Different (a Manon Maxim novel)

Different (a Manon Maxim novel)

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Summary

Manon Maxim is an otherkind. Otherkinds live unnoticed among the human beings for thousands of years already and do anything to keep their talents secret. When an otherkind abuses his or her gifts Manon is deployed to do something about it. Therefore her life is an unpredictable chain of investigation, passion and danger. When a heartless figure from the distant past turns up, making Manon's life and those of her beloved a misery, she's completely in the dark. Assisted by her wealthy adoptive father, Jabar, and a few friends Manon is ready to investigate the case. The deeper she digs, the more she gets caught up in a network of intrigues and terror. When Manon finally realizes where she has ended up in, escaping doesn?t seem to be possible anymore.

Summary

Manon Maxim is an otherkind. Otherkinds live unnoticed among the human beings for thousands of years already and do anything to keep their talents secret. When an otherkind abuses his or her gifts Manon is deployed to do something about it. Therefore her life is an unpredictable chain of investigation, passion and danger. When a heartless figure from the distant past turns up, making Manon's life and those of her beloved a misery, she's completely in the dark. Assisted by her wealthy adoptive father, Jabar, and a few friends Manon is ready to investigate the case. The deeper she digs, the more she gets caught up in a network of intrigues and terror. When Manon finally realizes where she has ended up in, escaping doesn?t seem to be possible anymore.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Different (a Manon Maxim novel)

Author Chapter Note

Manon Maxim is an otherkind. Otherkinds live unnoticed among the human beings for thousands of years already and do anything to keep their talents secret. When an otherkind abuses his or her gifts Manon is deployed to do something about it. Therefore her life is an unpredictable chain of investigation, passion and danger. When a heartless figure from the distant past turns up, making Manon's life and those of her beloved a misery, she's completely in the dark. Assisted by her wealthy adoptive father, Jabar, and a few friends Manon is ready to investigate the case. The deeper she digs, the more she gets caught up in a network of intrigues and terror. When Manon finally realizes where she has ended up in, escaping doesn?t seem to be possible anymore.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: December 19, 2013

Reads: 493

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: December 19, 2013

A A A

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DIFFERENT

A Manon Maxim novel.

(original title: ANDERS, Een Manon Maxim roman)

(Translator from Dutch: Ester Magis)

 

1.

So here I am, sitting in Jabar’s private jet, and on my way to New York to bring a devil into line or, when it comes to the worst, to get his memory blotted out by Diedie.

I’m having a book with me to kill time and to take my mind off things. Although it isn’t my first order, I’m still nervous. So much could go wrong and I hate making things hot for an otherkind. They are, after all, just like me and not fully human.

The view is a real bore and the book can’t hold my interest, so I decide to keep the pilot some company. Automatically, I reach for my side where my pistol used to be. Of course I’m not having it on me right now. The airport security of Ostend would not thank me for that, even though I have a gun license. It so happens that it is only legitimate in Belgium. I’m missing my Glock 17 and my, yet illegal, blackjack that’s normally in the inside pocket of my leather jacket.

I put the book on the empty chair and stand up. It still feels odd to be the only passenger in an airplane. It’s a Falcon 900C that purrs like a spoiled kitten. I’ve been told that normally it can seat for about eighteen passengers. Nevertheless, Jabar made it redecorate in order to fit five luxurious grey leather armchairs, a suite, a large bathroom and a kitchen. Originally, the type was called Mystère, but it didn’t appeal well to the American market. Too bad, because I think the first name fits us best.

The cockpit’s door isn’t locked. It would have no use. A locked door, even though it would be armored, doesn’t stop me.

I open the door and look inside. ‘Tony, I’m here to keep you company. Is that alright?’

‘No problem, Manon. Make yourself comfortable.’

The co-pilot isn’t present at the moment; he probably retired to the sleeping cabin. I’m taking his seat, which is at Tony’s right hand. The view from the cockpit is far more fascinating than the one from the little windows where I was sitting first. I’m taking a seat and enjoy myself, impressed by the mass of clouds we’re flying through. Tony is being relaxed, sitting back in his chair, but he’s staying focused. These buttons, pointers and signs, I fail to see what it’s all about. The only thing I know is that this jet can fly about 1000 feet higher than a Boeing and that it flies faster, although the game of time doesn’t matter.

Jabar has once put forward the idea of letting me take flying lessons; both for the jet and the helicopter he has standing in his garden. I immediately refused the offer.  I’m not at all technically-minded and mathematics was my weakest course at school. No, I wouldn’t trust myself as a pilot. 

Tony is nervously biting his lower lip and I can already guess why. ‘Missing a cigarette?’ I ask him.

‘Kinda. Even those clouds remind me of smoke.’

‘Light one up than.’

He shakes his head heavily.

‘No, I promised myself not to smoke while flying.’

‘It wouldn’t bother me if you’d smoke,’ I assure him.

‘Do you know what’s pathetic?’ His smile wavers.  ‘I once was out of cigarettes at home. It was night already and I didn’t feel like looking for a night shop. But I was willing to lick off the ceiling just to get enough nicotine down.’

Tony is an angel. Their biggest weakness? Right, smoking. Maybe it’s in their DNA, because I’ve rarely met an angel that didn’t smoke.

‘Still an hour before arrival. It was an easy flight.’ He clearly wants to change the subject of our conversation.

I sink deeper into my chair and heave a sigh.

‘Difficult task?’ Tony asks me.

‘Nah, it won’t be so bad, I think. I hope.’

‘What? What kind of otherkind are you going to deal with?’

‘Probably a devil.’

‘Devil? They usually don’t cause any problems. Even when they’re drunk, they’re like newborn babes.’

‘Well, I’ve already dealt with something else.’ I grin at that thought.

‘Than he must have had enough drinks.’

‘She. It was a she and yes, she drank about five bottles of bourbon.’

‘What did he do?’

For a while, I look at him incomprehensively.

‘That devil in New York.’

‘We suspect he has used his gift to rob different stores at Fifth Avenue.’

‘Not so good. Was he drunk?’ Tony grins at me. His snow-white hairs, thé angels’ characteristic, shine as if they give light themselves.

‘Maybe,’ I say smilingly. ‘That robbing is one thing. Should be something for the police to deal with, but if they eventually succeed in catching him and figure out what he has done precisely. Luckily he thought about stripping the security cameras.’

‘That chance is small, isn’t it?’ Tony looks at me with a frown.

‘You never know. Jabar doesn’t want to take risks.’

Tony nods. ‘Rightly so.’

For a while we’re occupied with our own thoughts. I wonder if the world will ever be ready to accept us, otherkinds, without immediately labeling us as “freaks”. After all, we’re a side branch of the human kind and we exist just as long as they do. The only difference between the humans and us is that specific parts of our brains evolved differently, which makes us strangely gifted. Further on, our DNA only differs slightly. So slightly that, so far, they weren’t able to detect it. Nevertheless, we fear that it will not last that long anymore and we hope to have found a solution by then. It so happens that it is crucial to keep our existence under cover. Not a single otherkind feels like getting part of a charade or getting stripped down in the name of science.

I stand up. ‘I’ll get some coffee.’

‘Tasty. Black, just like my ladies. And no sugar, although I like my women to be sweet.’ He chuckles silently.

First I’m going to fresh myself up. My worn-out face betrays that I have had a short night behind me. At this moment I still look like I usually do, shoulder-length dark blond hair, grey-blue eyes, a somewhat crooked nose and high cheekbones. I’m free to adapt it, but than I would never be myself.

I’m really feeling naked without my weapons, missing the pressure against my side. Luckily, one of Jabar’s chaps is awaiting me in New York with the needed munitions. It somewhat makes me feel at ease.

In the luxurious chrome kitchen, amply provided for comfort and more, I make two cups of coffee and wait until they’re ready. For the second time I check whether the note with the address upon it, is in my pant’s pocket. I’ve dressed myself casual and nondescript for this assignment. A white blouse on a jeans and ankle-high boots. I grin when looking at the boots’ heels. Their height doesn’t come in very handy when it comes to a fight, but I’m not expecting one. I rarely wear heelless shoes, because my length, 1 meter 63, is the only thing I cannot adapt at will, unless I make the shape of my body ridiculously thin.

Coffee’s ready and I run with the two cups towards the cockpit.

‘Hm, I can really use one of those,’ Tony says and he thankfully takes a cup. He almost swallows the coffee in one draught down. I wonder if he has burned his throat. I take a seat and only nip a little bit from the hot brew.

‘New York is beautiful this time of the year,’ Tony says. ‘How long do you think you’ll need?’

Of course, he hopes to do some sightseeing before our return to Ostend tomorrow. And to Tony ‘sightseeing’ is all about the females. It wouldn’t be the first time I would catch him with a pretty piece.

‘I have no idea, Tony. I’ll call you on your cell phone. I expect to have it done today in order to leave as soon as possible tomorrow.’

We finish our coffees in silence. That’s what I like so much about Tony. Right before an order I’m in need of company, but also silence, how contradictory that may sound. Tony, who knows me for two years, knows this and keeps it in mind. Sometimes I want to prepare myself mentally and sometimes I need distraction. Nevertheless, more often these two needs intertwine and I hop from one need into the other.

It’s time to land and the co-pilot is joining. The co-pilot or First Officer is not a permanent employer of Jabar. It’s never the same person, but so far always a human. I’m disappearing from the cockpit and take away the empty cups.

When I take my seat again in the leather chair, I fasten my seatbelt. I believe this is the best thing about flying; the landing and the take off.

The swelling sound of the engine, the runway coming closer and closer and finally the light wobbly landing of the plane. For me, it can’t last long enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.

 

We land on a little, unknown runway and Tony taxis the plane towards the indicated place. I’m getting my stuff that is still on the chair. I put on my green leather jacket and cram my wallet with the travel papers and dollars in one of the inside pockets, my cell phone in the other one. I put on my sunglasses, in a retro design form the eighties, immediately. I’m ready for it. Well, at least I think I am.

When we finally pass the security fuss and stand outside, the hot and oppressive weather takes me by surprise. I’m wrapped up too well, that’s for sure, but I can’t take off my jacket. First, I don’t have a purse with me and second, I have to keep my pistol, which I’ll receive immediately, out of sight.

The air smells like petrol and sweat. Only a few meters further on, a woman is standing with a lifted sign. She leans nonchalantly against a yellow cab. The sign reads my name in curly letters.

‘See ya later, Tony. Be kind to New York’s women.’ I kiss him rapidly on the cheek and head towards the woman.

‘Like they can’t deal with me!’ Tony yells after me.

I chuckle. Angels are such incredible lady-killers and womanizers.

The woman sees me coming and lowers the sign. I can’t immediately see what otherkind she is. She isn’t an angel, because angels are the only kind that always has white hair. Unless she has dyed her hair of course. She’s extremely attractive. Her face looks perfectly symmetric and her body voluptuous in all the right places. She has dark brown, curly hair at a shoulder length and a sensuality that’s even perceptible from a distance. She sure could be a vampire. Luckily she isn’t that much bigger than me, so my self-image isn’t totally severely damaged.

‘Manon Maxim?’ Her American sounds melodiously pleasant. I suspect she grew up in Louisiana. She probably speaks Dutch and a bunch of other languages as well. That’s typical for otherkinds that move a lot to other countries.

‘Yes, that’s me.’

We shake each other’s hand. Her hands are perfectly manicured with red nail polish. That in sharp contrast to my own bitten fingernails. I’ve tried it several times, but long, beautiful nails are only granted a short life and nail polish doesn’t stay on intact for one day.

‘You can get in,’ she says it with a gesture towards the yellow cab.

‘Your cab?’ I ask while I get in.

The car’s air-conditioning immediately freshens me up mildly and it smells like coconut oil.

She takes a seat on the driver’s chair. ‘Yes, indeed.’

She starts the car and joins up the traffic that leaves the airport. From my own experience I know that it is at least a one-hour drive to the centre of New York.

‘Being a woman, isn’t it dangerous to ride a cab?’

I can only just see her eyes through the sunglasses she’s wearing. She looks at me confidently in the rearview mirror. ‘Not really, I’m a vampire.’

That explains a lot. Vampires are much stronger than the average human being.

‘And I’ve got my protection with me.’ She taps on the glove compartment.

I suspect she has at least one pistol lying in there, some extra sunglasses and tubes of suntan oil.

‘Oh, feel under the seat for a second,’ she then says.

I lean down and my fingers bump against a hard object, packed in a plastic bag. I can already guess what’s inside of it and I immediately feel much better. In the bag is my favorite pistol, the Glock 17 and hooray, a blackjack. I check the magazine: inside are fifteen 9 mm bullets, instead of seventeen. Terrific, because a full magazine runs the risk of breaking down more easily. I put on the shoulder holster that’s also in the bag and put the blackjack and the spare munitions in my inside pocket. There, now I’m invincible. As long as I say it often enough to myself, it may be the case.

‘My name is Selena,’ the woman says.

‘Nice to meet you. I honestly thought Ben would come and pick me up. Isn’t he the contact person in New York anymore?’

‘No, he retired. I’m the new one.’

I find it strange Jabar forgot to tell me about that.

‘Did he train you?’ I ask.

‘Who? Ben?’

I nod.

‘Yes, all of his computers are in my flat right now. I bumped almost immediately on that strange incident of those robberies. At first it didn’t attract attention between all the newspaper reports. At least it didn’t for someone who doesn’t pay attention to it.’

‘I thought Ben discovered it, but either way great job.’

‘Devil, isn’t it?’ The look with which she looks at me in the mirror stays unmoved.

‘Probably.’

‘Just what I thought.’

I startle when Selena hoots loudly.

‘Asshole,’ she screams at a driver. Immediately afterwards, as if she switches it off, she says in a gentle tone: ‘It was already too peculiar. The staff doesn’t remember a thing. One moment the stuff is still there and ten minutes later almost the entire store is robbed. Nobody knows how it happened or can remember who came into the store. And the cameras all of a sudden didn’t function anymore.’

‘A vampire could do that too.’

‘Our hypnosis techniques serve to seduce, not to steal.’

I can’t read off her reaction through her sunglasses, but she sounds fierce.

‘I’m sorry, bur fair is fair,’ I say while shrugging my shoulders. ‘The chance that it is a devil is indeed bigger. They’re telepathically enormously strong and can more easily influence people through thought manipulation. But still…’

‘It’s a devil. For sure,’ she interrupts me.

I find that she soon takes it personal, but I don’t go on about it.

During the remaining drive there’s an icy silence in the car. It seems as if I really can’t keep my big mouth shut! I could have known she would take offence at it. Although there’s solidarity between otherkinds, it is still stronger within each mutual kind. Understandable, of course.

As if she wants to punish me for my suspicions, she drives hard and bumpy. Not surprisingly, I’m relieved when we finally reach the centre.

‘Do you have the address of the company he works for?’ Selena asks in a cool tone.

‘Yes’. I suddenly feel less confident. ‘By the way, how did you get a hold of his home address?’

‘Simple,’ she answers haughtily. ‘The robbed stores are located around the area of his house. On the list of otherkinds of New York he was the only one who lived in the neighborhood, so I considered the chance to be big that he was the culprit. I think they should keep on the list which otherkind is dealt with.’

‘Far too risky,’ I think. ‘If a human being gets to see that list, there’s the devil to pay.’

It becomes time to transform myself and I already decided into what. Before I left this morning, I looked for schools and their uniforms on the internet, so I would look like an innocent girl that goes from door to door to sell ballpoints for the good cause. I have no idea whether that still happens in New York, but I don’t think the devil will be suspicious immediately and that he will give me enough time to force my way into his house.

After the transformation I wear a woolen, grey pleated skirt that already itches like crazy and ends right above my knees, a white blouse, a dark blue jacket, ankle high dark blue stockings and plain black shoes.

The school that makes its students look this ridiculous is the Academy of the Holy Angels of New Jersey. I though it was an appropriate name. The ballpoints, which I supposedly sell, all cleanly have the school’s logo upon them, a matter of taking the details into account. The fact that I need to hold something and I therefore chose for ballpoints is because of the following reason.

I’m a transformer. That means that I can change and transform myself into what I want. Nevertheless, the form must have an equal amount of molecules than my original mass. A school-going girl is smaller, so I put the remaining molecules in ballpoints. As long as something touches my skin, clothes for example, I can freely adapt it with me. The pistol and the blackjack stay the same in the inside pocket of my jacket.

I can just as well transform into fog and sneak into the devil’s house through chinks and keyholes. Nevertheless, a role-play from time to time, gives much more fun and loads of satisfaction.

Selena doesn’t move an itch when she sees me in my new form. ‘I’m going to drop you off at his home address. If he isn’t there, you can go to his working address that was given to you. It’s only a few blocks further on, so you won’t need me for now.’

She takes a sharp turn, which makes me tumble aside and the pistol to bump painfully against my ribs.

Thanks a lot, goat!

‘Call me tomorrow when I have to come and pick you up.’ She doesn’t sound as if she thinks of it as a pleasant prospect. Me neither.

‘Here it is, that yellow house.’ She parks the cab and I step out quickly.

Just as I expected, Selena tears off even before I’ve just closed the door. I take a deep breath and suddenly feel like a damp rag. The heat outside, the annoying conversation, the long flight and the all too early wake up are taking their toll. And now I still have to give a devil hell! Maybe I do need to follow Jabar’s advice to stay a few days in New York and, after some sleep, get to see the devil tomorrow.

Jabar has properties all over the world of which his contact persons inhabit some and I use some when I have an order. But when I don’t have to work in Oded’s pub or in one or another country where an otherkind causes problems, I’d rather be just home.  That’s why I took the stupid decision to take care of everything in one day and turn homewards tomorrow by jet. If it weren’t obliged by law to grant a pilot twenty-four hours of rest in between two trans-Atlantic flights, I would persuade Tony to fly me home again right away.

The environment where Selena dropped me is a pleasant neighborhood with amusing terraced houses and a lovely little park. I’ve got no idea where I am, but that doesn’t interest me. The yellow house is the only thing that matters.

Before I knock at the door, I give Diedie a short call.

As soon as she answers the phone, I say: ‘Diedie, it’s time. Do your mojo.’

‘I will. Listen carefully.’ I listen to the magic words Diedie whispers to me. I don’t understand them, but I don’t need to. ‘It’s done. Be careful, my girl.’

I grin and snap the mobile phone shut. No matter how old I’ll get or how many dangerous orders I’ll bring to a happy conclusion, to Diedie I stay a little girl that needs to be protected. Now, let’s see what I’ll have to deal with.

Showtime.

I ring at the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.

 

I wait patiently, but it seems he isn’t at home. Damn it, I don’t feel like searching him at his work. It complicates my order tremendously. Witnesses and possibly some hidden cameras have already made a mess of it. I want to turn around and search a cab, when I suddenly hear shuffling footsteps. I check whether my Glock is hidden well and put on a sweet girly smile.

It wasn’t until now I discovered the peephole through which he peeks at me. ‘What do you want?’ His voice sounds as if he’s under influence of one or another substance.

‘Sarah, sir,’ I say on a dearest tone and in English. I waver with the ballpoints in front of the peephole. ‘I sell ballpoints for the good cause by order of my school The Academy of Holy Angels.’

I hear him grumble, followed by the unlatching of the door. It is only opened slightly in a way you can only see his worn-out, splodgy face that’s characterized by dark bags under his brown eyes, cracked lips and oily dark brown hair.

I know what he’s trying to do right now, I can feel it because my hair roots are tingling. I could also tell by the color of his eyes, because it changes when an otherkind is using his or her gift. But I can’t see it because he’s turning his head too much down.

But it is clear he’s trying to read my mind to investigate whether I speak the truth or not. I may change my outlook, but not my mind. So he’s indeed a devil. I’m sure he won’t succeed. Diedie took care of that. The only thing he gets to read right now is that I’m a good school-going girl.

Kudos for you, Diedie.

‘No hawkers,’ he finally lisps.

He looks at me again with a normal color of eyes and not the typical black ones.

‘But sir, it’s to help the orphans,’ I pout. ‘They’re only 1 dollar.’

With an effort, he focuses on the ballpoints in my hand. The door opens a little bit more, but he keeps on to it as if it was a lifesaver. He’s shaking on his legs in his worn-out bathrobe that even looks dingier than the pavement.

‘I don’t have money inside.’

‘Can I than just come in to explain our good cause, sir? I can come back later with the ballpoints when you have the money,’ I hold on.

I put a step forward.

‘Tomorrow,’ he says.

A smoke of alcohol and dense cheese comes my way and I have difficulty not to gag on it. It just has been enough for me. I put the ballpoints in the pocket of my jacket and step forward. I give him a hard push by which he stumbles backwards and finally smacks to the ground. He falls painfully on his elbows and utters a curse even Oded would be jealous of. I rapidly run into the house and close the door behind me. The hall smells like piss and spoiled leftovers and even looks like it, but strangely enough the house especially gives me the feeling it’s been empty for many years.

‘What are you doing…’ he stutters. He looks at me with big eyes.

I can see him think: how can a little girl have so many strength?

‘It isn’t very nice of you, sir, to refuse your support for a good cause.’

‘Goddamned,’ he yells. ‘Get out of my house!’

He lankily struggles to his feet, always holding an eye on me. ‘What are these for guerrilla practices!’

He wobbly stands in front of me and wavers his index finger in front of my face. In one quick movement, I grab his fingers, snap it and force him down on his knees. Despite my delicate figure, I keep my own strength. He moans like a little child and tears are in his eyes. When the worst pain is over, but I goddamn hold him tight, he looks up at me with a tug. His look furious and fire breathing.

‘You’re name isn’t Sarah, is it.’

‘It could have been, you know. I was a foundling.’

‘Who are you?’

‘Who are you?’ I turn the tables.

‘Let me go and I’ll tell you.’

‘Okay, good deal.’

I let go of his finger and of course he jumps up and goes for my throat.

Good little devil.

With a satisfied grin on his conk his hands squeeze my throat. I keep smiling at him in the most polite way and suddenly he realizes why. Or, better said, he feels why. The barrel of my Glock pokes in his stomach. His look changes from amazement into fear in a nanosecond, faster than I can transform. The advantage is that his eyes are now much brighter than before, but it can even get better. I unlock the first safety catch of the Glock, which makes a pleasant clicking sound and makes him pay full attention.

‘It’s much easier to talk without your fingers around my throat,’ I say sugary.

I barely feel his grip because I moved the mass around my neck to a lower region through which I now have bigger boobs. Finally.

He takes a hesitated step backwards and stares at me in fury. Hm, at least he’s sober now.

‘You’re a transformer,’ he hisses between his teeth.

‘You’re a clever boy.’

I turn the pistol on his forehead. This isn’t easy, since I’m still much smaller than he is and so I have to hold my arms up high. Nevertheless, I’m not planning to transform myself into my usual looks. Jabar advised me to avoid it as much as possible on missions. As long as the misbehaving otherkinds don’t know what I look like, I’m safe.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘I’m here to give you some spanking.’

It has to be a funny sight. A schoolgirl in a nun-like uniform that turns a pistol on a much bigger man and tells him as cool as you please that she’s here to give him some spanking. If the situation wasn’t this serious, I would have had a good laugh about it.

The devil however does it in my place and starts to laugh out loud. It sounds like a hyena with an upset stomach. His bathrobe falls open and that’s the sight I really want to spare myself of.

‘You… a girl… give me… spanking? Even with the pistol…’

With a satisfied grin I reach for my blackjack. I’m armed in both hands. ‘The left or the right hand? You may choose.’

His eyes narrow. ‘And why? What did I do to you?’

‘To me nothing personal. You wouldn’t even succeed to do so. You’re a risk for the otherkinds.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘Don’t play ignorant. You’ve used your gift to rob some stores.’

‘How do… so what? What has that got to do with you? You’re from the police or what?’

Damn it, my pistol arm is getting tired.

‘No. Let’s put it this way: I have to see to it that our kind doesn’t get betrayed. That they color between the lines. And everyone who colors outside the lines gets a visit from me. You sure know you have to keep your gift secret and certainly that you can’t impose on it.’

‘So what are you going to do about it? It happened, right? And the stuff is already sold.’

‘You’re neatly going to give that money back. In the same way you stole those things.’

I lower my painful arm, but don’t lose him out of sight. ‘One movement and you’ll pee through a little hose from now on.’

‘And what if I don’t return the money?’

When will he finally get he can’t win?

‘I’ll get your brain blotted out by a witch in such a way you don’t even know how to eat without drooling and don’t know but one word: ‘mummy’.  It takes as long as a phone call you have to answer. Simple and quick.’

His scrutinizing look and nervous twiddling on his bathrobe make me suspect he’s weighing his options. Stay focused, Manon.

‘How come I can’t influence your thoughts? There’s a shield around it.’

‘Strong mojo.’ I swing the pistol. ‘What’s it gonna be? What do you decide?’

‘You can’t know whether I’ll bring the money back or not,’ he tries, but it doesn’t sound as if he believes it himself. ‘What are you gonna do? Hold my hand?’

‘I never grab something with my bare hands when I’m caught red-handed. And don’t be so sure about the fact I can’t check it. We’ve got our ways to do so. My next visit won’t be one with much options. Only one, if you know what I mean.’

His look changes and he looks at me in a pitiful way. ‘I need that money.’

‘Why?’

‘To buy drugs.’ He turns his eyes away and looks to the ground.

‘Drugs?’

I didn’t see that one coming. Devils are known to loathe drugs, unless in an alcoholic, liquid shape. Why do I get the impression he isn’t totally honest? Something in his look isn’t pure.

‘I have personal problems and drowning my grief in drink doesn’t work. So I tried to do it with drugs. But even for drugs I have a high tolerance level.’

‘Never heard of therapy?’ I sneer at him, not impressed by his lame excuse. ‘You’ve got ten seconds to decide.’

His eyes flash back and forth, as if he’s looking for a way to escape. I’m blocking the front door. He could take his heels and try to escape through the backdoor, which I can see from here. He could try. Jabar gave me a good training in shooting and I can’t wait to test it. Until now, the wrongdoing otherkinds always cleanly did what I asked them to do.

‘Five seconds.’

‘Alright, alright, alright. I’ll take everything back.’

‘As soon as possible.’

He nods heavily. ‘As soon as possible.’

‘Remember that this is your only chance. The next…’

‘Yes, yes, the next time I’ll become devil hotchpotch.’

‘Without the sausage.’

‘Yeah yeah.’

‘And don’t even think about escaping. Wherever you’ll hide, we’ll find you.’

I put the blackjack in my inside pocket and run backwards to the front door with the pistol turned on him.

‘It will be checked tomorrow.’ With those last words I leave the house.

Outside I breathe in the clean air. Nah well, clean. But, compared to the sour odor in the devil’s house, even a dump smells fresh like mint. I put the pistol away and walk down the street.

Now I have to look for a nice café, I’m starving because of the adrenaline and excitement. Further on I see a snack bar in those typical bright colors and chrome from the sixties. A look at my watch tells me it’s eight in the morning. High time for breakfast.

I slip into a shady lane, look around carefully and transform to my usual looks, which takes only two seconds. A great disadvantage is connected to transforming. When I have my original shape back, I’m cold for at least an hour. This has to do with the energy I consume in such a short period.  But luckily it’s so hot outside I’m barely troubled by it.

 

The next morning I call Selena while I’m trying to hold a cab. I decide to go back to the same café as yesterday. They had fucking great hamburgers.

‘I’m ready and I’m going to that snack bar, right around the corner of that devil’s house. It’s called Shaken Burgers.’

‘I’ll be there in one hour.’

‘Don’t rush yourself, I’m hungry.’

I snap the mobile phone shut before she can make a comment on that. I prefer to take a cab to the airport. It’s just that I don’t know what to do with my weapons than. Jabar doesn’t like weapons staying behind in his house; there sure could be a robbery. I’m obliged to meet Selena again. The spot where my pistol hit my ribs by the agency of Selena, still feels black and blue and painful.

Hopefully those two hamburgers and the great portion of fries I’m planning to order will not only strengthen my body for a next confrontation with Selena.

 

 

4.

 

I’m just having my second hamburger and banana milkshake when Selena walks in with a haughty look. She doesn’t deign the men, who are gawking at her as if she’s the newborn Madonna, to look at her and heads straight towards me. Despite the oppressing temperature outside her body is fully covered by her stylish black pants and red silken blouse that is completely buttoned up. Nevertheless, she still looks breathtakingly sexy. I immediately feel like the ugly duckling next to this beautiful swan.

Vampires can walk outside in the daylight, but they get sunburned more easily than human beings so they have to protect themselves with a high sun protective factor oil, sunglasses and clothes.

She gets to stand next to me and looks disapprovingly at my plate on which the fries are barely noticeable by the amount of ketchup on them.

‘Are you ready? It smells in here.’

‘Yeah, sweet isn’t it? Oil and fries, the smell of nouvelle cuisine.’

I take the last bite out of the hamburger and at the same time stuff some fries into my mouth. I have to suppress a grin. Her disapproval couldn’t be greater.

‘How can you put that trash in your mouth and even do it in the morning. Haven’t you got any self-respect at all?’

I pretend to think about it and take some fries between my fingers as if I’m investigating them. Afterwards I put them in my mouth.

‘No, I haven’t. If I have to choose between respect and these tasty things, I’ve made my choice rapidly.’

I empty my milkshake cup, slurping loudly. Selena looks at me as if I’m a giant cockroach. Normally I don’t behave this coarsely, but she gets under my skin so much. Nah well, it’s still better than feeling her sharp teeth sinking into my neck, making some little holes in it and sucking my blood.

I wipe off my mouth using a paper napkin, put down the necessary dollars plus tip and hop off the bar stool.

‘Now I’m ready.’

She turns around with a tug in silence and I follow her in her tracks. The taxi stands outside with the engine running. Just like yesterday, I take a seat in the back. Without exchanging a word we drive out of the centre of New York.

It was only after we had reached the highway she opened her mouth. ‘The Glock and the blackjack?’

I get them out of my inside pockets with regret, shove them in the plastic bag that’s on the back seat and put them under the seat again.

‘How did it go?’

I get lost in amazement. What the hell is this? She wants to be social all of a sudden or what?

‘It went well,’ I answer. ‘According to plan.’

‘Than… what’s your boss’ name again? I cannot think of his name.’

‘Jabar?’

She nods. ‘Than Jabar will be satisfied.’

I find this sudden switch in behavior odd, but I don’t go into it. Vamps are quite curious creatures with bizarre mood swings.

‘Do you and Jabar do all the work by your own?’

Why do I get the feeling she’s interrogating me?

‘Didn’t you get that information from Ben?’ I answer, a bit suspicious now.

‘Erm… I haven’t been informed about everything yet. Haven’t got the time for it yet.’ She avoids my look and keeps her eyes straight on the road.

‘Than you’ll hear everything from Ben later on.’

‘Yes, of course. You’re right about that.’

I find she’s acting too nice, suspiciously nice. Does she want to seduce me all of a sudden? I can barely imagine that. Vamps especially love vamps. Has to do with blood exchange and stuff, I believe.

It’s quiet for a while, but I notice she sometimes looks furtive at me. I use the opportunity to call Tony. He grumbles about not having enough time to take his chance. I tell him chuckling that if he didn’t bring it off right now, it is a fight for a lost cause.

Thirty minutes later, right before we drive in the airport, Selena asks: ‘Where do you actually live in Belgium? With Jabar? Or do you live on your own? Maybe I can come over and visit you?’

Is she out of her fucking mind? I wouldn’t even let her come close.

‘Somewhere private and comfortable.’

She gets it she won’t get much more out of me and she keeps silent until she parks the cab. We don’t wish each other good-bye. Fine, it wouldn’t be sincere anyway.

 

It’s one a.m. when I get to my car on the parking lot of Ostend’s airport. A red, little Citroën that’s far beyond his glorious heydays. But it still drives and I’m pretty much attached to it.

 

I’m cold soon and the chilly temperature isn’t really helping. I cross my arms in front of my chest and walk on rapidly, longing for a warm bed. To my relief the car starts immediately. It wouldn’t be the first time the car would chuck it and I don’t want to give Jabar an excuse to badger. The past year he passionately tried to buy me a decent car. A Mercedes or Volkswagen. No thanks. Classy, expensive cars don’t fit my self-image, I think.

I immediately turn the heating up, but it takes a while before the engine is warmed up. To make the twenty minutes drive to home more pleasant, I turn on the radio. One of my favorite songs chases away my tiredness a little. Hooverphonic’s ‘Eden’. I join in the song and speed up to a fairly acceptable one hundred and thirty kilometers an hour.

Jabar wouldn’t thank me for the umpteenth penalty and I’ve already made too much a mess of it recently. That’s why I don’t mind driving during the night, although I’m not at all a night owl.

I turn off at Jabbeke and not that much later I run in the residential district I live in; Flamincka park.

It’s characterized by ginormic houses with gardens even city parks would be jealous of. Nothing different with the house of Jabar Tahon, my adoptive father.

As a foundling I could have been less fortunate. With the remote control I open one of the two wrought iron gates and drive up the long driveway. On the left of the driveway is a lake with a little isle in the middle of it and on the right is my favorite tree; the weeping willow.  I sit a lot under that tree when I worry or when I don’t feel well. The umbrella-like crown gives a protective feeling and I feel much better afterwards. A thought that cheers me up at that moment is for example: light blue skies and green crowns, there doesn’t have to be more to be happy. I don’t know what it means, it only gives me a good feeling, that’s all.

A few meters away from the weeping willow stands Jabar’s private helicopter.

This house was once the coach house where the further down castle’s horse carriages were accommodated. But, don’t get me wrong. After making it fit to live in you can, with its six bedrooms, four bathrooms, two living rooms and library, hardy call it a stable.

The lights are still on in the living room, which means Jabar waits for me. It doesn’t matter whether I already informed him about the hopefully successful outcome of the order and I’m already on my way home. Until I’m in my bed, his mind won’t be at rest.

A second button on the remote control opens the garage gate. I park the car and step out. Between the garage and the living room is the kitchen, equipped with oak-wooden cupboards and a round dining table in the middle.

I’m extremely thirsty and take a glass out of the cupboard. While I’m filling it with tap water Jabar enters.

He’s taller than me, about twenty centimeters and has an outlook that immediately forces you to respect. Black hair at a shoulder length, which he wears as long as I know in a tail. His clothing style is sober but classy; a simple jeans and plain shirt, tonight in hard pink. He’s an elf and one hundred and fifty years old or fifty in person-years. His ancestors originate from an Asian country, which is reflected in his slanting, dark eyes and cream-colored skin.

Jabar has a lot of patience, tons more than I have. It seems as if he’s standing there, being relaxed with his hands in his pockets, leaning against the doorpost, but I know he’s burning with curiosity. That last one is a feature that, according to Diedie, all elves have. I turn towards him and take a sip of the water.

‘Everything went well,’ I say.

‘No witnesses?’

‘No. Luckily he was at home.’

‘Great.’

I hop on the counter and let my legs dangle. ‘He did it to get money in order to buy drugs.’

Emotions can’t be read easily on his face, but I know him. The raising of one eyebrow shows he’s impressed by this announcement.

‘Drugs?’

‘Yep.’ I empty the glass and put it in the sink. ‘I believe he got the message. He’s taking the money back.’

‘Good.’

‘It would be easier if we could just send the police to types like this.’

‘Easier, yes.’

‘I know. The risk that a gift is discovered is greater when an otherkind is interrogated by the police or when he ends up in jail.’

‘Exactly.’

This is the way most of our conversations go. I look like a goddamn chatterer in his presence.

‘Are you tired?’ Jabar asks.

I shrug my shoulders. ‘The ride home wakened me.’

I heave a deep sigh.

‘It’s your own choice, Manon,’ he says in a soft tone.

Yeah yeah, I know. I’m stupid and stubborn. According to Jabar, I don’t need to work because I work for him. But I don’t see the rapping on otherkind’s knuckles as a fully-fledged job. Above that, how do I have to explain it to others?  Oh, yes, I certainly work, but it’s a secret job?

I let myself down from the counter. ‘I have to make some money somehow, don’t I?’ It came out harsher than I wanted to.

‘I can pay you for your orders,’ Jabar proposes.

‘I want to have a real job too,’ I say sharply. ‘A job I can talk about with others.’

‘Okay.’

I walk past him into the living room and flop down on the blue, leather Chesterfield. The hearth is still smoldering and the warmth gives me a sluggish feeling. Jabar takes a seat in the armchair.

The living room is as big as a two-room flat. In it stands a three-meter long antique dining table with chairs around it of which the leather shows some old-age cracks. Further on a shiny black grand piano on which I desperately try to play. To Jabar’s displeasure I don’t get a lot of decent tones out of it, despite the amount of private lessons I got raised with. On one side of the living room, which is at least five meters high, are three big dome-shaped windows with heavy, dark red curtains that overlook a part of the garden where the helicopter, a Robinson R22 and a giant statue of Miguel Ortiz Berrocal are located. The statue is my favorite work of Berrocal. On the other side of the living room are French windows that overlook the remaining part of the immense garden. Everywhere are expensive oil paintings of old Flemish and Dutch masters. At a door, which leads to the attic, stands a two-meter high old painter’s easel on which still one of my final examination works for the art academy is displayed. An oil painting of a naked female model.

‘Nightcap?’ Jabar asks.

I shake my head.

‘How was Tony?’

I smile. ‘In my opinion he thought that New York’s women were too self-willed.’

‘Every woman that says ‘no’ to him is too self-willed.’ Jabar's corners of his mouth slightly rise up, his way of laughing.

That brings me to the following.

‘I don’t find the new contact person in New York, Selena, easy to get on with.’

Jabar keeps staring at me for a while and I just want to repeat it, thinking he didn’t understand it well, when I notice a green haze in his eyes.

‘What new contact person?’ he asks.

I suddenly turn ice cold. ‘Selena? A vamp?’

‘This is serious.’

‘What’s serious?’ My voice rises.

Jabar stares into the little flames and over his otherwise so serene face now hovers a dark glow. ‘There isn’t a new contact person.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.

 

The coach house’s attic covers the entire upper floor and is so spacious you can at ease accommodate two families in it. Jabar had other plans with it.

In one half of the room are three computers, a ping-pong table and an original Wurlitzer jukebox. Diedie namely adores playing ping-pong, she thinks it lets her muscles work after hours of being behind the computer screen.

The Wurlitzer is my toy. It’s full of original singles. Music from the sixties until the nineties; pop, rock, classic, reggae, all kinds of genres mixed together. It took me several days to label the singles and to make labels that matched the position of the single.

On one wall are built-in cupboards that are crammed with books, comic books and records. For some extra atmosphere, I’ve put several plants there that don’t need much sunlight, since there are only two attic windows at this floor.

In the other half of the attic I get fight training and a punching bag hangs to the ceiling over there. Several ‘weapons’ are hanging on one half of the wall, from long sticks that have to represent swords up to short ones for the practice in the disarming of pistols. On the walls are still posters from my teenage years of the Spice Girls displayed. I urgently need to remove them. There are also two attic windows in here and further on the room is empty.

Next to that there are still two rooms at the attic floor of which Diedie uses one and which is spacious enough for a bedroom and living room in one. Following on she has her own bathroom.

A stair down eventually brings you to the meditation room.

Jabar immediately takes place behind a computer and contacts Ben, his connection in New York. I come to stand behind him and follow his ticking on the keyboard. God, I could kill myself for being so stupid!

‘I’m sorry Jabar,’ I start to apologize. ‘She said Ben retired and she was the new contact person.’

Jabar waves his hand, but keeps looking at the screen. ‘You couldn’t have known.’

‘I should have been more suspicious. Sometimes I’m so stupidly naïve and credulous!’

‘You’re still young. You’ll eventually learn.’

Ben appears on the screen. I’ve only met him once before and still it’s clear something is going on. He rubs with his one hand over his head, as if there’s a bump and pulls painful faces.

‘Jabar,’ he says. ‘Something happened to me.’

‘I was suspecting that already,’ Jabar says. ‘Are you alright?’

‘It isn’t something I won’t survive, but I think I better go and see a doctor. The smack on my head was a heavy blow and with a stump object. She also doped me. I’m only awake for fifteen minutes and I’m starving. I’ve been off the world for almost two goddamn days!’

Ben is a devil with high blond hair and a nearly invisible moustache. His face looks like a map consisting of wrinkles of which ravines even could be jealous.

‘Did you see who it was?’

‘A female piece with brown hair. I suspect she’s a vampire, because she was quite strong.’

Jabar nods. ‘Could be right. Manon has met her. She pretended to be the new contact person for New York.’

‘Shit. Unbelievable. Is Manon alright?’

I come in front of the webcam and wave. ‘Except for my ego, I’m okay.’

‘Luckily,’ sighs Ben. ‘She has hacked into my computer and read our messages to each other. That’s why she knew where, when and who would appear in New York.’

‘I wonder why. She didn’t harm Manon and properly dropped her at the devil’s house and brought her back to the airport.’

‘She even knew my favorite weapons where a Glock 17 and a blackjack,’ I add.

‘It’s strange at least,’ Ben endorses. He takes an aspirin in his mouth and swallows it through with water. ‘The entire fuss eventually didn’t bear fruit for her.’

‘Not that I know, no.’

‘So she isn’t out to catch me?’ I ask.

‘Maybe,’ Ben answers. ‘Not at first sight, but who knows.’

‘How could she know Manon would go to New York, anyway?’ Jabar thinks.

I can see at the frown on his forehead he’s tormenting his brains. It’s a strange situation, I can’t make head nor tail of it either.

‘Maybe we’re dealing with a hacker that keeps an eye on your computer,’ Ben proposes. ‘Let Diedie have a look at it.’

‘I will. Ben?’

‘Yes.’

‘You know what this means?’

‘Yes. There’s a traitor among us.’

There aren’t many otherkinds well-informed on our activities. Diedie, Jabar, Oded, Tony and me in Belgium and further on one contact person in the big or most populated cities. Jabar knows them all and I know he considers it to be impossible that there’s a traitor among us. He has screened them elaborately one by one, analyzed their personality and past with chirurgical precision. Above that, they’re royally awarded and that only to keep an eye on newspaper reports and gossip in the country, looking for indications whether an otherkind speaks beyond his book. When I put in at their country, they drive me around and provide me with the necessary weapons. That’s all they normally have to do.

‘Be careful,’ Jabar says to Ben.

‘You too. Meanwhile, I’ll keep an eye on everything. Did it work out with that devil, Manon?’

‘Yes, it went fine. You have to check whether he indeed brought the money back tomorrow.’

‘I’ll take care of that. I’ll let you know.’

Suddenly I hit upon something again.

‘I got the impression that Selena, that vamp, was interrogating me. I called your name, Jabar.’

Jabar looks up at me, luckily not offended. ‘Don’t worry about it, Manon, we’ll take care of it. Still said something else?’

I bite my lower lip and shake my head.

‘Manon?’

‘No, certainly not.’

‘Good.’

For centuries Jabar’s family has kept watch over the possibility for otherkinds to secretly live among the human beings. Passed on from parent to child. Why exactly Jabar’s family is also a mystery to him. He assumes his ancestors once pledged themselves to undertake that task because they have always been rich, powerful and influential.  When Jabar finally considered me ready for the task, after many years of training, he left the active part to me.

And now I, a stupid girl that isn’t even a relative of Jabar’s family line, may be responsible for the fact that everything comes to light. I’ll never forgive myself if everything gets out of hand.

Jabar sees my tormented look and softly lays his hand on my arm. ‘Manon, we’ll solve this. Really.’

He looks at me so confidently I just have to believe him. But it costs me a lot of effort.

‘Yes,’ I eventually say.

‘It could have happened to anyone of us, Manon, anyone of us,’ adds Ben and winks.

‘Ben, you need to move as soon as you can. And Manon?’

‘Yes?’

‘Change your number tomorrow.’

‘Okay’.

‘Than I’ll go and see a doctor and devour ten hamburgers,’ Ben says. ‘My head is about to explode. See you tomorrow.’

We shut down the computer.

‘Are you alright?’ Jabar asks.

I nod. ‘Would you blame me if I fucked everything up?’

‘Have I ever blamed you?’

‘Well.’ I pull a face. ‘Do you remember when I was five years old and we went to the children’s farm? You didn’t like it that much when I plucked all of your vegetables without telling you and above all gave them to the goats.’

Jabar smiles. ‘But was I angry?’

‘You can never tell whether you’re angry or not,’ I say chuckling. ‘But I didn’t get an ice cream that day and that said enough.’

‘If something goes wrong and you, unjustly, want to take the blame , you can as far as I’m concerned punish yourself by not eating an ice cream.’

‘Hm, ice creams don’t mean much to me anymore.’

‘No chocolate for an entire week than,’ he says in a seemingly severe tone.

‘Heh no. I won’t.’

‘I’ll never blame you, Manon, let that be clear.’ I can hear he’s being honest.

‘Let’s go to bed.’ Jabar stands up. ‘I’ll let Diedie take a look at the computers as soon as possible and maybe there’s even nothing wrong.’

I nod and kiss him goodnight. With my shoulders hanging down I slink off to my bedroom. I already know it’s going to be a restless night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.

 

The next morning I absolutely don’t feel like going to the pub I work for. But if I want to hold up a somewhat normal life, I’ll have to. Last night was a hell in which feelings of guilt were thrown at me in extreme waves and I cursed myself so many times I can thank my lucky stars when I’ll ever end up in heaven. Not that I’m a believer, but well, you never know.

I take a quick, cold shower and put on a comfortable jeans and white blouse with trimmings. With a little bit of mascara and lip gloss I’m ready for the day.  Too bad I have to leave my weapons at home. I grew up with my weapons and learned to shoot when I was eleven years old, so not surprisingly I feel so much better when I have them with me.

I stroll to the kitchen in which the lovely smell of coffee meets my way.

Diedie, as usual in a simple stretch pants and summery shirt, stands whistling at the cook stove, baking eggs.

‘Good morning,’ I mumble and take a seat on the kitchen chair.

Diedie turns around and looks at me with a smile covering her entire face. ‘Good morning sunshine. Coffee?’

‘At least half a liter,’ I moan. I put my head on my arms on the table.

‘I’ve checked the computers,’ she says.

‘And?’

‘Nothing’s wrong. Not a single trace of hackers.’

The full cup is put in front of me. Slowly I tilt my head and take a sip.

‘Are you really sure about that?’

‘Pumpkin, I know computers just as well as I know magic.’

That’s true. Not only is Diedie a wonderful housekeeper and a powerful witch, but above that she’s also a marvelous computer expert. If those things, of which I don’t get much, would be living creatures, Diedie would certainly marry one.

‘I’ve been so stupid,’ I say pouting.

‘You learn from your mistakes. That’s the way life goes.’ Diedie turns to the cook stove and sprinkles some pepper on the omelets.

‘Where’s Jabar?’

‘In the herb garden, as usual. He can think about things best out there.’

Diedie takes a plate from the cupboard and shoves the omelet on it she puts in front of my nose.

‘Eat,’ she orders. ‘You still have to work for an entire day and I don’t think you’ve slept that much tonight.’

She also lays two toasts on my plate.

‘Is it that clear?’ I ask.

‘Darling, I’ve known you since you were dropped in front of the door. I know every trifling change in your condition like the back of my hand.’

‘Can’t you cast one or another magic spell on me so the tiredness disappears?’ I heave a deep sigh, because I already know the answer.

‘No, sweetie, I won’t and you know that. Witches only use their magic when it’s uttermost necessary. Like Chaucer said: ‘It is not good a sleeping hound to wake’.’

‘No, only making me to wake up is enough already.’ I grin.

‘Just eat your omelet.’ She starts emptying the dishwasher.

I obey and take a bite from the delicious omelet with coriander and chopped onions. Diedie is a real mother hen. Not only in her behavior but it also seems to be in her outlook. She has a little, plump figure, ginger hair and a round, ruddy face that still looks smooth and youthful despite her age of sixty-five.

Without a decent breakfast that I have to eat entirely she won’t let me go. Believe me, she can stop me without touching me, only by using words. I’m defenseless against it, even with an elaborated practical experience in defense and martial arts.

When my plate is empty, she comes to take it away and kisses me on my crown.

‘Jabar really isn’t angry at you. He understands you’re still a beginner and still have a lot to learn.’

Autch. Sweet of her, but on the other hand I feel so immensely small hearing it. It wasn’t my first order and I goddamn thought I could really deal with it without making mistakes.

‘Thanks, Diedie.’

‘You’re welcome love. By the way, the spell that protected your brains against telepathy and manipulation has been removed.’

‘As far as I’m concerned, it could have stayed. It worked splendid.’

‘Of course it worked splendid, but it’s never a good thing to keep walking around too long with magic inside of your body, honey.’

‘I could have known.’

‘Something that shouldn’t be inside of your body, always has its consequences.’

‘Will I than get a third eye all of a sudden?’

Diedie first looks shocked and than chuckles. ‘Silly. But it may be the case you’ll have to go to the toilet the entire day.’

Now it’s my time to look shocked.

‘Just kidding,’ she says with a wink. ‘If you can do it, I can too.’

‘Ha ha ha.’

‘The fact you’re so tired is probably the result of the magic.’

‘Pfuh, that’s everything? How long does it last?’

She shrugs her shoulders. ‘At the most one day.’

‘Okay, so be it. You made a delicious omelet, Diedie.’

She beams with pride, as always when someone praises her cooking skills.

‘My program will start in a minute.’ She puts the last dirty plate in the dishwasher and snaps it shut. ‘See you this evening.’

Diedie and her endless soap series. At this moment she’s totally hooked up on ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’. I think it’s just a dense and boring business, but she loves it and seldom


© Copyright 2017 melhartman. All rights reserved.

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