Amelia collected her purse to walk out the door, still tired from the night before. She didn’t even bother to call Brian and instead was headed home when Raina found her.
“Amelia! Oh good, I am so glad I found you! Pandora is missing! Help me find her.” Raina was out of breath while she looked at Amelia’s tired eyes.
“Raina, I am so tired, I don’t know what to tell you. If she is gone, then she is gone. There isn’t anything we can do about that. I am going home.”
Raina dashed after Amelia and grabbed her by her arm. “No, please. I know you are tired; can’t you give me an hour?”
Amelia sighed and said, “I guess, but I have to get home. Brian has been wondering where I have been, and I miss him. Not to mention, Derek. He has been asking about you. Promise me you’ll call him.”
Raina nodded. “Yeah, sure whatever you want, you just have to help me.” Raina pulled her arm, and they walked back to Nevoc.
When they arrived, Raina pushed open the door. “See nothing, even the box. Everything is missing.”
Amelia scouted the office and dug through some papers on Raina’s desk. “Are you sure that this isn’t a good thing? That she is gone? She was a little scary.”
Raina sat down on the red couch in her office. “Maybe it was a dream.”
Amelia sat next to her and then leaned back and put her head on Raina’s lap, keeping her eyes on Raina, who looked disappointed. “No, we couldn’t both have the same dream.”
For several moments, the pair stayed on the couch. Raina rested her forehead into her hand and stared out of the only window in the office on the other side of the room while Amelia passed out from exhaustion. Outside the room, in the bar, many patrons were in and out, keeping Raina’s staff busy. The only quiet place was right there in the office.
With the muffled sounds coming through the wall accompanied by Amelia’s slow breathing, Raina, who was feeling a little exhausted herself, fell asleep. She lay her head back and closed her eyes for what she only planned to be a moment or two. Once she was sleeping along with Amelia, several hours passed. Multiple messages and missed calls from Brian went unnoticed before he went looking for Amelia.
Brian stood in his kitchen, holding his phone in one hand, and running his other through his hair when Derek came home.
“What’s up, man? You look pissed.” Derek said as he walked past Brian to the fridge and grabbed something to drink.
“Amelia, it is weird; she always answers my messages. I haven’t heard from her at all today. I think something is wrong.”
“Brian, maybe she got busy, you worry too much. I mean, maybe she is like Raina.” Derek winked to Brian, who had moved to his room and was grabbing a hoodie.
“Where are you going?” Derek leaned on the doorway of the bedroom.
“Want to go? I am going to Amelia’s to find out where she went.” Brian grabbed his car keys and was opening the door.
Derek said, “Sure, man. I would like to see Raina.”
The best friend pair arrived at Esmra’s house, and before they could knock on the door, two girls from the coven opened it. Giggling and staring, they didn’t give much time for the guys to say anything.
“Uh, they aren’t here. We don’t know where they went.” One girl said.
Footsteps were audible coming from the kitchen, and Esmra and her best friend Tallulah appeared.
“Girls leave these boys alone. Hello Brian, won’t you come in? I am sure that Raina is at the bar working, and Amelia stopped over. Nothing to worry about. They are a little different.” Esmra patted Brian on the back and gave him a warm smile.
Derek seemed uncomfortable as he looked around at the house which was decorated with Wiccan symbols and shelves that held bottles full of stuff he did not recognize.
“I am Tallulah.” She reached her hand out to Derek to shake it. She stood taller than Derek, and as she shook his hand, her bracelet with Celtic symbols chimed, distracting him. “Don’t be shy, son. I am best friends with Esmra, though I haven’t met the new girls that you have come here looking for. I am just here for a visit and then back home I go.” She winked at Derek. “I have a psychic shop that I run. I come to Salem to get the neatest treats for my customers, and Esmra always has room to spare for me.” Tallulah smiled and walked away into the kitchen where the usual pot of water for a tea whistled.
Derek’s eyes followed the mystery psychic, distracted from Esmra and Brian, who still discussed Raina and Amelia.
“Well, Brian, when you find them, be sure to send them home. I wanted Raina and Amelia to meet Tallulah.” Esmra said as she walked the guys to the front door.
Brian and Derek jogged down the steps and got into Brian’s car. Derek put his seatbelt on while keeping his eyes on the house. “They are weird.” He glanced over to Brian, who had already put the car in drive.
“Derek, they are simply different, that is all. Remember, it is okay to be a little different?” He said with a smirk.
Derek stared out of the passenger window ignoring where Brian was going with his commentary.
“I should have never told you about Raina and me,” Derek said.
“Why not? You said the sex was good and ‘different,’ remember? I know she is different, but you sure have been distracted since then.” Brian picked up his phone and checked it. “Well, it looks like neither one is answering, so we will go to Nevoc.”
In just a brief drive, they arrived at the bar and walked into a busy place. The servers hurried as they put in the orders. Music seemed louder than usual and muffled much of the idle chatter going on between the patrons.
Having been noticed by one of Raina’s recent hires, she and Brian made eye contact. She smiled and nodded her head toward the hallway that leads to the office. Brian tugged on Derek’s arm and motioned for him to follow.
After no answer from the knocking at the door, Brian opened it to see Raina and Amelia still asleep from an unplanned nap on the couch.
Amelia’s head was turned away from Raina’s body, where she had a small dribble of drool coming out of her mouth. Raina’s head rested on the back of the couch, and she didn’t move an inch when they opened the door.
Derek elbowed Brian. “What the hell?”
Brian nudged and startled Amelia. “Oh my!” She sat up wiping her mouth. “How embarrassing. I am so tired, I am sorry, you must have been wondering where I was.” Amelia stood up and woke Raina with her rushed explanation.
Raina stood up and froze upon seeing Derek. “Derek, what are you doing here?”
“Well Brian was worried about Amelia, so I thought I would tag along, is everything okay?”
“Yeah, sure, just been working a lot, and I guess Amelia and I passed out,” Raina said and turned around to look at the couch.
“Amelia, why are you here asleep on the couch? You haven’t answered me all day.”
“I am sorry Brian, I was here with Raina helping her out on a few things until late last night, then I went to work early this morning on little sleep, and we sat here for what was supposed to be a few minutes, and then we must have fallen asleep.” Amelia’s voice cracked.
Brian looked over to Raina in suspicion, and hesitantly said, “Okay, well would you mind if I take you home?”
Amelia nodded and looked over to Raina, “Uh, yeah, sure. I can clean up and come back to your place.”
Brian looked to Derek, who was still looking at Raina. After a few awkward moments Derek said, “Raina, he is my ride, so how about you come by later. I would like to see you and talk.”
Raina nodded, “I don’t know though, when I can be there for sure.”
“It’s no big deal. I have no plans. I will be waiting.”
As Derek walked out with Brian, Amelia looked at Raina with gigantic eyes and shrugged her shoulders. In moments, the three left Raina alone in her office.
Across the street, the unseen and prying eyes of an opportunistic demon stood watching the three get into Brian’s ride and leave. After watching the vehicle disappear making a turn, Lahash disappeared, arriving at an old local cemetery.
There he leaned up against one headstone and looked around. After seeing he was the only one there, he looked up into the sky and said, “Caticus, oh Caticus, where are you?”
Standing on the opposite side of the cemetery. “Lahash, this isn’t your usual place, why are you here? Is Moloch on vacation? Or did they tire of him?”
Lahash smiled. “No, this isn’t my usual place. The senate keeps me busy these days. I am found within the ranks of human politicians. With so much corruption, I get my energy reserves filled. So, have you heard the news?”
Caticus said, “What news? The demons are getting a new fashion advisor, and you are it?” He laughed.
“Apparently you haven’t heard the news. Pandora, they have released her.” Lahash’s voice lowered, and his eyes bore into Caticus like he was something to be crushed.
“What? Are you lying? There is no way they have released her. The queen said no one would find again her. How did that happen?”
“Humans. Aren’t they the worst sometimes? Someone wasn’t watching the box close enough, and now she is out.”
Caticus was at a loss for words, and he looked around the cemetery as though Pandora would appear. After a long pause he said, “Lahash, why did you call me?”
“I called you because you were the one who delivered the book to the dark realm, didn’t you? The spell book. Well, after Pandora’s banishment, Naberious thought he would approach the queen and try to reason with her. Once he found out about her banishment, he decided that instead of allowing Moloch to return the book, that he would steal it. To this day, it remains hidden by Naberious. He hasn’t been around to watch over his legions in a hundred years. I am certain that Pandora is looking for him, and she will not find him. So, do you know how to locate her?”
Caticus was incredulous. “How should I know? Trust me. I was one of her best friends. She would have come for me.”
“What if she is too weak to come to the fairy realm? Where would Pandora disappear to if she could not return to the fairy realm?”
“I don’t know. Who let her out? You need to take me to them now.” Caticus demanded.
“Oh, now, Caticus, I do not take demands from a fairy. You were the one who delivered the book. Don’t convince me you did not know everything was in that book. Where would she go?”
“Why do you care where she is? Why are you even involved?” Caticus crossed his arms, and bore is dark eyes into the demon.
“Well, I enjoy having my little spot here on Earth, to come and go as I please. Having the fairy queen angry at one of our prince’s has left such a gap in things. It makes Moloch’s job a tad more difficult without the cooperation of the necromancers to turn over lost souls destined for the dark realm. When the dark realm receives the dark human souls brings more energy reserves for all the high court demons. We all benefit. I understand they have labeled me as only selfish. However, I wish for things to go back to the way they were. Things were a lot simpler. Naberious has stolen the queen’s book, and maybe we could turn things around by having the book returned.”
Caticus remained suspicious. “So, you want to return the queen’s book from Naberious, hoping things between the demons and the fairies go back to the way they were one hundred years ago? Things were not that great then, who cares. I never liked the queen.”
Lahash made one last statement. “Pandora also holds the knowledge of the soul key codex.”
“What are you talking about?” Caticus moved closer to the demon to get a better look, “There is no codex. What codex? Are these mind games again?”
Lahash laughed, “Not at all. No games. The codex is a symbol representing a human’s twin soul and astral twin soul. The codex is within each human’s birth chart. Some humans reject this knowledge, but within each birth chart it is coded. Only the trained, knowledgeable astrologist would know where to look to find a twin soul key. It is an identifier. I hear that one nymph knows of all soul keys, as we call them once they connect.”
Caticus laughed in disbelief. “That is preposterous. Humans have twin souls. They connect as soul keys, but only after they connect is there any knowledge of such.”
Lahash remained smug. “Pandora knows subconsciously about the astral codex. She holds the knowledge of soul keys. She may not know ‘the one’ so to speak, but she can identify if a human is part of a soul key already, she can locate the match. One other nymph keeps a record of all soul keys. If I have some of that knowledge, I can pass it along to Moloch. The dark one would be most pleased if we gain soul keys. It would secure my rank in the court.”
Caticus nonchalantly smiled and put his hands up as if to look for dirt under his slender and perfect fingernails. “Why would I help you locate those? We are neutral. Fairies do not get involved with the souls of humans. We help them move to the next life and nothing more. Selena forbids interference. I will not help you.”
Caticus turned to leave the cemetery but stopped when he heard Lahash say, “I can help Pandora get the power needed to confront her mother.”
Caticus stopped and turned. He looked into Lahash’s opportunistic eyes and said, “How?”