“What do you think about what Crawford said?”
We were home again, and Dragon and I were discussing the day’s events. I took a sip of tea and continued. “Do you agree with his assessment that we are looking for a powerful spell caster, or do you still feel Marisol might be responsible for the intrusive eyes?”
“I do not have enough facts upon which to base a conclusion.” Dragon took a gulp of her tea. “A perfunctory examination of the back room of the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store yielded no clues. Other than Christine, Talia, you, Crawford, and Griff, I sensed no presence in the room. Mayhap Christine and Talia, upon performing a more thorough inspection, will discover something of import. Right now, I would like to begin a thorough examination of the areas here where you discovered someone was watching you.”
I nodded. “The morning it started it began with just the feeling of someone watching me while I worked in my office. It was unnerving. I kept looking up from my computer, expecting to see someone at the door. Each time I looked, there was no one there, although several times I swore I saw a quickly retreating shadow. That continued into the afternoon, with me never actually seeing anyone.”
I placed my teacup back on the table and raked my hand through my hair. “Miles took me out for dinner and a movie, to help get my mind off things. However, in bed that night, a noise woke me. I thought I saw a shadow leaving the room, so I ran out into the hallway. I saw nothing there, so I checked the entire house, but I found nothing amiss. When I was back in bed, though, I looked up and there was a huge pair of eyes watching me from the ceiling.”
Dragon furrowed her scaly brow, and dark smoke drifted from her snout. “Then, with your permission, I will start with your bedchamber.”
An examination of the bedroom yielded no clues. Neither did an examination of the other places I had seen eyes watching me – the computer monitor in my office, and the French doors that led from the living room to the deck.
Dragon sighed. “I have found nothing, neither through my physical examination of these areas, nor through a more thorough magical inspection.”
I frowned. “What do we do now, then?”
Before answering me, Dragon shapeshifted into her preferred alter ego, Dray. To those with a discerning eye, Dray’s delicate features and exquisitely pointed ears marked her as an elf. However, to the unobservant and uninitiated, she appeared to be an exotic and very beautiful human and could blend in quite easily in this world.
Once her transformation was complete, Dray smiled and lifted an eyebrow at me. “Now, I talk to Marisol.”
Dray arrived at the home shared by the child, Marisol, and her mother, Bastina, just as Talia pulled up to the curb in a snazzy red Ferrari.
Dray waited at the front door for Talia to join her.
“Dray! Fancy seeing you here!” The co-owner of the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store grinned at her.
Dray returned her smile, though without the same level of enthusiasm. “Hello, Talia! Did you and Christine discover anything?”
Talia shook her head. “No, I’m afraid whoever did it left no trace. Are you here to interrogate Marisol?”
Dray frowned. “It is not my intention to interrogate the child. I merely have a few questions for her.”
Talia shrugged. “Well, don’t waste your time. She can’t be behind the spying. She hasn’t any spell-casting ability.”
“Do you really know the extent of her ability?” Dray raised a delicate eyebrow.
Talia sighed. “Not really, but I have no reason to believe she is capable of this sort of magic.”
“You do not believe her capable? So, I am to take your word for it?” Dray scoffed. “Well, I think I will speak to the child myself, if you have no objections.”
Not waiting for an answer, Dray reached around the other woman and rang the doorbell.
Bastina opened the door, and a smile lighted her careworn face. “Dray! Talia! What a pleasant surprise. Please come in.” Bastina led the other two into the living room, where Marisol sat, reading a book.
The child looked up and jumped off the chair, the book falling to the floor. “Dray! Talia! Did you come to see me?”
“We did, sweetie!” Talia opened her arms to give the child a hug.
“I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.” The girl accepted Talia’s embrace, then looked up at Dray. “And I wasn’t expecting you at all.”
“Well, I hope you are not disappointed.” Dray smiled warmly at Marisol.
“Of course not!” The child giggled.
Dray turned to Bastina. “Would it be permissible to speak with your daughter in private?”
Bastina furrowed her brow. “Does this have anything to do with the lessons she is receiving from Talia?”
Dray gave a noncommittal shrug. “In a way.”
“Then, it’s fine. I’m so grateful that you told Talia about Marisol. The child seems to have benefited greatly from Talia’s instructions. Since my daughter has undertaken the exercises in control and restraint, there have been fewer . . . incidents. I still don’t understand everything . . . or anything, for that matter.” Bastina shrugged and made a moue. “What I do know, however, is my daughter is better off now.”
Dray gave Bastina a reassuring smile. “I am glad it is working out.” She turned toward Marisol. “Come, child. I need to speak with you before Talia proceeds with your lessons.”
Several hours later, Dray was home and had shapeshifted back into her true form.
“Did you learn anything?” I took a sip of my tea.
“Only what I already suspected. Marisol is not our spy.” Smoke started to drift from Dragon’s snout. “And I ran into Talia. She was there to work with the child on control of her powers. Talia and Christine found nothing when they inspected their storeroom.”
I sighed. “Then who is behind the watching eyes?”
“I am not certain yet.” Dragon took another gulp of her tea and narrowed her eyes. “But something Crawford said has given me . . . what is your idiom? Food for thought?”
“Oh?” I raised an eyebrow. “What did he say?”
“He said we may be barking up the wrong tree.”
What tree should we be barking up? Be sure to come back next week. Maybe we can find out. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.