Lou Ann slipped the trays loaded with individual quiches into the oven. Wayne barked and charged toward the back door, skidding on the floor before he crashed into the wooden frame.
LouAnn straightened her back and frowned. The beagle growled.
“Unexpected guest? Really? I’m not surprised. I wonder how gatecrashers find out about great parties so fast,” LouAnn commented.
The back door slammed open, and a woman dressed in black leggings, matching T-shirt, and a military cap with the yellow letters “Registered Witches of America” etched on its brim glared at Wayne.
“Couldn’t you keep your mouth shut? I wanted to surprise LouAnn.”
LouAnn’s heavily mascaraed lashes flew up, and her mouth formed an O.
“BettyAnn? Wow! What great timing.”
BettyAnn minced into the kitchen on three-inch spike heels, clicking the floor as she staggered toward her sister.
“The most important holiday of the year, and you thought I wouldn’t come? Didn’t Mom always say family first?”
LouAnn hugged her sister who was much taller thanks to the high-heeled shoes. She peered over BettyAnn’s shoulder at a shadowy figure lingering in the doorway.
BettyAnn pulled back, teetered, and caught her balance on a ladder-back chair.
“Boy, these shoes are killing my feet, but my boyfriend is so tall, I need the extra height,” Betty Ann bragged.
LouAnn didn’t miss the emphasis on the word “boyfriend.” Nor her sister’s triumphant grin.
“Boyfriend? Wow, you never said a word,” LouAnn said. Politely, she kept to herself that it had been light years since BettyAnn had a date, let alone a boyfriend. That always struck LouAnn as odd, since everyone in the family considered her sister the really smart one. The only smart one, to be honest. On the other hand, intelligence could be a handicap. Perhaps men were intimidated by brains. Still, being a witch had to be a super attraction. Pretty surprising BettyAnn didn’t have men chasing her like crazy. Perhaps she’d been too picky. Standards were fine, but there was such a thing as excessively high expectations. All the same, about time BettyAnn landed a boyfriend.
“Don’t be shy, Simon. Come on in,” BettyAnn called. She wobbled back to the door, tripped over the uneven tile and skidded into the refrigerator door.
“Darn shoes. Maybe I should try wedges,” she groused. Groping her way along a wall to the door, she tugged the man inside.
LouAnn craned her neck and gazed up. Geez, BettyAnn wasn’t kidding. The guy had to be at least six and half feet in height. LouAnn felt like a midget next to him. BettyAnn’s head barely came to his shoulder even with the added inches from the killer shoes.
“I told you about my sister,” BettyAnn said, lacing her fingers with the stranger.
“Cool backyard,” he said. “I like the headstones.”
LouAnn couldn’t hold back a superior grin. Did she luck out or what? Didn’t the ads on television always say real estate was all about location? Having the town cemetery adjacent to her backyard was a fantastic benefit. Quiet, with no noisy neighbors.
She studied the man’s appearance although it was a long way up. Pale, practically an albino, with silver eyes, white blond cropped hair, and a weird lightening shaped scar on his forehead. Maybe he was a fan of Harry Potter. Wasn’t everyone?
Like BettyAnn, his clothes were black. Cargo pants and a black T-shirt that didn’t disguise rock hard pectoral muscles. Something about this man was familiar, but LouAnn couldn’t place him. Before she had time to consider where they might have met, Howie bounced into the kitchen. The suit jacket fit a bit too snug around his middle, strained buttons looked as if they might pop any second. Slicked back hair did nothing to disguise the bald patch, but LouAnn thought he made a terrific Gomez, especially with the long-stemmed rose clamped between his teeth which he dropped the second he caught sight of BettyAnn’s new squeeze. He stopped short and gazed at the stranger’s features. Admiration gleamed on his face.
“Wow! Great costume! Terrific Frankenstein,” Howie said.
The man frowned.
“His name isn’t Frank,” BettyAnn snapped. She didn’t bother to hide her annoyance. “It’s Simon. Simon P. Stein.”
“Yeah. No idea why everyone thinks my name is Frank. Happens all the time. Go figure,” Simon said.
“Simon’s a vampire,” BettyAnn explained.
Wayne growled. Howie shot a worried glance at LouAnn who could read his thoughts. A vampire. Leave it to BettyAnn to try to one-up her in the boyfriend sweepstakes. Howie was a magician, or more correctly, trying to become a magician. So far, none of his tricks worked. Maybe with BettyAnn visiting, she could give him some professional tips. Her sister was so darned high strung and temperamental, it was hard to know if she’d condescend to coach Howie. That was the problem with geniuses; they were all such difficult personality types who strained everyone’s patience. Diplomacy and tact usually were the best methods in LouAnn’s experience. At least, when it came to BettyAnn. She hoped Simon was a bit more easy-going than her sister. It was hard enough to tiptoe around BettyAnn, let alone a vampire.
“Nice of you to come to my party,” LouAnn said. “Sorry, but I don’t have anything with blood on the menu although the Sangria punch is red wine to make it look like blood.”
There was no disguising the relief on Simon’s face. “That’s good. I hate blood. Mostly, I eat ketchup. I’m working my way up to rare meat. To tell the truth, I prefer it well done.”