Agent Boone and I spent our day removing magical compulsions from a bank staff. Without a clear next step in Peter’s case, the DPI didn’t want to let my talents go to waste. The work didn’t take my full attention, and I spent most of the day planning for my night ahead. The website received two promising offers since the night we sent out our warnings to the other witches offering seances. Before we broke things off, Lee helped me find a house that would work for our purposes, and we scheduled the first of our seances. Lugh and Flynn insisted they come along and hide until Noah Smith revealed himself. I tried convincing them that Lee had the right idea. While they respected his reasons, they wouldn’t accept the out I tried to give them. I didn’t plan to need their help, though. The second I sensed the demon’s energy, I’d attack.
Flynn and Lugh picked me up after work, and we drove to the house Lee found. They brought my supplies with them, so I wouldn’t raise any questions at work. We had two hours before our scheduled start time. Flynn looked for a good hiding place while Lugh helped me set the scene. Since we’d gotten multiple offers similar to the ones Noah Smith used, there was a chance he’d be part of the next group. If the people coming to this seance genuinely wanted what they’d asked for, I’d give it to them. I couldn’t risk a bad review until I caught Smith. At least we would get paid for our trouble.
“Are you sure you and Flynn don’t want to take off?” I asked again.
“Casper, we’re not leaving you to deal with this alone. I know you’re a badass, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have backup,” Lugh said.
“He trying to kick us out again?” Flynn asked as he came into the living room.
“Uh-huh,” Lugh said. He centered the crystal ball on the table. None of the props we’d set up would help call a spirit. But our guests would expect a certain aesthetic.
“Not happening. We’d miss you too much if this all went pair-shaped,” Flynn said, flopping down on the wine-color loveseat.
“Did you find a good spot?” I asked, ignoring the hypothetical of things going wrong.
“Yeah. They’ve got a butler’s pantry. I can be out of it and by your side in two seconds flat,” he told me.
“All right,” I said.
I knew as soon as the group arrived, they wouldn’t have to worry about me at all. A group of women in party dresses stood on the front porch. Their sashes labeled them as the bride, maid of honor, and bridesmaids. Whoever made their arrangements didn’t say anything about it being a bachelorette party. I held in a sigh and welcomed them inside. The half-finished drinks they all carried made me consider calling things off. I reminded myself that I needed our site to look official, and the pictures they’d no doubt post on social media could only help.
“All right, ladies!” the maid of honor called over their conversations. “Listen up so the nice witch man can tell us how this all works.”
They all quieted down and stared at me expectantly. I cleared my throat, ready to put on a performance. “We’ll start with a tour of the house. Feel free to touch things. You’ll find no trick levers or parlor tricks tonight. Then we’ll return to the living room and contact the spirits residing here.”
A chorus of “oohs” followed my introduction. I led them up to the attic, planning for the tour to work its way down until we reached the living room. I’d done a few fake seances for Peter before and had no trouble embellishing the house’s history into a convincingly haunting story. The bridal party didn’t hesitate to examine the attic, as I falsified stories about the previous owners. They did their best but failed to put things right as they searched for any hidden switches or other devices of subterfuge. Thankfully, I’d done my research when we picked this house. So, I seemed like an expert as I guided them back down and through the bedrooms of the second floor.
I told the story of the original owner dying in the master bedroom after years of mourning her beloved husband. As I got into the flow of things, I cast a wind spell that made two of the bridesmaids shiver. One screamed and grabbed the other, making the whole party laugh. I’d mastered the art of hiding spells in my hand gestures before Peter ever allowed me to take his first overflow seance. The persona I’d rehearsed for these gigs talked with his hands, and I’d picked up the habit as soon as I started the tour.
A small push spell rattled the photos along the second-floor hallway. I paused while the women took the pictures off the walls. I saw the excitement building among the party. They replaced the frames, and I made a mental note to come back and straighten them later. On the walk back downstairs, I added a few extra creaks to the steps and flickered the lights. I’d have summoned a thunderstorm to perfect the ambiance if I had any particular talent for weather magic.
“Refill time,” the bride said when we reached the kitchen. “Over the sink, ladies. The ghosts won’t thank you for spilling drinks.”
They examined the kitchen as thoroughly as the rest of the house. When they opened the butler’s pantry door, I saw that Lugh and Flynn weren’t there. They’d planned to hide behind an illusion, but this worked better with how touchy our guests were. None of them had a lick of magical practice to speak of, so they wouldn’t have seen through an illusion. But they certainly could have reached through it accidentally.
“Are you ready to call the spirits of the house?” I asked after letting them explore the living room.
“Yaaasss!!” they said as a group.
“Take your seats,” I instructed.
We joined hands, and I ran through a fake spell to summon any ‘lost and wandering spirits.’ I repeated the spell, having them chant it with me. Then I went in for the big show. The lights flickered and then cut off, leaving us in candlelight. That got the screamer to let out another yelp. I repeated my wind spell from this time, making it rush around the group and snuff out the candles. The maid of honor took out her phone to light the room, and the rest of the bridal party followed her lead. They swung their flashlights around wildly.
I cast a levitation spell on our chairs and the table. This time, two of them screamed as their seats bobbed in the air. The bride dropped her phone, and I caught it with another levitation spell. Seizing a moment of inspiration, I willed the phone to open the notes app. The bride’s jaw dropped as words appeared on the screen. Phantom fingers typed, ‘Where is Wilbur? I’ve waited for him for so long. Where is my husband?’ The maid of honor read the message aloud over the bride’s shoulder.
“We don’t know!” a bridesmaid answered, and I had to hold in a laugh. I’d forgotten how much fun I had doing these. I set the table and our chairs back down. We all stayed perfectly still.
“Is it over?” another bridesmaid asked. I took it as my cue to create an illusion of an old woman in an outdated dress. “OMG, look!!”
They all swung their phones in the direction she pointed. The lights passed through my illusion, highlighting the translucent ghostly quality I’d given it.
“She looks so sad,” the bride said. “Can we help her find her hubby?”
“He may have already passed on. Not everyone’s spirit lingers,” I told her.
“Go into the light,” a bridesmaid yelled. The maid of honor pushed her playfully.
“How will she move on, though?” the bride asked. “I mean if her unfinished business is seeing him again, does that mean she’s trapped forever?”
“We can help her find her way,” I said, gesturing for them to join hands again. I spouted off another fake spell, and they repeated it with me. Using the bridesmaid’s suggestion, I created an archway made of light for my fake ghost. A voice from the other side called ‘Annie May,’ and the old woman’s illusion turned to face the light. My illusionary woman walked into it, and the entire image snapped out of existence. The bridal party let out a chorus of whoo-ing to celebrate their success in reuniting the long-dead couple.