Phoebe queried me, “We live here just the two of us?”
“Yeah, why?” I responded to her as I drove to the end of the cul-de-sac.
“There’s someone in the driveway,” Phoebe pointed out.
I screeched the car to an abrupt halt. I hadn’t told anyone that she got released from the hospital, so I didn’t esteem that the figure hovering by our garage would have been there for a non-threatening reason! I turned off the headlights because I didn’t want Phoebe to see this confrontation. Sure, she accepted my bouts with the supernatural realm previously, but I assumed she had done so from already suspecting something hinky was afoot. I couldn’t imagine how she would react when she had no inkling of anything otherworldly transpiring! Besides, even if by some miracle she did accept this circumstance, she was in no shape to fight anyone after being on bed rest for a few days! I had just gotten her back, I didn’t want to lose her so soon! “Wait here!” I instructed her. I could hear her object, but I walked of prior to explaining myself…
…For a second! I returned to my vehicle, and I briefed Phoebe, “I actually need those on ‘cause the bulb in that light needs replacing.”
“Should I be worried?” Phoebe probed.
“No! Well, maybe! We’ll see!” I muttered prior to dashing off again.
As I traveled towards our abode, I privately thought the correct reply to her enquiry was yes. Once again, I was approaching a potential enemy without any sort of weapon to defend myself! I made a mental note to start carrying around a crucifix or something from then on as I observed the shadowed stranger on our property. They seemed human so far, but I reckoned that could change at any moment. The silhouette scurried off to a site adjacent to our dark stoop, and while I partly wondered when the porch light went out, I mostly kept myself on guard. I saw it crouched low by the steps, and before I could even turn my flashlight app on, I heard Jett hiss and a loud pop! A million negative possibilities ran through my mind, and my pulse raced at each and every one of them! I couldn’t illuminate the front of my dwelling fast enough! What I spotted went beyond any of my expectations…
Holding two heart-shaped balloons and a deflated red one, Brantley sheepishly greeted me, “Welcome home!”
“How did you find out our address?” I folded my arms to stifle the urge to punch that twerp. I supposed I may have had legal justification for doing so since he was trespassing, but the last thing I wanted to deal with following an arduous afternoon was legal proceedings!
“I saw it on her I.D… And I only went through her purse ‘cause she was still asleep when I first saw her and I wanted to know her situation!” Brantley justified himself.
Gritting my teeth, I growled, “And you memorized it?”
Brantley refuted that, “No! I took a picture… for emergencies!” He glanced around, and then he inquired, “Where’s Phoebe anyways?”
“It doesn’t matter! She doesn’t wanna see you!” I spat.
“Did she say that?” Brantley challenged me.
I informed him, “Her exact words were, ‘Make sure that asshole doesn’t follow us home!’”
Brantley pouted, “I didn’t follow you, I got here first!” My patience was wearing thin, and he gathered as much. As he cowardly fled from me, he expressed, “I’d rather hear it from her lips!”
I sped towards my car, and luckily, I beat him by a considerable stretch! I got out of breath though, and Phoebe gawked at me with a startled visage. “What’s going on?” I couldn’t verbalize anything- instead, I locked the vehicle’s doors. I did so in the nick of time too! Brantley attempted to open the passenger’s side, and Phoebe groaned, “Oh, I see!”
“Darling! Are you happy to see me?” Brantley pressed her.
“Can’t you run him over?” Phoebe jokingly encouraged me. At least, I assumed it was a joke…
Brantley pathetically beseeched her, “Come on, sugar plum! I’m a changed man! I swear, I only wanna coexist with you, not control you! NOW, OPEN THIS DOOR AND TALK TO ME! Don’t be rude!”
Phoebe shouted at him, “How many times have I said it’s over? Seriously, how many times was it?” She looked at me, and I shrugged. “Bye, Brantley!”
“No! I refuse to say goodbye! You belong to me, and when you’re ready to do the right thing, I’ll be right here waiting!” Bradley took a position by the nearly completed McMansion and sat in a huff.
“Do you not have a job?” I inquired him.
He stubbornly replied, “I have two weeks of sick pay I never use ‘cause I’m as fit as a fiddle!” He proceeded to let out a series of sneezes as I pulled into the driveway.
As I used my cellphone to provide an unobscured path to our place’s entryway, Jett was on our lawn cleaning pieces of red from her paw. I appealed to her, “Keep that prick out of our yard!” Jett craned her neck up as if she was listening, blinked once, and returned to her grooming.
“Wow! It’s almost like she can speak!” Phoebe remarked as we went into the mudroom.
“Well, no, when she speaks, she…” I dropped my keys when I recognized that I was close to blurting an enchanted tidbit! Roxy’s one and only successful spell enabled Jett to communicate in English, and it bugged the heck out of us! I had gotten so used to commiserating about previous setbacks with her that I was going to gripe about it with her from sheer habit! I couldn’t do that in the present though- I wouldn’t want to chase her off before she had even crossed the threshold! She peered at me peculiarly, and it seemed necessary to complete my sentence, so I took a stab at it, “..Meow!” That didn’t remedy the problem at all, so I hurried and opened the door to distract from that awkwardness.
I announced, “Here we are! Home sweet home!”
Phoebe surveyed the space, and her poker face made me slightly nervous. The furniture was the posh leftovers from my penthouse era, but the carpet was outdated and the structure was overtly asymmetrical. I worked out that this style was innovative in the decade this joint got built in, but it badly needed modernizing! I fretted that the facade would repulse her enough to make her leave, but to my relief, she commented, “I bet it’s never boring around here!”
“Nope!” I grinned. “Although, with how crazy everything’s been lately, a little boringness would be delightful!”
“Has our school been real batty?” Phoebe guessed.
I emphatically confirmed, “Oh yeah!” I had to suppress my laughter at her descriptive word due to its inadvertent allusion to Damon’s stint as a vampire! I dearly wished I could share this humor with her, but I didn’t want to suffer the consequences of revealing our paranormal history too soon!
Phoebe determined, “I need to explore more!”
“Feel free!” I chuckled. Her eyes sparkled with the glow of an upcoming adventure, and it was quite becoming! I felt tempted to join her in the bedroom, but in her condition, I didn’t want to push her into that too fast!
“Hey! We have two bathrooms!” Phoebe observed. “So, my long showers really aren’t a big deal, huh?”
I assured her, “Of course not!” I refrained from adding that I rarely used the guest bathroom msince Babelsama’s former presence in that locale continued to tarnish my thoughts, and I had no inkling how I was going to rationalize the windowless curtains in there! The porthole to the Netherworld got closed, but I didn’t feel ready to risk removing that cover!
My phone chimed, and I sat at the dining room table to read my message. Ginger sent a text in our group chat to find out whether or not I obtained any updates on Phoebe, and the wounds from their mistrustful actions still stung, so the compulsion to shield the welcomed news of her arrival at our address from them appeared like a fitting punishment. However, I didn’t have the heart to keep them in suspense like that! We were going through a rough spot, but I esteemed that our alliance wouldn’t break from this! Besides, they were likely to see her on campus tomorrow! I begrudgingly composed a statement, but I got as far as “She came” when…
“Why do we have this?” Phoebe plopped a large tome onto the table.
“Aahh!” I jumped a bit from the fright of that surprise clamor, but once I recovered, I became intrigued by this discovery. “Where did this turn up?”
Phoebe relayed to me, “I found it under the bed. Do we do magic?”
I couldn’t distinguish whether or not her piqued interest stemmed from an aversion to the subject or a keen willingness to partake! I itched to use this opportunity to profess all of our entanglements with the occult, but I chose to exercise caution and filled her in, “Oh, we used that spell book for a school project last year.” That wasn’t even a lie- it was an endeavor happening at Rosemary King, I merely didn’t mention that our effort wasn’t scholastic! “That’s actually a library book, and it’s long overdue! I should probably return it before I set a record for fines!”
From the way she looked at me, I felt fairly certain that she got the impression that I was hiding something. I anticipated an argument, but instead, she let it go and mentioned, “I’m gonna keep searching and see what other treasures I can dig up!”
I kidded, “If you stumble upon my yearbook, feel free to burn the page with my picture!” She giggled, and it heartened me to hear her share some joy! I glimpsed at my phone, and my gratification turned to horror to behold that I sent the phrase “Phoebe came” to everyone! Well, initially it horrified me, but then I became amused to read their aghast reactions. Ellie noted how we had been discussing too much about our sex lives lately, and I notified them of the truth as if I planned that quip all along. I pored over the spell book, and I dreaded adding an extra chore to my itinerary tomorrow! After mulling it over for a minute, I considered that it may give me some insight into the dilemma of wands that fell into the wrong hands, and I decided to allow more fines to occur…
At lunch the next day, which I finally got to sit down for, Phoebe regaled the others about her first shift back, “Thank goodness I wrote out a thorough agenda! I did that for substitutes, not my memory issues, but hey- it was extremely useful nonetheless!”
“Your sub thought it was helpful too,” Aleck conversed. “It’s fortunate Manuel got someone to do it! If he hadn’t, it would’ve fallen to the new secretary, and he’s… here! Hi, Mrithan!” Mrithan waved as he set up a new coffee machine.
“So… what’s new with everyone in the last decade?” Phoebe canvassed our bunch. “Fletcher, do your angels still wanna become nuns someday?”
Ginger, Aleck, Ellie, and I snickered at that notion, and Fletcher buried his head in his arms and moaned, “That would have been nice!”
Mrithan announced, “There! It’s ready to go! Who wants some coffee?” All of the faculty in the area put their mitts in the air, and his eyes widened. “Woah! I better make a large pot!”
“Brielle and I bought a house a few years ago,” Ginger acquainted Phoebe. “It’s so much better than our old studio! I’ll show you… Where’s my sweater? I had my cellphone in that pocket…”
“One big pot of coffee coming-!” Mrithan slipped on Ginger’s lost apparel, and the urn he was holding tipped over, which dowsed me in all of its contents! “Ugh! I’m such a clutz! Please, forgive me!”
I wasn’t pleased with this development, but contending this issue seemed rather pointless given his penchant for clumsiness, so I reassured him, “It’s alright! It’ll dry out! I’m gonna go see if I can speed the process up!”
As I went into the men’s room, I was grateful that no one else occupied these quarters so I wouldn’t have to account for the mishap! All I wanted to do was alleviate the giant, wet stain that took over my shirt and finish my meal, but as I reached for the paper towels, it became evident that wasn’t going to happen! “No, please! Not now!”