Here is the final installment of Passion Flower. If you missed Part 2, you can find it here.
Otherwise, read on!
Passion Flower, Part 3
They rode on in silence for a moment.
“Where are we going?” Samantha asked.
“I don’t know,” Jackson replied.
Samantha looked over at him in surprise.
“You don’t know?”
“Then what are we doing?”
“We just need to stay ahead of him while I think,” Jackson said. “A car is the best way to do that.”
Samantha stared out the window into the night and watched the road streaking by.
Then she turned in her seat and looked out the rear window.
“Is he following us?” she asked.
“Yes,” Jackson replied.
“I don’t see any headlights behind us,” Samantha said. “The road is dark.”
“He’s following us just the same,” Jackson said.
“Who is he?” Samantha asked.
“His name is Lux—or at least that’s what he calls himself. It’s Latin for ‘light.’ A lot of his powers derive from light, so I suppose that’s fitting.”
“And who are you?” Samantha said.
“I told you, my name is Jackson.”
Jackson gave her a wry smile. “I know what meant. I’m sort of an investigator. I track magical criminals.”
“So, Jackson the investigator,” Samantha said, “what does Lux want this flower for?”
She glanced down at the flower in its pot.
“That passion flower is literally a passion flower,” Jackson said. “It can profoundly affect your emotions. Lux’s powers are cool in terms of emotions. He can summon great power, but he can’t get into anyone’s head. With the flower, he could control people on a very deep level.”
“Lux could use the flower to control people’s emotions?” Samantha said.
“That’s too much power for one person to have,” Samantha said.
“I agree,” Jackson replied.
“So how do we stop him?”
“We?” Jackson said, flashing his wry smile once again.
“I’m in the car, and it’s my flower,” Samantha said. “So this is my problem too.”
“You’re right,” Jackson said. “My best plan so far is to stop him with this.”
From underneath the flowerpot between them, he produced a small, square box made of glass.
He held it out to her. “Be careful with that. Whatever you do, don’t open the lid.”
Samantha turned the glass box over in her hands.
“What is it?” she asked.
“It’s a prison,” Jackson said.
“Yes. We just have to convince Lux to step inside it.”
“And how are we going to do that?” Samantha asked.
“I haven’t thought of that yet,” Jackson replied.
“It’s so small,” Samantha said. “I don’t see how he could fit much more than a toe in here.”
“Trust me, it works,” Jackson said. “All we have to do is open the lid and get him to step over it. If you have any ideas about how to do that, I’d love to hear them.”
“Could we just leave the flower out in the open and hide or something?” Samantha said. “And then we could jump out with the box and catch Lux.”
Jackson shook his head. “It’s too obvious. He’d spot that a mile away.”
“What if I acted as a decoy? I could jump out of the car and run with the flower, and when Lux goes to chase me, you could jump out behind him.”
“Again, too obvious.”
Samantha was quiet for a moment. She thought back to the flower shop and all the plants that were on display—what if there was a way to use them as camouflage?
Samantha continued to think about all the plants, and suddenly she had an idea.
“What if we use mirrors?” she said.
“What do you mean?” Jackson said.
“I think we could set a trap for Lux at the flower shop,” Samantha said. “Do you think you could break in there?”
“Not a problem. Breaking and entering is kind of my specialty. What did you have in mind?”
“I’ll explain on the way,” Samantha said.
Jackson and Samantha reached the flower shop in about ten minutes.
“You’re sure you want to do this?” Jackson said as they got out of the car.
“I’m sure,” Samantha said. “Can you buy me some time?”
“Absolutely,” Jackson said. He shot a quick look down the road. “Let me get the door for you first.”
Samantha glanced down the road too. She still didn’t see anything, but from the way Jackson was acting, she figured Lux couldn’t be too far behind.
Jackson hurried to the front door of the flower shop, and Samantha followed him. He produced a key from his pocket and waved it over the lock. There was a small click, and Jackson pulled the door open to the jangling of bells.
“That’s it?” Samantha said.
“It’s easy when you have the right tools.” Jackson cast a worried look over his shoulder. “You’d better get inside. I’ll lock the door behind you.”
Samantha hurried inside the shop with the flower and the glass box, and Jackson closed the door behind her firmly. She heard another small click as the door was locked once again.
Samantha stood for a moment in the dark. It was hard to see anything, but she hesitated to turn on the light—she didn’t want to let Lux know anyone was in the shop just yet.
She moved forward cautiously and bumped her knee on a display. A moment later, there was a flash of light outside the window, and Samantha glanced back in alarm—she had a feeling Lux had just arrived.
She hurried forward.
Luckily, Samantha knew the shop well, and her eyes were growing accustomed to the dark. She began to move the many mirrors that were positioned around the shop, and she placed them near the big mirror that was mounted on the wall in the back.
Then Samantha positioned the flower in the right spot and settled down to wait.
She didn’t have to wait long. There was a burst of light from the front of the store. Then the door flew open to a great jangling of bells.
“Look out!” Jackson cried. “He’s coming! Get the box ready!”
Samantha huddled down in her hiding spot.
A moment later, she saw another light spring to life and hold steady.
The light began to move toward her swiftly.
Soon Samantha could see a man’s image reflected back to her in a nearby mirror—it was Lux. He had white hair with streaks of black in it. He was carrying what looked like a column of flame—a torch without a handle.
Samantha could also see a reflection of the passion flower.
Lux moved toward it and then past it.
In a moment, he was standing in front of her.
“Foolish girl,” Lux said. “You sought to trick me with your maze of mirrors. But it won’t work. All I have to do is get rid of you and your little glass box, and then I am free to take the passion flower.”
Samantha stood up quickly. She threw an object over Lux’s head.
“Jackson, here’s the box! Catch!”
Jackson caught the object and ran away with it.
“And that was even more foolish,” Lux said.
He swung his torch, and a stream of light flew out and struck Jackson in the back.
Jackson fell to the ground.
Lux turned back to Samantha, who was once again crouched down on the floor.
As he did so, his foot crunched on something, and he looked down.
Lux’s heel was rest on the open lid of a small glass box.
He looked up at Samantha in surprise.
“I wasn’t trying to trick you with the mirrors,” Samantha said. “Just distract you.”
Lux’s face had just a moment to register dismay. Then his face and his body turned into vapor, and the vapor was sucked into the glass box. The lid on the box fell shut with a snap.
Samantha hurried over to Jackson. He was lying on the floor, and his shirt had been burned off his back. Lying next to him was a little ceramic figurine of a basket of flowers.
Samantha knelt beside him. “Are you okay?”
Jackson groaned. “I think so. I’m just a little singed.”
He sat up suddenly. “Where’s Lux?”
“He’s in the glass box,” Samantha said.
“Show me,” Jackson said.
Samantha helped Jackson to his feet, and she led him over to the box.
Jackson picked it up, and even in the dim light, Samantha could see the vapor swirling around in it.
“That’s him all right,” Jackson said softly.
He smiled at Samantha. “Your plan worked. Thank you.”
“This plan needed two people,” Samantha replied. “We work well together.”
Jackson glanced around. “I see about four passion flowers in the mirrors. Where’s the original?”
Samantha led him over to the passion flower, and Jackson picked up the pot.
Samantha looked at the flower, brightly colored, even in the gloomy shop.
“I suppose you have to take that with you,” she said wistfully.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about it,” Jackson said, “and nobody knows that you have the flower except for me and Lux.”
He held up the glass box. “And Lux isn’t going anywhere. If I take the flower with me, it will soon be common knowledge that it’s in my possession. I think it may be better if the flower stays with you.”
“I can keep it?” Samantha said. “Thanks.”
“After all, you did buy it,” Jackson said. “So it’s really yours anyway. Of course—”
“What?” Samantha said.
“It is a dangerous object in some ways. So I should probably stop by from time to time, just to check on it.”
Samantha smiled. “You want to come by to visit the flower?”
“Yes,” Jackson said, looking a little flustered. “It’s only right I should keep an eye on it. And if I happened to see you too, so much the better. Maybe we could even go out and get some dinner—when you’re not caring for your new plant.”
Jackson held out the flowerpot, and Samantha took it.
“So what do you say?” Jackson said. “Would you like to plant-sit together?”
Samantha smiled again. “I think I would like that.”
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