Tracy Thinks
You Don't Know Jack
Deception
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Deception

Chapter Seven - The Golden Telescope

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - 2 YEARS PRIOR

Inez did not care for modern technology and highly resented her dependence on it to achieve their objective. So, when her phone began to buzz and bounce around on the shiny desktop across the room, she turned disdainfully and walked to retrieve the thing.

Urgent situation. Must talk.

It was Thaddeus.

Inez’s temper flared immediately for fear that the fool had cost them something precious.

She tapped the screen in response: Video chat. Now.

A moment later, the phone vibrated in her hand, and Thaddeus’ anxious face appeared before her.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“Well, I have good news and bad news,” Thaddeus started, “The good news is that I talked to Ethan about joining forces with us, and he at least wants to learn more. I expect an answer from him by tomorrow at the latest.” He paused, inhaling deeply before continuing.

“And the bad news, Uncle? What’s so urgent?” Inez wasn’t a woman to beat around the bush.

Thaddeus sighed, and when he spoke, his voice was about an octave higher in pitch than it had been previously. “Well, apparently, Arthur overheard our conversation about The Cabal.” The intensity in Inez’s eyes increased with every word he uttered. “He was hiding invisibly in the bedroom while I was talking to him about The Cabal. Ethan sensed him and forced him to reveal himself; this was after I left the room.” Thaddeus finished and watched Inez’s face to ascertain her reaction to this news.

She was fuming.

“What did he want?” She asked, already suspecting the answer.

“He obviously intended to convince Ethan to leave with him. Told him that we were dangerous and have been keeping him away from his grandfather.”

Inez’s expression was hard as stone. Eyes cold as steel. “And… how did Ethan respond to those accusations?”

“He is on our side. Felt more threatened by a stranger concealing himself in his bedroom than he did by what Arthur told him.” He paused for a moment, considering the necessity of his next detail. “But still—-Arthur had a photo of the five of them together.”

“The five of them?”

“Yes, Ross and Faith with the three children.” Thaddeus finished.

“I warned him not to interfere, not to try to make contact!” Inez yelled into the empty room. “Foolish old man!” She began pacing but stopped abruptly, glaring at Thaddeus through the screen. “A verbal warning was obviously not clear enough for him. There is no getting around it. He cannot be allowed to interfere with our plans like this,” she flatly stated. He must pay.”

“I understand. How would you like me to proceed?”

Inez stopped before the window, gazing down at the streets of Stockholm. “Your priority is to simply reassure the boy,” she said quietly, with a calmness that unnerved Thaddeus for its contrast to her mood only moments earlier. “Convince him that we are the good guys and that his grandfather is dangerous, which is, after all, true. He cannot be trusted. Look at what happened to my mother, your sister, as a result of his misuse and carelessness.” Inez looked directly into the camera. “No. Full power must be restored to those who are best able to wield it, and he will have to be removed for that to happen. But that is not your concern. I will take care of him. Your focus must remain on Ethan.”

“Agreed. What shall I tell the boy?”

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“Say what you must in order to move him soundly and solidly into our camp, Thaddeus. Tell him…” Then her expression began to change. An evil grin twisted her lips, and she tapped her right index finger to the tip of her nose.

“Nooo…actually…we can use this new development to our advantage. This is perfect, really. It offers an opportunity to build trust in the boy. Tell him—-a version of the truth that he can accept and believe.”

Inez was pacing again, disregarding the phone in her hand, waving it to and fro with each passing thought. “Tell him that his grandfather, Sir Edward, is insane. Yes, he has powers, and he used to be gifted. But over time, he began to abuse his abilities, and he became reckless. Without going into too much detail, tell him we lost his grandmother as a result and that when his parents died, we had to separate him from his brother and sister to keep them hidden and protected from him.”

She looked into the phone again. “Then tell Ethan that I want to fill in all of the details about that when we meet. If his desire to join us is not secure by then, his curiosity to learn the fate of his parents should be enough to draw him here in person.”

“Brilliant! Genius, Inez. I was concerned about Ethan’s questions after having viewed that photograph. But this plan of yours turns things in our favor.”

“Yes, well.” Inez pursed her lips, suppressing the bubble of excitement brewing deep within her. “It was a gift handed to us on a silver platter. Of course, Father must still be eliminated. He presents too much of a risk. Children are malleable creatures. I have no doubt they would believe him if he had the chance to engage with them. If they were to learn the truth about their parent’s death, well, that would be unacceptable. I must make arrangements. Let me know how your conversation with Ethan goes.”

Inez pressed the END button and disconnected the conversation.

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Tracy Thinks
You Don't Know Jack
Magical fiction author Tracy Partridge-Johnson reads chapters from her nine-book Middle-Grade fantasy series Jack and the Magic Hat Maker.
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