Resting on the concrete rails that flanked the stairs leading up to the main building, Samuel found Belle with her two cohorts, talking animatedly. Pulsing his eyes with Mage Sight, Samuel could see the glittering golden orb resting at the bottom of her backpack, nestled between a math book and a sweater. Heaving a sigh, and asking himself what Descartes would do, he approached the teens with his usual dour demeanor.
“And here he is!” Belle said, turning and throwing her arms around Samuel in a tight hug.
“Um, yeah. Here I am. You ready to go, or…?” Samuel asked, looking at her oddly.
She smiled back sweetly, taking one of his bony hands in hers, linking their fingers before turning to her friends. “Susan, you keep yours in line and I’ll see you tomorrow, alright? Bye Robert!”
Robert grunted from his place leaning against the cement wall/banister, nodding his head once. Susan just looked on with a smile and nodded. “Don’t do anything I would do!” She said with a wink.
“That doesn’t leave much to do then does it?” Belle said, shooting Susan an amused glare. Turning to look at a confused Samuel, she swung their joined hands back and forth playfully. “So let’s see this hearse of yours Romeo.”
“Confusion, now hath made his masterpiece…” Samuel muttered as they walked away, earning looks from several students who began whispering as they passed. Samuel couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he recognized the looks of confusion, and even worse, understanding that were being shot in his direction. The bubbly Goth girl was yammering away about her classes, telling him about how much she was looking forward to Chemistry (he had the sense of mind to give her half his attention) when he saw them again.
Circling high in the sky, still over that shed, were four Cloakers, these ones much smaller than the behemoth one Samuel had landed with his magics. An intact and bound Cloaker like that could easily fetch up to four hundred dollars at auction, and seeing as he had a new Witch on his arm in need of supplies and a Grimoire, that money would be put to good use. Apparently, from what Samuel had deduced, she’d explained that they were now dating. A reasonable cover story with how much time they would have to spend together, but not something he liked as it meant he would have to put up with the presence of another human being for prolonged periods of time.
But who knows? Maybe she’ll be like Mia and be intelligent underneath all the fluff. He thought as he led her to his hearse.
“You weren’t joking about the hearse thing!” She gasped, looking at the old Ford in admiration. “Did this thing ever carry any dead bodies?”
Thinking of the times he’d hauled Ghouls and zombies in the back, he merely nodded.
“That is so cool!” She gushed, running her hands over the glass.
He unlocked her side of the car before making his way to the driver’s side, where he got in, tossing his satchel in the back. He nodded for Belle to do the same.
“We’re going to go shopping today to outfit you with everything you’ll need, and to sell the Cloaker I caught at auction,” Samuel said, buckling his seat belt.
“You’re going to sell it? Why not just destroy it?” Belle asked, looking at him curiously.
“Well that is its ultimate fate, but you see all spectral, and most physical, supernatural entities are made up of ectoplasm. It’s sort of like slime that’s charged with magic. Anyway, Wizards and Witch’s love this stuff as it lets them power their spells and continue with their research. You’ll find with half of the potions you’ll begin brewing, you’ll need ectoplasm.”
“And you don’t need any?”
Samuel shook his head. “While I can, I don’t really create new spells, nor do I do much brewing. I have some ectoplasm in the fridge just in case I need anything, but other than that I tend to shy away from it.”
“Because some wizards drink the stuff straight and get addicted. They become something else entirely devoid of humanity after a time.”
“Oh,” she said. “So what do your parents think about all of this?”
“My parents work for an airline company, and spend most of the year flying around the world. They pay for the house, the electricity, and water, but I pay for anything else.” Samuel said, turning on the car. He leaned over and smiled at her. “It’s a pretty sweet deal, truth be told.”
“So you’re going to buy all of my stuff for me?” She asked, sounding somewhat unsure. “I kind of had the vibe you didn’t like me.”
Samuel shrugged, pulling out of the parking spot. “I’m not a fan of people in general, but you’re willing to talk to me like I’m a normal human being and not some hideous freak.”
“That’s because you’re not,” she said, looking out her window. “A hideous freak, that is.”
“I’m not winning any beauty pageants,” he said with a chuckle.
“So you’re not some action movie star? Who cares? You’re generous, kind and obviously intelligent.”
“I get the generous, kind of see the kind, but where are you getting the intelligent?” He asked, turning out onto the main road with a sharp twist. “Not that I’m insulted, just curious.”
“The book you were reading at lunch was in French. You’re at the very least bilingual. Whatever you called out at the Cloak-thing wasn’t French or English, so you know three languages.” She counted off on her fingers, looking at him with her dark lined eyes. “So that should cover the intelligent.”
“And you’re impatient, curious and smart,” Samuel said in response, crossing two lanes of traffic to make an entrance to his road.
“And how do you know that?” She asked, leaning forward, clasping her hands together near her feet.
Spinning the wheel to enter Lincoln Park, Samuel just smiled. “A good Warlock never reveals his secrets.”
“Aww… c’mon, tell me!” She said, tugging at his arm while it was on the wheel.
“Nope,” he said.
“Please?” She pouted, staring at him with her large watery eyes.
He’d long since grown immune to such charms from Mia and Imogen. “This just proves my point about the curious and impatient part of you.”
“Well, how do you know I’m smart?” She asked, looking at him with a smile as he parked the car in the driveway.
He killed the engine before turning to her. “You followed me home. Means you’re either dumb, know self-defense or are smart. And no, I’m not telling you how I figured any of that out.”
“Well, what are you going to tell people when they ask you about us? Are you going to say I’m your girlfriend?” She said, stringing the words along playfully.
“I already have two overbearing women in my life, what harm could a third bring?” He said as he got out of the car, pulling his satchel along with him.
“What?” She said to an empty car before getting out. “What other women in your life?”
“You’ll see…” He said with a sigh, walking up to the front door to unlock it. “One of them should be awake by now…”
Reaching out with his empathetic link to Imogen, he sensed aggression and frustration, as well as giddiness. Turning to Belle as she approached he gave a half smile. “One of them is playing World of Warcraft right now, so we’ll have to give her time to get done with whatever it is she’s doing.”
“Is she your little sister or something?”
Opening the door, Samuel stepped inside and walked into the den, where he plopped down onto a chair and began taking off his boots. “Something like that. Come on in, but take off your shoes; I don’t like messes.”
“Oh,” Belle chirped, looking down at her own laced up boots. She tossed her backpack down next to the coat stand before taking off her hoodie and loosening her tie even further, leaving her in her sleeveless Catholic school girl outfit. She perched on the arm of a chair and began undoing the laces of her boots, just loose enough to slide out her dainty legs, wrapped in calf high Batman socks. Tugging at her purple locks, Belle stared at Samuel as he slowly undid his boots, taking one off only after undoing the entire lacing.
“Oh my god, you take forever!” She whined, sliding down into her chair across from him. Planting her legs over the arm of the couch, she kicked her feet back and forth as she waited for Samuel to finish his second boot.
“And you hurry through things. If you carry this over into your studies at school you must either be a genius or a C student.” Samuel said, wryly grinning at her.
“Hey, I make all A’s and B’s buster!” She said, shooting him an evil glare. “School is where I shine true.”
“Maybe you should have been a Wizard then… ah well, too late for that now.” Samuel said, still unlacing his boot.
“What, Wizards study a lot?” She asked, sounding interested again.
“They don’t really have a fully formed magical core, just enough of one to manipulate forces. They take ectoplasm and shape it into spells, or draw raw magical energy from the air if a lot of magic is prevalent.”
“Sounds like they’re pretty weak then,” she evaluated, leaning over the armchair’s end.
“Quite the contrary, a Wizard is one of the few that can create long-lasting magical items. They can enchant knives to be sharper or to never grow dull, and it’ll stay so for over fifty years. If a Warlock did the same thing it would last days.”
“So you don’t do much enchanting then?” She smiled at him in a teasing manner.
He grew quiet at the thought, merely waving a hand to magically unlace the rest of his boot. He grabbed both pieces of footwear and walked over to the entrance, dropping his boots down to the ground. “I can sense that Imogen is done with her game and will be coming down in a moment. Are you really religious?”
“No, well I am Catholic, but only on Christmas and Easter,” Belle replied, somewhat confused.
“Good!” Imogen chirped from upstairs, soaring down to land on Samuel’s shoulder, her tail wrapping partially around his throat to allow her to land easier. “I kind of freak Christians out.”
“Oh my god, is that a demon?” Belle asked, standing up and walking slowly towards Samuel.
“Yup. Though I severed all of her connections to Hell, or what we call Hell, a few years ago.” Samuel replied hands behind his back.
“Oh my god, she’s adorable!” Belle said, walking a little closer, just close enough to hold a hand out to Imogen, who happily jumped from Samuel’s shoulder to her hand, running up her arm to coil around her neck. “She’s so hot!”
“Actual fire for blood,” Samuel said, shaking his head. “If she ever gets cut to where her fire runs out, I just have to rekindle her and sew her up and she’s good as new.”
“Have you had to do that?”
“Not yet, but Imo does errands for me while I sleep, so I might one day wake up to find her diced up,” Samuel said, heaving a sigh.
“That’s harsh,” Imogen said, cuddling into Belle’s neck. “I would never say such a thing about you!”
“Quite being so cruel to poor Imogen Samuel, you’ll give her nightmares!” Belle said, holding the demon to her body protectively.
Gods, another one… Samuel thought as he thought of the relationship between Mia and the manipulative little demon.