A short, little Halloween story I wrote several years ago. Hopefully it'll make you smile, chuckle or, if I was on top of my game, laugh out loud. Thanks for reading. :-)

The Curse

Chapter 1

Twenty-four-year-old Frank Hardy struggled to hold onto the woman who was desperately trying to break free of his grasp.

"Let me go!" she screamed, attempting to kick him in the shin.

"Calm down!" Frank replied, trying to avoid the woman's black high-heeled boots without falling flat on his back.

"HELP!" the raven-haired woman screamed at the top of her lungs. "SOMEONE HELP ME!!"

"Oh, great," Frank muttered, trying to yank his arm out of the way as the woman changed tactics and now tried to bite him.

"Having a little trouble there, big brother?" a mischievous voice asked.

Frank took a second to glare at his younger brother. "I could use a little help here, Joe."

Joe Hardy stood next to his own "prisoner", arms crossed over his muscular chest, chuckling at his brother's more troublesome charge. Joe glanced down at the young girl sitting on the sidewalk, her hands cuffed behind her back. He took in her deep emerald green eyes and auburn hair, wild with curls that seemed to have a mind of their own.

"Don't move, okay?" he winked at her.

"I won't." She was practically beaming at him.

"JOE!!" Frank suddenly cried out, trying to jerk his head back out of the woman's reach.

Joe looked up just in time to see the woman's long red fingernails rake across Frank's cheek, leaving three angry looking scratches. Rushing to his brother's side, Joe helped him wrestle the woman to the ground and put handcuffs on her. Just as they got her seated next to the young girl, a Bayport Police car pulled up in front of them. An officer with brown hair and hazel eyes stepped out, eyeing the scene with barely concealed amusement.

"Hey, Con." Joe greeted him with a smile.

Detective Con Riley, a good friend of the Hardys, nodded at Joe then glanced from the two women seated on the ground back to Joe and finally at Frank. Noticing the woman still breathing heavily and Frank, with fresh scratches on his face, he attempted to keep a straight face.

"Have a little problem with your suspect, Frank?" Con asked, seriously. "Should I call for backup?"

"Ha, ha." Frank blotted at his face with a handkerchief. "Great. I'm bleeding."

"Can't wait to see how you explain this one to Callie," Joe teased, referring to his brother's wife of three short months.

"Just take them down to the station and book them, Con. Joe and I will be right behind you," Frank said to the officer, all the while glaring at his younger brother.

"Whatever you say. Let's go ladies." Con reached down to help the young girl to her feet. Stopping he peered at her closely. "How old are you?"

"Sixteen," she replied brightly.

Con rolled his eyes as he assisted her into the back of the police car. Turning back, he started to reach for the older woman's arm and stopped, wagging a finger at her. "No scratching."

"She bites too," Frank warned him, glowering at the woman. "And watch those heels."

Frank's warnings were not needed however as the woman sedately slid into the car, staring straight ahead.

"See you at the station," the young girl called out the window, smiling shyly at Joe.

Joe flashed her a grin and waved as the car pulled out into traffic.

"She's jail bait, Joe. Besides, I think Vanessa would be a little upset if she saw how interested you were in a suspect!" Frank informed his brother, referring to Joe's twenty-two-year-old, longtime girlfriend Vanessa Bender.

"Oh, please, Frank. She's just a nice kid whose mother is a kook!" Joe replied, annoyed. "And I'm not interested in her, so Van has nothing to get upset about."

"Yeah, well she seems to be very interested in you." Frank started walking towards his car. "So be careful."

Joe shrugged his shoulders. "Can I help it if women find me irresistible?"

Following his brother, Joe got into the passenger seat and fastened his seatbelt. He waited until Frank pulled out into traffic then turned to his brother and grinned wickedly. "So can I watch when you explain those scratches to Callie?"

oooOOOooo

A few hours later, Frank and Joe were leaving the Bayport Police Department, having completed all the necessary paperwork to file charges against Cassandra and her mother.

"I just can't believe a parent would teach their kid it's okay to steal!" Joe was still incredulous at what their latest investigation had turned up.

Bayport's local farmer's market, that was packed with customers every weekend, had recently fallen victim to a pickpocket who had taken up residence in their midst. And the perpetrator was very good at what they did. No one ever saw a thing, yet customers were losing their wallets at an alarming rate. It had gotten so bad that customers had been driven away and profits were falling dramatically. The worried merchants had banded together and hired the Hardys to root out the thief.

Frank and Joe had staked out the farmer's market for two days before zeroing in on their suspects. A mother-daughter team who appeared so innocent no one would give them a second glance. The sweet, sixteen-year-old girl would distract the target while her mother easily removed their wallet from a pocket or purse. Joe had been stunned to find out the young girl had been thoroughly trained in the art of stealing from her obviously experienced mother.

"Not every kid is as a lucky as we were, Joe," Frank replied, referring indirectly to their parents, Fenton and Laura Hardy. "Dad taught us what he knows best and it looks like Cassandra's mother did the same for her. Too bad it's illegal."

"I guess." Joe shook his head. "I hope she'll be okay in foster care for a while."

"I'm sure she'll be fine, Joe." Frank glanced at his younger brother. "So don't go getting any ideas." Frank had visions of Joe turning up on their parent's doorstep with Cassandra in tow, begging his mother to take care of the naïve young girl until her own mother was released from jail.

Joe merely stuck his tongue out at his brother's back in reply, as he followed Frank across the lobby of the police station. Just as they got to the doors, they heard Con Riley calling out to them.

"Hey, guys. Hold up a second." He jogged over to the brothers. "One of your suspects would like a word with you before you go."

"Must be yours." Frank rolled his eyes at his brother, wondering how Joe seemingly had the ability to attract women simply by breathing.

Con smiled. "Actually, it was yours. And she wants to see both of you." He jerked his head as he turned, indicating the brothers should follow him.

Taking the elevator to the basement, he led them to a holding cell where the woman and her daughter were seated on a cot.

The young girl jumped up, smiling broadly when she saw Joe. "Hi, Joe!"

"Hello, Cassandra." Joe smiled back until Frank elbowed him in the ribs.

"You wanted to see us?" Frank spoke to the older woman.

"Yes." She got up and gracefully walked to the front of the cell.

"From the waters below

To the heavens above

A curse on you

And those you love

The spell will remain

Bad luck won't leave

Until the unthinkable occurs

On All Hallow's Eve."

"Mom!!" Cassandra cried out, angrily. "How could you?!"

Smiling at the Hardys, the older woman returned to the cot and lay down, staring at the ceiling.

"How could she what?" Joe asked, confused.

"She just put a curse on you." Cassandra replied apologetically, staring at Joe.

"A what?!" Joe gaped.

"A curse," Cassandra repeated. "We're witches."