Hello out there! Today’s entry is a wee (okay, probably a bit more than wee) bit on the long side, coming in at a little over 2700 words. Sorry, but it includes yesterday’s missed bit. Also, it doesn’t end at a scene break. Again, apologies.
If you’re still with me, thank you! 🙂 I promise to reciprocate starting on Thursday…that a maniacal happy dance.
Still very much, probably even moreso, a draft. 😉
Current Word Count: 44,054
Thanksgiving Day was overcast. The sun hung low and peeked through a circle of gray clouds. Phoebe placed all of the pies she had baked the day before in a woven pie carriers and then was about to take them to her car when Kaden appeared.
“Here, let me help,” he said and took the two carriers from her.
He looked good today, Phoebe thought. But then who was she kidding? He looked good every day. Although there was something to be said for a man wearing a nice shirt and tie as he was wearing this afternoon. She didn’t see that much around Pleasant Point Cove. Beach towns just weren’t the kinds of places for suits and ties unless it was for a wedding or a funeral.
“You look pretty,” he said taking note of her green linen blend drop waist dress and black buckled motorcycle boots. “Pretty and tough all together.”
She grinned. “A girl’s gotta have her boots.”
He placed the carriers into the trunk of her car and closed the lid. Before she knew it, he had her in his arms and was kissing her. The man could kiss. These weren’t sloppy kisses like David’s had been. These were practiced kisses that made her want more. She melded against him with a sigh.
“Did my boots instigate that?” she asked.
“Maybe. I’ll never tell. Knowing you, you’d got and take them off.”
“Not me. Sometime’s a girl’s just gotta get kissed.”
“Glad to hear it and I also hope that I’m the one doing it.”
She started walking back toward the house to collect her jacket and purse and said: “Me too” so quietly he couldn’t hear.
When they got into her car, Kaden hooked up his phone to her car stereo and grinned. “How about a little Riot of Purple Profanity?”
She rolled her eyes as she buckled her seat belt. “I did that last night.”
“You did? Why didn’t you say anything this morning? Because you hate our music?”
She drove down the driveway and turned onto the slip road that would take her to the highway. She shook her head. “No. I didn’t hate it. Well, not all of it.”
He laughed almost incredulously. “But you hated a lot of it?”
“You all are a bit loud,” she said. “But there were a few I really liked. I especially liked the one about fortune that was kind of like walk a mile in their shoes.”
His hand beat on the dashboard. “That was a cover. I didn’t write that.”
She grimaced and looked in her rearview. “Maybe that’s why it sounded familiar.”
“So you liked none of my songs?”
“There was one about a bayou and catfish and making music in New Orleans. I liked that one,” she said. “But the middle was all loud guitar.”
“Phoebs, you’re killing me here.”
“I don’t want to lie and say I like all of your music.”
“Why not?” he asked. “Other women do.”
She looked at him, frowning. “Because then you might insist I listen to a lot of it.”
The ringtone “Witchy Woman” played on Phoebe’s phone. She handed it to Kaden. “Answer that and see what Philo wants. She probably needs us to pick up something.”
Phoebe could clearly hear Philo’s voice. “If you’re answering her phone, I guess that means you’re on the road?”
“Yeah,” Kaden said.
“I don’t want you all to panic, but I saw something.”
“Saw what?” Phoebe said loudly so that Philo could hear. Immediately she started checking her mirrors. Had Serena started her mischief again?
“I don’t know. It was something while you were driving. Maybe you should turn around and go back home.”
“We’re closer to you now than to home,” Phoebe said.
Philo’s groaned. “Crap. Okay. Well, keep your eyes open, drive a little faster, but be careful.”
“Be there in a sec,” Phoebe said.
From the corner of her eye, Phoebe noticed Kaden keep looking in the passenger side mirror. Finally he said, “You might want to go a little faster.”
In the rearview mirror she saw a wall of black. She couldn’t even begin to guess what it was, except that it seemed to be swallowing up ground at a very quick pace. She pushed her food hard on the gas and the car lurched forward. Ravens began flying past the car. Some birds hit at the windows. Phoebe’s heart accelerated. It was more than birds, but she couldn’t see what it was.
“What is it?” she asked her voice sharp and panicked.
“Birds. But there’s something else. Some kind of thick dark creatures running very fast on the ground. Keep your eyes on the road, chere,” he said.
She depressed the pedal even harder, focusing on the twists in the road that took them through the wooded area between town and Philo’s house. She had never driven this as fast as she currently was.
Something darted in front of the car and instinctively Phoebe hit the break. She didn’t hit anything, but the deceleration allowed the monsters, because what else could she call these creatures that looked like winged apes with very sharp teeth and claws, to come along the sides. Even though she was going about 70 mph they were keeping up with her and passing her, sometime darting over the hood. They rammed the car from her side with the power of a truck. She struggled to hold on to the wheel. Kaden’s hand closed on top of hers to help steady her grip. The car was rammed again from the side and Phoebe bit back a scream. She told herself to focus, focus on the road. They just had to get past the woods and the slight ravine. It was the ravine that she had once had a dream about driving into, hearing the shattering of metal and glass and then waking up. Since the dream each time she passed it, she remembered the terror.
Something flew onto the windshield and splayed there, like a bat with a four feet wingspan, blocking her view of the road. This time Phoebe did scream.
“Hold on, chere,” Kaden said and then jerked the steering wheel to the right and then to the left very quickly, successfully dislodging the creature whose red eyes seemed to hunger after her.
The moment of blindness and the quick movement of the wheel had directed the car just a little close to the ravine edge for Phoebe’s comfort. She knew what was going to happen. It was as if she could see it in slow motion. The monster that had been battering them from the side was closing in again. She felt something welling inside of her, frustration, panic, power. Just as it was about to ram them she yelled a phrase in Celtic that she didn’t know she knew. With the force of her power the monster disappeared and the darkness around them vanished. The birds were gone from the sky. They were once again alone on the road.
Phoebe was breathing hard and looking around them, searching for any trace of the creatures. Tears burned her eyes. Her mouth fell in disbelief. Could she have done that? Was the power in her to do that?
“Pull to the side, chere. Collect yourself,” Kaden said gently, his hand massaging her neck while he also checked around them.
She shook her head. They were still too near the ravine and her nightmare had suddenly become very real. She wouldn’t feel safe until they arrived at Philo’s house and she hoped that she felt safe then. She drove on and felt relief sweep over her when she saw the house and her family waiting on the front porch.
When she put the car in park, Phoebe sat there a moment, stunned. She looked at Kaden whose face was as pale as she suspected hers was.
“You sure do come with a lot of baggage,” she said.
“Have to keep life interesting,” he said.
Everyone was there except for Serena, which didn’t surprise Phoebe. She supposed she was going to make one of her theatrical entrances, but she was going to have to do a lot of explaining about what just happened. They could have died. The thought kept spinning around in Phoebe’s head. It felt like everything had escalated, that Serena was taken her prank too far now. Sure, there had been the original curse on Kaden, her possession, the demon fog, and the maggot risotto, but none of those things, while definitely frightening, had felt as threatening as the situation in the car today.
Jared and Kaden were drinking beers with Caroline’s husband, Frank, in the family room watching football while Phoebe sat on the patio near the blazing fire pit with Chloe, sipping chardonnay.
“She’s taken it too far this time,” Phoebe said, wishing that her hand would stop trembling.
“I can’t believe she would do harm. I mean, sure I get the curse . . .”
Phoebe darted a questioning look at Chloe. “You get the curse? It seemed like an overreaction to me.”
“It was, but it was classic Serena. Her philosophy is not to pout when she doesn’t get something, but to get really, really proactive.”
“But the possession thing was almost as freaky,” Phoebe said.
Chloe nodded and looked away which immediately alerted Phoebe, who leaned toward her sister. “You know something about that possession thing that you aren’t saying.”
The fire snapped and sent a spark into the air that Chloe watched until the ember died. She squirmed on the Adirondack chair and then crossed her arms.
“I kind of helped Serena with that,” Chloe admitted and then bit her lip as she met Phoebe’s gaze.
She should be surprised. She knew she should, but Phoebe wasn’t. Serena had already hinted that she had manipulated Chloe who had never been very strong willed and who had always seemed to envy Serena’s wild side, which was why she had trailed after her to California in the first place. Likewise, Serena enjoyed having an entourage. It gave credence to everything she did.
“You hate me now,” Chloe said.
“No, of course not. I think Serena probably controlled you without your knowing.”
Chloe swallowed the remainder of the wine in the glass and looked doubtful. “It felt an awful lot like my decision, but I don’t know. Thanks for giving me an out anyway. I probably don’t deserve it.”
“More wine?” Phoebe asked reaching for Chloe’s glass.
Chloe nodded. “Thanks. And, thanks, I’m serious. I don’t know why I’ve been as mean to you as I have.”
Phoebe smiled. “I do.”
When Phoebe entered the house, she noticed that her grandfather had now joined the other men in front of the tv. She watched how well they all got on, but then again there was beer and football and they were men—all reason enough.
Kaden looked up, caught her gaze and smiled. He seemed about to get up, but she shook her head.
“I know that, Caroline,” Aurora said.
“Serena’s completely out of control. Did you see Phoebe’s car? It looks like it was in a demolition derby,” Caroline said.
Phoebe walked into the kitchen and Philo, Caroline and Aurora looked at her expectantly. Her niece, Giselle, sat at the table engrossed in her cell, oblivious to everything going on.
“Serena’s running late,” Philo said. “She wants us to hold dinner for her.”
“Of course, she is,” Caroline said. “She’s planning her next wave of attack. I think we should just step right up and bind her powers.”
“We need Beatrice for that,” Aurora said.
“Why? I know full well that we can do it. There are four of us here.”
“Five,” Giselle said, dispelling the notion that she wasn’t paying attention.
Caroline nodded at her daughter. “Even better.”
Aurora sighed dramatically. “Well, let me think about it. You know that Beatrice will be upset.”
“Wouldn’t she be more upset if Serena actually hurt Phoebe?” Philo asked.
“I said I would think about it,” Aurora said.
Phoebe poured wine for her and Chloe. “Did you say anything to Serena about the incident?”
“No. We acted like nothing happened. We decided that we wanted to talk to her in person,” Caroline said.
“I think Serena’s possessed,” Giselle said. “There’s a site that talks about how a person acts completely different.”
“I wouldn’t say Serena’s completely different,” Philo said.
“Site? What’s a site? Does she have the sight too? How come no one told me?” Aurora asked sipping on her trademark gin and tonic.
“Not that kind of site. Web site,” Philo said.
“You can’t trust anything on the web,” Caroline said.
“But this site had other things on it that we true. Like how you all are,” Giselle said, snatching a piece of raw cauliflower from the vegetable tray. “Some things are true on the web, Mom.”
Phoebe was willing to keep an open mind. “So what else did it say?”
“Mom and Aunt Philo . . .”
“Cousin, dear, cousin,” Philo said, throwing an arm around Giselle’s shoulders and squeezing before returning to the spicy corn chowder that was simmering on the stove.
“Cousin Philo, sorry. I’m not there yet. You all were talking about the spell that you told Chloe to do on Phoebe when Phoebe’s eyes went all crazy.”
“But Serena doesn’t have crazy eyes,” Philo said. “I take that back. She’s always had crazy eyes.”
Giselle read from her phone: “If the possession is over twenty-four hours, the eyes revert to their normal, pre-possession appearance. The only telltale sign that a person has been possessed is that their behavior has been greatly modified.”
Phoebe shrugged. “I haven’t been around Serena enough lately to know if her behavior has been modified. But, hold on anyway. Chloe just told me that she and Serena were both responsible for what happened to me.”
“What?” Caroline asked. “Chloe helped Serena? I can’t believe that.”
“I did,” Chloe said from the door way. She accepted the wine glass that Phoebe held out to her.
“So who exactly would have possessed Serena?” Phoebe asked.
“Why would you do that?” Caroline asked Chloe.
“I don’t think she had a choice,” Phoebe said. “Serena as much as admitted to me yesterday that she’s been manipulating Chloe. Chloe’s just collateral damage.”
“Yippee. I always wanted to be collateral damage,” Chloe said dryly.
They were quiet for a moment, the only sound was the noise from the tv and the long handled spoon scraping the pan as Philo stirred.
“You said Serena claimed to talk to some spirit,” Philo said.
“Yes, but can that possibly be true?” Phoebe asked.
“It’s been done before,” Aurora said. “Beatrice used to love her Ouija board. I didn’t like having it in the house and made her get rid of it, but she kept it in the Old Watkins barn and had her little Ouija parties there. She thought I didn’t know.”
“So you’re saying that Aunt Beatrice used to contact spirits?” Phoebe asked.
Caroline sipped her wine. “Yes. I was there once. The first time it happened. There was no explaining it. Alexandra was there too,” Caroline said, referencing Phoebe’s mother. “I always thought that something that happened on one of those Ouija parties was why Alexandra left you girls.”
“This is getting a little spooky,” Chloe said.
“Oh, yeah,” Giselle said. “Time for doritos before dad eats them all.”
Giselle left, but Chloe was too curious about the conversation to follow even though her brown eyes widened in her pale face.
“I don’t know. I don’t know whether it sounds too far out there or it’s too simple,” Phoebe said.
“If Serena learned the things her mother did and then came up against the wrong kind of spirit, one that was craving to return this world, I think it could happen,” Caroline said. “Mind you, since I was younger than Bea and Alex, I’m sure I found it a lot more terrifying, but frankly what I remember still terrifies me. There is no way you could get me around one of those boards again with Bea or with anyone who has the knowledge of dark arts.”
end of Day 28