Hally McDonald flailed a little as she played the intro chorus to Sweet Hour of Prayer, while the choir stood up on the dais. Adra rose with the rest of the congregation as the hymn pounded throughout the church with a barely perceptible rattle of the rafters, she thought, looking up nervously. She wondered how many years it had been shaking like that, and she only just now heard it. It was all thanks to her new shifter mate and his super senses. Adra appeared to be getting side effects from the process.
Beside her in the pew sat her fiancee, Boyd Ramsey, local deputy, bear shifter and local enforcer. On her other side, her Mamie’s frail shoulder pressed against hers. Her Sunday hat still firmly on her head, she leaned over to whisper to Adra, “Sit still, girl.”
Her Mamie had been hissing that at her in church for about fifteen years, ever since she’d been old enough to leave the nursery. “Yes, ma’am.”
Her hand was enveloped from her right by another, much larger hand. Adra slid her eyes to Boyd in the seat beside her just as he worked his fingers between hers with a smile. He was here on a Sunday because she was, not because they shared a faith. His clan were a bit more into the nature worship.
“Welcome, Brothers and sisters in the lord.” Minister Lake intoned his words across the church with a practiced boom. “Please, be seated.”
They all sat together with a rumble of the wooden pews beneath their collective weight, and Adra felt Boyd’s thumb caress her hand soothingly, lovingly, in a gentle sweep along the back of her hand. His touch called to her magic, and she fought to keep it hidden safely inside her where it belonged.
Adra had discovered that there were some branches in the family tree no one had guessed at through the years, or recorded in the family Bible apparently. Her father had been a fly by night sorcerer; Here one day, gone the next. Her mother had been a junkie, although after discovering who she was, she wondered now just what her mother had been high on all those years ago.
Magic could be horribly addictive to humans, and even some shifters truth be told. In Boyd’s case, it was his shifter nature that seemed to want her, not the human side of him drunk on proximity to magic. She squeezed his hand back and smiled a soft smile up at him as the preacher droned on.
At that moment, text message notifications started ringing in the quiet sanctuary, echoing hollowly in the vaulted room. Boyd’s went off as well. Adra looked around. Every law enforcement officer and first responder was checking their phone, even Casey Jones was getting something, and she was a hospital trauma nurse over at Janesville Baptist.
They all started to stand and make excuses as one. Adra looked to Boyd who asked, “Can you find a ride home?”
She nodded. Terry King would give them a ride home. He was back from school this weekend. He wouldn’t like it, but he’d do it. Terry had been avoiding her since her engagement. “What’s going on? Car crash?”
He looked around at all his colleagues getting out of the pews one at a time and shook his head. “No, I think it’s worse than that, baby.” With that, he kissed her gently on the forehead and rose from the seat to hurry down the aisle just behind the Jenkins’. After they’d all gone, a silence filled with dread settled over the whole congregation.
There would be nothing but bad news after that exodus, and everyone in the room braced for it. The preacher visibly gathered himself and gripped the podium. “Folks, let’s take just a moment to pray.” With those words, they all bowed their heads praying for the men and women who’d rushed out to some horrific scene, and for the poor souls who needed them all.