When Valorie tried to feign sleep, she found herself falling asleep. She woke up to find Adam staring down at her.
She wriggled backwards. ‘That’s very unnerving. Please don’t do that.’
Adam grinned for the first time in a few days. ‘Sorry.’
Valorie sat up, reached for the remote and switched on the TV. ‘Heard back from the Government yet?’
‘No,’ Adam said. ‘They’re being stubborn. Like you.’
‘Good for them.’
‘They don’t seem to believe that I’m in a position to hurt you.’
Valorie shrugged. ‘Maybe you should send them a couple of my fingernails.’
Adam shook his head. ‘I don’t think that would be necessary. A few of your hairs might do the trick.’
‘You’re not getting my hair.’
Adam grinned again. ‘Already did.’ He held up a fistful of Valorie’s dark locks. ‘I cut them off while you were sleeping.’
Valorie looked at him, outraged. ‘That’s stealing!’
‘Maybe.’ He tucked the hair neatly away in his coat pocket. ‘But it should be enough to let them know I mean business. I’d be more worried about this if I were you. If they don’t respond to this, I’ll be sending them other things next. Like teeth.’
Adam pointed a wand at her. ‘I could do it, you know.’
Valorie merely snorted, unimpressed. ‘You’re always using that stupid little wand of yours. It just makes you look juvenile.’
‘That’s a big word for a girl like you.’
Adam sat next to her on the sofa. She wriggled as far away as possible.
‘I can tell you’re uncomfortable around me.’
‘Well, maybe if you didn’t stare so much,’ Valorie said, curling up into a ball. ‘Also, I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but you’re not a great conversationalist. Just leave me alone for a bit, OK?’
Adam looked hurt. ‘You don’t like me, do you?’
‘No. I don’t. Big surprise.’
‘Well, what do I have to do to make you like me? What if I were more intelligent or funny?’
‘More attractive? Do you think I’m attractive?’
‘Not in the slightest. I hate you. Go away.’
Adam hit a sofa cushion and he too, wriggled far away from Valorie.
‘Fine. I don’t care. I hate you too. You’re not like Sophie at all. Who cares anyway? I hate Sophie. She didn’t like me. Nobody likes me.’
Here we go with the self-pity, Valorie thought irritably. She shot back at him, ‘No wonder nobody likes you! You’re dull and psychotic!’
‘I’m not! I’m the most powerful Wizard in the World!’
‘That doesn’t make a damn difference! You are fundamentally unlikeable and no amount of power can change that!’
Adam screamed, and then before Valorie’s eyes…
Valorie flinched as dust and magic filled the room, whipping her hair back painfully and filling her head with whirling wind. She heard another scream, and the explosion drew itself back in, became a human figure again just as it approached the bathroom. Adam slammed the door behind him and locked it.
Valorie sunk back into the sofa, listening to Adam’s wails, and wondering to herself if ‘unlikeable’ was actually a word.
Meanwhile, Eddie was busy refilling the tank at a nearby petrol station. Charley confided something to her as she did this.
‘Do you ever think that Mums maybe… fuss too much?’
‘No. Do you?’
‘My mum did. She never gave me or my brothers a moments peace.’
‘Oh, and I suppose that was a good enough reason to leave her and the rest of her family back in India.’
‘I don’t miss family life,’ Charley said. ‘It’s too restricting.’
Eddie straightened up. ‘You might think that Mums fuss too much, but you’re not a mother, so you don’t know what it’s like to spend every waking moment worrying about your kids.’
That shut him up.
‘What was your Mum like?’ he asked.
Eddie didn’t answer immediately.
‘Eddie. What was your Mum like?’
‘I don’t have one. She died after having me, but n have a step mum. She was OK.’
‘She didn’t give you poisoned apples or anything?’
Eddie finished doing the tank. ‘You know Charley; you can be really insensitive at times. I’m going to pay. Do you want anything?’
‘No.’ Eddie began to walk away.
‘I’m not insensitive,’ he said loudly. ‘I care about my insects, don’t I?’
Eddie sighed. ‘People aren’t the same as insects, Charley,’ she said loudly back, and went in to pay.
‘You can say that again.’
Mr and Mrs Morse were sat in Eddie’s car. They sat on the back seat, holding hands, not saying anything.
Charley squinted at them. ‘Are you OK in there?’
They nodded. He opened the car door and crouched, so he was head height with the two of them.
‘Now. Here’s what we’re going to do. Fist, we’re going to look in Adam’s own house -’
‘Adam has a house? I thought he was only seventeen.’
‘He is. The house belongs to his parents, but he kicked them out. Now, we’re going to go there first, although I don’t think he’ll be there because it’s a bit obvious. So after that, we’ll check at all his friends’ houses. Is that OK?’
‘Sure,’ Mr Morse said.
‘The search could take us a few days, but if I know Adam, he just wants to borrow Valorie to get some attention. He wouldn’t hurt her.’