"Morning mum", Alyssa said entering the kitchen.
"Morning honey. Tea?" Sarah asked.
"Sure", Alyssa said pouring out cereal into a bowl. "Room for rent? Mum seriously?" she said when she noticed the flyer on the counter behind her.
"We have a spare room and it's not being used for anything besides the extra cash will come in handy", Sarah replied placing two mugs of tea on the counter.
"It wouldn't need to be if you weren't still paying divorce money to that git"
"I'm sorry mum but he's the one who ran off with the blonde bimbo, leaving you to raise me on your own", Alyssa said "what was it he called me? Oh that's right, a freak. Just like his own mother"
Sarah reached across and placed a hand over her daughter's "You are not a freak and your grandmother certainly wasn't one either. She was a lovely woman and I wish you could've met her"
"Yeah me too", Alyssa said. Her paternal grandmother was none other than Emma Grayling, an empathic psychic. It seems as if the gene for psychic abilities seem to skip her father, Mathew Palmer, and be passed onto her. One of the theories Alyssa had was that that only female descendants of Emma Grayling had psychic abilities. However, as both her father and herself were only children, there was no way to test it.
"Even though dad isn't a big fan of me, he still should be giving you money too. As I'm pretty sure there is something like that in those divorce documents you both have"
"Your father will be giving paying what he owes as soon as he gets on his feet"
"Gets back on his feet? Mum he's living with a ruddy supermodel. I think he should be able to pay you what he owes. God knows that woman makes plenty for strutting up and down the catwalk"
"Unfortunately it's just the way it is"
"Life sucks", Alyssa grumbled.
"You've got that right but you don't need to worry honey"
"I can't help but worry mum"
"Well you need to stop because I think I see a grey hair here", Sarah joked leaning over and tugging a loose strand of her daughter's red hair.
"I'm just kidding honey"
"You're hilarious", Alyssa said sarcastically. She finished up her mug of tea and stood up "Right, I've got to go to work. See you later", she said kissing her mother on the cheek. "Oh and your very likely to attract weirdos with that advert", Alyssa added picking up her bag. "No wait, not a weirdo. A mad man", she corrected "A mad man with a box"
"One of your 'feelings?'" Sarah asked.
"Could be. I guess we'll just have to wait and see", she said with a smile before leaving the room.
"Morning Ali", Steve, one of the fellow workers greeted as she entered the Coffeehouse where she spent four days a week working.
"Morning Steve", Alyssa said going behind the counter to the head to the staff room. She put her bag in her cubby hole and tied her apron around her to start her shift. Alyssa wandered around with her tray carrying customers' orders. "Here you go Joseph. One cup of Earl Grey tea and a slice of apple pie", she said placing it down at an elderly man's table.
"Thank you Alyssa"
"You're welcome. How are you today?"
"Good. Give me a shout if you want a top up", she told the regular before going back to the counter to pick up the next orders.
"Don't forget to be back in an hour", Steve said when Alyssa clocked off for her lunch break.
"I'll be counting the seconds", she replied grabbing her bag and leaving the Coffeehouse. Alyssa walked to a nearby park where she was going to meet her boyfriend for lunch. She sat down on a bench and waited. Half an hour went by, no sign of him. The young woman sighed and decided to eat her lunch. As she did her phone buzzed. It was a text message from Ben saying that he couldn't make it. This is the second time this week she thought texting him back saying 'don't worry about it'.
Alyssa finished up her lunch and went back to work. She took Steve's place behind the counter creating the drinks orders and he left as his shift was over. While she was making a latte for one of students currently sitting in the corner with his friends, she happened to look up at the TV screen mounted on the wall. The lunch news was playing a story. What is it with these deaths? She thought as the reporter announced it being the 5th in a row with the same MO.
"How many more deaths does there need to be before the police catch this guy?" Ellie asked as she stood by the till.
"I have no idea", Alyssa replied.
"Hang on. I know her", Ellie said quietly when the picture of the latest victim came up.
"We'll finish this in a sec", Alyssa said placing the drinks on the tray and carrying it to the corner table. "How?" Alyssa asked when she came back behind the counter.
"Because she came in here couple of days ago", Ellie replied. "Don't you remember?"
"I wasn't in then. Stomach bug"
"Oh right", Ellie said remembering.
"Wait, do you remember when the police came in here last week to talk to us about a couple of the other people?" Alyssa asked recalling that conversation.
"You're right", Ellie said also realising. "Should we tell the police about this?"
"It might be a good idea", Alyssa replied agreeing.
"I've got a day off tomorrow, would you come with me after your shift?"
"Of course", Alyssa said before going to refill a customer's mug. Around 4:30 Alyssa left the Coffeehouse as her shift was over. She drove back to her home in her little blue mini.
"Mum I'm home!" she called as she entered the house.
"In the living room!" she heard her mother call back. Alyssa dumped her bag in the hallway and went into the room. She was surprised to see a man wearing a blue suit and converse sitting in the armchair.
"Alyssa this is John. He going to be our lodger for a while", Sarah said. The man stood and shook Alyssa's hand. Alyssa could feel the sadness coming off him, like he'd lost something or someone very close to him recently. She could relate to that. Losing her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, was very hard on her. Especially when she could feel her mother's own grief as well which sometimes made living day to day almost unbearable. It took a stranger with a piece of advice to spur her to keep going not only for herself but for her mother as well. She never did see that stranger in the grave yard again because if she did, she would've thanked him.
"Pleasure to meet you John", Alyssa said politely.
"I was going to order in tonight anything you fancy?" Sarah asked.
"Mum we have plenty of food. I think our guest would rather have a proper meal for his first night here"
"I don't mind", John said putting his hands in his pockets.
"Well I do so I'm going to do dinner", Alyssa said firmly.
"What are you making for dinner?" John asked coming into the kitchen and leaning against the counter.
"Bolognese. You're not allergic to anything in it are you?"
"Good. The last thing I want to do is make our new lodger ill", Alyssa said
"Wouldn't be a good start"
"No it wouldn't", Alyssa agreed.
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Thank you for the offer but I'd rather do it on my own. My mum says that I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to making dinner. Mostly because if I leave her to it, she'll burn the dinner and probably half the kitchen"
John laughed "so she's terrible at making dinner?"
"You have no idea. I'll give you a shout when it's done", Alyssa said. John nodded and left the room. It was about 20 minutes later when she was dishing up the meal.
"It looks delicious Ali"
"Thank you", Alyssa said and they tucked into the meal. "So John what do you do?" she asked their new house guest when they nearly finished.
"Not much. I'm travelling at the moment"
"Oh? Been anywhere interesting?"
"Here and there", the Doctor said vaguely
"Maybe you could suggest some places. Alyssa and her boyfriend Ben are planning to spend a week touring Europe next month"
"I'd rather you don't talk about my love life with our guest", Alyssa said quickly clearing up the plates and carried them to the kitchen.
"I'm sorry honey I don't mean to make you uncomfortable"
"That's ok mum. I'm just a little tired of his forgetfulness, he stood me up today at lunch. I've lost count how many times that happened", Alyssa said angrily putting the dishes in the sink.
"Maybe you should stop giving so many chances"
"Maybe but I can't help it. I love the guy even with his forgetfulness", Alyssa said starting to wash up the plates.
"By the way he isn't", Sarah said confusing Alyssa.
"He isn't a mad man with a box"
Alyssa dropped the plate she'd been washing. Thankfully it didn't break as it landed in the washing up bowl. "Why would you even ask hm if he was?"
"You're the one who said he might be"
"I never said he might be, I just said our lodger could be"
"I distinctly remember you saying mad man. John fits that gender"
"You still shouldn't have asked him. It was only a 'feeling'"
"It may have only been a 'feeling' but I still had to check. I wasn't going to let any random stranger live with us if he was going to be a danger to you", Sarah said.
"Because I'm your baby girl?" Alyssa asked. Sarah had always been pretty protective of Alyssa especially since she had to raise her on her own. Sometimes she could be a little too overprotective and Alyssa has had to remind her that she wasn't a child anymore. To which her mother would reply 'no matter how old you are, you'll always be my baby girl'.