"Are you sure you want to do this?" Angelita Martinez asked the two women sitting with her at a small table in a Boston coffee shop.
"I wouldn't be here talking to you if I weren't," one of the women asserted, her jaw set with stubbornness.
The other woman was quiet for several seconds. "I have to see Chris again," she said. "I can't explain it. I'm usually more... I don't know... practical than this, but there're just too many... " She broke off, and her eyes met Angelita's. "You tell me that Chris is in this other place, but none of us, even you, have any real idea of what's happening there, what things are like."
"Perhaps not," Angelita replied. "But he and Elijah have had a number of chances to return to our world. So far, they choose to remain in Myrridia." She shrugged. "I will attempt to open the window to this world again tonight. But you should know - I may not be able to do so."
"What!" The first woman kept her voice down with an effort, but she stood, her hands gripping the table. "You'd better," she added, her eyes narrowed.
The second woman had paled. "What you're not saying is that there's an equal, or greater, chance that you might not be able to do it next month, when we're ready to return here, and we could be stuck there, forever." She glanced at her companion, seeing a frown of worry pass fleetingly across the woman's brow. She swallowed hard.
"It could happen," Angelita agreed. She stood. "My advice, ladies, is to think about your decision carefully. You still have a few hours. I will be at St. Magdalene's Church at eight, whether you come or not." She glanced at each one, running her gaze down their garments. "I suggest you go shopping for some more historically accurate clothing."
The two women exchanged glances after Angelita had gone. The first woman stared down at her jeans. "I don't think so," she said, smiling. "I want to have something I know is comfortable. I'm not planning to go native."
"But if we're going to be there for a whole month, shouldn't we try to fit in?" the other woman asked. She was wearing a long rayon skirt, boots with sturdy, 1-inch heels, and a long-sleeved tunic-style cotton sweater. "Okay, the fabrics are all wrong, but at least my ankles aren't showing."
"And it's not like we're going to the Middle East, with those burqa things," the first woman agreed. "What does this Angelita know about anything?"
"Probably a lot more than she's saying. I mean, she is a bona fide psychic, right? If you believe in that sort of thing." She took a deep breath. "Maybe I should stay back. I could be opening up a lot of old wounds better left... "
"Sure, and then you'll never get any answers. And a week from now you'll be kicking yourself for backing out." The woman picked up her half-full latte. "I'm going. Let's go find some place to hang out for a few hours. Isn't there a big museum here?"
Shortly before eight that evening, in the sanctuary of St. Magdalene's Church, Angelita put the finishing touches on her preparations for her Magical Working. She was relieved that the two women had not appeared yet, hoping they'd changed their minds. Nearly a year prior, she'd aided Drs. Chris McCabe and Elijah Holmes in traveling to Myrridia via this same window. Those two men had a definite mission, while these two women did not, which meant this trip could end in real disaster.
She lit the four lavender-scented candles she'd placed at the four cardinal points of the circle she'd drawn in chalk on the floor near the altar. Kneeling, she focused her mind on the Working ahead, praying quietly in Spanish. As she finished the prayer, she heard voices and turned to see that the two women had arrived. Both glanced around the interior of the church.
The woman in jeans arched an eyebrow. "I still have trouble believing in this whole magical business." She lowered her backpack to the floor. The other woman carried a cloth overnight bag.
"Then I suspect your opinion is about to change," Angelita noted. "Please join me in the Circle, and think of something calming." After a brief pause the women obeyed.
Angelita began a ritual prayer as she slipped into trance, smiling as she recognized the features of the priest on the other side of the window that had appeared a couple of feet in front of them. Angelita stood and passed a note to him, ignoring the tingling in her arm. He passed a piece of parchment to her, glanced at her note, and stared at her in puzzlement. He raised his hand, a nonverbal request for her to wait.
"So?" one of the women asked.
The other stared, openmouthed, at the flickering opening between two worlds.
"We wait. If they say 'no,' you stay here," Angelita replied.
The woman looked her over. "You can't really stop me," she said quietly.
The other woman shushed her. "Nobody came here to cause trouble. Let's wait and see what happens."
After a short delay, the women were given permission to cross over. They stepped through the window.