The moment I step through the door Emma runs to me and says, “Oh thank God, you are okay.”
Confused by her saying that I ask, “What happened?”
“Alex... His parents... You helped get them out!” She stammers. “I can’t believe you did that without telling us. Riley what if something happened to you? What would we tell your mother?”
“She wouldn’t care.” I snap angrily at her, even though she is just being kind and motherly. I hate her right now, for the fact she cares more than my own mother. It isn’t her fault, but it makes me mad.
“Riley? What happened?” She touches my shoulder. The kind that shows they care and that they want to help. It doesn’t help. Not one bit.
“Why don’t you ask your husband? He gave me the box. I’m sure he knows what was in the letter.” I say then turn back around and storm out of the house. I need to go see Oliver, he will understand. I just need to talk to someone, anyone but them.
Just my luck Oliver isn’t at home, I guess I should have called him before I decided to come over. Just as I am about to pull away his dad waves from the doorstep. Deciding not to be rude I get out and go talk to him.
“Hey. I guess Oliver isn’t home, I just called him. I guess I should have called before I came over, I would have saved myself the trip.” I say sounding a little disappointed.
“Yeah he left not that long ago. I think Alex picked him up. Said something about his parents coming back. You don’t know anything about that do you Riley?”
“I do, but I don’t want to talk about it?” Hoping he will just drop it, but I’m sure it is in his cop nature to keep pressing. Thankfully he doesn’t.
“Would you like to come in for a bit? I think we some of your favorite tea, jasmine green tea right? Oliver makes sure there is always some in the house for when you come. There is something else I’d like to talk with you about.” I nod, then go and make the tea just the way I like it. I add some honey to help sweeten it a little. The aroma of it fills my nose, it is floral in scent. Oliver hates jasmine green tea, he says it is like drinking flowers. Once it is perfect, I bring it into the living room where Paul is already sitting, in his spot, holding the wedding picture. Looking down at Carla, her beauty is still breathtaking. My eyes are playing tricks on me again as I see the willows branches sway in the soft breeze that must have been happening when the picture was taken. Rubbing my eyes, and looking back the picture is back to normal. I clear my throat as I sit down, “So what’s up?”
“There is something you need to know Riley, but I don’t want Oliver to find out. Not yet anyways, I don’t think he is ready. Did he ever talk to you about how she died?” I can tell the memory hurts him, as his eyes start to shimmer with the memories that flood his mind.
“No, he doesn’t really talk about her that much. I mean I know she passed away when he was younger, but other than that I don’t know anything.”
“Well Riley, I might have lied to him about how she died.”
“What? Why would you do that?”
“Because she was killed Riley.”
“Let me finish would you?” He says a bit louder than normal. I shrink into the couch a little more intimidated by him than I ever have been before. “Thank you. Just let me explain, and then hopefully you will understand.” He clears his throat a few times, like there is a lump in his throat that is making it hard for him to talk. After a few more coughs he continues, “One day Carla was in the garden, she loved being out there. You should have seen the flowers she had growing. She always had flowers inside too, it helped brighten up the place,” he chuckles at the memory. “Not the point I was trying to make. One day while she was in the garden, these men came up from behind her and grabbed her. I can’t remember much of what happened, Oliver was in the back yard at the time so he didn’t see it. They had covered her mouth with a cloth to muffle her screams. If I hadn’t been looking out the window when it happened, I never would have known. I was too slow. I couldn’t save her in time. They threw her in the back of their van. I tried to find them on the description of the van alone but it was a dead end. A few days later, she was back. They left her on the door step. She was already gone.” With the last sentence his breath hitched, and the tears were already falling from his eyes. The sight of him made tears fall from my eyes too.
“Why? I don’t get this. Why would someone take her?”
“Because Riley. She was like you.” He looks at me for the first time since he started the story.
“You mean, she was a shape shifter?”
“No Riley, but she was like you. Different. My Carla was a witch. A powerful one at that. Most called her a warlock, but she didn’t like that. She always said how masculine it sounded and she wanted to be called something feminine. Haven’t you ever wondered why you see her pictures move?”
“I always just thought my mind was playing tricks on me. I never thought that they actually were moving.”
He laughs and says, “No, she always told me if she passed away first then she would enchant the pictures so that they would move and be like she was still here.”
I accidentally think out loud, “Oh yuck, I hope there aren’t any dirty pictures of her.”
“Riley! She would never! My Carla was a classy lady, but it would have been nice.”
“Please god, stop!” I yell as I put my hands over my ears and yell, “La la la la!” It only muffles Paul’s laughter. At least one of us thinks this is funny, because I sure don’t.
“Riley, you need to make a promise. You need to promise me you won’t tell Oliver. You can’t tell him anything!”
“What exactly are you worried about him finding out? The fact that his mom was a very powerful witch or that his mom was taken?”
“Riley, I’m worried about it all and that he might be one too. He has the same eyes as her.”
“That doesn’t mean anything though. It isn’t the same for them as it is for shape shifters. I mean I don’t know much at all about other things, I just know about shape shifters. You can tell who is a shape shifter by their gray eyes that have flecks that change with their emotions.”
“So that is why you try to hide your eyes Riley. You know I knew, right? Carla always thought Oliver had something magical about him. It is more than that though Riley. I don’t want him to get hurt. I don’t want them to find him.” He has a chill run through his body, and then looks at Carla’s picture that is in his lap.
“You knew? This whole time! It seems like a lot of people knew before I did. I’m always the last to know. Wait a minute. He doesn’t see the pictures move, does he?”
“No.” He sighs, “Carla planned for a lot of things if she ever passed on first. I think she always knew it would be her first, even though I am a police officer. She knew that she was in more danger than I was. We also decided we wouldn’t tell him until he was ready. Until he knows the truth, they won’t move for him.”
“I think you underestimate his ability to be okay with things.”
“Maybe I do, but I am just trying to protect him. I’m sure you can understand that Riley. I just ask that you make sure he is never hurt. Please.”
“That is why he didn’t go with us. I didn’t want him involved. Even with knowing this, I don’t want it even more. Especially after seeing... Never mind. I’m going to go now though. I want to talk with Alex’s parents a bit about everything.”
“Thank you Riley, for trying to protect him.” He sets Carla’s picture down in its normal spot and gets up to give me a hug. “You are a good friend to him. He must be very loyal to you, if he went behind my back to see you.”