Sunday, 19 May 2019, Afternoon
Paxwood, Whatcom County, Washington, USA
Eyewitness: Kerry

“So, magic is real.”

I’d barely uttered these four words when two things happened.

First, the animated glass cat figurine found the edge of the antique store countertop and leaped to the far distant ground.

Second, the shop door chimed, signaling a customer.

With wide eyes, I dove like an outfield baseball player going for the game-winning catch, hands outstretched in a soft bowl for the fragile cat to land in. Even though I caught it, the cat was dead set on escaping. It hopped again, sparkling in the air before it landed with the softest sound of a tinkling bell and stalked further off into the shop.

I wanted to scramble after it, but Sly’s voice snapped my attention toward the door.

“Oh, hello, Mr. Hugh.” Sly used her customer service tone, formal, crisp, polite. “What brings you in today? A little antiquing while you’re in town for all that Silphium business?”

I dusted myself off and got to my feet, trying for ease. Anyone could randomly crouch on the floor of an antique shop, right? It wasn’t any more unusual than a vampire lawyer.

But said pale vampire lawyer threw a disdainful glower at me before flashing his pearly white smile to Sly.

“Tricia mentioned something about items that once belonged to John Paxwood’s family floating around some of the stores in town, so I’m doing the rounds. My employers would be interested in reuniting those items with the house if things go the way we expect at the next city council meeting.”

My heart raced as Mr. Hugh approached the counter, an arm’s length away from me. Especially now that I knew about the reality of magic, I did not want to be this close to a vampire. I had no clue what parts of my research were accurate, and I had no desire to become the next teen vampire romance novel protagonist.

What if he had the ability to read minds?

What if he was reading my mind, right at that very moment?

But if he was, he wasn’t reacting to me. His attention was on Sly.

The glass cat was getting away. I had to trust Sly.

“I’m… going to go explore?” I didn’t mean it to come out sounding like a question. But Sly nodded to me, at least.

I tried to tail the animated figurine—difficult, and made more challenging because I also pulled out my phone to send a text to Mx. Cardoso.

Kerry: SOS. Animated glass cat. Vampire. Tristan’s Antiques on Main.

Relief, when a reply came almost instantly.

Mx. Cardoso: omw

Now wasn’t the time to doubt that this was Mx. Cardoso. I was so used to teachers using formal messages and disparaging abbreviations. Even though I wanted Mx. Cardoso to be on his way, I hadn’t expected an omw.

While I waited for him, I had to…


What could I do?

Not control the vampire. He had a high-profile job as a lawyer, plus who knew what supernatural abilities.

But finding the magical treasure and keeping it from his nefarious hands was in my power.

I was a panicked teenager in a world I didn’t fully understand operating on instinct and altogether too many fictional stories, and the vampire’s coincidental arrival right when the glass cat came to life felt too significant.

I turned on my cell phone light and flashed it around the shelves. The glass would glint, making the cat more apparent.

Sly winced, but she kept the vampire lawyer’s attention. “Actually, this.” She gestured to the box with the open hidden compartment sitting in front of her, launching into the same story she’d told me.

A familiar story. I leaned on it to catch my breath. Stories had their own magic, and even when Sly was in customer service mode, her storyteller’s voice resonated.

My mother claimed that deep breaths tricked your brain into thinking everything was all right. Short, fast breaths were for flight or fight. Thinkers in their element breathed deeply.

Porcelain and glass glinted from the shelves all around me, so the light didn’t help as much as I’d hoped.

“Interesting,” Mr. Hugh said as Sly finished the story. “So you and your friend were just looking at this box, right now, when you found its false bottom. Was there anything inside? Anything to prove it belonged to Florence?”

Sly turned the false bottom panel in her hands, and then her eyes widened. “Well, that would do it, I think.”

What new twist had I missed?

No. I pressed my lips together. I needed to focus on the story I was already tracking, the glass cat, now animated and strolling through the shop.

What did I know about cats?

I’d never owned one, but there were plenty of fictional cats out there to use as reference points. They liked fish, milk, lasagna, basking in sunlight…


I turned toward the front, where the ground to ceiling display windows let in the natural late spring sunlight. A tiered open cabinet of fine antique china edged in gold glimmered.

Were vampires like the tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park, predators attracted by movement?

In case they were, I idled, perusing shelves, moving until I stood framed by sunlight.

And, sure enough, there was the glass cat. It lay on a fine dinner plate, crystalline prism body casting a rainbow shadow, tail idly curling back and forth. If it noticed me at all, it didn’t deem me worthy of attention.

“I’ll pay well above asking price, with this discovery in mind, “Mr. Hugh was saying. I glanced toward the counter and saw him withdrawing multiple bills. Although I was too far away to be certain, based only on Sly’s reaction, those weren’t Washingtons and Lincolns.

“I… think this needs to be re-evaluated before sale.” Her voice wavered.

I couldn’t lose the cat. I didn’t want to let the vampire know about it, either.

A lovely soup bowl sat on a tier above the plate with the basking glass cat. I took a steadying breath, imagined the movement, and sprang. Fluidly, I swept up the bowl, flipped it over, and brought it down over the plate.

The clank drew Mr. Hugh and Sly’s attention, but no damage was done. I’d captured and concealed the glass cat.

“Sorry!” I pulled the plate and upside-down bowl toward my chest. “These are for sale, right? I think my mom would like them, and her birthday’s coming up.”

“Oh, sure, bring them over.” Sly looked over at Mr. Hugh again, uncertain.

He flashed his extraordinarily normal pearly whites at her. “You can take this as a down payment. If Tristan feels it is worth more, I’ll provide a second, also in cash.”

The glass cat clink-clanked inside the bowl, hidden from view but hissing and scratching in objection against its current state of imprisonment. I didn’t need to check my hands to know I had a firm grasp, so I had my total attention on the interaction at the counter.

Sly’s eyes lost focus, her lips curving slightly. She looked like someone who was daydreaming about a crush, and it didn’t suit her face at all—at least, not what I knew about her.

Sly shook her head and smoothed her expression, but she couldn’t hide the rosiness of her cheeks.

“Right, here, if you’ll give me your phone number…” She produced a notepad and pushed it toward Mr. Hugh, then took the cash in front of her to put it into the register. By the time she’d finished the routine process, he returned the pad. She flushed again.

I returned to the counter. I looked down at the hidden compartment, and now that the cat was out of the way, I saw the inscription:

“A treasure for my dear Marjorie. May it bring you joy each time you uncover it.”

“I’ll wrap this all up in some packing paper for you, and you’re good to go.” Sly didn’t just sound like she was in customer service mode. She sounded downright bubbly. That wasn’t right, not at all.

Mr. Hugh had done something to her.

I carefully avoided even looking at him again. He thanked Sly and waited as she restored the hidden compartment to its place, then wrapped the whole box up and passed it over to him.

I kept my hands clasped together tightly over the bowl. If he noticed me and the glass cat, he might hit me with whatever charm he’d used on Sly, so he’d have two brides of Dracula following him around. At least the cat seemed to be still now.

The vampire lawyer paused only long enough at the door to hold it open for Mx. Cardoso. They locked eyes, and Mr. Hugh’s demeanor went icy cold, but they didn’t actually speak to each other. Only that brief, stiff courtesy.

Mr. Hugh left.

Mx. Cardoso stayed in the doorway for a moment, watching him go.

Then Mx. Cardoso turned toward me and Sly.

“All right. What happened?”

15: So Magic Is Real

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