Possession on the First – Viola Grace

Hannah Lee took another bite of toast while leaning over the sink. “I am fine, Mom. I am going to have a good day.” “You tend to get excited over the big houses, Hannah. You need to be professional.” “Mom, I was professional when I took the realtor certification exam, I was professional when I applied with the agency, and I am wearing professional attire. My hair is even up. I look like a corporate secretary.” Her dad’s voice came through the phone. “Proud of you, honey. Go get that listing.” Hannah smiled. “Thanks. I plan to.” “That’s my girl.

” “Love you guys, bye now.” She finished her toast, carefully drank her coffee, and made sure that her makeup was perfect. She checked her watch and double-checked her reflection in the mirror that she had hung up just for this job. Real estate agents had to look perfect or, at least, approachable. She pulled on her coat and grabbed her keys. She was meeting her mentor at the Grunwald mansion. It was the dog of the agency. No one had been able to shift it, but the potential profit in it was enough to get her new career off to a solid start. She was going to sell the shit out of that house. Hannah drove the twenty minutes to the mansion and keyed in the access code to the gate.

It swung open, and she drove up the main entrance, parking in the rotunda. She stepped out of her vehicle and went to the lockbox, typing in the code. She had her portfolio under her arm, and as she unlocked the door, the house sighed in relief to be open. Seven deaths in the house in the last one hundred eighty years. The last casualty of the house had been five years earlier. An XIA officer had been found insensible in the house after the natural death of the owner. He was still listed as on medical leave. Hannah knew everything there was to know about this place, from the day it was built to the names of each family who had tried to call it home. The entryway was imported marble and glossy wood. Portraits of previous owners still hung on the walls.

The house just needed a good cleaning, and as the only person willing to set foot inside it, it was up to her. Once it was tidy and ready to go, she could arrange the first open house. She had three clients lined up, and none of them had a problem with the house’s history as long as the history remained in the past. “Hello, Hannah?” The call from outside made her smile. “Yes, Mrs. Northrup. I will be right there.” She turned and walked back to the entryway. Outside, Mrs. Northrup, head of Northrup Realty, was standing off the paving stones and nearly inside her car.

The sedan door was still open. “I have the paperwork for the listing. You just need to sign it, and you have six months of this place as an exclusive listing.” Mrs. Northrup shuddered. She reached into her car and handed Hannah the documents. Hannah signed on as the agent of record, and Mrs. Northrup signed authorization as the owner of the authorized representing agency. The moment that Hannah had her paperwork, her boss said, “Do what you have to, to make it saleable.” Hannah nodded.

“I will.” She stepped back, and the car peeled out as if the driver had no interest in remaining on the premises one moment longer. Smiling, she returned to the house, the heavy feeling of the ages weighed on her. She could work with that. Her footsteps echoed in the hall. It gave the feeling of being in an important place in another time. She wandered through the house, going through the rooms and taking an inventory of which painting was where. She made notes on what needed to be done, and when she got to the great room, she stared at the fireplace. The mantlepiece was huge, carved, and had symbols that depicted the house’s magical history. Centuries of mages preceded the first Grunwalds to the new world.

The waves of magic that had occurred in the last few years had kept the house with its magic foundation pristine. Exorcists had gone over the house every few decades, but the deaths still happened. This mantlepiece had seen it all. Years of flipping houses with her family had given her an appreciation of fine woodwork, and the delicate carvings of oaks and acorns had been outlined in worshipful detail. She ran her fingers along the top, checking for dust, and frowned when she felt a sharp stab and a rush of something into her bloodstream. She jerked her hand back. “What the hell?” There was a bright stain of blood on her fingertip, and she stuck her finger in her mouth, sucking on the splinter that had lodged in the digit. She pulled the splinter out with her teeth and swallowed the blood. With her manicured fingertips, she pulled the splinter from her teeth, and she kicked off her shoes, put her hands to either side of where she had felt the prick, and she pulled herself upward to look at what had caused the issue. Holding her weight up on her palms, she looked down to see a large scar in the wood, torn and splintered—no wonder she had drawn her own blood.

Huh, there was no sign of the blood, come to think of it. The wood had wicked it away. Hannah lowered herself to the ground and stepped back from the mantlepiece. Right. Whatever was in the house, it was in the mantlepiece, but there was no sign of it—no power surge, no lights, no flaring energy. The wood was just wood. She shook herself and took a few steps back. She put her finger back in her mouth again and continued on her tour of the building. After an hour, she realized that her little puncture still wasn’t healing, so she went to the first aid kit in her car and put a bandage on it. She had some of the coffee in her thermos, and then, she went back inside to investigate the bedrooms and upper floor.

The portrait gallery was nice, but cataloguing the portraits made for an easy transfer to a museum for a tax deduction. The bedding needed airing, but the mattresses were in good shape. Once the second floor was taken care of, it was time to poke around in the attic. It was nearly noon, and she was starting to get hungry. She set foot on the attic steps, and a searing pain shot through her skull. She gripped the railing and held on as the pain surged and ebbed. She had three weeks to get the house into shape. Perhaps she needed to head home and lie down for a bit. Hannah wasn’t prone to headaches, but she wasn’t going to ignore it when it happened. From past experience, simply lying down for a while would help.

She breathed slowly and walked back down to the main floor, stopping when she needed to. Her head had cleared a bit by the time she reached the entryway, and she felt confident enough to get behind the wheel of her SUV. Her head cleared completely when she started the car and buckled up. She still headed home, no sense pushing her luck when she was in charge of one of the most haunted buildings in the city. Twenty minutes later, she was home. Her house was charming, the landscaping was precise, and it was one of the favourite homes that she and her family had flipped. She had bought it for market price, and she loved having a home of her own. The moment she was out of her car, the headache resumed. Getting inside the cool, dark structure of her home, she removed her shoes, locked the doors, and stumbled to her bedroom. She closed the door to her bedroom and dropped onto the bed.

The moment she wasn’t moving, the pain eased enough for her to close her eyes and relax. She concentrated on her breathing as the pain in her head subsided and surged in a decreasing wave. She dozed off and let herself relax. Hannah knew that something was very wrong with her when she woke up. She was standing and staring at herself in the mirror. The weird part was that she was naked and tracing the scar that crossed her from under her left breast to her navel. There was something inside her. Something looking out from behind her eyes. She met the gaze in the mirror, and her dark blue eyes flared to red for a moment. She grimaced and forced her hands down at her sides.

“Oh shit.” She was possessed. She went to the door and got her robe off the hook. Whatever was behind her eyes, it was a peeper. She tied the sash and heard a deep, regretful sigh in her mind. It was more of an emotion than anything audible. She opened her bedroom door and went to make herself a coffee. She loaded a reusable puck and put it into the coffeemaker. She had to hide it when her eldest brother came over. He was a coffee purist and insisted on using either the drip or the funnel.

She was much more function over form. “What am I going to do about this?” She groaned. She knew a few exorcists and several mediums, but their methods didn’t really thrill her. Hannah tapped her fingers on the counter while she waited for the coffee. So, she had caught something inside her. It had come in on the splinter. Whatever made the groove in the wood had left something behind, and it had gotten under her skin. The mansion was soaked in old magic, so the odds were that it was some kind of mage. She needed someone who specialized in spectral investigation. She fired up her laptop and started typing.

Five minutes later, she had a number, and ten minutes after that, she had an appointment. The consultant worked evenings, and she had an opening at seven thirty. Based on the time on her computer, that left Hannah two hours to have a shower in a dark room and get dressed with her eyes closed. She had caught herself checking out her own cleavage in the toaster, so working in the dark was going to be her focus if she had to disrobe at all. Hopefully, the consultant could be some assistance in coming up with an extraction plan for her occupant. One way or another, she was going to get him out of her.

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