I faintly said my goodbye to the last customer for the day, before walking to the front door and turning the sign over so that it said ‘CLOSED’. I started feeling a little faint, as the day was the busiest by far this current year. People were buying presents and ingredients for potions, as Valentine’s Day was approaching fast.
I walked over to the storage room, where I found the book that I wanted to look up – Advanced Love Potions. The book was generally for our own use, as it contained a lot of recipes for highly volatile potions. I could never be too careful giving the recipes out for these potions, because of the kind of customers we got, like the last one, that walked off angry. I turned to the page with the requested potion recipe. I gaped in horror as I realised that the woman had asked for a potion recipe that involved the blood of her chosen partner.
‘Advanced Love Potions? Is there something you’re not telling me?’ a familiar, yet alluring voice, drove me out of my reverie. I looked up from the book to see Jaxon smirking from the other side of the counter. I hadn’t noticed his arrival from the market, and I could feel the heat rise into my face at his question.
‘Actually, if you must know, I had a customer earlier who wanted a particular love potion, but I wasn’t sure about how to make it. She stormed off in a huff,’ I retorted, hoping to one-up him. I put the book down and started work on putting away the supplies that he brought from his rounds at the market.
‘Do you know how to make it now?’ he asked.
‘Yes, but I don’t fancy the idea of getting naked, rubbing the blood of the person I love in the glow of the full moon while drinking the potion.’ Jaxon baulked at that idea, before coming closer to me.
‘So…you love someone?’ He teased, clearly enjoying watching me squirm. I felt my face warm from embarrassment again, although I wasn’t sure whether that was from the question or his close proximity, or both. He’d rarely been straightforward with his emotions until recently. But he was in a playful mood this time around, which made me feel more courageous with my choice of words.
‘Watch it! I’ll feed you to the wolf,’ I responded, hoping that would stop him. He smirked. Uh oh. He came closer still, an arm wrapping around my waist. After all, he knew all too well who my heart belonged to.
‘He won’t hurt me, you know that,’ he whispered in my hear, before pulling away to help restock the shelves. Fucking tease, I fumed to myself. He was right, though. I could feel my heart rapidly pounding as I turned towards Jaxon, who was running his hands in his hair.
‘They didn’t have any quartz in the market. I may have to head out to the next city over soon if we start running low,’ he changed the topic, thankfully, however, his tone of voice was sullen. I didn’t like the idea of him travelling. It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle the shop, I just didn’t like the danger of him travelling alone so often, and the loneliness that crept in after he departs. After all, the last time he left without me, I was thrown into a murder investigation. One could say you could never be too careful in Melren.
‘I wonder if we can get a courier service at some point? Maybe Susannah knows someone?’ I replied, hoping that Susannah would be able to help us out.
‘We could get in touch, although it will have to be after Valentine’s. I’m sure Susannah has a lot to deal with for her Valentine’s Ball.’
‘I just wish I could come with you. But…the shop…’
‘I know. After the Ball, I promise.’
‘And that’s that,’ Jaxon spoke gently as if the contents of the cauldron would be disturbed by loud, sudden noises. He was teaching me how to make a basic love potion that I could sell to the customers so that they didn’t have to bathe naked in the blood of their loved one. Potions were never my speciality, but it couldn’t hurt to pick the art up sometime.
‘So how do I know it works?’ I asked, not sure whether I wanted to take the risk and test the potion for myself.
‘It’s simple. What does it smell like to you?’ he replied. I closed my eyes, focusing everything on the aromas that were penetrating the room.
‘There’s definitely that book smell, wood-smoke…also that summer’s heat smell,’ I muttered, trying to make sense of the aromas that would definitely expose my affections – not that it mattered now. Books were commonly sold in our shop, and the smell of wood-smoke would be the highlight of our evenings. Not to mention I would often catch the summery scent when Jaxon was close enough.
‘That’s interesting!’ Jaxon mused, ‘I got roses, tea and clean furs.’ I paused for a moment, before turning to retrieve the glass bottles. Before I would have been jealous of him thinking about other people in that way, but after everything that we’d faced together, I knew I was safe.
‘So, does that mean it works?’ I still had to make sure.
‘It does! Now we can sell these so that we don’t get any strange people bathing naked, covered in blood.’
‘Good. I doubt Luke wants any more patients coming in because of some crazy blood rituals!’ I started uncorking the bottles, grabbing the small funnel before pouring the concoction into the bottles. Jaxon set to writing out the labels, before tying them to the bottlenecks.
‘Perfeito!’ he announced as the last of the bottles was re-corked.
‘Do you think a hundred bottles will be enough?’ I asked.
‘It should be enough for tomorrow, but I’ll get some more ingredients in,’ he reassured me while squeezing my shoulder gently.
‘All of this…just for one day,’ I exclaimed, before collapsing in one of the very comfy chairs in our living area. I felt chilled from the winter air, so I wrapped myself in one of the furs that was haphazardly thrown onto the chair earlier. Jaxon set to lighting the fireplace, before retreating to the kitchen. I was so tired from the day that I let the comfort of the furs and the warmth from the fireplace envelop me and I started drifting to sleep.