The 13th Witch
by Beyond Blonde
Waldo was researching Suzanne's life thoroughly, hoping to find a connection with someone else who might have the same powers he had sensed in her, when another sudden chill ran up his spine. His fingers paused on the keyboard of the computer he was using, and Waldo tried to lock onto what had caused that sudden chill. When he did get a sense of what had caused that chill, he pushed the chair back from the desk he was at and exclaimed, "You fucking bitch! How dare you think you can touch me!" He sat staring at the computer screen, and felt another chill run up his spine. In that chill he sensed Kassie once again, but he also sensed that other dark powerful presence. How could that do good bitch possibly be connected with that dark ominous being? Whatever that being was, he knew it must be evil personified to be as powerful as it was. Was that do good bitch trying to track it as well? Or was it tracking her? He could understand Kassie and The Team trying to track that being he had felt. But could not understand why it would have any interest in her. Did Kassie had powers like Suzanne? Is that why that being might be interested in her? He almost hoped that was the case because that would mean whatever he had sensed would no doubt take care of that little bitch once and for all. He would have preferred to kill her and strip her of those powers if she possessed them, but knew that would be far too risky for him to try given the protection The Team and her new lover gave her. He would leave her to that being he had felt. He hoped it made the last moments of her life as painful as possible when it found her. Meanwhile, he would find an easier victim to deal with who might have the same powers Suzanne had. There was one name that kept popping up in connection to her that he felt might be what he was looking for. He would soon pay Kathleen Maddigan a visit, and discover if she had those powers.
Waldo had hacked into Suzanne's computer and email accounts shortly after he had picked her up in chat room. Since Suzanne and Kathleen had often emailed each other, obtaining her email address and ip numbers were a piece of cake. He hacked into her email account and discovered that she had booked a tour which included a trip to some castle reportedly owned by a mysterious man some said was a vampyre. The next paragraph he read from the email he had extracted from her sent mail file stunned him. She was writing about how excited she was to find out her favorite author, Kassandra B. Badbh, was now living with the mysterious owner of the castle. Suddenly he remembered the latest publicity photos of Kassie he had seen. They showed her at a book signing with a tall dark haired man standing behind her. Like many who had seen those two photos, he had been struck by two faces the camera had caught of the man standing behind her. Waldo went to Kassie's site and pulled the photos back up. As he sat studying the man standing behind her, especially the second photo of him, what seemed like an insane thought crossed his mind. Could the man in the photo be that dark powerful being he had sensed? If so, why on earth had he hooked up with that do good bitch? If he sought her powers, why hadn't he taken them then, disposed of the silly bitch? Why was he looking at her as he was in that one photo? How could such a handsome powerful creature possibly be in love with that word slut? And was Kathleen's going to their castle merely a coincidence? He would keep a close eye on Kathleen's email and see if he could glean anything from there.
* * *
Waldo wasn't the only one gathering information on Kathleen. Drake was also gathering information on her from a variety of sources, including the computer. Drake had put his best computer crew to work gathering information on her from the net. When one of them discovered that Katy's email account had just been hacked by someone else, she called Drake immediately. Drake told Mary Ann to send him copies of her email, and track the other hacker down ASAP. He and Kassie had been strolling through one of the gardens near the castle when Mary Ann had called. He knew he would have copies of Katy's email, and perhaps the whereabouts of the hacker by the time they finished their stroll. It had disturbed Kassie on two levels when she found out what Mary Ann's call had been about. She wasn't happy about Drake invading Katy's privacy as he had. She was even less happy to know that some other hacker was also doing that. She knew it would be useless to fuss at Drake for doing what he was. He would simply smile that wise loving smile of his he used only on her, and quietly tell her that what he was doing was necessary to keep Katy fully protected. As they strolled back hand in hand towards the castle Kassie said, "You know I'm not thrilled over what you are doing. But given the fact she is one who has the powers of a true witch dormant within her, I understand your desire to see her fully protected."
Drake squeezed Kassie's hand and replied, "I know how you feel concerning some of the ways I am gathering more information on her, but it is a necessary evil my dear. And since someone else is also gathering information on her the way they are, it is important we know this, and discover who it is." Kassie was too wise to try and argue with the logic of that, so simply nodded as they continued their moonlit stroll. Drake was curious to find out who else was gathering information on Katy, but he also knew that right now Kassie needed the sense of peace that strolling through the gardens gave her. As they started up the path leading to the entrance of the castle, he even made her stop and smell some of the roses that lined either side of path. When they were comfortably settled on the couch in the small cozy den adjacent to their bedroom, Drake snapped his fingers once, then reached over and picked up the laptop that had appeared on the coffee table in front of them. As Kassie sipped the cup of herbal tea she had prepared for herself before coming to the den, Drake began to read Katy's email. Suddenly Drake said, "Katy was friends with the young woman we visited in the morgue. Though she does not know yet her friend is now laying in that morgue."
Kassie's eyes widened in surprise, and she replied, "That is a hell of a coincidence!" Then looked thoughtful as she took another sip of her tea. After swallowing the small sip of tea she said, "Though it makes an odd kind of sense. If a coincidence occurred that caused them to meet, then it is natural they would find themselves drawn to each other. I have a feeling that we will find this kind of thing occurring rather frequently as we search for and find others like Suzanne and Katy. I began to sense a sort of haphazard gathering of others like myself several months before I thrice called your true name."
It was Drake's turn to look thoughtful as Kassie returned to sipping her tea. As she sat her empty mug on the table, Drake's email alert went off again. He scowled as he read the email then said, "Well whoever is hacking her email is very crafty. Even after making it through all the firewalls, Mary Ann could only come up with a post office box number for the address of the account holder of that IP number. What's more, according to the information she has gathered on the person whose name is on the account, Katy is being hacked by an 80 year old woman in Pasadena. Somehow I can't see a little old lady from Pasadena hacking Katy's email account. I must assume we are dealing with an expert hacker, who also dabbles in stolen card numbers, which unfortunately many hackers do."
Kassie snapped her fingers once, then leaned back and inhaled from the eternal doobie that had appeared between her fingers after she had snapped them. Drake placed the laptop on the table in front of them, put his arm around her and pulled her close to him. After a moment Kassie exhaled and said, "I wonder what the odds are that Waldo is the other hacker gathering information on Katy?"
Drake looked very thoughtful for a moment as he pondered Kassie's remark, then said, "Given what you have told me about Waldo, I am afraid the odds may be quite good that he is the other hacker gathering information on her. We have already assumed Waldo would be looking for others like Suzanne."
Kassie looked into the cobalt eyes of her immortal lover for a moment. "Then it is good that you put the wheels in motion before you came here, to see that Katy is kept safe."
Drake nodded and replied, "She is now under my full protection. Or as much as she can be given the circumstances. I have arranged to have some of my special crew as close to her as possible at all times. In fact as we speak, a few of the doppelgängers from my crew are quietly replacing some of the people in her tour group. Those doppelgängers will be placed on either side of her hotel room for the rest of the tour. I am even going to borrow some members of your Royal Guard for right now. The bus driver is going to come down with appears to be a bad case of the flu. He will recover from that in a week or so. Beezie will replace him for the duration of the tour."
Kassie's eyes shot up in surprise as she choked on her toke and exclaimed, "Beezie is going to be driving the tour bus?"
Drake grinned and patted her on the back. "Yes dear, Beezie is going be driving Katy's tour bus. Strangely enough, he is quite taken idea with the idea of being a tour bus driver. Thaddeus and Shaka are in charge of security at the hotels Katy's group will be staying in for the rest of the tour. The sights and attractions they stop at during the rest of the tour will also have members of my special crew in and around them. I am also making arrangements to insure her safety when she gets home from the tour. She mentioned at dinner the house next to hers is empty and for sale at the moment. By the time she gets home, she will have some of my special crew members as neighbors."
"And just what is going to happen to the people those doppelgängers are quietly replacing?"
Drake laughed then bent down and kissed Kassie's lips before he replied, "They will come to no harm whatsoever my love. They will be well looked after and entertained, then returned home in a few days with wonderful implanted memories of the rest of the tour. They will even have some splendid photographs to show their friends when they get back home."
Kassie laughed and replied, "As long as they come to no harm." She paused for a moment, leaned up and kissed his cold cheek then said, "Thank you for doing so much to protect Katy."
"No thanks are needed my love. When it became clear to me a few centuries ago that true witches had seemingly vanished from the world, I swore a blood oath to do everything I could to protect them should they ever return. You and Katy are the first of what I hope will one day be many. Katy must be protected so that in time you can help her awaken, and learn to use her powers. I have no intention of allowing Waldo, or anyone else to do her any harm."
Kassie nodded and replied, "I am glad you have your crew protecting her. I'll feel a lot better though when Waldo no longer poses any kind of threat to Katy, or anyone else. You were careful to keep me away from his latest victim, but I have already seen and felt what he does to his victims. That's why I have no problem with the termination orders on him. Waldo is a cold blooded vicious killer, who is beyond any kind of rehabilitation. The sooner we are able to carry out those orders, the better."
Drake reached over and touched the Bloodstone hanging from Kassie's neck, then said, "It won't be long now before we can use this to find him, then carry out those orders."
* * *
As Drake's fingers closed around the Bloodstone, Waldo shivered and nearly dropped the drink he was raising to his lips. The plump woman in the seat next to him gave him a sideways look that clearly showed she thought he might have already had one drink too many, then went back to reading her book. Waldo scowled as the shiver subsided, leaving only a vague uneasy feeling of doom in it's wake. Waldo took a sip from his drink then leaned back in his seat and tried to dismiss the icy chill that had gripped his spine, and the uneasy feeling of impending doom that still lingered. He pushed the uneasy feeling aside, and concentrated on his plans for Katy. Normally Waldo did not physically go near his prey until he was ready to move in for the kill. He spent weeks, often months talking to and seducing them online before he even thought about moving in for the kill. Those weeks, and sometimes months, were spent carefully planning their abduction and slow painful death. Fear played an important role in stripping his victims of the information and power he wanted from them. The more terrified they were during their last moments, the easier it was to strip them of the information and powers he wanted. During the time spent talking to them online, he made a point to discover what his intended victim feared the most. He used that fear against them when he did move in for the kill.
Waldo's lust for the powers he had sensed and felt for that brief moment in Suzanne was causing him to change his normal method of operation. He did not want to spend weeks or months setting up Katy for the kill, only to find her empty of the powers he lusted for when he did move in for the kill. He hoped if he could get physically close to her, he would be able to sense if what he was searching for was within her. If he sensed it was, then he would gladly spend as much time as it took to set her up for the kill. Finding out that she had visited the tourist attraction castle that Kassie was currently living in with her new lover had given him a moment's pause concerning his plans for Katy. He knew that it meant there was the possibility that Katy was under the protection of The Team, as well as the mysterious owner of that castle. If that mysterious owner was the creature that he had sensed, Waldo knew he must be very careful indeed. He knew that for all his gifts and powers, he was no match for that creature he had sensed, at least not right now. The thought of Katy being under the protection of that creature he had sensed was almost enough to make him pick an easier target. But if Katy held the same powers within her that Suzanne had, and was somehow of vital interest to that creature, then stripping Katy of those powers might tell him more about that creature.
He would have to be extremely careful how he went about getting close enough to Katy to determine if she did possess the same powers Suzanne had. Fortunately one of the stops on the tour Katy was taking afforded him a perfect opportunity to do just that. He smirked as he thought about just how perfect an opportunity it was going to be. He knew Katy would not be able to resist having her fortune told by the Gypsy fortune teller that worked at that tourist trap. One of her friends that had previously taken the tour had emailed Katy all about the wonderful fortune teller. Even describing her in some detail How fortunate it was that said Gypsy fortune teller was one of faithful followers. He had known the moment he had finished studying the itinerary for Katy's tour he would be paying that faithful follower a surprise visit, and temporarily taking over the role of fortune teller. Waldo was an apt cross dresser who had assumed the persona of a female many times before, both as a means to keep his true identity hidden, and simply because sometimes, he enjoyed playing the role of a woman to the hilt. Assuming the role of a female fortune teller would be no problem for him. Playing the part of that fortune teller would give him the perfect opportunity to try to discover if Katy possessed the same powers Suzanne had. Something told him that she did possess those powers, but he wanted to be sure she did before he began the process that would end in her death.
Waldo was always meticulous when stalking a victim. His attention to the smallest detail is partly what had allowed him to operate as long as he had without being caught. Due to her possible connection with Kassie, and perhaps Kassie's mysterious new lover, he was being even more meticulous than usual in Katy's case. He very much wanted to make this initial close contact with Katy, but he certainly did not want that close contact to result in Kassie, or her mysterious new lover connecting him with Katy in any way, shape or form. The fact that Drake Stone had often been seen in daylight, and actually had his picture taken at book signing of Kassie's that had been held in broad daylight, seemed to point to him not being a real vampyre. But, Waldo had heard tales and rumors of ancient vampyres who could move about freely during the daytime. And if would be just like that bitch to actually hook up with a real vampyre who was a day walker. Waldo knew exactly what he faced when dealing with Kassie and The Team, and knew that as long as he remained as cautious and meticulous he could thwart their best efforts to capture him. This new lover of Kassie's was a wild card though. Despite Waldo's best efforts to glean information on Drake Stone, he still remained as much of a mystery to Waldo, as he did to the rest of the world.
Fortunately, finding out everything he needed to know about Katy was a much easier proposition. Soon she would not be able to make a move that he didn't know about. He would soon send her an innocent looking email that appeared to come from someone on her contact list. Once opened by her, it would give him total access and control of her computer. If she possessed the powers he sought, he would also send her cell phone a lovely little worm virus that would turn it into a listening device he could control from any other phone capable of sending a text message from. He would plant a few hidden cameras in her home as well. By the time he was ready to move in for the kill, Katy would have no secrets from him. He would know her most secret desire, and her worst fear. He would use her most secret desire to seduce and bind her to him. Then use her worst fear to strip her of all her powers. Waldo was glad the tray his drink rested on hid just how excited his plans for Katy made him. In his own darkly perverted way, Waldo enjoyed the weeks and months leading up to the kill almost as much as the kill itself. The methodical taking over of his victim's life aroused him in a way sex never could.
* * *
As Waldo sat sipping his drink high in the sky, Drake was taking a relaxing evening stroll with Kassie after implementing some plans that would insure Katy's safety both during, and long after the tour she was on ended. The house next to Katy's was being bought by two of his crew, who would appear to be a pair of happy newly weds. Katy's laptop, home computer and the computer she used at the library were now completely hacker proof. The program he had installed on those computers would not only protect her from hackers, it would alert him should anyone attempt to hack any of her computers, in any way shape or form. Her cell phone was about to be replaced with an exact look alike hacker proof R.A.T. Spy Phone. Just as with the new programs now protecting her computer, the combination spyware and anti virus software imbedded in the phone was a program he had designed himself. As with all his anti virus programs, it could become quite aggressive towards any other program trying to breach the security of the phone it was protecting. Any hacker trying to breach the security of Katy's computers or cell phone would wind up with the security of his or her computer and or Master Phone badly breached by a program that could become terminally aggressive.
Drake's hard handsome face softened ever so slightly as he drank in the sight of Kassie brushing one of the unicorns. Though they accepted Drake's touch, and the stallion had even allowed him to ride upon his back the night of her coronation, Kassie's touch was the only one they seemed to truly enjoy. He could understand that perfectly since it was only her touch that he loved to feel. He had seen all the wonders of the world, and few on some other worlds, but those wonders were nothing to him compared to the sight and sound of Kassie lauging and brushing the flowing mane of one of the unicorn mares. Kassie needed this relaxing and carefree time right now. Soon, she would have to gather her powers and use the Bloodstone to track Waldo with. Once she began to use the stone to track him, Drake knew she would not rest until she had found him, and the termination orders issued on him were carried out.
She finished brushing out the unicorn's mane, stuck the handle of the curry comb into her back pocket, then gave the unicorn's withers one last scratch. Kassie's step was light, her face aglow with happiness as she turned from the unicorn she had been brushing, then made her way back over to him. He walked towards her, and smiled as they came together. He gathered her in his cold strong arms, and closed his eyes for a moment as he savored the feel of her next to him. Her touch was soft and loving as she ran her hands up and down his broad back. The feel of her hands softly caressing the muscles of his back caused him to tighten his own arms around her. A soft sound somewhere between a sigh of happiness, and moan of pleasure escaped his lips as her body pressed against his. For a moment he found himself almost overwhelmed by the feelings of passionate hunger and fierce love that coursed through him as he held her.
Kassie's slender arms tightened around Drake. Feelings of love, passion and a need so strong it frightened her at times filled her head and heart, until she felt as if she were drowning in those emotions. For a moment she gave into those feelings, letting her nails dig into his back as she pulled his body closer to her. Drake responded by running one hand up her back and neck, his fingers entangled themselves in her hair, and he pulled her head back, and gazed into her eyes. The look in those cobalt blue eyes of his was that of a creature who knew he had the power to take her any way he chose. That creature gave a soft hissing snarl, then his lips descended on hers. His kiss started out fierce and hard. Fired by passion, fueled by need, it was a kiss that seared her soul. Then the fingers that had been clenched in hair loosened their hold. The hand that pulled her head back became gentle and loving. The lips that had been pressing so demandingly against hers softened. What had begun as a demand, ended in a plea. An admission that he could never bring himself to take her in any way that she did not wish to be taken. The creature that looked into her eyes as that kiss ended was one who knew that if she so chose, she could break him, shatter that stone cold heart of his into a million pieces. Kassie returned his look with one that reflected her love for him. She reached up and softly brushed the back of her fingers along his cheek.
That loving look and soft touch melted Drake's stone cold heart, and filled him with a warmth that only she could ignite. In its own way, that look and touch seared his soul as severely as his kiss had hers. He took her hand in his and turned it over, then softly kissed the palm of it. Then he gathered her in his arms and held her close to him as he whispered, "Please stay with me forever my love, because without you, my world is only darkness and despair." He buried his face in her hair, not really expecting an answer. A part of him fearing the answer would be no.
Kassie wrapped her arms back around him, tilted her head back and looked up into his eyes and answered his plea, "I will stay with you for as long as you love me as you do right now."
Drake's mouth curved in a smile as he replied, "Then forever is how long you will stay with me. My love for you will never change or fade. Nor will I ever betray the love you give to me." He tightened his arms around her again, buried his face in her hair once more, and reveled in the feel of her against him. She felt so damn right in his arms. After a few moments he kissed the top of her head then stepped back from her. He reached and took her hand, and as they continued their evening stroll he said, "As much as I would love to fling you to the ground and ravish your incredible body, I can't right now."
Kassie paused for a moment and asked, "Why can't you?" Then she grinned and said, "I'm all for being ravished right now."
Drake laughed and replied, "Goddess bless you for being all for that. But, it really isn't that I can't, but that you shouldn't." Drake paused, and rather sheepish look crossed his face for a brief second. "You see dear, although you don't have to be a virgin for the Bloodstone to work for you, it is best if we refrain from carnal pleasures until Waldo is taken care of."
Kassie's amber eyes widened for a moment as her hand closed around the stone dangling beneath her throat, then she exclaimed, "You didn't tell me about when you hung this around my neck!"
Drake simply grinned as he slipped his arm around Kassie's back. "And would you have forbidden me to put it there, and refused to use it to track Waldo?"
Kassie shook her head and said, "Of course not! But you could have warned me first!" Then she laughed and leaned into him slightly as they approached the entrance to the replica of Stonehenge they had held the beginning of her coronation in. Drake had suggested they visit the unicorns, then their private Stonehenge replica. As if they had known Drake's plan, the unicorns were close by the Henge. Kassie felt the power of the Henge as they entered it. She paused when they reached the center of the Henge. She closed her eyes, and allowed that power to flow through her. She could feel the stone that hung around her neck vibrate ever so slightly as the power from the Henge stones flowed through her. As Kassie stood there with eyes closed she concentrated on the Bloodstone, and visualized herself using it to successfully track down Waldo.
* * *
As Kassie stood visualizing using the stone to track down him down, another cold hard chill went down Waldo's spine. He flashed on Kassie having something to do with that cold hard chill, and his hand clenched around the seatbelt he was buckling as he thought of what he would like to do to that bitch. The plump woman next to him gave him another sideways glance, then smiled and said, "Takeoffs and landings can be the scariest part of flying." Waldo had an urge to backhand the plump woman, then regained control of himself, and after giving her a charming boyish smile said, "Yes it can be." As the plane descended, Waldo shook off the cold hard chill that had momentarily gripped his spine, and turned his thoughts back to his plans for Katy. He was glad the old biddy next to him was rummaging in her purse for her luggage claim, and didn't see the hard on the thought of what he was going to do to Katy gave him. Because of her ties to Kassie, her death would be as painful and terrifying as he could make it. And as she was dying he would strip her of her life force, as well as any and all powers she might have. Then he would find others like her, and when he had stolen enough of their powers, he would use them to destroy Kassie, and if necessary, her new lover. Though even the mere thought of battling him gave Waldo another cold hard chill of fear. And that chill of fear enraged Waldo because normally he feared nothing. Whatever her new lover was though, he had to have a weakness, something Waldo could exploit and use against him. Waldo would find out what that weakness was, and use it to destroy him, just as he had done with countless others. Then he, The Wondrous Waldo would strip Kassie's lover of all his powers, and use them to become all that he wanted to be.
As instructed, the fortune teller was there waiting for him when he debarked from the plane, and entered the terminal. Waldo had no luggage other than his laptop and a small carry on case, so they went straight to Esmeralda's car. Esmeralda had been one of his faithful followers for a long time. "Rescued" by him when she was barely a teenager who was being regularly abused by the men her drunken mother brought home. As with so many of his victims and followers Waldo had found her online. Back in the days when so many chat sites were filled with people of all ages and walks of life who thought they had found a way to escape from the cruelties their real worlds were filled with. What so many had not realized was that wonderful cyber land they had escaped into contained predators who had learned to use their desire to escape their bleak realities as a means to ensnare them.
Waldo had already briefed Esmeralda as to why he was there, and she knew better than to ask her Master to provide anymore information than he already had when he had told her he would be paying her a visit, and taking her place during the afternoon tour she usually worked. She knew Waldo well enough to know that he was probably taking her place to set up one of his marks, or recruit a new follower. Either way, Esmeralda had decided the less she knew concerning the matter, the better off she was.
The drive to her apartment didn't take long, and as soon as they had arrived Waldo began working on transforming himself into Esmeralda. She was a bit uneasy that Waldo had decided to assume her identity rather than simply take her place in his, or some other form. But, he had insisted that it was necessary. Waldo had her sit beside him as he applied a latex of her face over his. She watched with awed unease as he grinned while he also applied her make up over that mask. By the time he was finished applying the make up, then the wig she always wore while playing her role of gypsy fortune teller for the tourists she had to admit that those who knew her well would be hard pressed to distinguish his new face from hers. Though she was several inches shorter than Waldo, the fact she always wore high heels when in her gypsy role, and that Waldo would be seated in a dark tent would help make that difference in height less noticeable. As he applied a final bit of eyeliner he said, "I will arrive just before the tour bus does, and slip into your tent as quickly as quietly as possible. The fact that you have to park so far from your tent makes the possibility of running into someone who knows you greater, but should that happen the fact I am arriving so close to when the tourists are will account for why I am hurried and not wanting to indulge in idle chatter with them. I do not wish to use my ability to cloud their mind unless I have to, so will do my best to insure I avoid contact with those you know."
As Waldo stood up from the dressing table and went over to her closet Esmeralda replied, "Well I usually don't arrive until shortly before the tourists myself, and have never been much for fraternizing with the other people who entertain and look after the tourists."
As Waldo selected one of the velvet ankle length dresses Esmeralda used for playing her role as a gypsy fortune teller he said, "Good, that will make things easier for me." He laid the dress on the bed, reached in the closet and grabbed a shawl, then tossed it on the bed. Waldo opened the small carry on he had brought and extracted a pair of low heels, falsies, and a bra. As he tossed those on top of the dress he said, "I won't need the hip and butt padding I brought since this dress has some of that built in." As Waldo started unbuttoning his shirt Esmeralda walked out of the bedroom and went to the wet bar in the living room. She had watched Waldo disguise himself several times in the past, twice as a woman. But to see him transform himself into a replica of herself, gave Esmeralda a mild case of the creeps. She was glad she was on her second drink when Waldo came out of the bedroom grinning from ear to ear and asked in a voice that sounded eerily like hers , "So dear, how do I look? Or should I say, How do you look?"
Esmeralda to a quick swallow from her drink, then replied, "I'm not sure my own mother wouldn't know you weren't me. And I gotta tell you, that's kind of creepy to see."
Waldo just laughed and said, "Your mother stayed so drunk and stoned on prozac, she wouldn't know her own face in the mirror half the time."
Esmeralda winced at the cruel memory of her mother Waldo had evoked with his words, then after taking another swallow of her drink replied, "Well I'm glad this is a short term gig you are doing as me, or I might wind up just like her."
Waldo saw the wince of pain cross Esmeralda's face, and was secretly pleased by it. But because she sometimes proved useful, and he wanted her happy and obedient, he walked over to her and after softly touching her cheek said, "I'm sorry dear. My thoughtless words caused you pain I did not intend to. And I know how strange seeing me like this must be for you. Fortunately, it will be a very short gig my precious beauty."
Waldo's words of contrition soothed Esmeralda, and she stepped into the embrace he had offered after those words. She knew how thoughtless he could be at times, but also knew he was always contrite afterwards. She allowed herself to relax as he rubbed his hands up and down her back, and closed her eyes so that she did not have to see the replica of her own placing soft kisses on her forehead and cheeks. When he stepped back from her she opened her eyes for a moment, then had to look down and reach for the glass to handle being in the arms of what appeared to be herself.
Waldo sensed her feelings, and backed away from her then said, "I know this little charade is upsetting you dear. Since it is nearly time for the tourists to arrive, I'm going to go and do what I have to. I'll make sure I give everyone that comes to have their fortune told an excellent reading. As soon as that bus load of tourists leave I will return here, and remove this disguise. I would like to spend some time with you this evening, but alas, I will need you to take me to the airport for my return flight when I do get back here, and out of this disguise that makes you so uneasy. Perhaps soon, we can spend a few days together. When that happens, I will make up the distress I have caused you darling."
Esmeralda gave him a small little wan smile and said, "That would be lovely. I'm sorry about being creeped out by your latest disguise baby. But it is just too weird seeing you as me."
Waldo gave her cheek another soft stroke, then replied "I know dear, but it is a necessary evil I'm afraid since the mark was told all about you, and is looking forward to having a reading done by you. The upside to all this is that at least you know you are getting glowing word of mouth, referrals from some of the tourists you have read for."
Esmeralda didn't even want to know how Waldo knew his mark had received a referral from one of the tourists she had given a reading for. Waldo gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, then picked up her car keys from the counter and left her apartment. As the door closed behind him she took one last sip of her drink, then rinsed the glass out and went into the living room. As she turned on the television, she promised herself she would never wind up like her mother.
As Waldo drove to the Renaissance Fair that he would use to make first physical contact with Katy he was smiling with glee at the thought of all the pain he would soon cause her. Waldo loved causing people pain, and feeding upon that pain. That brief moment of pain he had caused Esmeralda had been a nice little snack for him. Of course, he had to pretend he had not meant to cause her pain, and act contrite for having done so. But he never let the insincere apologies he often had to make to keep his marks or faithful followers where he wanted them, interfere with his enjoyment of their pain. In some ways, pretending to be contrite for causing them pain was as good as causing the pain itself because it proved to him how truly stupid and inferior to him those people were when they believed his insincere apologies. Though he often categorized people as marks, victims and faithful followers, in essence they were really all the same because even his faithful followers were marks who became victims when they were of no further use to him.
As Waldo pulled into the fairgrounds he spotted a parking spot that would allow him to get to the tent with a minimum of contact with the other vendors who might know Esmeralda. He hurried towards the tent, nodding to a couple of other vendors who waved as he made his way towards it. The tour bus containing Katy was just pulling in as he slipped inside the tent. Waldo set the small case down he had taken out of the trunk of the car that contained Esmeralda's tarot cards and other props. She had been there earlier that morning and already set up the tables and chairs that would be used during the readings. Within a few minutes Waldo had the tent ready for his first customer. He knew that Katy would eventually make her way to this tent before she left and amused himself by wowing the other tourists and locals with what they considered amazing readings. Esmeralda's reputation as a tarot reader would improve rather than suffer from his brief impersonation of her.
As Waldo was giving a reading to one of the other people on Katy's tour Beezie was keeping an eye on Katy. He had been having a blast playing the part of tour bus driver. And the passengers on the bus were quite taken with their handsome new driver, who seemed to know all kinds of odd and entertaining things about each stop they made. That he seemed rather taken by the lovely young Katy seemed logical to the rest of the people on that bus tour. Katy's charm and grace had endeared her to all her fellow passengers, and a couple of the young men on that tour had a slight crush on her. That one of the young men was also now one of the doppelgängers made it a little easier to get someone close to Katy during the stops. Another of the doppelgängers was an older woman who shared Katy's hotel rooms. Katy had told Irene about the fortune teller who had given a friend of hers an amazing reading the year before when he had taken the same tour, and invited Irene to come with her and have a reading done as well. Irene had agreed and so when Kevin exited the tent, Katy and Irene entered together.
Waldo smiled at Katy and then Irene as they entered the tent, though the false smile nearly slipped when he saw the older woman with her. Waldo had been hoping to have Katy all to himself as he did her reading. He could ask the older woman to leave while he read for Katy. Unfortunately the email that told Katy all about Esmeralda, had also mentioned that the sender and a friend had both been together when Esmeralda had done the reading. Waldo was afraid asking the older woman to leave might make Katy wonder why he had done that. He wanted her as relaxed as possible so that he stood a better chance of discovering if she had the powers he was seeking. He decided the best way to handle this would be do the older woman's reading first, and hope she would leave once her reading was done.
Irene's double sensed something was not quite right with the fortune teller the moment they entered the tent. After studying her carefully for a moment the doppelgänger came to the conclusion that Esmeralda was actually a man in drag. The doppelgänger had not been told that the fortune teller was a female impersonator, and wasn't sure if something was very wrong, or if their intelligence simply had not picked up that piece of information. The doppelgänger would ask Beezie about that when they returned to the bus. In the meantime the doppelgänger would stay close to Katy and watch the fortune teller carefully. She sensed the fortune teller wished to do her reading first, and was only too glad to oblige. Giving what appeared to be a nervous laugh Irene's double sat down in the seat across from Esmeralda and said as she smiled at Katy, "Age before beauty my dear." Katy was very agreeable with Irene getting her reading done first, and after laughing sat down in one of the extra chairs in the tent. Katy would enjoy watching Irene's reading, and seeing how good the fortune teller was before getting her own done.
After having her hold the cards for a moment and concentrate on what she wanted answered, the fortune teller shuffled the cards thrice, then laid them out on the table in a cross pattern. The doppelgänger had sensed that no matter what the fortune teller's gender truly was, the person in front of her had a true gift with the cards. She had been very careful to focus her mind on a question concerning the health of relative she knew the Irene might ask while she had handled the cards. Because Irene's doppelgänger was as adept at the tarot as any fortune teller, she could see that the cards had answered that question. But mixed within that answer was also the answer to the reader's true gender. And perhaps to the question of where a certain wizard was. The doppelgänger didn't panic or give away anything as she realized what the cards were saying. But the reader's face, even beneath the mask and makeup showed a flash of surprise as he looked at the cards and understood what they were saying. When he looked up at the doppelgänger though his face was again composed and seemingly friendly.
The second the doppelgänger had realized the fortune teller might be a man in drag, she had taken advantage of the psychic connection she had with her fellow doppelgängers to alert them something might be up and to let Beezie know. While Fred was alerting Beezie, Ed was already on his way over the fortune teller's tent. Irene's doppelgänger relayed a psychic message for Ed to wait outside unless summoned in. By the time the fortune teller had laid the cards out, Beezie and the other doppelgänger were on their way to the tent. By the time the fortune teller began the reading, both the other doppelgängers and Beezie were just outside the tent. Enough information had been psychically relayed through the doppelgängers so that Beezie knew no matter what was in the tent in the guise of a female fortune teller, it did have some true psychic abilities, so they all masked their own abilities, as well the presence of those outside the tent. Beezie grinned for a moment, nodded his head at the two doppelgängers outside the tent to let them know he was on the job, then with a wink, vanished for a split second, then reappeared near the feet of the doppelgängers as a small salamander. The little salamander looked up at the doppelgängers, winked, then scurried into the tent.
As Waldo read for Irene, he desperately tried to reach into her psyche and discover who and what she really was. Irene's psyche was impossible to breach though. That told him whomever and whatever she was, she was no ordinary elderly lady enjoying a bus tour. Waldo was afraid if he tried much harder to breach her psychic defenses she might find out more about him than he wanted her to know. He broke off his efforts to read more than the cards, and concentrated his powers being Esmeralda. He gave Irene the answer to her relative's health, and even though he knew what else the cards had answered, using the other meanings of them and his own creativity to put a different spin upon what those cards were really saying. Irene seemed to accept the reading as accurate. But, a part of Waldo sensed she knew exactly what the cards were really saying. What he did not sense or see was the small salamandeer that scurried into the tent and sat watching him intently. The small salamander watched the fortune teller intently for a few minutes then scurried back outside the tent, and vanished completely. As Beezie vanished, a "Closed" sign appeared on the entrance of Esmeralda's tent.