Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 30 – by lostandwhatever
Continued from Chapter 29.
It was an awkward meeting for a number of reasons.
For one thing, Candice was a foot an a half taller than everyone else in the meeting. She also appeared to be over a decade older than them as well. Candice sat on her chair with her legs crossed, while the other two elves from the embassy could barely touch the ground with their toes. Anyone who walked by would see a woman talking with children and would probably misjudge the power dynamic in the room unless they happened to notice all the pointy ears.
For another thing, Candice was still immodestly dressed in only a bathrobe, and she was struggling to hide her cleavage. Her body seemed determined to expose itself against her will, making her look like she was flaunting her maturity in front of the other elves, even as she explained why she had been forced to look this way.
Candice knew that the boy elf who was glaring at her was her supervisor and the girl elf next to him was some important ambassador. Despite that, she struggled to feel intimidated by them. They were just children, after all. True, she had looked the same as they did only hours ago, but it did not take long for her to begin feeling like an adult in this mature body. She understood why it had been so hard for the humans to take her seriously before.
Once Candice had finished explaining what had happened to her glamour, she waited for their reply.
“I can’t believe this,” the chief said. “I expected better from you, Agent Cain.”
“I explained what happened,” Candice said. “I had no choice. She had a gun.”
“A toy gun.”
“It looked real. Even the two humans believed it was real.”
“And, just where are they?”
“I don’t know,” Candice said. “They left before Mary did. That was hours ago. I just had their first names. That’s all.”
“Great,” the chief said. “Now we have some human running around with an elf glamour. More loose magic to deal with.”
“Bobby seemed pretty happy to have the glamour. I don’t think we’ll hear from them again.”
“This is totally unacceptable,” the chief said. “I should have known something like this might happen after you kept begging to have your glamour removed.”
Candice did not respond, but he did have a point. Her previous requests made her look even more suspicious now, and she had no good excuse besides what she had already said. All she could do was keep quiet and hope that his anger would burn out on its own.
“Do you understand what kind of position this puts us in?” he asked. “You were casting spells with a rogue elf who’s public enemy number one for the humans.”
“I was not casting spells with-”
“And, now here you are, looking just like her. They’re going to think that they have another rogue elf to worry about. Do you understand how terrified of us they are? They barely tolerate us because we look like children to them. Now, you don’t even have that cover anymore.”
Candice took a calming breath and said, “The humans I’m working with here trust me.”
“Do you trust them?”
“You shouldn’t,” he said. “You have no idea what they are doing in this place. All we know is that they’re gathering up magical artifacts. That’s scary enough as it is. No doubt, they want to use your expertise to understand magic better. Have they been asking questions about magic?”
“Some,” Candice admitted, feeling a bit annoyed at the chief for questioning her relationship with the humans. “But, they only want to know more to help track down Mary. That’s it.”
He shook his head. “I should have known you were not ready for this.”
“Sir,” Candice said.
The girl elf spoke up, “We’re bringing you back to the embassy.”
“What?” Candice said.
“You’re coming with us,” the girl said, “and then you’re returning to The North Pole to have your glamour reapplied.”
“So,” Candice said. “That’s it? We’re just going to let Mary go?”
“No,” the chief said. “We’re going to send in a new agent to take your place, someone who knows how to keep his mouth shut and how to keep from collaborating with a fugitive.”
“This is ridiculous,” Candice said. “And, this is exactly what Mary wants us to do. She forced me to give away my glamour so that you would react just like this. This is her trying to slow down the investigation, and you’re helping her do it right now.”
The girl said, “What do you want from us? Do you think we can just let this slide?”
“I need a few more days,” Candice said. “We’re close. We’re very close. Mary wouldn’t have risked doing this if she didn’t think we were close to catching her. We have evidence to work with. If you just give us some time to follow up on our leads, I know we can catch her.”
The chief sighed. “You said the humans here trust you… even now?”
“Yes, they do,” Candice said, feeling a surge of pride inside of her.
“Fine,” the chief said. “It’s going to take at least a day to send down a replacement for you from The North Pole. You have two days until he gets here and is ready to take your place. Two days. You understand?”
“Yes,” Candice said. “Thank you, sir.”
“But,” the chief added, pointing at her. “If you screw this up at all. We’re taking you out of here immediately. Is that clear?”
“Very clear,” Candice said. “I won’t let you down.”
“You already have,” he said. “Make sure you don’t do it again.”
The two elves from the embassy gathered up their things and left conference room. Then, they were escorted out by a guard who had waited just outside the room, keeping close watch on them. Meanwhile, Candice sat there alone in her bathrobe, hoping that two days would be enough time.
There was a knock on the conference room door.
Little Carol was waiting there on the other side of the glass door. Candice waved her in.
“So?” Carol asked after dragging the door open. “How’d it go?”
“They gave me two days,” Candice said.
“Oh,” Carol said. “48 Hours, just like the movie.”
Candice stared at Carol blankly as the girl hopped up onto a chair next to her.
“Eddie Murphy? Nick Nolte?” Carol prompted.
“I haven’t seen it,” Candice said.
Carol sighed. “I guess you’re too young for that one,” she said. “…Ironically enough.”
“What about that theme park?” Candice asked.
“We thought about calling them, but we decided it might be best to scope out the place first to see if Mary is still around there. You know, go in undercover. Want to take me to an theme park tomorrow?” Carol asked, playing the part of an excited child for a moment.
Candice smirked. “I guess so.”
“And,” Carol added. “Not just any theme park, Santa’s Village. Won’t it be exciting to see where the big guy really lives?” She gave Candice a delighted smile.
“Ha ha,” Candice said. “I have a funny feeling that that place will really mess with my head.”
“I look forward to seeing you squirm there.”
Candice sighed. “So, how are you getting home?” she asked.
“Well,” Carol said, letting her feet swing. “I had been planning on driving you back to your hotel, but I don’t think I can reach the pedals in my car anymore. So, I thought we might swap seats. Didn’t you say you know how to drive elf cars?”
“Yes,” Candice said. “But, I’ve never driven a human car before.”
“No problem,” Carol said. “I can give you some pointers. If you drive slow, I think we’ll make it back to my house safely.”
“So, I’m just going to drop you off there and pick you up in the morning.”
“Actually, you’re staying for dinner. I figure my husband will freak out less about the situation if there’s a magical expert around to calm his nerves. Sound good?”
“Sounds great,” Candice said.
“Right,” Carol said. “Now, I just need to mentally prepare myself to meet my kids again at eye level.”
“Get her out of there now,” Secretary of Defense Taggart said to Angela as she sat in her office listening to him on a conference call.
“Sir,” Angela said. “We have a major lead we will be following up on tomorrow. We need Candice involved with that.”
“I’m not convinced that you do. And, how can you be one hundred percent sure that this elf isn’t working with Mary,” Taggart said.
“We can’t be sure. That’s true. But, if she were working with Mary, then stripping off her glamour like this would make her a pretty lousy double agent. It’s a sure way way to draw attention to herself. Don’t you think so?”
Taggart grumbled a wordless reply.
“Angela,” the president said. “I’m willing to trust your judgement on this elf but only up to a point. If we don’t see more results soon, then you need to send her packing. Do you understand?”
Angela said, “I do. We just need a little more time.”
“You keep a close eye on the elf,” Taggart said.
“I will,” Angela said. “I’ll brief you again tomorrow. Goodnight.” She hung up the call. Taggart was getting on her nerves. Something was making the secretary of defense particularly prickly lately, and it did not seem to be just because of Mary. Why did he feel so threatened by Candice? She wondered.
There was a knock at her door.
“Come in,” she said.
Justin opened the door and poked his head into her office. “I’m planning on heading out soon. Do you need me for anything else before I go?”
“No. You go home. Have a good night. I want you rested and ready to go for the theme park stakeout tomorrow,” she said, but before he could leave she added, “Wait. Did Candice leave for the night yet?”
“Yeah,” Justin said. “In fact, she’s the one driving Carol home.”
“Really,” he said, smiling. “Let’s just hope elf cars are similar to human cars after all.”