“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…