The Masquerade Ball and Other Events

By: Yvette Jessen

Written for Rose Monday, 2008


It was Monday, the day of the Dyeland Masquerade Ball, and Willy Wonka was happy.  He had spent the days leading up to in consistent contact with his apprentice, Charlie Bucket.  The younger of the two had assured him that the party would go off without a hitch.  Of course, while he was confident, he also carried an element of realism in the depths of his mind.  He knew that he could make the party happen, but in the wake of recent events, the confectioner was skeptical.

He, and many of the inhabitants in Dyeland were becoming increasingly worried about Yva.  She had confided a great deal in him during their trip to Alaska the previous week, but his worries for her remained right up there with his business.  He had found a good and solid friendship with the young woman, but now, he knew that amidst his unending search for new candy flavors, he was worried for her psychological well being.

Despite all of these difficulties, he smiled as he remembered the specifics of the trip.  Yva’s unending enthusiasm had clearly been tainted by the events with Andi, a young lovesick girl in London, who had her sights set on Yva’s guardian angel, Nigel.

Swallowing all of these concerns, the chocolatier reached for a pen and began to drum it on the desk.  He always did this when he was feeling especially uneasy.  This string of events could have made even the strongest of men, feel rather powerless.  As he sank into his contemplations, a light tapping sound suddenly brought him out of his reverie.  Thinking that it was Yva, he raised his head and slowly turned around.

“It’s open,” he called out, but was surprised when a blonde mass of wavy hair could be seen through the half opened door soon to be followed by the head of his apprentice as the young man peered into the room from around it.

“Charlie, what are you doing here?” He spoke when he saw that it was his protégé standing in the doorway and not Yva.  He had half expected the young woman to be there, but it became almost instantly clear that his wishes and reality was not the same thing.

Charlie began to rub his hands brusquely together, his mouth slightly turned down.  It was clear to the chocolatier that as he approached his friend, that something was monumentally wrong.  Without so much as saying a word, the confectioner waited for the young man to say something.

“Mr. Wonka,” he said as he clearing his throat.

Willy took a deep breath all the while knowing full well that whenever Charlie said ‘Mr. Wonka’ to him, that something was amiss.  The young man generally called him ‘Willy’, and somehow that always set his mind at ease.  When the youth was formal, then something was wrong, and Willy could tell that this was a sign that Charlie was worried about how he was going to react.  “What is it, Charlie?”

Swallowing, the persistent lump that lodged its way in the back of his throat, Charlie looked at his mentor still nervous.  “I know that we checked and made certain that everything at the factory would be alright, but something happened last night that I fear I must make you aware of,” Charlie began.

“What happened?”

“Last night, Omaya-Kal found Andi Henderson in front of the factory,” Charlie began.  “He had been out testing some of the more secure locks in and around the premises when he found her unconscious and leaning up against the gate.”

“Andi?  You mean the girl who has been responsible for all the insanity that has been going on around here?”

“The very same.  After he found her, he sent for me and we checked in her pockets and found her identification card.” Charlie said, but after several minutes, he paused before continuing.  “Mr. Wonka…”

“…Look, no matter how difficult this may seem, I want you to call me Willy, and whatever it is, Charlie, we’re going to work through it,” the chocolatier said firmly.

“Alright, I guess I’ll just out and say it, Andi is now inside the factory,” Charlie confessed.

“She’s inside the factory?” Willy was aghast.  “Our factory?”

“What other factory is there?” Charlie asked, but despite himself, he backed up several centimeters, his blue eyes matching with those of Willy.  Neither of them could see that Yva had approached the door and was waiting not too far away from them, but was listening to their hushed dialogue.  When she heard Andi’s name mentioned, she self-consciously came closer.

“I know this seems strange,” Charlie was saying.  “But Omaya-Kal and I were under the impression that she was attacked.  She’s unconscious, and…well…how can I put this without making anyone in Dyeland get upset?”

“Just say it,” Willy said.

“Omaya-Kal seems to be of the impression that Andi may have been attacked by a vampire, he found two small incisions along the skin of her neck,” Charlie said.

“Could it be a trick?” Willy asked.

“I don’t know, but given the fact that many of the Oompa Loompas are monumentally superstitious, I would guess that they are well aware of what this may mean.  I can well imagine that something strange has happened to her simply based on the things you have conveyed about Andi.  One thing is clear, when Omaya-Kal found her, she had blood smeared across her face, her eyes were literally rolled to the back of her head, and her skin was colder than ice.  It was not pretty, Willy, and no matter what your feelings may be about her, she’s a real mess.”  Charlie ran his hand over his face and bit down on his lip.  “What are we going to do?”

“I have to go to LA,” Willy said abruptly, but before Charlie could even offer a response, a feminine voice filled both of their ears.

“I’m going with you.”

At that instant, both Charlie and Willy turned to see that Yva was now standing in the doorway.  On either side of her, the flat palms of her hands were pressed up against the doorframe.  Willy began to take in her appearance, his worries mounting when he saw how pale her face was.

Before Willy could speak, Charlie did.  “How much did you hear?”

“I heard enough, and I heard you say that Andi was attacked by a vampire,” Yva said, but looked at Willy.  “You have to let me go with you.”

The chocolatier looked at Charlie and nodded.  “Alright, if that is what you want, then far be it for me to say no.  But, this is what we’re going to do.  Charlie, you go back to the factory, make sure Andi is left in quarantine, I will see if I can contact Andrew.  Maybe he can help us shed some light on this.  I am not going to sit here idly and wait around for an angel or two to come by and help us though.  This is the reason we have to go to California.”

Charlie nodded.  “Let me get this straight, Andrew’s the guy with the blonde hair, right?  Or is he the one with the long dark brown hair?”

“No, that’s Nigel,” Yva said.  “God forbid he be sent to London right now with all of this, that could make an even more serious mess of everything then it already is.”  She closed her eyes.  “Andrew, if you or one of the angels of death can hear me, please come to ‘Pure Imagination’ on the double.”

Charlie reached over and put a gentle hand on her shoulder.  “It’s going to be alright, we’ll keep an eye on her.  If you guys are going to LA, then you’d better get going.  I’ll keep you posted on how things are going at the factory.”

Willy nodded.  “We’d better go, I will have to find Mick’s address when we get there.”

Yva took a deep breath.  “No you won’t, Lady JenniAnn gave it to me in case I needed to write him about the situation with Andi.  I’ve been keeping it with me just in case.”  She took a deep breath, but looked at him.  “Let’s just get going.  As scared as I am at the prospect of dealing with this, I would really like to know if this is another one of her ploys for sympathy.”

“I don’t think it is,” Charlie said, his face filled with earnestness as Andrew appeared in the office.

“I was told to come here, Nigel actually said that you’re not doing well,” Andrew said as a greeting.  He approached where she was standing and rested a gentle hand on her shoulder.  “What is it, Yva?”

“There’s news about Andi,” she began.  “I’m just glad you’re here.”  She cast a sideways glace towards Charlie, who was about to introduce himself to the angel.  Before he could do that, Yva continued.  “Andrew, this is Charlie, and he came to inform us that Andi is now inside the factory in London.”

Charlie nodded.  “I’ve heard a great many things about you,” he said, but looked at Willy before speaking.  “Apparently, Andi was attacked last night while roaming about the front gate of the factory.  She’s unconscious at present, but at the time I left, she was still alive.  I’m sorry to say, but I have no idea about how she is doing now.”

“Well, if it was death, then one of us would be there with her,” Andrew began.  “The only one of us who went away on an assignment last night was Adam, but he did not say specifically where he was going.  He did say that it was an emergency, though.  I saw him earlier this morning, and he didn’t give me any information about last night.  We get a lot of emergency situations in this job, so I didn’t anticipate anything out of the ordinary from him.”  He paused, thinking that this was not a pressing issue, but deciding to inquire nonetheless.  “Is there any word about the portal there?  Is it still secure?”

“It should be,” Willy said earnestly.  “The portal is on the other side of the factory from where she’s presently located.  As far as we know, it is still secured, but it is going to be hard for us to figure out specifically what has happened.  Based on what Charlie has indicated, it would seem that Andi was attacked by a vampire last night.”

“A vampire?” Andrew asked.

“We’re not sure if that’s what exactly happened,” Willy said earnestly.  “Omaya-Kal, is the leader of the Oompa Loompas, and he seems to think that that is what happened.  Yva and I are leaving for LA to see if we can find Mick St. John and ask him to assist us in deciphering if she was, in fact, attacked by one of his, for lack of a better term, people.”

“You know that he may not be able to come,” Andrew said.  “He’s got his own set of worries and issues to contend with at the moment.  Of course, if you tell him what has been happening, then I’m sure he’ll try and come.”

“I hope he does come, because we need his help to shed some light on this situation,” Yva said before turning to face Willy.  “We should really get going now and stop stalling.”

Willy nodded as Charlie and Andrew left the office.

Once they were gone, she followed the chocolatier over to the door of the Wonkavator.  Once he pressed the button and the door slid open, she raised her head and looked at Willy.

“Do you think that it was a vampire?” She asked, her voice shaky.  She was not about to admit that going and cavorting with Mick St. John was a rather scary proposition, in and of itself.  Instead of waiting for him to respond, she sank down onto one of the seats, her head coming to rest in her hands.  “Willy, I’m scared.”

“I know you are, and I know that you would prefer to come with me as opposed to waiting here for me to go and get back.  Believe me, Yva; I am more worried about what has been happening with Andi, than I am about us talking with Mick.  He has offered us his assistance in this matter, through his communication with Nigel.  I know that he will render whatever assistance he will be able to.  You just need to remember what it was he told Nigel.  If his people were to be exposed by Andi, he could end up being forced to go into hiding like Vincent has had to do.”  He reached over and touched her face, the gentle fatherly eyes of the candy maker looking into hers.  “We will find him, and when he knows what has happened, he will come back with us and help us figure out what it is we will have to do.”

“Maybe we should have seen Andi first then at least we will know if this is all a hoax,” Yva whispered.  “I know the folklore about vampires, Willy, and maybe we could tell if she’s been turned or not.”

“Turned?” Willy looked confused.

“If she was attacked by a vampire, then she could have survived and will heal, but in the worst case scenario, she could either be…” her voice trailed off and she swallowed.  “…Dead, or she would have been turned into a vampire herself.”  Yva shook her head as the Wonkavator landed about twenty meters from a large block of apartments in suburban LA.  It was strange how quickly the trip had gone, while the trip to Alaska seemed as though it had taken an eternity.

She watched as Willy expertly landed the flying machine and they disembarked.

Just after they had climbed out of the confines of his invention, Willy pulled a strange device from the pocket of his frock coat and pressed a square shaped button.  Instantly the Wonkavator disappeared right before their eyes.

“W-what did you do?” Yva asked weakly, the surprise of his action overtly present.

“It’s a protection for our transportation is all,” Willy explained.  “No one can see or feel it, and once we return to retrieve it, we can deactivate the force field that surrounds it.  Come on, we have to find Mick now.”

Yva nodded and they started to make their way through the park.  “I have the address here,” she said as she handed the slip of paper to him.

Willy nodded.  “Perhaps I should have changed before we left,” he whispered to her, “People are staring at us.”

Yva smiled slightly as she looked at the purple coat and caramel colored hat that the chocolatier was wearing.  “Maybe they think you’re cute,” she smiled weakly, the first joke emerging since days.

In response to this, the candy maker said nothing, but wrapped a comforting arm around her and led her towards a large group of buildings.




At that moment, Mick had just closed the door to his apartment and was taking a deep and cleansing breath.  The latest case he was working on was taking a massive amount of energy out of him and he was tired.  Of course, that was generally what happened during the daylight hours.  Although the sun’s rays made him somewhat groggy, the myths of vampires being destroyed by light seemed a folk legend that he was not really all that keen on worrying with at that precise moment in time.

He went over to the refrigerator where his supplies were kept and then reached for a glass.  After having poured himself something to drink, he went over to the sofa and seated himself on it, his body weary.

Taking a sip of his drink, he placed the glass on the table and wound his arms around the back of his neck as he stared down at the appointment book and file that was still lying on the table.  Between his issues with Beth and the whole Dyeland situation, he was clearly on his last leg.  That night he would be going to Willy’s factory for the Masquerade ball and his 1950’s jacket hung on the back of his bedroom door, awaiting his attention.  That was going to be fun, dressing in a time period he was accustomed to.

His thoughts drifted, Andrew had told him that Yva would be dressing like Willy, but he wondered if she would be able to find a top hat to complete the outfit she had painstakingly put together for the party.  Nigel was going to dress in his typical Victorian style, and Lady JenniAnn had confessed to wanting to dress in the style reminiscent of the sixties.  Typical, he thought with a slight smile.  Lady JenniAnn, although born a good twenty years later, seemed to have quite a grand a fascination with that particular time period.  At any rate, the only other costumes he knew of came from hearsay as well as Andrew’s telling him about it while they were in London.

He had been associated with Dyeland for such a short period of time, and he pondered almost incessantly how the likes of him could have gotten involved with that particular group of people.  They were definitely different, of course he, himself was different, so perhaps that was to be expected.

Sighing, he took another sip of his drink as his thoughts shifted to Andrew having told him that Willy’s parties were something rather special.  He hated the idea of being in a room devised solely of candy, none of which he could even enjoy, as everyone else would be able to.  It truly was one of the most unfair things in the world.

At any rate, shifting his thoughts, he found himself inhaling somewhat annoyed when the doorbell abruptly chimed, this bringing him crashing out of his reverie.  “Josef, if that’s you, I’m going to string you up by your toes,” he muttered under his breath.

It was not that he particularly minded his friend to come and speak to him about the issues of the day, but he had quickly grown tired of the other vampire’s incessant nagging about the rules and regulations that were centered on his people.  He needed a break like anyone else.

He drained his glass before returning it to the kitchen and filling it with water several times before allowing it to drain in the sink (something he never did) as the doorbell chimed a second time.  If it wasn’t Josef, he thought, it was probably best that his eccentricities be left in the kitchen.  He quickly wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, before making his way over to the front door.

After casting a brief glance into the television monitor that was over the door, his expression went from curiosity to skepticism when he saw two strangely dressed people who looked vaguely familiar to him.  Instead of trying to figure out who they were, he opted to simply open the door.

“Yes?” He asked as he took in the two individuals standing at the door to his abode.  One was a woman, dressed in what looked to be a long dress that was covered by a maroon colored coat that went down to her knees.  On her feet, she wore what looked to be black winter boots, her hair auburn in color and tousled as though she had left home in a hurry.

Feeling as though in color shock, his gaze shifted and he stared at the man standing beside her.  He distinctly reminded Mick of a peacock.  A caramel colored top hat was perched on top of his head.  He wore what looked to be a purple colored frock coat, which seemed to be draped over a vest as well as beige colored pants.  A green bowtie was bunched at the neck of his shirt and his blue eyes met his as the corners of his mouth turned up in a half smile.

“Mick?” The woman spoke, her voice wavering, but his gaze was still situated on the strangely dressed man who was accompanying her.  It was not every day that he saw someone dressed as strangely as this even though he did live in LA and had spent time in Lady JenniAnn’s as well as Vincent’s company.

“Yes?”  He repeated his question for a second time; all the while wondering what was happening and how these people had come to make his acquaintance.  Soon his curiosity got the best of him and he backed away so that the two of them could enter the apartment.  “May I help you?”  He asked.

“We’re from Dyeland,” the man responded.

Of course, thought Mick, how could it be otherwise?  Instead of responding, thus indicative that he had figured this out on his own, he waited for the man to continue speaking.  “We met briefly at the party that Lady JenniAnn held as a means to welcome you.  Perhaps you don’t recognize us because you met so many people that day.  My name is Willy Wonka, and this is Yva Michaels.”

Mick nodded and as though shot out of a cannon, he waved them into the apartment.  “Of course, now I remember, please do come in.”

Once the two of had entered the pristine apartment, the private investigator glanced around the door before pushing it closed.  As soon as he had finished this, he turned around and faced them.  “Please, make yourselves at home, I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you initially.  I do tend to meet so many people in this business that it somehow becomes difficult trying to decipher who was who.  At any rate, please excuse my not having anything to offer, but I wasn’t expecting your visit.  Of what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”

“You have to come back with us to Dyeland, we need your help,” Yva began, her voice cracking despite her painstaking attempt to keep it steady.  “Something terrible has happened, and I-I don’t know where to begin.”

“I’m not sure I understand why my presence is required,” Mick said.  “Perhaps we should start at the beginning.”  He looked at Willy, who seemed to be more in control of his emotions.  Yva was completely beside herself, but given the messages that he had exchanged with Nigel throughout the previous week, it seemed perfectly normal for her to feel this way.

Willy nodded, his arm instantly wrapped around Yva’s shoulder, her head coming to rest against him.  The paternal love that the confectioner had towards the younger woman was obvious, and this made Mick smile slightly.

“The reason we’re here is because of Andi,” Willy began, his expression earnest.  “She was attacked in London last night, and brought to my factory there.  My workers have reason to believe that a vampire could have been the attacker.  We need you to verify if that was what had happened.”

“She could have been turned,” Mick said.  “If that is the case, then she could pose a danger to you or your workers.  Generally new vampires go a bit crazy if their sire is not present.”

Yva swallowed, her face taking on a strange shade of green.

“Charlie said that she was covered in blood,” he began.

“Under this particular circumstance, that might be a good sign, thus indicative that she’s not turned.  She is still alive, then,” he said.  “But, why would a vampire attack her?”

Yva said nothing; instead her eyes were filled with absolute fright.  If Andi had been turned, then she could be out for her blood, thus posing a very real danger to her life.

The hate and hostility that were contained in Andi’s letters seemed to be a good enough indication that she was in danger, but if the other girl has attained semi-immortal status, then something could very well happen to her.  Yva raised her head and looked at Mick.  “If she got turned, how can we stop her?”  She whispered, but then looked at Willy and felt the candy maker’s hand taking it and offering a reassuring squeeze.

“We don’t know that yet,” Willy said.  “Don’t let your imagination get carried away, Yva.”

“He’s right,” Mick said rationally.  “This could very easily be a very sick joke and nothing more.  Although I would have to see Andi to know for certain if it is.”

Yva looked down at her lap.  “What if it’s not?  What if she really has it out for me?  You saw the letters, Willy, she’s angry with me because of the bond I have with Nigel.  She sees me as some sort of threat to her.”

Mick got to his feet.  “We should go now and see about verifying what has happened.  The last thing Yva needs is for this to continue playing havoc on her mind and emotions.  How do we get back to Dyeland?”

“The Wonkavator is in the park not far from here,” Willy said.  “I figure we can use the concealed method to get us back to ‘Pure Imagination’.  From there, we can use the portal to the factory in London.”  He turned to Yva.  “When we get back there, I want you to stay in Dyeland.  I will not be taking you there and running the risk of putting you in harm’s way.”

Yva shook her head.  “No,” she said firmly.  “This involves me, I have to come.”

“Yes, it does involve you, but Willy’s right, if she did turn, your life is in danger, Yva, and I would not wish for you to play Russian roulette with that,” Mick said firmly.  “You have to trust us.  When we get back to ‘Pure Imagination’, we can contact Nigel and have him come and stay with you.  Perhaps it would be best if you go back to the Heavenly Playground or take sanctuary in the Tunnels while we’re doing this.  If the portal to Dyeland gets breached, then this could turn into a terrible mess for all parties involved.  We have to think logically about this.”

Defeated, Yva nodded.  She had clearly been outnumbered.  “Willy…” she whispered the candy maker’s name, but instead of responding, he wrapped a gentle arm around her as they got to their feet and started to walk towards the door leading out of Mick’s apartment.

Coming down the hallway, none of them said a word.

Outside, they walked back the way they had come until they reached the vacant area where the Wonkavator was parked.  Willy gently released his hold on her and pulled the strangely shaped device from his pocket before pressing a button on it.  As the large diamond shaped object reappeared, they climbed in and Willy expertly pressed a button thus allowing them to take off.  Within what seemed like mere seconds, they were flying over Dyeland and Willy navigated the Wonkavator until it landed back inside the factory and they once again found themselves in Willy’s office.




As they disembarked, Nigel was standing in the office and waiting.  It was as though he knew what was going to happen, and his eyes met those of Mick as the Private Investigator stepped out and took in Willy’s strangely decorated office.

The Victorian angel approached.  “Hello Sir Mick,” he greeted the man formally.

“It’s just Mick,” the man said smiling.  “I’ve not been knighted.  You must be Nigel.  I’m sorry I haven’t responded to your latest letter.”

“Well, you’re here, so that perhaps makes up for it,” the angel said.

As he was speaking, Yva slowly emerged from the Wonkavator and cast one last pleading glance towards Willy.  It was clear to each one of them that the woman was not keen on the idea of staying in Dyeland during this adventure, but they seemed to be just as, if not more, insistent about her remaining in a safe place.”

As her tearful gaze met his, the chocolatier remained firm in his decision but looked at her.  “You have to stay here, Yva,” he said, but looked at Nigel.  “Take her with you.”

The angel nodded, his eyes filled with sadness at seeing Yva’s disheveled state.  It remained abundantly clear that this situation was taking an unusually heavy toll on her.

Instead of speaking, he simply nodded and with an arm wrapped firmly around Yva, they disappeared.

Mick took a deep breath, but looked at Willy.  “I don’t think I will ever get used to that mode of transportation,” he mused.

“I’ll stick to the Wonkavator,” Willy said as he patted one side of his invention.  “We need to get to the portal, Andrew is already there.”

Mick nodded and started to follow Willy from the office.

The portal that acted as a link between Willy’s two chocolate factories was nothing more than a small room with a sliding glass door.  This place seemed to extend into what looked to be a psychedelic room, vintage 1960’s.

“JenniAnn would love this,” Mick mused as they reached the far end of the portal and found themselves transported from Dyeland to the interior of the London factory.  The air that met them immediately reminded Willy of the smells that encase one just after a fresh rain shower.  He knew that they were back.

As the door between the worlds was closed, Willy found himself looking down at the leader of the Oompa-Loompas, Omaya-Kal.  He was standing at the end of a corridor and waiting, his orange face regarding Mick with curiosity.  “You are the vampire?”  He asked.  His voice was laced with respect, but also with traces of awe.  He bowed slightly and Willy watched as Mick returned the gesture.

Willy nodded, but looked at the dark headed man standing beside him for traces of aggravation.  Instead, what he saw was simple acceptance.

“Yes, I suppose you could say that,” Mick eventually spoke.  “My name is Mick St. John.”

“Omaya-Kal,” came the answer with another bow.  “I have been awaiting your arrival since Charlie returned here with Andrew.  The Angel of Death is with the intruder now, but we are not sure as to what exactly happening with her.  The medicine man said that it was a vampire, but we do not know to what extent the damage is.  It is for that reason; we require your assistance.  Andrew has advised us to keep the girl in quarantine in case something diverse has happened to her.”

Mick looked at Willy.  “If she is to see me, then she will recognize me from the confrontation she had with Andrew early last week.  She asked me if I was an angel, to which I did not respond.  If she does discover what I am, then it could post a danger to me, as well as to others.”

Willy looked at Omaya-Kal, his thoughts seeming to race.  “Do we still have the supply of the forget-me-dust?” He asked.

“Forget-me-dust?” Mick regarded both the candy maker and the Oompa Loompa with confusion.  “What is forget-me-dust?”

“It is the Candy Marvel’s invention,” Omaya-Kal responded.  “It is designed to make those who see the factory, forget what they have seen so as to prevent breaches of security from taking place.  We have revised it so that if the young lady is exposed to it, that she will not remember the place or those whom she met while here.”

“Sounds like you have all the bases covered, then,” Mick said.  “Alright, where is she?”

“In the medical area separated from anyone else,” the Oompa Loompa responded, and with a wave of his gloved hand, he motioned down a long hallway.  “This way please.”

Mick nodded as they made their way, the Oompa Loompa leading, him walking in the middle, and Willy bringing up the end.  The chocolatier’s eyes were fixed before him, but no further words emerged.

None of them were certain as to what would happen once they reached the room where Andi was being kept, but they were each consumed with their own thoughts as they rounded a corner and reached a large metal door, that extended directly in front of them.  Omaya-Kal pulled a set of keys from his pocket and opened the door, thus motioning for Mick and Willy to enter the room.

As they entered the room, the Oompa Loompa opted to staying outside and guarding the door.  As their eyes were adjusting to the light, or lack thereof, Mick could plainly see that Andrew was standing at the head of the bed, his hand lightly stroking the girl’s hair, and his eyes now closed.  Upon hearing the sounds at the other end of the room, the angel opened his eyes and regarded them.

“Where’s Charlie?”  The candy maker asked.  His voice was now laced in the same sort of concern, which he had carried while speaking with Yva earlier that day.

“I told him that he should not be in here, and for the record, neither should you,” Andrew said, his voice soft, the words somehow forced.  “If she was turned, then you could be in grave danger.”

Willy nodded.  “I understand.  I’ll wait in the observation room.”  He backed towards the door and exited the room.

Mick watched as the door was closed behind him and he made his way over to the bed where Andi lay.  Even in the dim light, the girl’s face looked unusually pale, her eyes closed and a ghostly whiteness seemed to descend around the room.

“Is she dead?” Mick asked; his voice clipped in matter-of-factness.

“No, in fact, I don’t know what to make of it.  Mick, based on what Lady JenniAnn told me, if she was attacked by a vampire and was turned into one, she would have woken up by now, wouldn’t she?” Andrew asked.

Mick leaned down and took the girl’s unmoving face in his hands, his eyes taking in every aspect of her face in search of a clue that might explain what has happened.  He tilted her head to one side and leaned closer.  “It wasn’t a vampire,” he said shaking his head after several seconds.  “I don’t know what it was, but she was not attacked by a vampire.  The markings on her neck are not a distinguishing characteristic that I’m familiar with.  Whatever attacked her, managed to knock her out.  If she had been turned, then all of her blood would be gone, and the sire’s blood would be in her.  She would have eventually woken up and I am wont to say, torn this place apart in search of blood.”

“I guess you’d know better,” Andrew said as he released a heavy sigh.  “What could have happened to her?  I mean; this seems a bit too easy a solution, doesn’t it?”

“Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t.  For as crazy as she’s been behaving, I would suspect that she has made a few enemies along the way.  Either that, or she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  Taking a deep breath, he looked at the angel.  “Andrew, we know that most of Dyeland has very little regard for her, but I honestly don’t think any of them would do such a thing.  They may not like her, but they would never wish for something like this to happen to her.”

“I agree, but who could be responsible for it?”  Andrew asked.

“The only person who would have a motive is Yva, and I don’t think she would ever be able to bring harm to another living thing,” Mick said.  “Her wanting to come with Willy and me is fact enough that she wouldn’t do it, and the fact that she seems to have someone with her at all times, would easily give her an alibi.”

“That leads us back at square one,” Andrew said as he looked down at the girl’s unconscious form.  A soft moan emerged and he raised his head.  “You better go; she’s starting to come around.”

“Not until we talk about what happened,” Mick said, the PI in him taking over.  “I want to know what specifically happened, and perhaps Andi is the only person who can tell us.”

Andrew nodded, “agreed.”

Mick backed his way into the shadows, while Andrew waited for Andi to come around.

When she finally did, he took a deep breath.  “Andi, can you hear me?”

“W-where am I?” She moaned.  “Nigel?”

“No, it’s Andrew,” he said.

“Where’s Nigel?” She whispered.

“He’s not here,” the angel said, his voice carrying traces of vagueness.  “I want you to tell me what happened to you last night?”

“I-I don’t know,” she managed to speak.  “All I remember was trying to find the portal.”

“The portal back to Dyeland?” Andrew asked, but could see that the girl was nodding.  “You know you’re not exactly welcome there, Andi.  You’ve hurt a lot of people since you were introduced to the place, many of these people have tried to help you but you turned your back on them.”

“I didn’t,” she argued.

“What about the letters?” He asked.  “The letters you wrote to Yva.”

“I didn’t write her any letters,” she whispered.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  She started to sit up, but soon felt Mick’s hand on her shoulder.  When she tried to get a look at him, his face seemed to slip back into the shadows.

“You need to lie still,” he said.  “But, I want you to tell us what happened to you last night?”

“Why?” She asked.

“For your safety, it is important that you tell us something and I don’t just mean why you were hanging around the chocolate factory.  I want to know who did this to you,” he said.

“I didn’t see them, but it was probably Vincent,” she whispered.

“No, it was not Vincent, he was in the Tunnels all night taking care of his child,” Andrew said.  “I know that for a fact, because I stopped in to see him and he said that Lady JenniAnn could attest to that because she was with him.  We have, since your letter writing campaign started, have had to close a number of portals into Dyeland, most of which are here in London.  The only way that Vincent or any other Dyeland inhabitant would be able to reach you would be to come through the place where you are now at.”

“You’re all against me,” Andi whispered.

“No one is against you, we all against what you have been doing,” Mick said.  “Yva is a nervous wreck because of your actions…”

“…She deserves it,” Andi’s words were indignant.

“No, she most certainly does not,” a voice emerged and Andrew raised his head to see that Willy had once more entered the room and was standing in the doorway, his arms folded across his chest and a scowl lining his handsome face.  “Do you know what I think?  I think you did this all to yourself.  Perhaps it was to make Nigel feel guilty about your situation or to punish Yva for whatever it was you feel she may have done to bring harm to you.  I am starting to believe that perhaps all of these things were part of some game.”

Mick shook his head.  “It’s not a game, she was attacked, and it is a miracle that she’s alive.  Of course, there remains no question in my mind that perhaps she is behaving this way because she believes it is a means in which to further her cause,” he paused, his attention once more diverting back to the girl.  “I think you know who did this, and perhaps you’re using that knowledge to bring harm to even more people.”

Andi looked at Willy, her eyes wide.  “Why are you saying such terrible things?  I thought you were my friend.”

“I do not acknowledge a pact of friendship with those who intentionally hurt the people whom I care deeply for,” the candy maker said firmly.  “I think you best answer his questions, right here, right now.  Who did this to you?”

“M-my ex-boyfriend, Markus,” Andi whispered more to herself than to any of them.  “H-he has been trying to win me back since last year.”

“Win you back?” Andrew asked.

Andi nodded numbly.  “I told him that I was in love with Nigel and he pretty much went and freaked out.  When Nigel discovered that I had gotten over Markus’ actions and betrayal, he had to leave.  The problem is, he thought I was alright, but Markus was still stalking me.”

“Did you ‘fall in love’ with Nigel because you felt that he could protect you from your ex-boyfriend?” Mick asked.

The girl cast a wary glace towards Willy who was still standing there with his arms crossed over his chest.  “I-I don’t know,” she whispered brokenly.  “I don’t love Markus, but it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t scared to death of him.”

“Why didn’t you go to the police about his harassing you?” Andrew asked.

“What would I have told them?”  Andi whispered.  “That I was in love with an angel? Or that my ex-boyfriend was writing people letters addressed to places that were considered fantasy?”  Andi said, her voice cracking  “You may not believe it, Andrew, but when you confronted me that day, I was trying to find my way back to Dyeland because I was scared of what Markus was going to do next.”  She looked away, her face consumed with shame.  “All I could possibly have said was that I suspected that Markus was going to react violently, but I had no proof and I didn’t know what to do.  I kept hoping that Nigel or Vincent could have protected me from him, but they couldn’t.  Then those letters started showing up signed with my name, each one worse than the last.  I was slowly being pushed out of Dyeland and was on my own.”

She took a deep breath and continued, her voice ragged.  “No one wanted anything to do with me, except Adam, so I made him swear that he would not tell anyone there about what had been happening to me.  In all honesty, I was scared of what would have happened if he did.  People had already figured me for crazy.  Last night, I came to the factory hoping that someone here would believe that I was in trouble, but the gates stayed locked.  It was at that moment that I came to realize that any chance I could have had for finding my way back was lost.  After that happened, Markus attacked me.”  As her words faded, her soft sobs had replaced her terrified words.

“Is this the truth, Andi?” Andrew asked.

Before she could answer, Adam suddenly appeared in the room, his gray eyes filled with sadness.  “It’s all true, Andrew.  I had been looking in on Andi for the last three or so months, and I have been with her when she was frightened about what Markus was going to do next.  Last night when we were practicing, I got the emergency call and that was why I had to leave abruptly.”

“I was wondering where you were going, but soon after that you left, Henry and I decided to call it a night,” Andrew responded.

“This was the emergency had to go to.  I witnessed what Markus Callahan did to Andi right near the gates of this factory.  Several months ago, Andi pleaded with me not to speak of what she was going through with the people of Dyeland.  The Father knew of this request, and informed me that I should not mention this to anyone, not even Cliff.  I was simply let everything play out as though I was unaware of the specifics.”

“Why didn’t you tell us when we saw you in front of the store?” Andrew asked.

Andi shook her head and buried her face against the pillow.

Instead of letting this continue, Adam took up the story.  “There were times when I wanted to tell someone what was happening.  I wanted to spare Yva from the agony that she was enduring, but Andi didn’t want anyone to know and I was tied to honoring my word.  She figured that it was best that they hate her as opposed to knowing what was really happening.  It was that reason that I was gone much of the time during the last months.  I had asked the Father to give me one assignment after another to keep me from coming back and betraying Andi’s confidence.  She’s is telling the truth, and while that may make us feel a bit better, the truth remains that there is someone who knows about Dyeland.”

“What about Vincent, did you tell Markus about him?” Willy asked.

Andi shook her head.  “I never mentioned him because I was scared to.  I knew that if Vincent knew about what Markus had been doing, he would have torn him apart…”

“…So you took the blame for all this chaos onto yourself,” Mick finished.

“It was all I could do,” she whispered.  “I didn’t want anyone to think that Markus was doing it because I know that Vincent would have done what he could to protect me.  He’s honorable and kind.  Such friends as that are people I don’t deserve.”

Adam came over and rested his hand on Andi’s shoulder, the gentle pressure causing her to raise her head.  “Guys, the fact remains that this Markus person is really bad news.  He knows about Dyeland and that makes him a bit more dangerous than the threat that Andi could have posed.”  He looked at Willy.  “Except, now we can stop him, but it will be up to to Andi as well as the other person who witnessed what happened last night.”


“Charlie Bucket,” Adam said.  “He is the reason that Andi is alive.  He had actually seen everything that happened and took it upon himself to bring her inside.  In truth, Charlie is a hero.”

“Charlie did this?” Andi whispered, but looked at Willy.  “I thought maybe it was you.”

The chocolatier shook his head.  “I had no idea about what had happened until this morning when Charlie came to my office and told me about what had happened.”

Andi looked at the group that was crowded around her bed.  “I don’t know what to do, Andrew, if I so much as leave London, Markus said that he would hunt me down.”

 “He may have his own set of problems by the time smoke clears,” Willy said calmly as Mick looked at the group, his own question emerging.

“I still would like to know where specifically Nigel fits into all of this.”

Andi took a deep breath.  “I was trying to make Markus think that Nigel and I were serious about one another.  I figured that if he thought I was already taken, that he would leave me alone.  It all seemed to have worked until Markus overheard Nigel telling me that he couldn’t love me in the way that I had wished and that my love for him was one-sided.  After that happened, I was too humiliated and scared to tell him what was really going on.  The truth is; I do still love Nigel because he has always been so nice to me, but now I wish that he could love me the way I do him.”

“You really did not write those letters to Yva, did you?” Willy asked.

Andi shook her head.  “No, it was Markus forging my name and sending them.  I didn’t want him to find out about Dyeland, but somehow he had been stalking me so long that he did find out about it and decided that he would destroy any chances I could have of finding friends there…” her voice trailed off.  She closed her eyes as a stray tear streamed down her face.

Willy looked at the girl.  “You said earlier that Yva deserves the letters, would you care to explain what motivated you to say such a thing?”

Andi nodded, defeat lined in her eyes.  “I didn’t like Yva because she seemed to have everything I wanted.  She had Sir Sven, Nigel’s attention, a brother in Vincent, and now your attention.  It seemed like no one wanted me around.  Then whenever I tried to get to Dyeland, everyone closed the door in my face.  It hurt so much that I figured that all the nice things Nigel had said about it were untrue.”

Instead of speaking further, she sank back against the pillow and closed her eyes.  Adam leaned over her and began to stroke her hair gently, his gray eyes looking at Andrew.  “Sam and Marina both instructed me that since these were Andi’s wishes, that I was not permitted to say anything about it until this whole situation gets resolved.  I was, as I said, frequently absent from Dyeland because of the word I had given.  I was, if you will, on special assignment here and this had become something which I was aware of the first time I was sent to see Andi back before Monica started working with her.  I had put that request in so that I could be informed if something was to come up.”

Willy took a deep breath.  “It seems as though a great many of us were unfair to you, Andi,” he said softly.  “Perhaps we should try and resolve this situation by telling everyone the truth tonight.”

“What about Markus?” She asked weakly.

“Well, if you and Charlie go to the police and file assault charges against him, then they can probably put a warrant out for his arrest and he will be taken off the street,” Mick said logically.  “It would seem that he dug his own grave, so to speak.”

“You’re that other angel?” Andi whispered as she turned her head and looked at Mick for the first time since she had woken up.  “I remember you when I talked to Andrew last week.”

“The truth is, I’m not really an angel, I’m just a Private Investigator,” he said smiling slightly, all the while keeping the rest of his identity to himself.  It seemed better that way anyway.

She nodded and closed her eyes, the events of the day clearly wearing her out.  Seconds later, the exhausted girl was out like a light.




As soon as Andi was asleep, Mick, Andrew, Adam, and Willy exchanged concerned glances.  “We really misjudged her, didn’t we?” Andrew eventually asked.  “I suppose in defense of ourselves, we were so worried about Nigel and Yva.”

“I was as well,” Willy said and looked at Mick.

“It was for good reason.  I saw the letters that were sent to Yva, and I can imagine that they instilled a great deal of trauma and fear inside of her,” Mick said, but looked at Willy.  “Perhaps we should discuss what will happen to Andi now.”

“I’m going to let her stay here at the factory until she recovers.  Charlie and she can then go to the police and file charges against this Markus character.”  He looked at Adam.  “We’d have never found out the truth if it hadn’t been for you.  It would seem that we all have so many reasons to be grateful.”

The Angel of Death smiled slightly as he shrugged his shoulders.  “I’ll stay with Andi for the time being, but I think that it is of the utmost importance that you all let the others know what has happened and that Andi really is a friend to Dyeland.  It would seem as thought all of this had turned out unlike anything that any of us could have anticipated.”

Willy, Mick, and Andrew nodded before making their way down the corridor in the direction of Willy’s office.  When they reached it, Willy saw Charlie was waiting inside.  As they entered, the younger man turned around.

“Is everything alright?” He asked, his voice etched in nervousness.

“It’s better than alright,” Willy said as he clapped his protégé on the shoulder.  “You’re a hero, my boy.  You went and saved a young lady’s life.”

Charlie shrugged his shoulders but no words emerged from him.

Instead Andrew spoke.  “Why didn’t you tell someone that you helped Andi last night?”

“I didn’t think about it, I just did what felt right.  Omaya-Kal and his friends did the rest,” the young man smiled sheepishly.  “The important thing is that she is going to be alright.”  He paused.  “Isn’t she?”

“Yes, and with your help, she will get away from her assailant once and for all,” Mick said confidently.

Charlie looked at the Private Investigator.  “She knew him, didn’t she?”

“He was her ex-boyfriend, Charlie,” Willy began, “and he’s the root to all the troubles that have been happening in Dyeland.  Perhaps in a few days when she is better, you and she can go to Scotland Yard and leave a statement with them about what happened last night.”

“What are you going to do, Willy?” Charlie asked.

“I’ve got a Masquerade Party to put on,” the chocolatier said, relief shadowed across his face.  “You just take care of Andi, and make sure that she doesn’t leave the factory until she’s ready.  I think that given this particular situation, she would be safer here than anywhere else.”

“I agree, well enjoy yourselves,” Charlie said with a nod, relief etched across his face.  “Thanks for not getting upset with me for trying to help her.”

Andrew smiled, but watched as the young man left the office.  “I think the party is going to have more meaning for us than just a day in Germany where people celebrate by dressing up and drinking excessively.”

Willy nodded.  “I never really anticipated this happening when I came up with the idea to host the party.  I just thought it would be fun, now it feels very much like a cornerstone of some kind.”

The three men left the office and went back to the portal that would lead them back to Dyeland.  “I take it you’re relieved that this was a more human cause, huh Mick?”

He nodded.  “Vampires get enough bad press, this would have been a bit hard for me to face in Dyeland.  That negative PR is just a bit much at times and I would hate it if the people there were to judge all of us because of the actions of one or two.”

Andrew put an arm around his shoulder.  “I think we Angels of Death can relate to that more than you know.”

Seconds later, they reached the portal and once they had passed through it, the found themselves back in the Dyeland factory.  “Mick, I’ll take you back home if you would like,” Willy said, “then I really need to find Yva and put her fears to rest.”

“Perhaps we should find Yva first,” Mick suggested.  “I think she will not be able to wait a second longer to find out this bit of information.”

“Something tells me you’re right,” Andrew said as they reached the Wonkavator and Willy pressed the button to open it.  “She’s back at the Heavenly Playground with Nigel,” he added.

Willy nodded and once they were all inside, he reached up and  pressed the ‘up and out’ button.  Once they were outside of the factory, they found themselves flying over Dyeland in the direction of the ‘Heavenly Playground’.

Five minutes later, they arrived to see that Yva and Nigel were sitting in the gazebo; neither of them really speaking, but instead, two cups of tea was placed on the small table, their gazes staring down at them.

As soon as they had emerged from the flying machine, Willy approached them.  There was a bright smile crossing the chocolatier’s face as he spoke, his words filling their world with relief.  “Yva, Nigel, we’re back and we have some news for the two of you that may very well give us a true reason to celebrate…”


Five Hours Later


Willy stood at the front of his factory waiting for the guests to arrive for the Masquerade Ball.  Yva was standing beside him, her hair curled and styled in a similar fashion as he normally was.  Her outfit an exact replica of his favorite purple waistcoat, white shirt, floral vest and green bowtie.  She even had borrowed a cane from Nigel’s time, which she now held in her hand.

Willy had smiled upon seeing the outfit that she had chosen, his blue eyes taking a shine as he regarded her.  “Did you know that ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’, Yva?”  He had asked her upon seeing her dressed as him.

“Did you flatter Nigel by selecting his Halloween costume?” She asked with a coy smile as she reached over and touched the lapel of the jacket to his hobo’s costume.

The chocolatier chuckled.  It was true that after having seen Nigel on Halloween, Willy discovered that he was quite taken by the outfit and decided that he would dress as the hobo this time.  It seemed to go well with his curly hair and the patchwork designs brought out the color of his eyes.

Yva had smiled as she regarded the candy maker.  “It looks wonderful, but how do I look?”  She ran her hand down the purple frock coat that she wore and tugged on the tie that was bunched at her neck.  “I’m not used to bowties,” she confessed.

“How are you with hats?” He asked smiling.  When she responded with a shrug of her shoulders, he continued.  “The deal is, while you do look somewhat like me, you have no hat.  The hat is always the finishing touch.”

“I couldn’t find one,” she admitted softly.  “I looked all over the place trying to find one that matched, but I couldn’t find one no matter where I looked.  I even checked in Nigel’s time, and nothing.”

“Well,” he said smiling as he reached over towards the hat rack that was placed near the front door.  “Perhaps you just need the right hat, Yva.”  He grabbed the rim of his favorite caramel colored hat and with ceremony, he pulled it off the rack and placed it on her head.

As she felt the weight of the hat, she raised her head and looked up at him.  “You’re entrusting me with yours?” She asked.

He smiled.  “Yes, I suppose I am.”

Without warning, her eyes filled with tears.  “I’ll take extra good care of it,” she whispered.

“I know you will,” he smiled down at her.  “You’ve taken care of so many people since I’ve been here, and I can well imagine that you were looking out for even more before I came here.  You even, in your own way, somehow looked out for Andi in the wake of tragedy.”

“I did?” She whispered.

Willy nodded.  “You were hurt, but somehow, you never stopped caring.”

She reached up and touched the rim of the hat.  “I guess I learned to care from everyone in Dyeland,” she whispered.  “This place is really gives off the feeling of family.  Very soon everyone will all know that Andi has truly been more a part of that.  Maybe it’s a lesson to all of us about trust and understanding.”

The chocolatier smiled and nodded.  “Perhaps it is,” he paused, but offered his hand to her.  “Now, then, shall we go and greet our guests, my dear?”

Accepting his offered hand, the two of them walked over to the door and opened it.




As the wide doors of the factory were opened, they noticed that everyone was more than ready for the celebration to begin.  Lady JenniAnn came over dressed in a paisley dress and countless love beads dangled from around her neck.  In her hair, she had several braids that fell down over her shoulders.  A bandana was somehow woven through her hair and even a daisy was painted carefully on her cheek.

On her arm was Eliot, the young man dressed in a John Travolta suit and black shirt.  A pair of dark-colored shades concealed his eyes.  These, he removed upon entering the factory.

Behind them, the Wells family came, first Vincent, dressed as the Mad Hatter with Catherine dressed as Alice and little Jacob was dressed a caterpillar.  Next to the baby, a small bubble pipe was placed in his bassinette.  This really made Willy smile as they came in through the high arched doorway.

Behind them came Father, dressed once again in his Mark Twain costume that he had worn at Halloween.  “I rather liked myself as Mr. Twain,” the Tunnel patriarch said as he passed by the host and hostess, his eyes meeting each of them, a smile curving up his lips.

Several steps behind him and walking next to Adam, was Jessie.  The little girl was now dressed as a butterfly and was giggling at the angel who had his wavy graying hair slicked back and was dressed in a similar 1950’s style that Andrew was dressed in.

Henry too had chosen to dress in that style, giving the band a really uniform, and comfortable look.

Next came Countess Jennifer who was carrying a large cake, but was dressed in a black suit, looking very much the part of the host from the musical ‘Cabaret’.  She smiled as she bypassed Willy.  “This is better than the tiger, at least I don’t trip over my tail,” she giggled to Yva as she flounced into the factory.

Lady Beth reached the hosts and smiled.  “I thought I would never figure out what to go as,” she said.  “But, the idea sort of hit me when Catherine mentioned the Alice in Wonderland books.  I thought I would go as Winnie the Pooh, and asked Rose if she wanted to go as Piglet.  It seemed perfect, and her aunt Josephine is also here, dressed as Eeyore.  Seems fitting since she said that she felt like a moody donkey at times.”

Yva giggled, but watched as Lady Beth waddled in, and Willy nudged her.  “Who else is left?”

“Mick should be here soon,” Yva said.  “He’s going to dress like Andrew, so we got a whole crew of biker dudes hanging around here tonight.  Maybe I should have brought some of my Billy Joel music.”  She giggled despite herself as Nigel approached.

“You look quite interesting Love,” the Victorian angel said smiling as he looked at her.  “I never thought I would see a lady dressed in this way.”

Yva laughed.  “It’s like seeing how the other half lives.  But, I personally like it.”  She reached out and touched the sleeve of his waistcoat.  “This is beautiful, Nigel.”

“Yes, well, this was what I wore when Queen Victoria had her coronation,” he said somewhat shyly.  “Do you like it?”

“It’s wonderful,” Yva smiled and nodded, but the next thing that happened took her completely by surprise.  Standing behind her guardian was Sir Sven, dressed as a knight.

He gallantly walked up tot her and smiled as he greeted her with a kiss.  “You call me Sir Sven, so I might as well dress the part,” he said, but turned and nodded towards Willy.  “It’s nice to see you again.”

Willy nodded as he watched the younger couple embrace.

“Now, I think everyone is finally here, so we can return inside,” he said as he, Yva, and Sir Sven left the cold Dyeland evening behind and entered the warmth of the factory and the doors closed behind them.




Twenty minutes later, Andrew, with Adam, Mick, and Willy’s help, finished relating the day's events to the whole of Dyeland.  There were many shocked gasps, but mostly there was deep regret that lined everyone’s face.  Prayers and good wishes for Andi’s recovery were related, while others conveyed that they would have a very difficult time finding trust after all these things had come about.

Of course, everyone was relieved that after the events had taken such a violent turn, but they were grateful that all of their friends were now safely together.

For her part, Yva sang a couple of songs with the band, and everyone seemed to be in the highest of spirits.

After her performance, the band broke into some happy sounding music and as it filtered throughout the Chocolate Room, Willy and Yva stood watching the couples and friends joining one another in dances.  As the music filtered throughout the room, she looked at Willy.  “What’s going to happen with Andi now?”  She asked him.

“She’s going to have to re-earn all of our trust, but I think there is an element of understanding that we may have with her because of the horrible situation she was in,” he said.  “It doesn’t surprise me that contrary to all the things that have happened, she did what she did because she was jealous of you.”

“Jealous of me?” Yva whispered.

“Well, when you stop and think about it, look at all that you have under your, or should I say, my hat,” Willy smirked.

“I have my friends, and that’s the greatest gift in the world,” she said as she looked at him.  “Maybe it is during the times when things are really going poorly that we come to realize how important that is.  All these years, ever since I was a child, you’ve always seemed like a father to me.”

“Well, perhaps it is because since the day we have met, you have been rather like a daughter to me,” he ruffled her hair before taking her in his arms and giving her a warm embrace.  “Look at how much alike we are…” His voice trailed into a pause.  “…And don’t even tell me it’s the clothes, because I happened to have been looking much deeper than that.”  When she raised her head and looked at him, he winked.

As she linked her arm with his, the two friends stood and listened as the band began to play, ‘Pure Imagination’.

“May I have this dance?” Willy asked as he turned to her and bowed.

Yva returned the gesture somewhat awkwardly, but smiled as they wordlessly began to dance.


The End…

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