Chapter 26: Rise of the Witch

The following week, Jeanie walked in the door with groceries; Mark was home early from work and sitting at the kitchen table.
He was silent and watched her with a pensive look on his face, like he had contemplated something for a long time.
Something was wrong.

Jeanie knew he was home before she even walked in the door because she saw his car in the driveway, she worried that something may have happened at work.
Then she thought of Gerald, did Mark still have a job, or did he double-cross her after all???
“Your home early, Jeanie asked, concerned.”
“Your home late, Mark replied, trying not sound angry.”
“Jeanie looked at the clock, no, not really, I told you yesterday that I had to pick up a few things at the store, she said indicating with the bag of groceries in her arms.”
“Do you want my help, putting them away, Mark asked.”
“No, I have it, Jeanie replied.”
She could feel his eyes on her the whole time as she put the groceries either on the shelf, of in the fridge.
What would you like for dinner, she asked?
I’m not hungry, he replied sadly.
Jeanie sat down at the table but left an empty chair between them. She smelled alcohol.
Okay, she said, let’s have it, obviously something is wrong.
“Who did you go shopping with, Mark asked?”
“Go with, Jeanie asked confused?”
“I didn’t go with anybody, I went by myself, of course, Jeanie said.”
“No one from work, he asked?”
“I don’t know what you’re implying but if your upset with something, maybe you should just come straight to the point, Jeanie said starting to get upset.”
Mark pulled out the chair in-between them, the chair was pulled in, so his briefcase was hidden, but on top were several printed page(s) laid on top.
He calmly reached over and gave Jeanie a copy, the other (an exact copy), he kept for himself.
He had highlighted the both in the same places.
When Jeanie studied the paper, she instantly recognized the printout as the monthly statement for her Auto Navigational System: Bright-star.

Usually she herself only received a monthly copy electronically on her computer. The printed bill had a complete list of locations from her “Bright-Star” account.

The one high-lighted was the time and day that Jeanie had met Gerald Ross at the Hilton, just over two months ago.

“She took the papers and scanned them, top to bottom, and than she flipped them over, now she knew why Mark was so angry, and he was waiting for a damn good explanation.

First, she set the paper down on the table, then she flipped the papers over, so she didn’t have to see the print, she wanted the last page flipped up on its back side, which was blank.

She did not act guilty, or surprised and she calmly asked him what he wanted to know?

Is it true, he asked?

Before I answer, will you let me explain?

“Is it true, Mark repeated, trying not to yell or cry.”

“Yes, it’s true, Jeanie said looking him in the eye.”

“Who is he, Mark demanded.”

“I’ll will tell you everything, I promise Mark, but may I ask why you had a printout done on my vehicle, Jeanie asked?”

“The Bright-Star account is in both our names, I have access to the billing same as you, and for both cars, Mark said.”

“I’m not questioning your privilege, I’m questioning your suspicion, Jeanie asked.”

“No suspicion, I had to use your vehicle previously this year when my car was in the shop, don’t you remember?

Jeanie nodded.

So, I was just writing off the mileage for tax purposes, the same as I would for my car, I wasn’t spying on you, I caught it by accident.
Mark said wiping away her tears.

I even called the company first to make sure this wasn’t a mistake, but they were able to confirm it, by the mileage, Mark said.”

“I just wished you would have spoken to me first, that’s all, Jeanie said.”
“I couldn’t. I was in shock. I wish I never had found out, Jeanie please give me something that explains this, or tell me that it’s not what I think it is.”

I will Mark, but I need you to stay calm, I will tell you everything, but you have to let me finish my explanation right up until the end, you cannot interrupt me, Jeanie begged.”

“Jeanie, I have waited for you for three hours, I can’t promise anything, please tell me it’s not what I think it is, that’s all I want to hear, he said.”

“It is true, Jeanie said sadly.” Mark she started crying.

What’s true, he asked?

But It’s over Mark, that’s what’s important now.

Whose over, he asked?

He ran a list of men she knew over and over in his head, but he could not come up with one, not even Janus, because this date was before she even worked for his company.”

“Gerald Ross, Jeanie said.”

“My boss, Mark said unbelieving?”

“Yes, Jeanie said.”

Mark tried to get up, so he could leave, but Jeanie stood up to stop him from leaving, I need you to hear me out, and you need to let me tell you everything, before you make any decisions, she said. Please give me that much.

He stood like a statue, and she could smell the faint scent of alcohol on his breath.”

He looked like he was about to fall over.

“Mark please, sit down., Jeanie said grabbing both his forearms firmly, and when she did all the strength seemed to drain out of him, and he became suddenly exhausted, and collapsed like a rag doll.

“Gerald Ross, never in a million years would I ever suspect him, Mark said bewildered.”

How, when, why, he asked, in rapid succession.

“Do you remember that night at the Christmas Party, Jeanie asked him?”
“Yes, Mark nodded.”

“In the car, you asked me who made a pass at me, she asked?”

“You said you didn’t remember the name of every person who works for the company, Jeanie corrected.

“Oh, I remembered, CEO, Gerald Ross, she said.”

How do you know him???

I had to protect you from him…  Mark we were set-up, When you came back from the bathroom the other VP was stalling for him so Gerald could work on me.”

Mark shook his head, why didn’t you tell me then, he asked?

“And Mark he knew everything, he knew that we were having money problems, he knew that the bank was foreclosing on the house, and he told me he cut your entire work division on purpose.”

“What, Mark asked again?”

“Gerald said that you would have already been cut along with everyone else during the last down-sizing, but the only reason you weren’t, was because of me. As far as he was concerned you were expendable.

“That’s crazy, Mark said.”

“He is crazy, Jeanie warned.”

“What did he say to you exactly, Mark asked?”

“Gerald promised me that if I secretly meet him one afternoon while you were at work, after he… (she looked away ashamed), that you would get the promotion and all of our money problems were over, Jeanie said.”

“So now you’re his whore, Mark said angrily?”

“No of course not, it was only the one time, Jeanie said starting to cry again.”

“Was it, how do I know what to believe, Mark asked, you lied to me, cheated on me, I don’t even know you anymore?”

“Your promotion was not the reason I slept with him Mark, Jeanie said digging thru her purse and looking for tissue to wipe her tears.”

“What did he do, whip his dick out, Mark raised his voice again?”

“He threatened that not only would you never have gotten that promotion, but worse than that, if I didn’t do what he wanted, he wasn’t going to just fire you, he was going to destroy you.”

“He already did that, Mark said, hitting his hand against the smoky-colored glass table.

“No, Mark, he said he would promote every man you trained, while you stayed where you were, to humiliate you and punish me for not sleeping with him, he had done this before with other men.

“I could have gotten another job, Mark said.”

“Yes, but only after we lost the house, and after your nervous breakdown, she said.”

“Don’t you turn this around on me, Mark threatened.”

“He said, he had driven men to insanity, alcoholism, drugs, divorce, even suicide. This man is sadistic and experienced, I knew he was telling the truth.”

I told you not to use my fear of insanity against me, Mark said.

I’m not, this has nothing to do with that.

“He played you for a fool, Mark said?”

“You think so, you work for him, you tell me the type of man Gerald Ross is?

“You should have come to me, Mark said.”

“How, how could I come to you, look at you now, you have alcohol on your breath as we speak?”

Mark looked away.

“How could I reason with you when, I couldn’t even talk to you, even before his threat, I was walking on eggshells for weeks, sometimes I dreaded you even coming home.

“I have been working for a man who slept with my wife and I didn’t even know it, you made a complete fool out of me, Jeanie, Mark’s growled in a louder voice, one he would use if you were talking to someone who was hard of hearing, like the impaired.”

“Mark, please lower your voice, Jeanie tried to stay calm, I’m sorry, but I didn’t do it to hurt you, I did it because I was trying to protect you, and that’s the truth, please try to understand that.”

“Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to know that my boss made a fool out of me, and a whore out of you, Mark said, the volume of his voice was loud, and Jeanie stiffened because of it.

“I bet they’re having a good fucking laugh in the executive room at my expense, bragging about how good my wife’s pussy is, Mark continued, shaking his head.”

“Mark don’t you talk to me like that Jeanie said, crying harder.”

“Why, it’s the truth… and then he paused,

I only wanted to make you proud of me Jeanie, I thought I had honestly earned that promotion, but I didn’t, everything was a lie, my life, my upbringing, my job, and now even my marriage, you were right after all…
“Right about what, what are you saying, Jeanie asked confused?”

“Everything you did was based on manipulation and deception, Mark said the last work particular loud, and slamming his fist against the glass in-between the two words, and working himself up.”

His words were shocking and hurtful, but the volume that he spoke was beginning to unnerve her Jeanie as well.

One thing that could push Jeanie over the edge was verbal abuse. Jeanie knew that Mark would lose it when he found out the truth, she was prepared for that, but there were limits, even to him punishing her by it.

Now, she herself was starting to panic,

“This is exactly the reason I did not come to you and try to talk to you, in the first place, because I knew you wouldn’t be able to control yourself, and that we would not be able to discuss this in a civil tone.”

“Did you think I was going to give you my permission to fuck him, Mark yelled!!!”

“No, but maybe we could have found a solution together; if I thought you wouldn’t have lost it at the mere suggestion of him propositioning me, Jeanie said.”Well imagine how you would feel if you had just found out that I had slept with your…

Mark who was near yelling suddenly stopped.”

“-wait a minute, you were never going to tell me about Gerald, were you, Mark asked?”

Jeanie turned away.

And now you suddenly have to work late with that pretty boy Janus, what a coincidence, Mark raised his voice again sarcastically.

“Mark stop it, your hysterical, lower your voice, Jeanie warned.”

“I guess you think I’m pretty stupid huh, maybe something is going with you and Janus to, but to throw me he even invited me along to make me look like an even bigger fool, than Gerald had?”

Mark laughed, you’ve only been working there a month or so and already you’re out on assignment, you didn’t waste any fucking time on this one thou did you, Mark asked?”

“What are you talking about, Jeanie asked bewildered?”

“This fucking Janus must have you pegged for the cheating slut when he hired you, that’s why you to go with him, and he must think I’m fine with it, Mark accused.”

Jeanie put her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming.

“I’m am not sleeping with Janus, Jeanie raised her voice, maybe for the first time ever, since she had known him.

Yes, I made a mistake with Ross and I’m asking you to forgive me, Jeanie begged!!!”

“You fucking cunt, Mark said.”

Mark had called her a spoiled psycho bitch, a devil-worshiping witch, a whore, but he had never called her a slut or a cunt. Cunt was both a miserable bitch and ugly whore, inside and out reserved for only the most vile women.

“What, Jeanie asked bewildered, what did you call me, she couldn’t believe the words that had just come from his mouth.

“I thought you were someone you could be trusted but now I’m trapped in a nightmare, and one I can’t wake up from, you bewitched me, I never wanted to believe it, but it’s true, you did all this to me.

Jeanie shook her head violently, “No, no, no…

Everything they said, it’s all true, you are an evil, fucking person, rotten to the core, I was too blind to see it, Mark yelled, I thought I could save you, but your your not worth saving.

Jeanie tried to put her fingers in her ears, so she couldn’t hear him. But he ran and pulled them apart with each of his hands.

I’m not going to let you destroy me that way you did that other girl. You were just a child the first you killed now you’re ten times more dangerous, “Murderer, Murderer, Murderer!!!”

Her aura grew brighter, it was as if for just a split second she had illuminated her body from the inside out, and when she did Mark felt a pain in his hands, like he had touched a hot stove.

Instantly Jeanie stood up and slapped her hand on the glass table, the way a person might try to kill a troublesome fly that had finally landed, but after she hit it, she left her hand on it. And suddenly after a slight pause the glass table collapsed into a thousand pieces.

The sound was unnaturally loud, much louder than it should have been, and it echoed throughout the kitchen.

The glass table collapsed not into shards but into a fine powder instead. Glass sand!!!

Every part of the table that was glass was missing; denigrated and imploded in a pile right and fell right where it laid.

Mark had seen the incredible, maybe the impossible. He had always suspected Jeanie had powers, secret powers that she tried to keep hidden from him, but he never wanted to believe it, it was a way of protecting himself.

Now he had seen it for himself. Again.
He looked at Jeanie, her eyes were glowing from within; they looked less green and more gold. He had never seen her like this before. She glared at him like a woman who had just suffered a psychotic break-down, or a mother who was just about to kill to save her child. He backed away slowly and lowered his head.
“Don’t you ever call me that word, again, Jeanie warned in a forced, hoarse and whispered voice, either word she emphasized.
Mark knelt on his knees it was the most submissive position he could think of.
“Don’t you curse my name nor raise your voice to me, in anger or otherwise, Jeanie warned.”
Mark would not look at her.
The whispering in contrast to her words, was nightmarish, the look in her eyes told him that she would end his life depending on what he did or said next.
He nodded slowly, meekly.
For the first time in his life he realized that he had pushed Jeanie over the edge, and if he had raised his voice or made a sudden move, as if to strike her, she would have killed him without hesitation.
He continued nodding slowly, and deliberately to make sure Jeanie knew that he did understand. He did not feel it was even safe to speak nor did he trust his voice.
Whoever Mark thought Jeanie was, there was another part, one that she kept hidden, it was an older, more powerful, and extremely dangerous version of the woman Mark thought he knew.
He had always thought that Jeanie had a split personality, or possibly multiple personalities, but not a separate identity. And that was what he was dealing with now.
Now that he had pushed her over the edge, maybe Jeanie wasn’t even Jeanie anymore.
Mark kept his head lowered and in a submissive position, He was going to wait for her to calm down. He wasn’t going to make a fucking sound. He was going to wait for her to give him permission to get up, even if that took all night.
After maybe five minutes in total silence, he slowly looked up to see her eyes, and they had returned to their normal emerald green color, but she had never stopped crying.
“Mark, she said calmly, and very softly, with her normal voice back, we have both suffered very traumatic events, we are not ourselves, and we both need to get some sleep, but just for tonight I would feel more comfortable, if you slept on the couch, if that would that be okay, Jeanie, asked?”
“Yes, Mark answered just above a whisper.”
“I’ll make the couch for you, and then I’ll clean up this mess, she said standing up, Mark gave her some distance and then he followed her to the living room where the couch was.”
He waited for her on the other side of the room, as she brought out some blankets and pillows and made his bed for him for the night, then
Jeanie went back to the kitchen.
The broken glass fell in a pile but stayed where it landed, it did not scatter with pieces bouncing all thru the kitchen. She had to put the glass powder in several plastic bags and then several cardboard boxes so the fine sand-like particles razor-sharp would not cut the plastic bags or shift thru the boxes.
After the glass was disposed of, she hauled the kitchen table frame outside to the trash, and then vacuumed the kitchen floor for any missing particles. Finally, she brought a card table from the back room to be used as a spare until they could buy a new one.
When she was finished, she walked into the bedroom, shut the door, and Mark heard the lock click. She didn’t even say good-night to him. Everything had changed now; Mark could not sleep; he just stared at the ceiling fan which was moving at a very lazy speed, and he watched it swirl until after some unknown amount of time he drifted off to sleep without knowing it.
Later that night Mark suddenly awoke startled, there was a presence in the dark. It was Jeanie; she was checking on him, making sure he was okay, and covering him with one of the blankets. She knew that he had a habit of kicking them to the floor because he tossed and turned as he slept. He did the same in the couch.
She was worried about him and she did not want him to be cold.
“Jeanie, he cried out, and reached for her in the dark, and when he found her he hugged her tightly, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Mark repeated over and over.”
She hugged him tightly, “I’m sorry too, she whispered.”
Mark kept repeating himself until it sounded like he was babbling, but it wasn’t fear, it was regret, maybe she would still loved him.
“I love you, I love you, I love you, don’t leave me, he was almost hysterical.”
Jeanie tried to comfort him, by gently rubbing his head, “Shhh, it’s okay baby, I love you too.”
Jeanie wrapped her legs around his waist, and her arms around his neck. She tried to quiet him like a mother trying to comfort an injured child.
“I’m so sorry, Jeanie cooed, I’m so-so sorry that I hurt you.”
“It’s just that when I found out you were with another man, I lost it, I thought you had stopped loving me, and I wanted to punish you for it, and that’s why I said… what I said, Mark down and sobbed like a broken man.”
“Mark, I will never stop loving you, Jeanie said, looking into his eyes.”
“Jeanie, I have to know, did you tell me everything, Mark asked?”
“No, she paused.”
“Will you now, Mark begged?”
After a long breath she said, “I’m pregnant, Mark.”
Mark looked at her and then smiled, “Are you sure?”
“Quite sure, Jeanie said.”
“You took a pregnancy test, Mark asked?”
“Three to be exact, Jeanie answered.”
“Oh, Jeanie this is wonderful, Mark said.”
Jeanie realized that he didn’t understand what she was saying.
“I know you said you didn’t want to have children before, but maybe this baby could be a blessing in disguise, Mark said.”
“Mark it’s not yours, Jeanie stopped him.”
Mark had never even considered that the child wasn’t his.
“Why do you assume that, he asked stunned?”
“I just know, Jeanie said, with tears falling, I just do.”
“Did you want to get pregnant with him, Mark asked confused?”
“No, of course not, Jeanie said.”
“You didn’t stop taking your birth control, Mark asked?”
“No, and I made Gerald wear protection, spermicidal protection, Jeanie replied.”
“Spermicidal, but that gives you a rash, Mark said.”
“I know but I wanted to take every precaution, Jeanie said.”
“How could three forms of birth control fail, Mark asked?”
“I don’t think they did, Jeanie answered.”
“I don’t understand, Mark replied, shaking his head.”
“Something feels deliberate about this pregnancy, I think we are both being punished by this baby, you for being abusive, and me for my betrayal.
We could have a genetic test done to make sure, Mark asked?
Yes, but you have to understand that we have to suffer the consequences for turning on each other.”
“When were you going to tell me about the baby, Mark asked?”
“I’m telling you now, Jeanie said.”
“How far along are you, Mark asked?”
“Ten weeks, I think, Jeanie said.”
“You’re not even showing, Mark said.”
“I will be soon, Jeanie replied.”
“Are you’re going to keep the baby, Mark asked.”
“Of, course I’m going to keep the baby, how could you even ask me that, Jeanie asked surprised.”
“Even if it’s not mine, Mark said, defensively.”
“Kill my own child in the womb, I don’t think there’s a greater crime against nature, Jeanie answered.”
Yes, but if your right I mean under the circumstances…
Women are the creators of life, not the destroyers, that’s what men do.
“I hate Gerald, I hate everything about him, maybe I want you to get an abortion because the child, if it’s his, would be a constant reminder of your affair, Mark said. I do not have to love this child, Mark said defiantly, its not mine.”
“Yes, you do, you’re my husband, and I choose you as the father, not Gerald, Jeanie said dismissively.”
“I see, so I have no say in this, I just have to raise the child of a man that I hate, and for the rest of my life, Mark said.”
“Do not punish this child, who is innocent, if you do I will submit to you, you will be my owner.
What, Mark said, he could not believe his ears.
I will let you brand me as your property, if you raise and love this child.”

I will be your whore and let myself be used, as you always wanted me to be, she said.
“Branded, Mark said, asked stunned?”
“You said you wanted to make me your property, well if you love this child as your own, I will be.”

“Why?”
“So that you’ll still love me, she asked weeping bitterly.”
“Jeanie, you’re no man’s slave, were not even equals if anything, if anything you’re my better half, I should be your slave and not the other way around.
“I don’t care, I will do anything to keep you, she said.”

I will love you, and the baby as my own, now and forever, and I forgive you, I was wrong, and you and always will be the best thing to ever happen to me, and I swear to you that I will love this baby as my own.

Me raising another man’s baby, after the way I treated you for so long, is the least I can do for you.”
“I told you long ago that we are bound together, for better or worse of ever, and I will do anything to secure that bond strong.
Just forgive me for being a fool, he said. I have been nothing but arrogant, and I deserved this, all of this, this is not your fault alone.

Our differences caused this; I never want this to happen again, do you think if I join your Wicca, it may prevent something like this from ever happening again in the future.
Jeanie just looked at him amazed.
Mark were both riding high on emotion, lets settle down first, we have more things to speak of.
Like Gerald, she said.
“I don’t want you tell him, Mark asked?”
Are you sure, she asked?
I’m positive, that would only make him more a part of our lives, not less.
Jeanie was right, If Gerald knew she was pregnant, then Marks very life might be in danger.
Jeanie could easily see Gerald arranging for Mark to have an accident, maybe on a flight during a business trip abroad, so afterward Jeanie would be his permanent mistress, with nothing to stand in his way of having her forever.
“Jeanie, I can’t work there anymore, do you have any idea how impossible it is to work for a man who impregnated my wife, Mark sobbed.”
“No Mark, your wrong, you did earn that promotion, Gerald views this as a business agreement between me and him, you are nothing to Gerald except a means to an end, He doesn’t care enough about you to brag, he’s above that.
I can’t keep the hate from my eyes, he’ll know I know, Mark said.
He’s an egomaniac, when Gerald wants something, he gets it, and nothing will stand in his way. There is no reasoning with him. He would have had you killed if he thought that was the only way he could get what he wanted.”
Mark nodded his head, he was beginning to understand.
“And after he was thru destroying our lives, as he’s done to countless others, he would happily go back to his wife and grandchildren, and sleep like a baby at night.
The Devil without his horns, Mark said.
I’m sure Gerald was going to downsize your division anyway, but he also used that excuse as leverage against us, that is why he kept you on after your dept. closed, and why the Christmas Party was mandatory.
“How can I work for a man like that, Mark said.”
I can get another job, we can sell everything, I don’t care what it takes, I’ve had it?’
“And the baby, Jeanie asked?”
“What of it, Mark asked?”
“No job, no insurance, medical bills, Jeanie said.”
They couldn’t just pack up and leave, that was impossible now, everything had changed.
“Then were trapped, Mark said hopelessly.”
“Then let get untapped, Jeanie said.”
“How, Mark asked?”
“By working together, when we are most vulnerable, that is our strength, our power, together we can endure anything, but when turn against each other; that’s when are at our weakest, Jeanie said.”
“I’m sorry I turned against you Jeanie, I crossed the line-
“Mark, I don’t have all the answers, I mainly go by what I feel, but I do know that we can never treat each other like this again, this pregnancy is merely a warning, the life-force, the “it,” the unseen; the unnameable that binds and controls everything that is seen, and is nameable will keep us together, no matter what! Death is the only alternative, if it cannot keep us together in this world, then it will arrange it so that we will be together in the next one.

Chapter 27: The Second Face

It was the night of Jeanie’s work assignment, Mark went to work but took a half day, so that he got home in plenty of time to shower and change. The event was not formal, but Mark still felt like he should dress-up, so he changed suits.
Mark heard that there was a storm coming later that evening so if asked Jeanie if he should bring a coat. She agreed and told him to bring an umbrella as well.

Mark stopped at the house changed and then drove to Jeanie’s workplace, it was decided they would leave together in one car to the appointment downtown. Mark left and Jeanie’s car in the Parking Lot in the back.
Mark thanked Janus for inviting him to tag along and Janus laughed apologizing for the late notice. Jeanie sat in the front, and Mark in the back, and they made small talk for the thirty minutes it took to get there.
Jeanie looked out her tinted window, the weather was miserable. It had been drizzling on and off all day, but it seemed to be getting worse even as they were on the way to the restaurant.
Jeanie hated the unpredictability of Michigan weather.
She and Mark had already talked about moving out of Michigan, he didn’t like this state any more than Jeanie, even though he had been born and raised here his whole life.
Maybe now that Jeanie was pregnant, she was homesick and wanted to raise her child where she grew up. She preferred the smell of wheat or even hay, as opposed to car exhaust.
Mark was all for leaving, it was not the how but the when.
Mark thought of their conversation from last week, “You’re not from here Jeanie, I thought about what you said, he had already discreetly inquired if a transfer to another location was possible, even if Nebraska was not an option.
Michigan is not the State to raise our child, you’re just a small-town girl, Mark said.”
I know but we must be patient, maybe the stress of an uncertain move would not be healthy for the baby.
“As long as I’m with you, I don’t care where we live.”
Jeanie started crying, I just want to get as far away from the people that hurt us, so they can’t be a part of our lives anymore.”
“I agree, Mark said.”

Inside the restaurant, Janus said that he was going to the restroom to make a call, and that he did not like making cell phone calls at the table, it might be considered rude.

But he waved the hostess over confirmed their reservations and had her lead them to their table. They he was gone.
Janus returned with a waitress in tow and he told Mark and Jeanie that he was paying for everything and to order anything they wanted, except drinks with alcohol. Janus could not help noticing that Jeanie had been crying and was fixing her make-up with a pocket mirror she took from her purse, but he didn’t mention it.
Looking at the menus Janus asked, “Have you two decided on an appetizer.
Salad, for me, Mark said, with Vinaigrette on the side, Jeanie said that she wanted the same but with crackers. Janus ordered the Caesar Salad, with Blue Creme.

After they ordered their dinners, Jeanie glanced over and saw that Janus had ordered his meat especially rare, and except for the top and bottom it looked raw. Instantly she lost her appetite and tried to cover her portion with a napkin for fear she might be sick, or even pass-out.
During the end of their dinner, the magician came on the small stage and started doing some mildly entertaining illusions. Mark didn’t care for magicians, he used to do magic tricks when he was a kid, so he wasn’t impressed easily, but he clapped when appropriate.
After the show, maybe less than a half-hour, he came to the table and Janus introduced him to Mark and Jeanie, by his stage name, the Mystifying Morocco, who looked a little bit like Danny De-Vito and was about the same height.
Janus started conducting the interview right there at the table and it was all very casual and friendly, Mark noted that “Morocco had not attempted any stage hypnosis that evening.
“There aren’t enough people here tonight for that, I was hoping for a bigger turn-out, this being the weekend and all.
Maybe one in thirty makes a suitable candidate, Morocco, explained that hypnosis had more to do with willingness, confidence, and persuasion, then actual technique, or method.
“Morocco’s” real name was Charles Wiesel, and he used to be an accountant, but he loved to perform on the stage, so during the off-season he was worked as “Morocco the Magnificent.”
Jeanie took shorthand on her laptop computer as Mark tried to remain unobtrusive in the background. After the interview, they all shook hands and Janus picked up the bill and gratuity, putting it on the company tab, which would later have been written off as a business expense.
As we were leaving Mark noticed from inside the lobby that the weather had turned from bad to worse, and there was a thunderstorm outside.
The rain was coming down hard, fast and in large cold drops. Mark could see Jeannie stiffen as it began to thunder as well. Mark honestly doubted he could drive home safely in this.
Then as if Zach had ready his mind, he offered to let the couple stay at his apartment until the weather passed.
I only live about five, maybe ten miles away at the most, please stay with me until this pass and then I’ll drive you back.

“Oh, Janus, we couldn’t impose on you, Jeanie declined.”
“You’re not imposing, I have plenty of room, and you can’t drive in this, please, he begged, I feel responsible.
“How far do you live, Jeanie asked again?”
“Maybe five minutes away, Mark said.”
Jeanie looked at Mark, and he shrugged his shoulders.
“Well if you’re sure were not imposing, Jeanie said.”
“No, please don’t be silly.”
“We would love too then, Jeanie replied.”
Mark was very reluctant to accept, but Janus was right, it was dangerous, and five minutes was much safer than thirty. And Jeanie was pregnant, her safety was a huge concern now.
“It the rain lets up, I’ll drive you back, or call you a cab, whatever you want.
Then without waiting for an answer, Janus took out his cell phone and started making calls, the valet brought he expensive land rover around and three of them got in with Jeanie in the front again.
Janus had the defroster on, and the wipers on the fastest speed possible but still he could barely see three feet in front of him. He had to drive at a snail’s pace and even he said he lived only five minutes away it felt like an hour before they finally reached his apartment. Mark admitted that Jonas was an excellent driver, but he wasn’t used to being a passenger, so he rode most of the way with his eyes closed.
When they got to his building, Jonas parked the car and they took the underground elevator up to the ground floor. He was going to check his mail but decided to wait on that, as he had guests that were cold and wet. And he didn’t want to be rude. The threesome continued their way up to his apartment. Janus did not live in the penthouse, but he did live hear the top so if that was any indication of his wealth he was doing very well.
Janus hit the numeric code on the keypad and the front door of his apartment opened automatically, once inside Janus took their coats. The cold hard rain had soaked thru Jeanie’s thin coat, and expensive dress making it transparent, and she was shivering with goosebumps.
Jeanie had her arms crossed for warmth, and modesty as her large erected nipples were very visible thru both her bra and dress.
“Mark is it okay if I get Jeanie a robe, and a pair of my thermal socks, she looks frozen to death, Janus asked.”
“Yes, please, Mark said.”
When Janus left, Jeanie admitted to Mark,
“I’ve never felt this cold before in my life, Jeanie replied, it’s like the rain has soaked right into my bones.”
Janus returned with a white cotton robe and a thick pair of socks that never looked worn, Jeanie turned her back to Janus as she slipped the rob on.
“Mark, I think it would be best if you talk Jeanie into taking a warm bath, she has to get out of those wet clothes otherwise she’s going to get sick, Janus said.”
“I’ll be fine, Jeanie said, and then she sneezed.”
“If you want I can hang your clothes up to dry, Janus said.”
“No, that’s okay, Jeanie sneezed again.”
“Look, there’s a private bath right next to you, you take a bath or shower, and I’m going to go in the living room to turn the thermostat up, when your done, join me, its just down the hall to your right.
And then Janus walked down the long narrow hallway.”
“Jeanie, he’s right, you can’t stay in those wet clothes, you won’t get warm, they have to dry, Mark said.”
“I don’t feel comfortable taking a shower in someone else bathroom, and this dress can only be dry cleaned, Jeanie, said.”
“I don’t care about that dress, I’m thinking of you and the baby, Mark begged.”
“Well, maybe just a quick shower to warm up, Jeanie agreed.”
Mark followed Jeanie into the bathroom and shut the door, then he locked it behind them, Jeanie started running the faucets to draw a bath. Mark looked around the secondary bathroom and was very impressed.
The bathroom, from what Mark saw, was immaculately furnished. Mark wondered it Janus had it done it himself or had it decorated
professionally.
“Do you want me to stay with you, Mark asked, watching Jeanie undress, she looked magnificent her hips had just gotten wider this week from the baby weight. She was even more impressive.
“No, go out and tell Janus we took him up on his off for the bath and keep him company, I’ll come out when I’m finished, she said.”
“What about your clothes, Mark asked?”
I hang them up and try to dry them as best I can with the blow dryer, she said.
Mark nodded.
Go out and keep him company just make sure that the door is locked on your way out, Jeanie said over the pouring water.”
Mark pushed in the button that locked the bathroom door, walked out and shut it behind him.
Then he tried it from the outside to check and make sure. He turned up the same narrow hallway that Janus had taken. The room was not well lit compared to the bathroom, and his shadow cast an eerie image. Mark was going to look for a light switch, but he couldn’t find one. It seemed like there was a light near the end of the hall, and it reminded Mark of a light at the end of a tunnel.

Chapter 28: Rise of the Witch

When Jeanie dried off she took her dress and tried to dry it as thoroughly as she could by running the blow-dryer, thru it, then she redressed herself but still covered herself with the same robe that Janus had lent her.
She left her heels by the door when she came in, but she put on the thermal socks over her nylons and opened the bathroom door. When she walked into the hallway she noticed that it was unusually quiet, there was no one talking, the television was not on.

Nothing.
This was the first time that Jeanie had been in Jonas apartment, so she didn’t know the layout, but she walked up the hallway to where she thought the kitchen might be. And for some reason she sensed something was wrong. She decided to walk very lightly, so the floor board did not creak, and decided not to make her presence known.
As she silently made her way to the living room, she saw Mark was sitting in a leather chair and he looked restrained. Janus was standing over him.
He was in pain, she more than just sensed it, she felt it.
Mark looked like a suspect being interrogated in an old crime drama. When Jeanie saw the piece of hose, for lack of a better word, in Janus’s hand, she could have screamed.
Whatever weapon he had looked like a section of garden hose, about two feet in length but the color was black; not green, and it was thicker and shiny like it was coated with something.
Jeanie was horrified, she knew that Mark was defenseless just by his posture alone. She quickly circled around Janus and picked up the iron stoker by the fire-place, it was lying against the stand, and she very quietly but removed it from its stand, without making a sound and quickly crept up behind Janus.
She made it almost halfway before Janus turned around unexpectedly to greet her.
“What took you so long, Janus laughed, smiling like a the “Joker” from Batman?”
Jeanie looked at Mark he was not bruised or bleeding or cut, but he did look beaten, and one of his eyes was starting to swell shut. She wasn’t sure if he was conscious or not.
“What did you do to my husband, Jeanie asked alarmed?”
“He fell and hurt himself, so I put him in the chair, and waited until you got here, before I administered first aid, he said, matter-of-factually.”
“How did you hurt himself, she asked, raising the poker.”
“Slip and fall, but don’t worry, he’s fine.”
What’s that in your hand, Jeanie asked?
This is what he slipped on, Janus answered, holding it out to show her.
What it is, Jeanie asked.
It covers the pipes in the Wintertime to keep the pipes from freezing.

I used some for the back of my patio, would you like to see it???
I’m sure the building has maintenance people for things like that, the thing you have looks more like a weapon.
I just wanted a little personal information, and he was reluctant to tell me, so I had to be a little more persuasive, that’s all, Janus said, throwing it into the fire.
“What information, Jeanie asked.”
“Information about you of course, Janus answered.”
“I’ll tell you whatever you want to know Janus, there’s no reason for you to hurt my husband, he’s harmless, you know that.”
“He’s might be harmless, but you’re not, Janus said.”
“What do you mean, Jeanie asked?”
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him Jeanie, I just wanted a couple minutes to talk to you alone.”
Fine, now were alone, ask me anything, Jeanie said.
I was hoping we could have an open and honest relationship, Janus started.
We do, Jeanie countered.
No, your hiding things Jeanie, dangerous things, I’ve know it since the first time I saw you, Janus said.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Jeanie said baffled.”
“I have a secret power Jeanie, do you want to know what it is, Janus asked?”
Yes, I would, Jeanie humored him.
I know when other people are hiding things, personal things, dangerous things.

Then why did you hire me???

I was told to hire you???

Told by who???

That’s for me to know and you to find out.

Who do you work for Janus???

I work for me Jeanie.

I think you’ve make a huge mistake and we are not the people you thought we were.

I think you also have a secret knowledge, something you know that makes you think your superior.
Oh, no Janus, I don’t have any special powers, Jeanie said, whatever you think those are.
“That’s just what your husband said, and why I beat him, because I knew he was lying.”
Janus started walking towards her.
“You do have secrets Jeanie, and I want to hear all about them, starting right now, Janus demanded.”
“The only power I have is my faith Janus, and that’s hardly a secret, Jeanie said.”
“Faith in what, Janus asked?” “People, Goodness, Humanity, God, Janus laughed.
“What’s so funny, Jeanie asked offended.”
“You’re trying to play me for a fool, Janus said.”
“No, I’m not, Jeanie pleaded, I’m telling you the truth.”
“I tried to be rational with you Jeanie, but I see you just want to play games, he took off his jacket quickly, revealing a shoulder holster with a pistol.
This was the same pistol with the anchor bullets that were made for indoors, the new ones weren’t made of plastic they were made of rubber, still very lethal at a close proximity, but guaranteed not to go thru walls.
Drop the fire-poker Jeanie, he commanded, I don’t want there to be any “accidents.”
The sky flashed with lightening and boomed with thunder, it was pouring outside as if a typhoon had hit. The patio door was open for air, but the screen door was shut to prevent the rain was coming thru.
Jeanie threw it into the fireplace and it landed length wise half in and half out of the fire, like a sword that had fallen over. The half of the iron bar out of the fireplace was lying on ceramic tile, and not near the carpet, so Janus wasn’t worried about it for the moment.
Janus holstered the gun, and walked to the fireplace, there was leather pouch and he opened it to reveal a set of hypodermic needles and several colored vials of liquids.
Take off your clothes Jeanie, he commanded.
“Please don’t make me do this, Jeanie begged, I’m with child.”
“See I knew you were hiding something, Janus laughed.
Jeanie started crying, “Janus, I have seen the good in you, I know you don’t want to do this, please I’m begging you she said helplessly, don’t hurt my baby.”
“Good in me, worthless theorem, don’t you know that Good and Evil are two constructs used for manipulating the masses, Janus said. I thought you were not smart enough to see thru that.
As he walked toward Jeanie she circled toward the fireplace, I told you to take your clothes off, he said filling one of the vials.
This time she did want she was told, she took off her clothes gracefully and let them drop to the floor.
Now throw your clothes by the sofa, Janus commanded making sure she was hiding anything that could be used as a weapon.
Now you turn around and slowly put your hands up, I am going to give you a shot in your neck, don’t move or I might break the needle off in it, and that would be a real shame, he said humorlessly.
Jeanie turned around as he approached.
Put your hair up, slowly, as he commanded.
And when she did, he saw her pentagram, and he became mesmerized. He also became aroused, in his captivated state.
Despite his training, skills, and will, he had become completely helpless. Jeanie spoke but stayed where she was.
Janus can you hear me.
Yes, I can hear you.
Is the fireplace gas or electronic?
Gas, he answered.
Can you tamper with it where it the would exploded just enough to set you on fire, she asked?
Of course, he said still staring at her pentagram.
Jeanie gave him his orders, and then she went to open the screen door, both were wide open as the storm outside was raging.
Jeanie made sure that she and Mark were well out of the way and Jeanie shouted her command to him.
“Dedere Mihi Vita”

With that Janus ignited the gasoline and set himself on fire. The gasoline spayed him like a hose, catching him on fire, and then he ran outside into the patio where it was raining.
As soon as he ran passed Jeanie, she shut the sliding screen door, locked it and put the long wooden dowel in the slot to prevent the door from being forced open.
Jeanie ran back to make sure the fireplace was turned off and spayed the nearby carpet that started to catch on fire. The thick foam smothered the flames. There was a fire extinguisher nearby, and she used it to put out the small accidental fires Janus had caused as he ran through the house. The she turned to the patio glass door.
The spell Janice was under was broken now that the fire had burned all the clothes off him. His skin was dark red and in other areas charred black.
The rain was falling hard but not hard enough to extinguish the fire which consumed him. He ran to the glass door and tried to break thru it to Jeanie on the other side.
The thick glass was not glass but plastic and it held firm after the first lunge. Jeanie stood watching him safely from the other side.
Janus stopped, dropped, and rolled over the cement, to try and put himself out, but it didn’t work.
He got up a second time and ran into the door again, it reverberated thru the entire apartment, but the glass held, it did not even crack.
He ran and crashed into the patio door, the entire apartment, and pictures fell off the wall, but the glass didn’t even splinter.
Janice stood there staring at her for a just a moment, they stared at each other, him on one side and her another. And he was bewildered, he had been beaten but he didn’t know how. He was crazed with pain, insane, beaten by a cunt!!!

But he would not let Jeanie see him die.
He was dying, there was nothing he could do to stop it, but she wouldn’t see her own victory.
He did not have enough strength for a third attempt for the door, nor did he think it would matter, so he threw himself over the balcony instead.
Jeanie kept the door locked as she went to check on her husband. Jeanie ran to Mark, and tried to revive him, “Mark, Mark, she screamed, talk to me baby, are you okay, she asked hysterically?”
Mark tried to talk.
“What did he do to you, she screamed?” Again, Mark struggled to speak.
“Shhh, baby, it’s okay don’t talk, Jeanie ripped open his shirt to help him breath.”
“I-I’m okay, Mark said, trying to clear his head, but he could not move enough to hug her back yet.”
“Stay here, Jeanie said, I’m going to try and find some other windows to let in a cross-breeze, Jeanie said.”
She feared Janus may have also used some aerosol to drug Mark with.
She shut the door which had cooled down the apartment immensely, after Jeanie found the windows she ran back to Mark.
He was still groggy and breathing heavy, and then Jeanie ran to the closet to grab their coats, and she stopped. She had to call the police, the boss had accidentally set himself on fire, it was an accident, the fireplace must have had a leak.
Her husband passed out from the carbon-monoxide from the fireplace, while she was in the shower, Janus tried to put himself off but when he couldn’t he jumped over the railing from the pain. They tried to save him but they couldn’t.

That was believable, wasn’t it???
It all happened so fast Mark and Jeanie could do nothing to help him.
She threw a coat over Mark and then a blanket, then she looked over the living room, at the far end was a wooden spindle was a stack of other blankets.
She ran and grabbed several, to cover Mark with.
“He used a drug, Mark said, some kind of aerosol, he said struggling for the words.”
I know, Jeanie said, trying to prevent him from speaking, and that’s why I opened the windows.”
“Is he dead, Marked asked.”
“Very dead, Jeanie replied without an ounce of regret.”
“How, Mark asked.”
“Self-inflicted punishment, Jeanie said without humor.”
“He was going to kill me Jeanie, he told me so, not fast but slow by torturing me first, but he waited so that he could do it in front of you.
I saw this man change into a monster right before my very eyes, this handsome, charming, -stoic man, changed into something that was even remotely human.
I have never seen anything like it in my life, I was helpless, I was terrified. Mark said trying not to cry.”
“He can’t hurt us anymore, Jeanie kissed him assuredly.”
“What do we do now Mark asked?”
“I have to call the police and explain, you just keep your mouth shut, you were out from the fireplace fumes, Janice caught himself on fire from a leak, I was able to save you but not him, you understand???

“Yes, Master, Mark said smiling, and he held her.”
Now these are the times that I wished you would have been a lawyer like your dad wanted you to be, she joked.
Mark laughed, no matter how bad things got, Jeanie never lost her strength, her sense of humor.
“Jeanie took out her cell phone and dialed the three digits, 9-1-1.”

To Be Continued…

ISBN:978-0-9988962-0-5

Other Books by Me can be found here:
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Ten Commandments on Women… and Counting!!!
(Non-Fiction)

The Collective
A collection of short stories, that include genre’s Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Comedy, and Commentary.