Simoné and the Second Time Around

Simoné
and the
Second Time Around

By Portia Bennett

Introduction: We've heard about Simoné Simard Enescu as she is mentioned in two previous stories. It seems that a number of pictures of her in the altogether have shown up on several websites. She is a very attractive young woman. Now, it's time to learn a little more about the naughty Simoné.

The time frame of heart of this story overlaps the ending of Adam and the Three Wishes and the beginning of Howard and the Completed Pass; however, much of the story takes place many, many years before.

If you are not familiar with the series, you should read An Incremental Journey, Cynthia and the Reluctant Girlfriend, Cynthia and the Dumpster Diver, Cynthia and the Moment of Truth, Cynthia and the High School Years, Parts 1 & 2, Charli and the Man Cave, Adam and the Three Wishes, and The Football Player, His Friend and Their Wonderful Journey. Bobbie and the Glass Ceiling and Randi and the College Professor take place about seven years after this story.


 

This work is copyrighted by the author and any publication or distribution without the written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is coincidental.


 

Simoné and the Second Time Around

 

Chapter 1

She knew the old American couple was checking her out. She and her current boy toy were getting ice cream from the vendor. She was fit, well put together, and enjoyed showing off. Her suit probably would have gotten her arrested at some American beaches, and that was one of the reasons she hadn't been there in nearly a century. She just had more fun in Europe. She loved the beach at Mamaia, a resort community just a few kilometers north of Constanta, Romania.

What had caught the old man's attention, obviously an American which she confirmed, was that her bikini was so miniscule that if you saw her from certain angles, she looked totally nude. She had a very nice allover tan, and there wasn't a dark hair showing except her lush dark mane. She had allowed the very fine hairs, almost an invisible fine down, to grow on her arms and torso. They were very light in spite of her naturally dark hair. They'd catch the sun when she was wet or had applied sun block lotion. She didn't need the latter, she was immune to the ravages of too much exposure to the sun; however, she enjoyed the attention given her by whoever her current companion was when he or she applied the lotions. It was most enjoyable in some private spot or in a hotel room where they could enjoy the benefits of total body contact, slipping and sliding until the ultimate goal was reached.

She smiled as the old man took a picture of her without being too obvious. His wife tried not to pay attention. Simoné sent out a little probe. Yes, he was an American, from Little Rock, Arkansas, no less. Yes, he admired her body; however, it was in a way that she didn't run across too often in the general public. He envied her. He wished he could look as nice as she did. She gave him a sad smile as he and his wife and their tour guide entered a restaurant a few yards away. She wished she could do something for him, but that was not in her power. As far as she knew, there was only one person who could do that, and she'd yet to meet him.

Sex was always good for her, and she made sure her partners were properly rewarded. Her partners would always forget her when she tired of them. They would always remember a very enjoyable few days, weeks, or rarely months, but what she looked like and her name were quickly forgotten. Simoné would give them a kiss and send them on their way.

Romania was currently her favorite place to reside, especially since the demise of the Ceausescu regime and the Soviet Union. She had enjoyed it even more during the Victorian era when she's married for the first time. Nicolae was handsome, loving, and very wealthy. He was a man before his time in many ways. He treated women as equals. "We give more than we take, and take only what's given."

Simoné was 28 when she married in 1880; however, she looked 18, and as far as her new husband knew, she was just 18. Simoné was a witch, as was her older sister, Beverly. They had lived in Atlanta, Georgia at the outbreak of the Great American War. There was nothing civil about it. Her parents were northern sympathizers, and they had quietly headed to New England before the shooting had begun. When it looked as if the war might reach them in New Haven, the Simards sent their two daughters to Switzerland where they could get a proper education. Simone, pronounced 'Sea-moan', she would change the e to é some years later. She would prefer 'Sea-moan-ā' as the pronunciation. Simoné, Sissy to her sister, was 12 and her sister was 16.

One of the problems of being a witch was that it was generally frowned up in modern Victorian society. Their father had accepted their mother's magic talent, she could do some very interesting things when they were alone; however, they knew that her magic had to remain hidden from the general public. The Simards were surprised to discover their daughters also had magic talent. Had they known about how genetics worked, they wouldn't have batted an eye. Of course, as the girls came into power, they were instructed not to show off what they could do. It was unfortunate that it would be more than 50 years before they discovered how not alone in the world they were.

The Simards, being relatively well off, were able to send their girls to one of the finer finishing schools in Geneva. Things were far different for Beverly than they were for Simoné. She was desperately homesick, and when the war ended, she couldn't get home soon enough. Simoné was quite different in many respects. She loved what she could experience in Europe, and she took to the culture immediately.

The language of the aristocracy was French, and Simoné took to the new language immediately. It turned out she was a polyglot. After graduating from the finishing school as a proper young lady, she convinced her parents to send her to the University of Paris. She was able to move into a small flat just a few blocks away on the left bank, Rive Gauche if you will. It was at about this time that her magic abilities became stronger and stronger. The trouble was, she didn't understand her powers and didn't know what her capabilities were. One of the powers that became manifest rather early was that she could read minds, and the nice thing was that she wasn't inundated with the random thoughts of everyone around her. She could be very selective. The second thing was that she could use mind control to a certain degree. It wasn't something that she indulged in very frequently. It was just there when she needed it. Neither of the powers appeared to be dependent on language. A person's intentions were picked up and translated in her mind to English. Likewise, the thoughts or commands she projected were sent in the raw, so to speak, to her target where they were translated to that person's language.

She'd never had a lover, much less a boyfriend, and she quickly decided that it was time to take care of that situation. Jean Marceau was the son of the owner of the bakery that she frequented. He was handsome, somewhat intelligent, and a pretty good lover if what some of the young ladies in her neighborhood thought was true. So, Jean was her first lover. He was good, and he was gentle. As first times go for young virgins, it wasn't the best; however, the deed was done. He'd brought her off with his caresses and tongue before he entered her, so the evening wasn't a complete loss. She knew she wanted to do it again.

She kept Jean around for a while, and by the time she decided she needed to broaden her horizons, she found sex to be a very enjoyable past time. It was very easy to break the attachment with Jean. She just became a non-person in his mind. He forgot everything about their relationship. She was just another customer of the bakery he would inherit in a few years.

Simoné found a suitable wife for him a few blocks away, and it wasn't too much trouble to have the two meet. They would marry, and have a big family. The bakery was so successful that they were able to buy the shop next door and convert it to a coffee shop. Later on, they acquired the first floor flats above their shops and built one of the best little restaurants in the area. Over the years, Simoné would visit the restaurant. She was never recognized. She was very pleased with what a few subtle pushes from her had accomplished.

Simoné had to overcome much prejudice against women seeking an education. She realized by the time she entered the university that she wanted an education. Getting a diploma was easy. All she had to do if she wanted one was do a little mind control, and all the records would indicate she'd completed all the courses necessary for a baccalaureate degree. That wasn't the way she wanted it.

The professors either loved her or hated her. The ones that hated her got a little push to give her the grade she deserved. The professors who treated the beautiful, vivacious American, who spoke French like a native, fairly were often rewarded after the fact. It was a tremendous ego boost for them even though they would forget the liaison immediately afterwards. Their wives and lovers would wonder what brought about the change. Why were their lovers suddenly so much for loving and proficient in bed? They didn't need an answer.

At 22, Simoné moved to Vienna. It was 1874, and Vienna was thriving and the music was wonderful. She had trouble with the masses adulation of the royalty; however, this was Europe. It was not the USA, and regardless of her admiration of Europe for its culture, she always had thought that the American way was better. It was just that they were so unsophisticated.

Then she met Johannes.

Chapter 2

While in Switzerland, Simoné had learned German as well as French. She'd had ample opportunity to practice her German as it was one of the four languages spoken in the country. It was as easy to pretend she was German as it was to pretend she was French. When she arrived in Vienna in 1874, she just pretended to be an American trying to speak German. She had been hired to be a governess for a wealthy Jewish family. There were three children, all under the age of ten. They were well mannered and respectful.

One of the nice things about the Schwartz family was that they were modern thinkers, and were pretty open to some of Simoné's 'suggestions'. Simoné was allowed the unheard of two nights a week plus Sundays off. She used the time wisely. At least she thought she did.

Johann Strauss was at the height of his popularity; although it hardly waned right up to and after his death. Strauss was a handsome middle aged man of about 50 years when Simoné first met him. He was married to his first wife who was eight years his senior. There was quite a scandal about the whole thing. She'd had eight illegitimate children from previous liaisons, was a talented opera singer and musician. Strauss's marriage to her would produce no children, and neither of his subsequent marriages would either. Simoné met Strauss at an after concert party that she had rather easily gotten into even though she'd not been invited. Strauss was obviously taken by the raven haired beauty, and proceeded to introduce her to all his friends. She realized that the attraction was mostly platonic even though his wife was much older and past her prime. She sensed his great affection for the older woman.

Then he introduced her to Johannes. The hair from his slightly receding hairline was slicked back, and his rather full beard had as much gray in it as there was darker hair. She was surprised to find out that he was eight years Strauss's junior. He was a sad, bitter man, haunted by the ghost of the great Beethoven. There was so much more music inside him just waiting to explode out if he would just let it. Simoné delved a little deeper into what was an amazing mind. In a way, she fell in love with him that night. Maybe it wasn't love; maybe just pity. Johannes became her project.

He'd arrived at the party with another friend, and had probably more than his share of schnapps as the evening progressed. As he left with the friend, he turned to the diminishing crowd and exclaimed, "If there is anyone here whom I've failed to insult, I sincerely apologize for the oversight." There were a few chuckles, but many just shook their heads.

"Herr Strauss, do you think he might give me piano lessons?"

"I doubt it. He doesn't do much of that these days. They say he's working on his first symphony; although they've been saying that for years.

"You're an American, aren't you? I've been invited to go there for a big concert."

"Yes, but I haven't been there in ten years. I moved here recently from Paris."

"Ah, you must know Offenbach; that German who pretends to be a Frenchman."

"Yes, I've been to performances of his music. I must say that I favor your Viennese style more."

By this time she had all the information she needed. She was going to get some piano lessons. She presented herself at Johannes' doorstep two days later.

"So, you want lessons, I don't have the time to waste on a no-talent waif."

"What do you want me to play? I can play."

"Pick something," he said indicating his piano, "before you waste any more of my time."

She played Tráumerei (Dreams). It wasn't a difficult piece, but it had to be played correctly. She didn't think she did a bad job. She turned to find Johannes in tears."

"Mein Gott, oh Robert, oh Clara, how I miss you."

So that's who it was. She had to be nearly 15 years his senior, and Robert had been dead for eighteen years. That had to have been difficult. His best friend had been married to the only woman he'd ever loved. She dug a little deeper, and then quickly retreated. There were some things, some places better not ventured into.

"I will give you lessons, Liebchen. You are a good pianist, but you will never be a great one."

"I would like to be better, if you can do that for me, that will be good enough. I take care of children, and if I can help them advance to the point where they need lessons from a great teacher, then I will send them to you."

Three lessons later, she seduced him. He was a lonely man, old before his time. Their romance flourished in private, and she gradually got him to unlock the music that was dammed up in his mind.

"When are you going to write your symphony?" she asked one night after a particularly successful coupling.

"You don't understand. Everyone compares me to Beethoven. It's impossible to fill his shoes," her lover said quietly.

"Why should you want to fill his shoes? You have your own shoes to fill. You hear his footsteps behind you because he's trying to tell you to get off your ass and get to work. He doesn't want to intimidate you. He wants to encourage you."

He got to work immediately. Basically rewriting a sketch he had of a proposed first movement he'd written ten years before. He'd actually been working on the project for more than twenty years. But the ghost of Beethoven wouldn't let him go. It took a little over a year, but it was finally done. The symphony premiered in Karlsruhe, a city in southwest Germany along the Rhine River. Many called the symphony 'Beethoven's Tenth, including the conductor Hans von Bulow. When asked later on about a number of similarities to Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Johannes answered, "Any ass can see that."

Johannes had been a very proficient composer, writing dozens of songs and chamber works. His first piano concerto had been written years before, and had shocked the music world. Since then, he'd composed only one major work, a requiem composed after the death of his mother. It had been mostly songs and choral works. The success of his first symphony regardless of its attribution to Beethoven unlocked his creativity for the major works. He finished his second symphony in 1877, and there was his second piano concerto and violin concerto that followed shortly thereafter. Simoné knew that there wasn't much more that she could do for him. She quietly left him and Vienna in 1878. She'd found a suitable replacement to watch over the Schwartz' family that now included five children, and bade the family goodbye. She had decided that she'd head east down the mighty Donau to Budapest.

She had plenty of money, and had few concerns with being robbed. She'd been accosted twice while walking back to her quarters late at night. She'd always keep her probes out during those times, and it wasn't too difficult to detect anyone with evil intentions. One particular individual carrying a rather large and sharp knife approached her one night demanding her purse. She knew instantly that his intent was to get close to her, cut her throat, rape her, and of course take any money she might have in the process.

Her powers were becoming a bit more refined by this time, and she immobilized him. She found four other murders in his past, and a dozen rapes of children and young women.

"You will walk to the banks of the Donau and remove your clothes. You will then take that knife and cut off your testicles. Immediately after doing that, you will swim to the middle of the Donau. If you can make it to either bank after that, you will turn yourself in to the police."

He turned and headed for the river. She sensed when he stopped at the edge of mooring point. He removed his clothes and picked up the knife. Simoné broke the connection at that point. His body was found several miles downstream by some fishermen a week later. The mystery of the pile of clothes and the bloody knife was solved. As to what actually had happened other than the mutilation was never discovered.

Chapter 3

Simoné thought back to her time in Vienna. It had been for the most part very pleasant. Poor Johannes died of cancer twenty years later as one of the most beloved composers of all time. Strauss lived another two years before succumbing to pneumonia. They had remained great friends. There had been a practice in those days where ladies would approach famous composers and ask them to autograph their fans. The composers, as was the practice, would write a short passage of something they had written in the past, and sign the fan. A beautiful lady approached Johannes one day, and asked him to autograph her fan. He wrote down a few bars from The Blue Danube, and below it he wrote, "Such beautiful music, unfortunately not by me." Simoné cherished that fan, and it was carefully preserved among some of her most prized possessions.

It was time to return to her hotel room with what's his name, oh yes, Sergei. The lump in his tight suit indicated that he was up for another round when they returned to their room. That would be just the thing before she took him off to dinner in her Mercedes.

That is the strangest thing she thought as they turned toward the hotel. That woman was staring at her. She was very attractive and wearing a bit more conservative suit than Simoné's. She was sure that she'd seen her on the beach earlier that afternoon. Then she realized she couldn't read her. She pushed, but the wall was up. There was no question about it. The woman turned and walked quickly toward the parking lot that was about a block away from the beach. It could mean only one thing. The woman was a witch, and she knew Simoné was one, too.

It was the third decade of the 21st century, and Simoné had reestablished communications with her sister. The internet was a fabulous tool, and it hadn't taken long for her to make the connection. She was disappointed that her sister had chosen to look so much older. She didn't need to; however, she was glad to find out that she and her life partner were moving back to Connecticut, and were going to present as being in their late 30s or early 40s instead of the 60s they'd been presenting.

They had communicated infrequently over the last hundred years or so. Simoné had thought seriously about returning to North America early in the twentieth century after the death of her first husband, and she'd booked passage on the Titanic on what would have been its second crossing from England to North America. After the disaster of the first crossing, she decided against traveling across the pond for a while.

She'd hoped to find out more about her parents; however, they'd disappeared in the late 1870s. Neither Beverly nor Simoné had heard anything from either of them since then. It had been about this time that both Simoné and her sister realized separately that they were not aging like everyone else they knew. Their mother had never said anything about that; however, the sisters realized that their mother, and father for that matter, might not be aging any more quickly than they were.

Then, there were those damn pictures. She'd really liked Adamski. He was an excellent photographer, and a pretty good lover. He'd taken hundreds of pictures of her over the two years they'd been together, and maybe it was because she was a bit old fashioned and didn't realize the power of the digital age that she failed to eliminate all the photos when she decided she'd had enough of him. She'd eliminated all the electronic copies he had, but what she didn't realize was that he'd already sold the photos to a web site that specialized in posting photos of attractive young women. Who knew how many people had seen them; how many people had downloaded copies of them?

Strangely, she didn't find out about them the way one might have expected. There weren't any lewd comments from male patrons in a bar she happened to go to. Men didn't come up to her and ask her to autograph a photo of her wearing just what she'd been born in. She found out when her sister emailed her to tell about all the photos on that website.

"Well, I must say little sister that you don't look a day over 25. My great granddaughter has a picture of us taken when we were in Geneva. You don't look much different. It's just that the makeup's better, now. Don't try to tell me that it's someone else. That little mole on your right breast was all the proof I needed. I'm surprised you didn't get rid of it a hundred years ago. Anyway, your great, great niece is a dead ringer for you. She's a bit taller, and maybe has a bit more in the bust department. Her name's Theresa, Terri, and she's getting married in a few months. You need to be there. Here's her picture. Of course, she's not naked as a jaybird."

Simoné had to admit that there was quite a resemblance.

It was only a few days later when she received a second email. "Dearest Sissy, have you ever met His Wisdom? As far as we know, he's the only wizard left. He knows you exist, and I imagine that he could find you any time he wants to. He needs to talk to you about some things that will be happening over the next few years. He's pretty good about what's going on. That is he doesn't interfere too much with our activities; however, he's taken a real shine to the younger witches, and helps them out a lot with their lessons.

"We think he works for some folks or beings in another dimension. We can't go there; at least, not yet.

"There's something you need to know about Terri, and this has a lot to do with The Wizard. Your great, great grand niece was born Adam Grunewald. This is something The Wizard specializes in. He can change individual's sex as well as gender; although, he doesn't do too much of the latter these days. Adam was handsome and athletic young man who hid his inner turmoil from almost everyone. As you know, I decided to try to trace my offspring, and was surprised to find that Adam was going into the same profession I worked in. It was pretty easy to finagle a few things to get Adam to work where I did.

"That was when I found out about the inner Adam, and I told His Wisdom. The rest was easy. We made some things happen, but it was all her decision at the end. Her husband to be had always loved the inner Adam. He knows what happened, as do her mother and father. Terri is a witch, too. She inherited that from me. Everyone is so happy.

"There are so many of us now, and we're getting stronger as a group. There's a family in Bridgeport with four witches: a mother and her three daughters. Two of the girls' best friends are witches. Our coven, yes we have a coven, holds meetings all over New England. There're nearly 300 of us, and we keep finding more.

"There's something else going on that we haven't figured out, and His Wisdom won't tell us. We think it centers on Cindy Brewer and her husband. You won't believe what those two went through to be together. One of her non-magic friends is doing genetic research on as many magic people we can find. She's finding out all sorts of interesting things. Anyway, you've got to stop hiding out over there. If you let The Wizard do it for you, he can get you here in an instant. Sissy, we have so much to talk about. We haven't seen each other in such a long time.

"Your loving sister,

"Bev"

Simoné's eyes watered up a bit as she read the note from her sister. She wasn't homesick, but she realized that she really did need to reconnect with her family, and learn more about what was going on in the world of magic.

She sent Serge on his way the next morning. He was really boring, and about the only thing he could discuss with any semblance of intelligence was what was going on in the various football leagues. She gave him 10,000 Euros which might last him a little while before he found another rich lady to take care of him. He wasn't a bad person. It was just that he wasn't much good for being anything but arm candy and a pretty good fuck.

When was the last time she really felt good about sleeping with someone? Her time with Johannes was good. He really did like her, and he did his best to make her feel good, but there was no real romance. No, it had to have been Nicolae. He was kind, gentle, loving, virile, honest, faithful, intelligent, loving (no, she'd already listed that), handsome, respectful, and rich. That had truly been a wonderful time she had to admit. Then he had to go and die.

Chapter 4

In 1878 three cities had combined to become Budapest. It might have been distinguishable as three separate towns two hundred years before; however, they were now merged both politically and geographically into one of the larger cities in Europe. The five hour train ride from Vienna hadn't been too uncomfortable, especially since she had a private room. She had lunch in private, and tried to contemplate why she'd even thought about moving to such a place. Fortunately, French and German were spoken there as much as Hungarian. At least they were in proper society. But, why was she going there? That was the question she kept pondering.

Sometimes she felt lost, not in the physical sense, but in the sense that her journey. She was twenty-six, and many young women her age were long married with many children. Strauss' wife had eight children by the time she was in her thirties, and she hadn't even bothered to get married. Simoné'd often thought about having a family; however, the thought of being an unwed mother didn't appeal to her. Then she found a solution to that problem; something that really surprised her. At least it was a partial solution.

Vienna was an academic center. Let there be no doubt about that. Simoné had not stopped her educational process, although at this point it was very eclectic. She loved to visit the dozens of bookstores that frequented the city. She never knew what she might find. One thing she did find opened up a whole new world to her. It was a loosely bound copy of a scientific paper 'Experiments on Plant Hybridization' by Gregor Mendel. She wasn't sure why she bought it. After all she knew next to nothing about biology. Proper young ladies were not encouraged to venture in that direction.

A second set of books was even more enlightening. It was a collection of supposed spells, written by an unknown author. The two volume set, in German, had been collected by a man interested in the occult. He knew nothing of magic; however, he'd collected the spells with their descriptions from interviewing gypsies who traveled through central Europe. The author thought they were interesting from a historical sense. He'd tried some of them; however, nothing worked as far as he knew. Simoné was pretty sure why they didn't, if any of them were real spells, and that was because the author was not magic.

Mendel's paper amazed her. The more she read it, the more sense it made. What an eye opener it was. Witches had to be a recessive trait passed through the mother and father. The only way a woman could be a witch was if the father and mother both carried the trait. Since her mother was a witch, her father had to be a carrier or else she and her sister would not have been witches. This meant that daughters of non-magical people could be witches, also. This was fascinating stuff because it meant that magic was not an accident. One was born with it.

The book of spells was another thing entirely. She'd been a bit surprised when the old book dealer recommended it for her; however, it proved to be very interesting. She could tell right away that most of it was malarkey, nonsense. Someone had been pulling the wool over the author's eyes. However, there were a few spells that had constancy about them. Their structures were very similar. She made certain when she tried them to be as far away from others as possible. After all, if they were genuine spells, how could she be sure what they did?

She hired a carriage driver to take her to some distant woods. She had him leave her alone, and installed a strong command to return after a few hours. It would have been a long walk back to Vienna. She'd found a few spells, if they really were spells, that might be very handy. She realized that it wasn't the spells themselves, if they did work, but it was the person using the spell. The spell must be a means for the mind to concentrate its power to do a certain task.

The first spell she tried was supposed to be a fire spell. Allegedly, the power of the spell was controlled by emotion. The calmer, less threatened the spell caster was, the less intense the power. She gathered a small pile of leaves, and gave it a shot. At first nothing happened, and after a few more tries she was ready to chuck it. One more time: the leaves began to smolder. 'Oh my God,' She thought. She tried it again, and there was a little pop as the pile burst into flame. She quickly stepped on the leaves not wanting to attract attention. The next thing she tried was a levitation spell. At least that's what the author said the gypsy woman told him it was. There were similar results: nothing at first; however, after a few tries, she was able to lift small objects such as twigs and pebbles. Then she discovered that once she was in control of an object she could move it horizontally in any direction she wanted. The power would diminish over distance; however, she felt that maybe practice would extend her sphere of influence. She made notes in the margins as to what she felt affected the power of a spell.

There were several other spells she wasn't sure she wanted to try, e.g. stopping bleeding, removing tumors, decreasing/increasing a man's libido. There was one that did intrigue her, though. It was a spell to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. She certainly understood about a woman's 'monthlies'. She'd been having them for 15 years. Apparently, this spell stopped the egg from being released (It would be a long time before all the chemistry of a woman's cycle would be understood by anyone other than scientists.). Along with that spell was one that would reverse the spell, that is turn everything back on. She studied it closely and noted where there were subtle differences. This group of spells had been pretty reliable so far; so she decided to give it a try. Her last period had ended only a few days before. She went six months without a period before she decided to turn things back on. Her period started four weeks later.

************************

She found a nice flat in District VI of the city, part of the original Buda, well above the flood level of the occasionally fickle Donau. She found a bank that did not look down on woman with money of their own. She opened an account there for the purpose of taking care of the normal living expenses. She put the remainder of her money in gold coins, and placed them in a locked box. She'd discovered an obscuring or invisibility spell, and she made the box disappear to the ordinary eye. She'd tried it, the spell, out by placing a small rock on the side walk. She'd painted it bright red. After the second gentleman tripped on it she felt she could keep the strong box hidden from view.

She spent the next year just enjoying the culture and getting to learn more about the Hungarian lifestyle. She took long walks, weather permitting, enjoyed the coffee houses and fine restaurants. She eschewed any relationships with men or women for that matter, though at this point in her life she had not thought about having a relationship with a woman. She generally remained invisible. She frequented several casinos, and won enough money to remain comfortable. She knew that if she cheated that she would be caught sooner or later. So she played against the arrogant and dishonest, not against the house. The fact she could remember every card played didn't hurt. The fact she could read minds was a huge advantage, to say the least. She didn't win every time she could. She might even drop out with a winning hand, but when she left the Casino she would be several hundred forints to the plus side. She was a wealthy young woman.

The Great Franz Liszt was putting on one of his recitals, and Simoné through her usual methods managed to get a front row seat. She also very easily entered the after recital reception. She wanted to meet the man who had only a few years to live, but insisted on touring Europe, mostly between Rome, Weimer, and Budapest. Some estimated he traveled more than 4,000 miles a year during what he called his "threefold existence".

She was standing in the reception line waiting to meet the great man when she realized that a handsome young man had moved to her side. "Excuse me mademoiselle, please allow me to escort you. One as beautiful as you should never be alone at a time like this. I am Nicolae Enescu, and it would be my pleasure to introduce you to the great man.

"May I have the honor of knowing your name? It wouldn't be right for me to present you without knowing your name."

"I am Simoné Simard."

"Simard: that is a Scotch name. I thought you were French.

"Actually, I am American. I finished school and decided to stay for a while. After all, I am of age. I went to school in Switzerland." She left out the fact that she'd also completed a college degree in Paris. She sensed that Nicolae thought she was about eighteen to twenty; not the twenty-eight she actually was. She also knew that he was twenty-four, and discovered he was almost royalty. His father was a count! He wasn't Hungarian. He was Romanian.

Meeting Liszt was almost as good as meeting Johannes; however, she knew she'd never go to bed with him. She had somebody else in mind.

Their courtship was short; however, there was a problem. She'd lost contact with her parents, not that she'd had much in the first place. She wrote a letter to her sister, now married with a three children, and her sister said that she'd also lost contact with them. They'd been on a voyage to Australia, and the ship had been lost. At least, no one had heard from it in months. As far as Simoné knew, she was an orphan.

He took her to meet his parents in the foothills north of Bucharest near the city of Braşov. She won them over immediately, and she didn't have to try. It wasn't difficult to pretend to be Catholic. To avoid problems, she'd been baptized in the Baptist Church in Atlanta when she'd been a young girl. Having lived in Catholic countries for more than fifteen years made it very easy to convince anyone that she was Catholic. The thing was she'd fallen rather hard for the young count.

They were married in the spring of 1880, and the honeymoon never ended. They travelled all over Europe; from Russia to Spain. She turned on her egg factory three months after the wedding. She never conceived. It was not her fault. Nicolae had the mumps when he was twelve. He survived, but as a result, he was sterile, or effectively so. His sperm count, had anyone tried to determine it, was near zero. There were some thoughts of adoption; however, they never got around to it.

The first of two tragic events occurred in March of 1907. Nicolae's parents were returning from Odessa to Braşov. They were traveling through what would eventually become modern day Moldova. Travel in these areas was still primitive, and they were going by coach. There was no direct railroad connection, and they did not own a motor vehicle. They probably couldn't have found fuel for it if they had one. Unrest had been developing for years, and most of it was against several landowners who were leasing land to intermediaries who were trying to work the land without the peasants' help. The peasants were left with nothing to do and no way to make a living.

It came to a head in March, and the older Enescus were caught in the middle of it. Hundreds of the lessees and land owners were killed in the riots, and the Enescus blundered into the middle of it. The masses stopped their coach and dragged the terrified count and his wife from the coach. They were beaten to death. It has been estimated that over ten thousand peasants were killed in the military retaliation.

Nicolae was now the lord of the manner. He and Simoné had been married 27 years, and their love for each other hadn't diminished one bit. There were many signs at this time that things were going to change throughout Europe. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was on the verge of crumbling. The signs were everywhere, and it wasn't just the Moldavian riots. Royalty had lost its luster.

The Enescus slowly removed their money from the banks. They converted it to gold, and hid it on their land and in the manor. Simoné unknown to Nicolae put an obscuring spell on every cache. He'd never known about her magic. They gave most of the arable land to the peasant families who'd worked it for centuries. It was all done quietly and quite legally.

It was only six months after his parents died that Nicolae caught a cold that never went away. The cold became pneumonia, and he died sitting up in his bed being held in his beloved Simoné's arms. He was just 52.

Chapter 5

There was no question war was coming. The only question was where and when it would start. That question was answered on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo with the brutal deaths of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Simoné had been in Europe 50 years. She had allowed herself to gradually age over that period, thanks to another spell she had deciphered from the ancient book. What could she do? She could flee to America; however, America was not her home; not anymore.

She knew that the household help would be faithful to her. There had never been a thought that they would be anything but faithful to the count and his family. The fact that all of them, including the peasants who used to work the land as sharecroppers were now landowners just strengthened the bond of allegiance that had existed for more than a century. They had been devastated by the deaths of the Count and Countess that was tragically followed by the death of the young count. The widowed countess continued to see over the little community, doing what she could to keep the war away from them. The war left them relatively unscathed. Countries formed and were reformed. Boundaries reflected more the ethnic groups contained in them. The boundaries would never be established to satisfy everyone, and people would still be struggling over them seventy years later.

Simoné realized that it would soon be time for her to move on. She loved mansion with its 65 rooms; however, she would reach a point where there would be questions about the vigorous seventy year old woman. So she 'willed' it to her nieces and nephews in America. It was all quite legal, although they would never come to Romania, except for one niece.

It took some doing, but before Simoné left the home 'forever' they converted the place into a small hotel designed to be very, very private. Béla and Cosima had passed away many years before, and now the house was managed by their children and children's spouses. Word spread quickly about the quiet retreat that featured comfortable rooms and an outstanding cuisine. When Simoné knew all was running well, she went off to Italy to enjoy winter on the south coast of Sicily where she unfortunately died of a massive heart attack. She was seventy-eight. Her 'ashes' were returned to Romania, and placed in a small crypt in the remote part of the garden.

**********************************

"So how was your trip, dear?" Ileana asked in near perfect English. The young American had just arrived after what must have been an exhausting journey. According to her letters, she'd taken the newly launched RMS Queen Mary from New York to Southampton, ferried across the Channel where she caught a train to Paris before taking the Orient express to Bucharest. The hotel limousine had been waiting for her at the train station in Bucharest. From there it was a bumpy circuitous journey to Braşov. The route took them by Ploiesti and the surrounding oil fields and refineries. From there they were in mountains all the way to the hotel. As rough as it was, the ride was much better than the coach rides in the previous century. There was a direct rail route; however, the schedule was not favorable, and the trip would have taken considerably longer.

"It wasn't bad," the freckled redhead replied. "The train was quite nice. Thank you for speaking English. I'm afraid my language skills are not very good."

"Well, you just need to practice. Your aunt was very good with languages, and I bet you can be, too. The only way you can get better is to keep trying.

"Let's get you to your room. I know you'll want to get cleaned up before dinner. We normally serve at 8:00."

Mary Frances Smith looked around her room. It was just like she remembered it. It had been only six years since she'd left as Simoné Enescu, widow. The changes in her appearance hadn't been too difficult. She'd been reading the old book of spells and came across several pages of spells she hadn't noticed before. Perhaps the pages had been stuck together. Several of the spells had to do with changing ones appearance. She decided to be a redhead. The freckles came with being a redhead as did the green eyes. She locked the spell in, but could cancel it in an instant if she needed to.

She loved the old mansion, and was very happy with its success as a hotel. She would give the impression of being the concerned foreign owner, insure that the management was as good as it appeared to be, and then go her way, ostensibly back to America. At least that seemed like a good idea at the time; however, war has a way of changing things.

Before they knew it, the Nazi's had invaded France, Poland, and walked through the open gates into Austria. It wasn't much longer before they were occupying most of Romania and the world's oldest oil refinery complex at Ploiesti only a few miles south of her beloved hotel.

The Allied bombing raids started in earnest, and after a while it was almost a nightly thing. Many of the allied bombers never made it home, and many crashed in the area. Sometimes the crew members were able to get out. Some were wounded, some died, some were taken prisoner, and some were shot in their parachutes as they descended. Needless to say, there was no tourist business. Simoné turned the mansion into a hospital. She was already hiding two Jewish families, and one of the families was headed by a doctor.

Simoné didn't know how the underground worked. All she knew was that it did work. The healthy aircrew members were smuggled out of Romania as quickly as possible. The injured were nursed back to health and sent on if they could travel. Some, the amputees, and other severely injured would have to remain until the end of the war. Not all of their patients were allies. They rescued several German fighter pilots. They too would stay there until the end of the war. For some strange reason they never tried to escape, even though they were quite capable.

Then what many of the inhabitants of the hospital feared happened. They could hear a truck going through the gears as it made its way up the curvy road. Unmistakable, also, was the noise of a tank. The two vehicles pulled around the circular drive. The tank destroyed a good portion of the inner hedge as it came to a stop; the turret rotating to fix itself on the large building.

"Good afternoon, Lieutenant, what may I do for you?" Simoné asked in flawless German. She gave it a central Germany accent just for effect.

"Who are all these people?" he said pointing to a number of patients lying in chaise lounges and beds in the open air. "These are not Axis soldiers; these are enemies of the Reich."

"I'm sorry Lieutenant, this is a tuberculosis sanatorium. These poor people are afflicted with a most virulent form of tuberculosis. It is highly contagious, and I suggest that you and your men leave here as soon as possible. However, it would be nice if you left all of your medical supplies with us.

"There is nothing for you to see here, absolutely nothing. We do have several fine young German officers here, and if they are allowed peace and quiet and good mountain air, they might be able to recover and rejoin the Reich sometime in the future.

"There is nothing for you here. You should leave now before it is too late. Tell your superiors that there is nothing up here for them, and it will be fruitless to return."

"That is true," the Lieutenant responded. All of his men had their eyes fixed on the pretty redhead. "Men, we should leave now. There is nothing for us here."

The tank destroyed another thirty feet of hedge before turning down the road.

There were many sighs of relief. Things returned to the semblance of normal that they had before the Germans had shown up.

"Tell me what just happened out there, Mary Frances."

Simoné turned to see Ileana standing there with a look of concern. "What do you mean?" she asked knowing full well what she meant.

"I have had my suspicions for a while. It's not that anything bad has happened, but what has happened over this last year has been nothing short of miraculous. You have been a saving angel. I've watched men who should have bled to death suddenly stop bleeding. I have nurses training, you know that, and I've seen things that don't seem possible, but they did happen. I saw it. I saw you lift a man who weighed twice what you weigh off a cot . You come here pleading that you are not very good with languages; however, you now speak Romanian like a native. You speak flawless German, and I suspect your French and Hungarian are flawless, too, if you wanted them to be.

"You convinced that band of uniformed thugs that there was nothing here for them. You convinced them that we are just a tuberculosis sanatorium with highly contagious patients. That lieutenant never questioned a thing you said. They left all their medical supplies with us including precious sulfa.

"Not only that, you know this place like the back of your hand. You know every room, every nook and cranny, every hiding place. Just who in the hell are you? I think I know, but I want to hear it from you. I'm waiting."

Simoné searched the area and there was no one within hearing range. "You are right. I am who you think I am."

"I want to hear you say it."

"I am Simoné Enescu."

"How is this possible? You don't look a day over 25."

"I have certain abilities. I am 91 years old. I don't know how long I will live, but I suspect it will be a long time.

"I had to come back. I love this place and all of you too much to let it be destroyed by those maniacs. These evil people will be defeated, but there will be other evil people to follow them. I suspect Russia will bully their paranoid way through much of this area."

"But the Russians are losing the war."

"They will survive. The US has joined the war, and the Axis cannot stand up to the combined Allied resources. This war is far from over. It will be many years before it is. Meanwhile, I intend to make sure this little island survives this and whatever follows."

"I know it is you. You talk just like you did before. Please let me see you like you were when I was a little girl."

The change was virtually instantaneous. The twenty-five year old Simoné stood before the amazed Ileana. "This is how I really appear. I think you understand why I can't be seen like this. It wouldn't do. There will come a time when I will be able to revert to my actual appearance; however, that will have to be a long time from now."

"What are you? I don't think you are evil or ungodly. You wouldn't be doing what you are doing now if you were."

"I am just a normal human being with just a bit extra. I do have a sister in the United States. She is four years older than I am. We don't know what happened to our parents. They disappeared years ago. Our mother was just like we are.

"I guess you might say we are witches. That was what we called ourselves. My sister and I correspond, but we haven't seen each other in more than seventy years. She likes America, and I like it here. This is my home, even though I can't live here. I lived here for 28 years with the only man I will ever love. There was nothing I could do for him, and he died in my arms. I felt so damn helpless." She started crying.

Ileana embraced her. She was a taller woman, and leaned over to kiss Simoné's forehead. "We will never be able to thank you and your husband enough for what you have done for us."

"Please, just keep this place going. That's all I ask. I am very wealthy, and I will continue to visit after this horrible war is over. I might be Mary Frances Smith for a few more years. Then I will be someone else. Nicolae and I buried and hid gold in many places on this property and in this house. If you ever need something, I will tell you where some is hidden. I placed a spell on each location so that the gold cannot be seen. For instance, there are 100 old gold forints behind that rock. If you ever need it, all you have to do is come here, and it will open for you. I'm sure the coins will be worth quite a bit.

"The rest have already forgotten what they saw this afternoon. We don't need the German pilots to go back to the war effort, so I will keep them busy until the end of the war. Then they will be able to go home. I suspect that some day they will be our allies. Stranger things have happened."

*****************************

The war did end, and much of what Simoné predicted did happen. The little hotel returned to its previous glory rather quickly. It became a popular place for some of the higher ups in the Communist Party; however, the hotel and the surrounding area for several kilometers never seemed to suffer from the Ceausescu regime. Simoné quietly celebrated her 100th birthday there wishing that somehow Nicolae could be there with her. It was during this time that she discovered the resort at Mamaia, a place she would return to almost annually.

Chapter 6

Simone didn't miss Serge one bit. She would find another lover when the time came. There were other things on her mind. She had run across a few other witches over the years; however, they never seemed to be interested in establishing any contact. There would be that fleeting contact and they were gone. What had happened the previous day had bothered her, and continued to bother her. They had established eye contact, and she knew. It was obvious. She had seen her twice. The first time may have been an accident. The second time wasn't. She was sure of it.

Well, it was time to head south. She hadn't been in Turkey for quite a while. She had a little house, a dacha, not far from the hotel in Braşov, and had decided to redecorate the kitchen in Turkish tiles. She remembered several places in the Bazaar that featured very fine merchandise. She would also get a set of tiles for her sister. She remembered some tree of life sets that were spectacular. There was also a peacock set that had caught her eye.

South of Constanta she noticed a turnoff to the resort town of Nesebar. She'd been there years before. Maybe she could find what she wanted there without having to go all the way to Istanbul. As she thought about it later, that was not a very good assumption. A little over three and one-half hours later she pulled into a crowded parking lot at the west end of the little island. She convinced another driver that there were no parking places left, and she slid into the only remaining parking slot. There were a few others on the north side of the island. He'd have to be happy with one of them.

Typical of many of these little resort spots, the area was a pedestrian zone, only. There were several main streets that headed in a generally easterly direction. These were crisscrossed by dozens of side streets that were more like alleyways. Several shops had small amounts of tiles like she wanted; however, none of them were right. Most of the tiles were designed to be single wall hangings. This was definitely not what she wanted.

Many of the signs were in English; however, most signs were written in a Cyrillic-like alphabet, and Bulgarian was not a language that Simoné had chosen to tackle. Maybe that was why the shingle sign hanging out into the alley caught her attention. The sign probably needed repainting; however, it was easy to read what it said: Spells R Us - Spells, Potions and Novelties. Well, that had to be the craziest thing.

She entered not knowing what to expect, but somehow, she couldn't resist going in. The bell tinkled as she pushed the door open. Most shops and stalls were open air and not air conditioned. This was an exception. She looked around at what was an area much larger than she expected. There were all sorts of things, but there was nothing that she really wanted.

"We'll be with you in a moment, Simoné. Why don't you talk to Wolf? I know he'd like to meet you."

Simoné looked at what she'd assumed to be a very large dog. No, it was definitely a wolf. His tale was thumping in a friendly wag.

"Hi, I'm Wolf. I'd introduce you to the wife and kids, but it's her turn to go to Baffin Island. They're having a little party with some distant relatives. I think it involves some caribou; maybe it was musk oxen. I'm not sure. There're some dog biscuits in that jar. I'd get them, but I don't have opposable thumbs, and I'd have to knock the jar off. His wisdom wouldn't like that."

"Give him only half of one," a young woman's voice said from behind the beaded curtain. "He's on a diet."

A moment later, an elderly man wearing a wizard's robe and wire rimmed glasses came through the door. Behind him was a gorgeous blonde girl who might have been 16 or a bit older judging her by her figure; however, there was a look of innocence about her that said she was younger. She had on a miniscule bikini under her beach robe. "Simoné, I'm Randi Lewis. His Wisdom said I could go to the beach for a while, but we don't have a lot of time. I've never been swimming in the Black Sea, before.

"You'll get to meet all of us when you come to Terri's wedding. You sure do look a lot like her. I've seen your pictures, by the way. Gotta go."

"Welcome to my shop," The Wizard said. Simoné had no doubt that he was The Wizard. "Little Randi, is a work in progress. If I have my numbers right she's almost thirteen. She's quite a talented young witch, much like her older sister.

"I must say, you've done quite well. I see you figured everything out in that book. You've exceeded our expectations; shown excellent restraint."

"Oh my, you were the book dealer weren't you?"

"That's correct. That was a long time ago, wasn't it. When your sister showed up, we found out that you were over here, but had no intention of returning to the US. You'd had no training, so we decided to get some for you. I think it worked out pretty well. I think Terri's through with her three volume set of programmed learning. It will help you round some things out before you get some advanced training. You still have a lot of catching up to do.

"There's someone who'd like to meet you," he said as he turned to the curtained doorway.

"I think it's time."

A woman parted the curtain. She was in her late 20s. At least she appeared that way.

"Bev!"

"Sissy!"

The Wizard retreated to the rear room while the two sisters hugged and cried on each other's shoulders.

Emotions evened out after a while before The Wizard stuck his head through the curtain. "I have some soft drinks and cookies back here if you'd like."

"Your Wisdom, Randi and I haven't had breakfast yet," Bev said. "How about some hotcakes and eggs. I see Randi coming down the alley, now." There was a seven hour time difference from the east coast of the US and the western Black Sea where they currently were.

"Done. Scrambled, right?"

"Scrambled will be fine, but I think Simone will go with a diet coke and the cookies," she said looking at her sister who nodded. Simoné had ignored the old pronunciation of her name. That was alright.

Randi devoured her hotcakes and eggs rather quickly, and asked for seconds. "They're in the microwave," The Wizard said.

"We have a problem," The Wizard said. "Although this part of the world is far older sociologically, the magic community is not nearly as well organized as it is in North America. There are many magic around here; however, due to many prejudices, religions, and ethnic variety, those who are magic tend to avoid each other. Some societies would just as soon behead or stone a suspected witch. These are dangerous times, especially east and south of here."

"I think I understand what you're saying. I've briefly encountered women whom I suspected of being magic; however, they fled. Now that I think of it, I ran into someone the other day who I suspect is magic. I saw her twice, and I know she saw me. We briefly made eye contact. She left, but she didn't seem to be in a big hurry.

"She was attractive, a blonde, about my height. She was wearing a nice two piece suit."

"At least she was wearing something," Bev chuckled. Randi covered her mouth to keep from spitting out her scrambled eggs.

"Look, I never intended those pictures to go public. Adamski sold them to that website. I never caught he was going to do that and he did it before I erased all of his computer memory. Well, not the memory, just the pictures. I dumped him. I didn't know he'd done it until Bev told me about it just a while ago. They were good pictures, though. Not bad for a 168 year old broad."

"You talk funny," Randi giggled. "You sound like you're English."

"I don't talk funny. You do. You have to remember that I don't speak English as my first language, anymore. I speak Romanian more often than not. Hungarian is a close second along with German. I used to speak French quite a bit, but it's fallen into disfavor over the last hundred years. I speak Czech, Italian, Slovakian, Russian, Polish, Swedish, Danish, and Italian fairly well. German, French and English will get me by in most cases. I didn't realize I have an accent, but I can sure understand why I do.

The Wizard decided to get the discussion back on track. "We think that there are several witches located in the Crimea area as well as in Odessa. We need you to see if you can locate any uninformed witches and send them in our direction. We are easy to locate on the internet, and I'm surprised that you never tried to reach us."

"I guess I had enough going on that I never thought it was necessary. I was doing quite well on my own; however, I now realize that I wasn't on my own as much as I thought I was.

"I wasn't planning on returning to my hotel and dacha in Braşov for several weeks. I can go just about anywhere you'd like. I don't have anything to do right now. I've just been fooling around, anyway."

"We'd like you to start in Odessa. We've had indications of activities in that area that indicates there are several witches operating there. They may or may not be aware of their powers. All we want you to do is attempt a contact. If you can do that, tell them about us. Encourage them to contact us. There are so many important things we can do for them."

"Like breeding witches?" Simoné asked.

"It isn't that simple. It won't work unless there is love involved. At least in about 99 percent of the cases, that is the way it works."

"Is that why Nicolae and I couldn't have children?"

"No, Nicolae was sterile due to mumps. I thought you knew that. Of course you were in love. Nicolae wasn't magic, though. If you had been able to have children, you would have passed the magic trait on to all of them. They just wouldn't have been magic."

"I think I figured that out. That's why you had me get the paper by Mendel. You wanted me to understand how heredity worked. Of course, I have no way of knowing who's carrying the magic trait, and who isn't."

They talked for another hour before The Wizard had to be in Indianapolis. He was going to meet a family with a gender dysphoric son who should have been their daughter. He would fix the problem right away.

They said their goodbyes, and Simoné promised to be at the wedding. The Wizard promised to pick her up. They waved as Simoné headed towards her parked car. She was going to continue on to Istanbul, do her shopping at the Bazaar, and then take the overnight ferry to Odessa. She'd be traveling first class.

"I'm so happy you brought me along," Bev said. "I've missed her. Well, I guess it's back to being 65."

Chapter 7

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is an amazing place. There are close to 3,000 shops located under one convoluted roof of the more than 500 year old market. It is estimated that there are 26,000 employees in the market visited by more than a quarter million people every day. Simoné thought about the 2012 movie, Skyfall that featured a motorcycle chase over the specially reinforced roof. That had to be one of the longest motorcycle chases ever performed as it ended up more than 800 kilometers away - pretty good for a tank of gas.

She passed several tile shops before finding the one she wanted. The tiles she wanted were there, and she made a pretense of bargaining when she knew exactly the shop's bottom line. Not wanting to be too obnoxious as an obvious foreigner, she allowed a five percent bonus. Then she found the exact panel she wanted for Bev. Newlyweds often need serving items, and she found a beautiful set of bowls for her niece and husband to be. The decorations were quite spectacular. The best thing was that for an additional charge everything was packed and shipped.

Turning a corner, she almost ran into a woman laden with packages. She knew who it was before even looking at her face. Her wall was up, and she couldn't penetrate it. "Please forgive me, I wasn't looking where I was going," she said in heavily accented English.

"Let's get these packages up and get a cup of Turkish coffee. We need to talk. Don't you dare run away."

"I won't. Obviously, you recognize me from those other times."

"You're Russian aren't you?"

"Actually, I'm from Ukraine, but I speak Russian."

"I can speak Russian if you'd like. I'm comfortable with it."

"You are English? We should speak English. I need the practice.

"I am Ivana Kovalenko."

"Nice to meet you. I am Simoné Enescu. I spend most of my time in Romania these days. My husband was Romanian, but he died a long time ago. I am actually American, but I've lost the accent.

"Let's get some coffee."

Simoné helped her carry her packages to a nearby coffee shop close to the upper entrance on the north side. The dark, almost bitter coffee definitely needed some sugar.

"I'm surprised you use the same name. Most models don't do that."

"Ah, those pictures, they keep popping up. I didn't intend for them to be published; however, unknown to me my boyfriend sold them to that website. He is no longer my boyfriend.

"So, are you stalking me?"

"I guess I am; however, there is more to it than that. I think I know you. It's the strangest feeling. It's like I've always known you, and the name reinforced my feelings."

"How old are you?" Simoné asked. "Don't worry, no one can hear us. Maybe we've met somewhere in the past."

"I was born in 1939. I am 81. My parents were killed by the Nazis during the war. I was raised by relatives. They are long gone.

"May I ask ...?"

"I was born in 1852 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA."

"What are we? How can this be? We don't age. I can read minds."

"You don't really know, do you. We are what some would call witches. I'm just beginning to learn what's possible. I've been on the fringes for quite a while. My sister is a witch, and yesterday I met another witch and a wizard. We believe he is the last of his kind.

"How long have you been following me?"

"I started looking for you two years ago when I first saw those pictures. I recognized some of the landmarks. Several of the outdoor shots were taken in Romania. I was sure of it. There were also some taken near Yalta. For some reason, I thought Mamaia was the right place to look for you. If I did find you, I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

"Then, I did find you, and I was scared to death. I couldn't read you, and I wanted to know who you were. I waited for you to leave the beach, and you saw me. I know you did. You were with that man."

"He's not in the picture, if that worries you.

"So you must have followed me to the hotel."

"I did, and I found out what car was yours. I also found out that you were checking out the next morning. It was easy to wait down the street and follow you when you left. I followed you to Nesebar, but I lost you on the island.

"Now, this is really strange. I finally saw you coming out of a shop, and you headed for your car. There was no way I was going to be able to keep up with you as my car was so far away. Maybe inside the shop they knew where you were going. A mother and her teenage daughter were shopping. I think they were American. Then this funny looking man comes out from the back, and he addresses me by name. "Ivana, she's going to Istanbul. She'll be shopping in the Bazaar tomorrow." I was shocked. How did he know?"

"That would have been The Wizard. The older woman was my sister, and the younger girl is a witch, too.

"So, they know," she said to no one in particular. "What it is I'm not sure; however, we're both in this together," she said to Ivana.

"Are you doing anything for the next week or so?"

"No, I was thinking about driving to Nice if I didn't find you in Mamaia. There were some pictures of you in Nice. Why?"

"We're going to Odessa. I have a first class cabin on the ferry. If you don't mind, there's plenty of room for you."

"I don't mind," Ivana replied. "I have a flat in Odessa. That's where I live."

"About the pictures, it doesn't bother me that you're gay. I'm just curious about your obsession with me."

"I'm certain we've met in the past. When I saw your picture and the name with it, it all fit. I know you. I know your hair and your eyes. They say that the olfactory sense of memory is the strongest. I know your smell, and it sends chills down my spine."

"Well, we're going to have to figure this thing out. Obviously The Wizard knows something, and I have a feeling my sister does, too. From what I've been told, magic is well organized in the US. It certainly isn't around here. Every time I've come across someone I've suspected to be magic, they have fled. Obviously, they sensed I was magic as well.

"You are the first person who hasn't run from me. It's been quite the opposite, hasn't it?"

"You don't mind?"

"I find you interesting, too. Remember, I haven't dealt with very many magic people, either. I think we've been thrown together deliberately.

"Where're you parked?" Simoné asked.

"Next to you."

"Let's go to the dock. Do you have anything you need to do before we go?"

"No, I checked out of my hotel this morning."

"You need to get on that boat. I'll be right behind you."

The ferry was docked just outside the Golden Horn, and it was easy for Ivana to get on. There was plenty of room. Simoné paid for the upgrade of her passage, and a porter took their bags to their room.

"Let's get a drink. You do drink, don't you?" Simoné asked.

"I prefer wine, white wine this early in the day; how about prosecco?"

"Perfect. Let's relax for a while. It's going to be a couple of hours before we shove off."

The first class lounge was a nice refuge from the masses; however, the ferry ride to Odessa was not a cheap ticket regardless of the class one purchased.

"What do you do in Odessa?"

"Not much of anything right now. I'm going to have to get new identification. I'm pretending to be my granddaughter at the moment. I was my illegitimate daughter before that."

She paused for a moment. Simoné could see a tear forming. "I always wanted children, but I never wanted to be married to a man. I let a man have me, and I got pregnant, but I lost the baby. I lost three more before I decided that it wasn't meant to be."

"Oh, you poor dear; this world is so unfair. I just learned something about us. Full term pregnancy is not possible unless the two partners are in love with each other."

"Well, that's just fine and dandy for a heterosexual couple, but what about me? I don't think I could ever love a man that way. Suppose you and I were in love. Could we have a baby? How would we make a baby? That isn't right. You're right, the world isn't fair."

"I, too, always wanted children. So did my husband. We were married in 1880, and we tried to have children almost immediately. Unfortunately, he was sterile. It never happened. He died in 1907.

"Are you taking birth control?"

"Yes."

"We are both young, and from what I've been able to extrapolate so far, we probably have several hundred years of fertility left. Would you mind if I worked a little spell on you? This works for magic and non-magic as well. I can shut down your egg factory for as long as you want. I shut mine off; although I turned it on during my marriage to no avail. I can do it if you'd like. That way you wouldn't get pregnant until we work this problem out."

"Sure, go ahead."

"It's done."

"But, you didn't say anything," Ivana said somewhat suspiciously.

"Once you learn a spell, and you can visualize it, you don't have to audiblize it. I can see that you need some training just as I do. We'll work on that.

"Let's go freshen up and get ready for dinner. It's supposed to be pretty good."

Chapter 8

The dinner was quite acceptable. The sea-bass was done to perfection, and the wine, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, was excellent. The pianist in the lounge was entertaining; however, there was no reason to stay very long.

Simoné knew where the evening was going to end up, and she wasn't going to fight it. In fact, she would probably encourage it. She'd had other affairs with the fairer sex, and never regretted any of them. There was something about this beautiful 'young' woman that required attention. Simoné trusted her. She felt she was honest, that she hadn't failed to reveal anything. She found it very easy to hold her hand as they returned to their room.

Ivana stood in front of the small closet and reached back to unbutton her blouse. She hadn't noticed that Simoné was already out of her clothes. "Let me do that, please," Simoné said as she pushed Ivana's hands away. The blouse was dropped on a nearby chair. Her bra soon followed. Simoné rubbed the creases left by the bra, and as her hands gently worked their way to Ivana's breasts she gentle kissed her shoulder and neck.

"I think you need some loving. Let's get rid of the smell of the Bazaar. I know there's room in the shower for two. I've been on this boat before." Simoné took charge. At least she did at first. It wasn't long before their roles were reversed. Ivana brought responses from Simoné that she hadn't experienced in over a hundred years. It was like they'd been making love for decades. She knew all her hot buttons and what order to press them. Eventually, Ivana wrapped her arms around Simone, and they fell into a deep sleep.

********************************

"Dobroye utro, moya prekrasnaya lyubovnitsa," Ivana said as she kissed the back of Simone's neck.

"I should say the same thing to you, my beautiful lover.

"What time is it?" Simoné asked. "I haven't slept this well in a hundred years."

"We have two hours before arrival. Shall we get breakfast?"

"I think breakfast is in order. I could eat a horse."

The ferry port is several miles south of Odessa, and Ivana led Simoné to her flat in the revitalized Jewish quarter. She entered the drive to the underground parking garage, and Simoné followed.

"This is my home. I have lived here for a long time. This was all so strange, this magic thing. I didn't know what to do with it, and everyone ran, but you. I've hidden here for seventy years. I have three degrees: one for each iteration I've lived. I had a job as a school teacher during the Soviet times. I was a governess for a while. That building across the street was the Synagogue long before I was born. The Soviets turned it into a gymnasium. It is a Synagogue once again."

"Are you Jewish?"

"No, not even close. I seem to remember being Catholic or Orthodox at one time, but religion around here until 1989 was strictly underground. My only religion is no religion. None of them make any sense to me. All they are is a reason to generate hate for someone who doesn't believe like you do. By eliminating different opinions, you create security for your own beliefs. If everyone believes what you do, it must be right.

"Enough of that; tell me more about this quest your wizard has sent you on."

"He wants us to contact as many of those that we suspect to be magic as we can, and try to get them to contact The Wizard via the internet. He might even move his shop here if there is a need."

"Where would he put it? One has to get all those permits and bribe all those city officials. There's no room to put a store like he has in Nesebar."

"That store's not in Nesebar. He can put it anywhere he wants. Unless he wanted someone to notice it, they won't even see it. My sister told me a lot about what he can do. He is very powerful. He might pick a group of empty stores, and slide his store right into their place. Did you notice how much bigger his shop was on the inside when you went in? It was four times as big inside as it was outside.

"So what do we do? I think we should try to locate some of these magic people and try to convince them to contact The Wizard. If we can do that, he might meet them here."

"Why is he doing this?"

"He's trying to save magic. I think he envisions it many generations from now as being commonplace. Mankind would be healthier, live longer, and not have to worry about over population. I am 168 years old, and I've never had a sick day in my life, and I suspect you haven't either. When a tooth wears out, it is replaced with another tooth, not a false one or a bridge. My vision is perfect, although in some disguises, I do wear glasses."

"Why disguises?"

"You mention that you have pretended to be your daughter and granddaughter because you don't age. I'll show you how to do it." She changed into the redheaded girl she'd been 75 years before. Then she changed into the aged version of herself she'd been before she had 'died'.

"It'll take a little practice, but you should be able to have it down pretty well in a few days.

"Do you play at the casinos?"

"Sometimes, I don't try to win very much. I am very comfortably well off. I guess I'm what you'd call a millionaire; however, it all seems a bit pointless. These last few years looking for you have been the best years I can remember in a long time. Now that I've found you, I'm happier than I've ever been. Last night was wonderful. It's never been like that before. But for all I know, you could leave me in a second."

"Ivana, open up for me just a little bit. I will do the same for you; no specifics, just feelings." Simoné pulled Ivana into a warm embrace and kissed her. She flooded her with all the warmth she could. She could feel it in return. It was genuine, but there was something else. It wasn't bad or anything like that. There was something different about her.

She could feel any tension that Ivana might have had left in her disappear. She was sobbing quietly. "I never knew it could be like this."

"What do you mean?" Simoné asked knowing all too well what the answer was.

"I think I love you. I hardly know you."

"Don't confuse loving who you think I am to loving who I am. That being said, I haven't felt how I feel about you since I was married. I think we're on pretty good ground here.

"So, where do we go from here?" Simoné asked.

"Would you stay with me while you're here? My bed is large enough."

"Most definitely: I can't imagine staying anywhere else, and you will stay in my dacha when we are in Romania. I don't think we need to be apart."

Settling in was easy. Odessa was a fairly modern city well away from the more somber Kiev. Fine, probably more expensive than necessary, shops lined many of the avenues. They shopped together like the best friends they were. What Simoné wanted was a few outfits to hold her over while she was in Odessa. She had plenty of outfits at her home in Braşov. She'd been to Odessa many times over the years. Still, it was much more fun to be there with someone who knew the city as well as Ivana did.

Then it was getting down to business. They printed some cards that ostensibly looked like the cards typically handed out by people hawking restaurants. However, written on the back in print that Simoné was sure could be read only by the magic was a different message: "If you can read this and can't read me, we are like you. We are friends. Remember, there is strength in numbers. Call us any time." Ivana and Simone's phone numbers were printed below the message written in both Ukrainian and Russian.

They knew that there wouldn't be any method of finding their quarry that was any better than another. If there were magic people out there, their distribution would probably be random, unless there was some sort of formal organization; however, The Wizard didn't seem to think so. More than likely, he knew there wasn't. They were pretty sure of several things. One was that most likely their quarry would be young in appearance, they would be women, and they would probably be wary. The latter proved to be a valid assumption.

Years of suffering under the Soviet rule were only a bit more than 30 years past, and it was difficult to forget how bad things were. Few living had experienced the horrors of WWII; however, it was not forgotten, especially in Ivana's neighborhood. It was the oppression and horrors of the past that led to the paranoia that was rampant in most of Russia and many of the past Soviet controlled countries. Nothing ventured, nothing gained: in spite of all the negative feelings, they needed to get out in the city, and see whom they could find.

Ivana thought she'd made fleeting contact with four or five magic over the years in Odessa. In the Crimean Peninsula, she thought she'd touched two in Sevastopol, and maybe one in Yalta. If they could just recruit two or three, then they could get them to continue the hunt. After that, they would need help from the more experienced in America and maybe Western Europe to get things organized.

They really had no plan other than to just be alert. They took to taking long jogs in the morning, and that was when it finally happened. They had just passed Katherine's Square and were at the top of Potemkin Stairs when they saw her. She was feeding several of the feral cats that lived in the area, and was obviously distracted. Ivana quietly walked up to her and passed the card to her. The woman, who appeared to be in her twenties, reflexively took the card before she looked up. She was startled by what she saw and couldn't read; however, there was nothing she could do but sit there.

"Please call us. We are your friends," Ivana said before she and Simoné continued their jog down Primorsky Boulevard towards the government buildings and the City Hall. Their route took them along the edge of the football park before they turned back to their flat. It was another week before they ran across another magic.

The second contact was at the Odessa Spas-Preobrazhensky Cathedral. The massive Orthodox cathedral was originally consecrated in 1808 but was blown up in 1936 under the orders of Stalin. The reconstruction started in 1999 and the reconsecration was completed in 2003. The massive building can hold up to 12,000 congregants. There are no seats in Orthodox churches except for the infirm. "No one sits in the presence of God," Ivana explained.

They saw her at the same time. The woman had entered the sanctuary behind them and had passed them as they stood to the side. She had three young girls with her, and Simoné and Ivana correctly assumed they were her daughters as their minds were currently impenetrable. The woman genuflected before making a silent prayer. The four of them were wearing shawls over their hair as was expected. Ivana and Simoné were doing the same out of courtesy.

When the woman turned to leave, they preceded her outside where Simone positioned herself among the gypsy beggars. The woman dropped a few coins before Simoné passed the card to her. The woman was obviously startled, and looked up at Simoné. Simoné smiled at her and her daughters. She tried to project warmth and acceptance, and the woman smiled back before she herded her daughters off to the west.

They had no other hits for the next week and a half, and since Ivana thought she'd had two contacts in Sevastopol, they decided to spend a few days down there. Again, it was like hunting for a needle in a haystack. There was nothing, so on the chance they might find something in Yalta, they took the short drive around the coast. They realized by this time that the most important thing was to make a contact, any contact. If they could just make a connection, they might be able to broaden their search. It was a bit like a chain letter.

Yalta didn't prove to be any more productive than Sevastopol.

Chapter 9

A week after their return from their futile trip to the Crimea they were jogging along Primorsky Boulevard when they came upon two small kittens. It was not unusual to see cats and kittens along this area. The people treated the feral cats kindly for the most part, and the cats in turn were not too skittish. It was not like mother cats to abandon their kittens. Mother cats were generally very protective of their offspring. The kittens were crying pitifully, and there really wasn't much of a decision to be made.

It was autumn, and there was a bit of a chill in the air. They tucked the kittens inside their running shirts and walked back to the flat.

The weather turned even colder by the afternoon; however, two little kittens had round, food filled bellies, a private toilet, and two laps to curl up and go to sleep on; which they immediately did after cleaning their whiskers.

Two days later, Ivana's phone rang. It was a local number, and not one that either of them recognized. "Alo."

"This is Sophie Nesterenko. Someone gave me this phone number and asked me to call."

"You were in the Cathedral?" Ivana asked.

"Yes, my daughters and I."

"Do you want to talk with us? Do you need help? We can explain a lot for you."

"We need to know what is happening to us. My husband is becoming afraid of us."

"Would your husband be willing to come with you? He needs to know why you are the way you are. There is nothing wrong with you or your daughters. You are just very special, and your husband is, too."

Ivana gave her their address, and Mrs. Nesterenko promised to be there on the next Saturday evening.

A day later, they received the second call. It was from the first woman they had encountered. She wanted to see them, too, and she was going to bring her sister. It had started.

**********************************

Saturday evening five women, three young girls, and a very suspicious husband met at would be the first meeting of what was to be the New Odessa Coven. It was not unusual for husbands to attend coven meetings in North America. After all, husbands had a right to know what was going on in the magic world since they were partially responsible for perpetuating the magic trait. They just were not voting members of the coven.

Simoné, being the most experienced with the magic world, explained what she knew, that the magic world was better organized and thriving in North America. She talked about The Wizard and his ability to be just about anywhere in the world at anytime. She passed out copies of what she knew to be legitimate spells. The old book was back at her dacha; however, Simoné had long since committed the spells to memory. Typing them was a bit of a problem, though, as Ivana's computer used a Russian keyboard. Then she realized that it didn't really matter what language the spells were in. The spells were instructions in programming the mind. It was the matter of the spell caster to get each set of instructions correctly formatted in her brain. Once that was done, the brain could perform its magic function. It took some doing, but Simoné and Ivana finally agreed that what they had translated into Russian and Ukrainian worked as it should.

The group agreed they would try to find and recruit more members for the coven, and Simoné promised to get someone from North America to explain how things were working over there. They were all amateurs, and she knew it. If they were to survive, they needed help from the professionals.

*******************************

Simoné had returned to the hotel in Braşov a number of years before as the granddaughter of Mary Frances Smith. She left the management to the family that had been doing so well over the years. They didn't need her help. The home she'd constructed was done in the old style appearance, but with all the modern amenities on the inside. It was at the edge of the estate, and overlooked a deep canyon and much of the land to the north and west that had been ceded to the peasants more than a hundred years before.

After the meeting with the six witches, Simoné and Ivana drove to Braşov. Simoné wanted to oversee the installation of the tiles in the kitchen. The hotel maintenance staff would be doing it. The summer travel season was winding down; however, the ski season would be beginning soon in Poiana Braşov, one of the best ski resorts in Romania, only a few miles away. The little hotel would soon be full of guests again.

Of course the little kittens could not be left alone. They seemed to have adapted very quickly to a more domesticated life. During the meeting, they played with the three young girls before going to sleep in their kitten bed by the stove. They did not protest one bit about traveling by car, and spent most of the time sleeping in their bed on the rear seat. It was a long drive, and they did not pull into Simoné's private drive until 10 hours later.

As they approached the mountains south of Braşov, Simoné sensed that Ivana was getting uncomfortable. "Are you alright?"

"I think I'm getting car sick. The roads are a bit curvy."

Actually, the roads had been pretty straight for quite a few kilometers since leaving the mountains northeast of Braşov, but they were getting curvy again as they reached the short drive up the mountain.

They did a quick unpack and freshened up before taking the short walk in the crisp air to the hotel where dinner was waiting for them. The gentle path led through a bower of overhanging evergreens before it came out at the circular drive in front of the historic building. Ivana was almost dumbstruck. She stopped, frozen in her tracks.

"It is so beautiful," she said in almost a whisper. As they were led to the dining room, she kept looking around taking in the décor.

She seemed very upbeat during dinner, and obviously gotten over any malaise she might have acquired during the road trip. The staff was very pleased to see their mostly absent owner and her beautiful friend. There was a lot of talk about the upcoming ski season, and the hopes of the Romanian team that trained at the nearby resort, but that all ceased when the first course arrived. The two lovers were left alone to talk about things dear to them.

"Tell me about him, please. I know it's been a long time."

"About whom," Simoné asked.

"Nicolae, your husband," Ivana replied. "This is where you lived isn't it?"

"Yes, this was our home. I was 28 when we met after a concert. I think it was love at first sight. I was four years older than he was. I never told him my true age. I don't think it would have really mattered that much if he had known. It was a bit more fashionable in those days to have a younger wife. We'd both had previous lovers, but that question never came up.

"His family owned much of that flat land to the west and south of Braşov. We gave most of that land to the peasants who worked for his family. Some of the people who work at this hotel still own much of it. Things got pretty messed up during the two wars and living under the communists, but I was able to fix it. That took more work than keeping this place going.

"Much of the land that is used by the ski resort was ours at one time."

"Can you describe him?"

"Sure, he was tall, about 188 centimeters, very athletic. There wasn't a horse he couldn't ride. He had light brown, almost blonde hair and blue eyes, sort of like yours. He was kind, compassionate, fair, and philanthropic. He worked hard, and even helped bring the wheat in. He could shoe a horse, and frequently did.

"He was a passionate, considerate lover. No one could come close until I found you. I guess you found me, didn't you.

"We were like two peas in a pod. He'd never been sick until he caught that cold that turned into pneumonia. One day it was a slight cold, and the next day he was gasping for breath. Then he died. Even then, it was too young. He was only fifty-two."

"I think we need to go back to your house," Ivana said. "I think I need to hold you for a while."

The air had definitely chilled. Their breath condensed into little clouds that hung in the still air. Ivana took charge after their shower. She brought Simoné to one crashing orgasm after another. Simoné reciprocated bringing Ivana to a single spine tingling orgasm.

"We need to talk," Ivana said after catching her breath.

"About what?" Simoné said fearing the worst.

"About us, what we're going to do about so many things, but it's mostly about us.

"First of all, I will never leave you, and I don't think you will ever leave me after what I have to say."

"Go on," Simoné said with a raised brow.

"I couldn't figure out my obsession with you. Why was I so intent on finding you? I mean, my God you are beautiful, but I am gay. I don't go around trying to seduce straight women, although I do have my fantasies. I was stunned when I saw your photo, but I couldn't figure out why. I knew you. I knew every cute little curve. That little mole on your right breast was exactly where I remembered it. It was just that I didn't know why I remembered it. Did we meet at school? Had we had a brief affair long ago? I had to find out what it was.

"Then I found that wizard and his crazy shop. He could read my mind even with my shields being up."

"I don't think he did. I think he already knew what you were doing. He knew what I was doing," Simoné interjected while still not exactly sure what was going on.

"When we collided, I was sure that I knew you. It was your beautiful scent. It was burned into my brain."

"What are you getting at?" Simoné asked.

"That after concert affair where you met Nicolae was a reception for Franz Liszt. He played his Piano Concerto Number one and his Hungarian Rhapsodies 1 & 2. The orchestral pieces were his Les Preludes and Brahms 2nd Symphony. You wore a green satin gown with white lace cuffs. You were wearing the same necklace that you wore tonight. You drank champagne."

Simoné's jaw was hanging open.

"There are 500 gold forints buried behind that little fountain in your garden. There are another 500 buried next to that large rock halfway between here and the hotel.

"One other thing, you never told me Nicolae's name.

"When, how...?" Simoné spluttered.

"It hit me as we approached the mountain. Yes, it has changed greatly, but I knew it. When we walked up to the front of the hotel I was coming home. When the man removed your coat, and I saw the necklace for the first time in more than a hundred years, I was certain."

"How is this possible?"

"I don't know, but it explains quite a bit. You said it in Istanbul, 'So, they know. What it is I'm not sure; however, we're both in this together.'

"Obviously, The Wizard knows what's going on. I am me, Ivana Kovalenko; however, I am also Nicolae Enescu.

"Simoné, I love you so much. I was going to ask you to marry me, but all this coming to the surface now is so, so strange."

"So, go ahead."

"Go ahead, what?"

"Ask. The answer is yes."

Chapter 10

"I think I knew it was you a while ago. It's just so difficult to believe. There were too many coincidences. So what have you been doing these last hundred years or so?" Simoné asked.

"Just what I told you before. I never felt anything about a past life until I saw your picture. Then things started happening. Memories started popping up, but I couldn't place them in time. I knew we'd met somewhere, but I just couldn't fit in where or when it was. I didn't even believe in past lives or reincarnation, or whatever it is; however, I have to, don't I? Maybe this is why I'm gay. It has to be. I worshipped you before. I worship you now. We wanted a family before, and I think we still do.

"Watch the claws, little one," Ivana said as she removed one of the kittens from her tummy. "Do you really believe me?"

"Yes, that first time you let me in I knew you were the real thing, someone very special. There was that other thing, though, that I couldn't figure out. I had never read it before, and you were the first magic person I'd ever been close to other than my sister and mother.

"By the way, I'm still not sure that Nicholas and Alexandria are the best names for these two."

"There is no connection," Ivana replied. "After all, these two are brother and sister, not husband and wife.

"Kiss me, my love. We will work this thing out. I don't believe in predestination, but everything that has happened to us has been planned out, and your wizard is at the heart of it. Now that we've figured this out, he's going to have to tell us what's going on. So, how do we find him?"

"I think he'll find us," Simoné said. "It will be in some shopping district, probably just like in Nesebar. Or it could be in the Bazaar in Istanbul. When he wants us to find him he'll be there. That's the way Bev explained it to me. I know this, though. When we have our next meeting in Odessa, I want him and some other more experienced people leading the discussion.

*******************************

Their romance continued to strengthen. In spite of what Ivana had said about being Ivana Kovalenko and Nicolae Enescu, it wasn't really true. She was Ivana, and Ivana only. Nicolae had become Ivana, and could never return to being Nicolae. People grow based on their experiences.

The couple had returned to Odessa, and continued their search for any magic that might be in the area. Sophie Nesterenko had called to say she'd contacted another woman. She was able to talk to her, and tried to encourage her not to hide from the others.

The time for the next meeting was drawing near, and there still had not been any contact from The Wizard. Simoné had emailed her sister, by this time they had connected by Skype, but didn't use it that much. The seven hour time difference did interfere a bit. All was resolved when Simoné received an email from His Wisdom stating that he would be there for their meeting. He would be bringing some guests.

About an hour before the appointed time for the meeting with the coven, The Wizard, Randi, a new girl Charli, and Wolf showed up at the front door of the flat.

After the introductions and reintroductions, including Wolf and the kittens, they did the final preparations for the meeting.

Sophie and her three girls showed up first. Ivan stayed home as he was now considerably more comfortable with things, especially since his wife promised not to read his mind. She didn't really have cause to, and her reassurance helped renew their love life. The oldest daughter, Diana, spoke halting English but understood more. She was Randi's age, and the five girls hit it off immediately. The girls were a bit surprised to learn how young Randi and Charli were. Charli, with The Wizard's approval, showed them a makeup spell that made their day.

Veronika Pletniev and Darja Pletniev, the two sisters from the previous meeting showed up next, followed by Tat'jana Voloshyn who had been recruited by Sophia. Finally, Natalie Nazarenko timidly knocked on the door. Darja Pletniev had passed a card to her the week before when she was visiting a friend in Yalta.

It was a great meeting. The Wizard spoke flawless Russian and Ukrainian, of course. He performed some of the requisite demonstrations, and by this time the kittens were occupying Wolf's back. He then passed out Volume 1 of The Beginner's Guide to Magic, 112th Edition (Illustrated). Ivana was elected President of the Coven. Simoné had been suggested at first, but she felt that as an American ex-patriot and a practicing Romanian she didn't really qualify. The Wizard agreed and predicted that she would probably become president of the Romanian coven when it got around to being formed.

All the coven's members were introduced to The Wizard's website. Charli had developed it over the last year. Everyone in each coven now had direct internet contact through the website which posted news, meeting schedules and the like. Of course, there was a directory of all members which had been updated during the meeting to reflect the Odessa Coven.

After the guests had departed, The Wizard asked that Randi and Charli take a walk as he had some matters to discuss with Simoné and Ivana.

"This has been an interesting journey hasn't it? There are many options available to you; however, I think you just need to be together for the next few years. I was going to say foreseeable future, but my foresight is a bit further than yours. Ivana, you were absolutely correct in saying that predestination didn't have anything to do with your current situation; however, we do try to make things work out for what we hope is the best."

"I think you are saying that my being here in this body at this time is not an accident," Ivana said.

"That is correct. That is why I brought Randi and Charli with me. Years ago, Charli was a little boy who knew he was a girl. His parents were murdered in a robbery, and Charli grew up alone and did the best he could under the circumstances to become a woman. He became a girly boy prostitute while living in a maintenance access under a freeway bridge. He lived with his cat, Willie and Padrona, a rather large dog, who is now Wolf's wife. They have a nice family.

"Charli was brutally assaulted one night, and would have died if Cindy Lewis and Bobbie Schmedlap hadn't been close. Fortunately, we got to her in time and 16 year old Charlie Donizetti became 6 year old Charli Brewer. That was what she wanted and needed. You've seen the results.

"Randi was a different matter entirely. Randi came to this universe as a war damage veteran. He was homeless and dying. He was born Randall Christopher Mantooth, and that was how he was buried."

"Oh my," Ivana gasped.

"I think you see where this is leading to. We knew Randall's inner desire to be a woman, and we were able to get his spirit transferred with his memories intact into an embryo carried by Marissa Lewis. That was deliberate on our part. Sometime later, Christine Miranda Lewis was born. She started remembering her past when she was about five. She became Randi from that point on.

"Now, we have your case. Nicolae Enescu was not magic because his mother did not carry the magic trait. You and Simoné were so in love, but you couldn't have children. That's no one's fault. You might have died from the mumps; however, you just became sterile.

"By this time, we were aware of Simoné because her sister and mother appeared in New Haven. It didn't take us long to find Simoné; however, there was no true romance in the offing, and we decided to let nature take its course. There were probably some eligibles in Paris and Vienna, but the timing wasn't right. Then she takes off to Budapest and meets you. A better marriage couldn't have happened, and we weren't going to mess with it. We hoped you would have many long years together, but that didn't happen.

"Simoné had been learning the magic we'd supplied her, and she knew how to gradually appear to be aging. Nicolae died rather unexpectedly, and his spirit was inserted into this beautiful woman standing before me. And the best thing was that you are magic. Your mother wasn't magic and the trait had been passed along through eight generations without there being a witch showing up. Your father's background was very similar. For a man, the trait can only be inherited from the mother. It was tragic from so many aspects that they were brutally murdered by the Nazis. Thankfully, you survived.

"Well, here you are. I can't imagine two happier, more in love people, and that we are not going to interfere with."

"But we want children," Simoné replied. "And as near as I can tell, we won't be able to have them. They won't survive."

"I'm sure that can be worked out. I wouldn't worry about it right now. We can talk about it at the wedding next week. I'll pick the four of you up two days before."

"Four of us, you mean the kittens, too?"

"Of course, they're your familiars. Didn't you know that? We rescued them from a farm near here. A young boy was going to drown them at the insistence of his father. His father was trying to make a man out of him. Well that would never have worked no matter how hard he tried. The mother and daughter are much happier now, and you have Nicholas and Alexandria. I like those names, by the way, and they do, too.

Chapter 11

Bev had sent several pictures of Terri to Simoné, and the resemblance was obvious. They looked more like sisters, and Terri was considerably taller. Neither Terri, nor Jim Matthews mentioned the infamous pictures, and Jim never tried to undress Simoné with his eyes. He didn't have to. Besides, he had his beautiful wife-to-be next to him. He'd gotten over Simoné's pictures many months before. Well, they did have a couple of very nice pictures of Simoné and Ivana. One particularly nice one had been taken of them at the head of Potemkin's Stairs. Another was taken in front of the opera house. They were probably going to a performance there based on their attire.

The wedding was in Kansas City, and Simoné and Ivana had a field day shopping at Country Club Plaza; not that there weren't good shopping experiences in Braşov, Odessa, Istanbul, or any number of cities in the area. It was different. The strange thing was many of the articles they bought were not made in America. They were made in the same countries as the items they bought in Eastern Europe. They were just cut differently. Still, it was an interesting experience.

Kansas City had barely existed when Simoné left America. This was the wild frontier. The California gold rush happened only four years before she'd been born. Now, California was the most populous state in the Union. There were no wild territories between the two coasts. Speaking of the Union, Simoné now had an American Passport. It was quite special as it always reflected how Simoné presented herself physically. The Wizard had also done the same thing for Ivana. Although her passport was Ukraine or Russia depending on what was needed.

The wedding was a bit unusual in that the bride and groom had no attendants. They took their vows in a non-sectarian ceremony. This meant that there was no need for a rehearsal, although there was a rehearsal dinner. The only non-magic guests who knew of Terri's past were her parents. The rest of the guests just remembered that Terri and Jim were best buddies who should have been married years before. There was some discussion about how the beautiful woman with the foreign accent resembled her 'cousin' so closely.

From Kansas City most of the magic and their families returned to Bridgeport, Connecticut. The formation of a New Coven was a very important event, and there were a number of things that needed attending to. One of the things they decided on was that a member of the New England Coven or another coven would be a guest speaker at each of the meetings. Until they got on their feet, they were going to need guidance.

Simoné and Ivana had a great time staying with the Lewis's in their New England style saltbox house overlooking the pond. They were astounded by the doors that Randi had constructed that allowed them travel instantly between several houses in the area.

Nicholas and Alexandra were taken under Maddy's wing, and they along with Silky, Chloe, Willy, Petra and Selene began to learn what being a partner with a witch was all about. Maddy and Chloe turned the training over to Silky as they had to leave with their respective partners Cindy and Bobbie who had to return to medical school and professional golf. The kittens were learning quickly, and would probably be talking in a few more months.

Finally, the time to return to Odessa was upon them. The Wizard would take care of transportation as he had before and would do in the future. Marissa Lewis took Simoné, Ivana, Nicholas, and Alexandra to a nearby mall where they entered the rear door to the SRU shop. The shop was elsewhere at the moment, but if anyone needed access, the rear door would be available.

The Wizard had some excellent Turkish coffee ready for them when they arrived. In spite of Padrona's admonitions about Wolf's weight, he managed to finagle cookies from everyone. For that matter, Padrona and the pups also had cookies. The kittens had some kitty treats.

"She needn't worry about the cookies," The Wizard said. "His are always low calorie."

"What happened to our luggage," Ivana asked looking around.

"I sent it to your flat. There's no reason to drag it all the way yourself, even if we're only a block from there.

"Sophie came by a while ago with a new recruit. She's going to work out very well.

"We've been diligently looking for magic on our own, and feel the way you are doing it will work out best in the long run. We have located several active centers of magic. They are small, and all are restricted to the Gypsy society. They are a very secretive group, and currently have no desire to mingle with outsiders. For the most part, they do not understand the genetics of magic. We could probably help them quite a bit, but I don't think they want help from the non-Romani.

"We're working on another project that in a way involves you two, especially Simoné. It seems that two lifelong friends are in the process of finding out about their true inner selves. We are going to help them. One of them has been deeply affected by Simoné's beauty."

"Those pictures again, right," Simoné said with a bit of an exasperated tone.

"Don't be too hard on those pictures. If it hadn't been for them, I would never have found you," Ivana said while grasping Simoné's hand.

"Go ahead Your Wisdom; I didn't mean to interrupt."

"That's quite all right. I would like your permission to borrow your magic DNA. Both of these men are half magic, and we'd like to complete the transformation with both of them being magic. They are well suited for it."

"If you want to borrow magic DNA, you may use mine, too," Ivana added. "When is this going to happen, if I may ask?"

"The way things look right now, they will be ready within two years. It's very important when working with potential magic that it is done correctly. We've only had to rush things once in recent years, and that was when we rescued Charli. Fortunately, that worked out quite well.

"Well, that's mostly our problem, not yours. Speaking of problems, I think I have a solution to yours."

"Tell us more," Simone asked.

Epilogue:

Seen in Town and Country Magazine: Monte Carlo. Newlyweds Ivan and Simoné Enescu were spotted at the beach in the afternoon and the Casino de Monte Carlo later that evening. The handsome, blonde Romanian count and his bride of four weeks have been on an extended honeymoon before returning to their posh hotel near Braşov. In one of the most romantic stories of the century, it turned out that the two were distant cousins separated by many generations. Both had legitimate claims to the property that Simoné Enescu's family had been managing for the last 120 years. The two had met at Mamaia, a beach resort on the Black Sea, and instantly fell in love. Discovering that they had the same distant relatives, the now Countess Enescu realized that her future husband also had a legitimate claim to the property. "Rather than drag this through the courts, I married him. It was easy."

*********************************

Seen in People Magazine: Braşov, Romania. The Count and Countess Enescu announced the birth of their first child, a son. (There is a picture of the smiling couple holding their dark haired infant son. He definitely has his mother's hair.)

*******************************

Seen in People Magazine: Braşov, Romania. Count Simon Enescu announced that he and his beautiful blonde wife are expecting their second child in five months. The handsome, dark haired count and his wife recently returned from an extended vacation in the United States where the countess was visiting her sister and friends.

********************************

Seen in Town and Country Magazine: Braşov, Romania. Count and Countess Enescu took some time off from tending to their popular hotel to take to the slopes of nearby Poiana Braşov. The gorgeous dark haired countess has already recovered her pre-pregnancy body. When questioned about the quick recovery she said, "I exercise and nurse my babies. It makes getting in shape easy. Having three young children helps, too.

*************************

Seen in People Magazine: Paris, France. Seen pictured above are the Count and Countess Enescu with their four children at Euro Disney. Always agreeable to on the spot interviews, the Count Simon Enescu said that he and his always gorgeous blonde wife had promised the children the Euro Disney trip before the start of school.

******************************

"That was George. He said that things are going very well at the hotel. He wants to take some time off to visit Emily in Hartford. He didn't need to ask; he knows that. I think he's going to propose to her. She has her heart set on it. He won't disappoint her. He's just a bit slow.

"Well, shall we hit the beach?"

"You bet. What do you think of this suit?"

"It reminds me of the one I was wearing when you first saw me in the flesh. I think the water's waiting."

The two beautiful young women walked out of their beach level room hand in hand. They smiled at the elderly American couple as the old man took their picture.

Maybe I can steer them to The Wizard's shop Simoné thought.

****************************************

Love is lovelier
The second time around
Just as wonderful
With both feet on the ground

It's that second time you hear
Your love song sung
Makes you think perhaps that love
Like youth, is wasted on the young

Love's more comfortable
The second time you fall
Like a friendly home
The second time you call

Who can say
What brought us to this miracle we've found
There are those who'd bet
Love comes but once and yet

I'm oh so glad we met
The second time around

Words by Sammy Cahn



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