“This way.” I stated as I started walking. Jemal was almost to us.
“James! Maple! Sorry to keep you waiting.” he apologized as he jogged over to us, now wearing nice slacks and a polo.
“James was just telling me that I might be fired if I ever take so long getting to a job.” replied Maple with a serious tone and impish grin.
Jemal stared between us, looking shocked, not catching her grin as he walked behind us. His eyes suddenly locked on me as he said, “You did!?”
Maple, Mila, and I laughed.
“You worry too much, my friend.” I assured him. I gently patted Maple’s shoulder and told him “You might have to watch out for this one.”
“Sorry. You looked so serious, I just couldn’t help myself.” insisted Maple as she looked back at him. “I really didn’t mean anything by it.”
Jemal brushed away her concern and told her “Don’t worry about it. Nice joke.” He still looked nervous, fidgeting a little.
My little fairy friend left her perch on my shoulder and started flying around Jemal’s head. She seem to be trying to comfort him, showing him images of the peaceful forest.
As we reached the main building, I said, “All of the rooms on the first floor are for employee use. Feel free to use them as you wish. Mila can inform you if someone else has already booked one. The theater isn’t easy to find, but we do have one. The ballroom has become a bit of a hangout area, since it happens to host an elaborate computer system, utilizing the large mirrors of the ballroom as screens for gaming.”
Nodding, Maple replied “That’s where your daughter, Danni, is.”
“How do you know that?” asked Jemal. “Oh, right. You were there when I asked about my sister. Sorry. Your umm… ability… It’s a little unnerving to think about. I’ve really only seen psychics in horror movies.”
Maple laughed and asked “Think I’m an omen of death?”
Cosette, who had been sneaking up behind Jemal, snarled, growing a foot and elongating her fangs. Jemal jumped into the wall behind him with enough force to crack the wood. Maple looked behind her, let out a short scream and started to run. I gently grabbed her before she got too far.
Cosette, resuming her normal form, laughed and said, “You two should have seen your faces. Mila, can we get a replay!?”
“Of course.” replied Mila, showing a recording on the nearest mirror. She had obviously edited the footage already, zooming in on faces.
“H-how did you do that!?” exclaimed Maple, still catching her breath.
Still laughing, Cosette rapidly stepped closer and said, “I’m a vampire!”
“She’s actually not joking this time.” I explained, feeling Maple wasn’t likely to believe her.
Surprisingly, Maple simply nodded. “I may have seen your kind before.”
“Neat! What happened?” inquired Cosette, still grinning.
“Nothing really. I touched a railing one night, and I saw someone leap off it impossibly far.” she explained.
Cosette frowned, looking disappointed. “That could have been a number of things. Whatever it was, it shouldn’t have done that in front of you.”
“It didn’t. I was seeing the past.”
“Really?” asked Cosette. “I didn’t know that was possible.”
“Maple has uncommon magic, allowing her to see what transpired around anything she touches.” I explained.
“Even people?” questioned Cosette as she eyed Maple.
Maple nodded. “Even people.”
“Remind me not to hug you after taking a bath.” stated Cosette.
“I thought vampires didn’t like water.” stated Jemal.
“If one was low enough on energy and tried transforming in turbulent water, the vampire might fall apart. My father told me to always eat within one hour of swimming, but I enjoy a good swim.” explained Cosette with a smile.
“As much as your hard work is appreciated, maybe you should spend a little more time.socializing.” I suggested. Turning to Maple, I said, “If he keeps up as he has been, you’ll never know when he’s around.”
Maple frowned and said, “That’d be a shame. I’d like to get to know everyone. You all seem so happy and genuine.”
“Does that mean I can snack on you?” inquired Cosette, looking perfectly serious.
“Is it dangerous?” asked Maple with a look of concern.
“Very.” insisted Cosette as she nodded. “If you taste too good, I might gobble you up.”
“Portentia provides Cosette with her meals, so you really don’t have to worry about Cosette getting hungry.” I informed Maple.
“James!” complained Cosette, pouting at me.
“Do you really not need much? Stories always talk about a vampire draining a person dry.” stated Maple.
“Portentia’s blood is special, and she never runs out.” replied Cosette with a grin that would leave anyone in doubt.
Not wanting Maple to feel confused, I quickly said, “She’s being serious again. Portentia is one of the immortals I told you about. She’s been injured in more ways than anyone else I know and still regenerates perfectly.”
“Do people typically get injured around you often?” asked Maple with a hint of concern.
“No, but I’ve been unfortunate enough to see a great number of injuries.” I replied frankly. Over the course of my honeymoon, I saw far, far too many injuries. “Just from what I’ve heard, Portentia has been stabbed, shot, blown up, and poisoned multiple times each. I once even witnessed her head being blasted away by a spell. I can’t say Portentia even looked annoyed by it. Her head and hair were back instantaneously.”
“Okay, I’m really getting the idea why no one is shocked by my ability.” stated Maple.
“Yeah. I didn’t know about Portentia losing her head. That’s just crazy.” stated Jemal.
Cosette lifted her head from her body and used her hands to make it nod. Jemal stared at her wide-eyed. Maple wasn’t faring any better.
After reattaching her head, Cosette calmly looked at them and asked “What?” She grinned when she caught my smirk. “James gets it! It’s funny!”
“Just don’t do that around Kayla. She’ll either freak out or want to try it.” insisted Jemal.
“Kayla and I get along splendidly! You’re the one who avoids everyone.”
Jemal nervously replied “I don’t avoid anyone. I just stay busy.”
“She knows.” I assured him. “Dejon is the one who often avoids people. Where is he, by the way?”
“Two doors down on the left, master.” replied Mila as she started walking that way.
“Come along.” I ordered. “Might as well introduce you while he’s nearby.”
The door to the library opened at our approach, and Dejon looked up front his book. He quickly stood and said, “Hi. Is something wrong?”
“No. I simply wanted to introduce you to Maple.” I assured him. Then, motioning to Maple, I said, “Maple Apple Wood, this is Dejon Christopher Powers. He can affect the mind of most anyone who meets his gaze. Maple here can learn the history of anyone or anything she touches.”
“Wow. That’d be useful.” insisted Dejon.
“So is mental manipulation.” agreed Maple.
I felt Jemal’s magic as he made a book float over to him.
“My magic isn’t bad for day-to-day stuff.” he asserted, flipping through a couple of pages before sending the book back to the shelf.
Dejon nodded and said, “True.”
“Glad to see you’ve been practicing.” I added with a smile.
“He discourages me from practicing.” flatly announced Dejon.
Surprisingly, he was making a joke.
Still, I said, “Well, you affect others a bit much with yours.”
“Are none of you going to say anything about Maple Apple Wood? Emma will make a forest out of her!” exclaimed Cosette with a grin.
“No one made any jokes about a Bourbon with a great thirst when you arrived, so I imagine not.” I teased.
“That’s not bad.” replied Cosette with an amused nod.
I smiled and winked, glad everyone was getting along.