‘It’s not possible! I saw them board the train-‘
‘It’s a trap! Let’s get out of h…’
A familiar bright light shone from the lower levels of the house. He didn’t have time to finish his sentence, let alone get out of the house. And neither did his companion.
When the screams subsided Julie turned towards her sister who just stared at the ashes in the same spot their attackers first occupied and didn’t say a word. All was quiet as they looked around the room. The house didn’t suffer any damages this time. Julie flashed a devilish, yet accomplished smile. Not long after, both girls were surrounded by a blue dust-cloud that seemed to seep into their skin. They weren’t even alarmed by it…
The dust-cloud covered their entire skin until they were one with it. The dust then rose up into the air and gathered on the wheelchair forming the vast form of Rosalie. This spell took a large amount of energy out of her. ‘I’m getting too old for this’ she sighed and whispered several incantations to restore the magical defenses around the house. That proved to be a push too far for her body and she clutched her chest. A series of coughs followed and her breathing became labored.
Rosalie’s body was telling her to rest or she’ll be resting forever. She scoffed at the thought of giving her attackers that satisfaction. ‘Not today’ she smirked, but heeded her body’s warning and wheeled herself to her bed.
Across the border
The train ride to Belladonna Cove was exactly as Julie imagined it to be: boring. Evening fell, she was bored. Night came around, she was bored. And Jane added to her boredom in a way. Many times she tried to girl-talk about Dante and their date, but Jane managed to, in a very subtle way, change the subject every time. They weren’t even able to talk about their mission in the crowded train, so it left them with very little to talk about and more time for Julie to pull her hair out.
She was the first one out of the cart when it arrived at the station, glad it was over. One of the night rickshaws in front of the station took them to the motel Jane had penned down on a piece of paper.
‘This doesn’t look too bad’ Jane said walking past a few doors looking for the one that had their number on it.
‘Maybe it’s just me, but that concierge could’ve been a bit nicer to us. It’s not like we asked her to loan us a room. We paid for it!’
‘True, but honestly I’d be sour too if I had her job. Who’d want to be checking people in at 11.45 at night? Didn’t you see she was wearing pajama pants?’
‘Well, it’s her job, so she shouldn’t be a bitch to us because of it. If I wasn’t tired myself I’d give her a piece of my mind!’
‘In that case I’m glad you’re tired too or we’d have to find another place to sleep. 505, here it is!’ Jane said placing the key in the keyhole.
‘You know, this could’ve gone a lot w—‘
Jane covered Julie’s mouth with a ‘don’t you dare say it’ look. Her sister shrugged and Jane let go.
‘Their decorating isn’t that bad…’
‘It’s not good either’ Julie said, opening the drawers to look for dust. ‘Oh, look, a TV! I’ll bet it doesn’t work… Hmm, apparently it does’ she said sarcastically, turning it back off, ‘if you like snow…This is going to be a boring week without some good television. I bet she gave us this room on purpose…’
Jane had to laugh at her sister’s rant and scanned the room for a phone. ‘At least we have a roof above our heads… I’ll call grams to let her know we’ve arrived safely… then again, she’s probably asleep already. I’ll call her tomorrow morning’ Jane hung up the phone, ‘I’m going to take a bath first, don’t open the peanuts. They’re $50 a can’
‘$50 for a can of peanuts- for that kind of money they could’ve at least put some cable’ Julie mumbled, putting the peanuts back and settling for a soda instead.
At least the water was warm and soothing. Jane didn’t realize just how tense she was before the water massaged her muscles. All the tension washed off of her and she felt herself relax a little; A difficult feat so far from home and the comfort of her own environment. Even the moon seemed strange to her when she looked out the window and at the grand city of Belladonna Cove stretched out before her. They were finally there, one step closer… She sighed and closed the curtains, ready to turn in.
‘Well, the room isn’t too bad, ugly, but not bad and we have a small kitchen-thingy, so I guess… Yes, I promise, no greasy-food every night… No, she’s still asleep. She’s been worrying about this trip for a while now, so if this is the only way for her to rest, I’m letting her rest…’
‘I think we’re going to check things out a bit before the auction tonight… Don’t want to go in there blind… I know… I will… I’ll call you soon! Love you too’
Julie hung up the phone and turned to see if Jane was still asleep. ‘Dante says hi’
For a glimmer of a second Jane averted her eyes, but Julie was quick enough to notice it. ‘So I didn’t imagine it… The train ride; whenever I wanted to talk about him, you always managed to change the subject. I didn’t think that much about it at the time, but that reaction just then’ There was a mixed expression of concern and anger on her face. ‘I lied; it was grams on the phone’ Julie looked at her sister attentively ‘… Jane…’
Jane tried to hide it as best as she could, but she knew they’d have to talk about it eventually. And overnight, eventually evolved into now… She sighed and looked up at her twin and the huge frown plastered on her face.
‘Jane, are you okay with me and Dante?’
‘You want the truth?’
‘I honestly don’t know yet’
‘Well, when are you going to know; because you not wanting to talk about him, AT ALL, kind of forms a blurry picture in my mind. We’re sisters; we used to be able to talk about anything… what changed?’
Jane shrugged and shook her head, not knowing either.
‘Okay, while the picture is still blurry, before I become confused and start forming my own paranoid conclusions, I want to know what this is really about. Because we can both attest we do not need this right now’
‘You’re right, we don’t…’ Jane admitted, as much as she didn’t want to talk about it, maybe it was indeed necessary.
‘Okay…’ Julie took in a deep breath… and another one… and another one, before finally sitting down on her sister’s bed.
‘Do you have feelings for Dante?’
‘Yes…’ Jane saw Julie visibly tense up, ‘But not like you I think…’
‘You ‘think’? What does that even mean? You never showed any interest before- When did this happen?’
‘He wasn’t available before…’ Jane sighed, ‘The feelings got stronger after Grams and I talked’
‘What did you talk about?’
‘When you went on your date, before we came here. Grams saw Dante through the glass door and wanted to know who he was. I told her he was my friend and she asked why he wasn’t my date, since he isn’t exactly…’
‘…my type’ Julie filled in. ‘Typical thing for her to think’
‘That’s when I started thinking about him and what I felt and how I feel… maybe a bit too much…’ Jane admitted, ‘but seriously, Julie is he? Your type I mean?’
‘Yeah, he is! I like to have fun, but fun also has a buzz-kill in the morning. I don’t feel that with him’, Julie admitted, crossing her legs on the bed, ‘He makes me want more; opened me to a different world. A serious one… and I kinda like it, I’m not gonna lie...’
Jane didn’t know what to say to that. She had never seen Julie so serious before, but it didn’t help her feelings any…
‘You said the feelings intensified when you talked to Grams?’ Julie frowned.
‘Who say they didn’t ‘start’ then?’
‘I don’t get it?’
‘What if she unknowingly planted a bug?’ Julie said getting up.
‘Grams wouldn’t do that...’
‘That’s why I said ‘unknowingly’. Let’s find out, come on’
Jane got up and took her sister’s outstretched hands. It looked like she was going to do a spell. ‘Whoa, shouldn’t we close the curtains or something?’
‘No, no effects. It’s a mind thing. Now repeat after me’
“From whence they came,
Return them now.
Scatter the words/memories,
Consider them erased,
Their influence as well.
So be it then, you're free from their spell…”
Jane slowly opened her eyes. She didn’t feel different. She turned her hands around and looked at Julie.
‘Is that even a real spell, or did you just make that up?’
‘I wrote it, true, but it’s worked for me plenty of times, so how do you feel?’
‘What am I supposed to feel?’
‘I don’t know. Try thinking about Dante…’ There was an after-taste in her request that she didn’t hide very well. Not that Jane could blame her, who’d want anyone to think about their boyfriend like that.
Jane did as she asked, but sadly enough the feelings were still there… milder, a lot milder in fact. They had reduced to ‘a little more than friends’, but they were still there.
‘I’m sorry Jules, but the feelings are still there. They’re not strong, like a minute ago, but I still feel something…’
Julie tensed again. ‘That means they were already present even before Grams…’
‘I’m sorry Jules, I really am…’
‘No, I’m sorry… Sorry, because I’m not letting him go! He and I may have our differences, we may fight, but I can recognize a good man when I see one and guess what…’ Julie crossed her arms, ‘I’m gonna put it aside for as long as we’re in Belladonna Cove…’
‘Who says that the feelings will grow again? I only thought about it because she mentioned it… I’m not as low to make a move for my sister’s boyfriend. It’s less now; I might be able to suppress it entirely.’
‘Maybe, maybe not… I won’t talk about him or tell you when he calls if that’ll help you… even if he says hi, but I’m telling you… I’m not letting him go’
‘I’m not asking you to let him go, Jules!’
‘Good, glad we cleared that!’ Julie said looking away. ‘Now… we need to go get some lunch because I’m starving and you slept through breakfast hour. Plus the fridge is empty’ Julie made a face as she walked to the bathroom.
Jane couldn’t believe how fast she turned into Julie again. All the seriousness that hung in the air, gone, just evaporated. This wasn’t the end of it, Jane knew, but it was talked about and she was going to work on it, however hard it might prove… for Julie’s sake, she’d do it…
DiGorgio Auction House
The rooms in the building were breathtakingly gorgeous. Never before had they seen such elegance.
‘Good evening! You are here for the abstract showing?’ the receptionist greeted them from behind her large desk. The twins looked at her as if she just fell out of the sky. Was there always a desk there?
‘YES! Julie interrupted, standing in front of her sister. ‘We’re from ‘D-art’ magazine and we would like to include this showing in our fifteenth edition. We don’t have a formal appointment tonight, so we’ll just enjoy the show’
The woman looked a bit confused and bewildered at the same time. ‘Our assistant will call to make an appointment within this week.’ Julie continued, rubbing her hands like she saw a rich woman do in an old movie. ‘Yes… Now where will the showing be held; on the 1st or on the 2nd floor?’
‘Oh, forgive my rudeness!’ the woman apologized, regaining her composure, ‘It’s on the 2nd floor, double doors to the right. Have a great viewing’
‘We will thank you!’ Julie answered, walking towards the elevator.
The minute the elevator-doors closed Jane rebounded from her gawking. ‘What the hell was that Jules?’
‘We don’t know one bit what these people are like. I say, let’s lay low for a bit check out the surroundings, and then we’ll approach them’
‘Wow’ Jane was seriously shocked, ‘I’m surprised… You came up with that?’
‘Hey, you’re insulting me! I know a trick or two to get passed velvet ropes, although I have to say, the front desk was too easy. Why didn’t she ask for an ID if I told her we were with a magazine?’
‘I don’t know, maybe because this viewing is open to everyone! You should be happy she didn’t ask, or we’d really be done for’
‘Or… this place is guarded by something else…’
‘Okay, Jules! Stop that! Too much thinking will in your case fry your brain. It is completely out of your character and it’s making me uneasy. Besides…’ Jane continued, dodging the elbow Julie sent her way, ‘… she looked, I don’t know, human. I don’t think there’s anything magical going on there. We should take it that, same with us, not everyone close to the DiGorgios knows of their ‘extracurricular activities’. Like you said, we’ll just lay low and see how everything… plans… out’ Jane faltered when she opened one of the double doors.
The room wasn’t big, or overly decorated, but the dark floor in contrast to the white walls not only spoke volumes of elegance, but also gave a sense of mutual grounds- Dark versus light. That is according to their view. Anyone else would just leave it at elegant. Jane tore herself from staring at the décor and assessed the situation in the room. A handful of people, scattered, hovering over various paintings and a reporter scribbling hastily on a notepad, made up the entire total of visitors.
But then her eye fell on one of the abstract works and she was instantly mesmerized. ‘This would be perfect for the living-room. I mean look at it, it’s so… so… It would definitely spice up the beige walls, don’t you think?’
‘Personally, I think the feet are a bit more interesting!’ Julie answered pointing towards a painting on the opposite wall covered entirely by different colored foot-prints, ‘If we had the money for them, that is…’
Jane frowned at first and then noticed the price-tag underneath the painting and swallowed. Starting bid $750,-. Her arms dropped lifelessly to her sides and for a moment Jane looked like she couldn’t remember her own name. Julie stifled back her laughter and looked around again. ‘It’s odd actually… On such an opening night, I thought it would be crowded’ Julie voiced what both of them had been thinking.
‘They’re in the other room-‘
Jane and Julie both turned at hearing the strange voice coming from behind them. It belonged to a young lady, who Jane immediately recognized from her co-worker’s Facebook page. At first she looked from one twin to the other as if she’d never seen twins before and a smile appeared on her face.
‘My apologies, I didn’t mean to startle you. My name is Rinka DiGorgio - This is my family’s Auction House’
‘Oh, pleased to meet you!’ Julie said as casually as possible. ‘This is my sister Jane and I’m--’
They both took a step back and Jane narrowed her eyes at Rinka. How did she know that? Was coming here a mistake?
Rinka sensed their discomfort and hurriedly lifted her arms. ‘No-no-no-no, don’t make a scene’ She looked around to see if the reporter was still scribbling on his notepad, he was. ‘That was tactless. I shouldn’t have dropped that on you like that… Yes, I know your name’
‘How… do you know my name?’ Julie said, taking a defensive stance.
‘Excuse me, Miss Rinka? Sorry to interrupt, but the auction cannot start without your presence. And the representative of Guatemala is asking for you regarding the new shipment’ A young lady of seemingly the same age as Rinka with a clipboard in hand appeared; her secretary no doubt. Rinka mumbled a few words to her and turned her attention back to the skeptical looks the twins were giving her.
‘I’m sorry, but as you can see I’m pretty swamped right now. Why don’t you come to my office tomorrow morning? I’ll make some time for you then’
Not that they had a choice; they were looking for a DiGorgio, but Julie couldn’t stop herself from asking why.
‘Why should we?’
‘Your coming here means something. Either to you or to me and I’m curious enough to want to find out what. I’m only hoping you are too. Besides, if I wanted to kill you… I’d be pretty stupid to call you to a building full of people in the morning, now wouldn’t I?’ she smiled, hoping it would lessen the tension and followed her secretary.
Well, so much for keeping a low profile. ‘What do you think?’
‘I don’t know Jules… We have to come back if we want to get to the bottom of this, but it’s unsettling she knew your name. Something’s up…’
‘Better be extra careful tomorrow!’
‘Tonight too, we have to shield the room’