Chapter One Hundred and Thirty Seven
Amelia came up behind me, patting my shoulder. "It's better that she knows what happened, Sooks. She can't make an informed decision without the facts. You did the right thing, the only thing."
She was going to say more when Stanley scampered in, his whole face twitching with nerves or excitement.
"There's smoke going down your chimney!" he chattered, his big front teeth making enunciation of the word "smoke" difficult. He wrung his pointy little hands like he was washing them.
"That's impossible, the fire isn't even lit in the fireplace," Amelia said, turning from me, clearly annoyed by his appearance.
"That's what I'm saying!" he squeaked excitedly, hopping up and down a little. "The smoke isn't going out of the chimney, it's going in to the chimney!" His tail was flicking and shaking to beat the band. He pronounced "chimney" in three syllables - chim min nee.
"Where were you? Up on the roof again?" Amelia asked. "I thought I told you specifically not to go up on the .."
She was interrupted by Witch Iris rushing back into the room. "Amelia, you should come and see this!" she said breathlessly.
I followed Amelia into the living room. My eyes slid past the crazy cartoonish flowered wallpaper, the odd lamps shaped like giant dishes of spaghetti and ice cream sundaes, and the strangely shaped clear plastic furniture filled with stuffed animals of every description to look where Iris was pointing. Smoke was eddying into the room from the fireplace opening. It swirled and condensed into a shape. I suddenly realized what I was looking at.
Amelia had her wand raised, ready to zap whatever emerged from the smoke. I placed my hand on her arm and stopped her.
"It's OK Amelia, I know who this is." I told her, dread filling me.
Well, here it was ... another OSM ...
I told myself I didn't have anything to feel guilty about. I wasn't the one that had killed my wife. I just hoped Jure didn't go berserk and kill us all for knowing his terrible secret.
A very severe penalty was imposed on a Vampire that staked another Vampire, no matter the provocation. The verdict on a Vampire that killed another Vampire over the murder of a mere human was surely death. Like the human legal system, the Vampire legal system was behind the curve, trying to play catch up.
The horrible thought struck me that I might have to hear this case. This was the kind of high level trial the Pythoness would be used for. Could I recuse myself? Too many thoughts crowded into my already crammed full head. First I was going to have to deal with Jure, now becoming very solid and real right in front of my eyes.
He must have been scowling like the wrath of Zeus when he turned into smoke because he was scowling as he re-congealed. I wished Eric was here. I had no idea how violent Jure might be. I was glad Linda was in the bathroom, I hoped she had the sense to stay in there and stay quiet. I hoped the scents of the candles, incense and various witchly perfumes would mask my daughter's presence in this house.
Stanley made a terrified mechanical whirring chittering sound from the doorway, his face twitching like crazy. Amelia said, "Rue, would you please take him upstairs? You other girls help her get him settled. We'll take care of things down here."
The young witches looked at each other, not sure if leaving us alone with the huge threatening looking vampire was a good idea. On the other hand, Amelia had asked them to go and they were most likely not going to be able to defend us. Slowly they took the jabbering squirrel-man and headed up the stairs.
"Amelia, why don't you help them too, keep an eye on Stanley. He looks like he's very nervous. You might have the strongest influence on him," I suggested. I wanted to get her out of harm's way.
I needed to speak to Jure privately, to ask him about what we had seen. I also wanted to get him out of the house before Linda emerged.
"Jure, let us go outside to talk. I am sure some of the things we need to discuss are private and personal matters," I said invitingly, indicating the hall and front door. "Things always seem better in the moonlight, do they not?" I crooned, walking slowly, hoping he would follow.
Amelia had powerful protective bans on the house, he would not be able to re-enter if he decided he was here to do us harm. I wondered if he used the chimney because it wasn't protected. I mean, aside from Santa Claus, who else would you expect to be entering your home down the chimney?
Or maybe Jure could deflect magic, maybe he could circumvent it with his own powers. Be that as it may, I wanted to get him as far away from Linda as possible before the you-know-what hit the fan.
"Where is Linda?" Jure's deep voice rumbled. "I need to speak to her."
He looked around, slightly confounded by the bizarre modern furniture, the reversed Lego moose head over the mantle, the kaleidoscope of colors and shapes.
"I'm going to need to ask you to not talk to her until you explain a few things to me," I said with as much authority in my voice as I could muster.
"I'm going to need to ask you to mind your own business," Jure said flatly.
Behind Jure I could see Amelia creeping back into the room, lifting her wand, getting ready to place Jure under some kind of binding spell, no doubt. I immediately thought of a blank wall, the woods, anything that would not allow him into my mind and know what Amelia was up to. But he already knew what was going on.
He turned to her and said calmly, "There is no need for that, Witch. I mean no harm. I wish to talk to my fiancee, that is all."
He looked past Amelia at the way to the downstairs bathroom. I could feel the telepathic force emanating from him, it was like static electricity causing every hair on my body to stand, like icy hands sliding over my skin.
Tray's coon hound Plato started to bay and howl from out on the back enclosed porch where Amelia put him when she was doing magical work or having company. Dogs in the surrounding countryside howled back.
Linda emerged from the back of the house, arms held out straight in front of her, staring and stiff legged like a sleepwalker. She came up to Jure and said, in a dull dead voice, "You summoned me, Master?" She stared straight ahead, unblinking.
I was horrified, he had her under a spell, glamoured!
I opened my mouth to speak but before an outraged word could leave my lips Jure said, "Knock it off Linda. You're freaking your mother out."
Her lips twitched and she smiled. "It wasn't you, was it?" she asked him, putting her arms around his waist.
"No," he answered in a tone of relief. "It was not me."
more to come .... (Hi everyone! Spring is on the way here, hope you are doing well and finding good in each day. Thank you for stopping by! See you next Saturday, til then ... (sends telepathic love)