The rest of the trip to Plum’s house is a blur of uncomfortable silences punctuated by Delilah’s complaints and sarcastic retorts. In the end, she was banished to the rear of the van. I took her place in the driver’ seat and found it difficult to drive with her staring daggers into the back of my head. Despite the fact that she was the one who pulled out that hateful collar to begin with, inflicted it on me, and fully intended to put my life at risk with a Propofol injection, she seemed to think that I had somehow done her wrong. I was such a people pleaser, I actually felt guilty.
Beastie slept most of the way, only rousing to relieve himself and drink a little water when we stopped to refuel at a gas station. He seemed a little out of it, but Plum blew off my concerns. According to her, Beastie had been in many battles and at the receiving end of a lot more vicious attacks than the poltergeist’s single blow. I stroked his head and it seemed to comfort him.
We arrived at nightfall. Plum had me stop at the rear of the property and she instructed the others to watch the windows for a flash of light. That would be their signal to come charging out of the van and begin the attack from the rear of the house. Right away, Delilah had issues with the plan. Plum cut her off and quickly shut her down.
“Well at least take this collar off,” Delilah protested.
“You’ve done nothing but bitch and disrespect me. I don’t trust you.”
“How do you expect me to work spells with this damn thing restraining me?”
“Not my problem. Now, ladies you’re going to need to bring your A game, if you want to come out of this in one piece.”
“Do you want us to kill them,” piped up the spiky haired one.
“My coven fights without compromise or mercy. What do you think?”
No one else looked excited by the prospect of a magic battle to the death. Her comrades looked concerned. Their confidence had been shaken by the disaster of a magic circle they’d cast earlier. Plum left them with a reminder about the contract and a promise to hunt anyone down who tried to make a run for it. The two of us got out of the van with Beastie in tow, walked up the street, and around the block to the front of the property.
I noticed right away that the energy around the place was different. We could hear club music from the sidewalk. Bass vibrated our chests, as we walked up the circular drive. All manner of sports cars and motorcycles were parked along the drive. There were so many vehicles crowding the driveway that some were parked in the grass. Plum cursed under her breath. We could hear the splash of people diving into the pool out back and their laugher as they splashed around.
“Why do I have to ring the doorbell? What if they suspect something,” I asked nervously.
“They won’t, as long as you keep your cool darling. Relax Patricia, Beastie and I will be by your side. Just ask for me. Let’s see what they say.”
The sound of doorbell must have been drowned out by the blaring music, because no one responded. In the end, we had to pound on the door. Eventually, a black bikini-clad, raven haired woman answered the door. She gave me the once over, with her smoked out gray eyes raking down from head to toe. Our eyes met and her hand went to her hip. Wordlessly she glared at me, waiting impatiently for me to state my business.
“I’m here to see Plum.”
“She ain’t seeing no one.”
“Oh, she’ll want to see me.”
“I told you…”
“Just go and tell her I’m here,” I snapped.
The woman moved to slam the door in my face. Plum used Ross’ strong right arm to push it open. Three of us strolled in, pushing past the woman.
“What the hell,” barked the woman.
Beastie growled and crept menacingly towards her. She took one look at his glowing eyes and backed away with her hands up. I prompted her again.
“Where is Plum,” I shouted over the driving beat of the music.
“You’ll have to talk to Flame.”
“Where is she?”
“Upstairs, in her office.”
“You mean in Plum’s office.”
“It’s Flame’s office now.”
Plum and I exchanged surprised glances, before making our way upstairs. A guard outside the office door blocked our way, so I called out to Flame. She didn’t grant permission to enter. Instead, Flame shouted from inside.
“Patricia? What are you doing here? Come to steal whatever else isn’t nailed down?”
“I came to see Plum.”
“You have a lot of nerve showing your face around here, after what you did. Why the hell would she want to see you?”
“That’s between me and her, now where is she?”
“Go away Patricia. Leave, while you can still walk.”
“Like I told the girl downstairs, I’m not leaving until I see Plum.”
“Conroy, throw that bitch out of here.”
The guard grabbed my arm and Beastie bit him. His scream brought Flame to the door.
“Who the hell is this? Get that mangy mutt out of here, before I have him put down!”
Beastie turned his glowing eyes on Flame. She took one look at the blood pouring from the guard’s mangled arm and backed into the office, so we could enter. It didn’t even look like the same room. The once white walls were black. The furniture was red and chrome. Flame sat behind the desk and put her feet up on top, taking in our shocked expressions with amusement.
“I’m gonna make this short and sweet for you Patricia. You can’t see Plum, because she’s dead.”
“To tell you the truth, I don’t really remember much about how it all started. The others tell me she sent me off on some misguided mission to get you back. When I didn’t return right away, Plum vacated her host body and sent her essence up into the astral realm thinking that she would check on me and come right back down. She was gone several days. Somehow, word got out that the coven was unprotected. By the time I got back, we were under attack from the House of Venus. The others told me that the first thing they did was destroy Plum’s host body, to make sure she couldn’t return and defend the coven.”
“House of Venus? You mean one of your neighbors?”
“No stupid, a house is an organized coven. The House of Venus decimated this coven. I did what I could to save the few survivors…”
“Looks to me like you surrendered. Isn’t that a House of Venus amulet around your neck,” blurted Plum.
“I didn’t surrender. We reached a compromise.”
“Call it whatever you like. You bowed down and kissed their feet. So now, you’re their lackey,” sneered Plum.
“Patricia, you might want to shut your friend up, before he gets you all killed.”
“Maybe we should just leave,” I suggested.
“Too late for that, you three insisted on entering my inner sanctum. Too many witches downstairs saw you come in here. Now, you have to stay while I contact my superior…”
“You mean your master,” snarled Plum.
“I’m gonna let that one go by, because I have a feeling the House of Venus will have no use for you three. It will be my pleasure to drive a stake through your hearts. Conroy? Conroy! Get your ass in here and take these three to the…guest room.”