Phylicia Washington leaned against the counter, rolled her eyes and counted to ten before she sent a prayer to the namesake of the store for patience. But like every other time lately, the goddess remained silent.

On the other hand, Jamal continued his nagging. “Come on, Mom. You’re not even thirty-five yet. You’re too young to be sitting at home on a Friday night.”

“It’s Thursday.” She glanced out the giant plate glass window, past the gold lettering that spelled out ‘Morrigan’s Cauldron.’ No hope for a customer on such a blustery October afternoon to interrupt Jamal’s harangue. The delivery boys at Wong’s Take-Out were the only ones on the street because anyone with sense stayed home in this cold wind and spitting rain.

“Mom. Tomorrow night. Halloween. Samhain. Rain will cut you some slack this one time.” He flung his arms up to emphasize his point, sending wisps of incense smoke curling through the air. “Besides the party won’t be in full swing until after ten. You’ll have plenty of time to change into a costume if you insist on going to the Sabbat ceremony first.”

Phylicia glared at her one and only child. She was beginning to understand the parental urge to commit infanticide. “I appreciate the offer, but your friends sure as hell don’t want you bringing your mama to their Halloween party.”

“You just graduated from college yourself. We’ll tell ‘em you’re my older sister.”

Phylicia started to shake her head in disbelief, but for the first time, she noticed her baby boy’s arms no longer held the lanky thinness that had plagued most of his teens. Instead, hard muscle defined his body in a way she was sure caused the heads of the NYU girls to turn and drink in the sight. Somewhere she’d blinked and missed that her baby was now a grown man.

“You’re a fine looking woman, Mom,” Jamal said, oblivious to her discomfort regarding this particular conversation. “I don’t want you sitting at home alone giving up on men just because of my father.”

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