The witch was back. Angelique…Valerie…Miranda…Cassandra….whatever she was calling herself this week. Of course, she was back. Julia had never really doubted that the blonde demon would turn up again. Like a reoccurring rash…a fungus…a mildew stain around a bathtub drain. And just as Barnabas had finally begun to make it known to the red haired doctor that she was much more to him than just his dearest friend and preferred partner in all things supernatural. The she-beast's timing was nothing if not impeccable.

The look on Barnabas' face was almost amusing... if Julia had been in the mood to be amused. Had he really been naive enough to think that this time would be different from all the other times? The woman had died every conceivable death known to mankind…why would a mere gunshot wound slow her down? It hadn't in 1796. Mortal wounds were like bee stings to this creature.

Julia watched in scientific fascination, as Barnabas and Angelique began their usual song and dance of dysfunction. They really were a case study. Neither left any doubt that they had very little in common besides sheer stubbornness and a strong streak of narcissism. Angelique declared that his love had restored her to him. Barnabas claimed that he had never loved her and he must have been under one of her vile love spells to have said anything so utterly absurd…undoubtedly the very same spell that had driven his lost Josette into his Uncle Jeremiah's arms.

Angelique threw her head back and laughed that nails on chalkboard laugh that never failed to give Julia a shooting pain right between her eyes. Cleverly using the mention of Josette to sidestep any admittance of guilt regarding the debacle of 1841, Angelique proclaimed that Barnabas should thank her for saving him from a life shackled to a ninny hammer who couldn't say boo to a goose. This, predictably, caused Barnabas to wax poetic about the ethereal Josette, while Angelique launched into her own soliloquy about destiny and unspoken pledges made between the sheets in Martinique.

Martinique! Julia snorted. If she had to hear the witch's account of that glorious night in Martinique one more time she would hurl. She didn't believe a word of it. The woman was delusional. Julia was willing to bet that the last time Barnabas Collins had been completely naked in front of a woman, his nanny had been tying a nappy around his cute little bottom. Julia had been his doctor for nearly four years and it still took a half an hour to persuade him to unbutton his shirt. Barnabas had either been rip-roaring drunk on the night in question or he had thrown Angelique's skirts over her head so she wouldn't see anything. Yes. That was the most logical explanation. Darkness and a lack of oxygen had addled the woman's wits.

Julia stuck a finger in either side of her mouth and gave a resounding whistle not heard since her childhood in the streets of Philadelphia. The warring spouses lost their places in their individual monologues and looked at her in surprise. Julia walked forward and offered her hand to the woman with the ice blue eyes of death. Smiling sweetly, Julia conceded victory to her rival, wished her a long and happy life with her eternal soulmate and, turning neatly on her heel, walked toward the entry of the Old House, head held high..

"Julia!" Barnabas gasped her name in horror. "I thought we had an understanding…"

"Indeed?" spat Angelique. "I knew there was more between you two than nauseating vows of devotion!" She suddenly began to cackle again "And such a scrawny old crone! Really, Husband, your taste continues to baffle me."

With difficulty, Julia resisted the urge to remind the witch that the 'scrawny old crone' was still the youngest one in the room and continued out the door. As she shut the door behind her, she didn't have to look back to know that Barnabas was staring after her with an expression that was a cross between a deer caught in headlights and a guppy trapped in a shark tank. She felt a moment's compunction but steeled herself to be strong. Now was the time for drastic measures, not sentimentality. If Angelique wanted Barnabas so badly, well then it was Barnabas she should have.

It didn't take long. Two weeks later…two LONG weeks of listening to Barnabas turn every conversation back to himself and his tales of woe…two weeks of realizing that his idea of a hot night was to sit before the fire with a dusty old novel, in a robe thrown over his three piece suit was enough to cure Angelique of her undying love. Her dreams of lively nights in clubs in New York and Europe, dressed in the latest fashions were wasted on an introvert who preferred quiet evenings of reading, the symphony, leisurely strolls along the beach and intimate gatherings with his dullard cousins at Collinwood. Angelique wanted to yawn just thinking about it. And to add insult to injury, the social structure of the twentieth century was not what it had been in her day. There was nobody left to be shocked or impressed that she had risen above her humble birth. Nobody gave a hoot about a servant girl becoming a lady. It was a common plot in cheap paperback novels. And Barnabas was not the well-heeled aristocrat he had once been anyway, living as he did on pawned jewels and hastily made, if astute, investments. He was comfortable but…the last thing Angelique wanted was be comfortable. She wanted bright lights and adoration. Barnabas wanted to be adored. Quietly. Crowds, for some indefinable reason, now gave him vertigo. She wanted gourmet cuisine and fine wine. Barnabas preferred sipping at the same drink all evening, and his long inactive digestive system could as yet tolerate only the blandest of food. Erring from this path caused…Angelique shuddered. The fool needed a nursemaid not a wife. Let the redheaded shrew cater to his ailments and phobias. Furious that she had wasted nearly two hundred years (give or take a side trip or three in someone else's arms) on a stodgy stick in the mud who was too frightened of being returned to his former state to even..ahem!..rise to the occasion. Angelique screamed so hard and so loud that she burst a blood vessel in her brain and collapsed in a heap at the feet of her erstwhile spouse. Barnabas, staring out his favorite window, in the middle of his favorite 20-minute monologue about happiness being just out of his reach, remained oblivious to anything but the sound of his own resonant voice.

Arriving just in time for the fun, Julia concluded that the witch was dead but wanted to leave nothing to chance this time. Searching her mind desperately for inspiration, Julia had a thought. A bizarre thought. But, she snorted, what wasn't bizarre around this nut house? Smiling wickedly, she dragged the nasty blonde off into the woods, and tied her to the esteemed Reverend Trask's trusty witch tree. Recalling a voodoo ceremony she had once seen in "B" movie when she was a teenager, Julia took off her shoes and energetically danced and skipped around the tree three times, chanting an incantation that was more Hollywood than Caribbean. Nevertheless, it had the desired effect. Angelique promptly exploded into flames and was dispatched to her usual corner of hell. Doomed to an eternity in Cassandra's tacky lime green dress (and even tackier stiff as straw black wig), Angelique listened to Diabolos and Nicholas Blair laugh uproariously at her latest failure, and sighed wearily.

Julia returned to the Old House to find Barnabas getting his second wind on the subject of nobody ever loving him quite enough. She decided that drastic measures were again called for. She pulled off his tie, drop kicked the robe and preceded to perform a tonsillectomy on his mouth with her tongue. Several hours later, after vigorously polishing the floor of the drawing room with his still very attractive backside, Julia had the proposal she had long desired and Barnabas no further reason for any soliloquies of woe. The portrait of Josette soon found a new home in the gallery at Collinwood, the annoying music box was sent to grate on patrons' eardrums at the Collinsport Historical Society Center, and the Old House was completely renovated with every modern convenience the new Mrs. Collins could desire. Yes, smiled Julia, sometimes drastic measures could have the sweetest rewards.