“While you’re sulking in here, Rebecca is in trouble.” Julia looked up at the ghostly figure of Jason in front of her.
“I thought you left.”
“I had. I came back. It’s not like I have anything else to do, but you really should help Rebecca.”
Her curiosity getting the better of her, she cast a spell to determine who was in the house. At first, there was no one in the hallways; after a minute, however, Rebecca left her room with another person. They were headed toward the front door.
“Who is that?”
“Not sure, but Rebecca seemed terrified of him.”
“So I was right; she did send you.”
“No. I was just watching.”
“Whatever problem you have with Thomas . . .”
“Problem? You’re dead.”
“Whatever your problem, it isn’t with Rebecca. She needs your help.”
Julia didn’t want to admit that this might be her fault. If she hadn’t flipped the hallway permissions, this man couldn’t have gotten inside. She was angry, but she wasn’t so angry that she was okay with someone else coming into the house and hurting her neighbors. She opened a portal in front of Rebecca and whoever was with her.
“Who the hell are you?” Julia didn’t like the looks of this man; he was older, severe looking. Whatever he intended would not be pleasant. She made sure to keep out of his line of sight.
“How are you still alive?”
She hadn’t expected that. “My house, my question.” Why did he sound so surprised to hear her?
“Not that it’s any of your concern, but I am Rebecca’s father. She’s coming home. Aren’t you, Rebecca?”
Julia knew that tone of voice. Rebecca was in danger, and she didn’t deserve what he planned to do to her.
“Nobody leaves here unless I let them.”
“I don’t think so. I don’t think you have enough power to stop me. That’s why you aren’t showing yourself.” Her portal was forced to close suddenly. Who was he?
One of her alarms started sounding, indicating a fire in Rebecca’s room. Because of the alarm failsafe, Julia was able to open a portal into Rebecca’s private quarters. One of the armchairs was on fire, so she quickly opened a hole underneath it. The chair fell into one of the several secluded caves that Julia kept track of, precisely for these occasions. After that threat was dealt with, she turned back to the intruder.
He was about to head down the stairs, then he and Rebecca would be gone. Clearly a magic user of some sort, she had no idea what protective measures he might have in place. Attacking him directly was a risky proposition. Instead, she opened another portal on the stairs to the same cave. Then she had to hope he fell through.
She watched, expecting him to notice the portal and avoid it. At the last moment, something – she couldn’t tell what – flew in front of him and caused him to fall. She quickly closed the portal after he went through it. Then she reversed the hallways back to normal, to keep anyone else from coming in.
Rebecca was safe for now, so Julia left the rest of the house to its own devices. She had a new puzzle to work on. Why had he been surprised by her presence? For that matter, how did he even know who she was? There was more to this story, and she needed to find out what it was.