Home > Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9)(4)

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9)(4)
Author: Patricia Briggs

She turned another page while I was occupied with coming up with more toxins that were useful—and I was distracted from my train of thought by the picture on the page. A mint leaf lay on an improbably black and shiny rock in the middle of a clear, running stream with lots of water drops in artistic places. It made me a little thirsty—and thirsty reminded me of drinking. And though I don’t drink because of an incident in college, I sure could have used something alcoholic right then.

Come to think of it, alcohol was a toxin—and useful for all sorts of things.

“Oh, this is my favorite part,” she said, caressing the dramatic photo, “essential oils.” The last two words were said in the same tone a dragon might use to say “Spanish doubloon.”

She reached into her bag and pulled out a teal box about the size of a loaf of bread. In metallic embossed letters, “Intrasity” and “Living Essentials” chased each other around the box in lovely calligraphic script.

She opened the box and released the ghosts of a thousand odors. I sneezed, Joel sneezed. Izzy’s mother said, “God bless you.”

I smiled. “Yes, He does. Thank you.”

“I don’t know what I would do without my essential oils,” she told me. “I used to have terrible migraines. Now I just rub a little of our Gaia’s Blessing on my wrists and temples and ‘poof,’ no more pain.” She slid out an elegant, clear bottle that held some amber liquid and opened it, holding it toward my nose.

It wasn’t that bad. I admit my eyes watered a little from the peppermint oil. Joel sneezed again and gave Izzy’s mother the stink eye. From upstairs came a gagging noise and loud coughing. Ben wasn’t here, and I didn’t think Zack was the type. I’d have thought Adam and Darryl would both have been more mature. If I had any doubt that they were teasing me, it would have been dispelled by the way they were careful to be just quiet enough that Izzy’s mother couldn’t hear them.

Joel looked at me and let his tongue loll in an amused expression. He stretched, got up, and trotted up the stairs, doubtless so that he could join in the next round of fun. Deserter. I was left alone to face the enemy.

“Gaia’s Blessing contains peppermint oil,” Izzy’s mother said unnecessarily because that was the one making my eyes water, “lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus, all natural oils, blended together.” She capped it. “We have remedies for a variety of ailments. My husband was an athlete in college, and for twenty years, he’s battled with jock itch.”

I blinked.

I tried to keep my face expressionless, despite the laughter from upstairs, as Izzy’s mother continued, apparently unaware of the meaning of TMI. “We tried everything to control it.” She dug around and pulled out a few bottles before coming up with the one she wanted. “Here it is. A little dab of this every night for three days, and his jock itch was gone. It works for ringworm, psoriasis, and acne, too.”

I looked at the bottle as if that would keep inappropriate images from lingering. It helped that I had never met Izzy’s father, but now I hoped I never did.

The bottle label read: “Healing Touch.” I wondered if Izzy’s mother’s husband knew that his jock itch was something that his wife brought up in her sales pitch with near strangers. Maybe he wouldn’t care.

She opened that bottle, too. It wasn’t as bad as the first one.

“Vitamin E,” she said. “Tea tree oil.”

“Lavender,” I said, and her smile wattage went up.

I bet she made a mint on her multilevel marketing. She was cute, perky, and very sincere.

She pulled out another bottle. “Most of our essential oils are just one oil—lavender, jasmine, lemon, orange. But I think that the combination oils are more useful. You can combine them on your own, of course, but our blends are carefully measured for the best effect. I use this one first thing every morning. It just makes you feel better; the smell releases endorphins and wipes the blues right away.”

“Good Vibrations,” I commented neutrally. I hadn’t been pulled back to the sixties or anything; that was what the label on the bottle read.

She nodded. “They don’t advertise this, mind you, but my manager says that she thinks it does more than just elevate your mood. She told me she believes it actually makes your life go a little smoother. Helps good things to happen.” She smiled again, though I couldn’t remember her not smiling. “She was wearing it when she won a thousand dollars on a lottery ticket.”

She set the bottle down and leaned forward earnestly. “I’ve heard—but it hasn’t been confirmed—that the woman who started Intrasity”—she pronounced it “In-TRAY-sity”—“Tracy LaBella, is a witch. A white witch, of course, who is using her powers for good. Our good.” She giggled, which should have been odd in a woman of her age but instead was charming.

Her comment, though, disturbed me and made me pick up the bottle of Good Vibrations. I opened it and took a careful smell: rose, lavender, lemon, and mint. I didn’t sense any magic, and mostly if magic is around, I can tell.

LaBella wasn’t one of the witch family names, as far as I knew, but if “Tracy the Beautiful” was her real name, I’d have been surprised.

“Now, this little gem”—Izzy’s mother pulled out yet another bottle—“this is one of my favorites, guaranteed to improve your love life or your money back. Does your husband ever have trouble keeping up?” She held up a finger, then curled it limply downward as her eyebrows arched up.

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