “That’s me. What if it was you or Kitty?”

“I can take care of myself,” Miranda snapped. They both looked at Kitty, sweet, doe-eyed, curly-haired Kitty, who was staring vacantly into space.

“I don’t see why not,” said Kitty.

“Why don’t we go take a look at the place?” Miranda asked.

“No, I’m sure these will be perfectly nice,” said Kitty.

“It’s not like all men are evil, right?” Beatrice said.

They stopped talking. Miranda tapped Kitty on the side of the head.

“Oh, shit, sorry,” said Kitty.

“Kitty, you’ve left your precog on,” Miranda said.

Beatrice paced while Kitty got a hold of herself. “We just have to be careful not to let on that we’re witches or they’ll be having visions of cauldrons and frog’s legs and turn us down on the spot.”

“Or they’ll have visions of naked dancing under the moonlight and get… other ideas.” Miranda shrugged. “Either way, that place is at the nexus of enough ley lines to give me hives.”

“The trees really do look lovely,” Kitty said.

Beatrice stopped pacing. “You don’t suppose they’re practitioners themselves?”

“Oh, please,” Miranda scoffed. “What are the odds?”

* * * *

The three men stood in front of the house as the three women pulled up in Miranda’s old but clean Corolla.

“I’ll take the brunette, mraow,” Parker said as the women stepped out of the car.

“Keep your pants on and your mouth shut,” Anthony said. Fry nodded in mute agreement.

Miranda walked over with the others trailing behind her. “Good morning, I’m Miranda Sullivan. These are my friends Katherine Owens and Beatrice Hardy.”

“I’m Anthony Singleton, and this is James Parker and Booker Fry.”

“Charmed,” Miranda said brusquely. “Shall we look at the house, then?” She glanced back at Beatrice and Kitty to see the one frowning and the other doing her best imitation of a wide-mouthed bass. “Come on,” she called, and they seemed to snap back to reality from wherever their minds had wandered.

Truth be told, she was having trouble containing her own excitement. The place practically sang with magical energy. They’d be insane not to take it.

Unfortunately, the more they saw of the house, the more insanity seemed the preferable route. They were regaled with instructions like, “Watch that board, it’s rotting,” and, “Don’t lean on the banister or you’ll be back downstairs in a jiffy,” and even “Don’t mind the smell, that’s Houdini leaving us presents.”

“Houdini?” Miranda asked.

“Parker’s cat,” Anthony said.

They eventually made their way back downstairs to the foyer, and Miranda offered her hand to Anthony, who shook it stiffly. “Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Singleton. We’ll be in touch.”

“When can we move in?” Kitty asked. Every eye turned to regard her incredulously.

Anthony coughed. “If you were interested, we could have the rooms ready for you by…” He looked at his roommates, who shrugged. “…the end of the week?”

“Thank you again,” Miranda said as Beatrice grabbed Kitty’s arm and tugged her toward the car.

“They’re never coming back,” Parker remarked as the women piled into the car.

“Look,” Booker said.

The women were clearly having a heated argument that was only audible as noise from this distance. After a couple of minutes, Miranda and Beatrice stepped back out of the car and Miranda approached the men.

“Yes, fine, we’ll take it,” she said crossly. “To whom should I make out the check?”

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