[chapter three]

Disclaimer: If you've heard of them, I don't own them. Everything else is mine, so no stealing, pretty please. ;-)

**

Jimmie threw open the door to Vrai's shop and frantically looked around for her. "Hello?" He called out when he didn't see her immediately.

Vrai emerged from a curtained room in the back and gave him a soft smile. "Blessed be." She said warmly. "May I help you?"

"Yeah." Jimmie said shortly, striding over to stand in front of her. "I need your help."

"What with?" She asked gently, looking up into his stormy eyes.

"I'm not sure. I need more protection. I need to see my future." Jimmie said quickly, his voice slightly pleading.

Vrai smiled at him. "I'm a witch, not an astrologist, and not a fortune teller. Perhaps reading a horoscope would be more suited to…"

Jimmie cut her off. "No. When I was in here the other day, something happened. You knew what I needed. You helped me. I saw you."

Vrai lowered her eyes for a moment. "There was a connection, yes. Because you have it too. You have natural abilities, just as I do. That's why you feel connected to me, and I to you. It's not uncommon between two people with abilities."

"I don't." Jimmie said, shaking his head. "I'm not…whatever you are."

Vrai nodded, unoffended at his outburst. "I believe in the powers of Mother Nature, and in bending those powers as I see fit. But Mother Nature will only bend if you believe - and right now, you don't. Some is natural ability, some is pure belief."

Jimmie snorted a little. "I don't believe in this stuff."

Vrai nodded again. "I understand. But I also know that you carry natural ability, believing it or not. When I touched you last time, I felt it. You have psychic abilities, as many natural witches and warlocks do. It's part of what makes you such a good race car driver - you can see things before they happen, can anticipate what will need to be done."

Jimmie cocked his head, regarding her. "You know I'm a race car driver?" He asked softly.

Vrai laughed, a low, warm laugh. "Jimmie, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Of course I know who you are."

Jimmie smiled, his shoulders relaxing a little. "Can you help me? Can you do another spell or something?"

"What happened, Jimmie?" She asked gently. "Why the sudden need, when you've never needed it before?"

With a shaking breath, Jimmie told Vrai about his wreck in Kentucky, about him walking away unscathed. "I know it's because of you." He ended, not quite meeting her eyes. "I did the spell, but…"

"Ah, but you didn't." Vrai said with a beatific smile. "You didn't complete the spell, did you? You did what I told you, but you ended the spell before it could be bound. And you didn't believe in what you were doing, only that I told you to. I admit, I saw something…something in your future when you were in here the other day that bade me to practice a protection spell for you. It wasn't your candle work that protected you, not entirely. Some of it was mine."

"Why did you?"

"I told you." Vrai said patiently. "I saw it when I touched you."

"Do it again." Jimmie begged, thrusting out his hand for her to take. "See stuff, and then do it again."

Vrai laughed again but refused his hand. "It doesn't work that way, Jimmie." She explained. "There are three reasons for a spell to be cast. Need, emotion and knowledge. Magic is for positive change, not for negative. It's usually done for your own need or emotion, not for others unless it is warranted. That's why magic gets such a bad reputation - it's viewed as a negative influence on others, rather than a positive one on yourself. You have to understand when and when not to cast a spell for others."

"I…I want to believe what you're saying." Jimmie said softly, daring to meet her eyes. "I just…I need help getting there, I guess."

Vrai sighed softly, then walked to a corner of the shop where a small altar was set up. She lit several candles then turned to face Jimmie, who had trailed her to the corner. "Give me your hands." She commanded in a quiet voice.

He held out his hands, palms up and Vrai took them in hers, squeezing them gently and giving him a reassuring smile. She looked into his eyes, and though her lips moved, he didn't hear any sounds from her mouth. After a few seconds, she finished and she pulled her own hands away. "It is done."

"What is?" Jimmie asked reverently. "What did you do?"

"It's simply a guidance spell between friends. I vowed to guide when you were lost or in the dark. Very simple. It won't change the course of your world, Jimmie."

Jimmie nodded as Vrai turned around to take two stones off the table beside her. "These are small high vibration stones. When you feel the need to be protected, you must cast the spell, not I. Hold one in your hand and chant in a low voice while staring at the stone."

"What do I say?" Jimmie asked timidly.

"Stone, evil you shall deny. Send it to earth and sky. Send it to the flame and sea. Stone of power, protect me." Vrai said in a chanting voice. "Keep it with you. You will know when you need to use it. But for it to work, you must believe that it will work, Jimmie."

"I'll be back, you know." Jimmie said, turning to leave.

"I know." Vrai said with a smile as she watched his retreating back.

chapter four