02-24 Wedding Frenzy

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Even though Granny spends much time worrying about her granddaughter, Missy’s wedding is not forgotten. It is being prepared according to tradition – gowns and bridesmaids and a huge cake – but there will be no rehearsal dinner.

There have been some minor strains about the ceremony;

Juan would have liked them to tie the knot at the City Hall, but Missy refused, hiring The 7th Heaven Spa for the ceremony.

He wanted a small wedding, but Missy refused (resulting in the Grey’s paying the festivities, but Juan will finance the cake… and the rings…)

He didn’t want to go on a Honey Moon. Of course Missy refused, she’s already made reservations for Isla Paradiso in the Caribbean. Must be a perfect place to honeymoon with a name like that!

So he said NO rehearsal dinner. Surprisingly Missy was OK with that, thinking that starting a new relationship making concessions is a smart move…

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Granny feels a little guilty about her mixed feelings. She’s happily excited about planning but she’s also a tiny bit jealous of her little sister who gets to choose her husband…

If only she could have chosen when she was young… But then again she wouldn’t have Taïga… and Rowan. And if only François hadn’t taken his car that frightful day…* How long ago has it been now… Only four years… Four terribly long years…

She sighs and gets back to her list. Luckily all the guests Missy has invited aren’t able to make it, but the seating plan is still a tough nut to crack…

‘I’m a little surprised of the numbers.’

‘Numbers?’ Missy asks.

‘Yes. Of the people attending. We’ve received only twenty RSVP’s.’

‘RSVP?’ Granny glances up at Missy who busies herself with her list.

‘When you receive an invitation with an RSVP you’re supposed to reply promptly, and we even set a date. It expired two weeks ago.’

‘Er… Let’s just outgo from if there’s no reply, it means it’s an acceptance.’

Granny sighs. She can’t remember if they agreed on RSVP, regrets only or a standard RSVP. ‘Have you got an invitation with you?’

‘Er… no.’ Missy draws loops in her note block, ‘And if there was no RSVP? Like in… forgotten?’ she croaks.

‘What do you mean “forgotten”?’ Granny looks at Missy over her glasses, ‘You mean we’ve sent 250 invitations and we’ve got no idea whatsoever of how many people really will attend?’

She burrows her head in her arms, what else could possibly go wrong now? Missy leans over the table and pats her big sister’s head. ‘It’s time for the fitting, dear…’

*See Part I – Chapter 53

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Taïga looks wistfully at Rowan behind the steering wheel. He’s just passed his driver’s test, going through all exams in a week, being a fast learner, a little too fast in Granny’s taste – his Italian origins seems to make him an unnecessarily reckless driver… That’s why she refuses to lend him her car…

‘Was it difficult?’

‘The test? No.’ Rowan turns towards her as she climbs into the car. ‘The driving was quite easy too as I’ve been driving with Granny since Easter. You know you should get moving, you’ll be sixteen in November.’

She hasn’t really thought about it since she came back from APYR, being absorbed in her grief. ‘Granny doesn’t seem to have the time…’

‘Have you asked her?’

‘Not really…’

Missy joins them, ‘I overheard that. I can give you some lessons!’

‘Er… But you don’t have a driving license.’

Missy seems to give it some thought, ‘You’re right… But I drive rather well, and if ever a policeman gets too nosy, I’ll just throw him a spell! Now sit correctly on the seat so I can get in next to you. I suppose my sister wants to sit up front to have an eye on this young man here, who seems to think there’s only a fast lane!’ She winks to Rowan, ‘But I like that! And if my sister isn’t coming soon you’ll have a legit reason to floor it!’

She waves to Granny who just appeared on the balcony, ‘We’re ready! Hurry or we’ll be late!’

‘I’m looking for the car keys! I can’t seem to find them…’ Her voice tones down when she sees Rowan’s grinning face.

Today they are going to Absolutely Fabulous Salon to try their gowns that Missy has ordered from a fashion freak friend of hers back in Midnight Hollow, Seema Sielen. Chandra Vallari will make the last minute adjustments in case the sizes aren’t right.

The owner of the salon, Alphonso Kerr’s passion is wedding dresses, and he isn’t happy Missy didn’t ask him to design her wedding gown. But Chandra Vallari has recently started to take initiatives that frankly aren’t in line with the Salon’s policy…

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Taïga follows Missy inside while Granny lets Rowan park the car. They are greeted by Alphonso Kerr’s associate, Krissie Sharp -the tattoo artist, who is arranging the counter.

‘Goodafternoon. I have an appointment for a fitting.’

Krissie Sharp switches on the computer. ‘You’re Mrs…?’

‘Grey. Miss Grey. I’m here to try on my wedding dress!’ Missy looks around her, ‘Where’s Chandra Vallari?’

‘Chandra called in sick this morning, but I see here Alphonso Kerr himself will take care of you. Miss.’

Missy is impressed, Alphonso Kerr only takes on very wealthy and famous clients… ‘Chandra was supposed to do my makeup…’

‘Don’t worry, Alphonso has everything needed in the dressing room. Follow me, please.’

She escorts Missy towards the heavy curtains, explaining that Alphonso Kerr will join her shortly. She looks smug, coming back to the counter.

‘Will I really need all this stuff on my face?’ Taïga is awed by the variety of make-up displayed.

Krissie Sharp studies her face. ‘Not you. You’ve got a perfect complexion. But the future bride will need a little help…’

She checks Taïga out, ‘You don’t want a tattoo do you? Or a piercing? In the belly button? It will look good on the beach…’

Granny walks in and interrupts sharply, ‘I don’t think that’s something suitable for a fifteen year old.’

‘Oh. Sorry. You look older.’

Taïga feels a little flattered, ‘Thanks.’

Granny looks sternly at Krissie who mumbles, ‘I’ll get your “gowns”. They arrived this morning and you’re in for a – let’s call it a surprise…’

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Taïga is first out, ‘There’s no way I’m going to the wedding in this ratchet dress! I can’t breathe!’ She tugs at the tight strapless dress. ‘I look like a walking flower basket! I’m sure Erin will pull flowers from it to throw at Missy and Juan!’

Krissie Sharp busies herself with the hangers, trying to keep a straight face.

‘It can’t be worse than me,’ Granny pulls aside the curtain.

Taïga gapes, but Granny doesn’t even smile. She looks like something out of a nightmarish fairytale.

‘Er… You look like Alice in Wonderland.’

Granny’s mouth is a fine line, ‘I’m just worried I won’t be able to convince Missy the gowns aren’t right…’ Better get this over with… ‘Come, Taïga. Let’s see if we can get this business straightened out.’

Hearing the flow of abusive adjectives coming from the other side of the curtains, Krissie Sharp imagines Alphonso Kerr has seen the bride. Carefully she pulls the curtain aside and peeks into the bride’s cabin.

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‘Is it all right to come in?’

Alphonso is having one of his Latin fits, tearing at his hair and shouting incoherently in Italian or French or a mixture of both.

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Krissie holds the curtain to let Granny and Taïga pass.

‘These shoes are awesome! They-‘ Taïga almost falls over her stunned grandmother who has stopped in her tracks, rolling her eyes. She steadies herself and peeks over Granny’s shoulder, completely forgetting what she was about to say when she sets eye on Missy…

In unison they burst out, ‘Oh. My. God.’

Missy is enthroned on the podium like a giant whipped cream cake. Unruffled by Alphonso’s excess of Latin temper, she beams, ‘Do you like it? I wanted something extraordinary – with flowers and ruffles and in pink and bridal white. Juan will love it! He loves pink, you see. He likes orange too, but that’s not really bridal, is it?’ She addresses Alphonso, ‘My arms hurt, can I put them down now?’

Alphonso just nods, scratching his head, ‘I don’t think there’s much I can do about that dress anyway… Hopeless. Sans espoir. Orribilé!’

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Missy frowns, considering her sister. ‘But your gown looks a bit… too large, dear sister. But I’m sure Alphonso can fix that.’

Granny stares icily back, ‘Too large? It’s too… everything!’

‘You know I asked for something understated and elegant for you. But then again, Seema Sielen is the fashion guru of Midnight Hollow and you know they’re more into-‘

Granny interrupts her, ‘-Japanese manga street fashion!’ She rolls her eyes.

‘But the color is happy, it suits you. And maybe we can take off the bowtie… I hope you’ve noticed I asked for your favorite colors!’

‘Baby blue?’ Granny is flabbergasted.

‘Seema didn’t have enough grey cloth for your size, dear.’

‘My size? My. Size?’ Granny fists her hands and counts to 10. Slowly. Very slowly.

‘I’ll fix the color!’

‘NO!’

Alphonso looks astonished at Granny’s sudden outburst.

She lowers her voice, ‘Not while I’m in it, you won’t,’ she hisses.

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Taïga interrupts them before Granny hits her sister. ‘But I’m more into black, Missy. So why is my dress purple?’

‘Because you can’t dress in black at a wedding! Everybody knows that.’

Her grand aunt turns and admires herself in the mirrors, the dress swaying. ‘I think you’re just jealous. Both of you!’

‘Jealous?’ Taïga asks astonished.

‘Yes. You both envy my happiness and the fact that I’m getting married. And everyone knows you mustn’t upstage the bride.’ She sighs dramatically, ‘It’s such a pity I can’t have a masculine advice in these matters.’

Now even Alphonso looks like he wants to hurt someone – preferably the future bride. Krissie decides she hates Chandra Vallari who’s abandoned them in this nightmare of a fitting! She’s not very diplomat herself, but she knows when it’s time to bring in some distraction,

‘Why don’t we ask the young man lounging in the waiting area what he thinks?’

‘Ask Rowan? But that’s a splendid idea!’ Missy claps her hands, ‘Rowan is not eaten up by female jealousy.’

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Krissie looks from Granny to Taïga and decides she better hurry before they both jump the bride, ‘Rowan? I think your assistance is needed…’

Reluctantly Rowan looks up from his book. He sighs and follows Krissie.

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‘What do you think, Rowan?’ Missy chirps, striking a pose.

Rowan stops and stares. ‘That’s the most incredible dress I’ve ever seen. Your friend must have been really zonked out when she was making that thing.’

Missy curtseys and looks triumphantly at her sister, ‘The truth, Rowan. Be entirely sincere with me.’

Taïga gives Rowan a pleading stare.

‘Really? OK.’ His great aunt might be a real airhead, but she can’t hope to get away with this. Geez. He has to help Granny and Taïga somehow, or his sister will be the laughing stock at school… Sorry, Missy, but you asked for it! Rowan makes a gesture that says it all.

Missy’s face falls. ‘Oh.’

Granny looks directly at Alphonso. ‘Can you make it right?’

‘Maybe I can… redo it. Somehow.’

‘But I like it like this!’

Granny knows she must use all her diplomatic skills to convince her stubborn sister…

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Rowan checks his sister’s outfit, ‘The dress is totally crashy, but it shows off your legs!’

‘Hah! It’s a pity I can’t breathe!’

Rowan laughs. ‘Granny and Alphonso will straighten this mess out. You’ll see. Look at Missy, she’s considering.’

Taïga gives Rowan a look that says it all.

‘OK. I guess we’ll just have to cross our fingers…’

Granny turns to Rowan and Taïga, ‘Would you like to come tasting the cakes with us when we’re done here?’ ‘

Er… do we have to?’

‘No. I guess you don’t…’

Missy interrupts, ‘We’ll meet up with Juan at Olivia’s, and Phyllis said she’ll probably pop in for tea with Tania later.’

Taïga face lights up with a knowing smile. Phyllis and Tania Arrington… She whispers to Rowan, ‘Let’s go you know where. It’s now or never!’

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When Rowan and Taïga leaves, Alphonso and Granny are trying their best to convince Missy to do at least some minor changes… Granny just tuts and waves her hand at them when Rowan asks if he can take the car.

Rowan stops as if stricken by lighning. ‘Did you hear that? She’s letting me take the car!’

‘I’m not sure she heard you.’

Rowan knows better than to stay and ask again…

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‘The pink is a nice shade, Missy.’

‘Si. Maybe we should use that color for the bridesmaids?’

‘Like that Juan will surely be happy! It’s such a nice gesture remembering his favorite color…’

‘And le corset is a nice touch. It makes you look… slimmer! And we could use some silvery broderies to replace those noeuds papillons, n’est-pas?’

Missy frowns. She doesn’t want Alphonso to take away those cute little bow ties, but on the other hand – silver embroideries doesn’t sound half bad…‘I guess we could… And what about the veil? I want a long mysterious veil!’

Alphonse scratches his beard, ‘I think… Hat! Ah oui! A large, very glamourous hat, with maybe a flower in pink to match the bridesmaids dresses…’

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After giving Alphonso almost free hands, the sisters walk over to Olivia’s Old Café. Granny thinks Olivia Morricone has had a wonderful idea, opening a small bakery for special occasions on the side. Olivia is excited to have them, it will be her second wedding after the Miller’s, and she has even closed the restaurant so they can serenely taste her masterpieces. Unfortunately Juan is not on time, but that detail won’t stop Missy who can’t wait to get started. The three wedding cakes on display in the kitchen look delicious and taste even better.

‘What about this one?’

‘This one is with raspberry filling and almond cake. But as I told you, it’s you who choose the composition of the cake.’

‘And will you decorate the cake at Bayou Oaks or here?’

Missy plunges her finger into the icing of a giant whipped cream cake while Olivia turns her back, answering Granny’s question.

Hmmm… there’s Cointreau in the cream. Yummy! She throws a glance at Olivia and Granny and takes some more. Quickly she draws her finger on the icing so it won’t show, and she turns it slightly. There. No-one will notice.

‘Missy?’

‘Huh?’

‘Have you chosen?’

‘Yes. I’d like this one with that icing and maybe that filling…’

Olivia scribbles down everything in her notebook.

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A car screeches to a halt in front of the small restaurant and Juan gets out, followed by his best man, Lucky Perkins. He slams the door once, twice… at the third try the door stays shut.

The tiny bell over the restaurant’s door tolls happily, ‘Helloooo?’

Olivia walks out to greet the future groom and his best man, and a couple of minutes later they join Granny and Missy in the kitchen.

Juan sips a mug with hot coffee, ‘Hello dear. Have you chosen the cake yet? Which one do you like best?’

‘I love that one,’ she points at the whipped cream cake, ‘but in chocolate!’

‘Then this one it shall be!’ he says magnanimously. ‘Just send me the bill, Olivia.’

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Lucky Perkins licks his finger after tasting the cake, ‘Gooder than grits. Can ya eat the decorations?’

‘Er… Yes. But-’

Too late. Lucky has already put a beautiful red flower in his mouth.

‘Maybe we shall wrap up the discussion elsewhere?’ Granny smiles sweetly and holding her breath, she takes Lucky’s arm to escort him away before he does too much damage. I hope he’ll bath before the wedding! I’m tempted to throw him a hygiene spell right here and now…

Lucky manages to reach out and swipe some of the icing from another cake before Granny has succeeded to get him out of the kitchen.

Missy snorts. She walks out last, and does exactly the same thing as Lucky. It’s my wedding after all. I should know the flavors of all the cakes…

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‘So you’ve settled for a traditional 3-tiered cake based on butter cake, with chocolate filling and buttercream icing…’

Missy nods vigorously.

‘And what about decorations?’

‘???’

‘I can leave the surface smooth, or decorate with swirls-‘

‘Yes.’

‘-chips or-‘

‘Yes!’

‘-drizzle…’

‘Yes! Yes! All of them!’

‘All of them?’

Olivia throws a quick glance at Granny who shrugs.

‘And the topping?’

Missy looks at Granny for help.

‘Maybe it will be a tad too much. You should perhaps just put some flowers on the top. Flowers you can eat of course!’

‘You’re right, Tara.’ She addresses Olivia again, ‘Let’s do the topping. And the flowers. And I also want our names or initials’ She taps her mouth with her index finger, ‘No, wait! “Missy and Juan Forever”!’

‘That shouldn’t be a problem.’ Olivia scribbles on her note block, ‘And what about the groom’s cake?’

‘Chocolate fudge. With Bud beer decorations – in marzipan!’

‘OK. Let’s see…’ Olivia calculates, ‘5§ per slice plus the extra decorations and fondant… Let me see… That’ll be 547§ for the bride’s cake…’

Juan stops dead in his tracks. 547§!!!

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Juan gulps.

547 §??? Fahv. Hunred. An’ forty-seven. Simoleons!?! That just dudden add up!’ Lucky’s indignated voice tears through the empty restaurant as he pushes back his chair. ‘An’ dat’s why ah’ll make the wedding cake! Yes, Ma’am! Ah’ll make the cake! It’ll be mah wedding present to ya both.’

Granny stares coldly at Lucky. It’s not a hygiene spell I’ll throw! I’ll transform him into something that can’t talk… fish, worm, caterpillar – images flies through her head.

Missy is at a loss for words, ‘Er… That’s very generous of you Lucky, but-’

‘We can’t refuse such a princely offer, Missy.’ Juan looks at her intently. ‘We should be grateful for friends like Lucky!’

‘But-’

‘We’ll maintain the groom’s cake, huh, Olivia. But Lucky will take care of the Bride’s cake.’

Olivia looks slightly put out, ‘That’ll be 260 §…’

Juan gulps again and Missy stomps. ‘I want Olivia’s cake!’

‘Let’s talk about it at home, dear.’ Granny puts a soothing hand on Missy’s shoulder, ‘Let’s go home and discuss this over a Mint Julep on the porch…’ She adds to Olivia, ‘We’ll be in touch…’

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Rowan and Taïga drives home, where they pick up Granny’s broom. A half hour later of trekking thorough the Bayou, they’ve reached their destination – The Arrington witches’ old decrepit mansion.

‘Here it is!’ Taïga points at the ancient arena.

Rowan doesn’t say anything, he looks towards the house, but everything seems quiet.

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‘Are you sure it’s safe? Maybe we should wait a couple of days.’

‘You’re leaving after the wedding with your dad! There won’t be time later!’

Rowan shuffles his feet. The idea had seemed excellent in the attic with the IF’s, but now… He doesn’t know if it was such a good idea after all…

‘Just empty your pockets. The Arrington’s won’t be back yet, you know that tea with Granny and Missy usually drags on for hours…’

She holds out her hand, and reluctantly he gives her his keys and cell.

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‘Why can’t we do this at home?’

‘I’ve already told you why.’

‘Yeahyeah. The broom is bound by the enclosure blah blah so I won’t get lost – I got it.’

He takes the broom and walks into the medieval looking enclosure. Everything seems ready to accommodate knights and their horses, there’s even straw in the corners…

Geez. Why did I agree on this…

‘Just do it!’ Taïga shouts.

He lets go of the broom but instead of falling to the ground it stabilizes horizontally in front of him.

‘Cool.’

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‘Are you seriously asking me to sit on this… Stick? It’ll break!’

‘Rowan. Do. It.’

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‘OKOKOK.’

He grabs the broom and nonchalantly swings his leg over, hoping it looks like he’s done this his whole life. I

f girls can do this, I can do better…

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He holds on tight, leaning forward, ready for take-off. Nothing happens.

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He shakes it slightly.

‘Come on you dumb thing. Move!’

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He jumps up and down, riding the broom rodeo style, ‘Yihaaa!’

He coaxes. Shouts at it, threatens it. He slaps it, shakes it, almost breaks it, but the broom doesn’t budge.

‘See? It doesn’t work!’ Hehehe. Taïga must see it’s broken somehow. ‘Look! It won’t even float in the air!’

‘Rowan, stop playing around! It’s a broom – it hasn’t got ears!’

‘Yeah. I kind of noticed that already.’

‘So why don’t you think. Hard.’

‘Think?’

‘Yeah, I know there’s a brain under that mop of hair somewhere. Use it!’

Use it she says… Float in the air… as if that would change anyth- ‘Whoa!’

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The broom trembles and shivers, rising a couple of centimeters, and Rowan is destabilized when his feet don’t touch the ground anymore.

Delighted, Taïga claps her hands, ‘That’s more like it.’

The broom hovers in the air. Rowan rubs his hands together and takes a harder grip, ‘Let’s do this, fucker.’

He squeezes his eyes shut and concentrates. Let’s give my sister a show to remember. The broom just sways slightly in the wind.

Rowan’s cell rings, ‘Shall I answer? It’s Peaches.’

‘Yeah. Whatever.’

Taïga picks up the call, turning her back to Rowan and walking a few steps away. ‘Granny’s back already? Yeah…’

Rowan squeezes his hands around the broomstick, Get your dumb tree ass moving up in the sky or I’ll use you to warm the mansion this winter!

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The broom takes off. Straight up it goes, aiming for the dangerous branches of a Banyan tree. Rowan’s rebel yell changes into a terrified howl that makes Taïga turn.

Where the hell is he?

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Leaves and twigs rain around her. She drops the cell and shouts to Rowan to get out of the branches before he gets hurt. As if he could hear her…

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Terrified she watches her brother desperately hold on to Granny’s broom as it weaves through the thick foliage.

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‘GET DOWN! ROWAN! GET DOWN!’

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‘Jeeeesus!’ I don’twannadieIdon’twannadieIdon’twannadie… Pleasepleaseplease get down. NOW. GET DOWNDowndooown!

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And down goes the broom… Luckily for Rowan it crashes straight into one of the hay bales!

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Taïga runs to his side, digging through the scattered hay, ‘OMG. OMG.’

He coughs and sits up.

‘Are you OK?’

‘Frankly I don’t know…’

She sits on her heels. ‘You could have died! Or broken something… In fact you did…’

He follows her gaze. ‘Uh-oh. Granny will kill us.’

A cackling of laughter behind their backs, ‘We got you now, didn’t we?’

‘Freeze!’

‘Don’t move!’

‘Turn around!’

Oh no. The Arrington’s… Missy to the power of 10. Jeesus…

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‘Stand up slowly!’

‘Hands on your head!’

‘No! Behind your back!’

Taïga and Rowan slowly gets to their feet.

‘What are you doing in our… our… Here!?!’

‘Silence!’

‘Answer me!’

Taïga shakes her head, and whispers to Rowan. ‘Don’t say anything…’

‘Don’t talk to each other!’

‘What did you say!?!’

‘I said silence!’

Tania stops waving her wand and turns to her mother, ‘But how will we know who they are if you tell them to be quiet?’

Phyllis stops waving to and rubs her chin, ‘Er… Because.’ She takes up her menacing stance, ‘I’m your mother, I know how to conduct a questioning!’

‘Will we torture them if they don’t answer? Please, Mother, can I throw them a spell?’

Phyllis looks at her daughter, ‘Tania. Don’t be such a child about this. They are teenagers. I think I even recognize them. Hmmm… They probably live in our town, go to high school with their friends, have Sunday dinner with their families, cuddle their pets and little siblings…’

‘So can I?’

‘Of course you can, darling!’

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Taïga has taken advantage of mother and daughter bitching to draw her wand…

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Before the Arrington’s have the time to understand what’s happening, Taïga’s wand sizzles and the sisters are surrounded by a thick grey cloud. When the smoke dissipates, the two witches are neutralized, lying on the ground at her feet.

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‘C’mon!’

They pick up the scattered parts of Granny’s broom and step over the unconscious witches. Taïga heads for the security of the underbrush.

‘Wait! Did you kill them?’

‘I don’t think so. But we’d better get out of here fast!’

‘Don’t you think you’d better? Kill them?’

‘Rowan! They are invited to the marriage! There’ll be cops all over the place! Now get moving!’

Rowan waves his part of the broomstick, ‘I’ve got an idea!’

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‘There’s still enough room for both of us, I can ride shotgun!’

Taïga hesitates, but a movement from Phyllis Arrington makes her quickly straddle the broken broom.

‘I sure hope this will work or I’ll kill you myself!’

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With a last worried glance at the Arrington’s she mentally orders the broom to fly… It shudders and trembles and jumps forward, and finally takes off.

‘Help me, Rowan, I can’t break through the arena’s magic on my own.’

Together they will the broken broom to go through the invisible barrier of the magical enclosure…

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After a wobbly flight they crash in the tall grass behind the mansion.

‘Wow.’

‘Yeah. Wow.’

‘Do you think we can repair it somehow?’ Rowan holds up a piece of the broom.

‘I don’t know. Let’s find the rest and I’ll look into it later tonight. I guess we can hide it in the attic.’

‘And what about the Arrington’s?’ Rowan asks.

‘What about them?’

‘I presume they’ll call on Granny as soon as they wake up…’

‘Don’t presume, Sherlock! They aren’t supposed to remember anything when they wake up…’

They grin at each other.

‘Look. It seems we’ve got company,’ Rowan gestures towards the house where they can see Juan and Lucky on the porch with Granny and Missy.

‘Yeah. I wonder why they came home so early…’

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Granny has successfully calmed everyone down about the cake business, keeping the mint juleps coming and serving generous parts of her famous lemon cake.

They’ve reached a compromise – Olivia will take care of the catering and Lucky will make the cake. Granny wonders how they’ll be able to pay for the marriage, they’ll probably have to sell off a painting or something to get hard cash…

Lucky sits chewing on a mint stem, watching the sun’s rays create intricate patterns on the lawn. He regrets promising to make the cake, but his friend Juan is so relieved about not having to pay an expensive cake so he can’t go back on his offer. Maybe ah can make a deal with Granny here, she seems to like me…

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Granny brings another part of her chocolate filled lemon cake.

‘So Mr. Perkins. What is your experience as a baker?’

Lucky gulps. He’s never cooked anything in his life, less baked something. The occasional warming up a can of Bush’s Best White Beans surely doesn’t count.

He hums and bites into the cake to gain time. Embarrassed, Granny looks away. I brought him a spoon, gosh. He’s so… so… unpolished!

Juan comes to his help, lying, ‘Lucky always made the cakes for the kid’s birthdays back in Riverview. Indeed he did.’

Lucky nods happily, ‘Indeed, Ma’am. Lovely cakes with lots of decoration, just the way Missy here likes ‘em…’

Rowan and Taïga join the old folks on the porch. After politely asking how the tasting went, Rowan asks Granny what’s for dinner, ‘We’re starving!’

Lucky repeats, ‘Stahving? Indeed we’re stahving. I cain’t say no to a little somethin’ to go with the Julep here…’

Granny sighs. ‘I’ll fix you an omelet and frozen yoghurt with blueberries.’

‘I’ll take care of the salad, Granny,’ Taïga offers, taking her grandmother’s arm as they walk inside.

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‘I think I dropped it here somewhere.’ Taïga stops and checks her bearings. The Arrington Mansion is ominously looming in the dark ahead, and they can see the outlines of the arena.

‘Crap! I can hardly see my feet. Give me the flashlight!’

‘Er… Flashlight?’

‘Don’t tell me you didn’t bring a flashlight?’ Rowan asks irritatingly.

‘But I thought you did!?!’

‘We’re in the fucking Bayou at night looking for my fucking cell that you fucking lost and you didn’t bring a fucking flashlight!?!’

‘No. And you should try to find a synonym for fuc-‘

He glares at her, ‘Just fucking shut up and try to be of some help!’ Rowan stomps off, mumbling in Italian as usual when he’s upset – or angry.

‘So why didn’t you bring a flashlight?’ Taïga starts off after him.

‘Che cavolo! No me interesso un cazzo!’*

* I don’t give a damn!

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‘Dio dannato! We’ll never find it…’

‘Ouch! … I think I just did…’

Part II – End of Chapter 24

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