As I rushed home, I saw Roxy across the street from my house doing some strange dance in front of that abandoned abode. I was in a sunny mood, so I merrily waved to her and chirped, “Working on a spell, Roxy? I know you can do it! Don’t give up!”
“Vengeance will be ours!” Roxy exclaimed while continuing her odd ritual.
“Of course it will!” I responded in an unconcerned tone. After I parked in the driveway, I hurried to grab some necessary supplies out of my trunk. While I unloaded, a slender and pale man next door who frequently sported his medium-length hair in a bun peeked over my fence with a face full of concern. I took an educated guess on what caused his unease and assured him, “She’s harmless, Rowan. I swear!”
He glanced back at her leerily, and while he still seemed a little reticent about trusting Roxy, whose movements grew more erratic by the second, he accepted my position. “Okay… Well, when you get a chance, can you persuade her not to hang out there anymore? She’s really freaking out my kids!”
I certainly didn’t like the idea of more children getting scared by anyone associated with that petulant phantom, and I definitely did not want her ghostly charge to discover the breadth of his mayhem, so I agreed to do it, “Yeah, I’ll have a chat with her soon.” He could see my arms full of stuff, so he seemed satisfied with my promise of doing that task at a later time, which was a great relief for me! Phoebe would be home from her meeting more expediently than I would have liked for that night, so I had no spare minute for anymore delays! I had to do this tonight while we had no interruptions! Our Netherworld menace threatened to strike at any given moment, so I had to get this done in this rare instance of quiet!
The cement patio in our backyard was covered in rose petals- real ones, thank you very much! I wanted this momentous event to be perfect, so I spared no expense! The sun began to set, so I lit the candles that I lined in a circle that I stood in. From this vantage point, I could still hear Blaise and Miriam bickering, but I had a love ballad queued to play, so when she came out here, all the background noise would get drowned out! I gazed at my handiwork adoringly, and I thought that it was the sort of setting you might see in a professional magazine spread! Do they have magazines for engagements? I know they have them for weddings… I heard her pull up, and my heart raced! This was it! I was going to sweep her off her feet and officially make her my future wife! I cracked open the sliding glass door, and right when she walked in, I requested, “Phoebe! Can you come out here for a sec?” My pulse skyrocketed as I anticipated her arrival…
Contrary to my vision, she very seriously beckoned me, “No, I need you to come here, please!”
“Can’t it wait?” I frowned. I hadn’t counted on her having any tasks to be done after work, and whatever she had in mind, I hoped that she would table it since this arrangement had taken so much effort to plan!
“No, it can’t!” she shrieked. “Get in here, quick!” She sounded extremely urgent, and I knew that level of fright meant she had real trouble on her hands! I hesitated to leave my romantic setup behind, but I knew she would never fake an emergency, so I didn’t falter in coming to her aid!
When I stepped into the living room, I espied a colorful puff of smoke swirling in a small ball on that step going into the dining room! Phoebe howled, “That’s Jett! She did something to Jett!” Roxy, who stood staring into my place through the screen door in the mud room, cackled maniacally!
My insides froze! When she blustered about getting revenge for constantly thwarting Damon’s plots, I always figured that she would aim to harm me or possibly my home! I never would have fathomed that she would target an innocent animal like that! I darted towards my cat and furiously shouted at Roxy, “You monster! How could you harm a sweet-?”
“Your kitty isn’t hurt!” Roxy indignantly asserted as the haze started to clear. “Really? You think I would stoop that low?”
“Well…” Truthfully, I never considered how far she would go with this witchcraft business! Actually, I hadn’t ever expected her to achieve any sort of success with her magic! But, in all honesty, she had an intense devotion to a sociopath who had no qualms about spilling blood, so it wouldn’t have surprised me if she had inflicted serious damage on somebody- not someone’s pet who hadn’t hurt anyone in any way! Yes, fine, she did steal the key from Damon in the first place, but I didn’t get the impression that he figured that out! Even if he did, it still seemed like a barbaric level even for him to sink to! The instant I could see Jett, I snatched her up and examined her entire body. If I saw a smidgen of pain or injury, I would have… I don’t know… Rushed her to the vet and then sue her parents? But if it wasn’t something natural, then I’m not sure what I would have done except maybe feel tempted to strike a child for the first time in my entire life! Well, I thoroughly checked her over and spotted nothing out of the ordinary! “She looks alright! Did that magic really do anything, or did you just create that show to give me a heart attack?”
I would have predicted her to give me an explanation full of insane reasoning for her opting to choose this path, but instead, to my utter bewilderment, Jett opened her mouth and spoke, “Down!”
The jolt of shock I received from that made me drop her in a flash! I peered at her curiously, and I inwardly reckoned that I may have misinterpreted the incident. “Did you really say something, or was that simply a weird meow?”
“Hungry!” Jett expressed while licking her chops. I could see Phoebe’s eyes grow as wide as dinner plates, and I was sure mine had gotten equally as large. Previously to this occurrence, I had seen vampires, a window into another realm, and a lot of other spooky stuff, but somehow, this had taken the cake! It was the most surreal spectacle I had ever witnessed! A feline was articulating words to me! “Hungry!” she repeated.
“That’s all that jinx does?” Phoebe inquired. “That doesn’t seem so bad!”
Roxy didn’t appear at all deterred by what we initially determined was a total bust for her, and she proudly replied, “Oh, you won’t feel that way for long!” She devilishly snickered once more.
I went up to the front door and addressed her, “Sure we will! Well, as your heard the cat state, it’s Jett’s dinnertime, so if you’ll excuse us…” I slammed the door on her before turning to Phoebe and propositioning, “Come out to the backyard real fast!”
“Hungry!” Jett echoed.
“Can you wait five minutes?” I probed.
Once again, Jett uttered, “Hungry!”
Whenever I watched movies with talking animals, I always saw these verbose creatures carrying on full-blown, intellectual conversations with themselves or others. It never occurred to me until right then that perhaps their tiny brains didn’t have the capacity to have complex thoughts or discussions! I sighed and acquiesced, “Fine! I’ll get your food! Babe, don’t go anywhere! I really wanna go outside with you afterwards!”
I poured Jett her food, and when I set it down, she sniffed it and griped, “Ew!”
“What? You always eat this kind!” I countered.
“Ew!” she reiterated.
As I grumbled about her stubbornness, Phoebe peeked out the glass door and observed, “Hey, babe! I think Roxy may have been trying to do a spell in our yard! There’s a circle of candles back there!” I sped over to that spot only to discover that the wind had picked up, so the rose petals had blown away and the wicks had extinguished! I let out an exasperated exhale as I recognized that I would have to come up with another method of proposing to her!
The next day, Phoebe and I did research in the living room while Blaise and Miriam argued in the guest bedroom. Blaise hollered, “Why would you even show this to me if it’s not in our price range!”
“It’s been on the market for a long time!” Miriam argued. “Maybe they’ll budge on the price!”
“Maybe! Or maybe we’ll waste precious time investigating this one while our ideal home gets snatched from beneath our feet!”
I picked up the remote that controls the stereo and turned on some classic rock. The booming tune that currently played drowned out Blaise and Miriam’s cacophony, and I really liked the song that happened to be airing, so I swiftly felt at ease! That sentiment only got enhanced by sitting next to this gorgeous goddess’s side! As she poured over data on her computer, she swayed to the beat, and I joined her as I clasped her hand! After a minute of this mini dance session, we paused and I blissfully remarked, “Ah! This is nice! So peaceful!” Phoebe gave me a look as though she was going to correct me in a smart-alecky fashion, so I amended my sentence, “Well, the music’s volume is high, but it’s a pleasant sound! It’s so relieving to not listen to any nuisances!”
Right after I conveyed that thought, Jett walked in, sat before me, and demanded, “Play!”
“No, we’re busy!” I denied her. “Oh, Ellie found something!”
“Wow! That’s awesome! What is it?” Phoebe took her eyes off of her laptop and turned her attention to the content on my phone.
Jett again demanded, “Play!”
I annoyedly regarded her, “No!” I then scanned Ellie’s information and read it out loud, “Damon comes from an old family here in Terra-Belle. His father a textile factory, and their wealth kept them afloat in the Depression. Damon’s older brother would eventually take over the family business, and his younger sister married the owner of a feed store in the downtown area. Damon lived off of his trust fund ‘til the forties when any record of him just disappeared.”
“Play!” Jett demanded for the third time.
“Well, that’s interesting!” Phoebe commented. Jett got a look of hope on her face, so Phoebe gently let her know, “I didn’t mean you, sweetie!” Jett then commenced in a repetitive series of that word, but Phoebe ignored her as she conversed, “So, he was a middle child! That’s fitting!”
I opined, “He must have become a vampire I the forties then. Huh! I always pegged his style as something from the nineteen-twenties! He-.” I couldn’t concentrate anymore, and I lost my temper at Jett, “Go play by yourself!”
She held herself up distinctively, and with an air of artful discontent, she walked away and muttered, “Rude!”
I gritted my teeth, but I tried not to let it get to me because I did not want to admit to Roxy that her scheme had any significant effect on me! I set my irritation aside and then asked Phoebe, “That tidbit on his childhood is somewhat fascinating, but I don’t see how it’s gonna help us take Damon down! What are we supposed to do that? Taunt him about his family’s factory shutting down? I’m assuming it did eventually…”
“So, Babelsama for sure helped him doctor those records to get him into Rosemary King,” Phoebe deduced. “How did he access the school’s record system from the Netherworld?”
“I don’t think he could do it normally,” I conjectured. “He could reach out into our world without leaving his when that portal was open. That’s probably why he misses it so much!”
Phoebe mused, “He must have been tickled pink when Mister Armand discovered it! Wait, did he discover it or create it?”
That concept hadn’t crossed my mind until she mentioned it! “Well, we created the window, so I suppose Mister Armand could have created the door! Or someone who lived there before him. Obviously, Babelsama couldn’t have done it or he would have just made another one instead of hassling me for the key to the old one! Hey! How come their spell made a way to open and close it? How come we can’t do the same for that portrait in the bathroom?”
“If someone knew how to make the key…” Phoebe inferred, “then maybe…”
“Maybe they know how to destroy it!” I finished her deliberation. “Maybe they’re still around! We could locate them and find out! It’s worth a shot!”
Phoebe posed to me, “Didn’t you say Rowan knew the Armands?”
I nodded. “Yeah! But Richard’s lived in this neighborhood for longer than Rowan! He’s been living next to that abandoned house for ages, he might have known the original homeowners!”
“Let’s go ask him about it!” Phoebe excitedly suggested.
“Okay!” I bolted out of my chair in a flurry! At last, it finally felt as though we had a viable lead in solving this cumbersome conundrum! I nearly sprinted out the door, but I heard an alert on my phone prior to me being able to make a move. I glanced at it thinking it would be something we could dismiss quickly and then rapidly jump back into our investigation, but when I saw that it wasn’t a negligible transpiration, my spirits plummeted completely! “Babe, we can’t visit Richard today! We got work to do…”