“I’m starting to think you’re right.”
Miles gave me a surprised look. “Historic moment! My wife admits I’m right about something. Now . . . about what, exactly, am I right?” He cocked an eyebrow at me questioningly.
I stuck out my tongue at him. “Very funny. I often admit you’re right, wise guy!” I frowned and chewed on my lower lip. “I’m starting to think you’re right about my characters. They’ve been gone on their illusory trip for more than three weeks. Maybe they did find their way back into the manuscript. Or maybe they do like wherever they went on their trip better than they liked living here with us. Maybe they don’t even remember us.” I sighed gloomily. “I just wish we knew for certain.”
Miles took my hand in his. “I know you miss them terribly. And, as much as I complain about them, I must admit I miss them, too.” But then he smirked. “Of course, I don’t miss the grocery bills!”
“There is that. May I presume we don’t need to go shopping again this week?”
Miles lifted his eyebrows and shook his head. “If they don’t come back, I don’t think we’ll need to go grocery shopping for the foreseeable future, except for milk and other perishables.”
I sighed again. “Well, at least you and I have more time together.”
“Don’t sound so thrilled.” Miles winked and chuckled. “I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it.”
“So have I, honey!” I gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “But I’m afraid I won’t be spending this afternoon with you.”
Miles frowned. “Oh? Why not?”
“I received an invitation from Christine and Talia, from the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store. They would like me to join them for afternoon tea today.”
“Afternoon tea? And I’m not invited?” Miles pretended to pout for a moment before grinning.
I grinned back at him. “Nope, sorry, the invitation was just for me.”
Miles furrowed his brow. “Just you? Not you and Dragon?”
I shook my head. “Just me.”
Miles started pacing. “Isn’t that a bit odd? Why would they invite just you, and not Dragon? Wasn’t Dragon with you when you first met Christine and Talia? And wasn’t it Dragon to whom they provided two much-needed spells?”
I cocked my head and rubbed my chin. “I never thought about that, but you’re right. It is odd that they didn’t include Dragon . . . not that she’s here to accompany me.”
“Maybe they know she’s not here?” The furrow in Miles’ brow deepened. “Maybe they’re the ones who have been watching you?”
My eyes widened at that thought, but before I could say anything, Miles continued. “Marge, something doesn’t feel right. Maybe you shouldn’t go there alone.”
I shrugged uneasily. “I’ve already accepted the invitation. Besides, what’s going to happen? I don’t think Christine and Talia are dangerous.”
“But you don’t really know much about them. And who else is going to be at this afternoon tea?” Miles was really frowning now, and I could see the worry in his eyes.
“I wasn’t apprised of the guest list. But really, Miles!” I gave my husband a reassuring hug. “I’m sure I’ll be just fine.”
I hoped I sounded more confident than I felt.
Later that day, I drove to the small town where Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store was located. As I approached the area of the hamlet where the store was located, the streets seemed dirtier, the buildings looked more dilapidated, and more of the businesses appeared derelict than they had the last time I was there.
When I reached the store, I parked my car and walked up to the storefront. There were no lights on inside, and the front door was locked. I took my hand and tried to wipe away some of the grime from the window. When I peered inside, all I saw were empty shelves and overturned display cases. I gasped.
Wondering what was going on, I decided to go around to the back door. As I rounded the corner, I almost ran into two figures walking along the alleyway.
I was startled to see Crawford and Griff. Crawford was an acquaintance whom I first knew as a repair technician. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/03/17/not-exactly-deja-vu-all-over-again/
Later, I had discovered Crawford was also a writer and member of the writers’ group Lost in the Words. He was the one who had directed me to Christine and Talia when one of my young neighbors caused a baffling problem. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/still-looking-for-answers/
“Hello!” I returned Crawford’s greeting with a smile.
“Are you here for the afternoon tea?” Crawford held up his invitation, a gilt-edged square embossed with black lettering.
“Yup.” I produced my own invitation, identical to his.
“Isn’t Dray with you?” Griff looked disappointed. Like my own characters, Griff had arrived in this world from the pages of a manuscript. He and Dragon were very taken with each other.
“No, she’s not.” I chewed on my lower lip while trying to decide how much to divulge. “She and my other friends are on a trip at the moment.”
“Oh.” Griff’s shoulders slumped.
Crawford reached out and patted Griff’s arm. “Well, we better go in. We don’t want to be late.” He reached out and opened the door.
Inside, the room was bright and airy, with sunshine pouring in the windows. A nice afternoon tea had been set, but the room was otherwise empty. There was no sign of Christine or Talia.
Crawford looked at me and shrugged. “I guess it would be rude to start without our hostesses.”
I looked longingly at the delicious treats but nodded my agreement to Crawford. Suddenly I gasped.
“What is it?” Crawford turned to me.
I pointed. There on the wall, over one of the windows, a pair of eyes watched us.
Before Crawford could say anything, Griff grabbed both of us and turned us toward the opposite wall. Another pair of eyes peered from a wall motif.
When I turned toward one of the remaining walls, I almost screamed. It was covered with eyeballs.
“What’s going on?” Crawford’s eyes were almost as wide as mine, his breathing almost as rapid.
“I wish I knew.”
What is going on? Why are there eyes, everywhere, watching us? Where are Christine and Talia? Hopefully, some answers will be forthcoming next week. Be sure to come back. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.