Back on Earth, Raina, with no luck, could not locate Pandora. Frantic feelings soon subsided, and she gave up looking for the fairy. She sat at her desk alone, looking through everything she had regarding Pandora. After some time of going through the spell and Gabe’s notes, she headed back to his house.
With one light knock, he tore the door open. Without a word, he nodded and turned away, leaving it open for Raina. After an hour of explanation, Gabe was now in on the secretive act that she and Amelia conducted together.
Gabe was incredulous and barely blinked with the wild tale Raina had shared with him. “You are kidding me. Is this some joke because I cautioned you from pursuing anything with this?”
Raina penetrated him with her cold eyes.
After a few seconds of no response from Raina, he blinked his eyes and nodded his head.
“Okay, so you aren’t kidding. I need a minute.” He left the couch and walked to the fridge. Grabbed a beer, pulled the clip, and guzzled it without taking a breath. He threw the empty can into the trash and walked back into the living room. He sat down with a half-cocked grin that he ran his plump hand over, wiping the beer residue from his lips. He pulled his oversized t-shirt away from his curvy body. “Okay, so can we start over? You can’t be serious.”
“What! Do you not listen? This is not a joke! I am very serious. I need you to help me find Pandora. Will you help me?”
Gabe leaned forward and put his hands up and replied, “Okay, Okay. Yes, I will help you! Geez! Calm down! What do you expect me to think when you come over here with this wild tale? No telling how much more beer I will have to drink to get through this mind-bender you threw at me. Where is Amelia?”
“She left with Brian, which that reminds me Derek is coming by. I have to go now, but I will be back here this evening. Just wait for me here.”
“Sure, I will wait here. Should I look out the window and keep my eyes open for some dead fairy?”
Raina’s eyes narrowed. “Look, man, I don’t have many friends. You are one of the few, don’t make me change that.”
Gabe shook his head and sighed, and she dashed out the door.
Uncertain of Raina’s story, he phoned Amelia, who was asleep at Brian’s place where it was just the two of them. Her phone vibrated from within her purse. It sat on the bar in the kitchen. With the noise from the television and Brian’s cooking, she didn’t hear her phone.
In frustration, Gabe took off and headed for Esmra’s place. With a quick drive over, he jumped out of his car and raced up the steps and pounded on the door.
“Gabe! Wow, today has just been full of visitors, won’t you come in?”
“Hi, Ms. Esmra, no, I would love too, but I don’t have time. I was looking for Raina. Have you seen her?”
Esmra’s eyes dropped, and her brightened face darkened.
“No. I sure haven’t. Strange, everyone has been looking for her. Is there something wrong?”
Gabe changed his demeanor and brought a smile to his face and said, “Oh no, there is nothing to worry about. Really. I just saw her a bit ago at my house. She told me she would be back, but she accidentally took my keys to the bar, and I needed to get in and get some things I left there from my shift.”
Gabe seemed nervous as he lied to Esmra, not wanting to get her upset or tipped off that there may be something wrong.
Esmra nodded and said, “Okay, sure. If she comes here, do you want me to tell her anything?”
“Well, no, I will try to call her again. I think the battery must be dead.” Gabe left and waved right before he ducked into his car.
Esmra closed the door and stood while she was in thought.
Tallulah said, “Is everything all right?”
Esmra shook her head. “I don’t know. Oddly, people keep coming by today, looking for one or both of the girls. I think something is wrong. I will call Amelia.”
Meanwhile, at Brian’s place, Amelia had just been awake a short while, and she and Brian had seated themselves at the table to eat.
“Brian, this smells so good. I am just starved,” Amelia said with an enormous smile.
“Anything for you. Hey, I was wondering if you would like to get away and go out to my parent’s summer house with me?” Brian’s eyes were gigantic as he stared at Amelia.
“Really? You want me to go?”
“Well yeah, I mean, we can go here this weekend before my parents decide to use it for the summer. We can have some time to ourselves.”
Brian stared in anticipation for Amelia’s response.
“Of course!” Amelia put her fork down and leaned over and hugged Brian. “Wow! I think that would be so great.”
Brian smiled as though he has just opened the best surprise gift he could have ever received. “Great! I will get to planning everything. Oh, wow, we can have so much fun. We can go for three days if that would be okay with you?”
Amelia nodded yes while she pointed to her full mouth of food. Brian jumped up from his chair and said, “You want more salad?”
She got up from her chair with her plate, passing by her purse when she heard it ring. She swallowed her mouth full of food and said, “Oh, my phone.”
Amelia dug her phone out and answered, “Hey, Gabe! What’s up?” She walked into Brian’s room for privacy and after a few seconds of silence on her end she said, “Yes, she is telling you the truth about Pandora.”
After Gabe listened to her response, he said, “Okay, well, if all this is true, you both maybe in some kind of trouble. I think you need to get over here. If Esmra calls, play it cool. Tell her that Raina is with you at Brian’s house and that she fell asleep or something. After I went over there, I am not so sure she isn’t suspicious.”
Amelia hung up the phone and walked back into the kitchen, where Brian was getting a second helping of the lasagna he made.
“So, is everything okay? Gabe, he is a friend to you and Raina?”
“Yes, he is, and I have to go. I am so sorry, with all the work you put into our dinner. But I think Raina might be in some kind of trouble. I need to get over to Gabe’s, but I will turn my ringer up on my phone if you need to reach me, but please just wait here for me, I will explain later.”
Not giving Brian any time for questions, she left him standing there with confusion and disappointment.
In minutes Amelia arrived at Gabe’s house, and she walked in and threw her purse down. “This is getting ridiculous.”
“How did you get here so fast?” Gabe looked out the window.
“I jogged over here; do you have any water? “Gabe grabbed water and tossed the bottle to her. “Gabe, all this is real, and what do you mean we are in trouble?” He got up and motioned for her to follow him back into his office, where he did his homework and research for Raina.
“When Raina was here, she asked me to do a bunch of research on this stuff. According to what I have been able to uncover, anyone who releases Pandora will suffer a dark curse.” His worrisome eyes studied Amelia as he handed over the notes he took while he was investigating things for Raina. “I mean, I think chant or spell you all said tells you that.”
Amelia shook her head. “NO! There is no way any of that is real. I just played along with Raina. I was nervous, but I thought nothing would come of it.”
Gabe raised his eyebrows. “Well it did, and I don’t think this is some kind of game. I think this is very real.”
Amelia looked at Gabe, who still had much anxiety in his eyes, “What are we going to do? Brian can’t know any of this. If he heard of my participation in something like this, he would dump me.”
“Well, Raina said she would be back. So, we can wait here. Or I can try to call her.” Gabe pulled out his phone and dialed Raina’s number. “Everything will be okay.” He said while he waited for Raina to pick up.
As Raina’s phone rang in her purse, it went unnoticed by her while she was distracted with Derek, who had come by like he said he would. He arrived just moments after Raina made it back to Nevoc, and the two had been in a deep conversation that had a rocky start.
Raina remained in the middle of the room with her arms crossed, and her angry eyes bore into Derek like he was the scum of the Earth. “I don’t care, Derek! I mean you and I went out, I thought you liked me. We have sex at your place, and the second you are found by your preppy and rich friends that you are with me, you had the nerve to call me your friend!” Derek sat on her couch in the office with his arms resting on his knees. With increased anxiety, he rubbed his hands together while his eyes maintained their fix on the floor. “Derek! Aren’t you listening? You come here, you want to talk, and now you just sit there!” Raina’s voice escalated. “What is it? Am I too weird? Too dark? I come from a shitty world. Is that it? Just say it! I am not good enough for you! Just go back to blondie goody-goody.” Raina unlocked her furious stare on Derek as he sunk lower into the couch.
Derek said, “I am sorry.”
“You heard me,” Derek said, still nervously fidgeting with his hand, “I am sorry.”
Raina’s face emerged a sideways grin, and her eyes narrowed, “Sorry you are an asshole? Or sorry you aren’t getting any right now?” She dismissed his apology and turned back to her desk and said, “Get out. Do not waste anymore of my time.”
Derek’s face angered, and he stopped fidgeting in shock at the way she spoke to him. He jumped up from the couch. “Look, you don’t have to be this way. I am sorry for how I made you feel. It embarrassed me, there I said it. I wasn’t embarrassed because of you. It embarrassed me because I always feel like I have to fit in and be accepted and didn’t know how to handle it with you and me. I am not strong like you.” Derek continued to look at the back of Raina’s head, and when she offered no response, he said, “Well, I am sorry even if you don’t believe me.” Derek grabbed the doorknob.
Raina said, “Why do you feel you have to fit in?”
“Because, all my life, I have been told what to do. My folks had these expectations. I have certain friends. I like Brian. He is different, but the rest of our friends all come from the same circle. I am always trying to fit in and make my family happy. When my ex and I didn’t work out, I just got frustrated. I wanted something different. I found that with you. I am just not sure how or what to always do.”
Raina’s face softened, and she placed her hand on his arm. “I am sorry I was rude. I have been a loner most of my life, and I don’t really understand what it means to care too much for how a group thinks of me. I never cared about those things. Maybe you need to be more that way.”
“I know I haven’t done or said all the right things. I would like another chance.”
Raina nodded. “Well, you better do it right this time. I don’t want to be hurt again.”
Derek’s nervousness returned, accompanied by a hint of a smile. He struggled to make eye contact with Raina, or let out the air he had held in. “So, uh, can we go do something soon?”
Raina remained guarded. “Sure, but I am busy right now. How about I come by your apartment later?”
Derek smiled big, and he nodded quickly. “Sure, sure. I will wait for you.”
He left and was giddy in his steps as he ran back to his apartment.
Meanwhile, Raina resumed her latest mental obsession with looking for Pandora. She reached in her purse to get her phone, so she could call Gabe, and it surprised her to see she missed several of his calls. She quickly returned his call, and after a moment of silence, a rushed and concerned voice came through, “Raina! Where are you?”