"It's Miss Gray!" Alberto called as he strode down the hallway, pulling a suitcase behind him. "She's here for me. I'm off to Paris, and Linda's giving me a ride to the airport."
Heather peeked out the window. Linda Gray was one of her friends from Guadalupe High. "I didn't realize she knew you."
"She didn't until last night." Alberto entered the foyer. "When Sasha started shooting last night, I flung myself over Miss Gray to protect her." He grinned. "She thinks I'm a hero."
"Well, I guess you are." Heather offered her hand. "Have a good trip."
Alberto shook her hand. "I might be back to visit soon, if things work out with Miss Gray."
Phil opened the door while Ian moved away from the sunlight.
"Good luck to you all." Alberto rolled his suitcase out the door. "Ciao."
Heather went back to the kitchen to enjoy a day off with her daughter. Around suppertime, Ian collapsed on the kitchen floor.
Bethany giggled. "He takes naps like a baby."
"Yes." Heather smiled. But he no longer looked like a baby. Ian had aged twelve years over the last twelve days.
"If I take a nap, will I get older, too?" Bethany asked.
"Sweetie, you get older every day, just much slower than Ian."
"But I want to grow up faster," Bethany protested.
"I know, but I don't want to lose you any faster than I have to." Heather stood. "Let's see what we can find for supper."
After their meal, the doorbell rang, followed by pounding on the door. Heather and Phil went to see who was there. Cody was outside, pacing on the front porch.
She sighed. Too bad Jean-Luc wasn't awake. He needed to undo the cockroach spell. Maybe she could get Cody to come back after sunset. But for now, he should be safe to talk to. He was under Jean-Luc's control. And Bethany was in the kitchen with Fidelia, so if Cody started acting strangely, his daughter wouldn't see it.
Heather opened the door.
Cody whirled around to face her. "I didn't get to see Bethany this weekend."
"You said you weren't able to see her."
"I know I did." Cody scratched his head. "But I don't know why. Something's wrong with me."
Heather stepped onto the porch. "It'll be all right, Cody. You can see Bethany next weekend."
"Is she all right? I heard there was some trouble here last night."
"She's fine. We didn't let her see anything bad."
"Okay." Cody descended the steps, headed for his car, then turned. "I bet that witch is doing this to me."
"That gypsy psychic lady you let take care of our daughter. She's a bad influence."
Heather sighed. Just when she thought Cody was going to behave, he ruined it with something stupid. "Fidelia's a wonderful, loving person, and she'd do anything to protect Bethany."
"Right! Like put some kind of spell on me." Cody paced in front of his car. "I'm gonna sue, that's what. I'll have her arrested."
"On what charge? She hasn't done anything." Heather noticed Billy's squad car coming up the driveway. Phil stepped out onto the porch.
Cody grinned. "Great timing. I'll have Billy drag that witch off to jail."
"Fidelia hasn't done a thing to you." Heather descended the porch steps.
The squad car rolled to a stop, and Billy climbed out.
"You're just in time, Sheriff." Cody walked up to him. "I want you to arrest that gypsy woman. She's put a spell on me."
"That's ridiculous," Heather snapped. "Fidelia's not a gypsy, and she doesn't do spells."
"Then why did she force me not to see Bethany this weekend?"
"Cody, come back next weekend. You can take Bethany then."
"You can't tell me what to do!" Cody yelled. "Billy, I want you to arrest Heather. She's in violation of the divorce decree."
She scoffed. "Billy, will you please make him leave?"
Billy had been calmly watching the argument. He walked to the back of his car and motioned to Cody to follow him.
"A father has rights, too, you know." Cody stopped next to Billy and turned to give Heather a dirty look.
In one quick movement, Billy removed his pistol and clonked Cody on the head with the handle. Cody crumpled to the pavement.
Heather gasped and ran down the steps. "What are you doing? I just wanted you to talk to him."
Billy stuffed his gun back in the holster. Then he opened the back door of his squad car and shoved Cody inside.
"Billy?" Heather stepped closer.
Phil ran to her and grabbed her arm. "Come back inside. Something's not right."
Billy whipped out his gun and shot Phil in the leg.
Heather screamed. Phil tumbled onto the driveway. Blood oozed from his wounded calf.
"What the hell?" Fidelia looked out the front door, then pulled a gun from her purse.
"Mama!" Bethany cried.
Fidelia pushed her back, dropped her purse, and frantically worked at unlocking the trigger lock on her pistol.
"Get inside!" Phil hissed as he lay on the driveway.
Heather started, then hesitated. How could she leave Phil behind?
"Get in the car." Billy motioned with his gun toward the open door of his squad door.
She noticed the glassy look to his eyes.
Billy aimed his pistol at Phil's head. "Get in the car."
Phil gritted his teeth. "Don't do it."
Billy cocked his pistol.
"Wait! I'll do it." Heather climbed into the car.
"Drop the gun, sucker!" Fidelia yelled, aiming her Glock at Billy.
He yanked Phil up and used him as a shield. He moved to the back of the car, dragging Phil with him. He opened the trunk and shoved Phil inside. The minute he slammed the trunk shut, Fidelia fired her pistol.
She missed. She shot again. Heather ducked down. Fidelia's aim was bad.
Billy jumped in the front seat and sped away.
Heather sat up and pounded her fists against the screen separating her from the sheriff. "Billy, wake up! You're under Louie's control."
He kept driving.
Heather looked out the rear window. Fidelia was in the middle of the driveway. Bethany ran after the car, crying, and Fidelia pulled her back.
A chill swept over Heather. Was this the last time she'd see her daughter? No, she couldn't bear that. Jean-Luc would come to the rescue. The sun was on the horizon. He would wake soon.
Unfortunately, so would Louie.
Heather estimated that Billy had driven about ten minutes when he pulled onto an old dirt road. The car bounced over dried ruts, and she tried to keep Cody from falling off the seat. She winced at the thought of poor wounded Phil, getting jostled in the car trunk.
She tried several times to talk to Billy, even asking him about Sasha, but he was totally unresponsive.
Cody groaned. "What's going on?" He rubbed the back of his head and scowled at Heather. "Did you hit me?"
"No. Billy did."
Cody looked around the squad car with a confused expression. "We're going to jail?"
"I wish." Jail was in town where there were people.
The car rolled to a stop in what looked like an old courtyard overgrown with weeds. An old stone wall encircled the yard. Sections had fallen over and crumbled.
"This looks familiar." Heather shielded her eyes against the harsh glare of the setting sun. There, in the distance, was an old stone chapel. She caught her breath. This must be the place Fidelia had dreamed about.
Billy exited, then opened her door and pointed his gun at her. "Out!"
She climbed out very slowly. Her chances of survival would greatly increase if she made it past sundown. As soon as the sun set, Jean-Luc and his Vamp buddies would come charging to the rescue.
Cody clambered out of the car. "What the hell are you doing, Billy?"
The sheriff motioned toward the chapel. "Walk."
"You'll be hearing from my lawyer," Cody growled.
Billy lifted his pistol even with Cody's face.
"Okay! I'm walking!" Cody stalked through the weeds.
"Slow down," Heather whispered. She glanced back at Billy. His face was still expressionless.
She remembered this place now. As a young girl, she'd come here with her family for a picnic. They'd left early because her mother had been afraid the old building would collapse on them.
You're at war with fear, she reminded herself. She needed to stay calm and look for windows of opportunity.