Before Wilson could say another word, Derek looked toward Corrine and nodded. She held both of us by the hand and the brightly lit office disappeared.

When we reappeared again, it was on a beach.

“We’re still in California?” I asked Corrine.

The witch nodded. I looked up and down the empty shoreline, the sun still hours from rising above the horizon. I caught sight of the promenade behind the beach, lined with beautiful houses, not unlike Derek’s and my dream house that we’d spent the first five years of our twins’ lives in. I was overcome by a bout of nostalgia. The life we’d lived in that house seemed so distant now, like a past life. I swallowed hard, forcing my thoughts back to the task at hand.

“So we’re just going to assume that Wilson’s superiors will take care of things?” I asked.

Derek nodded. “We’ll have to. We did our part. Wilson filmed the meeting. He has proof of our display of powers, so there’s no way that his superiors can think he was hallucinating. After two displays of supernatural existence broadcast on mainstream media, we have to hope that his authorities will be more open-minded than to completely reject what we had to say.”

“And now,” I said, “what about South America? The countries lining the Pacific Ocean also aren’t far from the witches’ base.”

“We’ll start trying to meet with authorities in Mexico and make our way down along the coast,” Derek replied. “But we simply don’t have time to visit all of them. We’ll go as far as Panama. Hopefully our warning will start spreading to other countries.” Derek must have caught the doubtful expression on my face. “Sofia, I know this is a pathetic situation. We just have to try to do what we can.”

“What if the witches start moving to other parts of the world for easier targets?” I asked.

Derek heaved a sigh, casting a worried glance out toward the horizon. “We have to hope that Mona will find a solution before it comes to that.”

Chapter 16: Sofia

The South American authorities proved to be harder to get through to, mostly because of the language. A lot of the lower officials didn’t speak English and Corrine’s knowledge of Spanish was rusty, as was mine. We certainly weren’t anywhere near as fluent as my twins.

The process took us longer, but eventually we managed to reach an authority along the coast of each country who could grant us a reception. By the time we reached Panama, the sun was almost setting. I was glad to have remembered my umbrella. I’d had to use it a lot throughout the day.

The heat was suffocating as we arrived outside the police department in Panama City. My mouth was parched and my skin felt rough and dry. My body just wasn’t used to this type of heat. We entered through the main doors into a small entrance area, and then took a right through a door into a reception room. I groaned internally at the sight of huge windows letting the evening sun stream through into the room. It was crowded in here, and I didn’t want to risk opening up my umbrella in case I ended up poking someone in the eye. Rather than disturb Corrine and ask her to put a spell on me to shield me from the sun, it was easier for me to step outside while Derek and the witch waited in line to be seen.

I made my way back into the small entrance area. It was much darker here with fewer people. I leaned back against the wall, relishing its coolness, and took deep breaths. I closed my eyes, resting my stinging eyelids. Although I’d been careful to keep the sun from shining directly onto me, the brightness still affected me.

A beeping opposite me broke through my moment of peace. It sounded like it was coming from the pocket of the fair-haired man standing opposite me with his head buried in a newspaper. He cast a brief glance my way, then folded away his paper and walked toward the exit. I leaned my head back against the wall again, closing my eyes and trying to find a moment of peace again.

I rested for a few minutes before Corrine poked her head through the reception room doors and called me over. The three of us walked with an official into the back offices and we repeated much the same process as we had with Wilson with the dark-haired, mustached police officer we sat in front of here. He spoke better English than most of the others we had seen in South America, which helped things move along.

Once we had shocked him enough to agree to film us and pass on our message to his superiors, we left. Since he didn’t try to insist that we stay, Corrine didn’t need to vanish us. We walked back to the entrance hall, where I pulled out my umbrella and opened it. The sun had almost set now and the light was much softer as we stepped outside.

“So,” Corrine said, “we’ll go home now?”

“I’m up for that. Derek?” I looked to my husband.

His eyes were fixed on a spot on the pavement on the other side of the road. His eyes widened. “Sofia, duck!”

Before I could register what was happening, Derek knocked me off my feet and a smash behind us filled my ears. Shards of glass rained down upon Derek and me. As I tried to sit up, he forced me back against the ground.

Winded, I gasped, “Derek, what—?”

Corrine had ducked beside us now too, her face marred with confusion.

“Corrine,” Derek said hurriedly, “that cluster of trees further up the beach. You see it? Take Sofia there and wait for me. If anyone approaches, vanish her further up the beach.”

“What—” I choked.

“A man across the street just tried to shoot you, Sofia,” he hissed. “A man I’m sure is a hunter.”

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