Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 6

“Wow, that’s a real big pond!” Mason exclaimed as our van drove past a luminescent, briny expanse.

My mom gently corrected him, “Actually, that’s the Pacific Ocean!”

The kids all gasped and gawked at the glistening sea. Aidan squeezed my hand as I stared out at the road ahead of us, and when I looked over in his direction, he kindly brought up, “Do you see where we are?”

“It is beautiful, but…” I trailed off as I caught a glimpse of the beach, and it really was breathtaking! Everyone on the shore seemed to be having such a great time too, so my heart softened a little. “Hmm… Maybe it won’t be so bad here…”

“I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re not going  to be living here in Hilo,” the gentleman driving our vehicle notified us.

Everyone in the van moaned in disappointment, and Laraleigh hopefully remarked, “Well, I’m sure wherever we’re going has a coastline that’s equally as nice!”

The gentleman somewhat remorsefully relayed to us, “Uh… you’re going to the one region of Hawaii that’s nowhere near the deep blue. In fact, you’ll be living closer to the state’s only desert!”

“WHAT?” we all cried out pretty much in unison.

“Hawaii has a desert?” Aidan pondered with an overtly boggled mind.

The gentleman confirmed, “Yes, it does! This island has a desert and a rainforest! Isn’t that fascinating?”

Completely unimpressed, I responded, “Yeah, that’s riveting. Um… So, is there a reason we’re going to this dust bowl or…?”

“You’re not heading to the desert, although you should visit it sometime, it’s gorgeous!” He glanced back at us through his rearview mirror, and when he espied my less-than-amused expression, he cleared his throat and went on, “You’ll be residing in a small farm called Lani Noni!”

“Oh, I bet Hawaiian farmlands are pretty too!” Aidan optimistically conjectured.

The gentleman hesitated a little. “Yeah, some of them are quite lovely and attract lots of tourists… This is not one of those farms! It’s a desolate, fairly barren piece of land that the previous owners abandoned. Technically, the current owners are squatters, but… eh!”

I asked him, “Why are we going to this godforsaken place?”

“Fair question!” the gentleman acknowledged. I nodded in agreement, but I thought that he had better have a good explanation for sending us to what sounded like a total hellhole! “The farmers who homesteaded this property requested assistance, so we figured we could partner with the FBI and bring the Witness Relocation subjects where they’re needed most- you know, kill two birds with one stone. And by that I mean we can save your lives and their livelihoods at the same time- no killing involved! Hopefully!”

“Wait, you’re not from the FBI?” Laraleigh puzzled. We all made that assumption, so to discover he wasn’t made us all nervous! I recently observed that it felt like we were getting kidnapped, and once we made this realization, I started to speculate that this insight may have had merit!

The gentleman let us know, “I’m Clifton Bartlett, head of acquisition for the Big Island’s Agricultural and Conservation Service.”

We all stared at him blankly, and Willow confusedly stated, “Mama, he stopped speaking English!”

“I’m from the Department of Agriculture,” Clifton clarified.

“Oh!” most of us reacted in comprehension. Aidan iterated that point to his niece, “He helps plants and stuff.” She and a couple of the other younger ones grasped the subject more easily.

Mom inquired, “The FBI isn’t gonna watch us out here? How’s that safe?”

Clifton assured her, “I’ve been fully trained on surveillance measures to make this program work. It cost a bundle, but it’s worth it to benefit both governmental agencies and the people we serve!”

“And the bureaucrats save money with free labor,” Kinsey insightfully put in. 

“How did…?” Clifton almost veered off course at the abruptness of her acute observation. “My, my! Aren’t you smart?”

Kinsey probed, “Why does everyone act so surprised when they say that?”

Aidan queried, “So, we are getting exploited for free labor?”

“I wouldn’t phrase it like that!” Clifton contended. “I’d say it’s more of a mutually beneficial endeavor! And it’s not like you won’t get paid! Agent Hearne will be sending you a stipend for you expenses. Plus, I’m certain you can get share of the farm’s profits once they get some!”

“Yes! Not only are we missing school, but we’ll get ourselves some money too!” Jackson rejoiced.

Laraleigh scolded him, “Jackson! I mean, Joey! You still gotta get your education!” She considered this concept for a second and then added, “Right?”

Clifton certified her conclusion, “They’ll be learning remotely. And try not to use your true identities anymore. No one else knows your real names, and we’d like to keep it that way!”

You  don’t even know who we really are?” I felt baffled at this notion- He was supposed to protect us, but he didn’t even know who he was truly looking after! 

“Nope. It’s a vital security measure,” Clifton enlightened us. “If the suspect in your case ever captures me, he can’t torture me to gain any intelligence. I can’t give up data that I don’t know!”

Harper pointed out, “But you heard Joey’s real name!”

Clifton denied that, “I didn’t hear anything!”

“Mama, can we get a new plant guy?” Mason requested. “This guy is deaf like Uncle Kennedy.”

“Seriously! My age hasn’t affected my hearing!” Aidan irritatedly refuted her claim. “Forty isn’t old!”

I petitioned Clifton, “So, if you don’t know our true identities, does that mean the local law enforcement hasn’t been briefed either?”

Clifton told us, “They have no idea you’re even in Hawaii!” Aidan and I grew alarmed by the lack of police involvement in our situation, and Clifton reasoned, “We couldn’t communicate any sensitive information to any cops or detectives due to the compromise in the system!” We didn’t seem totally confident in this decision still, so he supplemented that with, “Wade Toonella is still a wanted criminal! If he shows up in Hawaii, they’ll obviously go after him! If you see him, you can call nine-one-one and get him arrested! Just make sure to give them your aliases ‘til he’s behind bars!”

“So, if we talk to the authorities, we gotta lie to them?” Harper wanted to know.

“Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with them much!” Clifton affirmed.

With a wry smile, Harper disagreed, “That’s what you think!”

Clifton’s brows furrowed, but then he decided to ignore that statement. “I can magick us to your new domicile. I wanted to use this opportunity to address your concerns while we have this privacy, but it seems like you’re well informed now. If you need anything, Agent Hearne put my number on your phones- I’m listed as Folk Music Fan Club. Any questions?”

“Will there be any animals on this farm?” Willow wondered. Right after that sentence, the cats in the carrier began screeching at each other. Mom sheepishly lowered the crate as if Clifton couldn’t hear them at a lower proximity.

“I imagine there’ll be a few…” Clifton grinned. “Okay, everyone ready?”

I wanted to say no; even after a long flight and a short drive, I hadn’t fully prepared myself for this next step! A part of me believed it was all a colossal joke, and even if it wasn’t, I held on to the aspiration that Wade would get arrested almost immediately. Coming to this phase meant that I would be forced to accept this new reality, and I couldn’t mentally adjust to it because my brain hadn’t accepted that we would truly have to leave our old life behind! I didn’t want to give in to these dire circumstances, but I had no choice- Clifton pulled out his wand, whipped up a portal, and took us out of there in a flash!

We landed on a dirt road, and it wasn’t a particularly smooth one either! Instantly, I understood why the joint didn’t attract any tourists! The ride was so rough that it became difficult to observe my surroundings! Once I got used to this turbulence, I peered outside and found more greenery than I had been expecting! Between the patches of sepia soil rested several palm trees and leafy shrubs, and as I watched some small, colorful birds frolicking around, I considered that perhaps the struggling farm we were destined to wind up at wouldn’t turn out so badly… At least, I did until I saw the dilapidated sign for Lani Noni! I groaned, and Aidan offered me words of wisdom, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

A house came into our scope, and it had the look of an abode that was once top of the line but fell victim to many years of neglect! It had two stories, somehow,  and with the state of the wood, it surprised me that it supported the habitants furniture or even the roof, which had several loose shingles! The panels were obviously meant to be white, but with all of the dingy spots spread throughout it, it almost bore a gray hue! It had a lot of thriving flora beside it, but I imagined that was due to natural growth since none of it was situated in a methodical order! I folded my arms and opined to Aidan, “Sometimes the cover tells a lot about the contents of the story!”

While we unbuckled, we heard the occupants of this establishment emerge from that shack. Clifton exited the vehicle first, and he merrily greeted them, “Aloha, Mister and Missus Hekekia! Your assistance has arrived!”

“Oh, thank the heavens! We really need…” a male’s voice started to celebrate until he beheld us piling out of the van. “What is this? Who are these howlies?”

“What did you just call us?” I demanded. I would have greatly preferred to not have a presence in his home, but if we had to spend significant time with the Hekekias, I certainly wasn’t about to get insulted! I was close to unleashing my fury over this whole ordeal on him, but a jolt of shock stole the words right out of my mouth! The Hekekias were Fays! Mister Hekekia’s jade skin and his wife’s fiery rose complexion weren’t unusual in the Fay realm, and I had dealt with far more vivid colors before this juncture, but because I pictured encountering humans that hadn’t undergone this undead transformation, I got completely thrown off!

Clifton reassured us, “Don’t be offended! It’s not derogatory- Howli is simply a term for anyone who isn’t a native!”

Aidan challenged him, “How do they know we’re not from here?”

“Dang, the air feels so heavy!” Mom expressed as she gazed at the sweat dripping off of her body. “Is this normal, or did I catch something on the plane?”

“Nevermind.” Aidan retracted his enquiry.

Missus Hekekia spoke up, “Oh, I’d never allow my husband to say something vulgar to our guests! You’re all most welcome here, but… Well, forgive me, sir! We got the impression that we’d be receiving monetary relief! This venture would cost us enough to bury us in debt!”

Kinsey snidely articulated, “That ain’t gonna happen!”

Clifton promised Missus Hekekia, “Their salary is on us, ma’am! So is their food and clothing. All they need is lodging and work to do. I trust that you won’t run out of tasks for them to complete!”

“Definitely not!” Missus Hekekia laughed.

“You all would tell me if I had a serious ailment, right?” my mom entreated everyone.

Clifton chuckled, “Of course! Oh, but that reminds me- if a medical problem does come up, we’ll take care of the bill! Try not to get into major trouble though!” He tittered at his own quip, but no one else joined in his mirth. Sensing a sliver of angst from both parties, he slowly stepped back towards the driver’s seat. “I know you’re all eager to get acquainted, so I’ll get out of your hair…”

Mister Hekekia requested, “Hold on, there’s been a recent development here that… well… can you lend a hand with it?”

“It depends on what it is, but I’ll do my best to aid you with whatever you need,” Clifton obliged.

“Not that long ago, we noticed some eyes on us!” Missus Hekekia explained. I listened with intrigue- surely, this would prove I was correct about Wade’s immediacy to our vicinity! “We constantly feel someone or something staring at us, and… Oh! There’s something in the bushes there!”

The leaves of a bush moved in a particular manner that could only have come from a person, and the law enforcement officer in Aidan and me ached to investigate, but Clifton commanded, “Stay here!” We watched with mounting anticipation as he approached the locale with his wand drawn out. He peeked behind the shrubbery, and…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 5

“We’re gonna crash!” I exclaimed as the plane went into a nosedive. We were plummeting straight to the ground, and the aircraft showed no signs of slowing down!

“Oh my god! Everyone’s gonna die!” the surfer man bewailed. “This so isn’t the drop I wanted to make on this trip!”

Everybody around us began to panic, which prompted Aidan to stand up and urge them all, “Stay calm! The crew has procedures for thai sort of thing! Where are our flight attendants?”

We glanced around and spotted the steward who gave me the wine curled up against a wall and weeping, “We’re doomed!”

The airplane made an abrupt jerking motion, and while we were no longer hurling towards the Yellowwood Forest, we also hadn’t gone upright again either! The pilot got onto the loudspeaker and very measuredly announced, “Folks, this is Captain Morgan…” Laughter erupted from the cabin, and Captain Morgan paused for a minute before continuing, “Now, we’ve been over this! I have no association with the pirate or the liquor! Anyways… We’ve run into a bit of technical issues, but we should have it repaired shortly. In the meantime, please fasten your seatbelts. If you need any assistance, please page a flight attendant!”

“Are you using this?” That male flight attendant grabbed the barf bag out of the nearest passenger’s seat pocket and hyperventilated into it.

“I told you Wade was up to something!” I quietly asserted to Aidan. 

Aidan puzzled, “What are you talking about?”

I posed to him, “We smelled the stench of foul sewage, and then we ended up in a near death situation- you can’t say that’s a coincidence!”

“Yes, I can!” Aidan disagreed. “These two events had nothing to do with each other!”

“Oh, they’re connected, alright! And I’ll prove it!” I unbuckled myself, and I checked to see if anyone would stop me from walking around. I saw several people trying to aid our steward with his anxiety attack, so I esteemed that I’d be safe and darted into the lavatory.

The stinky odor had gotten eliminated from the aisleway, but it lingered inside of the bathroom! I put my shirt over my nostrils, and I scanned every inch of my surroundings. I wasn’t sure how, but I felt certain that this guy who recently used the facilities did something to tamper with the mechanics of the plane from here! As I combed through everything, Aidan opened the door and inquired, “What do you expect to find in…? Oh, bleck!” He pinched his nose to avoid the unpleasant aroma.

I replied to him, “I don’t know what I expect to find, but I do expect to find some type of clue in the area!”

“Babe, you know I normally try to encourage you in all your endeavors, but I can’t this time! You’re not gonna discover anything in the toilet that would cause the-.” Aidan started to cast doubt on my hunch.

“I found something!” I declared. He peeked in with intrigue as I indicated to the innermost part of the commode. “There’s a shiny object down there!”

As I put my head and shoulders into the lid, Aidan cautioned me, “Shannon, please be careful!”

I waved his concerns off, “Oh, come on! What could happen from-?”

Just when I discerned that the glossy item was a penny, the surface beneath me disappeared! It’s funny- my first instinct was to save the coin and not my own self! I nearly got sucked out of the restroom and into the sky! Luckily, the bottom half of me had been too big to fit into the hole! The floor closed back up, but when I tried to get out, I realized I was stuck! Aidan attempted to use his new wand to magick me out, but he couldn’t produce a potent enough spell to do the job! “Wow, these things are terrible!” Aidan noted.

“I told you!” I triumphantly reminded him. I never would’ve pictured feeling victorious while jammed inside of a john, but at this juncture, I took whatever small win I could get!

“How many times are you gonna say that today?” Aidan asked as he stowed away his wand and wrapped his arms around my legs.

I answered, “Possibly one more.” I couldn’t fathom how a mere cent could have proven my theory, but my instincts suggested I’d get proven correct about this!

Aidan initiated my rescue by pulling my limbs upwards. He faced a lot of resistance, which prompted him to do a lot of grunting as he strove to shimmy me out. Being upside down became really uncomfortable, so I exhaustively cheered him on, “Harder! Come on, hurry! Do it harder!”

“Open up in there!” a voice of authority commanded at precisely the same moment that Aidan got me out of my potty pitfall. We were both trying to recover our breath still when the door became ajar, and it dawned on the two of us that the sounds we made coupled with the fact that I had been somewhat bent over while Aidan’s trunk was pressed against my body portrayed a very different image than what actually occurred! It was too late for either of us to give off a different perception too! “Aha! Caught you in the act!”

“It’s not what you think!” I refuted his insinuation. “I know it looks bad, but we-.” After I turned around to face our intruder, I recognized the individual as the man who last used this water closet! I was now convinced he deduced that our olfactory system had led us to his allegiance to Wade, and he likely intended to prevent us from completing this investigation! I knew we were cornered, and with inferior wands, our defense would be weaker, so I went on the offensive and raised the treasure I procured in the air and proclaimed, “We figured out your little secret!”

He stared at me with total confusion. “Is that piece of money supposed to mean something?”

I shot back, “I dunno! You came in here, dropped the penny in the fountain, and then-!”

“Oh, I thought my sandwich tasted funny!” The man twiddled his mustache in reminiscence. I still held onto the belief that Wade attached some form of dark magic to this trinket, but knowing that it had been through someone’s tract made me chuck it into the wastebasket in disgust! The appeared fairly perplexed, but he decided to let the issue go, shook off his befuddlement, and informed us, “Listen, I’m Troy Osmond, US Air Marshal…” He showed us the badge he had inside of his pocket.

“Oh, you’re in law enforcement?” Well, we…” Aidan automatically reached for his shield, but once he remembered that we couldn’t bring them on this expedition, he lamely finished his sentence with, “… are in sales…!”

Troy raised his eyebrows at us. “You’re an odd pair! And you broke the rules! That usually comes with a penalty…”

My pulse raced rapidly! As a former police officer and a current detective, I prided myself in having a clean record, and I feared the repercussions of having a blemish in my background! Or putting a stain on Sophia Swetinbedde’s! Suddenly, a thought struck me! “Oh no! Are we gonna be banned from entering into Hawaii? Gosh, darnit!” I stated without an ounce of sincerity.

“Actually, you technically didn’t break any laws,” Troy assured us. “I could report you to the airlines and have you barred from using their services, but under the current circumstances, I’m sure they’d be willing to forget it. I know you were scared of dying and wanted one last caper before your demise, but we need to free up these quarters to let other passengers relieve themselves! Many already did during that dive…”

“Right… So, we should go return to our seats and spend our final minutes sitting upright with our safety belts on like good-little citizens?” Aidan hadn’t meant to come off that snarky, but when his words had merited us a slight glare from Troy, Aidan bashfully regarded him, “Bye! Thank you!” as he grabbed my hand and made a beeline for our chairs!

When we stumbled back into the cabin, we noticed a lot of eyes flickering towards our proximity! We hadn’t done anything wrong, but it’s not like we could have denied and revealed the truth of our activity in the powder room! I no longer suspected that Troy had a hand in the incident, but that coin didn’t wind up in his food by accident! If the perpetrator was in the vicinity, my accusation could evoke a confrontation, and until I got a better weapon, I wanted to avoid that possibility from taking place! I reckoned that we had no choice but to fake like we were busted in the midst of joining the mile high club, which isn’t something I truly relished, but oh well! Kinsey, who sat diagonally from us, groaned, “How often do we gotta hear about you guys doing that?”

I felt terrible for creating another awkward instance between me, my boyfriend, and his nieces and nephews, and while neither occasion was my fault, I harbored guilt for it anyways! Preceding my ability to apologize, Captain Morgan spoke into the loudsystem, “Attention folks! This is Captain Morgan again…” I could practically see him roll his eyes as some people still hooted and hollered over his name. “It seems as though there was a malfunction in the spell conversion unit, and it is now fixed! The good news is we’re all going to live, but the bad news is we can’t use the part ‘til it’s been inspected, so we can’t magically enhance the speed of our flight. It’ll take about four or five more hours for us to get to Hilo now!” The crowd all booed at this news, and I put my chin in my hands and anticipated a very tedious journey!

“Aloha, passengers! Welcome to Hawaii!” a female flight attendant, who glimpsed at her male counterpart resentfully as he remained blissfully passed out, addressed us as cheerfully as her weariness would permit her. “I’m gonna rest my eyes, so tap my shoulders if you wanna get lei’d before you get off the plane!” A few people casted Aidan and me funny looks upon hearing that last part. Neither of us responded out loud, but privately, I prayed that none of these judgy jerks would turn out to be our new neighbors!

“Yay! We’re finally here!” Jackson exclaimed as he and his siblings ran into the Hilo gate.

Laraleigh yelled at them, “Will y’all slow down? You don’t even know where we’re going!” She mulled it over for a second and then remarked, “Wait, I don’t even know where we’re going! What do we do now that we’re here?”

I let her know, “We’re supposed to meet someone by baggage claim that will transport us to the new… home.” I hesitated dubbing our next accommodations with any moniker that would imply a permanent residence, but I couldn’t figure out what else to call it! I was hoping to get down to the luggage area and learn that they’ve caught Wade and we can all go to our actual homes! I would have endured another nine hour flight if it meant that I could return to our beautiful apartment without ever considering this region as my habitation!

“For the last time, I don’t offer that sort of service!” a gentleman in a suit snapped at some rather robust dudes who gazed at his “Swetinbedde” sign in befuddlement. As the red-haired man held his fist below his goatee, we gingerly approached him in case he blew his top over our abrupt appearance. When he caught sight of our arrival, be cautiously petitioned us, “Are you the Swetinbedde family, or are you also misled by what you think this sign says?”

“Why is our last name baffling everyone?” Mason wondered.

The gentleman breathed a sigh of relief, “Oh, thank the heavens! You’re finally here! I thought for a minute you’d never get to the island!”

I joked (but not really), “That’s what we were hoping for!”

“Yes, well… Let’s get you all to your dwelling!” The gentleman beckoned us to follow him.

“Hold on, where’s Mi… I mean, Anna?” Mom scoped out the perimeter and didn’t behold her anywhere.

Aidan kidded (kind of), “Oh darn, we lost her! Eh, I’m sure she’ll do fine on her own! Let’s just leave!”

The gentleman enlightened him, “I had to send her off by a transportation spell.” He gestured towards a section designated for individuals who wished to use their wands to get to their destinations.

“Because she’s in a wheelchair?” Harper presumed.

“No, ‘cause she’s maddening!” the gentleman vociferated. “She wouldn’t quit hitting on me even after I said I was engaged! What is her deal?”

Aidan quipped, “Scientists have been trying to work that out for years!” Laraleigh gave him a light smack, and Aidan challenged her, “What, am I wrong?”

I felt a bit curious about this development since I got the impression that she was obsessed with her ex, but I refrained from bringing this up due to our adjacency to the public. The gentleman led us outside, and Willow enquired to her mother, “Mama, I thought you said not to take rides with strangers!”

“He’s not a stranger, he’s…” Laraleigh searched for the proper label to give him, but because she truthfully had no inkling who this associate was, she settled on, “Oh, hush and get into the van!” As we all climbed into the vehicle, a part of me agreed with Willow’s assessment- it did feel as though we were getting kidnapped! I logically knew that this wasn’t the case, but while we were heading towards the highway, I couldn’t help but speculate on what dangerous zone we would wind up in!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 4

“Now remember, as far as anyone is concerned, we’re a completely normal family!” I whispered to Laraleigh and her children as we stood in the airport terminal. “Don’t mention any of the weird stuff that’s happened lately! Any questions before we board?”

“How come no one can catch Wade?” Harper queried. “It doesn’t seem like he can run very fast!”

Mason tacked on to that, “Couldn’t they just smell him out? He wreaks like grandpappy’s outhouse!”

The kids all giggled, and I muttered, “Okay, we’re off to a bad start!”

“Don’t talk about Wade!” Aidan hissed. “Don’t talk about the police or the FBI either! We’re a regular group of people moving to Hawaii for no real reason! Got it?”

“No!” Jackson shook his head.

Laraleigh instructed all five youths, “How about y’all shut your pie-holes and don’t speak to any strangers!” They obeyed her order, and then Laraleigh asked Aidan and me, “Where is Trudy? I mean… Elaine? Elizabeth? What’s her name again?”

I suggested, “Why don’t you make it easy on yourself and just call her Mom? She is supposed to be your mother-in-law in this scenario! No, she’s Aidan’s mother-in-law, and she’s your… whatever! I’m sure no one will find it odd if you call her mom too!” She shrugged, and I cringed slightly picturing this event transpiring! I mean, I liked Laraleigh, and I always figured she would become my sister-in-law one day, but it felt so bizarre to have this discussion with her prior to Aidan and I even getting engaged! Plus, it still bugged me that I even had to go into this Witness Protection relocation plan at all, and I dreaded envisioning anything that involved my future in this calamitous situation! Initially, I blamed the Feds for forcing us into this stressful plight, but really, it was all Wade’s fault! He was a menace in the beginning of this saga, but I truly believed that him going to prison and his failing health would have made him less of a nuisance, not more! It infuriated me how much he was probably enjoying the misery his actions caused us!

“I have a question!” Minna attempted to roll over to us, but when she got too close, a series of electric shocks coursed throughout her body! When they stopped, she changed her tune, “It can wait!” 

“Sorry I’m late!” my mother apologized as she joined us. I noticed that she seemed more lethargic than usual, and she was holding a cat carrier that hadn’t been in her possession when we arrived. “I told Agent Hearne that I had no one to take care of my kitties, so he allowed me to bring them along!”

My eyebrows furrowed at that claim. “Why did you tell him that? Aubrey lives next door to you and wouldn’t likely object to… Hold on, you have eight cats! Obviously, you chose some of them to fend for themselves ‘cause that carrier could only transport one!” Mom shifted guiltily, and I didn’t need to use any of my detective training to know she was up to something! I peered into the cage, and I beheld eight felines sitting comfortably in a cage that was bigger than it seemed on the outside! I gave her a discerning stare, so she confessed, “I figured he’d say no if I said the actual amount, so I lied and pretended I only had two! I had to- I couldn’t leave any of my babies behind!”

I pointed out to her, “I’m your baby, and I’m coming with you!”

“Whatever! I’m too exhausted to argue! I’m not used to doing magic very often, so it was an ordeal transporting them all here and then wrangling the cage to fit them all! Do I have time for a quick nap?” Mom pondered.

“Flight thirteen-forty-four, non-stop service to Hilo, is now boarding Section A,” a ticket agent announced over the speaker system.

With her face planted on a nearby column, Mom posed to us, “Is that us?”

Aidan confirmed for her, “Surprisingly enough, it is! We got the tickets a couple hours ago, but somehow, we got the best seating selection!”

“Come on, guys! Let’s go!” Laraleigh ushered the youngsters.

“We’re a normal family!” Willow proclaimed to the employee at the gate. I slapped my forehead in frustration, and I prayed that he wouldn’t delve too deep into her statement! He raised an eyebrow, but thankfully, he didn’t pursue that subject much!

Mom peeled herself off of the post, and as she headed inside of the plane, at least three of her cats started fighting! I rubbed my temples and strove to calm myself down. Aidan grabbed my hand gave it a squeeze, and reassured me, “Everything’s gonna turn out fine!”

Minna aimed to go next, but she received another shower of shocks! I retorted, “What makes you so positive?”

“I’ll catch up to you!” Minna shouted to us.

“Because it has to be!” Aidan responded to me as we boarded. “When everything appears at its bleakest, that’s when you gotta be the most irrationally optimistic!” I didn’t say anything as we entered onto the aircraft. Amidst the sea of colorfully clothed tourists and happy chatter, I sensed something foreboding in the works that left no room for his rosy philosophy!

During the middle of the flight, I grew so anxious that I started rhythmically tapping my foot and drumming the tray in front of me. Quite unexpectedly, a flight attendant came up to me and gave me a small bottle of alcohol. “Here’s your wine, madam!”

I politely notified him, “I didn’t order this.”

“I know,” the flight attendant acknowledged. “It’s courtesy of the flight crew. Your nervous twitching is driving us crazy, and we hope this will help you enjoy your travel a little more! Aloha!” 

“Unbelievable!” I grumbled as he walked away. I ceased my anxious movements, but I flung the pineapple clad label into my purse.

After a minute or so of me simply glimpsing out into space, Aidan inquired, “You’re not gonna drink that?”

I replied, “No! I wanna keep my wits about me for when…” I lowered my voice and continued that thought, “… for when Wade shows up!”

“Babe, Wade isn’t here!” Aidan hushedly told me. “If he was, we’d all know it! He’d be offending all five senses of the passenger, and everyone seems fine! Like, if he was here, we’d all smell something disgusting, and we…” A toilet flushed from behind us, and once the passenger returned to his seat, Aidan amended his sentence, “Well, there’s nothing that compares to his indecent odor! Anyways, Agent Hearne promised to do a thorough check of all the passengers here, and I’m confident security checked every nook and cranny of this… Ugh!” Aidan sniffed the air and crinkled his nose. “These seats stink! How come Minna gets to sit in first class?”

“Well, it’s not like anybody can make a parplegic sit in the back! And since she has to come with us, they most likely wanted to make certain you two stayed separated,” I theorized. The stench from the lavatory began to bother me, so I pulled out my new wand and targeted the source of vileness. I couldn’t produce anything! I did several attempts, and I couldn’t create even the smallest spell! Once I gave it a significant amount of concentration, I managed to draw out a smidgen of magic, but it wasn’t nearly enough to quell the unpleasant aroma! I growled as I pressed the call button, and I complained, “I hate this thing!”

Aidan put his gentle but firm hand on my shoulder and encouragingly expressed, “Shannon, don’t forget two years ago, you managed to draw out a powerful hex with only your fingertips! The instrument you use doesn’t matter- you got it within you to…” He gagged slightly and then returned to his original sentiment, “Sorry! You have it within you to do great feats- you gotta relax your mind and… Where the hell is that flight attendant? This is so bad!”

The flight attendant popped up right at that moment with another container of liquor in his hands. “More wine?”

“Fine!” I grabbed the booze and then grumpily barked, “Now, can you do something about the stinkiness?”

“Of course!” He pulled out his wand and did a quick jinx. “Can I assist you with anything else?”

I sourly articulated, “Probably not!” He gazed at me peculiarly and then ambled away. I tossed the bottle into my purse rather aggressively, and when I caught sight of Aidan’s focus, I anticipated what he would communicate to me and acquiesced, “Yeah, yeah, yeah! I’m gonna chill out now! If I don’t collect myself, I’ll never be able to catch Wade at-!” I cut myself when I realized how loudly I had uttered that phrase! Aidan’s eyes grew wide at my error, and we glanced around to see if anyone had heard that. Within seconds…

The young couple ahead of us swiveled around, and the gentleman in front of me petitioned us, “Did I hear you say you’re gonna catch some waves?”

“Yes! That’s totally what I was talking about!” I lied with as much enthusiasm as I could muster to make them buy into my assertion.

“Far out! We intend to do some surfin’ too!” he merrily conversed. “The water in these shores are pretty gnarly, but we’re so aggro, bro!”

The woman next to him asked, “Are you two on your honeymoon too?”

Aidan and I gave her blank stares. While we sat in police custody waiting for our plane’s takeoff time, we all practiced our made-up backstories for when we run into this exact event, but I no longer had the foggiest notion on what Aidan and I settled on! My apprehension over traveling as well as what I was affirmative was Wade’s imminent attack both taxed my brain tremendously, but since Aidan and I didn’t get any sleep the previous night, neither of us could recall anything we went over! It felt like I sat down for a test I hadn’t studied for! And here I was worried that one of the minors or Aidan’s unsophisticated ex might ruin our cover! It became extremely evident that Aidan was experiencing the same dilemma as me because he blurted out, “Yeah, we got married last night!”

Outwardly, I smiled at that remark, but inwardly, I was grimacing! I couldn’t provide the chronology we landed on, but I knew it was longer than one day! That wouldn’t have been such a problem if he had relayed that to some passing strangers, but I had this feeling that they would… “Congrats, dude! When we land, let’s hit up a tiki bar and celebrate!” the surfer man jovially invited us. My mind reeled on what excuse to give them that would seem valid enough to opt out of this social opportunity without offending anyone, and then…

“Sophia! Sophia! Sophia!” my mom called out to me from across the aisle and a few seats up. It took a beat for me to recognize my alias! I swiftly gave Mom my attention, and then she held up a magazine where I could see and avidly brought up, “They have flowerpots shaped like palm trees! Do you imagine we’ll have room for a few of these at our new place?”

“I dunno, we’ll find out when we get there!” I had no clue what sort of abode we were heading into, but if Aidan and I didn’t end up getting private quarters, I knocked on wood that we wouldn’t have an area for her ghastly decor!

The surfer’s wife probed, “Uh… Your mother came on your newlywed vacay?”

Aidan hastily fibbed, “We’ve postponed that. We gotta get straight to work.”

“Bummer! What do you all do?” the surfer man wondered.

“Sales,” I lamely put forward. Truthfully, I had no inkling what they had in store for us, but whatever industry we were going to win up in, I guessed that I could tie it to a marketing or business aspect to it if we ever crossed paths with these Hilo honeymooners again!

The surfer wife sympathized, “I get it. When you rely on commission, you gotta put in the extra hours sometimes just to break even!”

That line fared better than I foresaw it would- it made sense as to why we had rushed from our vows to our job! Though it still would have been much simpler if Aidan had given them a lengthier span! Why was this so difficult? We both did undercover work as part of our career duties! At this juncture,despite the setbacks, it appeared as though we had this interaction under control, but then the surfer man canvassed us, “So, how did you lovebirds meet?”

“We met at a party!” Aidan elaborately narrated, “Our eyes met from across the room, and I knew I had to speak to her! The trouble was that she was with another man, so I had to find an excuse to befriend her and then woo her enough to go in my direction! I found out that she needed a plumber, and I claimed I was one even though I hadn’t done pipework ever in my life! I literally searched how to unclog a toilet minutes before I went over! It took longer than usual to get it done, but she didn’t care! We ended up talking, and by the end of the evening, we realized we should be together!”

“Wow! That’s a beautiful story!” the surfer wife sincerely complimented him. I was glad she liked that yarn because I found several plotholes in that anecdote! She shortly conveyed to us, “We met on a dating app.”

Aidan lamented, “Aw, man! That would’ve been so much easier to say! I wish I had… met my wife in such an uncomplicated manner…!”

The Hilo honeymooners gazed at us quizzically, and Aidan fretfully chuckled in hopes of smoothing over his blunder. The pair didn’t laugh back, and for a flash, I esteemed that we had blown it! I speculated on whether or not I ought to try and do a memory spell on the lousy wands the FBI issued us, but then, all of a sudden, it became clear that this awkward misstep wouldn’t prove to be the biggest conundrum we would have to endure…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 3

Even though I felt sure it was wrong, I conjectured, “Wade passed on and we can all go home?”

“We can’t go home ‘til the damage is repaired,” Aidan pointed out.

“You’re right! Looks like we’re getting a hotel! Ooh, this would be a good excuse for a weekend trip!” My eyes sparkled at the concept of retreating somewhere relaxing after this strenuous ordeal!

Agent Hearne gingerly articulated, “Well, I’m glad you like traveling…”

Discerning a huge catch to his statement, I babbled, “I never used to enjoy going anywhere outside of Anaknock, I was always too afraid, but after meeting Aidan, I’ve learned to love it! Long journeys used to make me scared, but I realized I’m in control of the journey, so I got over my anxiety! I no longer mind becoming a bit lost ‘cause I know I can always come home again if things go wrong! Our house is rock solid! … Or it was! But still, once it’s fixed, we-.”

“Shannon, you can’t go back to your apartment for a long time!” Sandra blurted out. “It’s not safe!”

“It shouldn’t take the magian construction crew long to rebuild it!” I reasoned. “You could have Fays do it, it’d be a nice gesture, but we-!”

Chief Mazarine interrupted me, “You can’t return to your domicile as long as Wade remains at large! And don’t make a joke about his weight!” I had opened my mouth to do just that, but upon receiving that directive, I zipped my lips! Normally, I would never disparage someone for their appearance, but I sensed some truly ominous news in the works, so I got really nervous! Also, he did try to kill me, so of course I was a little salty about him!

Aidan queried, “So, we gotta stay in a secure location while we handle the case?”

“You two can’t working the case!” Agent Hearne revealed to us. That was disappointing enough, but we could have gotten over it if he hadn’t added, “You can’t even stay in the city!”

“What?” Aidan and I reacted incredulously. It sounded so outlandish to me that I was quite certain that I hadn’t gleaned that tidbit properly!

Agent Hearne broke it down for us, “Wade obtained a police officer’s cellphone, so he has access to our information system. That’s how he found your address! This means every second you spend in this… Yes?”

Aidan had raised his hand like a schoolboy, and once Agent Hearne acknowledged him, he asked, “How did he manage to steal something from an officer from his prison cell?”

“He wasn’t in a prison cell,” Sandra answered. “Well, he was ‘til they did a health screener and saw that his heart was failing. Officer Pálido got put in charge of escorting him to the hospital unit for tests, and apparently, she fell in love…”

“What?” Aidan and I cried out in unison again. 

Chief Mazarine assured us, “Don’t worry, she’s been fired! No one wants someone with judgment like that on the force!”

I puzzled, “Who would fall in love with someone so physically and personally vile?”

“Didn’t your mother marry him?” Agent Hearne probed.

“Yeah, but that relationship was more about dependance than romance!” I contended.

Agent Hearne went on, “Anyways… Today, as she cuffed him to the bed, he began stroking her back seductively…” Aidan and I gagged at the picture he painted, so he let us know, “Calm down! They didn’t go that far! If Wade did have any intention of doing sexual activities, he couldn’t have done much because his heart is weak and couldn’t get enough blood flow to his-.”

I cut him off, “Look, I’ve been through a lot tonight, and it sounds like I’m about to go through some more- don’t add the torture of that image haunting my dreams to the pile!”

“So, he used this, I’m assuming, desperate officer’s credentials to bypass security measures and escape?” Aidan surmised.

“Yes,” Sandra confirmed. “You wouldn’t think that dying man would be so dangerous, but within five minutes of him gaining freedom, he incinerated a building and nearly murdered ten people! It’s so bizarre! He has months to live, but he wants to make sure you go down first?”

I reckoned, “Maybe he still believes he’ll turn into a Fay! I wonder if he’ll try and destroy the world again! Like if he can’t live in it, no one can? Seriously, I doubt he broke out of prison simply to kill us! It’d be a pretty short-lived goal!”

Chief Mazarine put in “The Ploutonion is monitored internationally now, so if he did go for it again, he wouldn’t get very far.” His logic was sound, but somehow, I doubted that these measures would have stopped him if that was what he really wanted to do!

“A-hem!” Agent Hearne made a bid for our attention.

“Is your throat dry? We could get you some water,” Sandra offered.

Agent Hearne politely declined, “I’m not thirsty! Actually, I am, but we don’t have time to spare for that! And we don’t have time to analyze the case either! As long as these two are in Anaknock, everyone around them is in danger!” Chief Mazarine subtly distanced himself from us when he mentioned that, but Agent Hearne ignored that gesture as he handed Aidan and me a wallet. “Our labs have issued you new identities. We have to keep you hidden until Wade has been caught! Or he dies, whatever comes first.”

My face fell, and I lost all of the color from skin as the reality of the situation sunk in! Everything in my life was about to drastically change! “So, we might be gone for months? For months, I’ll be away from my home and my friends? For months, I’ll have to leave the job I’ve waited a lifetime to get? For months, I’ll have to go by Sophia Swetinbedde? Really?”

“I like it!” Aidan snickered at the naughty allusion attached to this moniker until he opened his wallet and saw his identity. “Oh, I’m a Swetinbedde too? Kennedy Swetinbedde, no thanks! Can’t I go by something classier like Kennedy Jagger or Kennedy Hendrix?”

“Babe, those rockstars are bad-ass, but they’re not…” Prior to me completing that sentence, I made an astute observation. “Wait, you gave us the same last name?”

Agent Hearne explained, “It makes more sense for a married couple to get a house big enough to accommodate their relatives.”

Aidan’s eyes grew wide. “Hold on, we gotta get married? I definitely want to someday, but not today! I mean, we can’t even have a true ceremony ‘cause Wade might off our entire guest list…”

“You don’t have to tie the knot, but if you do want to, I am qualified to wed people…” Agent Hearne apprised. 

“The FBI isn’t given that power!” Chief Mazarine objected.

Agent Hearne clarified, “That’s correct. My colleagues can’t do it, but I myself can since I got certified in order to perform at my buddy’s wedding.” He glimpsed our terrified expressions and concluded, “Okay, so you’re not on board with that proposal. Well, you still have to pretend to be a married couple ‘til this situation is resolved. We have some clothes ready to go, and you’ll have some food stocked when you arrive at your destination.” He viewed the tension we felt multiplying, so he tacked on to that, “I understand we made a lot of decisions about your life, and that’s probably pretty overwhelming…” Aidan and I nodded vigorously. “We’re willing to consider your wishes on where you’d like to go next. You can go anywhere, the only stipulation is it can’t be close to here or anywhere where your family or close friends live.” We remained apprehensive, so he added, “Your downstairs neighbors are set to do a nice holiday in Europe. This adventure could wind up being really romantic for you! Well, as romantic as it can get with your mom, sister, nieces, nephews, and cousin tagging along…”

Aidan inquired, “Cousin? Neither of us had any cousins at our house recently, so who… No! You can’t have Minna living with us! I have a restraining order against her!”

“Really? Shit! … Well, we can put a spell on her so that she can’t go within ten feet of you!” Agent Hearne strove to appease us, but we groaned at what a disaster this expedition threatened to become! He slid a couple of pieces of paper towards us as well as some pencils, and he instructed, “Get your thoughts off of the stressful aspects of everything by envisioning where you wanna go! Write down your top five choices, and i’ll send you all somewhere great! Oh, your family has their choices done already!” A group of documents suddenly appeared on the table in front of him, and we stared at them with appall. Clearly, neither Aidan nor I relished participating in this odyssey, and it shocked me that they were willing to partake so quickly! They didn’t even seem to take a moment to carefully consider the matter! It alarmed me how easily they were willing to leave their entire lives behind! I had no inkling to do the same! I strongly preferred to plant my roots further and defend my homestead against that monster! Was I alone in that? “…Unless you would rather rely on your family to make this decision…”

“No!” Aidan and I responded simultaneously. 

We grabbed our sheets, and Aidan began jotting something down immediately! I ached to see what he wrote, but somehow, I got the impression that Agent Hearne wouldn’t allow that to transpire. He didn’t express any rules, but he had the demeanor of a strict teacher administering an important test, so I refrained from conferring with my boyfriend about this subject! I mulled over where I would have been willing to go, and I came up blank! It would have been different if we were picking a vacation spot, but I couldn’t envision myself settling anywhere that didn’t have my loved ones close by! Plus, I had been hoping to informally investigate whatever Wade was up to. I knew he possessed an unyielding yen for vengeance against, well, mainly me since I prevented him from wiping out humanity, but did he really lose the desire to do the goal that landed him in lockup in the first place? Whatever he was up to, he would be keeping it a secret from Sandra, Chief Mazarine, or anyone else they assigned to the case! He would be lying low from the authorities… except for me! I was positive he would resurface wherever I ended up to complete at least one of his missions, so I stood the biggest chance of thwarting his efforts! I had to go where he stood the greatest chance of locating me! With that on my brain, I scrawled a few ideas down…

Agent Hearne took a minute to pore over our picks, and I could no longer tell whose document was whose! I kept my fingers crossed he would opt for a suggestion of mine, and my anticipation climbed higher the longer he took! Finally, he appeared to have settled on something! “Alright, Aidan! Hawaii it is!”

My jaw dropped! Hawaii? That was the furthest possible state from Maryland! I’m guessing, I never calculated the math on that geography! I gave him an incredulous stare, and he seemed equally baffled. When he espied my betrayed glare, he defended himself, “Babe, I put that down as a joke! My top pick was ‘Whatever Shannon wants.’ Show her! Please!”

“He’s right, he did put that!” Agent Hearne confirmed as he laid down Aidan’s paperwork.

“See!” Aidan indicated to the beginning of his sheet, and I recognized he was, indeed, telling the truth! He penciled down his preference to do as I desired first, and Hawaii had been number two! Number three was Tahiti, four was the Bahamas, and five was Cancun, Mexico! Aidan justified his actions, “I put down the rest to be funny! I didn’t seriously believe they would send us to any of them!”

I bickered, “Why not? The Anhulsyns are vacationing in Europe!”

Aidan countered, “But they’re from Europe!”

“They weren’t allowed to go near their family!” The reference to family brought up another issue I had with this plan. “Why can’t we all go separately? Send Laraleigh and the kids to Hawaii! Then Aidan and I can do one of my choices!”

“And Minna! Send her to the other side of the country too!” Aidan beseeched him.

Agent Hearne told us, “Virginia is within walking distance of Anaknock! West Virginia and Pennsylvania are short drives from here, Delaware is still too close, and Aidan has an uncle in Ohio.”

Aidan quarreled, “He lives in a trailer! He could just park his home somewhere else for a bit!”

“No, we’re not displacing anymore individuals,” Agent Hearne declined his proposition. “It was enough of a pain in the ass scrambling to file the reports needed to get you all new identities in a hurry! That’s why you’re stuck with Minna! At least for a while; I’ll work on moving her, but I can’t guarantee how long that’d take since it’s not considered an emergency.” Aidan and I grew very crestfallen at the finalization of this agenda, and Agent Hearne squirmed in guilt as he requested, “Please hand over your cellphones and wands.” I nearly fainted after he uttered that, and to prevent an outburst, he quickly went into further detail, “Wade has access to your GPS, and you can’t reveal that you’re with law enforcement by using police issued wands! Once this is over, you’ll get them back, but until he’s apprehended, we’ve issued you new ones.”

“We can’t even communicate with our loved ones?” A lump rose up in my throat. I spent years developing a social life, and suddenly, I had to throw it all away! And I couldn’t even check in with my family going forward! It was so surreal that I had to pinch myself to ensure that I wasn’t in the middle of a horrible nightmare! “Ow! This is all real!”

Agent Hearne apologized, “I’m sorry for what you’re going through! Your family will get my info, and I’ll keep them updated on your case. You have my number too, so if you have any questions, feel free to reach out! It’s listed as IRS in case anyone gets their hands on your device. No one will be tempted to call that contact!”

I gazed at the outdated phones and puny wands he passed out to us, and my stomach tied itself in knots! I dreamt of becoming a cop since I was a little kid, and it my dream career got taken from so unceremoniously! It wasn’t fair! I wanted to resist, but I knew that wasn’t an option! I slammed my cell and my wand onto the table and positioned myself to get them out of my sight! If I hadn’t peeled myself away right then, I knew I’d lose my nerve! Sandra threw her arms around my torso and consoled me, “Don’t despair! We’ll arrest Wade and get you back before you know it! And you’re going to freakin’ Hawaii! It’s gorgeous there! I’m sure you’ll have a ball during this stay!” As she said this goodbye, I couldn’t share any of her optimism for this hellish journey!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 2

“Let’s save her life, and once this is all over, we can send her to jail!” I suggested to Aidan. He gave me a curt nod, and then I swung the entryway open…

“Oh, bless your heart!” Minna graciously conveyed to us as she wheeled herself in. Yes, wheeled! We don’t have an elevator, so it mystified me as to how she had access to our second story property! She also surprised me by dressing up nicely for her spying expedition! Usually, when I encountered criminals who aim to keep themselves hidden, they wear dark colors and keep their faces shielded, but that’s not what she did! She had a silver, sequined dress that gave her pudgy body a more flattering silhouette, glittery makeup that highlighted her dark-brown eyes, and a flashy barrette in her long, black, curly hair! I had no clue how we could have missed her in the parking lot as we came home! She also had a huge, Romanesque nose! That’s not relevant- I just noticed at that juncture! “I knew y’all wouldn’t-!”

Aidan slammed the door shut in the nick of time- someone crashed into our door pretty hard! “Ouch!” Wade’s muffled voice moaned. 

Mom queried, “Is that Wade? Wow, you guys have a really durable structure here!”

“Everyone into our bedroom, now!” I ordered them as I mentally prepared myself for this confrontation. “Don’t make a sound! And for the love of Pete, don’t ask any questions about what you see in there!” I cringed at the call I made; our room was the furthest point from the potential battlegrounds, but it pained me to envision the conversation we were bound to have about it later!

“Who’s Pete?” Willow posed to me.

Wade gently knocked on the door. “Don’t worry! I’m not here ‘cause I plotted revenge as my white-hot rage burned in that prison cell for years! I simply wanna talk!”

Jackson remarked, “That’s a relief!”

“Everyone do as she said!” Laraleigh ushered her children into the back of our abode. Minna and Mom followed suit, and I used my wand to shut the door. I considered doing extra protection spells for them, but I needed to save all of the energy I had for the inevitable foray! I hardly believed that Wade had broken out of his detention center only to have a friendly chat!

“Ooh! Strawberries!” Willow exclaimed.

Aidan glimpsed at me curiously. “Strawberries?”

I originally intended to privately reveal this gift to him later, but I highly doubted that we were going to get a chance to use them later, so I told him, “Yeah. There’s whipped cream and chocolate sauce too!”

“Dammit! Wade, I’ll kill you!” Aidan growled when he realized what he was missing out on.

“You could wait a few months and let it happen naturally!” As if he could see the puzzled expressions we bore upon hearing that pronouncement, Wade elucidated, “Something’s wrong with my ticker! The doctor says I’ll make it to Christmas, but I have a funny feeling I won’t even make it to Father’s Day! And don’t fret about getting me any presents- I’m sure it’s strange doing that for your stepdaddy!”

I inwardly noted that I needed to query my mother on the status of her divorce with him, and then I sardonically shot back to him, “Yeah, that’s why I don’t get you any presents! It has nothing to do with you trying to murder me or your attempt to destroy the world!”

Wade either didn’t catch on to my contempt or he ignored it as he went on, “Exactly! I knew the warden wouldn’t permit me to have any visitors, so that’s why I had to escape! I gotta make amends with you all before I kick the bucket!”

“How did you escape anyways?” Aidan pressed him.

“That’s not important! I’m sure your colleagues will arrive in a matter of minutes, so we gotta do this quickly! Invite me inside and I’ll show you precisely how sorry I am!” Wade requested.

I scoffed at that pathetic effort, “And I don’t suppose you’ll declare yourself not sorry at all and then proceed to attack us?”

Wade, who was clearly lying, fibbed, “I would never! They don’t call them correctional institutes for nothing!”

“That only counts if you’ve served your sentence!” Aidan pointed out.

“Basically, I did! I got life in prison, and I’m already at death’s door!” Wade argued.

I corrected him, “No, you’re at our door! We’re not letting you in, and we’re calling our colleagues to bring you back to lockup! I’d love to cuff you again, but you’re not worth removing our protective spells!”

Wade didn’t make any noise for a few seconds, but I could hear the wheels turning in his head as I initiated a nine-one-one call. Prior to me hitting the call button, Wade speculated, “So, you used protective magic, huh? I wonder if your neighbors did…” Before we could warn him not to, we felt the ground below us tremble, and the crackling of fire floated into our eardrums! “Oh, I guess they don’t!”

“Son of a bitch!” Aidan growled as he dashed out onto the balcony.

“Hey! Don’t bring that jezebel into this!” Wade spat.

As Aidan leaned over the ledge to do an extinguishing jinx, I recalled that the terrace could be seen from the stoop! I seriously didn’t want to risk any damage to our house or any of the innocent bystanders within its walls, but I wouldn’t have been able to bear it if anything serious befell on Aidan, so I had no choice but to bite the bullet and allow him access inside! I wasn’t about to let him get past the foyer though! I opened the door, and…

Wade had been leaning in a fashion that clearly indicated he intended to strike Aidan shortly! When he saw me, he hid his sausage fingers behind his back and acted very nonchalantly. I instantly raised my eyebrows at this sight! I mean, it’s hard to look sinless and pure-minded when you’re in a prison jumpsuit in the middle of a private sector! His sandy skin (both in the color and the dirt) didn’t paint the portrait of a man on his last leg, so I had difficulties buying his claims of a short mortality! He did appear smaller than when I first met him, but I reminded myself that he was wearing a fat suit to disguise his identity, so of course he had a slimmer frame in this instance! He did smell like he was dying, but he carried that stench even at his healthiest! I would’ve thought the caretakers in his cell block would’ve bathed that odor out of him! He twiddled his scraggly, white beard that melded perfectly with his unkempt hair, and he bumbled, “Oh, I’m so glad you opened up! We have so much to discuss!”

“Actually, at the moment, I’d like to advise you that you have the right to remain silent!” I quipped. I then aimed my wand’s trajectory in his direction, but he pulled his back out and deflected my projectile!

“Now, now! If you start a fight, you won’t get a chance to see my beautiful apology!” Wade sent something towards me, but I counteracted it. He repeated the process a couple more times, and I reverberated them all! He cursed me between words, “Why… don’t… you… let… me… make… everything… right?” He suddenly grew out of breath, so I took this opportunity to make another bid in detaining him. He dodged it by lunging forward, but then he fell through our living room floor!

Aidan ran over and assessed, “I snuffed out the blaze, but the construction is weak in certain areas… obviously!”

We overheard Wade politely address our neighbor, “Oh, pardon my intrusion, ma’am!”

“Durnyy cholovik! Scho ty zrobyv z moyim budynkom?” an elderly lady hollered.

“Freaking bohunk!” Wade muttered.

I directed Aidan, “Hold my hand!” He grabbed my palm as I bent down to peek inside of the quarters beneath us. I saw the Eastern European woman glancing around her apartment in complete confusion, but I didn’t spot Wade anywhere, so I inquired, “Hey, Missus Anhelsyn! Where’d he go?”

Missus Anelysun shrugged. “I do not know! He poofed and he gone! What is this word, bohunk?”

“Pay no attention to that! Slava Ukraini!” Under ordinary circumstances, I would have illuminated her on that derogatory term, but we didn’t have a second to spare! Wade was on the move, and we had to pursue him in order to prevent a more permanent disappearance! However, the odds of us accomplishing that seemed bleak since the ground crumbled beneath me as I stood up! As Aidan pulled me to safety, we stared at the front door longingly! How were we supposed to get out of there without damaging anyone or anything?

“I think my phone is ringing!” Aidan reached into his pocket, and sure enough, it had been vibrating from a call from the Slygow County police headquarters! Aidan held his mobile so that we could both hear the speaker and greeted the person on the other end, “Hello! You’re speaking to Officers Maddox and Vidette!”

A somewhat deep but still gentle voice responded, “Hi, this is Agent Evander Hearne with the FBI. Are you two sitting down?” 

Two chairs by our kitchen table fell into the hole, so after I shook my head, I urged him, “Just go ahead!”

“Okay… Well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but Wade Toonella has escaped from prison, and we suspect that he may be traveling to your proximity!” Agent Hearne dramatically revealed.

“Sigh! You’re a little late for that notification! He was already here!” Aidan let him know.

Agent Hearne stuttered, “He was… What?”

I advised him, “He escaped, so could you send a crime scene unit here asap?” The chasm expanded and sent the coat rack by the entryway tumbling into Missus Anhelsyn’s space, which made her cat screech with fright! Realizing we would have to find another way out of this building, I added, “And someone with a ladder!”

Walking into the Bull Pen in a non-work capacity felt so weird! In addition to being at my job when I wasn’t on the clock, I had family members with me! Scoping out the two long rows of cubicles, I didn’t see a single person typing up reports or communicating to potential leads, and that really threw me off! I hadn’t ever been in here when it was empty before, it was like stepping into an odd dream! When we got to the end of the row, Mason peered into the cubicle closest to our break room and excitedly observed, “Hey! Thai guys’ got a picture of us in it!”

“That’s my desk,” I corrected him as kindly as possible. I took a beat to forlornly survey the photos and various knick-knacks that I had collected over the last couple of years. A part of me wanted to console myself with the fact that I would be back at this seat on Monday, but another part of me got this inexplicable impression that I wouldn’t get the chance to view any of this again for a very long while!

“Are we getting arrested?” Harper asked as we came to the hallway that contained the bathrooms, observation rooms, interrogation rooms, and the chief’s office at the opposite side.

Aidan assured Harper, “Of course not! You’re witnesses, not criminals!”

Harper grimaced. “Darn it!”

We gave Harper a peculiar regard, but we didn’t have a minute to spare in order to broach the subject in more depth because a man in his sixties with russet skin, umber eyes, and a big beard met up with us… in his pajamas! We had a serious matter to deal with, and yet I couldn’t concentrate on anything else but his night wear! It was rare to catch him in anything casual, so to see him in this… He appeared to have beheld my focus and briefly explained, “What? It’s Friday night, I’m tired, and I wasn’t expecting to take on this mess tonight!”

“I’m sorry, sir!” I swiftly apologized. I had a lot to feel anxious about right then, I truly didn’t want to have to throw in angst over getting bad assignments too!

“There’s a team waiting to speak with you all in that room. You two…” He indicated to Aidan and me. “… come with me!”

We followed him into the interrogation room across the hall from the others. Chief Mazarine parked himself in a chair between a platinum blonde woman with sparkling blue eyes and a slightly older but very genial demeanor and a tawny-skinned man with a nearly shorn off head, honey eyes, and a strong jawline. The unknown man had a very sober expression, but the woman merrily waved to us! Aidan eyeballed her country-like costume and conversed, “You and the husband out square dancing?”

Sandra’s eyes darted around in a shifty manner. “Uh… yeah! That’s exactly what we were doing…”

“Hi! I’m the agent you talked to earlier.” Agent Hearne extended his hand for us to shake.

“I suppose you wanna get all of the details of this incident?” I guessed.

Agent Hearne relayed to us, “Actually, we have all we need from the crime scene reports. We have something more important to go over with you…”

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 1

Here we go again! It feels like just yesterday I was writing the prequel to this book! Well, in a way anyways! So much has changed since my last adventure that me at thirty-three seems so different from the version of me I know today! Before, I got a new job and a new home, and now, I have a new job and a new home… It’s complicated…

I’d say let’s start at the beginning, but really, to fully understand the craziness that became my life, we need to start at the end of the first installment, so if you haven’t read that yet… Why are you checking out this one? To those who have perused through the first novel, here’s a refresher: Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to work in law enforcement because they fought the Fay Folks and I wanted to be, like, a superhero by combating them! Thwarting this band of undead fiends causing all kinds of mayhem sounded like a dream! And it was since it didn’t work out like that in reality! To begin with, the Fays are just like regular humans! Well, not in looks! But their neon-colored skin, sharp claws, and pointy teeth aside, they behave in the manner most people do- except they can’t do magic like us and they have the memory of how they died! They got sent back to Earth so that Fate could decide whether they belong in Heaven or Hell, and at the end of the day, aren’t we all wrestling with that conundrum? Anyhow, being a detective wasn’t as glamorous as I pictured it. It rarely involves foiling the schemes of brilliant supervillains- mainly, it involves cleaning up the figurative messes that folks with faulty judgment set in motion! Rape, kidnapping, murder- those are rarities! Thank goodness! On an average day, I solve crimes like the mystery of why that dude was breaking into individuals’ homes to lounge in his French maid costume or the enigma of why a woman kept leaving pumpkins on people’s porches while singing a spooky song in April! There’s a lot of outlandish criminals out there, but we deal don’t deal with them on a normal basis, which is a blessing! I couldn’t handle my world getting turned upside down from constantly dealing with dastardly evildoers like Wade Toonella…

Yes, it’s a goofy sounding name, but that hillbilly was one of the most notorious lawbreakers the town of Anaknock has ever seen! … As well as my mother’s most rotten ex and the most ghastly roommate I ever had the misfortune to habituate with! About that… My former husband, Ben, apparently had an addiction to hookers, and I actually caught him red-handed while I was on the clock! To add insult to injury, he drained our financial accounts, and the bank was mere days away from foreclosing on our place! I was so involved with work that I had nowhere else to go but my mom and Wade’s mobile home in Brigid’s Garden, an establishment not known for its safety or serenity! It was a rookie working on a bicycle theft case, and it turned out it was used to make an ominous sign at a murder site! Wade apparently committed a string of murders so he could “liberate” them into Fay form! He really believed he was doing them a favor since he was going into the gateway between the living world and the beyond in order to destroy this dimension and evoke the apocalypse! It was a challenging experience, and a bit reckless due to the Ploutonion being out of Slygow county’s jurisdiction, but I was at least able to prove my worth to my boss, Chief Mazarine! And I made some friends from the experience too! Oh, additionally, it lead me to my truest love, Aidan…

Aidan Maddox is the most striking man I’ve ever met! He has gorgeous, slicked-back, blond hair, sparkling, light blue eyes, a broad, toothy grin, and a finely sculpted body! I still can’t believe a woman like me could land such a hunk! When I attained a plus-size figure, I never imagined that I could ever get dubbed as a trophy girlfriend to someone as swoon-worthy as him! But he says he loves my curves along with my golden-brown eyes, chestnut hair, and light-beige skin! I hadn’t considered those features as unique prior to him, but he says they are! How did Wade’s wickedness lead me to him? Um… so… he was my number one suspect in that spree I mentioned a minute ago! In fact, initially, I only agreed to go out with him so I could shell out more clues for my case! I guess you could say it was a meet-cute! Aidan eventually got proven innocent, and he helped me take Wade down! The only reason Aidan got involved with that fiasco was because he was trying to recruit Wade’s Fay sidekick into his “business” where he tricked bad guys out of their riches! But after this incident, he went from a modern Robin Hood to an undercover cop! He recently graduated from the police academy, and he adores his new and legal method of screwing over reprobates! We trade stories about our workday every night in our cozy little apartment, and everything is perfect! Well, it was until Aidan’s fortieth birthday…

“BUUUURRRRP!” Aidan let out a large belch as we walked up the staircase to our abode.

“Oh, that’s attractive!” I sarcastically responded to his eructation.

We reached the stoop, and Aidan kidded me, “You know you still have the hots for me!”

I admitted, “Somehow, regardless of how disgusting you act, you ARE still irresistible to me!”

“I don’t know why! You realize you can do so much better, right?” Aidan probed.

“I disagree!” I smiled warmly at him hoping to convey the sheer honesty of that statement.

Aidan grinned and then wrapped his arms around my waist. “Thank you for a fantastic celebration!”

With a wry expression, I informed him, “The evening’s not over yet! Just wait ‘til you see what I have in store for you in the bedroom!”

He lustfully told me, “What if I don’t wanna wait?”

I simpered, and we began kissing each other passionately! I took off his leather jacket, and he unzipped my dress, but before we went too far in public, Aidan reached into his pocket and used his exquisite, red alder wand to open the entryway. I joked with him, “Okay, but I get to dig into your pants next!” He chuckled as he shut the door, and I unzipped his jeans, but before I could pull them down…

“SURPRISE!” a cacophony of voices blurted out as several figures emerged from behind our furniture! Aidan and I screamed and instinctively brandished our wands at the direction of the noise! Once the initial shock wore off, I recognized the perpetrators were family members! A lady with short, poofy blond hair, thin limbs, and my golden-brown eyes instantly grew even paler than usual, and a young woman with features much like Aidan’s dropped her jaw at this sight! Five young children (two boys and three girls) were clearly frightened and appeared as though they wanted to cry. For a heavy moment, everyone froze in an awkward silence.

“Why was she taking off his pants?” the nine year old boy asked.

The five year old girl answered, “She was probably gonna give him a bath!”

Aidan and I rolled with that explanation and spouted, “Yes! Exactly what we were gonna do! Uh-huh!”

The eight year old seemed to know we had fibbed, but she couldn’t quite ascertain what we were covering up. I could tell the eleven year old boy and the fourteen year old girl weren’t fooled for a second, and suddenly, I felt incredibly embarrassed! I mean, if I had any idea they were there, I wouldn’t have attempted to romp with Aidan, but still, I felt bad for creating the discomfort of seeing their uncle in such a compromising position! My mom cleared her throat and strove to smooth things over, “Bathtime will have to come later- it’s party time now!” She chuckled, but only the youngest two laughed. Mom then directed the fourteen year old, “Kinsey, can you turn on the radio?” Kinsey seemed glad to have an excuse not to gaze at us any longer and bolted over to the stereo.

“Do you wanna give him your present first, Jackson?” Aidan’s sister queried the eleven year old.

“Uh…” Jackson averted his eyes and blushed.

The five year old girl volunteered, “I’ll go! I think I left it in here…”

She reached for the doorknob of my bedroom, and I shouted, “No, Willow! Don’t!” Willow got taken aback by my abruptness and halted her footsteps. It’s not as though my “present” to Aidan was that salacious, I just didn’t want to hear her question it out loud and have to cook up another whopper to account for it!

“We’ll do presents later!” Aidan’s sister asserted. She raised an eyebrow at us and then instructed the eight year old girl and the nine year old boy, “Harper, Mason, go ahead and bring out that cake!”

“Thanks for the visit, Laraleigh!” Aidan regarded his sister in a slightly bashful fashion.

Laraleigh shrugged. “I thought it’d be fun since the hubby is visiting his pappy. He’s not doing too well! He forgot how to speak English- all he speaks is French now! And we’re pretty sure it’s mainly swear words! I didn’t think the kids should hear that, so it seemed like the perfect weekend to do this!”

Aidan’s eyes bugged out upon hearing this. “Did you say weekend?”

“Oh no! Uncle Aidan is old now and going deaf!” Harper exclaimed.

“Hey! I’m not so old that I can’t hear!” Aidan rebuffed that slight.

Kinsey offered, “Did you want me to get that?”

Aidan puzzled, “Get what?”

“There was a knock on the front door. Didn’t you hear it?” Kinsey pressed him.

“That doesn’t mean anything!” Aidan contended to Harper, who appeared very much triumphant.

Another knock resounded across the apartment, and this time, we could all hear it! It had the level of volume that would suggest it was someone desperate, which I found strange until a foul odor wafted by my nostrils… “It’s Wade!” I declared. “He’s broken out of prison, and he’s out for revenge!”

Mom differed, “Sweetie, that’s impossible! He has all of the highest security surrounding him at that facility! Believe me, I did my research on that ‘cause I came to the same conclusion after passing an open sewer! There’s virtually nothing he could do to get out! Besides, even if did escape somehow, the warden would let us know immediately! Don’t worry about that ever happening!” Her logic was solid, and I knew my theory had the hallmarks of total lunacy, but my instincts indicated that I was totally correct! My stomach lurched at the very premise of that notion, and I held my wand at the ready in the eventuality that my hypothesis panned out…

“I’ll see who it is!” Aidan assured me after the rapping at the entryway intensified. As he peeked through the peephole, my heart pounded wildly! I fully expected Aidan to announce that the sinister scoundrel had, indeed, arrived at our doorstep, and that feeling only got exacerbated when Aidan fretfully reacted to what he saw, “Oh, shit!”

“Ooh! Uncle Aidan sweared!” Mason called out.

Aidan put all of his weight on the door and commanded, “Somebody call the police!” He shouted to the person on the other side of the entrance, “Get out of here, you psychopath!”

I advised everyone, “Get back to your hiding spots!” They heeded my word, and I prepared myself for a lengthy battle.. But then…

“Aidan! Please let me in!” a woman with a thick southern accent pleaded.

“You’re not welcome here! The restraining order should have made that perfectly clear!” Aidan angrily addressed her.

I didn’t recall Aidan ever mentioning having a restraining order against anyone! Oh sure, he screwed over a lot of crooks, but he always wore disguises, so it seemed unlikely that he would go through such a measure for them! I couldn’t fathom why he kept this from me, so I grilled him, “Aidan, who is this person?”

Aidan filled me in, “She’s my ex-girlfriend from high school. She didn’t handle our breakup well and started stalking me! I was positive I’d never see her again once I left Kentucky! Seriously, it’s been over a decade, I thought I lost her!” The knocking grew more erratic, so Kinsey made a bid to let her in, but Aidan stopped her from doing that. “Don’t invite her inside! She’s not stable!”

“Actually, I got much better after they put me on these meds!” the woman quarreled.

“Then what are you doing here, Minna?” Aidan challenged her.

Minna professed, “I followed your sister here! But I wasn’t gonna do anything! I only wanted to watch your windows and pretend that I belong here! If you mull it over a little, you’ll see that act as very romantic!”

Aidan retorted, “I see it as creepy! Do you really imagine I’d be cool with this lawlessness? I’m sure you already figured out that I’m a police officer now!”

“I did! Never mind how I knew that though! I need to get in there lickety-split!” Minna beseeched him. “Someone’s after me!”

“Yeah right!” Aidan shook his head. “How convenient!”

With that foul odor getting stronger, I wondered if her appeal had any merit. “Who’s after you?”

Minna reported, “I don’t know! He didn’t say his name! Plus, he had a hood covering his face like your neighbor here is… Uh oh! It’s him! He’s coming up!”