21. Michael
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Content warning: domestic argument, brief domestic violence; brief use of hypnosis

Me and mom spent a few hours in the car, driving around visiting some of the houses she saw listed on the internet. We couldn't go inside any of them, she didn't have appointments or anything. She just wanted to see the outsides in person and check out the neighbourhoods and stuff like that.

After we looked at the three places she'd been interested in, we kind of drove around some areas she liked just to see if there were any for-sale signs up.

We spotted two more and she had me take pictures with my phone, to record the location and get the info off the signs so she could look them up afterwards.

Then we both decided we'd had enough so we headed back home.

I wanted to follow up with Melissa again, just to see how things went with her folks. I hadn't heard anything since she replied to my text after breakfast, and I was still a little worried about her.

As we pulled up to our house me and mom both frowned. There was another car in our driveway, someone parked their expensive BMW in our spot.

Mom parked on the side of the road in front of the house, then I spotted a guy standing on our front step banging on our door. His back was to us but I could tell he was tallish, about five-foot-ten. He had short brown hair and he was wearing jeans and a sports-jacket, and fancy shoes.

I had no idea who he was, but mom seemed to recognize him even though all we could see was his back.

She muttered under her breath, "What the fuck is he doing here?!"

That startled me, she almost never swore.

"Mara stay quiet and stay out of this, ok? Leave him to me."

Before I could ask who he was or what was going on, mom emerged from the car. The guy heard her door close and he turned around, and my heart skipped a beat as my blood went cold.

I didn't remember what he looked like, I hadn't seen him since I was five. But I knew who he was the instant I saw his face. It was easily the third-freakiest thing I'd ever experienced in my life. And considering the top two were dying and being reincarnated as a girl, that still left a lot of room for number three to be pretty damn weird.

Even from five meters away the resemblance was unmistakable. The last time I saw that face was in the mirror a couple hours before I died. Except on him it was thirty years older. My stomach lurched hard when it hit me, every time mom looked at me she must have been seeing him. I hoped that didn't screw her up or anything, because it was totally messing me up now.

Dad was already stalking towards mom as she moved around the car, and I scrambled to get out and stand next to her.

The shouting already started as I moved to mom's side.

"How could you?!" dad yelled. "Not only did you let my boy die, you didn't even bother to tell me so I could be at the funeral?!"

Mom clenched her jaw then took a deep breath. She glanced at me and said "Mara get in the house."

I shook my head, "Not without you mom."

Dad looked from mom to me then back at mom again, and demanded "Who the fuck is this? You had another kid?"

"Michael get your car out of my driveway and get yourself the hell off my property," mom stated. She kept her voice down but she sounded cold and angry. "If you wanted to know what was going on in our lives you shouldn't have walked out. You gave up any right to be part of this family thirteen years ago."

He shook his head and stated "I'm not going anywhere until I get some answers!"

Mom glared at dad. Her voice was still cold and angry when she asked, "Make it quick Michael, what do you want? Why are you really here?"

"I want my half of the money," dad stated. "He was my son too you know! Losing him hurts me just as much as you."

Mom stared at him for a moment in confusion and disgust, "What the hell are you talking about? And don't get me started on how this hurts you, you slimy son of a bitch! You haven't even seen him since the day you walked out. You have no idea how much this really hurt!"

He ignored everything else she said after the first sentence. "Don't give me that bullshit confused act, Emma. The guy who killed my son was loaded. He was driving a top of the line Cayenne for fuck sake, you know what those cost? I want my share of the settlement."

I had no idea how he knew what kind of car killed me, I didn't even know that. And I didn't know how he knew about the settlement either, if anything I figured he'd be here about the lotto money.

"That's why you're here?" Mom looked disgusted again. "You're sick, Michael."

"Come on Mara," mom added as she put an arm around my shoulders and started for the house with me at her side.

I really didn't remember much about dad, but now I could remember the shouting. From what I'd just witnessed though, I was glad I didn't remember anything more. And for the first time, I was glad he left. I didn't want anything to do with this creep.

We got about two steps away when I felt dad grab me from behind. His hand closed on my arm as he yanked me back. His other hand was on mom's arm, he pulled her back too so the two of us spun around to face him again.

Just like that I found myself in the back seat. I could still see and hear and feel everything but I wasn't in charge anymore. I felt our muscles tense, and somehow I knew that our petite girl body was suddenly a whole lot stronger than it looked.

I was scared Lily might actually kill my dad. Not that I cared about him, but I knew it would upset my mom, and probably get me in trouble with the cops if 'I' beat a man to death in front of my house.

Before Lily could act, dad let go of both me and mom and staggered backwards as an oily liquid was sprayed into his face and eyes. Mom had a tiny little can in her free hand and she was hosing dad down with mace or pepper spray or something.

Dad stumbled back a few more paces and let out a shout and a cough as he started rubbing his eyes and face.

Mom grabbed me by the hand and said "Let's get inside Mara."

I was suddenly back in control again as Lily must have realized she wasn't needed. I nodded and hurried into the house with mom, while dad staggered around the front lawn shouting and swearing and coughing.

We made sure the side and back doors were both locked, then she asked "Mara are you all right? He didn't hurt you did he?"

I shook my head, "I'm fine. What about you?"

She nodded, "I'm ok hon. I'm sorry you had to see all that."

"Not your fault mom," I replied as I moved to the front window. I wanted to see what he was up to out there.

"He's got a bottle of water out of his car, he's rinsing his eyes out now I think. What was that stuff? Mace?"

She shook her head, "Just civilian-grade pepper spray."

I frowned, "Do you think he'll try to get in here? He doesn't have a key or anything does he?"

"He doesn't have a key," she replied. She sighed and added, "I don't know if he'd try forcing his way in. He might just have a tantrum on the front lawn. Or maybe he'll try and break a window or something."

"Should we call the police?"

She sighed again, "He's probably friends with half of them. He's a crown attorney, he works with them."

"Crap," I frowned. Then I realized, that might be how he knew about the SUV and the insurance money. He probably saw the police report and stuff. "So what do we do?"

Mom was quiet for a few moments, then replied "Just stay inside where we're safe. He'll leave eventually."

I nodded, and the two of us just waited quietly. I kept checking out the front window every now and then to see what he was up to.

Eventually he finished rinsing the stuff off his face and stalked back up to our front door. Then he started banging on it and yelling again.

Lily suggested quietly "Mara, ask your mother if she'd like me to remove him. I can do so without violence, but it would require a little magic."

She anticipated my question and added, "I won't hurt him, my magic won't cause any permanent damage."

"Ok," I nodded slightly. "Uh mom? I know you said this morning you didn't want any more supernatural stuff going on, but Lily says she can help make him go away. She said she can do it with magic, and it won't hurt him or anything."

Mom took a deep breath then sighed. She looked kind of conflicted, like she really wanted dad to leave but she wasn't comfortable with Lily or magic or whatever.

She thought it over for a minute or so, then nodded "Ok Mara. If she promises nobody's going to get hurt, then yes. I'd appreciate it if she could get him to leave."

I found myself in the back seat once more as Lily took charge. I was expecting something flashy, like swirling lights and special effects. Instead we moved quickly and quietly to the side door and slipped out there. We continued moving quietly as we snuck around dad's car, then came up behind him.

Mom was at the front window now, I could see her watching us with wide eyes. She looked scared that dad might hurt us or something.

Dad didn't even notice we were there till we were right behind him. Then he spun around, he was about to shout or something, when Lily spoke.

I could feel us speaking, but I couldn't hear what we said. Dad heard it though, and it was like all the anger and fight just drained out of him.

His shoulders slumped, he looked defeated. He shuffled past us back to his car. He got in, then just drove away without another word.

Once he was gone I was in control again and I gasped and whispered, "Lily? What did you do?"

"Just a little magic Mara," she replied calmly, "So that he'd do what I said without question or complaint. The result is similar to hypnosis. It'll wear off in an hour or two."

Mom opened the front door, she was staring at me with wide eyes as she asked "What happened?! You said something, then he just gave up and left?"

I joined mom inside and told her, "Lily did something with magic to make him leave, like she said."

"That was impressive..." Mom still looked torn, but she finally added "Please tell Lily thank you for me."

I smiled "Of course mom."

With the excitement over and the threat gone, mom pulled me into a hug. She said softly, "He'll probably try again when he finds out about the lottery money. He doesn't have any right to it, or anything else. But that won't stop him from trying."

I hugged her back and sighed "Ok mom. Hopefully he won't come back any time soon."

She just nodded in agreement. Then suggested, "I'm not working tonight, maybe we can do something nice for dinner. Till then, how about you keep working on figuring out where you want to go for college?"

"Ok mom," I headed into my bedroom and closed the door behind me, then sat down at the computer.

While it was booting up I tried to keep my voice down as I enthused, "Lily that was amazing! Can you teach me to do that? You said you'd teach me some magic, and that was really cool! I can think of a hundred ways it'd be useful!"

Lily sighed, "And I can think of a thousand ways it could be abused."

"Aw!" I pouted. "You promised you'd teach me something. It's in our contract!"

She pointed out, "At my discretion Mara. That means I get to decide what I teach you and when."

With the computer booted up I started opening up the different college websites again, as I pleaded "Please Lily! I promise I'll be good."

She was quiet for a few moments, then sighed "I'll think about it."

"Yay!" I grinned happily. "Thank you Lily!"

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