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Where had she gone wrong? Oh right, she'd brought her phone on a B&E and now it threatened to vibrate free of one her hidden pockets. Ariana looked down at her feet and realized she'd frozen mid clandestine tiptoe across someone else's foyer. Genius. The owners of the expansive home weren't in, so the soft-shoe mambo wasn't strictly necessary. Of course it never hurt a returner to be more cautious than brave, and her black-on-black leather wrestling boots kept her as silent in shoes as she would've been barefootwhich generally kept her from getting nabbed.
Ari caught a glimpse of her jumpsuit-clad body in the ornate mirror hung floor to ceiling on the near wall. Cute, she thought with sarcasm. Ariana Golde, the lamest Michael Jackson impersonator ever to do a point toe pose. Hee, hee. She spun in the dusk-darkened room and moonwalked a few steps backward. Lack of sleep in the form of five days of nonstop retrieval-and-returning was making her loopy. The phone buzzed again and she relaxed, lowering her heels to touch the floor.
Her second wrong turn or maybe it had been the first. Yep, now she thought on it, bringing her phone along was the lesser of her missteps, but Ari wasn't at fault for her first. She hadn't chosen to be her mother's daughter. Oh, she enjoyed a touch of chaos, but dealing with Inariwell, cataclysmic seemed a weak classification. And, no doubt, it was her okaasan, her mother, calling. Otherwise she'd feel absolutely no compunction to answer.
That was the problem with the old Faebles, especially well-known ones like Ari's mother and father, somehow or another, through magick or coercion, you did what they wanted.
Inari had lived outside of Japan for centuries but even away from her seat of power she held an amazing sway of enchantment. Then again, maybe it wasn't enchantment her mother wielded but classic mama guilt.
Ari sighed. Whenever her mother called she had to answerwas compelled tono matter what. A quick tap to her Bluetooth opened the connection. Her mother didn't bother to wait for a greeting.
""Your life goals finally became clear to me today, Kit. You intend to be a lonely old spinster like the lady of the Goblin-kin. Have I guessed correctly?"" Inari's softly accented voice rang sweet as tinkling bells and struck like a hammer.
Ari nearly laughed. Inari excelled at passive aggression; one of the top ten wielders in the land. ""Yep, Okaasan, you guessed it. I plan on letting my nether regions wither and blow away. Talk about a dry spell. I can see it now'Ariana Anase Kitsu Golde, the cause of a dust storm unparalleled since the 1930s dust bowl. Click here for the full story.'"" She clucked her tongue in an imitation of a mouse clicking the imagined link. ""Poor you and poor Baba. No little Faeble scions to carry on your legacy.""
Ari began to pace, a learned response to her mother's phone calls, and stepped into an ellipse of multihued light projected from the wall above the front doors onto the polished stone floor. The angle of the moon distorted the image cast by the stained glass window and caused the light to stretch into an oblong. As soon as she stood within the pattern, a heavy unease settled over her. She hopped backward quicker than thought and landed outside the design.
Her mother coughed lightly. ""You inherited your sense of humor from your baba's side and unfortunately I am not coarse enough to appreciate it.""
Ari laughed aloud this time. ""Watch it, crazy lady, I have no problems telling your husband what you just said.""