Martin walked into the White Hart and then stuttered to a halt. Pink tinsel covered the till, the card stands and the wrapping paper. Cerise tinsel hung from the lights and shocking pink tinsel embraced the case with the athames. The palest rose tinsel wound around the café serving area intertwined with strands of deep maroon. He stood for a moment and stared. Then he looked at his wife as she staggered into the shop with a huge wicker basket full of more tinsel. “My dear, what’s happened?”
Lady Freydis sighed in relief, dropped the basket and ran over to him for a desperate hug. “Mrs Tuesday is not here.”
Martin looked around the shop. Underneath the drifts of decorations there were the occult books, the magical supplies, the herbs and the decorative knickknacks that the tourists loved. At least, he thought they were there. It was hard to tell under the sparkle and shimmer. “This isn’t a very safe place for elfen,” he said. “It’s too shiny. Besides, Fiona got all of the decorations sorted with the brownies. What’s going on? Mrs Tuesday will be back this afternoon.”
Lady Freydis clung onto him. “But what if she doesn’t return?” she said. “What if she abandons us? We should be diminished!”
“She’s just gone on a coach tour with Jason,” Martin said. He looked around the shop again. “Perhaps you should ease back on the decorations. She wouldn’t be happy if the customers couldn’t see the goods. You know how particular she is about the herbs.”
Lady Freydis stared at him. “What if she is so upset by the new decorations that she leaves forever with this Jason? What else could go wrong?”
“Mrs Tuesday is not leaving us,” Martin said. “Besides, you know how she feels about Christmas. She doesn’t worry about the decorations, but she hates the thought of anyone being alone.”
Lady Freydis frowned. “And that means that she wouldn’t leave us here alone, right?” She clutched Martin’s arm pleadingly. “We have everyone invited to Christmas dinner in our realm, with everything of the finest, don’t we? I can’t think of anyone else to invite.”
“Ian and Jeanette are having their own meal with their pack,” Martin said, “And Darren is joining them. But the rest of the staff are coming.”
“Is that enough for Mrs Tuesday?” Lady Freydis said.
Martin laughed. “Mrs Tuesday will always come back. This is her home. But I wouldn’t be surprised if she terrifies everyone again and brings home Jason. We can include him in our celebrations and that will keep her happy.”
Lady Freydis looked thoughtful. “He scares a lot of people,” she said.
“Mrs Tuesday thinks of him as a son,” Martin said. “And he paid for this tour as a treat for her. I’ve heard that he adores her.”
Lady Freydis looked at her husband and then around at the store. “I need to get this place cleared up before it opens,” she said. “I don’t want Mrs Tuesday to think that we are slipping without her.” She slid the basket of tinsel towards the back room and started to pull out the strands from around the Tarot decks. “Even if we are.”