Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit by Ann Aguirre Read Free Book Online

Book: Forbidden Fruit by Ann Aguirre Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ann Aguirre
Tags: Romance, Urban Fantasy, Ghosts, Ann Aguirre
    Felix comes jogging over. “Damn, you okay? I heard that bang from across the way, over the whir of the milkshake machine.”
    “You’re hilarious.”
    “You don’t look good. Come on, sit down for a minute.”
    I let him help me up and lead me out to the nearest table. Unless my vision clears up, there’s no way I can finish my shift. Which is unfortunate because the manager’s on vacation for two weeks. He’s been running the place with little help for months, not too surprising, given the uniforms and the pay. My hours might get cut once he comes home, but I’ll worry about that later. Like when my brain isn’t trying to leak out my ears.
    “Is there anyone you can call to cover your shift?” Felix asks.
    “Maybe.” It’s past three, so Tim, the high school boy who works on the weekends, might be able to come in. But we’re not supposed to swap hours without Mark’s approval. But I don’t give two craps about policy at the moment.
    After a few seconds, I hobble back to the stand, the ache in my head subsided to a low roar, and I dig for the personnel roster. Soon I’m on the phone, begging Tim to save me. “I’ll work all day tomorrow for you, promise.”
    “Deal,” he says.
    Four hours for eight is a bargain. Despite working at Pretzel Pirate, Tim is no fool. He gets a free Saturday out of this arrangement. As I disconnect, a coworker calls Felix back to continue flipping burgers, and I dig the Yellow Pages out from beneath the counter, then look up the shop. I recall the name from the signage, and to my surprise, I find the listing. Huh. I tap the page. So it’s a real place downtown…and I’m not crazy. I enter the address in my phone and then use an online service to figure out what buses to take from here. I note that on my phone, too. Hopefully, if I make all the right connections, I’ll get there before closing time.
    I can’t shake the certainty that it’s important. Honestly, that’s why I’m so set on getting out of here. I could finish work with a sore skull, but since Tim agreed to fill in, I’m heading out as soon as he shows; maybe the place will jog my memory. It only takes fifteen minutes for Tim to saunter in. He moves slow, but he’s a good worker, and he’s not annoying like Mark.
    He eyes the bump on my head and says, “I get it. No explanation necessary.”
    “Some days are like that,” I say with a sigh.
    He grins. “Most of mine, actually. Later, Shannon.”
    As I’m heading for the bus stop, my phone beeps. Honestly, I’m surprised Jesse hasn’t messaged me sooner. I’m not 100% sure if I love being looped in so tightly, but on the other hand, it means he cares. So I can handle the attention, especially when it comes with perks like the other night.
    This might sound dumb, but are you all right?
    Minor head trauma, self-inflicted. Nothing to worry about.
    But worrying is my only superpower.
    Lies. You also look amazing in jeans.
    It’s absurd that I can enjoy flirting with him so much via text. But I’m smiling as I board the bus. Patting my bag, I make sure my radio’s still in place. Since that freaky meet-up outside the market, I don’t go anywhere without it. My magickal focus, so to speak, fits in a backpack, so there’s no reason for me to go unarmed, especially when things could turn scary in a split second. Reassured that I’m not helpless, I transfer near downtown and ride a little farther, then I hop off a block from the store. The whole time, I’m aware somebody could be following me, but I don’t see anyone. Nobody else gets off at my stop, anyway, and there are no puddles they can use to spy on me.
    I hurry along the sidewalk and enter the trading company. A bell jingles, and I’m overcome by an urge to leave. The feeling almost chokes me, but I force myself to continue deeper into the shop. As I get closer to the back room, the aversion dissipates. I push through the curtain, and everything’s just as I’d pictured in my

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