A/N: Hi all! Sorry it took forever to finish this chapter. I didn't give up on the story, just I was finishing up my master's degree and I really had to focus on it. I am introducing a new character in this chapter. Hopefully you'll like where the story is going. I have many ideas yet, so let's see how long I can make this story!
"Owen!" Before Owen could fully wake up, Katie's arms were tightly wrapped around him. "We were so worried about you."
Owen looked around the room and saw Merlin, Rod, and Marcia standing around his bed.
"So it wasn't all just a dream?" Owen asked, as he tried to sit up.
"I am afraid not," said Merlin. "How are you feeling?"
After a pause, Owen replied. "I feel a bit dizzy." Owen looked like he had worked all night. Dark circles were under his eyes and he generally looked tired.
"How was the succubus able to pass the wards?" he asked.
Merlin stroked his chin as he thought. "Maybe one of the warding spells wasn't performed properly."
"Impossible," Owen said, looking almost hurt.
"Or there was a way the enemy bypassed the ward. A spell could have been casted on a twin object in the house that allowed anyone of possession of the other object to enter the building."
"An ob...object?" I stuttered.
All heads turned at me. Great, I seem to attract the most attention when I am about to make a fool out of myself.
"I think I might know how this happened then.." I escaped into my guest room before anyone had a chance to question me. I dug through my purse and uncovered the dragon amulet the gypsy had given me the evening before. The dragon's eyes were glowing red and I felt a warm, yet heavy, energy radiating from them.
I slowly descended down the stairs and made my way back into the bedroom. Owen was already sitting on the edge of the bed and talking quietly to Rod. When I entered the room, Merlin saw the amulet in my hands and frowned.
I gave Merlin the amulet to investigate. He flipped the amulet around as he inspected the glowing object. "There is a lot of dark magic cast on this object."
I looked at Owen, who was looking at me with confusion.
"I got ambushed by a real gypsy last night on my way home. She kept trying to tell me my future, but I refused. Then she gave me this amulet and vanished before I could say or do anything," I explained.
"Katie," Owen said, "gypsies aren't real." "Our enemy must have sent someone to pretend to be a gypsy, so that Katie would take the amulet and bring it inside this house." Rod looked me as he said it.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know." My luck struck again. Why was it always me who put Owen in danger? I desperately wished to do something right for once.
"Everyone should get some sleep now. I will take the amulet with me to MSI and you will describe the gypsy to Sam tomorrow," Merlin said as he was already leaving the room.
Once everyone left, Owen came back into the bedroom where I was quietly sitting on the bed. I couldn't bring myself to look at him. I knew Owen's enchanted dream wasn't completely my fault, but I still played an instrumental role in it. I felt Owen's presence very near me as he sat down on the bed too. His warm hand covered mine and the other cupped my face. Owen gently turned my head and looked right into my eyes.
"I know you wouldn't have brought the amulet in if you knew what it was."
A wave of guilt and relief hit me at the same time. How could he be so perfect? I leaned into him and rested my head on his shoulder.
"What happened in the dream?" I asked.
Owen furrowed his eyebrows as he recalled the events of the dream. I could tell that something was bothering him.
"I need to visit Gloria and James this weekend."
I knew pressing on the matter was of no use. Instead, I crawled under the blanket and urged Owen to do the same. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he was asleep. I, on the other hand, kept tossing and turning for a while. At 5am, I decided to finally get out of bed and go make some breakfast.
Owen's fridge had all the needed breakfast essentials, but was lacking some of the baking ingredients. Loony was sitting at my feet and purring. I found sour cream in the back of the fridge and placed a spoonful at her food bowl. As Loony was busy eating her early breakfast, I prepared waffles from scratch. By the time I was done making breakfast, Owen emerged from the bedroom in his PJ pants, looking disoriented, but not tired. I was sure that I was the first non-Gloria lady who cooked breakfast for him…or cooked in his kitchen at all. Finally a smile spread over his face.
"That smells really good. Whatever that is."
I placed the food plate in front of Owen as he settled in at the table. I took the seat across from him.
"I just wanted to say I am sorry for last night."
"Katie, it wasn't your fault."
"But what if that thing killed you?"
"I am alive, aren't I?" He flashed me a warm smile.
"You better be after last night," I said with a chuckle.
Owen raised an eyebrow.
"You would have been in a heap of problems if we lived a few of decades earlier," I teased.
Now it was Owen's turn to blush and chuckle. "I was raised with proper manners." His warm smile sent a warm wave from my head to my toes.
After we cleaned up after the breakfast, we headed to work. Owen was lost in his thoughts and I had enough on my mind, too. The subway ride was uneventful. No skeleton creatures or gypsies crossed our path and I was glad for some peace and quiet. As we approached MSI Inc., I heard Sam call out.
"Hey, doll. Boss told me to have a meeting with you. Will it work in 30?"
"Sure. Just come into my office."
"How are you feeling, kid?" Sam looked at Owen with as much concern as a stone talking gargoyle could.
"Thanks. I feel fine."
Once we entered the building, Owen quickly disappeared in the hallway leading to his lab. I was sure he will be spending the day researching his dream, succubus, and whatever else he experienced. As I approached my office, I saw Trix sitting behind her desk in a very colorful outfit.
"What do you think of my outfit?" Trix asked excitedly, before I could greet her good morning.
"It's very colorful. What's the occasion, a date night?" I winked at her.
"It's for today's assignment!" She replied. "Merlin asked me to go with you and Rod to spot immunes."
Immunes! After overnight events, I almost forgot about today's impeding plans. Today was going to be a busy day.
"Rod and I are meeting at 11:30 today. We can walk to the lobby together to meet him. Now can I please get a cup of coffee?" I almost pleaded.
Trix's wings fluttered slightly and a steaming cup appeared in my hands from thin air.
Once I was settled in my office, I checked my email. I noticed an email from Finn and opened it. He wrote that he learned some new information regarding our "case," but he doesn't want to divulge it over the internet. He asked if Owen and I wanted to meet him and his co-worker, Julia, on Friday. I didn't know of any plans for Friday night, so I emailed him back. I took a mental note to warn Owen about the meeting.
My buzzer went off and Trix's voice announced Sam's arrival.
Sam flew into the room and settled in front of my desk.
"So doll, what can you tell me about the gypsy?"
I thought for a minute as I tried to recall her face and appearance.
"She called herself Karma and looked like a typical gypsy," I began after the pause. "She was wearing bright colored bloomers, leather bodice, satin chemise, and a brown skirt. She also had a bandana on her head, with strings of beads and feathers coming out of it."
"Katie-bug, gypsies are not actual magical creatures. They are a trick people use to beg money with."
"Oh…Well she looked about 30, was about my height, and had dark curly hair. She also had the round amulet around her neck that was almost identical to the one that I gave Merlin. That's about it."
Sam took a moment to process the information.
"That doesn't give us much to go on, but I will brief the security team and we'll try to search for her." Sam was ready to fly out of the room when I called after him.
"Sam? Are there any news on the amulet?"
"Sorry, sweets, Owen has been studying it all morning from what I heard, but nothing yet."
I sighed and reclined back in my desk chair. It has been only a few days since I got back to the city and my life was spiraling down the tube faster than I wanted. Who was I kidding? I was a small town country girl. When it came down to saving the world, I might have pitched a few good ideas, but I caused more trouble for Owen and the magical world than I wanted. Things needed to change and I had to take the bull by its horns. Hopefully today we could recruit an immune or two into our ranks and they could help me keep the company safe…or at least slightly safer.
I spent the time catching up on the work I missed while I was in Texas. I replied to the last batch of complaints about Kim and went on to look over the documentation Merlin left for me. Most of the documents were sales contracts. I put aside the two that I found suspicious and the rest I filed away.
11:30 came quicker than I expected. Trix popped her head into my room.
"Ready to go?"
I picked my wallet out of the purse and purposefully took out the cash I had. When we got down the stairs, we spotted where Rod was standing right away. Every woman that passed within 25 feet of him would stare at him and drool. He must have been wearing a very strong attraction spell for the event.
I waved at Rod and I could feel the grilling stares of at least five women in the room.
"Hi Katie! Hi Trix!" Rod came over to greet us.
"Hey. I thought about going to the Union Square. That place has a lot of business people coming for lunch and random people coming to stores and to the market."
We left the building and heard two laughing voices calling us out.
"Ready to rock n' roll?" said Rocky, the gargoyle. "Get it…get it?" Both, Rocky and Rollo were laughing with their stone-like laugh. Gargoyle humor was not meant for everyone.
We made our way towards Union Square. It was almost lunch hour, so the square was not fully packed yet. We settled ourselves near some benches.
"Is everyone ready?" I asked Trix and the gargoyles. "I need you guys to start making some commotion, but make sure you have your veil up for both magical and non-magical people."
Trix perked up her wings and started to float a few inches off the ground. No person who saw this would be able to pass her. The gargoyles burst into some stone version of hip hop dance. For a moment I wondered how I managed to find what I thought were rational explanations for all these phenomena.
I paced around our location. Everyone seemed to pass us without even looking. After about half an hour of no results, a young girl passed by us with a slightly bewildered look. After taking some more steps, she slowed down, glanced back, and backtracked her way towards us. Her gaze glanced over the gargoyles, Trix, and then stopped at Rod. The girl's eyes had that slight lusting look in her eyes. I think Rob's natural charm was improving, as an immune would not get affected by any spell, including the attraction one. I lightly elbowed Rod to urge him to go talk to the girl and get her name.
Rod smiled at the girl, which I could tell made her swoon even more, and stepped towards her.
"Hi, I'm Rod."
The girl tried to reply, but she just stood there mesmerized as she leaned in Rod's direction. Before she could get her composure, Rod offered her his arm and led her away from Union Square. I knew that he would get her name, phone number, and possibly her address within half an hour.
I was left standing alone next to what appeared to be a circus. I sat on the bench next to Trix and observed. Most people in the park were business people, chatting about financial news and daily work routines. I saw Rod already coming back with a giant grin. I turned my head and that's when I saw him.
He was walking down the path and gazing with half amusement and half confusion at the gargoyles. His focus was definitely on the concealed setup. I could not help but notice he was wearing a dark charcoal suit with a dark blue tie. With a little help from the high sun, his smile was radiant and his eyes sparkled. The second he turned to walk away, I felt a breeze going through my hair. I could have sworn I could smell a trace of his cologne. As he passed the gargoyles and me, I started to follow him instinctively.
We crossed the Square and he headed towards a deli. The handsome mystery man strode towards the sandwich bar. Not to blow my cover, I decided to get a salad, but watched the man from the corner of my eye. I purposefully stalled after getting my salad, making sure to keep him in my sight. When the man headed towards the cashier, I picked up my pace and somewhat gracefully managed to get in line right before him. I smiled as I noticed him looking at me. Immediately, I was drowned in a sea of deep blue that were looking down at me warmly. The scent of his cologne intensified this time. I felt I would remember the smell forever.
All of a sudden, a nasty voice yelled "NEXT" and I walked over to the register. I gently shook my head. What just happened with the mystery man? His presence was disturbing my work mode. Even if he was not an immune, but a wizard, no spell he casts could affect me. I took my time to find my "working" credit card and pay. By the time I was done, the mystery man was on his way towards the tables at the rear of the deli. The deli was filled with business people trying to eat lunch, so it was a perfect opportunity to seat with him at his table.
I tried to make my way after him as gracefully as it was possible in the crowded room. I looked around and thankfully didn't see any open tables. I took a second to breathe and approached the table where the mystery man sat.
"Excuse me," I said weakly.
The mystery man looked up and smiled when he recognized me.
"Can I sit here?" I asked, gaining some confidence.
"Of course," he replied without any hesitation. The man got up and pulled up a chair for me. The guy is charming and is a gentleman, I almost screamed in my head. Wait, what am I thinking? I have Owen! Business…this is nothing but business.
"I am Katie, by the way."
"Steve," the man replied.
I opened up my salad and slowly started to eat. Steve was engulfed in eating his sandwich. After a few minutes of silence I cleared my throat. Steve looked up.
"It's a beautiful and strange day at the Square today," I began.
Steve slightly frowned and looked straight at me.
"I could have sworn I saw weird creatures there when I was crossing it."
Steve's facial expression didn't falter, but I could feel his intense look. He was studying my face and my body language.
"So do you come here often?" I changed the subject.
"I work around here at a consulting firm," he said. "Do you work around here too?"
"I work a couple of blocks away from here actually. I am a CEO's assistant and marketing consultant." For once I could use my job to boast about my importance. Even though MSI Inc was not your usual company, being any CEO's assistant had to count for something.
After a few more minutes of work related chit chat, Steve went back to eating his sandwich. When he was finished eating, he spoke again.
"I have to get going to work, but here's my business card. It was nice meeting you, Katie."Steve handed me his card and got up to leave. I glanced down and stared at it with bewilderment. It read Steve Machtungrig.