“Hi everyone. Are we going in?” A dark-haired woman in her early forties with olive skin and black hair sauntered up, dark eyes sparkling with curiosity. Alessia Mason always seemed calm and controlled, but now she clearly radiated excitement at the possibility of glimpsing the old theater.
Alessia owned the Spirit of the Sea gift shop and had married into one of the old Cape May families, but right now what mattered most was her role as the head of the local coven and the powerful magic she had inherited from her Sicilian mother.
“Right this way,” Jaxon said, brandishing the key. “The Arts Council officially owns the building, so we don’t even have to sneak in.”
He unlocked the door to the convenience store, which was a shell of its past self. All of the fixtures had been sold off, but the faded signage around the top of the walls remained, directing customers toward soft drinks, sundries, and restrooms.
They followed him inside, and Jaxon locked the door behind them. Then they headed toward the back, past the break room and offices to an unmarked door.
“The store was here for over twenty years, and most people never knew that the Regent Theater lay behind it,” Jaxon said. He gestured toward the area they had just navigated.
“Imagine coming through the big glass doors, past the ticket booth,” Jaxon said, pointing back the way they had come. “You’d enter a high-ceiling lobby with a bar, concession stand, and seating for patrons who came early to see and be seen. Then you’d move farther inside, and there would be double doors leading into the actual theater.”
Erik looked behind them, struggling to imagine the way it had once been. A grid of acoustic panels hid the original molded plaster ceiling several feet higher that he had seen in photographs. The plain walls and stained tile floor made it difficult to picture lush red carpet, velvet rope swags, cocktail servers, and a concession stand that not only had popcorn but according to the stories Jaxon shared on the drive over, also served foie gras.
Jaxon opened the door and reached inside to flip on a light. Erik hesitated to get a psychic read on the space ahead.
“Definitely haunted,” Alessia said, staring into the distance with a glazed look that told Erik her attention lay elsewhere.
His own touch magic worked differently. To get a strong reaction, Erik usually had to be in physical contact with an object. He had avoided touching anything since they had arrived, but even so, the theater itself gave off unmistakable vibes. Both he and Alessia had extra perception which included seeing ghosts, although neither was a full medium able to summon or speak with the dead.
“Bad things happened here.” Erik found himself speaking before he realized it. “Dark magic. Death. Cursed.”