Usual disclaimer: not proofed, may even not make sense.🙂
Word Count: 30,977
“There’s nothing in the book,” Chloe said closing the brown leather bound grimoire that had been in the family for generations.
Aunt Philo nodded. “I guess I didn’t expect there to be. No one in our family’s ever had to deal with this before.”
“What do you think it is?” Phoebe asked.
The three of them were in the library, Phoebe on her favorite green chair, Chloe at the desk, and Aunt Philo pacing the periphery of the room, stopping every once in a while to gaze out the window at the red fog that had yet to dissipate. The house was quiet except for the piano melody that Jared was composing, the piano notes stark.
“The fact that it reacts to you and your rock star makes me think it’s him. It’s all related to him and, if that’s the case, it’s connected to that original curse.”
“Makes sense,” Phoebe said.
“Hello?” the unmistakable voice of Phoebe grandmother, Aurora Canderly, echoed through the house. “Philomena!”
“Is that the cavalry?” Chloe asked.
“More like the invasion,” Aunt Philo said dryly as she left the library.
Aurora Canderly stood regally in the foyer, her blue eyes sweeping over the house as if trying to determine what, if anything, had altered since her last visit. She wore black slacks and purple silk blouse that was in wild contrast to her dyed red hair. Behind her, tall and robust, Raymond, her husband stood, patiently holding their suitcases.
After giving welcoming hugs, Phoebe stood back expectantly. “How did you make it inside the house?” she asked.
Aurora Canderly raised an incredulous eyebrow. “We walked. Did you think we’d fly?”
“She means the fog, mother.”
“Fog? There’s no fog today. It’s a gorgeous autumn day. We had the loveliest drive here.”
Phoebe walked to the front window and looked out at the red fog that still swirled around. She pointed at it. “What do you call that, gran?”
Aurora walked to the window. “That wasn’t there a moment ago.”
“Strange,” Aunt Philo commented. “I bet no one outside this house sees it, which is probably why Caroline hasn’t called.”
“If she had, we wouldn’t know,” Phoebe pointed out.
“This is part of that strange southern curse, isn’t it?” Aurora asked. “It’s probably time we worked on getting rid of it.”
“And it’s just that easy,” Aunt Philomena said under her breath forgetting that even though she was in her seventies, Aurora possessed preternatural hearing.
“For some of us, it is, dear,” Aurora said and patted Aunt Philo’s hand. “Now take me to the root of all of this trouble.”
“The root?” Chloe asked.
“The young man. I take it he’s cute if he’s managed to sweep our Phoebe off her feet,” Aurora said.
Phoebe frowned and was about to utter something indignantly, but found words had deserted her. Probably along with her good sense. She shrugged and followed the entourage toward the family room where Riot of Purple Profanity was performing a song. When the group descended, all three stopped.
“Ah, you must be the young man from Louisiana,” Aurora said striding toward Kaden.
Kaden stood up as the good manners that his grandmother had instilled in him decreed. “Ma’am. Kaden Roarke,” he said and extended his hand.
She took it between hers and looked him in the eye. She held onto his hand and rubbed the top. “You’re very pretty,” she said. “It’s a good thing you keep that stubble or else you’d be far too pretty.”
“There’s no ‘thanks’ about it. Facts are facts. Your grandfather broke a woman’s heart and you’re paying for it,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Ma’am? I don’t know how you could know that. I don’t even know that,” Kaden said. He frowned and looked over at Phoebe, who could only shrug. By now, certainly he should have had some idea of how the women in her family worked, or witched.
She sighed. “You probably weren’t ever meant to, which is unfortunate, because if you had, some of this awful situation could probably have been avoided. Is it too much to ask for a cup of tea?”
Aurora twirled around raising the scent of jasmine and rosemary before turning back to Kaden and offering the grimmest of smiles.
“Now that I’ve seen you, I can determine our next step. In the meantime, while my tea’s brewing, I am going to freshen up. Philomena, our room is ready, I hope,” Aurora said as she exited the family room and headed toward the staircase.
“Yes, mother, it’s ready,” Aunt Philo said.
“By the way, dear. That’s another thing we will clear up with this visit. I’m not your mother. This is something you should discover before I die and the truth dies with me,” Aurora said and then walked up the stairs with her husband following dutifully behind carrying the suitcases.
Kaden took one of the suitcases and then glanced back at Phoebe, his eyes wide, his eyebrows raised in question. She shrugged. There was no doubt in her mind that some measly red fog didn’t stand a chance against her grandmother.
“What did she mean you aren’t her daughter?” Chloe asked Aunt Philo.
“This all just gets better and better, doesn’t it?” Aunt Philo said. “If I’m not her daughter, whose daughter am I? Maybe I just materialized out of thin air.”
“That would be way cool,” Tito said, suddenly invading Philomena’s space.
“Ya think?” Philomena said.
“I know. It sounds like a song. Ever had a song written about you, Philo?”
She chuckled. “I’m going to think you’re trying to seduce me, drummer man.”
“At least she didn’t call you drummer boy,” Jared said, elbowing Tito. “Is there going to be food with tea?”
end of Day 20, Part 1