Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 23

“Something stolen?” Kalani puzzled. “The mo’o don’t often have many, if any, possessions…”

That response was unacceptable! The cashier wouldn’t have made something like that up! Okay, so I didn’t know her well enough to vouch for the honesty in her character, I didn’t even know her name, but I doubted that she would have invented a wild story for us! What would the point have been? To fool us and dissuade me from coming back for those purses I wanted to hold? She sounded pretty certain that this mo’o had something go missing!

Kalani’s face contorted as though she had a sudden flashback of knowledge on the subject, and she supposedly recalled, “Oh, she could have been referring to the makana makamae…”

“Yeah, that’s what she called it! What is that thing?” I pressed her.

“Kalani, can you come here for a minute?” Kaleo’s expression looked fairly angry and possibly even slightly frightened too!

After setting the bag of plant food down, Kalani acquiesced, “Of course, ipo!”

Prior to her scuttling off and avoiding this discussion, I grabbed her arm and told her, “Oh, no! I’m not gonna have two people leave me in suspense like that! Tell me what it is or… well… Oh! I’ll have the Bamboocha Bungalow sell those purses to someone else!”

Kalani discerned the determination I held on this topic from my brazen eyes, so she begrudgingly relented, “Alright, alright! A makana makamae is a sacred gift usually given to the recipient by the gods. Don’t ask me what the mo’o’s makana makamae was- it could be anything! Really, no one is even certain about the mo’o’s appearance, so how would anyone know what its gift is?”

I definitely had more questions, but both Kalani and Kaleo seemed impatient to chat about… whatever, so I loosened my grip on her. The pair of them went a considerable distance for a private discourse, which prompted me to spread the plant food around more quickly. I had a hunch that I touched a nerve with them, and I was dying to hear their reaction to this interaction! If this tidbit had been the motive for them trying to hide from me, then I reasoned that they must have harbored the identity of the person responsible for the disappearing lake! If I could just learn their name, I could confront them and find out where they hid this object! It would restore the vibrancy of this region to have their water source return, and it may have foiled whatever sinister plot Wade had up his sleeves! The Hekekias would directly benefit from the renaissance following the completion of this enigma, so why would they keep any knowledge of this event a secret? What consequence could have been worse than the financial ruin from their failed farm? My curiosity was rapt, and that sentiment only heightened the closer I got to them! Right when I started to get within inches of them though…

A loud bell rang from the front of their house! Everyone glanced around in confusion- even the Hekekias! Once we collected ourselves, Kaleo announced, “We have a visitor! Huh, it’s been so long that I forgot what that noise sounded like! We’ll be right back!”

“Is that my romeo?” Minna popped out of our cottage and glanced towards the anterior of the property with a fervid anticipation.

“Which romeo are you talking about” Laraleigh thought about it and then changed her tune, “Wait, what am I saying? It probably ain’t any of them! Go back and make sure my kids aren’t up to no good! We’ll call you if there’s a man for you.” Once Minna ducked back inside, Laraleigh gestured that she had no intention of doing that.

Aidan strolled over to me and quietly queried, “What did they say?”

I reported to him, “The mo’o had a sacred gift stolen from him. Or her or whatever!”

“That explains all of the strange assortments of stuff in the cave,” Aidan surmised. “Someone was tempting the moe to come back!”

“But it doesn’t explain why the Hekekias are sabotaging themselves by not coming forward about the incident!” I noted. “Or why that silhouetted man would bring those tokens in such a covert manner! What could possibly be so negative about restoring Lake Ana Wai?”

Before Aidan could reply, we heard the Hekekias returning, so we instantly turned our attention to the gardening and strove to portray ourselves as working all along. When they reached our vicinity, we gazed up, and Aidan petitioned them, “Who was it?”

Kaleo casually filled us in, “Eh, just some religious people. They’re leaving now. Did you wanna talk to them, or…?”

“Nah, I’m good!” Aidan politely declined.

“You guys get solicitors all the way out here?” Mom catechized them. That was such a pertinent facet to consider that I wished that I had brought it up! What were door-to-door travelers doing in such a remote location? And was it a mere coincidence that they just happened to arrive at such a crucial juncture in our investigation?

Kalani shrugged. “Some people are so desperate that they would…” She trailed off as she espied the haphazard fashion I had strewn the plant food, and then she neglected her previous sentence. “Were we having a bit of difficulty with this task?”

I fibbed, “I thought I did a fantastic job!”

Kalani stared at me in perplexion, and then she suggested, “How about I give you a few tips on how to improve your fantastic work?”

“That sounds great!” I chimed. It lightened my mood to know that I would get another opportunity to dig a little deeper into her chasm of lore on the background of this case, and my alleviated sentiments caused this nauseous sensation that I  didn’t even realize that I had to dissipate slightly! I had no clue how utterly stressed I was until I got that tiny iota of welcomed news!

“Actually, I don’t think she’s well enough to continue working,” Kaleo apprised.

The possibility of losing this shot at progress gave me a sinking reaction in my stomach! Or maybe it was the nausea resurfacing… I attempted to suppress the urge and convey an apt fitness to do the menial activity needed to be done in order to get close to my source of history on this conundrum by standing up straight, nonchalantly leaning against a tree, and commenting, “I feel totally fine! I can do this!” The impulse to vomit only grew stronger, so I took a deep breath and insisted, “Yup, completely fine!” It got to a crux where I couldn’t deny the inevitable, so I confidently assured them, “At least I will be in a minute! Excuse me!” I dashed between the plants and rushed to the homestead!

From the corner of my eye, I could see how startled Minna and the kids became at my sudden appearance, but I didn’t have a second to spare on accounting for my behavior! As I hastily ascended the staircase, Minna wondered, “A man did come for me, didn’t he? Who is it?”

I ignored her as I made a beeline for the bathroom, and I pulled Mason out in the middle of him brushing his teeth prior to me slamming the door shut! As I began retching, I was amazed that I managed to hold off this action until I parked in this spot! The abode’s entrance opened up, and I heard Aidan asking Mason, “Is she alright?”

Mason gave the latrine a nervous gander, and then he notified Aidan, “Well, she’s still alive…”

Aidan ran to the second story, and when he observed Mason there, he probed, “Why are you doing this again? Didn’t you already do that before you logged on to your school computer?”

“I did, but during our break, Jackson quadruple dared me to eat a clove of garlic! I can’t turn down a quadruple dare!” Mason asserted.

“Yes, you can! You can always say no to doing something stupid!” Aidan chided him. “Get back to your class! It’s not like anyone can smell your breath from here!”

Aidan walked into the restroom as I flushed the contents of the toilet down, and he asked me, “How are you feeling?”

I sardonically answered, “I’m beginning to sympathize with the scoundrel who took the mo’o’s gift and destroyed the farm! Only I’m pissed at him or her for not finishing the job and left Lani Noni still standing! If they had just burned the place to smithereens, we wouldn’t be in this mess!”

“Remind me not to leave you alone with anything flammable!” Aidan joked. Kind of.

“I don’t get it!” I exclaimed as I slid into a sitting position. “Kaleo and Kalani are going through all this trouble to save this dump, but they’re not doing anything to punish the person who turned it into garbage! It’s like they’re trying to do everything to salvage it but that!”

Aidan sat down beside me and remarked, “You’ve had witnesses who seemingly don’t act in their own self interest before. The Hekekias are no different than them! They’re obviously scared of something that would occur if they reveal too much.”

I argued, “Their orchard is on the brink of total ruin and they’re edging near total loss of income- what other consequence could they fear?”

“I dunno, but we can find out from them after we crack this mystery wide open and release the truth to the world!” Aidan proclaimed.

“We could search the city my doctor is in before my appointment,” I proposed. “But it’s an hour away from here, what could they possibly tell us about the issue?”

Aidan mulled it over for a moment. “Hmm… Well, we know that someone took the moe’s gift, but we don’t know where they took it to! Maybe they brought it to that fishing village because of… some reason!”

I considered that concept briefly. “It’s possible, but Kai Lawai’a is right by the ocean- you’d think that a water guardian could easily go retrieve it there!”

‘I don’t know! I don’t know how the water guardian system works- I can’t even say the word correctly!” Aidan exasperatedly sighed.

“Sounds like a valid question to bring up with the townsfolk on Wednesday,” I denoted. “Unless we can get the Hekekias to fess up before then. Ugh! I was starting to feel better ‘til I thought about doing agricultural stuff again! Not that there’s anything wrong with individuals who want to go into this department, I just don’t belong here! I wanna go home! I would even take the most boring assignment at the department over all this pointless drama!”

Aidan differed, “I wouldn’t say it’s pointless! There’s a purpose behind everything that goes on in your life!” I ogled at him in disbelief, and he retracted his statement a smidgen, “I don’t have the foggiest notion of what the purpose of this tedious adventure is, but there’s gotta be one!”

I inhaled deeply, and then I esteemed, “Okay. I think I can stomach the rest of my shift now. Let’s go!”

“Actually, Kaleo said that you should take the rest of the day off to be sure you’re not worsening yourself,” Aidan let me know.

“What a load of crap! He doesn’t care about my wellbeing- he’s trying to keep us from getting close to the truth!” I objected. At least I did until something registered to me… “You can go back though!”

Aidan seemed hesitant on that proposition. “But what if I’m away from you and then you take a turn for the worse?”

I contended, “You’re not gonna be that far from me! I was able to run up here without barfing, it’s not far! Besides, the rugrats may be mischievous, but I’m positive they wouldn’t let me keel over! Not even Kinsey! She may have an unnatural affinity for death, but so far she hasn’t done anything to cause it in anyone!”

My humor made me chuckle, but then it saddened me to get put into a circumstance where I had to so helplessly depend on others to do what I wanted to get done. Aidan gave me a supportive squeeze, and then he avowed, “I’ll come back with loads of vital clues for us!”

“You had better!” I stated. Aidan smirked and then kissed the crown of my scalp.

“Um… Why are you guys hanging out near the toilet?” Willow studied us with her head cocked in addlement.

Neither of us had a quick explanation, so Aidan shot back, “Don’t you ever knock when someone’s in here?” Willow gestured that she wasn’t sure. Aidan and I got up, and then Aidan promised, “The evening will provide the right results, I swear!” As I watched him walk out the door, I inwardly questioned whether or not that was an oath that he could keep!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 22

“Is it a little problem that can wait ‘til after I buy one of these bags from this nice cashier for wasting so much of her time?” I petitioned Aidan with an iota of hope in my voice. He shook his head, and I bemoaned, “Dammit! I knew you wouldn’t have asked if it was!” I handed back the purses to the cashier and requested, “Save the purple one for me!” Aidan started walking out the door, but I paused to change my mind. “No, the pink! No… the purple one would match more things! But the pink one is cuter…” Aidan re-entered the facility and dragged me towards the exit, so I told the cashier, “Just hold on to both of them! I’ll be back!”

“Have a good night!” the cashier politely regarded me, though her expression indicated that she didn’t really believe that was feasible for me.

When we returned to the boulevard, I inquired to Aidan, “Alright, what was so important that we had to abandon a promising lead?”

Aidan replied, “Apparently the dude Minna was hitting on has a girlfriend, and she’s a little bonkers…”

“More bonkers than Minna?” I know that sounded like I was trying to deploy some insult comedy, but I truly felt perplexed by that notion! Seriously, who could have been behaving more irrationally than a serial stalker?

“She got into a pretty aggressive argument with Minna, and she’s threatening to call for backup!” Aidan reported. “Wow, I never thought I’d ever be rushing to go rescue my crazy ex, but here we are!”

I questioned him, “Why are we gonna get involved with this? Couldn’t we let her spend the night in jail? She’d do fine! She’s better at acting natural with our cover story than us!”

Aidan responded, “That’s ‘cause she’s deluded herself into believing she’s a part of the family for ages! If she was on her own, I wouldn’t bother, but I’m worried about the rest of the bunch! They’re innocent bystanders to… whatever a woman crazier than Minna would do with her friends!” I grasped his point, and I agreed that we needed to intervene! As we made our way down the street, I inwardly prayed that the nuts wouldn’t be too hard to crack!

By the entrance of the bar, we heard Minna shout, “Listen, I realize that you’re taking this breakup pretty hard, but there’s no need to resort to violence!”

“What? We’re not breaking up!” a man whom I could only assume was the object of Minna’s affection objected to Minna’s characterization of the situation. He then turned to his girlfriend and negotiated with her, “Come on! Let’s go home! Do you really wanna have police witness this?”

“Oh, they called law enforcement! It shouldn’t be so bad in there then as long as Samena didn’t pick up on this incident and decide to assist!” I assessed. Aidan and I opened the door, and we were shocked to see Samena throw a chair against the wall with enough force that it splintered into pieces! “Hide!” I directed Aidan.

Samena howled at her boyfriend, “Is this what you do when I let you tag along on my cases, Makoa? You let any old floosie come on to you?”

Makoa refuted that accusation, “I didn’t let her! She wouldn’t take no for an answer! I’m the victim here, why are you yelling at me? If anything, you should go arrest her for harassment!”

“That won’t be necessary!” my mom interjected. She seized the handles of Minna’s wheelchair and relayed to Samena, “We’ll take her home, and we’ll make sure she keeps her distance!”

“Oh, am I getting another restraining order? Man, this is becoming a weekly thing!” Minna remarked.

Mom pushed her away from the scene and threw Samena an awkward smile as she departed. As Laraleigh corralled her crew, she brought up, “Wait, where’s my brother? I better text him again!” Aidan’s phone chimed, and Laraleigh heard it. “That’s weird! It sounds like he’s in the restaurant…”

Samena gazed towards the table Aidan and I were hiding under, and we momentarily panicked! I mean, it’s not like we were breaking any laws- it simply would have been super uncomfortable to confront her under these conditions! And we did not need another reason for Samena to harbor venom towards us! I wasn’t sure what we were going to do until… “Whoops!” Harper cried out as she fell forward. Her wand accidentally discharged a spell that flew behind her and landed on some decorative bottles hanging from the ceiling, which busted open and dowsed Samena in a ton of liquid! I was grateful for all of the commotion that this caused because no one could hear Aidan and me snickering!

“I am so sorry!” Harper apologized in a manner that almost seemed completely sincere.

“What did you do?” Laraleigh rushed back in and became horrified at the sight before her! It felt so tempting to stay and watch this drama conclude itself, but I realized that we had the perfect diversion, so I nudged Aidan and we left.

We espied the remainder of Laraleigh’s kids by the truck, and I surveyed the group, “Where’s my mom and Mi… I mean Grace?”

Kinsey recounted, “Your mom convinced Grace to magick them home by saying Clifton was gonna check in with us there. Mama said to… Hold on… You guys were in the bar the whole time?” 

“Not exactly…” Aidan shifted his stance guiltily.

“Where have you two been?” Laraleigh roared loudly enough to make us jump in fright. “I could’ve used your help back there!” 

Aidan shot back, “How would we be of any use? We’re mere farmers here!” Laraleigh glared at him, and I foresaw a bit of sibling rivalry until we spotted Samena leaving the building. Aidan swiftly darted into the vehicle and beckoned the others, “Let’s go, guys!”

While I hopped into the front seat with my boyfriend, Harper peeked in through the small window in the rear and commented, “Looks like my distraction worked! You’re welcome!”

“Thank you! We hid ourselves ‘cause… Well, we…” I stumbled on my speech a little.

“It’s okay! I’m not about to pry into why you were alluding authorities!” Harper assured me. “Do you know how many times I’ve had to do that recently?”

Her assistance was very much appreciated, but I didn’t like where this conversation threatened to head to! “I don’t wanna know!”

Harper acknowledged, “Good point! If anyone ever interrogates you on it, you can honestly say you don’t know a thing!” Harper sat down in the bed of the truck and pantomimed buttoning her lips, and Laraleigh appeared as though she had questions, but she decided to let it go and rolled her eyes at the ridiculousness of this circumstance.

On Monday, Mom as well as Laraleigh, Aidan, and I headed to the field. Kaleo and Kalani were standing at the other end waiting for us, and I was mentally preparing myself for the discussion that needed to be had when something unexpectedly hopped in front of our path! I pulled out my wand and readied myself for a perilous battle, but to my surprise, it wasn’t Wade ambushing us- the intruder was just the goat from next door! “You again! Go home, Anela!”

Anela stuck her tongue out at us, and I didn’t want to start my morning by getting bitten by a goat, so I decided to do a jinx. Prior to me performing any sort of hex though, Lopaka peered over the fence in the distance and asked, “Why do you have a child’s wand?”

“Why is your pet in our yard?” I retorted.

“Touché!” Lopaka hopped over the rail and retrieved the animal. “Forgive the intrusion! She’s rather stressed out since we had strangers exploring the property.”

Mom wondered, “You have tourists coming to your ranch?”

Lopaka explained, “No, no! The folks who bought the egg farm down the road were interested in expanding their land, and they gave me a great offer! A part of me doesn’t wanna give up the place that I dedicated my whole life to…” He glanced over at the Hekekias and added, “Another part is cool with it though! I lā maika’i!” 

He ushered Anela back under the fence, and secretly, I thought that if Lopaka did decide to stay, the Hekekias ought to goat-proof their perimeter! As soon as we ensured that trespassing critters had vacated the vicinity, we renewed our effort to begin our workday. It felt fairly flustering though after our brief but somewhat negative interaction with their neighbor, and while we didn’t really exude any true friendliness towards him, he acted more kindly to us than he did them! When we grew closer, I could discern agitated scowls on their faces, and I feared an awkward shift ahead! Kaleo let out an exasperated sigh, and then…

“So, how was your weekend?” Kaleo cheerily posed to us as if nothing out of the ordinary had recently transpired.

“Fine,” I tersely expressed. How could I have summed up everything that occurred in the last sixty hours or so in a few words? I could’ve gone until our clock-out time with all that went on during this period! And then there was the stuff that we couldn’t reveal to them…

Mom jumped in and supplemented that, “We explored some of the cities close to here! It’s bizarre that we’re within driving distance of a desert and a rainforest!”

Kalani chuckled, “Yes, Pele certainly created a unique space! So the children all have school today?”

“Yeah,” Laraleigh confirmed. “Mina is tutoring them.” She espied the startled looks on the Hekekias’ visages, so she clarified, “She’s a PhD candidate, so they’ll do fine with her unless one of the distance learning teachers is hot…”

“Would she get a tad distracted?” Kalani tittered.

With as much stoicism as she could muster, Laraleigh asserted, “Just a tad.”

The Hekekias clearly found that concept amusing. None of us did, but we also didn’t have the patience to explain it to them. Once they absorbed this merriment, Kaleo instructed us, “Well, we couldn’t afford any more saplings, so we used the last of our money to buy seeds. So, today we’re gonna work on tilling the soil and do some planting. Everyone, grab a shovel!”

We all trudged towards the shed, but Mom stopped me in my tracks, “Sophia, you can’t do any strenuous labor!”

“Why not?” Kaleo wondered.

“She may have… a stomach problem!” Aidan illuminated them in a technically true rationale of my possible condition. “Oh, that reminds me… We gotta take off early on Wednesday for a doctor appointment.”

Kaleo shrugged. “Alright. Don’t hurt yourself here- we can’t afford any workman’s comp! Although, the Department of Agriculture would probably cover it… Oh, nevermind! Still don’t get hurt! Sophia can help tend to the saplings.”

Kalani grabbed a bag of plant food, and I trailed her as she traveled between the trees. As we stationed ourselves between the greenery, I recognized that I had the ideal opportunity to quiz Kalani on the mo’o! If I played my cards right, I thought I could have wrangled more facts about the disappearing lake from her too! I mulled over how to subtly bring the subject up, but then she conversed, “Do they still sell those adorable purses at the Hekekias’ Hut?”

“They call it the Bamboocha Bungalow now, but yeah, they do!” I informed her. “I had the cashier hold the purple and pink ones ‘cause I couldn’t decide between them!”

“Tell you what… When we get Lani Noni profitable again, I’ll take the pink and you can have the purple!” Kalani proposed.

I grinned at that prospect. “Deal!” I paused for a moment, and then I put forward, “Oh, that cashier holding our purses said something kinda strange…”

Kalani raised her eyebrows upon hearing that. “Oh?”

“Uh-huh,” I confirmed. “When I mentioned Lake Ana Wai, she began telling us that the water dried up ‘cause the mo’o got something stolen from it. She didn’t have a second to spare o go into more detail than that though. Do you think you could clear that up?” Kalani’s lip twitched nervously, and…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 21

Aidan was quite bewildered when I pulled him away from the table so abruptly! Once he recollected his wits, he realized that I must have performed that action for something urgent, so he queried, “What’s up?”

“The hooded man!” I exclaimed. “He’s here! He’s over there by the… And he’s gone! Dammit! Maybe I should’ve just ran after him instead of grabbing you!”

“I’m never gonna say no to you grabbing me!” Aidan cracked with a wink. “He couldn’t have gone far! Let’s go!”

As we dashed for the door, I briefly worried that the others might notice our sudden departure, so I glanced behind me to ensure that they wouldn’t disrupt us in our important but covert pursuit. Apparently, Minna was still going for it with that guy even though he was showing clear indications of disinterest, so everyone’s attention fixated on that drama and no one caught sight of Aidan and I slipping out!

When we went outside, Aidan I surveyed the scenery to find signals of where the silhouette might have fled to. We didn’t see anything that looked disturbed, at least not position-wise! There were some people gagging at the spectacle of a man who’s skimpy outfit left little to the imagination, but the witnesses to this tawdry display were probably disturbed by something besides a ruthless and toothless villain bumping into them! After visually sifting through the occupants of this area, we came up empty, which prompted Aidan to ask, “Do you think he escaped into the rainforest behind the bar?”

“Maybe…” I answered while contemplating the issue for a moment. “… Hmm… Oh! That tunnel! He might’ve gone there to hide since it’s supposed to be secluded from the public and he assumes we wouldn’t follow him there! I dunno how we’ll get past that old dude who yelled at us… How did he fly under his radar?”

“When we catch up with him, we can find out!” Aidan responded. I nodded, and we sped towards the other end of the boulevard!

Right when I started dreaming up different methods of sneaking past that specific resident’s suspicions, we beheld a pop-up concessions’ stand near the cave’s territory. With billowing disappointment surging within me, I noted, “He couldn’t have gone this route! That means we lost him and this whole thing was a waste of time! We should’ve stayed behind and watched the theatrics between Minna and her dreamboat!”

Aidan consoled me, “Well, that passageway may be closed, but another lead is open…” He gestured to the store we had stopped in front of, and my spirits rose up again when I could see that we presently had access to the Hekekias’ Hut! Once this circumstance sunk in for us, we briskly entered into the shop!

“Welcome to the Bumboocha Bungalow!” a cashier merrily greeted us.

“I thought it was the Hekekias’ Hut,” I puzzled.

She filled us in, “The new owners renamed it, but they’re too cheap to replace the sign. I mean, I know it’s expensive, but it’s been over a year! And they’re not the ones that gotta repeat this spiel a hundred times a day!”

As Aidan and I ambled around and pretended we were interested in their wide variety of goods, Aidan probed, “So, what happened to the Hekekias’ Hut?”

“The owners died,” the cashier conveyed to us. “They weren’t even that old! They were only a little old, kinda like you guys!”

“Thanks for that!” I reacted in a jovial fashion, but I wasn’t really thrilled with her depiction of us! If we were actual customers, I would’ve exited the facility immediately, but since we needed intelligence from this twit, I laughed it off. “How did these still technically young individuals kick the bucket? Did it have something to do with that locked up property a few doors down?”

The cashier mulled it over briefly, and then she shrugged. “Maybe! Someone took the mo’o’s makana makamae, but I don’t know why the Hekekias would sabotage themselves like that!”

Aidan and I gazed at each other in both excitement of an important discovery and complete confusion! We didn’t have the foggiest idea of what a makana makamae was, and it mystified us as to what could someone have taken that would motivate a water guardian to curse an entire region! “I’m sorry, someone stole a what?” I petitioned her.

“Why is that any of your business?” Samena materialized into the business unexpectedly!

“Ugh! Don’t do that!” Aidan vehemently requested.

Samena inquired, “Don’t do what? Appear so suddenly or grill you with hard questions?”

Aidan replied, “Both!”

“Why is it so strange to you that we wanna learn about our own land?” I countered her.

“What do you wanna do with this land?” Samena catechized us.

It boggled my mind as to why she found our farm work even the slightest bit suspect, and I strove to unearth a manner in which to respond that wouldn’t make her sound dumb! Yes, it was a stupid enquiry, but I wouldn’t want to provoke any already edgy adversary! “It’s an orchard, so we’re trying to grow trees…”

Samena pressed us, “For the Fay Folks?”

“Yeah…” Aidan confirmed. “Okay, fine! You found out we’re employed by Fays, and since everyone here thinks they’re all criminals, that gives you a fishy impression of us, huh?”

You’re employed by them?” Samena’s expression grew rather dumbfounded.

I took offense to that, and I ranted, “Yes! Fay Folks are still human beings who wanna earn a living and live their lives just like the rest of us! They have monstrous appearances, but they’re not monsters! Is it too much to believe that a few of them might want a little dignity?”

Samena shifted to a more defensive posture. “No, no, no! The KPD doesn’t operate with any prejudices in its system! I’m simply attempting to figure out what the connection is between your agricultural occupation and this conquest to gather info on the mo’o!”

“It’s not that difficult! We gotta jump through hoops to maintain our crappy aqueduct, and it’d be nice if we could restore hydration to Lake Ana Wai!” I folded my arms and stared at her with irate eyes. She could claim she was unbiased all she wanted to, but I was positive she had targeted us because of our association with the Fays! I would have eaten my hat if she possessed a valid intention for this interrogation!

“Your file said you came from Massachusetts,” Samena conversed. “You traveled that lengthy distance so you could help a couple of Fays? What do you get out of this arrangement?”

Aidan told her, “A job! Well, that and the satisfaction of doing a good deed!”

Samena raised an eyebrow to that. “You went through all this trouble ‘cause of the goodness of your heart?”

“You must’ve been in the detective field for a lot of years! Obviously, you’re jaded to the thought that decent individuals still exist in the world!” I threw that out there based on my personal experience with many of my colleagues. When I first started in this post, I met a lot of men and women who had a very blight view of humanity, and while most of the planet had no clue how close they came to total annihilation, the mood around Anaknock became infinitely more optimistic once Aidan and I pulled us from the brink of armageddon. I assumed that the rest of the population would have adopted a similar attitude towards the morality of their fellow humans, but she proved me wrong on that! I didn’t like this lady very much, but I began to feel sorry for her and pondered if our paths had crossed for a definitive purpose…

“Don’t try to recruit me into your credence!” Samena barked.

Apparently, I was incorrect about this being a preordained encounter! All of my pity for her vanished, and I had no problem with backing away from this endeavor!

Aidan assured her, “We’re not trying to recruit you into anything! We’re just trying to help! That’s what we came to Hawaii for! And after we’re done in Hawaii, we’ll do it again somewhere else- that’s what we do!”

Samena couldn’t argue with that logic, but she wasn’t entirely accepting of it either. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that her crime-solving instincts led her to the hunch that there was something fictional about our backstory, which worried me tremendously since our background was completely contrived! I doubted that I even knew half of what the FBI put on our files! If Samena was anything like me, she wasn’t going to give up until she knew the facts, and we couldn’t have that because our cover would get blown! It would completely compromise our security, and while I welcomed a confrontation with Wade, I wouldn’t want to risk putting the others in danger! That dastard may have worked out the general range of where we were (in my opinion), but I couldn’t allow any activity that may harm our loved ones! Or Minna! I had to do something to throw her off of our trail, and as I espied some hoodies on a rack, I came up with, “I saw a mysterious person hanging around that empty pond tunnel! I couldn’t see any distinguishing features on him, but I did see him go inside with two teddy bears!” 

“That location is off limits to the public. The citizens of this district are adept at keeping trespassers out of there,” Samena remarked.

“I have no inkling how he got away with it, but if you go down there, you’ll see the toys in there!” I sensed her skepticism heightening, so, in a very casual tone, I added, “You can do what you want with that tidbit, but while we were on the topic of helping others, I thought I ought to report that to you!”

“Hmm…” Samena seemed to be considering this concept, and I suppressed every twitch in my body to outwardly celebrate this pending victory! I waited patiently, and at long last, Samena relented, “Alright, I’m gonna investigate this! But always remember that I have this county thoroughly covered! If you’re up to no good, I will find out!”

Aidan and I politely smiled and waved to her, and I cheerily bade her, “Let us know if you need a hand with anything!” Once she disappeared from our sight, Aidan gave me a perplexed look, so I relayed to him, “Eh! I was just being polite! If we stay in her favor, maybe she’ll leave us alone!”

The cashier enquired, “So, are you guys, like, criminal masterminds or something?”

“No!” Aidan refuted. “We’re f’ing farmers! Gawd, why is that so hard to believe?”

“Ah, I see…” the cashier behaved with a disposition that did not really convince me that she did understand the situation. She appeared to have decided that she didn’t care one way or another about our possibly nefarious nature as she posed to us, “So, did you all wanna buy something, or…?”

Aidan started to decline, “No, we-.”

I insisted, “Yes, we do!” Aidan wordlessly wondered about this move, but I couldn’t tell him my plan, so I showed it to him by appealing to the cashier, “Can I purchase one of the purses in the window?” 

‘What color?” she wanted to know.

“Uh, I dunno! I can’t decide between the purple one or the pink!” I wasn’t totally lying- both bags were adorable, and I would have bought either of them, but prior to that happening… “Hey, what were you saying about the mo’o getting something taken from it?”

As she plopped the totes in front of me, the cashier sought clarification, “Oh, you mean the makana makamae?”

While I examined the cute wares, I heard Aidan’s phone chime, but I ignored it and continued, “Yeah, what is that?”

The cashier opened her mouth to elaborate on this, but Aidan’s frown at his device prompted him to interrupt, “Actually, it looks like we have a problem here…”

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 20

Our anticipation mounted high as we braced ourselves to receive a really dramatic revelation, and then Clifton announced, “Kaleo has a bit of a criminal history, but it’s all petty stuff. And seeing how it was all against Fay Folks, given that he and his wife fall into that category now, we didn’t think it posed a threat to any of you.”

“That’s it?” My hopes of obtaining juicy information that could assist Aidan and me in solving the mystery of how Lake Ana Wai disappeared had deflated so unceremoniously that it soured my mood in a nanosecond! I couldn’t accept this as the conclusion to the story he had for us! Did he truly believe Aidan and I would go through such an extravagant measure merely to learn about some cockamame misdemeanors?

“I’m sorry, did you want me to tell you that we transplanted your family to the home of a murderer or something?” Clifton retorted.

I admitted, “Kinda, yeah!”

Clifton shook his head. “Listen, I understand you two miss your jobs, but you can’t go fishing for a crime to solve like that! Try to find a way to relax more! I’m sure Mister Toonella will get captured soon, and you’ll be home before you know it!”

“That’s not true!” I disagreed. “I thought they’d nab him before our plane hit the ground!”

“And who says we’re not relaxed?” Aidan challenged him.

Clifton pondered, “Were you relaxing when that mob was trying to force you into an asylum?”

Aidan responded, “You guys are going through a lot at the moment- why add more stress to yourselves?” Clifton posed to us.

Neither Aidan nor I had a snappy comeback to that. He had a valid argument about the chaos we were currently undergoing- it was difficult to claim that we would be better off pursuing a case where we could potentially create another adversary who aspired to propel us into our demise! I knew that Agent Hearne would have most likely boiled over if we had to go through Witness Protection for our aliases, and normally, that would have been enough for me to put a lid on this venture, but something inside of me steadfastly maintained the stance that this vanishing pond had a link to Wade somewhere! He brought those teddy bears to the empty bank for a reason, and I felt determined to figure out his motives for doing so! Perhaps his fatal illness caused him to lose his mind, but I couldn’t rule out that he had a more sinister intent for putting those toys in that location! I couldn’t fathom what, but it couldn’t have been for anything good! Regardless of what scenario would prove to be the truth, I simply had to get to the bottom of this enigma!

“Hey!” Aidan cried out when we reached Lani Noni. “That’s our truck ahead of us!” The five children realized we were in the van behind them and threw some funny faces in our direction. “They went somewhere without us?”

Clifton pointed out, “Well, you went somewhere without the eight of them!”

I groaned, “The house was empty today? So, we could’ve had enough privacy to finally… do things?”

Aidan bemoaned this lost opportunity, but Clifton spared us no pity! “Well, you two interrupted Tarosh and me, so forgive me if I don’t feel too badly for you!”

“We forgive you for nothing!’ I folded my arms and pouted.

“Romeo!” Minna chimed as she wheeled herself out. “Oh, you came to see me! I knew you would! You were only ignoring my texts ‘cause you had too much to tell me and it wouldn’t fit in a small message! I’m here for you, baby! Talk to me!”

Clifton urgently requested us, “Please hurry!”

I entertained the idea of delaying my departure from his vehicle to enact revenge for his slight, but Minna’s overbearing antics were too cruel of a penance for Clifton’s offense, so I hopped out with alacrity. Immediately following our withdrawal, Clifton peeled out of the area! Minna called out to him, “Wait! Don’t be afraid of intense feelings!” When he became a dot in the distance, Minna cooed, “Aw, he’s too shy to admit his burning desire! Isn’t that adorable?” Everybody glanced at each other for cues on how to react to that!

“Did I tell you that we’re both scorpios?” Minna asked the people sitting at the dining room table.

“Yes, several times while we headed back here,” I answered from the ledge of the loft where Aidan and I were eating. “And a couple more times once we got inside!”

Minna gushed, “Scorpios are known for being very romantic and passionate! Together, we’ll be explosive!”

Mason wondered, “Is that a good thing?”

“Not everyone can handle that sort of intensity, but I thrive on it!” Minna purred. “You wanna see a picture of him working on a tractor?”

“Not really,” Harper honestly told her.

Minna displayed her phone for everyone to view it anyways. “He doesn’t just help farmers, he is one! Isn’t he dreamy?”

Aidan shooed a cat away from his plate when it tried to steal his meal, and then he riposted, “Yeah, his boyfriend thinks so too!”

“Minna, don’t you wanna go for a guy who’s a little more available?” Mom probed.

“You can’t choose who you fall in love with!” Minna shot back.

I nearly choked on my bite upon hearing that sentence! My mom had previously expressed a similar sentiment to me, but my situation was rather different since I was falling deep for a man who I believed was responsible for a series of brutal killings! Aidan turned out to be innocent, so it was totally okay for me to love him, but it wasn’t so okay for Minna to keep getting enamored with men who were already taken! Then again, she appeared to get smitten with any reasonably attractive fellow who crossed her path! This observation struck me with some inspiration though! “You should see some of the hot dudes in Eka Nahele!”

Minna puzzled, “Eka Nahele? What is that? A music group?”

“No, it’s this really nice town in the rainforest,” Aidan filled her in during his attempt to shield his dish from the sneaky kitty. “I didn’t pay much attention to the men’s looks though, there were a lot of strange individuals there! Oh, you’d fit right in!”

“If you’re trying to set me up with somebody, you can forget it! My heart is already set!” Minna happily sighed as she hugged an image she saved of Clifton.

Laraleigh brought up, “I thought you had a huge crush on my brother.”

Minna shrugged. “I still like him, but I’ve felt some distance between the two of us lately. Probably ‘cause of the restraining order!”

“If I give you a treat, will you leave me alone?” Aidan snapped. Everyone gazed at him peculiarly, so he clarified, “I was talking to Lulu!”

“You can thank Wade for that,” Mom remarked. “He used to give them tons of treats off of his own fork! It’s been two years since he moved out, but they still haven’t forgotten these bad habits! He’s gonna haunt me forever!”

Minna conversed, “You can parade as many beautiful beaus in front of my face as you want to, but you can’t convince me to worship anyone else but my beloved Romeo!” She spotted a photo on Laraleigh’s cellphone, and her interest piqued. “Ooh, who’s that?”

Laraleigh bellowed, “That’s my husband, and if you lay your hands on him, I’ll tan your hide from here to New York City!”

“Why New York City?” Minna catechized her.

“It’s far away!” Laraleigh barked.

I proposed to Minna, “If you really feel that strongly about Clifton, how about you prove it? We’ll go to Eka Nahele tomorrow, and if none of the hunks there tempt you, then… well, we’ll figure that out later!”

Aidan threw a piece of meat for Lulu to run after, and in the same instance that the feline munched on this morsel, Minna reached her decision, “Alright, fine! I’ll do it and show you all!”

Lulu aimed to return to Aidan’s side, but Aidan put up a force field and blocked her! Once both matters settled, we ate more peacefully. I was quite curious on what poor soul would have the misfortune of getting Minna’s attachment, but I was more eager to get some answers from the Hekekias’ Hut, put a rest to the stumper of wha Wade wanted with that evaporated body of water, and pretend like we followed Clifton’s advice about backing off all along!

“Can I ask you something?” Kinsey inquired to Aidan and I as we sat in a booth at a tropical restaurant.

“If it’s about the red hair, I’ve already explained that to you!” I muttered while pulling my hat further over my eyes. If she kept discussing our attempt to conceal ourselves, then Aidan and I would never be able to blend in with the crowd and get this operation done!

Kinsey assured me, “It ain’t about that! I just wanted to know… “ She turned her tone into a whisper, “… Did y’all ever kill anybody on the job?”

From their table ten feet away from us, Laraleigh commanded, “Don’t answer that!”

“That’s a yes!” Kinsey grinned triumphantly. “What’s it like?”

“I can’t give out classified info,” I partially expressed the truth there- I certainly couldn’t spill details of certain cases, and while I could illustrate the science and psychology behind using lethal force, I couldn’t give her a first-hand account on it. I did see a few victims die during my shifts, but I wasn’t about to divulge any descriptions of that to a teenager! Especially since we were striving to create an inviting atmosphere for Minna to attract a potential new boyfriend! The sooner she was occupied with a budding romance, the sooner the love of my life and I could slip out of there to do our secret mission! Determination brewed in Kinsey’s eyes, so I excused myself from her presence, “I’ll be back. Feel free to change the subject, babe!”

Kinsey was objecting to my suggestion behind me, but I ignored her as I walked over to Minna at the other table. I sat next to her and checked in, “See anyone you like?” 

“Nope!” Minna reported.

“That’s ‘cause she won’t quit looking at pictures on her phone!” Mom tattled on her.

I glanced over her shoulders, and when I beheld that Minna was ceaselessly scrolling through Clifton’s social media pages, I snatched the device out of her clutches! “Hey!” she protested.

Undaunted by her agitation, I challenged her, “How about now?”

Minna begrudgingly scoped out the premises, and then she opined, “No one here compares to my Romeo!”

Not believing that a packed and hip establishment like this could have no promising prospects, I surveyed the space for myself. After a minute, I found a gentleman at the bar that made me wish that Sandra was here so I could watch her drool over his handsomeness! I pointed him out to Minna, “What about him?”

“Gosh, he’s gorgeous! But I couldn’t betray my dear, sweet Clifton over a dreamboat who looks like someone who could give me hours of pleasure!” Minna mulled over her statement and then changed her tune, “Nevermind, I’ll go talk to him!”

“Atta girl!” I encouraged her as she wheeled off.

Laraleigh commented, “She’s gonna blow it!”

I admonished her, “That’s not fair! You don’t know that!”

“Oh, yes I do! She’s not exactly smooth with pick up lines…” Laraleigh elucidated. “We really should have given her some stuff to say!”

“Why didn’t you mention this earlier?” Mom grilled her. “I’ll go grab her before… Oh, too late!”

Minna went up to the gentleman, and in a silky voice, she invited him, “Hey, hot stuff! You wanna come back to my place? We can’t have sex there ‘cause I have a bunch of roommates, but we could play a mean game of Parcheesi!”

I cringed at the disaster I watched unfold! I was expecting something cheesy that a man interested in her could overlook, but this was a failure beyond repair! Didn’t she just express a sensual desire for him seconds ago? Why would she utter anything of that sort? I grew extremely exasperated at this mishap, and my singular optimism at this juncture laid in the off chance that some of the other eligible bachelors in this joint hadn’t seen this blunder! I reviewed the room, and it wasn’t too reassuring! Suddenly, it wasn’t so much of a problem anymore… I saw something frightening that forced me to forget all of my other woes!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 19

I directed Aidan, “Look at that!” I pointed to the nearby shop in excitement- finally, we found something of interest that would make this morning’s  trip worthwhile!

Aidan glanced at the building with far less enthusiasm. “Listen, those purses are nice and all, but we have more important things to-!”

“No, that’s not what I meant! Although, they are pretty cute…” I peered at the bags displayed in the window with enthrallment, but then I quickly shook that idea off and instructed him, “Look at the sign above the door!”

“The Hekekias’ Hut!” Aidan gasped. “Maybe we can figure out what they’re hiding from us!”

I dismally responded, “Yeah, maybe tomorrow. The store is closed!” My hopes deflated once more since it didn’t seem like we were destined to unearth anything significant that day!

Aidan queried, “I suppose we gotta give up and go home, but how are we supposed to return home if we don’t know where we don’t even know where we are?” He contemplated that for a second, and then he realized, “Oh, duh! We have a map!” He opened up his GPS and then reported to me, “Eka Nahele!”

“Gesundheit!” I joked in order to indicate my lack of clarity. Seriously, he said that as though the name would instantly strike a chord with me!

“It appears to be a rainforest town,” Aidan elaborated. “The roads to this area take longer to travel than the ones to the desert, but if you go directly through the jungle, you can get to Eka Nahele faster than Kauhale Maloo! So, Clifton kinda lied to us!”

I theorized, “Maybe he was just going by his navigation system. I imagine it’s not very safe to go through the wild! Didn’t Kaleo say he and Kalani died taking the quote en quote scenic route?”

The topic I brought up stirred up the cogs in Aidan’s head. “If he took the scenic route, then he would have had to have gone through the greenery behind the store ‘cause there is no other scenic route close to this location! I think we should explore where he took his final steps!”

“Are you thinking his death had something to do with Lake Ana Wai’s disappearance?” I asked him.

“Possibly,” Aidan answered with a shrug. “This territory is directly adjacent to the hills by our neighborhood, so he could’ve witnessed something related to that event by accident.”

I tacked onto that concept, “Or maybe he did something to make that phenomenon occur! What if he was the one who upset the mo’o? Or his wife did! Oh, but then he would’ve taken that tunnel and wouldn’t have run into that pack of wild boars! I still can’t believe a pack of pigs did them in!”

Aidan stated, “If he was telling the truth on that! I mean, it’s one of those things that is so outrageous that it has to be true, but what if he died from something moe related and he concocted that story for whenever people inquire about it ‘cause he doesn’t wanna implicate himself?”

“It’s pronounced mo’o,” I corrected him.

“Whatever!We’ve only got one method of finding out if he was being honest or not! Let’s go!”

I argued, “Hold on, it’s not the only method! We could ask around a bit! I doubt that dude by the cave will be very helpful to us, but we could talk to other folks in the city! They might not have communicated to the inhabitants of Kauhale Maloo, so they might show us some more kindness!” Aidan considered my proposal, but before he could settle on his reply, I saw a lady passing by and stopped her, “Excuse me, could you-?”

Prior to me finishing my sentence, she turned her nose up at us! “Hmpf!” She walked away in a huff.

“I guess our reputation preceded us!” I lamented.

“Alright, so then we’re taking my route now?” Aidan presumed.

I refused, “No! We’re not risking our lives with those apparently deadly pigs! Do you normally give up that easily on an assignment?”

Aidan told me, “No! My reputation never comes into play- I’m always in different disguises! Hey…!” A lightbulb went off in Aidan’s mind.  I caught onto the notion immediately, and I nodded vigorously in agreement. Aidan surveyed the scenery, and then he suggested, “We can shield ourselves behind those trees!”

“But that’s the pig trail!” I protested.

“They’re not gonna be this close to humans!” Aidan shot back. “If we hear them coming, we can easily hop out of their terrain!” I acquiesced to his logic, and we cautiously approached the forest.

We reemerged with gray hair, wrinkles, and heavily outdated fashion, and as we trekked back to the street, I checked our getups and whispered, “These look fantastic!”

Aidan grinned and then quietly remarked, “Not bad for children’s wands!”

The two of us shuffled over to a small group of young people, and in a hoarse voice, Aidan petitioned them, “Pardon me, kids! We were trying to reach out to the Hekekia family, but they don’t seem to be answering the door! Do you know if they’re okay?”

“Dude, for real? You didn’t hear?” one of the youths gawked at us in disbelief. “They croaked!”

“No!” Aidan and I feigned shock at that revelation.

Another member of their party supplemented her friend’s briefing, “Yeah! But they moved away after they turned into Fays. Isn’t it ironic that they of all people turned into Fays?” Her comrades all laughed at that image, but Aidan and I stared at her blankly, so she furrowed her brows at our behavior. “Do you guys not know them or something?”

I fibbed, “Oh no, we do! We… We’re simply old and forgetful, you know…”

“Kaleo and Kalani were notorious Fay-busters!” the first adolescent explained, “We used to have a huge problem with Fay Folks around here, so they did all they could to drive them out! Kalani posted their activity on social media, and Kaleo pulled pranks on them left and right! Kinda funny, but the problem didn’t really go away ‘til they did! I dunno why!”

“The Fays left the region?” I puzzled. I was so startled by this information that I forgot to use my disguised tone!

All of the assembled juveniles gazed at me particularly, and before they could react further to this oddity, Aidan jumped in, “Well, we had best go mourn for our departed colleagues! Thank you for your assistance!” We shuffled off prior to them saying another word.

While we scoped out the village for more witnesses to interrogate, I privately decided to keep my mouth shut during these interactions! I’ve occasionally donned guised gear to fool criminals in my cases, but I never usually had to do it for very long! Plus, we were adopting aliases for our aliases, so it got confusing! I sort of felt foolish for not pulling off this stunt with the same agility as my boyfriend, but he wasa full-time undercover officer and I only did it if he and his colleagues weren’t available! He also had several years worth of experience from his previous pastime of scamming notorious villains! He was adept at being dishonest for the correct reasons, but I was so deeply programmed in exhibiting highly moral choices that it never occurred to me that I may need to deploy skills in deception in the future! I kicked myself for always acting like a goody-two-shoes, but I didn’t have many minutes to spare since we were fast approaching a couple with a small tot! I wasn’t planning to speak, but I had to pay attention to any intelligence we may gain from this interaction! That and I couldn’t have predicted if my character would called on or not…

“Aw, are you two lost?” the wife graciously inquired.

“No, we’re here on vacation,” Aidan replied. “We got a little confused though! You see, we-.”

The husband probed, “Where are you from?”

Aidan frowned upon that enquiry. “Where are we from? Massachusetts. Anyways, we went by this farm, and-.”

“Do you come from a home or do you have a caregiver?” the wife wanted to know.

“Neither!” Aidan refuted that. “We’re not that old!”

The husband nicely offered, “It’s okay! We’ll help you get back to your house!” He put his arms around each of us and gently escorted us towards the closest building. It seemed like a perfectly lovely florist, but this strange man bringing us into a place we didn’t know spelled out peril to me! I had no idea why he kept talking to us in that coddling manner, but I was almost positive that this weirdo was attempting to kidnap us! Had we gotten too close to the facts? Was there a larger organization in charge of this operation that aimed to silence us? Regardless of the scenario, I banked on discovering this intelligence soon enough- I wasn’t about to go down without a fight! I hoped that I could uproot some of their secrets during this battle, and after I drew out my wand…

That man’s efforts ceased when a familiar voice called out, “It’s alright, I’ve got them!” The man stepped aside, and we saw Clifton wearing the scrubs of an orderly! “Everyone’s worried about you down at the center!” 

“If they were so concerned, then why did they allow us to get out?” I acted defiantly for no real reason other than I felt as though Clifton intended to admonish us for our recklessness. I held gratitude towards him for getting us out of a precarious situation, but I dreaded the inevitable lecture we would receive as though we were disobedient children! I wasn’t in the mood to endure more patronizing treatment!

“It was a momentary lapse in security, that’s all! Now, come along, Dorothy! Come along Lucas!” Clifton beckoned us. More snarkiness bubbled beneath my surface,but a cloud had gathered and watched the proceedings with an avid earnestness. Evidently, this occurrence hadn’t been a kidnapping! Either that or dozens of people had been in on it! I eliminated the latter as a possibility following the onlookers’ cheering when we relented and complied with his wishes to get into his van. I was so irked at how famously this expedition flopped, and as the vehicle’s doors shut, I prayed that my inner turmoil would suffice as enough of a punishment for Clifton!

Aidan and I used our wands to disassemble our frock, and I took my sweet time so I could avoid eye contact with Clifton! We rode in silence for a stretch, and I was at peace with it, but Aidan eventually cut through the awkwardness by conversing, “That was pretty clever to dress up like a hospital worker!”

Clifton politely disagreed, “That was a lucky coincidence! I was already wearing it when my phone pinged! My boyfriend likes the outfit- please don’t make me elaborate further!”

“I would like an elaboration!” I declared. Aidan ogled at me with wide eyes, so I assured him, “No, not about his… clothing! Your phone pinged you, and you came out here, so you have a surveillance spell on us?”

“Of course!” Clifton confirmed. “Do you think we’d let you just roam free under your circumstances? That is to say… you’re welcomed to leave Lani Noni, but if you do go anywhere, we have to monitor your movements in case something happens to you while you’re gone or you get any crazy ideas like sneaking back to Maryland…”

I posed to him, “We would never do that! Well, um…. The point is you’re watching everywhere we go and everything we do?”

Clifton filled me in, “No on the second part. Agent Hearne detected chatter about citizens in this district reporting a senile old couple wandering unsupervised in the locale you were in, and we put two and two together. So.. are you gonna tell me why you did this, or…?”

“Can we just make a pact not to reveal your quirk if you keep our thing a secret?” Aidan strove to bargain with him.

“Ugh, don’t make me take you into an interrogation room!” Clifton beseeched us. “I had a whole afternoon planned…”

I gave in, “Fine! We got the impression that the Hekekias were hiding something from the world.”

Clifton didn’t appear overly disturbed by that claim. “Aren’t we all?”

“No, I meant that they have a darker skeleton in their closet!” I expressed to him.

“Dark skeletons, that’s quite the picture you’ve painted!” I folded my arms and eyeballed him crossly, so he admitted, “Okay, there is one thing…”

Aidan and I gazed at each other in dumbfoundment! “There is?” we each exclaimed in unison. My jaw dropped- the government knew an awful actuality about our landlords and they sent us to live with them anyways? I inwardly vowed that he had better have a plausible excuse for this offense…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 18

“What is that?” I peered at the bottom of my boot, and I was quite confused by the blue shards that had embedded themselves into my footwear! Aidan gazed at them in perplexity for a second, and then he stooped down to examine it. “Eiww! You’re touching it?”

“Frogs, snails, and puppy dog tails- we’re disgusting creatures!” Aidan kidded. He studied the pieces briefly, and then he concluded, “They’re egg shells!”

I slapped my forehead in comprehension of the circumstances. “Oh duh! We’re by an egg farm- why wouldn’t it be that?”

As I picked the entrails out of the affected outsole, Aidan probed, “Are you sure you’re alert enough to investigate a possible crime scene today?”

“No,” I told him. “But we don’t really have a choice! I’m not getting any sleep ‘til I see that doctor next week, and depending on the results, I still might not get any sleep!”

“If you are pregnant, you should try to find a trick to help you fall asleep,” Aidan advised me. “You know, you’ll have to take care of yourself more than usual so everyone stays healthy…”

I joshed him, “And if I’m not knocked up, can I go back to abusing my body?”

Aidan retorted, “No, that’s my job!” He contemplated that sentence a bit, and then he clarified, “I meant that as a sexual thing, not domestic violence…”

“Yeah, I got that!” I grinned. As we passed by Aracauma Kahuna, I observed a very antiquated and somewhat small wooden fence closed off by chicken wire that surrounded an oddly vibrant field, which prompted me to bring up, “How do they keep their grass so healthy looking? For real, no one is living there, so it’s not like anyone’s trying hard to get this result!”

“I dunno!” Aidan shrugged. Once we went by the rustic, red barn and approached the front entrance where the old-fashioned home rested, we saw a realtor’s sign with a “pending” label on it, Aidan changed his tune, “Yes, I do! Seller’s magic!”

I wistfully commented, “I wish the Hekekias would sell Lani Noni! Then we wouldn’t have to worry about upkeep that stupid farm in this god-forsaken place! Oh, if they sold it, we’d have to move somewhere else!”

Aidan cautioned me, “Be careful what you wish for! We could wind up somewhere worse!”

“How could it be…?” I interrupted myself once something occurred to me, “Nope! Not gonna say it and tempt fate!”

“Yeah, let’s try to manifest Wade’s capture into existence instead!” Aidan suggested. “Since that tip from Oklahoma was a false alarm, he could be anywhere! Man, how can an out of shape, old man on his deathbed remain at large for so long?”

I asserted, “It’s ‘cause they’re not searching in the right area! He obviously went… Well, somewhere they wouldn’t expect him to go!” I almost said that he traveled here and they weren’t searching here due to their steadfast belief that he couldn’t have possibly discovered this random location where Witness Protection moved us, but I didn’t feel like arguing with Aidan right then. We needed to concentrate on examining where Lake Ana Wai once stood so that we could solve the mystery of how it disappeared! If foul play did actually occur and we delivered justice to the innocent citizens affected by this disaster, then this whole misadventure in Hawaii would become at least somewhat worthwhile! I knew I was correct in this debate about the identity and the existence of the elusive silhouette, but I figured that I would have to wait for Aidan and the others to learn that on their own. Once that day finally graced our lives, I would thoroughly enjoy giving them a hearty I-Told-You-So! Until that instance transpired, I would have to bite my tongue when it came to this matter. So, as an alternative to that subject, I decided to refer to something else, “Can you believe that Minna thought Clifton revealed that info to us as an excuse to flirt with her?”

Aidan laughed, “Yes! When she was stalking me, I yelled at her to go away, and she acted like I was coming onto her! God, she really needs to meet a dude who wants a woman to obsess over him like that!”

We headed towards a stone wall at the end of this cul-du-sac, and a wooden sign above the cavern entrance overtly once bore the words “Lake Ana Wai” on it, but someone sprayed over it with paint. “I guess people were slightly bitter by their loss!” I surmised. “Not that I blame them…”

With our wands brandished, we crept into the innermost part of the structure. It was standard protocol for our profession, but for me, this venture had an extra element of potential danger because I anticipated catching Wade in the act during our visit. In the act of what, I had no idea, but still! I wanted to ponder all of the possibilities of his purpose in these parts since it struck me as odd that he wasn’t seeking out immediate revenge against us- seriously, what could he have conceivably been doing that was more important to him than that? However, I tabled that notion for the time being in order to focus on our mission at this juncture. If we did happen to catch him red-handed doing… whatever, I could have certainly grilled him on it later! I didn’t detect anyone’s presence in there, but that didn’t necessarily signify that nobody was there! As we neared a wide expanse, I surprised myself by hoping we would get ambushed! I realize that it sounds insane, but I was more than ready to cease this expedition! If I hadn’t already made that abundantly obvious to you readers…

We each jumped into the center of the rocky room, and in unison, we announced, “Police! Don’t move!” No one moved a muscle due to a lack of anybody other than us being in that facility! The terrain was rather jagged, but we couldn’t spot a single feasibility for remaining clandestine! “Can caves be haunted?” Aidan petitioned me. “This space feels haunted…!”

“Don’t be silly!” I rebuked him. “There’s no such thing as- Aah!” I beheld a mass in a nearby corner that made my eyes grow wide and my skin grow pale!

“I knew it!” Aidan exclaimed. “Where’s the ghost? Where is it?”

I recommended, “Will you calm down? There aren’t any ghosts in here! Probably. But there is something spooky over there…”

Aidan shined his cellphone’s light in the direction that I indicated to, but his expression wasn’t one of shock as mine had been. He stepped closer and furrowed his brows when he glimpsed at the curios that frightened me. “This looks like a bunch of crap! Dried up flowers, bottles of sand, some rocks… Hold on, is that cologne? Ooh, that’s a decent brand!”

“Do you see the bears?” I inquired.

“What about them?” Aidan quizzically replied.

I questioned him, “Don’t they seem familiar to you?” Aidan stared at me blankly, so I clicked my tongue out of annoyance and then refreshed his memory, “It’s from that souvenir shop in Kauhale Maloo!” It still didn’t register for Aidan, so I grouchily filled him in, “Those were the toys that the hooded figure held up when I saw him!”

At last, Aidan showed some mild interest in the significance of this discovery! “Hmm, that is strange! What on earth would compel this individual to stash them here?” He used a jinx to raise some of the items, and as he pored over a hula dancer car ornament and a box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, he scratched his scalp in confusion. “It’s looking like he has a date with an eclectic taste in gifts!”

“There’s gotta be something more meaningful to these objects than that!” I couldn’t accept that Wade had gone through the hassle of procuring these various commodities without having some sort of dark and cynical purpose to them!

“Like what?” Aidan challenged me.

I thought long and hard about this enquiry, but I couldn’t unearth a valid motive for any of it! It did appear as though somebody stored their cheesy, romantic tokens there, but it didn’t make sense to me as to why anyone with a stable brain would do that! “It can’t be random! This isn’t a busy locale! It means something to someone!”

Aidan mulled my reasoning over for a beat, and then he concurred, “You’re right! I can’t picture any person going out of their way to store a bunch of trivial stuff! It must have some kind of value! But what? Some of these shit is too small to hide paraphernalia in it.” 

“Maybe they’re curse conveyers!” I hypothesized as Aidan’s hex held a coin in the air. It forcibly reminded me of the penny I found in the airplane’s lavatory, and I inwardly theorized that Wade planned on enacting a similar slow-release spell on someone to harm us! Though I wasn’t confident anyone would unwittingly transport something as large as a candelabra, and I doubted that any rational adult or even a child would accept candy from a stranger! I couldn’t share my thoughts on our adversary to my boyfriend, but I had one wonderment that I could broadcast to him… “Why would they collect so many different artifacts though? That isn’t easy magic to do! The individual would be too exhausted to give anything to anybody!”

“Unless there’s a group of them all sharing the burden,” Aidan affirmed. “But if that was the case, I suspect Lopaka or the Hekekias would call the police after seeing some shady folks hanging around their neighborhood! And it’s not like there’s any approaches they could take where they could fly under the radar like that!”

As if on cue, the floor beneath Aidan vanished! I peeked into the square hole and asked him, “Are you okay?”

He answered, “I’m fine! Who puts a trap door in a spot like that? If they’re trying to trap an intruder, there’s so many other places a perpetrator would go over prior to… Oh, there’s a ladder!”

“What’s down there?” Since the love of my life was apparently not in any peril, my intrigue piqued! It’s rare to stumble across a secret storage chamber without some sort of sinister intention! Did it shield evidence of the lake’s disappearance? Or was it freshly created in order to shelter our nemesis? The potentialities were endless!

“It’s a long tunnel!” Aidan proclaimed. “You know we gotta follow it, don’t ya?”

I responded, “Uh, yeah!’ I put my cellphone and my wand away, and then I descended into the shadowy chasm…

Once I touched the surface, I shut the seal above us in case… I don’t know! I guess the culprit behind this stunt could return and attempt to ambush us from acquiring… whatever they strove to keep from the world! The tunnel almost seemed natural, but the wooden support beams were a dead giveaway that at least one human being used it for a definitive objective! My hopes were raised high that we would run into a clue pertaining to this conundrum, but when we espied sunshine pouring in from another entryway, I grew a little bummed! My optimism consoled me by convincing me that the sight behind this portal would explain everything…

Nope! It appeared that we arrived in a perfectly ordinary region! Well, not totally ordinary! The houses had a very sophisticated construction, but they still used a very rural style in their lumberwork and thatched roofing! Also, lush plantlife was everywhere that our eyes could reach! Before we could voice any uncertainty to our position, a resident emerged from his dwelling and shouted to us, “Hey! Can’t you two see the sign?”

“What sign?” I glanced around, and I shortly ascertained that we were standing in front of a notice that warned inhabitants that the channel was closed and that trespassers would be prosecuted! I blushed, and once Aidan and I jumped out of range of the shaft, I apologized, “Sorry! We’re new here!”

“Freakin’ howlies!” the man muttered as he stomped back into his abode.

Aidan noted, “I don’t think howlie is as inoffensive as Clifton claimed!”

I conversed, “Probably not! Speaking of him though, perhaps we should call him and get a ride home. Oh, but we don’t even know where we are though…”

“I’ll check my GPS,” Aidan volunteered.

“Hang on!” I requested as I discerned something in the distance that caught my interest. “Before we leave, we gotta dig into something first!”

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 17

Gray! It was gray! I thought the worst case scenario would have been pink or blue, but I had no inkling that the pregnancy test spell could produce a result far worse than a baby coming along at the worst possible juncture! This outcome was much more of a nightmare than the other one- at least there I could have accepted the truth, ugly cried a little, and moved on, but with this, the wound would stay wide open for an indeterminate span! From that point to who knew when, I would ceaselessly wonder if I was about to bring another person into this world or not!

Harper posed to the adults in the room, “What does that mean? She’s gonna give birth to a robot?”

“Yes! She’s about to bring a bouncing baby bot into existence!” Laraleigh sarcastically responded to her daughter.

“Really?” Harper’s eyes widened with interest upon that pronouncement.

Laraleigh grumbled, “Of course not! Harper, can you use your brains for something besides shenanigans?”

Aidan inquired, “What does that mean?”

“It means that it’s inconclusive,” Mom illuminated him. “The magic can’t tell if the hormones in her urine is from a pregnancy or not.”

“How could it not know?” Kinsey speculated. “For real, you’re either pregnant or you’re not, right?”

I lauded her sentiments, “Good question!” I popped the bubble with venom, and I stared at the still bubbling fluid not knowing if I wanted to hurl it against the wall and yell a series of obscenities or if I wanted to simply curl into a fetal position and sob about my misfortune!

Minna suggested, “Perhaps using a child’s wand caused the ambiguity. We could test it again using one from an adult.”

“No!” I shut that idea down instantly. “I just… I can’t! I’m so stressed, I can’t do another hex tonight! I’d probably turn the entire building into a kumquat or something!”

“Cool!” Mason gazed at me expectantly as if he was sincerely anticipating this occurrence.

The fact that he was a mere kid didn’t cross my thoughts- all I could think of was everyone’s mistreatment lately! They didn’t take my reports of spotting Wade seriously, insulted the choices I made as a juvenile, criticized my research, and, to top it all off, they gleefully hoped I would mess up for their entertainment! I snatched the cup and swore wildly as I flung it against the bathroom door, and then I curled myself into a ball and started bawling! Oh, I didn’t consider that I could’ve done both possibilities when I was debating on what I wanted to do! Aidan immediately picked me up, and as I cried into his arms, I caught sight of Mason’s apprehensive expression, and a memory involving him flashbacked to me. “Didn’t you say you have to use the toilet?”

With his eyesight flickering to his lower half, Mason told me, “Nah, I’m okay now…!”

“Oh jeez!” Laraleigh huffed, and then she took her wand out and cleaned her son up.

“Maybe we should give Shannon some quiet tonight,” Mom proposed. Finally! “Do you all feel like you can do that for her?”

Willow gave her an honest reply, “No.”

Mom clicked her tongue in annoyance, and then she grabbed a mop and bucket to take upstairs. Minna volunteered, “I can take them outside for a while.”

“I dunno, it’s beginning to get dark…” Laraleigh fretted.

“The locals all believe magical creatures roam the streets at night, but I’m sure it’s all just urban legends,” Aidan opined. “Worst thing on our farmlands is probably gonna be all of them!”

The younglings all nodded vigorously in agreement. Laraleigh bit her lip in worry, but eventually she relented, “Alright! But if you see those warrior spirits or anything spooky, come back inside!”

Harper whispered to Minna, “Do we have to?”

Minna loudly stated, “Absolutely!” In a more hushed tone, she articulated to Harper, “We’ll talk out there!”

Once they left, I observed total silence until I detected the squeaking of the staircase. I glanced over, and I saw that Mom and Laraleigh had come up with cleaning supplies. They didn’t go straight over to the mess I made thought- they stood at the foot of the stairs in a somewhat awkward manner as though they were trying to cover up their evaluation of my emotional status! Mom rather clumsily conveyed to me, “Gotta get the pee out. You know, I’m not so good with jinxes, so I gotta use the slow method!”

Mom nervously chuckled, and Laraleigh joined her as they awaited my reaction. I didn’t know what to tell them that wouldn’t turn me into a total witch! They were obviously excited by the prospect of me getting into a family way, and I got the impression that they had no clue why I would feel so devastated by this development! Honestly, I had no energy to explain it to them, and I was not willing to elicit the patience required to listen to them rationalizing their actions! Furthermore, my anger inhibited me from appreciating their sympathy, so I decided to exit the conversation prior to it even initiating, “I wanna be alone!”

I pushed past the pair of ladies and bounded downwards, and seconds later, I overheard Aidan doing the same move. Laraleigh reminded him, “She said she wants to be alone right now!”

“I don’t count in that!” Aidan justified himself. “Shannon has never said no to alone time with me!”

“Gross!” Kinsey shouted from outside.

Aidan ordered her, “Go play!” He pulled back the curtain to the closet, and when he espied me sitting on the floor, he closed the curtain and mimicked my posture. After a minute or so, he noted, “Wow! We can both sit comfortably in here! This place is bigger than I remembered!” I twisted my mouth in a bid to emit a grin, but I’m pretty sure all I did was make a weird face! Aidan then asked me, “Yeah… so, what happens next?”

I answered, “I dunno! Normally, when I’m this upset, I have a giant glass of wine!” Aidan tittered slightly, and shortly afterwards, we each got a notification on our phones. I pulled mine out of my pocket, and the homescreen was lit up due to a text from Clifton checking in with us. “Oh man! What the hell do I say to him? Ugh, I’ll have to tell Agent Hearne too!”

As I buried my forehead into my hands, Aidan asserted, “You don’t have to reveal anything yet! For all we know, you’re just overly constipated! I wouldn’t mention that or they’ll enter it into government records!”

His quip made me chortle, and I actually found my disposition had gotten a tad elevated! It wasn’t so much that I enjoyed his humor, although I did in this instance since it was clever and not corny like usual, it simply lightened my spirits to hear someone at least acknowledge one of my claims as plausible! He was completely correct too- I don’t want my potty problems in any official files! It traumatized me enough when Ben got caught screwing a suspect in my first murder case and the entire police force had awareness of our marital drama! I wished it had been more of a shock to them when we got a divorce! Well, a certificate of widowship since he died and became a Fay, it was complicated! Anyways, They couldn’t know what was happening with me at the present because I wasn’t even certain about it myself! But I needed to be though… “I’ll have to book an appointment with an ob/gyn and get a more precise test done! If there’s an embryo in there, we’ll prepare for the next steps, but if there isn’t… Well, they went to medical school, didn’t they? They’d be able to prescribe me something to help me poo, huh?” Aidan and I guffawed at that concept, and then I probed, “What do we do ‘til then though?”

“We solve the mystery of where Lake Ana Wai disappeared to!” Aidan proclaimed. He then encouraged me, “Pretend like we’re on duty. What would you have us do going forward?”

“I’d take a look at the evidence. The evidence always has a logical next step to take! But… in this case, there really isn’t much to go on…” I mulled it over briefly, and then I made a stark realization! “Of course we don’t have much to go on! We haven’t even seen the original crime scene!”

Aidan beamed at my breakthrough, and he affirmed, “Alright! It looks like we got some new plans for tomorrow! Initially, we were gonna… I don’t know! Did we plan anything for Saturday? Hmm…!” We both broadcasted our amusement over his remark, and I found solace in having a productive agenda to distract me from all of my recent woes!

The next morning, Aidan woke up on our pushed together cots by himself. I didn’t see him- I merely knew this because I was on the kitchen counter with a box of donuts on my lap when everyone had been sleeping! He peeked over the ledge, and I merrily waved hello. Aidan peered at me curiously, and then he asked me, “Getting cravings, eh?”

“No!” I answered while munching on one of the delectable pastries. “I didn’t even know these were here! I couldn’t sleep, so I went down here to look for something sugary to keep me awake, and I found them!” I grabbed the last confectionary, and then I flung the box onto the floor and muttered, “I still feel tired!”

“Uh, I hope this doesn’t become a habit…” Aidan eyeballed the empty carton warily. “I mean, it’s gonna make your constipation worse, and-.”

I snapped, “Hey! I can’t go home, I can’t pour myself into my work, and I can’t drink myself into oblivion anymore- binging on fatty foods is all I’ve got!”

Aidan threw his hands up defensively. “Fine, fine! It’s fine!” I doubt he meant that, and in hindsight, he was totally correct, but in that moment, I would’ve gotten extra cranky if he attempted to take away my only source of comfort! Well, my only source other than Aidan, obviously, but he was unconscious when I needed solace, so… Aidan cleared his throat, and then he propositioned, “Well, since we’re both up, do you wanna go check out that lake?”

“You’re going to a lake?” Jackson groggily petitioned us. “I wanna go too!”

“There’s no water there,” Aidan apprised him. “It’s all dried up.”

Jackson queried, “You’re gonna visit some empty land then?”

Aidan confirmed, “Basically, yeah!”

“Boring!” Jackson commented. “Why would you wanna do that?”

“We… We’re trying to learn about the land around us,” I explicated to him, which wasn’t even a lie! I simply didn’t add why our ambitions prompted us to explore the grounds! “If you don’t picture that being very interesting, then you don’t-.” Jackson’s renewed snores caused the finish to my sentence to become pointless, so I shrugged and then communicated to Aidan, “I’m ready to go whenever you are!”

Aidan responded, “Just let me eat a quick breakfast.” He viewed me finishing up the remaining baked good, and he enquired, “Is there anything still there?”

I sardonically giggled at his joke. “Nope! I ate every single thing!” I opened the refrigerator, and for a flash, I grew anxious that I did, indeed, devour the household’s only supply for a morning meal, but then, when I opened up the cupboard on the other side of me, I breathed a sigh of relief! “Phew! There’s some muffins here! Ooh, muffins sound yummy…!” Aidan magicked them out of my palms and up to his lofty position, which offended me slightly. “Did you really believe I’d gobble up those in addition to everything I just consumed?” Aidan took a huge bite out of his repast and uttered some incoherent words to me. I shook my head, and then I slipped off of the counter in order to get dressed.

We walked by Lopaka’s ranch, and I gazed at the bovines that had nestled in the grass for their slumber. “Interesting! I always assumed they slept standing up! So, how do people go cow tipping then?”

Aidan gestured to me his uncertainty on the topic. “No clue! But if you do figure it out, for heaven’s sake, don’t disclose it to my sister’s minions!”

I snickered at that, and following soon after that, I spotted a sign that read: Aracauna Kahuna. “Sweet! We’re getting close to the egg farm! Whew! If we do this trek another day, we should drive the truck to-.” Suddenly, I stepped on a crunchy substance! I winced, and then I quizzed Aidan, “Does Hawaii have gigantic bugs that would make that sound when they’re smooshed?” Aidan indicated that he wasn’t positive, and a sinking feeling began to form at the pit of my stomach! I raised my shoe up and prayed that I hadn’t accidentally broken something of importance…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 16

It actually disappointed me not to see an emergency happening down there! In retrospect, I was glad that nobody was in any real peril, but at the time, it vexed me that they had made that cacophony for a trivial reason! Apparently, Mason had levitated the sofa in order to create a faster escape route from Jackson, who was it, and he hadn’t bothered to return it to its original position in a gentle fashion either! What floored me was that I seemed to be the only one concerned about this! I upbraided him, “You can’t just toss around the furniture like it’s unbreakable! What if you ruined it? Do you know how long it’d take for the FBI to issue us a new one?”

Mason inquired, “How long would it take?”

“Long!” I replied. “It’s the government, they do everything slow! If they moved at a reasonable speed, do you think my boyfriend’s stalker would still be with us?”

“You’re gonna have her killed?” Kinsey gasped.

I corrected her misinterpretation, “With us in this house, not on this earth! Nothing she’s done has warranted the death penalty!  … At least, nothing that I know of!”

Minna exclaimed, “Hey! It’s not like I wanted to become an inconvenience to everyone! I offered to make things easier by sleeping outside, but-!”

“Shut up! Just… shut up! I’m not in the mood to argue with your nonsense!” I snapped. “Gosh, is it too much to ask for a few minutes of quiet so we can do some important research?”

“Yes!” Harper wise-cracked. “You’re a farmer now! What are you researching for?”

I got offended not only as someone who intended to go back to my detective role as soon as possible but as a person in the agricultural field too! “Ugh! I’m so tired of people assuming that farmers have no cause to enrich their knowledge in any subject! They have interests outside of work, you know! And furthermore, they can look up stuff to help with their profession! As a matter of fact, we were trying to find something related to irrigation, so excuse us for trying to be productive!”

It made me feel slightly guilty to claim that I was attempting to assist with water supply considerations when, in reality, I had been neglecting that in order to decipher Wade’s movements, but this was equally important! I mean, if Wade ended up annihilating us all, we certainly wouldn’t have been able to aid the Hekekias’ orchard! However, the shame swiftly evaporated when Mom pulled out a bottle of wine from the cupboard and offered it to me, “Maybe you need a small break from your project!”

“No! I can’t have any alcohol!” I barked. It roiled me that instead of addressing the validity of my statement, they were aiming to dull my senses!

“Why not?” Laraleigh probed.

I hesitated in my response to her. I definitely couldn’t say that I esteemed that I needed to stay alert as much as possible because I believed that the wanted criminal that sent us into Witness Protection in the first place may have been in the area and I foresaw a dangerous confrontation! If the love of my life doubted my allegations, then surely they wouldn’t buy them either, and I was not in the proper mindset to contend that point with this rowdy bunch! But… what other plausible explanation could I have provided to them? “I… haven’t been feeling well lately, which is another reason I could use some quiet, so please give me a bit of peace!” I added that last part in a stern voice in hopes of finishing this conversation, but that’s not what wound up occurring…

Willow cried out, “You’re so mean! I hope you’re nicer to your baby!”

“My baby?” I puzzled. My perplexion over her motive in bringing this up was enough to pull me out of my heated fervor! “Uncle Aidan and I are only pretending to be married, we haven’t talked about our actual future yet! Frankly, we can’t really ‘til we understand what’s gonna happen to us here! Who said we were entering a baby into this already complicated picture!”

“She did!” Willow asserted while pointing her finger to my mom.

Mom reacted in an overly innocent manner, which instantly informed me that she was one hundred percent guilty! “Me? No, I did not! I would not, no! Not me! Never!”

Willow argued with her, “Yeah, huh! You said she had a baby inside of her tummy!”

Mom turned beet red as my jaw dropped at such an unfounded allegation! Seriously, I recognized that I didn’t have a lot of experience with that topic, but I felt positive that I would have had some clues that would rouse my suspicion on that sort of status! Wouldn’t I have noticed my body going through several changes if I had another human growing inside of me? I gave her no indication that anything out of the ordinary had been transpiring lately, so it flabbergasted me as to why she would make that kind of hypothesis! And then to spread that rumor to others was unfathomable! I gazed at Mom for a rationale, and she could discern that I wasn’t about to abandon this matter, so she apologized, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to give that announcement out before you got a chance to, but-!”

“Woah, woah, woah!” I cut her off at this line of lunacy and denied her implication, “I’m not pregnant!”

“You’re not?” Mom blinked in disbelief. “Are you sure?”

I insisted, “Um, no offense, but, duh! If I believed it was even a remote possibility, I would’ve admitted it ages ago!”

Kinsey put in, “My sex ed teacher taught us that if you have sex, there’s always a possibility of getting impregnated! … Well, for straight people anyways! Her wife couldn’t get her knocked up! Anyways, you two have made it abundantly clear that you do it frequently, so-.”

“Not all the time! We only do it when…” I mulled it over for a second, and then I switched tactics, “That isn’t significant! Having intercourse doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll get a bun in the oven! There’s things you can do to prevent that even from unfolding!”

“Oh, don’t tell her that!” Laraleigh groaned.

Kinsey reassured her, “It’s okay, Mama! Missus Lyubovpole told us that no form of protection is totally effective!”

Aidan contended, “Yeah, but we only have a one in a hundred shot at that with birth control! We have greater odds of getting into a car accident each instance we go out than getting a bundle of joy each instance we… ahem!”

“That’s sorta a bummer!” I commented.

“Yeah,” Aidan agreed. “It’s not something I like to think about when I hit the road! But anyways, what makes you all so convinced that she’s expecting?”

Mom observed, “For starters, her mood swings have been off the charts lately!”

I challenged her, “Don’t you imagine that all of the stress I’ve endured this week would warrant that?”

“True!” Mom acknowledged. “But you’ve also been pretty constipated for a while…”

“How did you know about that?” I cringed at the thought of the entire household learning something so personal to me, which made the day that Aidan and I would return to our apartment that much more appealing!

Minna reported, “You take forever in the bathroom! Originally, we were thinking you were simply hiding from us, but then we realized that’s what your hidey closet is for!”

Laraleigh added, “You’ve been more tired than usual also!”

“Fatigue is a symptom of almost every ailment out there!” I bickered. “Besides, I’ve been more run-down here ‘cause I’ve been doing hard labor with virtually no sleep!”

“You’ve been avoiding alcohol too!” Aidan chimed in, which made the ladies downstairs murmur in agreement.

I questioned Aidan, “Hold on, who’s side are you on?”

Aidan bashfully brought up, “No one’s! It’s just that… Well… How do I put this delicately? Your belly has gotten a bit bigger recently… Not that much! I only saw it since I know you somewhat completely… But, maybe it’d be a good thing to find out definitively…”

My primary reflex to this development was to take a moment to absorb the sting of my beau noticing my stomach getting larger, and I nearly panicked in fear that he was becoming less attracted to me, but then he took my hand and supportively caressed it. It registered that his sentiments hadn’t altered, but he was staring at me with eyes full of worry as though he expected me to feel scared right then. I glimpsed down to the lower level, and I beheld everyone giving me the same look, and I grew irate again! It was such a crazy notion! If I was gestating, I would have felt it in my gut! Literally and figuratively! No one believed that that I spotted a hooded silhouette that resembled Wade, and now, no one took my word about the state of my fertility! It burned me up enough that I intended to prove them wrong! I marched over to my purse and grabbed one of the small wines that I forgot to take out of my purse after that flight attendant gave it to me, and I posed to the assemblage, “If I drink this, would that drop this insanity?”

Nobody spoke. The entire facility was silent for a minute, and I paused my efforts in order to savor this bout of tranquility! As I wondered if this move would show the same success going forward, something I could save as a tool in my back pocket, Harper queried, “I don’t get it. What’s happening?”

“Liquor can hurt unborn infants,” Minna educated. “Oh, the born ones too, but when a woman has a baby in her tummy, everything she eats and drinks goes to the baby too!”

“So, pregnant women never drink that stuff?” Harper asked.

Minna answered, “Some do, but it has some terrible consequences…”

Harper’s face fell at that concept, and everyone ogled me incredulously. A part of me wanted to defy their judgment and guzzle down the alcoholic beverage, but it registered to me that if I went through with it, they’d harbor a very ill opinion of me, and the last thing I wanted to was to evoke more drama in this abode! I resentfully removed the bottle from my lips, and I petitioned the lot, “If I do a pregnancy test spell and it comes out negative, will you all accept that my bigger belly is simply from my constipation and my moodiness from stress?”

They all seemed to come to a consensus that they would, but as Laraleigh floated a cup over to me, Mom couldn’t resist squealing, “Eek! I’m gonna be a grandma!”

I rolled my eyes as I received the cup, which I opted to do instead of arguing. I got the urge to remind her that she more than likely would have to postpone that aspiration for a longer interval, but I also explicitly desired to put a halt to this discussion as speedily as possible, so I ran into the bathroom with as much haste as I could muster! I pulled down my pants and held the cup between myself and the bowl, and it felt rather strange to urinate into a glass receptacle! Midstream, I heard Mason request, “Mama, can you have her hurry? I gotta go now…”

After letting out an exasperated sigh, I set the cup on on the sink, pulled my pants back up, and reemerged into the living space. I placed the cup onto the ledge, and Jackson crinkled his nose at this sight. “We ain’t drinking from that glass again, are we?”

“Oh, hush!” Laraleigh commanded him. “We’ll wash it real thoroughly!”

“Okay, here we go!” I waved my wand over the cup, and I concentrated on the effect I wanted to produce. The substance started swirling, and each person viewed this spectacle with mourning anticipation! I was confident they’d all get disappointed by the result… until I saw swirls of blue and pink form! My heart froze! What if I was pregnant? I wasn’t ready for this stage of my life, and I didn’t reckon that I could handle the hardships that entailed this condition along with all of the other tribulations I already had to cope with! My pulse skyrocketed as a bubble hovered over the cup, and I prayed that the cycling colors would stop at white! It flashed blue, pink, and white a few times, and it landed on…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 15

“You’re free to go!” Samena relayed to us through gritted teeth. “But, just remember, if you’re up to no good, I’ll find out! I’m a detective- we’re trained to detect criminal activity!”

My blood almost curled at this remark, but I recalled that she had no idea who she was talking to! I thought I ought to have simply walked away, but her insinuation piqued my curiosity! “What exactly did you think we were up to?” I asked her.

She curtly answered, “That’s classified! Have a nice day!” Prior to me being able to query her any further, she turned smartly on her heels and walked away.

“Have a nice day!” I aped her in a mocking voice. “Oh, yeah, like it’ll be so easy to do that after getting grilled by law enforcement for no real reason!”

“Let’s go babe!” Aidan recommended as he put his arm around me and led me away from the area.

I complied with his wishes to vacate the vicinity, but I didn’t stop ranting about that interaction! “I bet she didn’t have a true cause to accost us! She was obviously bored, it’s not like there’s a lot to do out here! How many crimes get committed in this tiny town?”

Aidan noted, “Only one that I can think of, and it doesn’t look as though we’ll get any leads on it from this location!”

In my state of animosity over this contentious exchange, I temporarily forget about the disappearing lake! I hadn’t considered what our next steps should be other than getting Aidan to agree with me on what a terrible person Samena was, and now that the decision had come to my feet, I drew a blank on how to proceed in this venture! “Maybe the people on the other side of this street didn’t see that! Or talk to those small business owners who believe we’re monsters ‘cause we work for…” I  eyeballed the passersby and changed the verbiage that I originally wanted to end that sentence with, “… you know who!”

As we strolled down the boulevard, I scoped out every nook and cranny that we passed in order to espy where Wade ran off to after I spotted him. No one else seemed quite as disturbed  by the presence of a shadowy figure staring at us, but it bothered me tremendously! Did they esteem that I made these episodes up? Or perhaps they imagined that I had become delusional! Someone was out there watching us, and I wasn’t going to let that go! Since Samena wasn’t so friendly towards us, I doubted any of her fellow officers at this precinct would take me very seriously, so it was up to us to solve this mystery! I suppose it could have been anyone, like another person with the same personality disorder as Minna for example, but this looks a little too similar to a previous case to be a coincidence! I didn’t recall him ever wearing a hoodie at home, which meant he most likely only wore it when he was doing his criminal activity. Therefore, if he resumed donning the hood once more, then he had to be up to some nefarious actions this time around too…

“They’re talking about us!” Aidan asserted.

“Huh?” I fell out of my torpor and glanced around to see what he was referring to. Soon, I saw a few shopkeepers across the road pointing in our direction and whispering, which made me grimace! “Wow! Word travels fast in these parts apparently!”

Aidan lamented, “It doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to gain any allies out here! So, what resources are available for us now?”

I mulled it over for a second, and then I shrugged. “The internet maybe. Well, that’s assuming the answers will get past the filters that your sister put up to try and prevent ‘Danielle’ from searching for more details on gruesome murders! But I’m willing to bet she knows how to get around those barriers!”

“You can do that?” Kinsey emerged from a shop behind us with her eyes sparkling with interest at this notion.

“No!” I denied my own statement with trepidation. I feared I may have accidentally incited an endeavor where this teen would obtain some knowledge not meant for her age level and rouse the wrath of her mother!

Kinsey didn’t seem fooled by my ploy unfortunately. “Why did I ask? You wouldn’t have mentioned it if it wasn’t! Now, how do you bypass her security spells…?”

Laraleigh exited the store with a paper cone in her hand and a concerned look on her face. “What on earth did you say to her?”

“Nothing!” I truthfully conveyed to her. “I was talking to him! I thought we were alone!”

“Weeeee!” Willow, Harper, and mason cried out as they zoomed to the streets at top speed.

Mom and Jackson went outside, and Mom cautioned the kids, “You shouldn’t play in the road!”

Harper objected, “But we’re pretending it’s the Green Lady’s canyon! She’s gonna snatch us up!”

“Boy, will she be sorry!” Aidan commented.

“Exactly!” Harper grinned mischievously.

Laraleigh shouted, “Get kidnapped on the sidewalk!” A couple passing us gazed over peculiarly, and Laraleigh clarified to them, “Not literally!”

As the youngest kids unwillingly headed away from the avenue, Jackson put the back of his shirt collar over his hair and hollered, “Oooh! I’m the Green Lady, and I’m gonna get you!”

Laraleigh winced as her little ones let out piercing screams, and Mom filled Aidan and me in, “The shave ice owners told us some legends from the island while we ate.”

“I see… Hey, maybe they would-,” I glanced inside of their property, and when I beheld them glaring at the pair of us, I recanted that supposition, “Nevermind!” I couldn’t help but feel a heavy surge of disappointment at this- they seemed very well-informed on local mythology and probably had an insightful account as to what may have occurred between Lake Ana Wai and the Mo’o, whatever that was! I sighed, but then Willow hid behind a trash can and casted a shadow, I got reminded of the other issue I wanted to figure out. I canvassed those who were not reeling from a sugar rush, “Did you guys happen to see anything strange going on around here?”

“Stranger than that?” Mom gestured towards the quirky antics of the juveniles at play.

Laraleigh took a slight offense to that. “Hey, they’re just acting like typical children! Don’t you remember how your kids behaved under the influence of sweets?”

Mom shook her head. “Not really! I only had one child, and she was sorta boring!”

“Excuse me!” I put my arms up in a manner that clearly indicated my offended stance.

“Well, you were!” Mom refused to back down from her allegations. “You mostly read a bunch of books and went searching for villains in the bushes. Of course, I don’t know how you were after I gave up custody of you. You might have became more rowdy for your father…”

I begrudgingly admitted, “Not really. My stepmom was pretty strict, so even if I wanted to misbehave, I wouldn’t have been able to!”

Sensing my depression heightening from the premise that I may have been seen as an uninteresting individual, Aidan piped up, “Don’t worry, babe! You’ve more than made up for your previous lack of a bad side during your time with me!”

“Eiww!’ Kinsey’s visage soured at a raunchy interpretation of his phrasing.

“That’s not what I meant! Although…” Aidan rubbed his chin contemplatively.

Kinsey requested to her mother, “Can we go home? I wanna rinse that picture out of my brain!”

Laraleigh started to decline that, “We haven’t been here that long! We still have a lot to-.” Her younglings frightened a man on crutches, and after blushing profusely, Laraleigh changed her tune, “On second thought, let’s leave quickly!”

Aidan and I sat in the hayloft while the youths played a very rambunctious version of tag and Minna chatted with Mom and Laraleigh in the kitchen. I buried my nose further into my laptop as if that move would drown out all of the noise! It was hard to concentrate on my countless scrolling of news sites, but I did my best to comb through all of these news sites in hopes of finding any sort of sign of Wade’s whereabouts in this jurisdiction! Lake Aopua’a was the closest locale to the farm he had gotten seen at, so I wondered where else he may have wandered to. Thus far, no reports of nearby break-ins or burglaries turned up in the papers, so I concluded that he must have wound up in a stretch where he could blend in, but where a large, smelly jerk possibly blend in around this region absolutely stumped me! 

“Hey, Shannon! I found out what a moe was!” Aidan announced as he caused me to jump while he unexpectedly hovered over my shoulders.

“Who’s Moe?” I puzzled.

He informed me, “I know a crazy cat named Moe in southern Maryland…” A kitty turned up next to him, and he remarked to it, “Not that kinda cat!” The feline insisted that he pet it, so Aidan relented, “Fine! Anyways, I wasn’t talking about Moe the caterer! This is the moe connected to the disappearing pond!”

I corrected him, “It’s pronounced mo’o.”

“Yeah, that’s what I said,” I contended.

“No, you said moe, and it’s mo’o,” I illuminated him.

Aidan scratched his hairline in confusion. “I don’t hear the difference.”

I decided to table that matter temporarily, “Let’s go on. What is this thing?”

He put his screen in front of me and summarized, “It’s some sort of reptile that guards bodies of water.”

“Some say they’re small geckos, and others say they’re huge dragons!” My brows furrowed upon this observation of these conflicting reports. “Wow, this one said it could be a seductive woman! How are we supposed to know what to look for then?”

“I don’t know if it matters,” Aidan reckoned. “Whatever form it comes in, someone must have angered it. Doing so makes it react in terrible ways like summoning adverse weather or other natural phenomena to punish the offenders!”

A lightbulb went off inside of my noggin, and I excitedly inferred, “Someone disturbed the mo’o of Lake Ana Wai! But how? According to this, it could stem from merely swimming in their territory or-.”

At that moment, Willow emitted a high-pitched shriek as Mason bested her in their frivolity! Meanwhile, the three ladies in the kitchen were gabbing away like nothing happened! Minna prattled on, “The cliffs  going down to the beach are gnarly, but it’s worth the magic to get there ‘cause it’s so relaxing! And when the tide is low, a sandbar opens up that leads to this really peaceful mini island! You should try it! It…”

“What have you been reading about here?” Aidan studied my computer, and I admonished myself for letting the banshees on the lower level distract me! I wasn’t ready to justify this particular research to him, especially since we assigned ourselves to work on something else! Aidan conjectured, “You must really miss doing policework!”

“I was trying to find Wade!” I confessed. “He’s in our neighborhood, and-.”

Aidan disagreed with me, “Babe, he’s not here! And if he was, we’d smell him coming like we did before!”

I argued, “But who else would be following us?”

“I…” He contemplated it, and when he came up empty, he countered with, “Well, if he was here, why would he be biding his time in getting his vengeance?”

“Um… Well, he…” I couldn’t decipher a motive for that, but prior to that instance occurring, a loud bang sounded from below! “Ugh! There had better be a damn good explanation for that!” I marched over to the edge full of ire, and when I saw the causation of the disruption, my eyes went wide…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 14

One of the men dramatically revealed, “It disappeared!”

I clicked my tongue out of annoyance. My anticipation had been mounting higher and higher as I awaited this announcement, and his response felt like a huge let down! I feared that they wouldn’t have any answers for us, but my detective experience reminded me that I couldn’t give up on potential witnesses merely because they showed hints of ineptitude, so I addressed them, “We already knew that! What we wanna know is why!”

“It’s the ‘ino’ino make! Another guy bitterly expressed to us. “The Pomaikais just had to spring for cheap labor and invite them to this region! Ever since they started coming around this part, we’ve seen nothing but trouble!” I was itching to ask them how that was even remotely possible, but then…

“You said you live near Lake Ana Wai?” The man who spoke mulled it over and then corrected himself, “Well, where it used to be?”

Each of us sensed a huge catch for confirming this, but Aidan still did it, “Uh-huh. We live in Lani Noni.”

The cashier probed, “Do the Hekekias still haunt that place?”

“Haunt is a little harsh! I mean, I know they’re technically dead, but still!” I defensively opined. They looked unmoved by my pleading, so I moved on, “Yes, we work for them.”

“Get out!” the shopkeeper staunchly pointed to the exit. “Don’t bring that poino over here!”

Initially, I thought he was joking. I’ve had plenty of  criminals and individuals with something to hide try to throw me out of their domain when I was interrogating them, but it didn’t occur to me that they would oust me in a civilian role when all I was doing was seeking information about my surroundings! Their expressions indicated their seriousness though, and since we had no legal cause to remain there, neither Aidan nor I sought to fight this decision. It was hard to do this though since they were showing hints of being able to be quite helpful to us! Plus, I still wanted to know what interest Wade had in this store other than teddy bears! It wasn’t worth it to battle five big dudes with our teeny children’s wands to obtain this knowledge however, so we left without protest.

When we were outside, Aidan inquired to a passerby, “What’s poino?”

“It’s bad luck or misery,” she replied. “Why? Did you remove one of Pele’s rocks?”

“I don’t think so…” Aidan reflected a bit just to make sure, and when he concluded we probably hadn’t, he filled her in, “Actually, it came up when we mentioned that our new bosses are Fay Folks and-.”

The woman’s face soured upon hearing this. “Your bosses are monsters!” She spat at our feet and then wheeled her stroller away from us as fast as she could.

Aidan remarked, “Okay, I guess we should stop telling people that!” I concurred, and then we went next door.

A bell chimed as we went inside, and a female greeted us with, “Did you forget something?”

“Huh?” I puzzled. We had never been in there, so it mystified me as to what prompted her to say that!

“Your clothes!” she simply stated. Aidan and I panicked and swiftly glanced at ourselves out of worry that we got hit with some sort of nudity jinx, and then the female gestured to the rack behind her. “This is a dry cleaner…”

Aidan and I instantly felt dumb, but it was too funny not to join her and her two customers in laughter! An older gentleman queried, “Are you two lost?”

I genially responded, “Kinda. We recently… bought an egg farm, and we’ve been using Lake Aopua’a for a water source, but then we heard that there used to be a pond closer to us that vanished suddenly. No one seems to be able to tell us why either!”

The backstory I concocted was pretty solid, and I genuinely thought I nailed it until the older lady asked, “The realtor didn’t disclose that when you bought the property?”

“Uh…” My spirits deflated at the loss of success that I never really had! I racked my brains to unearth a clever explanation, but all I could drum up was, “They blamed the Fays across the street, but I don’t see how that’s feasible!”

“You don’t?” The dry cleaner eyed me dubiously.

I blushed furiously at getting put on the spot like an unprepared student getting called upon by their teacher! I felt like I ought to have known this, but my mind was a total blank pertaining to the motive for this belief, so Aidan stepped in and commented, “No, we don’t! ‘Cause, yeah, they don’t seem to have any actual powers, so aren’t they pretty harmless?”

That was the wrong viewpoint to put forth evidently! The old couple gasped, and the rage of a pure offense was brewing inside of the dry cleaner! Seeing that this endeavor was a futile venture, I proclaimed, “We’ll show ourselves out!” Preceding any of them uttering a single word about our gaffe, we dashed out of the building!

Back on the sidewalk, Aidan observed, “Wow, they really hate Fays out here!”

I agreed, “Totally! From now on, we’ll have to pretend we want nothing to do with them!”

From behind us, the old man from the dry cleaner facility emitted a noise of disgust! Aidan and I jumped slightly at their unexpected appearance, and our innermost instincts had us clam up until they got out of sight… until… “Imagine that!” the elderly lady huffed. “They dare to associate with the wretches that had the audacity to offend the mo’o!”

“The what?” I had no clue what a mo’o was, but my gut convinced me that whatever it might have been, it possessed a major factor towards the reservoir evaporating! I caught up with the pair and pressed them, “What’s a mo’o?”

“You two have phones, go look it up yourself!” she snapped.

I ignored that directive and petitioned them, “Did the mo’o drain the lake?”

The old gentleman barked, “Go bug your Fay friends!”

“They’re not our friends, we just work for them!” I immediately recognized that I had erred once more, so I amended my sentence, “It’s not like we wanted to- we didn’t have a choice in the matter!”

“We’re obviously very ignorant about this stuff, you could educate us so that we quit hanging around them!” Aidan strove to tempt them into a discussion with us, but they disregarded our communication attempts and walked with a little more briskness in their steps! We would’ve taken one last stab at it, but then…

A woman with long, black hair, Sandy toned skin, small, umber eyes, and a well-fitted suit blocked our pathway! Her stance appeared rather confrontational, and I truly wasn’t in the mood for another clash, so I wanted to bypass her. I couldn’t though- she opened a leather cover and revealed a badge for the Kalahale Police Department! Aidan and I froze in our tracks! This was exactly what we were hoping to avoid! We knew it would be a complete hassle to have to sort this out with Agent Hearne or Deputy Clifton, especially if they got wind of us doing an off-the-books investigation! Additionally, even if we didn’t get legal punishment for this incident, we each dreaded having a blemish on our records! This woman spared us no pity for our plight and coldly introduced herself, “Detective Samena Tajana, HPD.”

Aidan reached into his pocket out of habit, but when he realized he wasn’t carrying his shield (for a reason!), he acted as if he meant to do that for a casual pose. “I’m Kennedy Swetinbedde, and this is my wife, Sophia. We’re farmers in the area.”

“Sir, keep your hands where I can see them!” Samena commanded.

“Okay!” Aidan promptly pulled his palms out and kept them where she could plainly view them.

She contemplated the info we provided her for a second, and then she vocalized, “Local farmers, huh? You sure ask a lot of questions for farmers…”

I retorted, “What? Are we not supposed to ever learn anything beyond the fields?” I startled myself by behaving so pertly with a fellow officer, but I got somewhat offended by her insinuation! Furthermore, it irked me that a cop was accosting us and not Wade! If he had any vision of our locale at that moment, I knew he was cackling super joyfully at this scenario!

“What exactly are you trying to learn from these townsfolk?” Samena challenged us.

“We’re trying to learn about the land from the people who know it best!” Aidan asserted fairly rapidly. He most likely sensed some more snarkiness ready to burst out of my mouth, and ultimately, I found that he did the correct action because he doubtlessly prevented an already dicey situation from getting worse, but at the time, I wasn’t too pleased with getting cut off since she was treating us with unjust antagonism! He more calmly elaborated, “We’re new here, but they’re not! They’d know better than anyone what went on out there- you can’t really trust the internet for accuracy!”

Samena stared at him like she was scanning for any mistruths to slip off of his tongue, and she seemed a tad skeptical when she detected no deception! “Why were you guys so insistent on hearing about the mo’o?”

Aidan’s cordiality didn’t prevail in this instance due to his lack of readiness to have a justification for this, and while I disliked this woman for her malicious attitude, I hardly wanted to get on Aidan’s bad side by starting strife with her, so, with as much politeness as I could muster, I commented, “You know how it is when you hear a cliffhanger ending- we simply gotta know the rest!” I chuckled, but Samena’s frigid visage didn’t budge an inch! All of a sudden, it occurred to me that this frosty rival could prove useful to us after all! “Surely, you must know what a mo’o is! What is it? A fish? A tree?”

“I do know what it is, but I don’t have a minute to spare to explain it!” She pulled out a notebook, and as she flicked her pen open, I produced a sound of derision that thankfully went unnoticed! “You told me you’re Kennedy and Sophia Swetinbedde. Is there a middle name to go with either of those?”

“Uh… No! No, there isn’t,” Aidan reported to her a smidgen too late. We could tell that his hesitation roused her suspicion, so he added, “Sorry! Police make me nervous!”

I sputtered in amusement at the irony of his quip, but when that move garnered me a peculiar ogling from Samena, I hastily summoned up an excuse for this blunder. “Did you see those bears in that souvenir shop? They’re wearing hats! And Hawaiian shirts!” I faked some hearty guffawing at that image, and she definitely thought I was an idiot at this juncture! Whatever, as long as she didn’t believe I was hiding anything pertinent from her!

Samena quizzed us, “What are your social security numbers?”

“Um, we don’t have it memorized, so can we dig out our cards and show it to you?” Aidan requested.

“I suppose…” Samena consented with an eyebrow raised. Clearly, she didn’t find our stories to be too credible, and privately, I didn’t blame her! While I was contemplating the best replies to any other inquiries she may have had for us, she took our identification and advised us, “You know, you shouldn’t carry these around with you. If someone stole your purse or wallet, they could easily use it to steal your identity!”

Slightly too tickled by the concept of a thief pilfering fraudulent ID’s, I articulated, “Oh darn, that’d be a shame!”

She furrowed her brows at my crack, but prior to her responding to it, dispatch delivered us clean results, which seemed to shock her. “Really? Alright, thank you!”

“Yeah, so we’re done now, correct?” I folded my arms in an agitated manner, and it struck me as odd to show such sass to a sister in the force, but I disliked her for her inefficiency! She wasted her efforts with us when bonafide criminals like Wade were roaming free! She showed signs of reluctance to let us go, which I wanted to sympathize with since I’ve been there before, but I couldn’t under these circumstances! I expounded on my statement, “You have no proof of any wrongdoing, you can’t hold us forever!” Her lips contorted as she displayed sheer avarice, and…