“Let’s save her life, and once this is all throughout, we can send her to jail!” I suggested to Aidan. He gave me a curt nod, and then I swung the entryway open…

“Oh, bless your heart!” Minna graciously conveyed to us as she wheeled herself in. Yes, wheeled! We don’t have an elevator, so it mystified me as to how she had access to our moment story property! She also surprised me by dressing up nicely for her spying expedition! Generally, when I encountered criminals who aim to keep themselves hidden, they wear dark colors and keep their faces shielded, but that’s not what she did! She had a silver, sequined dress that gave her pudgy body a more flattering silhouette, glittery makeup that highlighted her dark-brown eyes, and a flashy barrette in her long, black, curly hair! I had no clue how we could have missed her in the parking lot as we came domestic! She also had a immense, Romanesque nose! That’s not relevant- I just noticed at that juncture! “I knew y’all wouldn’t-!”

Aidan slammed the door shut in the nick of time- someone crashed into our door pretty tough! “Ouch!” Wade’s muffled voice moaned. 

Mom queried, “Is that Wade? Wow, you guys have a really durable structure here!”

“Everyone into our bedroom, now!” I ordered them as I mentally prepared myself for this confrontation. “Don’t make a sound! And for the love of Pete, don’t ask any questions approximately what you see in there!” I cringed at the call I made; our room was the furthest point from the potential battlegrounds, but it pained me to envision the conversation we were bound to have about it later!

“Who’s Pete?” Willow posed to me.

Wade gently knocked on the door. “Don’t worry! I’m not here ‘cause I plotted revenge as my white-hot rage burned in that prison cell for years! I simply wanna talk!”

Jackson remarked, “That’s a relief!”

“Everyone do as she said!” Laraleigh ushered her children into the back of our abode. Minna and Mom followed suit, and I used my wand to close the door. I considered doing additional protection spells for them, but I needed to save all of the energy I had for the inevitable foray! I hardly believed that Wade had broken out of his detention center only to have a friendly chat!

“Ooh! Strawberries!” Willow exclaimed.

Aidan glimpsed at me curiously. “Strawberries?”

I originally intended to privately reveal this gift to him later, but I highly doubted that we were going to get a chance to use them later, so I told him, “Yeah. There’s whipped cream and chocolate sauce too!”

“Dammit! Wade, I’ll kill you!” Aidan growled when he realized what he was lacking out on.

“You could wait a few months and let it happen naturally!” As if he could see the puzzled expressions we bore upon hearing that pronouncement, Wade elucidated, “Something’s wrong with my ticker! The doctor says I’ll make it to Christmas, but I have a funny feeling I won’t even make it to Father’s Day! And don’t fret about getting me any presents- I’m certain it’s unusual doing that for your stepdaddy!”

I inwardly noted that I needed to query my mother on the status of her divorce with him, and then I sardonically shot back to him, “Yeah, that’s why I don’t get you any presents! It has nothing to do with you trying to murder me or your attempt to destroy the world!”

Wade either didn’t catch on to my contempt or he ignored it as he went on, “Exactly! I knew the warden wouldn’t permit me to have any visitors, so that’s why I had to escape! I gotta make amends with you all before I kick the bucket!”

“How did you escape anyways?” Aidan pressed him.

“That’s not important! I’m certain your colleagues will arrive in a matter of minutes, so we gotta do this quickly! Invite me inside and I’ll show you precisely how sorry I am!” Wade requested.

I scoffed at that pathetic effort, “And I don’t suppose you’ll declare yourself not sorry at all and then proceed to attack us?”

Wade, who was clearly lying, fibbed, “I would never! They don’t call them correctional institutes for nothing!”

“That only counts whether you’ve served your sentence!” Aidan pointed out.

“Basically, I did! I got life in prison, and I’m already at death’s door!” Wade argued.

I corrected him, “No, you’re at our door! We’re not letting you in, and we’re calling our colleagues to cause you back to lockup! I’d love to cuff you again, but you’re not worth removing our protective spells!”

Wade didn’t make any noise for a few seconds, but I could hear the wheels turning in his head as I initiated a nine-one-one call. Prior to me hitting the call button, Wade speculated, “So, you used protective magic, huh? I wonder if your neighbors did…” Before we could warn him not to, we felt the ground below us tremble, and the crackling of fire floated into our eardrums! “Oh, I guess they don’t!”

“Son of a bitch!” Aidan growled as he dashed out onto the balcony.

“Hey! Don’t bring that jezebel into this!” Wade spat.

As Aidan leaned throughout the ledge to do an extinguishing jinx, I recalled that the terrace could be seen from the stoop! I seriously didn’t want to risk any damage to our house or any of the blameless bystanders within its walls, but I wouldn’t have been able to bear it whether anything serious befell on Aidan, so I had no selection but to bite the bullet and allow him access inside! I wasn’t about to let him get past the lobby though! I opened the door, and…

Wade had been leaning in a fashion that clearly indicated he intended to strike Aidan shortly! When he saw me, he hid his sausage fingers bottom his back and acted very nonchalantly. I instantly raised my eyebrows at this sight! I mean, it’s tough to look sinless and pure-minded when you’re in a prison jumpsuit in the middle of a private sector! His sandy skin (both in the color and the dirt) didn’t paint the portrait of a man on his last leg, so I had difficulties buying his claims of a short mortality! He did appear smaller than when I first met him, but I reminded myself that he was wearing a fat suit to disguise his identity, so of course he had a slimmer frame in this instance! He did smell like he was dying, but he carried that stench even at his healthiest! I would’ve thought the caretakers in his cell block would’ve bathed that odor out of him! He twiddled his scraggly, white beard that melded perfectly with his unkempt hair, and he bumbled, “Oh, I’m so glad you opened up! We have so much to discuss!”

“Actually, at the moment, I’d like to advise you that you have the correct to remain silent!” I quipped. I then aimed my wand’s trajectory in his direction, but he pulled his back out and deflected my projectile!

“Now, now! Provided you start a fight, you won’t get a chance to see my beautiful apology!” Wade sent something towards me, but I counteracted it. He repeated the process a couple more times, and I reverberated them all! He cursed me between words, “Why… don’t… you… let… me… make… everything… correct?” He suddenly grew out of breath, so I took this opportunity to make another bid in detaining him. He dodged it by lunging forward, but then he fell through our living room floor!

Aidan ran over and assessed, “I snuffed out the blaze, but the interpretation is weak in sure areas… obviously!”

We overheard Wade politely address our neighbor, “Oh, pardon my intrusion, ma’am!”

“Durnyy cholovik! Scho ty zrobyv z moyim budynkom?” an elderly lady hollered.

“Freaking bohunk!” Wade muttered.

I directed Aidan, “Hold my hand!” He grabbed my palm as I bent down to peek inside of the quarters beneath us. I saw the Eastern European woman glancing around her apartment in complete confusion, but I didn’t spot Wade anywhere, so I inquired, “Hey, Missus Anhelsyn! Where’d he go?”

Missus Anelysun shrugged. “I do not know! He poofed and he gone! What is this Word, bohunk?”

“Pay no attention to that! Slava Ukraini!” Under ordinary circumstances, I would have illuminated her on that derogatory term, but we didn’t have a second to spare! Wade was on the move, and we had to pursue him in order to prevent a more permanent disappearance! Notwithstanding, the odds of us accomplishing that seemed bleak since the ground crumbled beneath me as I stood up! As Aidan pulled me to safety, we stared at the front door longingly! How were we supposed to get out of there without damaging anyone or anything?

“I think my phone is ringing!” Aidan reached into his pocket, and sure enough, it had been vibrating from a call from the Slygow County police headquarters! Aidan held his mobile so that we could both hear the speaker and greeted the person on the other end, “Hello! You’re speaking to Officers Maddox and Vidette!”

A somewhat deep but still gentle voice responded, “Hi, this is Agent Evander Hearne with the FBI. Are you two sitting down?” 

Two chairs by our kitchen table fell into the hole, so after I shook my head, I urged him, “Just go ahead!”

“Okay… Well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but Wade Toonella has escaped from prison, and we suspect that he may be traveling to your proximity!” Agent Hearne dramatically revealed.

“Sigh! You’re a little late for that notification! He was already here!” Aidan let him know.

Agent Hearne stuttered, “He was… What?”

I advised him, “He escaped, so could you send a crime scene unit here asap?” The chasm expanded and sent the coat rack by the entryway tumbling into Missus Anhelsyn’s space, which made her cat screech with fright! Realizing we would have to find another way out of this building, I added, “And someone with a ladder!”

Walking into the Bull Pen in a non-work capacity felt so weird! In addition to being at my job when I wasn’t on the clock, I had family members with me! Scoping out the two long rows of cubicles, I didn’t see a single person typing up reports or communicating to potential leads, and that really threw me off! I hadn’t ever been in here when it was empty before, it was like stepping into an odd dream! When we got to the end of the row, Mason peered into the cubicle closest to our break room and excitedly observed, “Hey! Thai guys’ got a picture of us in it!”

“That’s my desk,” I corrected him as kindly as possible. I took a beat to forlornly survey the photos and various knick-knacks that I had collected over the last couple of years. A part of me wanted to console myself with the fact that I would be back at this seat on Monday, but another part of me got this inexplicable impression that I wouldn’t get the chance to view any of this again for a very long while!

“Are we getting arrested?” Harper asked as we came to the hallway that contained the bathrooms, observation rooms, interrogation rooms, and the chief’s office at the opposite side.

Aidan assured Harper, “Of course not! You’re witnesses, not criminals!”

Harper grimaced. “Darn it!”

We gave Harper a peculiar regard, but we didn’t have a minute to spare in order to broach the subject in more depth because a man in his sixties with russet skin, umber eyes, and a big beard met up with us… in his pajamas! We had a serious matter to deal with, and yet I couldn’t concentrate on anything else but his night wear! It was rare to catch him in anything casual, so to see him in this… He appeared to have beheld my focus and briefly explained, “What? It’s Friday night, I’m tired, and I wasn’t expecting to take on this mess tonight!”

“I’m sorry, sir!” I swiftly apologized. I had a lot to feel anxious approximately right then, I truly didn’t want to have to throw in angst throughout getting poor assignments too!

“There’s a team waiting to speak with you all in that room. You two…” He indicated to Aidan and me. “… come with me!”

We followed him into the interrogation room across the corridor from the others. Chief Mazarine parked himself in a chair between a platinum blonde woman with sparkling blue eyes and a slightly older but very genial demeanor and a tawny-skinned man with a nearly shorn off head, honey eyes, and a strong jawline. The unknown man had a very sober expression, but the woman merrily waved to us! Aidan eyeballed her country-like costume and conversed, “You and the husband out square dancing?”

Sandra’s eyes darted around in a shifty manner. “Uh… yeah! That’s precisely what we were doing…”

“Hi! I’m the agent you talked to earlier.” Agent Hearne extended his hand for us to shake.

“I suppose you wanna get all of the details of this incident?” I guessed.

Agent Hearne relayed to us, “Actually, we have all we need from the crime scene reports. We have something more important to go over with you…”

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