Title: Giordano's Mask — Chapter 3 of 6
Codes: viol, magic, nosex, caution
Summary: The three girls take a side trip to Lake Garda. Things take an unexpected turn, and once again, Rachel must save a girl.
Beyond the terrace was the lake. A couple, two women, walked hand in hand along its bank. A windsurfer drifted offshore. We heard the flap of his sail. The wind was changing, blowing down from the valley. He expertly shifted his weight, pirouetting around, changing his tack.
Further out were three sailboats with furled sails. A powerboat zipped by, and they tossed in its wake. A pretty girl dived from the stern of one and swam to another.
Beyond the lake were stone cliffs, towering, jutting up from the water, flat and sheer, as if the lake had been carved by a giant knife. I didn't rule that out completely. Giants had indeed once lived here.
Our waitress brought our coffee.
"Your first time in Riva del Garda?" she asked.
"Yes—well at least the two of us," I answered, motioning to Lauren. Fiorella had been here before. She'd recommended this hotel.
"It's beautiful," she pointed out, as if we needed to be told.
I sipped my coffee. The waitress left. Fiorella sighed.
"I'm bored," she said, "Say—Why don't we go up to the room and fuck?"
I smiled. My coffee was nearly full. I took a big gulp.
"Fi wants to go upstairs and fuck. Care to join us?"
She smiled. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."
I glanced again at the lake, the boats, the mountains. They were indeed beautiful, but nothing compared to these two girls.
I gulped down the rest of my coffee. Fiorella and Lauren did the same. We got up, me pressing down my skirt. We each smiled at the others. We headed toward our room, turning our backs on the scene.
When we got to our room, it had been ransacked. Our bags were opened. Our clothes were strewn about.
"Fuck!" Fiorella said.
Lauren rushed over to her bags.
"My shoes are gone!" she cried out.
I checked my stuff, looking for the money. I hadn't left it all in the room. I had stashed a hundred euros in my shoes. The rest was gone.
"The money is gone," I said.
Lauren and Fi looked over at me. I frowned.
"All of it?" Lauren asked.
"No. I had a hundred euros stashed in my sock."
"They took your shoes?"
She sat on the bed. I smiled.
"What?" she asked.
"We can track your shoes."
"Fi," I said in Italian, "We can track Lauren's shoes."
"I doubt it. A pair of black Pradas aren't exactly rare in Italy."
"You underestimate me."
Back to English. "Lauren, take my hand."
I grasped her hand. I pictured her shoes. I thought of her—her spirit. She loved those shoes. She was bonded to them.
"You understand the principles of contagious magic, correct?" I muttered to Fiorella.
"Of course. That's basic."
"The shoes are connected to Lauren. She loved them."
"Oh! But she has owned them such a short time. The bonds will be weak."
I smiled. I spoke the spell. I opened my perception and saw the image. There was a girl, young, light haired, pretty. She was barking out complaints in an unknown language. Albanian, perhaps? There was a man. He sat on a dingy bed in a shabby room. There was faded wallpaper, an ugly floral print. A dim yellow lamp lit them.
I panned out. There was a window. I let my spirit pass through. The building was white brick. There was a sign. I'd seen it before.
"I know where they are. They're in that tall brick building, across from where we had lunch."
"Let's go!" Lauren said.
I told Fiorella.
"They're going to pay! For interrupting my fuck!"
Their apartment was on the third floor. When we arrived, no light could be seen through the window.
The building had a heavy wooden door set atop a short set of steps. We entered. The small lobby had a chipped tile floor. The door to the stairs was wedged open by a garbage can.
"Should we check with the super?" Lauren asked.
"I don't see an office," I replied, "I think we'll just go up."
We climbed. The third floor had several apartments. Theirs was on the east side of the building. There were two likely doors. I muttered a spell. I sensed through the walls. Both apartments were empty. The one on the left was uncluttered. Children's toys were arranged nicely on a shelf. The apartment on the right was the one from my vision. It was empty, but still, I knocked on the door.
No answer. I cast again. The door opened.
I turned and kissed Lauren. Magic flowed. It tingled and replenished the magic I'd used.
We entered. The room was as shabby as I'd seen. Also, it stunk. A dirty pot sat on the tiny stove. Unwashed dishes were piled in the sink. Opened cans and boxes, emptied of their contents, were scattered on the floor.
Fiorella pinched her face. "How disgusting!" she said.
We searched the room. Lauren volunteered to take the kitchen. We let her proceed, looking away from the horror. I tossed the bed and closet. Fiorella went through the two small dressers.
Fiorella emitted an audible sigh. I looked. She had a bemused expression, holding up a pair of tattered panties. There was a big hole in the butt.
"Stop fondling her underthings," I said.
"Ha!" She tossed the panties back and continued her search.
I found nothing under the mattress. There were shoeboxes in the closet, but none held Lauren's shoes. Several dresses were hung, and a man's suit. All were threadbare and old, except the wedding dress. It was white lace, quite lovely, and protected in a clear garment bag. It seemed about the right size for the girl.
Fiorella found little of interest, except an iPod. Its battery was dead. Lauren found only bugs.
I cast again. I scanned the other apartments. Across the hall, one was occupied. A man. I went and knocked.
He answered the door. He was tall and fat, but that jolly sort of fat that remains likable. His beard was thick and bushy. He had blue eyes.
"Hello," I said.
He looked at the three of us and got a big friendly grin.
"Hello, miss. How can I help you?"
"Your neighbors across the hall, the guy and the girl—"
His face immediately sagged. His grin vanished. He grabbed the edge of the door, as if preparing to slam it.
"—So—uh—they took some of our things."
He paused. He removed his hand from the door.
"Then you should call the police. They aren't the type you wanna mess with."
"Yeah? How so?"
He peered at us cautiously, big and graceless. All his jolliness was gone.
"They fight a lot. I mean all the time. He is stupid and brutal."
"Can you tell me where they work? And their names?"
"Honey, just call the police. I'm serious. Do you want to use my telephone?"
"I'd rather not. I don't want to deal with the police."
I stared directly at him. My eyes got wide. Something crossed his face. Resignation? Pity? I let him assume things about me.
"Fine. She works at the Bellariva hotel as a maid. He doesn't work—well—at least not at a job. I think you know what I mean. He's in the Piazza Novembre a lot, fleecing tourists."
"I don't know his. She says it a lot, but it is some unpronounceable Albanian thing. She's Donjeta. Is that all?"
"Call the police. I warned you."
He closed the door. We went back to the stairs. The Bellariva was our hotel.
"Do you think she's back at work?" Lauren asked. We were downstairs.
"Maybe. Who knows. She must still have the shoes, though. I can cast again."
I did. I grasped her hand and cast. I saw the girl. I released Lauren immediately. I let the spell fall away. In my vision, she was twisted and beaten, her arm laying broken at an impossible angle. She was thrown in a dumpster, wearing Lauren's shoes.
I knew where she was.
"Follow me," I said in English. I also beckoned to Fi. We went around the back. There was a gate. I cast. It opened. We found the dumpster. She was there. It was as bad as I'd seen. I reached in and lifted her. Lauren helped. We laid her gently on the ground. I checked her pulse. Her heart beat in slow random thumps, but she was alive.
I stroked her face. I lifted her arm carefully, laying it beside her. I straightened it as much as I could. She whimpered and twisted her neck.
I cast a healing spell, taking away her pain.
"What are you doing?" Fiorella asked.
I didn't respond. Lauren squatted next to me. I kissed her. Then I kissed the girl, muttering a spell as our lips touched. Magic flowed. I locked our mouths. My eyes fluttered. She writhed, just a bit. When I sat up again, her arm was straight.
Her eyes shot open. She stared directly into mine. She sat up, and we kissed.
"Relax," I said, when our mouths released, "You were hurt bad."
"Who are you?" she asked. We were speaking Italian.
"I'm Rachel. You stole my friend's shoes."
"Oh! Oh my god. I'm sorry."
She scuttled back on her butt and elbows. She looked frightened.
"Don't be afraid. The shoes are there. You can give them back."
She didn't wait. She reached down, took off the shoes, and held them out. Lauren took them.
"Let's get you upstairs, sweetie," I said. I stood. I reached for her hand to pull her up.
"But what will she wear?" Lauren asked.
"Her feet. What will she wear?"
"She has shoes upstairs."
"She could cut her feet."
"It isn't far. I think she'll be fine."
We walked with her back to her apartment. Fiorella followed, looking displeased.
When we entered she went and fell onto the bed. She didn't seem to notice that we'd searched her things. Perhaps she didn't care. She looked at the ceiling.
"He'll be home soon," she said, "You should go."
"He has the money you took, right?" I asked.
"Yeah. But trust me, it isn't worth it."
"We need our money."
"He went to buy pot. He's probably spent half of it anyway. Just please go. If he finds you here, he'll freak out."
I didn't move. Fiorella came and stood beside me. Lauren went and looked out the window.
"Why did he beat you up?"
She didn't answer.
I went and sat on her bed, next to her. I reached and stroked her. She turned, rolling over, and looked away.
I lay next to her, wrapping her with my arm.
"He won't hurt you again," I said.
She reached and grasped my hand. I felt her sob, her chest slowing pulsing. Then her breathing steadied.
"How?" she asked, "How can you help me? Do you have guns?"
I smiled. "No. Nothing like that."
I cast, just an illumination spell, a little mote of light. It danced and flickered above her head, and she gasped. She reached out, slow, tentative. She touched it, and it vanished. She turned, rolling over in my arms, and looked at me. Her eyes were wide, her mouth agape.
"Sweetie, I'm a witch."
She looked amazed. "What will you do?"
"What would you like me to do?"
She lay, pondering, and I let time pass. I heard Fiorella sigh and shuffle her feet. More waiting. Then the girl's face grew dark. I felt it arrive, its presence. I saw it behind her eyes, the goddess, Diana. I heard Fiorella mutter a prayer. I did likewise.
"Kill him," the girl said, her voice steady, "No—more—hurt him. Hurt him bad. Then, let me kill him!"
I turned and looked at Fiorella. She was smiling.
"Oh my god! We're going to do what?" Lauren asked.
"We are going to wait for him. When he gets home, Fi and I will disable him with spells, then she will stab him."
"Yeah. I guess it is."
Lauren turned from me. She went back to the window. She said nothing.
"Remember our first time? What happened to you was no worse."
Silence, a few moments, then she said, "True. But still, this seems so—calculated."
"But no different in the end. A brutal man dies in both. Will you be OK with this."
"I won't try to stop you. Not that I could."
"Sweetie, of course you could."
She said nothing. I left her by the window and went over to Fiorella and the girl.
It was a short wait. We heard keys in the door. The handle turned, and the door opened. He had arrived.
I was feeling generous. I let Fiorella cast first.
Her spell hit his legs, dark tendrils of power. They yanked. He fell to his back, tucking his head and slapping down his arms. He thrust his hips to the side, curling up and reaching down. He tried to push the magic away. He failed. The tendrils pulled him in.
He twisted. He tried kicking out his legs, but they were too tightly bound. He bucked his hips one last time, then gave up. He lay back, seeming to relax. His elbows were tucked to his side, his hands by his face. He showed no fear.
I strolled around him, peering down. I closed the door.
"Judo?" I asked.
"Jiu Jitsu. But yeah, basically."
His Italian was rough, but serviceable.
"It won't help."
I cast. His arms were bound.
I looked to the girl. She came up with the knife.
"Are you ready, sweetie?" I asked.
She knelt beside him, holding the knife blade down with both hands before her breast, as if praying. She stared straight ahead. Her face was lovely, clear, ecstatic.
She lowered the knife point first toward his chest. He squirmed. He began to show fear.
"What the fuck!" he said.
The point touched just over his heart.
"Donjeta! Sweetie! My angel! Don't do this. No!"
She pressed in the knife. She had to turn the blade perpendicular to his length, so to slip it between his ribs. He looked down, terrified. It entered completely. He gasped. He sputtered out something in Albanian. Then he groaned and died.
I heard Lauren sob. I went and took her into my arms.
"It's over, sweetie," I said. She clung to me.
We got our money, what was left. I cast a shift spell on the body, moving it downstairs to the dumpster. Then we shifted after it. We covered it with trash.
The girl stayed behind.
We walked back to our hotel. We decided to skip our fuck that afternoon. We went to the terrace. We sipped our coffee. We watched the lake.