Chapter 3

Jack felt absolutely foul the next morning. What little sleep he did have was interrupted by shifting squiggles and burning shapes and Lavinia Stark turning into a dragon and chasing him round his bedroom. He had a stiff neck, stiff back, and his eyes felt like they'd been rubbed with sandpaper.

“Yuck.” Greg complimented. “Mrs Wilson's taken Alex to school, then she's going to run some errands.” He pointed at a handwritten note from the housekeeper. “You OK?”

“Stiff and sore. Sleeping on top of the bed with the window open. I'm fine Greg. Whatever went on last night has worn off. I wonder which arsehole did that?” Jack said angrily.

“Anyone dodgy there?”

“I wouldn't know who was dodgy and who wasn't. I hardly know anyone here. Lavinia Stark and a few others all saw I wasn't well so hopefully they'll look into it.” Jack shrugged. “Thanks for everything, Greg, I really do appreciate it. I'm fine. Go get yourself to your course, otherwise you'll be thrown off it before you're on it.” He smiled. “I need to get my scruffy self showered and shaved.” He let Greg out of the front door, looking both ways for weirdo blondes, just incase. He shook his head and tutted when he realised what he was doing.
A glint of light caught his eye as he was closing the front door. Jack went to investigate and found a glass bottle wedged under the window sill. It was a small bottle with a glass stopper, the type used for perfumes, only this one was full of coloured threads of some sort. Every colour imaginable had been crammed into the vessel and he caught a slight whiff of herbs when it removed the stopper. He frowned in confusion and turned to go back into the house.

“What the hell?” Another glass bottle of threads had been tucked away in a corner next to his front step. Jack proceeded to check all around his house and found a total of nine glass bottles, all poked out of the way under his windows and doors. Jack had them all lined up on the kitchen table and was completely perplexed as to their function. Air fresheners? No of course not, not outside the house. Some sort of 'secret treasures' belonging to Alex?

“Oh my!” Mrs Wilson was standing behind Jack, her mouth and eyes open wide.

“Are they yours?” Jack asked, uncorking another bottle. “Hippy scent! That's what the smell is.”

“No they aren't mine.” Mrs Wilson shook her head. “Patchouli. That's the smell. Rosemary too.”

“Mrs Wilson you look a tad perplexed. What are they for?”

“They're Protection Bottles.” Mrs Wilson said seriously.

“Eh?” Jack laughed and handed his housekeeper a cup of tea. “They're what?”

“Someone's trying to protect your home.” Mrs Wilson nodded. “Patchouli and rosemary are both strong protection wards. The threads represent pathways into the house, the colours are the different intentions and feelings. Whoever packed these bottles has tangled the pathways to misdirect harm. Nine, is three times three, obviously. That's a triple strength seal.”

“Ah right.” Jack nodded and went for the biscuits. “I'll put them back. If Alex thinks I've spoiled his experiments there'll be hell on.”

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