Episode 8

At the Libretta café, as students are coming in and out during lunch period, Chad, Vitani and Josh are at their usual table discussing Thanksgiving Day, which is coming up this week on Thursday. They all wonder what they are thankful for this year.

Chad muses, “With Rita Allen in the way of me ever working things out with Ray, I just wonder how thankful I can be about these kinds of things.”

Vitani adds, “And now that I’ve found out not only who Brett really was but that Vanessa dumped Josh when he got caught up in that whole mess thanks to me. Again, I just wanted to say I’m really sorry about that.”

Josh admits, “The relationship has a problem if my girlfriends are gonna have a problem with you.”

Chad smiles and says, “Maybe you can be thankful you have each other.”

Vitani and Josh smile fondly at the comment. Vitani nods and adds, “Maybe we all should be thankful we’ve stopped all the oscinades’ schemes so far. No doubt those three mysterious upper level oscinades who’ve been after us have got more schemes up their sleeves.”

Josh nods but grunts, “Well, here it is; my father’s latest scheme to win me over comes in the form of an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s at one of his guesthouses just on the outskirts of Westpoint City. Maybe I might regret it less this year if you guys could come with.”

Chad frowns curiously and asks, “What did you regret about the dinner last time?”

Vitani giggles, “That’s where he met Amber and Christy last year, before they came to SyndAcad.”

Josh says, “My dad was a business friend of their dad’s when he decided to enroll them here.”

Vitani sighs and says, “That’s the part I regret.”

The Milano sisters show up at the table and say, “You must regret having a face like that too.”

Vitani rolls her eyes and says, “That eye shadow proves you two didn’t even see your faces today.”

The twin sisters flick their blonde hair aside and turn to face Josh. Vitani smirks teasingly at him.

Amber says, “So Josh, we trust you will be taking us to the dinner like formally this year.”

Christy adds, “You wouldn’t want to like break tradition and stuff.”

“Well girls,” Josh shrugs and says, “I hate to break it to you but I’m hoping Chad and Vitani will join the tradition this year. What do you say, guys?”

Chad thinks about it with a nod and says, “Sure.”

Vitani smirks at the Milano sisters and adds, “You bet.”

Amber and Christy frown, “Now the dinner will be ruined by the awful taste of Vitani’s fashion sense.”

Vitani quips, “Which looks a hell of a lot more impressive than your grades.”

They scoff and storm off. Chad looks on and smiles, “Well Thanksgiving promises to be interesting.”

After that, Chad tells them he has to get to Bio class and grabs his stuff to leave. Josh soon says he’s going to use the bathroom, leaving Vitani at the table by herself. It’s about then that Evan stops by.

Evan sits and says, “Hey Vitani. With Thanksgiving coming up and all, I got us a little dinner reservation at a restaurant downtown. Since we’re in the same position with our parents, I thought we should be thankful that we still have each other after all this time.”

Vitani says, “Omigod. I kinda already agreed to have dinner with Josh’s family but you’re totally right–”

Evan shakes his head and says, “No! I won’t let you cancel on your friend for me.”

Vitani replies, “I won’t let you have that dinner alone either. Maybe you can come to dinner with us.”

Evan tells her, “I know it must be like a special time for you and Josh and-”

Josh returns to the table and says, “I know Thanksgiving is supposed to be a special holiday or whatever and I know you and Vitani do share something special. So I think you should be there too.”

Vitani thanks Josh with a hug. They turn to Evan for an answer. He looks at the two of them and nods.

= = =

    Later that day, Vitani and Josh drive up to the guest house in Josh’s Jeep to drop off the invitations.

After they get out of the vehicle, Josh insists, “I could have just forwarded my dad some confirmation email, you know.”

Vitani nods and says, “I know. But coming here should mean more to your father.”

Josh adds, “And coming here will probably mean more trouble somehow. I know it.”

They press the doorbell. The housekeeper soon answers the door.

“Um now is not a good time,” she warns in a lowered voice.

Josh frowns and asks, “What’s going on? Wait, forget I asked!”

The housekeeper looks behind her before she says, “I call it a hostile takeover.”

Just then, two burly bodyguards grab Vitani and Josh from behind before forcing them inside of the guesthouse. The housekeeper follows helplessly. Vitani and Josh squirm uncomfortably until they see the living room is full of men and women in business suits. The bodyguards put them down.

A businesswoman asks, “And just who are you two?”

Josh instead says, “So you guys are my dad’s business associates for Trent’s Small Enterprises.”

All of the business people say a collective yes and they want an answer for their problem as soon as possible. Vitani and Josh look as they see the words on the wall in red: THERE WILL BE BLOOD.


    After Bio class ends, the students are packing up to leave the classroom. Chad stops for a minute and gives Ray an awkward look before he continues packing his bag. Ray sighs to himself and goes over to his table.

Ray says, “Look C.K., I know we need to talk about things, so can we go somewhere more private?”

Chad looks around and says, “I figure your new girlfriend is out in the hall coming to get you at any moment so it seems this is gonna be it.”

Ray looks around again and sighs before he says, “Some things are just really complicated for me now.”

Chad replies, “Some things can get in the way of people being honest when they really want to be.”

Ray turns and asks, “How can we be honest about these kinds of things without hurting anyone?”

Chad says, “We have to know if it’s worth the risk and Ray, I have to know how you feel about what happened back on the boat in the orchid garden.”

Ray admits, “I don’t know what came over me that night but I just hope it doesn’t ruin our friendship.”

Chad raises an eyebrow and says, “… I thought you said we were more than just friends.”

Ray just looks up and tells him, “We are more than that.”

When he doesn’t say anything more, Chad says, “Then I just hope Rita Allen doesn’t ruin that.”

Ray pauses quietly. Chad looks back to see Rita Allen is waiting over at the door. Chad rolls his eyes to himself before he turns back to Ray. Ray says, “So I’ll see you around then.”

With that, Ray gets his backpack and greets Rita Allen at the door before they leave together. Chad gets his things to leave as well, when he bumps into someone at the door. It’s a girl from his Chem class named Cassie.

She says, “Hey Chad. I’m sorry for bumping into you like that.”

Chad replies, “No, it’s my fault. A lot of things have been on my mind but maybe I should try to focus on something else for a while.”

Cassie smiles and says, “It just so happens I have an idea!”

She reaches into her bag and holds up a chemistry assignment they had for homework. Chad looks at it with a grin. She pulls his hand to head to the library to help her with it. Ray and Rita Allen are busy in the hallway talking but Ray notices Chad and Cassie walking off together.

= = =

    Back at the guest house, the bodyguards are circling the perimeter as Vitani and Josh plead their case.

Vitani says, “We just stopped by to R.S.V.P our invitations for the Thanksgiving dinner this week.”

Josh muses, “I knew getting involved with my dad again was a bad idea. What’s going on now?”

The business people soon explain that there has been serious gossip of his father planning a buyout of the company via kicking other members off the board and they came to discuss it with him. Mr. Trent had agreed to meet with them today only to find the message on the wall. They want to know if his father directed it at them.

Josh shrugs and says. “Trust me. You guys probably know my father better than I do.”

Vitani folds her arms, “And how do we know it isn’t one of you trying to intimidate the others.”

The business people then realize that any board member could be planning a coup and start openly accusing each other. Vitani and Josh take that opportunity to try to sneak out but the bodyguards stand in their way. They work for the vice president of the company – a domineering looking woman who is also clearly upset.

The vice president of the company states, “No one is leaving until we find out who is betraying who.”

A murmur breaks out among the business people in the room. Vitani and Josh look at her nervously.

= = =

    In the library, Chad is helping out Cassie with the chemistry assignment when he spots Dustin walking down the aisle ahead of them. Chad excuses himself from the table and takes after him. Chad turns the corner to the aisle near the back but no one is there. When Chad turns back, Dustin tackles him to the wall.

Dustin looks up and says, “Oh it’s you. You’re like the only face I don’t mind running into right now.”

Chad looks down and notices how close they are before Dustin steps off and looks around them.

Chad folds his arms and asks, “What was that all about?”

Dustin says, “I felt someone following me around and I panicked.”

Chad muses, “Someone like the military?” Dustin looks up at the mention of the word. Chad continues to say, “There were some military guys searching the school last week and you panicked. So that’s why you kissed me that day, isn’t it?”

Dustin shrugs, “Maybe. But you didn’t seem too panicked about stopping the kiss at the time.”

Chad scratches his head, “Um, I guess I was just surprised by it all.”

Dustin recalls, “The mood you were in that day, I bet you could’ve really used a surprise like that.”

Chad goes on, “And would those military guys be really surprised to find you here on campus?”

Dustin tells him, “If they find me I’m gonna be in big trouble, even though I am innocent in all this.”

Chad asks him, “So what’s really going on?”

Dustin asks, “Are you sure you want to get involved?”

Chad says, “Me knowing you’re here hiding from them makes me involved already but if you’re really as innocent as you say you are, I won’t feel guilty about helping you.”

Dustin says, “I do feel less guilty talking to someone who doesn’t already doubt my innocence simply because they have a stake in all this. So if you really want to know, I’ll message you so we can meet to talk somewhere more to ourselves.”

Chad decides to give him his number, “So you’ve gotten a kiss and my number out of me already?”

Dustin wiggles his eyebrows as he pockets the number and says, “All I haven’t gotten is your name.”

Chad smiles and says, “The name’s Chad. Chad Blackman. And yours?”

Dustin shows him the medal, “The name’s Dustin. Dustin Riley.”

With that, Dustin pats him on the shoulder and he looks around before he leaves the library. Chad turns around to head back to his table, where Cassie looks up from her books with a smile on her face.

Chad asks, “So Cassie, have you figured out what the problem was?”

Cassie says, “Yes, and I’ll show you the answer,” as she moves to sit closer to him with a smile.

= = =

    The next day, Chad stops by the Libretta, only to find that Vitani and Josh still aren’t around. He tells himself he will stop by the condo after Chem class. He turns to leave when he sees Ray and Rita Allen walk in together.

Chad goes up to them and asks, “Um, do you mind if Ray and I talk alone for a minute?”

Rita Allen says, “Oh, I think you can say it in front of me, Chad. I mean I think Ray and I’ve been dating for a little over a month now and we’ve gotten pretty close by now, haven’t we?”

Chad sees Ray give him some kind of look. Chad says, “Then Ray, I just wanted to congratulate you on taking the team through to the semi-finals last week. And I was wondering if you’re truly happy with the way things are right now?”

Ray reads between the lines and says, “Like I said, things are a little more complicated than before.”

Rita Allen opts to say, “But I will always be there to help him through with the big problems.”

Chad sighs to himself in frustration. He tells them he has to get going to Chem class when Cassie walks by. She has just gotten a light something to eat and suggests they can walk to class. Chad says sure and they leave together. Ray wonders to himself if this means what he thinks it might mean.

= = =

    The next day, the Trent guesthouse is still covered with bodyguards to prevent anyone from leaving.

Josh hangs up the phone and tells them all, “No answer. I still can’t reach my dad.”

Some of the businessmen muse Mr. Trent doesn’t even have a good relationship with his son, much less his work. Josh is a little hurt by the comment and Vitani moves to rub his back sympathetically. The housekeeper serves them all some tea and coffee. The businessmen simmer as they sip on their drinks.

Vitani apologizes, “I’m sorry for getting us into this. Is there anything we can do?”

Josh shakes his head and says, “My father can’t fix his own problems … but maybe I can.”

Josh then steps forward and tells them all that they can hold an informal meeting to discuss the facts and call a vote on who is the likely traitor. Some of the businessmen refuse to let a business decision be handled by a child. Others reason that his father could have set this whole thing up to eliminate the weakest link.

Josh asks, “Would my father do that on the chance that this fighting causes the breakdown of his brand new company? Do I also need to mention Vitani and I are the closest things to objective people in the room?”

They then agree. The V.P. has them all file into the conference room. Vitani and Josh follow.

Josh muses, “I hope my business studies can be put to good use today.”

They go inside and the bodyguards close the doors. The businessmen take seats at the long conference table. Josh heads to the front of the room. Vitani meanwhile stands at the side of the room awkwardly, where she almost knocks over a vase. She catches it before it can drop but feels something between her fingers. It’s a bug device with a purple beeper on it. Vitani takes it to show Josh but a bodyguard bumps into her and it accidentally drops into the wine glasses on the refreshment table. The vice president happens to take the glass before Vitani can take it out. The V.P. then heads back to her seat before the meeting begins.

The V.P. is about to say something when she finds the bug in her drink and says, “There’s a bugging device here. Someone is recording this meeting.”

They turn to face Josh at the front of the room as an accusation to his father. Vitani gulps.

Josh says, “There’s no proof it was my dad. And that could’ve been in here for any meetings prior to this one for integrity purposes. But if we are all going to be honest today, it should help eliminate the traitor if they are afraid to tell the truth.”

The V.P. nods, “You know what? I totally agree.”

She then orders her bodyguards to take all the cell phones to prevent any collusion whatsoever. Vitani and Josh look at each other wondering if the vice president is conveniently engineering this whole situation to take over Mr. Trent’s company while he is out of town.

= = =

    Chad is back at the Libretta after he visited the condo himself and wonders why he can’t seem to find either Vitani or Josh, nor are they even answering their cell phones. He figures they may have gone to stay with Josh’s dad before the dinner or something. He turns to leave when Cassie shows up.

Cassie says, “Hey Chad. Either you’re a caffeine addict or you need to get out more.”

Chad chuckles, “My friends and I usually hang out here. But they’re out now so I’m up for suggestions.”

Cassie smiles, “Let’s say a dinner at a restaurant later tonight. I have a couple of my new model friends who are going too.”

Chad asks, “If they’re all your friends, why do you need me?”

Cassie says, “They all have boyfriends already and I didn’t want to be a third wheel.”

Chad raises an eyebrow and jokes, “You know you should feel guilty for trying to use me.”

She clams up before she says, “No I’m not. I really like your company and it seems you could use it tonight. So what do you say?”

Chad admits, “Well my friends don’t seem to be around. I just hope they’re okay … wherever they are.”

Cassie winks, “I bet they’re off getting to know each other better.”

Chad says, “Oh they know each other pretty well.”

Cassie says, “Then maybe it’s our turn to start getting to know each other.”

She holds his hand and pulls him along. Amber and Christy see and take pictures with their phones.

= = =

    At the guesthouse, the businessmen have deliberated all of their thoughts on how the gossip about the buyout started and Josh calls for their attention. Josh hopes that this will finally clear things up.

Josh takes a deep breath and says, “I’ve assembled all of the notes and have come to a number of conclusions. I trust the conclusion will count as a description of who planted the rumor. So – whoever spread the word did so over the phone and is a woman,” and there are seven women at the conference table. Josh says, “She is also under thirty years of age,” which leaves three women, including the V.P. as the suspect. Josh then adds, “They also work closely with my dad.”

This point leaves two women, a secretary and the V.P. as the likely suspect. Both of the women swear it wasn’t them and then accuse each other of sending hit men who warned them of the threat in the first place. Vitani has been listening all along and looks up in concern.

Vitani steps forward and asks them, “Can you describe this hit man you speak of?”

The descriptions are that of a short slim female skilled in martial arts. Both of them fit the physical description however. The V.P. and the secretary then both claim they are not skilled in martial arts.

Vitani takes the notes and looks over them as she muses, “I hope to put my book club skills to use. Okay, from what I see here, there are five of you, including the secretary and the V.P., each of whom heard about the takeover by phone.”

The V.P. says, “I had spoken to Mr. Trent by this number recently so that’s why I suspected him.”

The other four agree. Vitani then looks up and says, “Well if the phone calls were made from this guesthouse by a woman and the bug was in here before we arrived then the person behind it must be none other than –“

To her surprise, the business group suddenly slumps forward on the table or back in their seats. The bodyguards collapse on the floor. When the unconscious V.P’s cup rolls off the table and breaks, Vitani and Josh check and see that the tea is giving off a purplish color – the same color of the bug device.

Vitani says, “This looks like some kind of an oscinade is involved.”

She grabs her cellphone out of the desk to call Chad and tell him to catch the first bus up to the guesthouse. Josh mentions the doors are locked and turns his arms to steel to use his super strength to pull them open. They see the light on in the dining room. They go in but do not see anyone. However, the doors suddenly slam shut and the handles glow purple. Vitani and Josh turn around.

The housekeeper is smiling at them with applause.

“So I’ve finally narrowed down the auranades I sensed at the guesthouse. Now to get rid of you.”

= = =

    At the restaurant that night, Chad and Cassie are dressed in evening wear as they arrive but she doesn’t see her model friends anywhere and the waiter says their names aren’t on the list. Cassie turns sadly to Chad. She cries, “I guess they ditched me like they planned to all along. Some friends I have, huh?”

Chad rubs her back and says, “Well I’m still here. I think we make up the two wheels we need.”

Cassie smiles and hugs him tightly. Chad pauses when he notices that none other than Ray is sitting at a table in the restaurant. If he’s at dinner that must mean that he is probably here with Rita Allen.

Chad lifts off her shoulder and tells her, “Hey Cassie, maybe we should go back-”

“Chad! My, what a pleasant surprise!” comes the voice of the aforementioned school reporter.

Chad and Cassie turn to see Rita Allen in an elegant red dress behind them. She grins deviously.

“So we were just leaving -” Chad begins.

“Oh Chad, I think you should come sit with me and my boyfriend so that we can all share what we are thankful for this year,” Rita Allen says in an oddly cheery voice, “Don’t you agree Cassie?”

“Sure, why not?” Cassie shrugs.

She looks at Chad who tries his best to hide how uncomfortable he is to prevent Cassie from asking any questions. Chad, Cassie and Rita Allen go over to the dinner table. Ray looks up and drops his fork in surprise to see Chad there, dressed for the occasion. Chad and Ray exchange longing stares. Cassie notices. Rita Allen cuts in by telling them all to sit.

“Look who I ran into? Chad and his date,” Rita Allen tells her boyfriend.

“I see. You both look great by the way,” Ray muses to them, although his eyes are on Chad’s suit.

Cassie thanks him cordially. Chad looks up to see Ray’s eyes on him but Ray looks back at his plate as soon as he notices.  Chad then says thanks with a little smile. Cassie looks over at Rita Allen wondering if she can feel some kind of tension. Chad clears his throat about to say he and Cassie are just friends.

Chad shakes his head and says, “Actually, Cassie and I are-”

Rita Allen gets her champagne glass, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go first. I just wanted to say that I’m so thankful that I have so many resources in my life that give me the strength to deal with almost any problem that comes into my life.” She and Chad look at each other. She then continues, “And the one thing I will never let those problems get in the way of is my relationship with one of the most handsome talented boys at SyndAcad. Something I’m just as thankful to have, you, Ray Torres.”

With that, Rita Allen turns and kisses Ray on the lips while cupping his face. Chad cringes in his seat.

After they break the kiss, Rita Allen smiles to herself. Ray briefly looks over at Chad and is going to say something but Cassie cuts in. Cassie says, “I’d like to go next. I have to be thankful that many doors have opened to me recently, that have led me to better academics as well as career opportunities. But now especially one that led me to one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met.”

Cassie leans in to kiss Chad lightly on the lips. They kiss tentatively. Ray shifts uncomfortably before his drink slips out of his hand but he catches it. Rita Allen looks over but he assures her that he is okay.

Rita Allen asks, “So, are you two spending Thanksgiving this week with family or friends?”

Cassie says, “Family.”

Chad adds, “Friends.”

Rita Allen says, “Well, both of our parents can’t make it to town this year so I’m gonna be sharing that special time with Ray. So it’s going to be even more special for us. Isn’t that right, Ray?”

She puts her hands around his back and leans on his shoulder. Chad and Ray look up at each other.

Ray clears his throat saying he needs to use the bathroom. He excuses himself from the table.

Cassie frowns and says, “Ray looked a little uneasy just now.”

Chad says, “You’re right Cassie. I’m gonna see what’s going on.”

Chad gets up and follows Ray into the bathroom. Chad goes inside and closes the door to find Ray by himself washing his face profusely at the bathroom sink.

He asks, “Hey Ray. Are you okay?”

Ray says, “I’m just trying to understand what I’m feeling about everything. It’s a little confusing.”

Chad simply says, “You know, the way you feel about something, it’s not always what you expect but maybe that’s what makes it even more special. Maybe -”

Just then, some men come into the bathroom and look at them strangely. Chad figures he will have to say more sometime later and nods before he leaves. Chad hopes to himself that Ray can be sure of what he feels and what he is going to do if he is to risk all that Rita Allen can find out about him for Ray. Chad is heading back over to the table when he sees Cassie and Rita Allen talking.

Cassie says, “I didn’t know you would even be here.”

Rita Allen says, “Well tonight couldn’t have gone more perfect. Now once you start getting some information to me on Chad and his secrets, like we planned, I’ll print more information in the school newspaper about your amateur model campaign.”

Chad comes over, “You must be really thankful to have been one of Rita Allen’s resources, Cassie.”

Cassie says, “Omigod Chad. I can explain –”

Chad says, “What for? I know you were just using me to get your name as a model in a story.”

Cassie shakes her head, “But I did really begin to like you. You’re a really great guy, Chad.”

Chad quips, “Well sure. I mean I was you ticket to popularity on Rita Allen’s bargain.”

Cassie apologizes again, “No really. I’m sorry about all of this. I just –”

Chad says, “I’m sorry I fell for your act just like you fell for the scheming little reporter’s tricks.”

Cassie is embarrassed and says she should go, running out of the restaurant. Chad turns to Rita Allen and folds his arms angrily.

Chad explicitly states, “You bitch.”

Rita Allen gasps, surprised that Chad’s using that kind of language towards her, “You’ve never spoken like that before.”

Chad replies, “I’ve never met someone who fit the meaning so well before. But I’m sure Ray will agree with my choice of words when he gets back to the table and hears about you using Cassie get information on me like that.”

Rita Allen says, “And he’ll agree with me if I tell him that you were associated with Rick Hayes during the suicides and I play that little recording along with it.”

Chad shakes his head, “You know, this all only proves just how scheming you are.”

Rita Allen says, “I’m going to prove you were connected to Rick Hayes’s schemes one way or another.”

Chad tells her, “You can bet that your little schemes will catch up to you too.”

Before he can say something else, he sees he has a missed call from Vitani and then reads her text to come up to the guesthouse. Chad looks up and glares at the school reporter before he leaves the restaurant. Rita Allen sits back to regain her composure. Just then, Ray comes back from the restroom and sits down with a frown.

Ray asks, “Hey, where did Chad and Cassie go?”

Rita Allen lies, “To spend the rest of the night together.”

Ray thinks to himself about what Chad said in the bathroom and guesses he must have actually meant that girl Cassie after all. He begins to reconsider what he was feeling all along before he simply nods to her. Rita Allen sips on her drink with a smile.

= = =

    Back at the guesthouse, the housekeeper, explains, “I am Mai Lee. There were so many people here that it was hard to figure out whose aura I was sensing this whole time. But it has been said the auranades would be smart enough to see through my plans.”

Vitani remarks, “To ruin Mr. Trent’s company? You’re the ‘hit man’ who started this whole thing.”

Josh nods and says, “You must be the oscinade of sabotage.”

Mai Lee says, “So you are as smart as the bosses said you were. But are you as strong?”

Josh fumes, “Let’s find out!”

With that, he turns his arms to steel and pushes the long table towards the housekeeper. However, the oscinade demonstrates her martial arts skills against her otherwise conservative demeanor as she flips into the air, out of the way, and lands on top of the long dining room table. She swiftly runs towards them. Vitani blows her icy mist at her. But Mai Lee jumps out of the way and holds onto the chandelier. She tosses purple daggers before leaping down onto the table.

Josh turns his hands to steel and catches them in his hand crushing them with his strength. He then yanks the tablecloth she is standing on to trip her up, but she easily flips over into a stance.

She then flings a series of knives from on the table. Vitani blows her icy breath to freeze them but they glow purple and the now icy weapons sail right towards them anyway. They barely duck out of the way as the knives impale the door.  Josh moves to the right while Vitani moves to the left of the dining room table. Mai Lee watches them intently as she holds some sort of anticipatory stance. They both then jump up onto the table on opposite sides of the oscinade.

Josh moves to punch her with a steel fist, but she swings to the left, backing away from him and grabbing him by his arm before tossing him towards Vitani. Vitani grabs him and they twirl around on the table before Vitani turns back to throw a glass pitcher of water at her. Mai Lee kicks it and it splashes all over her but breaks into shards.

Mai Lee laughs, “You two cannot fight me nor can you banish me without your third auranade.”

Vitani blows down on the table. The ice follows the trail of spilled water before it freezes the oscinade solid. Vitani and Josh cheer in relief. However, the daggers in the door glow purple and swirl into the air and jet into the blanket of ice, freeing her. They then spiral into the air.

The oscinade of sabotage then sends them all flying towards the auranades. Vitani and Josh panic when Chad suddenly bursts into the room. He swings his hands strongly. A huge gust of wind blows all of the icy daggers in the opposite direction. Mai Lee easily maneuvers out of the way of most of the projectiles. However, some of them slice the hold of the chandelier above, which comes crashing down on top of the stealth housekeeper. She mumbles weakly as she bleeds what appears to be black blood.

She looks up and forewarns, “The bosses are also strongest as three. The three needed to make all hell break loose in this realm. You wait and see!”

Josh says, “I guess they don’t like when their plans are sabotaged either.”

Chad, Vitani and Josh look over at each before they finally repeat the banishment verse together:

“Evil spawned from darkness core,

Walk this land you shall no more,

Wickedness be rectified,

Let your face be now denied!”

    A bright light emerges from the chandelier, where blasts of energy cause the dishes to go swirling into the air from the opening vortex. The auranades watch as a portal opens up and begins to draw Mai Lee inside. She screams with a shriek as her body distorts.

“We just put an end to your plans to end us,” Josh states.

It is then that the evil housekeeper stretches and distorts as she is finally drawn inside of the whirling portal, leaving the echo of her shriek in the dining room before it seals shut and fades away. Chad, Vitani and Josh sigh in relief.

Chad turns to them and asks, “So what did I miss?’

Josh muses, “Just one of my dad’s problems. Although I get the feeling there’s more to come.”


    Back at SyndAcad the next day in the hallway, Vitani and Josh are explaining to Chad all about the housekeeper Mai Lee and her plans to destroy Mr. Trent’s company.

Josh tells Chad, “So we explained to the board of the company that Mai Lee drugged their tea and coffee to prevent them from discovering her true plans. We also told them she was an operative from a ‘foreign power’ sent to undermine the company while my dad was out of the country.”

Vitani nods and adds, “Apparently, the V.P. discovered when she investigated Mai Lee’s résumé that all of her previous bosses met some sort of financial ruin. Mai Lee obviously took her job seriously, and that’s not a good thing when you’re an oscinade – especially of sabotage.”

“My dad probably wasn’t even around to look at her résumé,” Josh quips, “Made him the perfect target.”

“Mr. Trent must be thankful you and Vitani were there to save his company then,” Chad tells him.

“If he is, he didn’t call to say. But then again he didn’t call for a while when he first abandoned my family either,” Josh sighs.

“Well Chad and I aren’t going anywhere,” Vitani says, “We’ve got to stick together to defeat these oscinades once and for all.”

“You know, Mai Lee said her bosses are strongest at three, just like we are and she said that’s all that would be needed to make all hell break loose. So I’m thinking maybe they aren’t three upper level oscinades right now. I bet they are weaker or something and are just biding time by sending these other oscinades after us,” Josh reasons.

“Then there are probably only two upper levels and Professor Hayes must’ve been the third one all along. Rick had probably planned to take his place once his father was destroyed … and he had destroyed me. But we banished him on the bridge,” Chad says. “They must be planning to get a third upper level as soon as possible.”

“We can only hope we’re just as strong by the time that happens,” Vitani tells him.

“Speaking of which, what about this Thanksgiving dinner?” Chad asks, “Is it still gonna happen?”

Josh nods, “Um yeah. The company wants to collectively thank me for saving the company and stuff.”

Vitani adds, “And I’m sure the Milano sisters already prepared 101 conversation starters just for him.”

“Um, excuse me?” Cassie says as she comes over, “Do you mind I talk to Chad for a minute please?”

Chad sighs as he figures it was a conversation he couldn’t avoid forever, especially when he goes to class with her. He turns to Vitani and Josh and tells them, “Hey guys, we kinda have some stuff to talk about. So I’ll talk to you later at the Libretta at lunch or something.”

Vitani and Josh nod and leave. Chad turns to Cassie and looks at her expectantly to see what she has to say. Meanwhile, some of the other students in the hallway have seen the Milano sister’s photo and watch Chad and Cassie curiously from a distance.

Cassie begins, “Look Chad. I am really sorry about what happened. And I really don’t want things to be awkward. I figure you have enough of that with Rita Allen’s boyfriend, Ray Torres,” Chad looks up at the mention of his name, “I saw the looks you two were giving each other all through dinner and I more than felt the tension when you guys left the table. I was playing it off for my own good at the time but whatever it was between you, it was undeniable.”

Chad looks her cautiously, “Be careful what you imply.”

Cassie continues, “I’m implying that it’s noble of you to be careful with your feelings because Ray is in a relationship with someone like Rita Allen. You and I both know what she’s willing to do to get what she wants.”

Chad says, “Oh I know all about her. But you were less than noble to me about this whole thing.”

Cassie replies, “All I can say is that I’m sorry I let her use me to get to you. But I’m not sorry you and I became friends in the process.”

Chad says, “Well I don’t exactly trust you right now, or know if I should trust your intuitions about Ray.”

Cassie works up a smile and says, “Well my intuitions tell me the feelings involved are mutual.”

Chad pauses with a suspicious look at her. Was this her trying to get him to admit to something else to report back to Rita Allen? Cassie sighs as though she knows what he is thinking. She kisses him on the cheek as a thank you before she turns and walks away. The students murmur in the background about Chad and Cassie being a couple. Ray is standing there among some of the other students.

Chad leaves. Ray tells himself he must have misread everything with Chad after all. Then he walks off.

= = =

    On the night of Thanksgiving, Ray drops Rita Allen off at her dorm after dinner with a goodnight kiss at her door before he heads back over towards his dorm. He is trying to think about everything going on with him, Chad and Rita Allen when he arrives.

“Well if it isn’t Ray Torres,” comes none other than Dustin’s voice.

“It’s you!” Ray says, surprised to see Dustin Riley at his door.

= = =

    At the guesthouse, the business people are filing into the redecorated dining room and sitting at the table under the light of a brand new chandelier. Each place setting has a menu listing the faire for the day; fresh garden salad, soups, roast turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, hot dinner rolls and butter, fruits and nuts, pumpkin pie, apple pie and mince meat pie.

Chad and Vitani are at the table talking when the doorbell rings. Vitani heads over and opens it to see Evan and invites him inside.

“Thanks for coming,” Vitani smiles as she leads him to the table. They sit next to each other.

“Thanks for inviting me,” Evan tells her, “They’re so many people here, it almost feels like back at –”

“We have new lives now,” Vitani replies, “But we still have each other. If only Liza could be here too.”

“Yeah,” Evan sighs, “So who are all these people anyway?”

“Everyone at my dad’s company,” Josh says as he brings some condiments past them to the dinner table before he sits next to them, “Except for my dad, of course. I bet he probably wants to avoid getting the third degree about the whole scandal, even though Mai Lee has disappeared without a trace.”

At the table, the V.P. of the company says, “Even if you father isn’t here, it isn’t hard for any of us here at this table to tell that you will be a strong intelligent young man. Your business skills may even exceed those of your father one day.”

Everyone at the table agrees. Josh smiles proudly. Evan looks at how fondly Vitani is looking at Josh.

Josh takes his seat and says, “At least the people who really care are all here with me.”

Amber and Christy are sitting next to him and blushing to themselves. However, Josh reaches out and holds Vitani’s hand and she squeezes it back. Evan watches before Vitani looks over at him and puts out her hand. Evan holds her hand with a smile. Amber and Christy look on intrigued.

Chad is meanwhile sitting opposite Vitani and Josh, who nod at him. Chad nods back and thinks about the fact that he went from being the little science geek to being friends with the head of the book club and the basketball captain. He is also special friends with a certain football jock. One he thinks he even may also be falling in love with too. And even though Rita Allen is in the way of that, she hasn’t managed to come between their friendship … yet.

He decides he does have a lot to be thankful for in his life so far and can only hope that things will get better soon. Chad joins everyone with a smile as they all raise a glass of thanks.


Copyright © 2013 Chad Blackman



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