Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 21

Desperate men do desperate things, but this one just froze until the witches stepped out to flank him.

Two of them, women, one old, one much younger and no doubt her trainee or apprentice. At first I had no idea how they had got there.

Then I realized they weren’t actually there. Projections of some kind. “Nice try, but I assume your backup is really back in town.”

“But of course. Why risk being stabbed? And we only want the child.”

“To sacrifice.” I kept my tone even. I was going to kill all three of them. “And you have him convinced he’ll gain power from it.”

They smiled.

“It’s not true, you know. There’s ways for normal people to learn magic, it’s a lot harder without the talent, but you could do it. Without hurting anyone.” A pause. “But you can’t just take the kid’s power. Or your wife’s.”

“They said we couldn’t take hers because she’s grown up, and besides, the kid will be stronger.”

I doubted that. I hadn’t sensed the child, which meant that its aura was still hidden by its…or his…mother’s. “The kid isn’t stronger. And I won’t let you do this anyway.”

“You and what army?”

“If I kill you…” I stepped forward, pressing the point of my sword against his chest. It wanted his blood. I could barely hold it back. “Which my blade wants to do.”

“They put a curse…”

I smiled. “Could any curse bind me?” Of course one could, but one set by these losers? I was confident they couldn’t touch me.

The witches did something at that point…the sword point was pushed back a bit. Straight up shield spell. Not bad, given they were doing it remotely.

I wished for Clara. She’d know how to stop them. And then I did, abruptly. They were projections.

The sword had just cut through magic. All I had to do was find…

I picked the younger one, abruptly darting right around the man to cut through the link between the image and her real self. It wasn’t like astral projection in the books. I didn’t kill her.

But I dispelled the image.
The older one blinked. Then she smiled. “A worthy opponent. Few would have thought of that.” Then she, too, disappeared.

No doubt she was checking on her apprentice. “Alone again.” The shield spell was still up. “Give me one good reason not to kill you.”

He didn’t.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 20

He managed to squirm free, and stood facing me. I kept the blade even and pointed at him.

He didn’t flinch. I gave him points for that. “She wants to leave you. Respect that or prove her right.”

“I need that child.”


He had no power, no magic, but… that didn’t mean he didn’t want it. “For what?”

“It’s none of your business!”

“If you knew who I was you’d know it was.” A bit of a bluff. I had no clue whether it was my business or not. Maybe he needed the kid to take over the family business.

“Why do you care?”

“Because I’m crazy.” I grinned at him. “Crazy enough to kill you right here if I don’t like the answers I get.”

“Then…” He had his hand in his pocket. Maybe he was dialing 911.

More likely he was calling whichever witch had told him where to find us. I didn’t make any move to stop him.

“…we’re at an impasse. You can’t follow them.”

“You don’t know that.” It happened to be true unless backup showed up, and I was a long way from my backup. But I could bluff him.

“I don’t see a vehicle.”

“Do you believe in magic, Carlton?” I asked him.

“Of course I do. Don’t you get it?”

“You want the kid to be trained and in your power.” He didn’t have any talent, but…

“Everyone else in my family has it. Don’t you understand?”

Honestly, I didn’t. “You want to be a witch. Failing that, having one you can control is almost good enough.”

“No. I plan on taking her power.”

He wouldn’t have said that if he didn’t think that he had backup. And the next thing I knew there was a spell trying to wrap around me.

“Nice try.” I actually slashed it with the sword, cutting through the magical energies. Huh. I didn’t know it could do that.

“What the hell are you?”

“A goddess,” I told him, with a smile. “Have your friend come out of hiding. Or…”

Or I really would kill him. Maybe I would anyway.

Maybe he knew that, from the look in his eyes.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 19

It would take us closer to two and a half hours to get to Hampton Roads, according to Sarita’s GPS. Thirty minutes in, I noticed we were being followed.

“We’ve grown a tail.”

“Joy. Is it our friend?”

Eden was kind of curled up on the back seat. She ventured a peek. “Yes. It’s him.”

Or at least his car and his license plate, I thought darkly. “Somebody told him.”

“How did they know what car I’d be in?”

I thought about that. “I don’t know.” I wanted to give a better answer to this one than that. I don’t know was not a good answer to somebody finding out close-held information.


Somebody had sold her out. It couldn’t be the cop. He would have told the guy she was going to Hampton Roads, but he didn’t know how or in what vehicle. We were driving along one, not very wide road.

“Should I…” Sarita frowned.

“Pull over.”

She did so. “I’m testing to see if he’s really following us or just happening to be on the same road.”

But he slowed and pulled in behind us. “You stay in the car. Get ready to drive.”

“Leaving you here…”

“I can handle him. Even if he’s armed. I’ve done this kind of thing before.”
I hopped out…and drew my sword. I heard an in-drawn breath.


“Just be ready to drive.” I wasn’t hiding the weapon. I wanted it visible. I wanted it intimidating. Bullies tended to be very afraid of feet of sharp steel that served only one purpose.

Often more so than of guns.

He got out of the car. Staring at me. “Who the hell are you?”

“Just a concerned citizen.”

“She told you I beat her.”

“She told the truth.” His aura had no magic to it. “How did you know where she was?”

“Witch told me.”

I’d have to deal with that witch.

“She’s mine. The child is mine.”

“Her name is Eden.” I said those words. “And the child is hers.”

He wasn’t about to charge me. “Drive,” I hissed at Sarita.

She did so. This was risky. I could be left here with no transport, but I sensed a bit of a build of power nearby.

He started to turn to run for his car. I switched the sword to my left hand and lunged forward, grabbing for his shirt with the right. “You’re not going anywhere. The courts will sort this out.”

“Ah, yes, they will. And I’ll win. You’ll see.”

Win proof that he hadn’t beaten her. And it did occur to me that maybe he hadn’t. “Either you beat her, in which case she needs to be away from you. Or she’s lying to get you into trouble, in which case why do you want her?”

“My child.”

Maybe she had manipulated us, but if that was the case we were doing this man a favor. But he seemed to care more about the child.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 18

“I really don’t trust him.”

I nodded to her. “I don’t, either.” I pulled my phone out. “Okay, so how do we get you to Hampton Roads.”

“I don’t think there’s a way without a car.”

I growled. “You’re right. Transit not available. And I don’t have a vehicle, there’s no room in the van, and I’m stuck here three more days anyway.”

I had money, but you couldn’t buy what nobody could sell. A taxi that long a distance would cost a fortune. It was, I recalled, close to two hours. But there was no other alternative.


“So, we’re going to have to hire a car and driver.”

“You have that kind of money?”
A pause. “No, but…the alternative is to rent a car on his credit cards, which with a one-way rental will…”

“I could dump the car and leave him with the bill.”

“He’d still find you too easily.” Of course, the same was true with a car. If I was a few years older. Well, legally older. “Unless…okay. You need to meet some people. Let’s go join them for dinner.”

“Do you think that’s safe?”

“I don’t think we have a choice.”

And with an entire group of women… So, we headed for the restaurant we were meeting at.

“I’m paying for this one too.”

Sarita looked at her. “Is this the lady who needs some help?”

I nodded. “Can you think of a good way to get her to Hampton Roads?”

“We have a half day tomorrow. I’ll take her.” A simple offer. A simple solution.

“I can…”

“No, you don’t need to cover my gas,” she told me, firmly.

“I think I want to come along. Three is better than two if he manages to track us down.”

She nodded. Then she looked at Eden. “We’ll get you away from him. Assuming you’re really determined to leave.”

“I’m pregnant,” she said, finally.

I glanced at Sarita. Then back to Eden. “Should have told that cop that.”

“I would if I thought it would help. He’ll probably tell Carlton where we’re going.”

I shuddered. “If he does, then…”

Then he might have signed Carlton’s death warrant. I wasn’t about to be nice to the guy, after all.

Or let him hurt Eden or her child.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 17

The police station wasn’t far from the beach and it was small. “If he sees me here.”

“He won’t.”

I had to drop the glamor, of course, once we were inside. Couldn’t risk the desk sergeant not noticing us either.

“Can I help you ladies?”

She took a deep breath, looked at me, looked at him. “I…” A pause. “My husband…he’s been…”

“I don’t see any bruises.”

I gave him a look. “First of all, abuse isn’t always physical.”

“Not much we can do if it isn’t.”

Okay, this was already going badly. I thought painfully of Mike, then gave her a reassuring look.

“He didn’t beat me today. But he does. Regularly. I’m leaving him, but I need help.”

I relaxed a little. She seemed determined to get out, she seemed like she wouldn’t run right back to him as too many abused spouses did.

“Not sure what we can do.”

“You can tell her how to get a restraining order and I’m sure somebody here knows where the nearest women’s shelter is.”

“Isn’t one closer than Hampton Roads.”

And me without any kind of a vehicle.

“Then I need help getting to Hampton Roads.”

He seemed to consider this. “I’d still need some…”

“You don’t need evidence to help her find a way to get to Hampton Roads easily.”

“Would be easy if I had money.”

I glanced at her. “I can help with that. Just tell her how she can get a restraining order.”

Finally, he nodded. “I have some forms and a leaflet. Let me find them.”

She whispered, “Unhelpful.”

“Typical,” I whispered back. “I don’t have a car with me, so I can’t drive you up to Hampton Roads, and I don’t think there’s room in the van, but I do have money.”

“Are you rich?”

I considered that. “Not yet, but I have enough to help with this.”

He was handing her some papers. “I’d personally wait until you get to Hampton Roads, mind.”

She nodded. “But I can read through this.”

“It won’t be that different.” Then he looked at me. Tilted his head, but said nothing more.

I felt, almost, as if he’d recognized me. Or recognized something like me. Knew the type, as it were.

It did not make me comfortable.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 16

We hid her in our room. Kanesha stayed with her while I went to work.

“You seem distracted,” Sarita said.

“There was a woman on the beach earlier trying to get away from an abusive husband or boyfriend.” I still wasn’t sure which.

“Ugh. Does she need a posse?”

I considered. “Maybe. I mean, the guy might have a gun.”

“Point. Has she talked to the police yet?”

“Not yet. And you know how well restraining orders work if the guy’s determined.”

“Don’t I just.” Sarita glanced around.

“But one would be a good idea anyway.” I had a feeling I’d still end up beating on the guy. No. This wouldn’t be resolved until after I left.

I had to find local help for her. It would be a challenge, but there had to be a coven of white witches or somebody who would assist.

Or maybe the selkie would, once she understood why the girl had tried to steal her cloak.

But a coven of witches would be better. They might be able to teach her to protect herself. Or get her out of town. This place was probably too small to have a women’s shelter.

Then it occurred to me she might not be local either. After the shoot I went back to our room.

“So, where are you from?”

“Maine,” she admitted.

“Is he from there to?”

“Yes.” A pause. “I’m not going back with him.”

“Maybe we can hide you until he runs out of money or time off.”
She shook her head. “He’d quit his job first.”

“Okay, then you need to talk to the police. Kanesha…” I tailed off. “No, I’ll go with you. Kanesha, find the local magic shop.”

It was a small town. It wasn’t that small. There had to be one somewhere. I’d rather send her to the cops, but this was the south. And heck, even in the north, you didn’t send the black person to talk to the cops.

Stupidity, but there it was. Kanesha sighed a bit, then nodded. “Alright.”

She knew it didn’t make sense either. I offered my hand. “What’s your name, even?” I hadn’t even asked.


Pretty, unusual. “Can your parents help?”

She shook her head. “They…died in a car crash, three years ago. My aunt, though. But he’d know I was going there.”
And possibly kill both of them. I nodded. “Stay with me. If he tries anything…”

“You’ll get arrested for assault.”

I grinned. “No I won’t. I’ll make sure he hits first.”
At that, she managed a weak smile. “Can magic help?”

“It already has.”

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 15

“She really wants it, doesn’t she,” the selkie said right before I took off in a run after the thief.

Maybe she thought the cloak would work for her…heck, she was running for the water. I could tell she wasn’t a fairy, though.

Just an idiot thief. And she was plunging into the water. “It won’t work!” I called after her. “It only works for its owner!”

“I need to…I need to…”

Escape? Maybe that was it. Had she been another fairy maybe…but she sensed to me as entirely mortal. No, not quite. There was a bit of magic there. A trace.

And then a wave knocked her off her feet. Fortunately, that was all it did, it didn’t start sweeping her out to sea.

But she let go of the cloak and the water took it. I didn’t go after it. I trusted its owner could do so faster than I could.

Instead, I plunged towards her, glad I was dressed for the beach. I had her wrists in a moment. “Look at me. It wouldn’t have worked for you.”


“What are you running away from?” I realized after a moment, it was a who.

“I…” She spread her hands. She had webbing, the mark of somebody who had a selkie ancestor.

“You don’t have enough of the magic,” I told her, softly. “But there are other ways to escape. I can help you.”

The selkie had retrieved her cloak. She looked at me, smiled, and then swung it around herself as she plunged into the water. What surfaced was a seal, swimming rapidly out to sea.

I had a feeling it wasn’t the last I’d ever see of her.

“He’ll kill me. He’ll kill you.”

“Look at me. Use the Sight, if you have it.”

Her eyes widened, seal-like in that moment. “You…” she whispered.

“I can help you.”

“He’s coming,” she whispered.

Partner, boyfriend, husband, father? Kanesha knew about abusive fathers.

“Are you sure you want to leave him?” I asked her.


“Then stay close to me. Walk next to me. Pretend nothing’s wrong.”

Kanesha had heard. She moved to the other side.

“When he sees me with anyone…”

I smiled. “He won’t.”

Her eyes widened. “Glamorie?”

“Something akin.” I strengthened the ‘nothing to see here’ field, wrapping it around all three of us. There were lots of people on the beach.

He wouldn’t see us. I was determined of that. Of course, it was only the first step. And the future steps would likely involve beating him up.

Or the police. Restraining orders, though, seldom worked. At least not in the stories I’d heard.

And I was a long way from my own turf.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 14

Kanesha returned empty-handed, to my disappointment, before I’d finished explaining my plan to the selkie.

“It all assumes whoever took it has no idea what they have.”

“If they knew, they’d already have called me to them.” The selkie considered. “But that doesn’t mean they won’t be seen with somebody who knew.”

“And the fact that they haven’t turned it in means they probably don’t intend to. I think they just stole it.”

She laughed.

“What happens?” Kanesha asked, “If a mortal puts on a selkie’s cloak.”

“Oh, nothing. Same with a swanmay’s. They just look kind of silly.”

I grinned. “So, we look for somebody looking kind of silly.”

Maybe, too, it was somebody who did know and was just holding it for safekeeping. No. If they knew, they’d use it to call her, even if their intent was to give it back.

“And then tease them until they hand it over.”

“We could try just asking,” Kanesha noted. “Or even threatening to call the cops.”

“The cops won’t bother with somebody stealing a beach wrap or whatever they think it is.” I shook my head. “They’re busy arresting drunks.”

The selkie laughed, albeit a little nervously, “I saw a couple of things worse than drunkenness for them to deal with.”

Then she tilted her head. “I think I spotted them.”

They were a red-haired woman wrapped in…I’d always figured the sealskin cloak would be like, sealskin. It wasn’t, it was almost translucent, marked with the patterns of a harbor seal. But it still looked silly.

I wandered over to her. “Nice wrap,” I said, sarcastically. “Where did you find it?”

She looked startled, and then a little bit guilty. Maybe I wouldn’t need to tease her into dropping it after all.

“Where did you find it?” I repeated, with a smile.

“Uh, in…uh…” She clutched it. “It’s pretty.”

“No, it isn’t. It makes you look silly and it isn’t yours.”


“There are plenty of places to buy something cheap. Hand it over.”

Now I was close to it I could feel a sort of buzz from it. Enough to tell me it really was what it claimed.

“No!” she said, abruptly, and ran. As if…as if in desperation. Or as if she thought it would protect her.

Maybe she wasn’t as oblivious as we thought.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 13

Kanesha joined me after a few. “What’s wrong?”

“She’s a selkie. And somebody grabbed her cloak.” The fact that whoever it was hadn’t already come to claim his prize led me more towards thinking this was ignorance rather than somebody who knew what was going on.

Kanesha apparently know what that meant. She swore.

“I’m thinking whoever picked it up has no clue, so there’s a chance we can trick it back out of them.”

“Trick?” the selkie asked.

I grinned. “Trick. You’re a fairy, you know about tricks.”

“I do, but…”

I grinned more. “Trickster’s daughter. I know what I’m doing.” I glanced at Kanesha. “If he’s ignorant, he probably thinks it’s just a weird wrap.”

“I’ll…” Kanesha laughed. “I’ll check lost and found.”

“I don’t think there is one formally, but try the lifeguard station.”

She nodded and set off at a jog up the beach.

I turned to the selkie. “Okay. On the assumption whoever it was didn’t turn it in…”

“…and that if they did the lifeguards don’t know…”

“If they did, then we can go get it. If not…” I scanned the crowd again. At least I wasn’t sensing any other supernaturals.

Then again, I thought the cloak thing only worked with mortals. “And you can trust Kanesha, too.”

“She wouldn’t want me when she has you.” A bit of a teasing note to that.

I grinned. “Nope, even if you are hot.”

“You don’t want me when you have her,” the selkie pointed out.

I didn’t ask her name. Fairy names are almost as powerful as demon names. She’d probably give a false one anyway.

But she was bound to the cloak and bound to promises. Right now, I could sense her aura flickering, off, but I knew it was anxiety and fear, not anything magical.

I would be anxious and afraid too. “Wish I had a witch.”

“Because a witch could track it.”

I nodded. “Yeah. I can’t. I can sense you, but I can’t sense the cloak at all.”

I closed my eyes, to see if that would help, but it didn’t.

“Not many can.” She paused. “But…I can trust you, because I can tell you’re in love with somebody else.”

I nodded. “You can. If I was single it might be a question, though.”

She laughed. “You also aren’t mortal.”

I nodded again. “Emphatically not. So…this is what we’re going to do.”

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 12

Or she might be harmless and just enjoying the beach. I finished lunch and got up and headed across the beach.

Hopefully Kanesha could distract anyone else from following me, anyone who might be more vulnerable to her charms.

She turned and smiled. “Oh, this is interesting. A godling.”

“A sea fairy,” I responded.

“Are you here to chase me back into the water?”

I gave her the honest response. “Only if you’re up to no good.”

She laughed. “Does looking for a no strings roll in the hay count?”

I considered that. “If that’s really what you’re looking for.”

The laughter again, ringing, merry. “You’d be…”

“I’m taken.” Which was perhaps unfortunate. If I could distract her, she couldn’t trick me into Faerie, but…

“Oh, that’s unfortunate.” She glanced at the restaurant. “Oh, but there’s…”

“The black one’s mine,” I quipped.

Another laugh. “But what about the redhead?”

“Hrm. I think she’s single, but if you try and trick her into joining you for a hundred years I will find cold iron.”

She grinned at the threat. “I’m just bored and lonely.”


Her lips turned into a pout. “You don’t trust me.”

“Don’t worry. I don’t trust myself either, so don’t take it personal.” I found that I liked her.

Then, abruptly, she tensed, turned. “Oh no.” And she ran for the fishing pier.

I hesitated, then followed. Whatever she’d sensed I’d missed, but it was probably something important. Or something personal to her.

Maybe personal to her. She reached the pier and then just started looking around frantically.

“Did you lose something?” I asked gently.

“My…my cloak.”

Oh dear.
She was a selkie. Whoever had taken her sealskin cloak could control her. If they understood the legends.

I cast around with my eyes, but I really needed a witch for this. Or to watch for a smug face.

Or a confused one, if they didn’t know what they had. I hoped they didn’t know what they had.

I really did. I might not know this woman, and selkies might not exactly be in my jurisdiction, but the idea of her being forced to marry whoever had her cloak sat ill. Even if it was selkie tradition.

Even if I might face an arranged match myself. Or maybe especially. I kept looking around, trying to work out who had it.

But I didn’t see anyone with the right look on their face for any scenario I could imagine.