Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Cindy, JM and Maya

 

Sumer Is Icumen In! Though I’m tempted to burst into song, I’ll spare my audience hearing me sing. But I still intend to talk to three amazing authors. Two are new and one’s a returning guest—and we’re so pleased to have them with us. WEDNESDAY, May 31—Make Note of the Special Day—we welcome these lovely ladies. Same time – 4:00 PM EDT on Blog Talk Radio

 

 

First, returning guest, Maya Tyler author of Vampire’s Tale and Dream Hunter. Welcome back, Maya!

 

 

New to the show, we welcome Cindy Tomamichel author of Druid’s Portal: The First Journey. Hello, Cindy!

 

 

Also new to the show, welcome JM Robison author of The War Queen. Hello, JM!

 

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 21

the-man-who-wasnt-thereBrian’s MRI doesn’t reveal anything bad, but it did show a something on his right shoulder, as suspected by Andre and Marissa. Unfortunately, the electromagnetic charge of the machine seems to have upset Brian’s inner balance and he’s not feeling very well.

Flowers of every type and color danced around him. Soon, they turned into lovely, slender women with flower petals for skirts. They swooped and whirled around him in an evanescent blur. Their faces were beautiful, delicate, ethereal. Their bodies were as brightly colored as their skirts. Long, green hair flowed down their backs. When he looked more closely, Brian could see it wasn’t hair, but fine vines. Brian was happy there, content. The pain receded, joy filled him. They invited him to dance. He joined them, twirling and spinning until he was too dizzy to stand. The dance whirled faster. Brian stumbled and fell to his knees. His stomach clenched and he vomited.

Gentle hands wiped his face. The stench of vomit filled his nostrils and he knew he’d really thrown up.

“At least he missed my shoes,” Jordan said quietly. Her hands mopped his brow “Hey, baby, we’re home.”

Brian’s aching eyelids rose slowly. He saw Jordan’s house out the window of Claude’s Escalade. “Sorry I hurled in the car,” he mumbled.

“Not a problem, son,” Claude said calmly. “We’ll get it taken care of. Are you all right?”

“No. I think—” he stumbled, falling on the grass of Jordan’s yard. He vomited again, gagging on bile. “Sorry,” he groaned. “I feel—” He gagged again, but nothing came up.

Strong arms lifted him, carrying him into the crystal room. Jordan followed as Claude and Miles carried Brian in the house and laid him on the floor. Jackie joined them, kneeling by Brian. He felt a coolness on his brow and recognized the resonance of Lester, his favorite crystal skull. It hummed and thrummed, warming his skin. Unlike the MRI, which had felt oddly hot and uncomfortable, the skull drew the pain and nausea away. Two smaller skulls were placed in his hands. These filled the spaces left by illness with a delicious contentment. His eyes drooped shut.

When he woke later, Brian’s head rested on a pillow and a soft chenille throw kept him warm. He could smell Jordan and knew she was nearby. He lay on his side, face mere inches from the large, pink crystal in Jackie’s meditation room. His movements alerted Jordan. She knelt beside him, touching his face.

“Are you okay?” Her voice was rough with emotion, her eyes full of worry. “Mom,” she called. “He’s awake!”

Jordan’s parents and his rushed in, followed by Claude Beauchamps. He took Brian’s vital signs, smiling.

“Better,” he announced. “I should never have done the MRI, but after Rose and I weighed the risks, we decided we had to.”

“Wait, you knew I was gonna hurl?” Brian asked.

“We suspected. MRI’s are difficult on our kind, especially those who shape earth. Throws us all out of whack. I didn’t think to bring a crystal with me, or we could have taken care of it before you vomited the first time. I’m sorry.”

“Sorry about the car.”

Claude laughed. “It’s all right. I’ve had worse to deal with.”

“You’re sure he’s okay?” Jordan hadn’t left his side since he woke. She held him, supporting his weight.

“Good as new.”

“Dinner will be ready soon,” Jackie promised. “Are you hungry?”

“Starving.” Brian replied weakly.

His father and Claude helped him stand. The supported him as he went to the small bathroom under the stairs. He felt much better, but a little shaky. Jordan was waiting when he came out. She gave him her shoulder for support, but he didn’t need it. Instead, he held her close, kissing her deeply.

She smiled up at him. “You’re feeling better.”

“Much. You taste fantastic,” he said, licking his lips. “New lipgloss?”

“Not wearing any.”

“Yum,” he whispered. “I could get addicted to that easily.”

Jordan buried her face in his chest. “You looked like absolute hell in the car,” she whimpered. “Like when we pulled you from the ground last year, kind of like death. I thought I was going to lose you. Don’t scare me like that again.”

“I told you, I can’t promise that. I’m not doing it on purpose,” he assured her.

“I know, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

“I know.” He raised her chin. “But no tears, okay? I’m fine. Tell me what I missed.” They went to sit in the formal living room.

Their parents were talking in the kitchen, but the two of them didn’t feel like joining the adults. Brian sank onto the comfortable couch with a sigh. He was much better, but he still felt like he’d been someone’s punching bag. His sides and head ached, but it was dull, not sharp or immediate. He could live with it.

“Everyone’s gone home expect Claude and Andre. They refused to leave. Louisa and Adele went home with her family. I called Dr. Meru and he was really concerned about you, but he wasn’t surprised.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 20

the-man-who-wasnt-thereMarissa’s father is sure that Brian is possessed, until Marissa sets him straight. Miles calls from the hospital to tell them that Brian’s brain looks good on the MRI scan.

“But everything is good? He’s fine?”

“Never better, my love. No worrying allowed.”

Andre held out his hand for the phone. Maribelle handed it to him, her hand shaking. Jackie held her, letting her cry.

“Hi, Miles, it’s Andre. Did they just do a head MRI?”

“No, full body. Why?”

“Can I ask Dad something?”

“Sure. One second. Claude?” The phone exchanged hands. “It’s Andre.”

“Yes, son?”

“Did anything strange show up?”

“In terms of what?”

“An unexplained glow around the right shoulder.”

Claude gasped. “How did you know?” he asked softly. “What did Miles tell you?”

“Nothing. Jackie and I saw it. Marissa sensed it too. We think it’s a Rider.”

“Well, I’ll be. I’ll run that by Dr. Rosenthal. Don’t worry, she’s one of us.”

“Keep us posted?”

“Yeah. We’re leaving soon. No worrying allowed. Tell your mother.”

“Will do. Thanks, Dad.”

“No problem. Tell Mamie not to worry.”

“I’ll do that. Bye.”

His father hung up. Andre handed the phone back to Maribelle.

“Dr. Rosenthal is one of us,” he said calmly. “Dad didn’t say so, but I got the impression that he’d seen the glow of the Rider. He’ll pass that information along.”

Brian waited for the doctors to stop talking to his father. Jordan sat next to him, her hand in his. His ears still rang from the thudding and thumping of the MRI machine. Even with the headphones and music playing, the sounds had been loud and disturbing. He’d felt the strength of the magnet as the waves pounded against his body, making him tired and achy. At one point, he’d felt heat on his skin. He didn’t know if that was normal or not, but it was disconcerting. It was especially bad in the area of his kidneys and his groin. That warmth hadn’t stopped, but spread. Even with the test over, he could feel the thump and shudder of the machine. Or is it—?

Jordan gripped his hand, eyes wide. “What is that? Is that you?”

Brian concentrated on the deep rumble under their feet. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe it’s a train.”

“We’re nowhere near the railroad.”

“A big truck on the highway.” The rumble increased the more agitated he got.

Jordan kissed him. The rumbling ceased.

“It’s you,” she whispered.

“What’s going on?” Miles asked, squatting by his son’s chair.

“No idea,” Brian said. “But can we get out of here? Cause I have a feeling it’s from me.”

“Yeah.” He went over the where the doctors stood. “We need to speed this up, Claude. Brian’s having tremors.”

Fortunately, Dr. Rosenthal, whose brother was an earth adept, understood. She pushed the paperwork through and they were done in less than ten minutes.

Once they were in the car, Brian relaxed and the tremors stopped. “What is that? Is it going to continue?”

“Sometimes, when we get emotional, particularly when we’re scared, we will get tremors. It’s especially noticeable with earth adepts. Those who are air wielders will experience winds of varying intensity. Water—they get rain. Fire is the worst. Thank God you’re not presenting with that one.” Claude shuddered. “I used to have random flames pop up inconveniently—setting things on fire, like the books of my high school crush. Lord!” He shook his head, laughing. “At least she never forgot me.”

“Is it going to go away?”

“It could get worse before it gets better,” Miles said. “You’ve been through a traumatic experience, son. None of us have done what you have, so we have no basis to compare. You could give your buddy, Dr. Meru, a call and see if he knows anything.”

“We need to give him an update anyway,” Jordan said. “So much happened last night, we forgot.”

“Andre called him,” Claude said. “But I know he’d like to hear from you. Bindjali is true friend.”

“When we get home, we’ll Skype,” Jordan promised.

“I need a shower and a nap,” Brian confessed. “I don’t feel that great. The MRI got to me. I felt like it was hammering my insides.”

“Not an unusual reaction,” Claude said. “For an earth adept, probably worse. I’ve got a treatment that will help. I’ll need to borrow Jackie and her crystals,” he told Jordan.

“Mom’s crystals are at your disposal, Dr. Beauchamps.”

He chuckled. “Close your eyes, Brian. Get some rest.”

Brian didn’t have to be told twice. He put his head on Jordan’s lap and fell into a deep sleep.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 19

the-man-who-wasnt-thereLouisa and Jordan ask Brian to let the doctor check him out because he admits he feels strange after the ritual. Andre shows the others the videos and Marissa’s overly religious father is sure it’s demonic possession. His wife gives him a good talking to.

The adults and teens sat in mute shock as the scene unfolded before them. Fortunately, the children were enjoying the lovely fall day outside with the dogs.

Nadine Pennybaker stood, marching over to her husband on the other side of the room. Shaking her finger under his nose, she continued. “This ends today, this very second. You can be Mr. Religion all you want, but you leave me and our daughter out of it. Marissa has a place in all this. She’s been chosen. I’ve taught her what I could on the sly, camouflaging it so you wouldn’t know, but she’s got a place to fill, a job to do. She can’t do it with you hollering about demon possession and all that other crap!”

Nadine turned to the rest of the group. “I apologize for this. It should have been a family matter, but I can’t stand listening to it another minute. So, Harold, what’s it to be? Can you set this nonsense aside and focus on the real problem?”

“I’m sorry, Nadine. I thought I was. This is serious! That boy could be injured or sick in the head. We did this to him. Us and that witch doctor from the Outback.”

“Dr. Meru is a well respected historian who lives in Sydney,” Andre stated calmly. “And your wife’s right. This isn’t helping Brian. You’ve got some mad skills, Mr. Pennybaker. Skills we need.”

“You don’t have to be scared of this, Daddy,” Marissa said quietly. “I was terrified until last night. Brian took on that job, even though he didn’t want to. I know he was scared, but he did it. Whatever experience he had, it was fantastic! He’s not possessed—I know Andre can confirm this. There’s not another person inside him. I can see it. It’s like Heath said, he’s got a Rider.”

“A Rider is like a demon on your back,” her father protested.

Marissa stamped her foot. “No, it isn’t! Must you be so utterly obtuse? Let me put this in terms your primitive little brain can understand, okay?”

Her father crossed his arms, glaring at her. Andre and Chase moved closer to Marissa. Chase took her hand in both of his, nodding at her to continue.

“The Rider, Heath mentioned, it’s energy. You know how pirates are always depicted with a parrot on their shoulders?” She cast about the group for a response.

The others nodded. It was a familiar, comfortable image.

“A Rider is like that. Like this little bird perched on your shoulder. It’s not there to cause trouble or hurt you or anyone else in any way. It’s an observer. It would be like the Google maps guy who walks around with the camera on his head.”

The young people chuckled softly, understanding that image even better.

“Maybe he was sent by the Peddler. Maybe he is the Peddler. Whatever’s the case, he’s here to help. I can see it.”

Jackie and Andre exchanged a look.

“Whatever it is, it’s changed his aura,” Jackie said. “Not in a bad way. It’s like he’s got this golden—something….”

Andre motioned toward his right shoulder. “Here. Like the parrot. It glows white hot. It’s not dangerous.”

“It’s pure good,” Jackie concluded. “They can run tests, but it’s not something to worry about.” She went to Maribelle, hugging her. “Brian is fine, Mamie. Whatever the Rider is, it’s here to protect him—to protect us. If it was evil, don’t you think one of us would have spotted it? Or the dogs? They are better judges of evil than any human I know.”

Harold Pennybaker tossed up his hands in disgust. “I see no one will listen to the voice of reason.”

“When you’ve got something reasonable to say, Harold, we’ll listen,” his wife snapped. “Meanwhile, I’ll pray for a change of heart for you. We need everyone at a hundred percent capacity. You can’t pretend this isn’t real. Everything we’ve seen in the last year, should convince you.”

He hung his head, shaking it.

Marissa took her father’s hand. “It’s okay to be afraid, Daddy. We’re all scared.”

He put his arms around his wife and daughter. “Do you think I’m scared for myself? Never for a minute. I’m terrified of losing the people I love. You’re all I’ve got. If anything happened to you, it would kill me. Forgive me for hiding behind God, baby girl.” He kissed Marissa’s brow. “He is our shield and protector. I wanted His strength to aid us.”

“No one’s denying God’s existence, Daddy. We’re just spreading our faith. Who’s to say God didn’t put us here? Seems to me, the world is a mess and needs all the help it can get.”

Harold kissed his daughter’s forehead. “How’d you get so wise?”

“I listened to you and Mama.”

Harold chuckled. “My friends, I apologize for the drama. I got so snarled up thinking this was wrong, I couldn’t see what was right.”

Everyone hugged everyone else. Maribelle’s phone rang. It was Miles.

“Hey, darlin’,” he greeted her when she answered. “He just got out of the MRI. It looks good, according to Claude. The radiologist has to do her thing with it, but Claude watched the whole procedure and said he’s never seen a prettier brain.” He paused for a moment. They could hear another voice, a woman’s, speaking. “Doctor Rosenthal agrees. Beautiful brain. That’s a relief, anyway. They did blood work and so on, but won’t have the results on that for awhile. We’re checking out now and should be on our way home in an hour at the latest. We’re probably going to stop for lunch. We’re starving.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 18

the-man-who-wasnt-thereJordan and Brian go to the basement to talk about his experiences the night before. Jordan admits that she loves him too. Unfortunately, they forget that Andre and Louisa are there, and wake them.

Andre poked him in the ribs. “I’m gonna go eat. Then I want to hear all about what you saw. You were pretty messed up last night. Couldn’t hardly get out two words when Jordan and I put you to bed.”

“You did that?”

“Yeah. You think a bitty thing like her could get you up the steps? Our folks were asleep, so I gave her a hand.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem, Brian. That’s what friends do.”

Jordan and Brian had a cup of coffee while the other two ate. Back in the basement, Jordan set up the camera on Brian’s laptop. He sat on the dilapidated couch and told about his vision. Afterward, the others asked him questions and he explained more about his impressions and feelings.

“Since we don’t know who will see this in the future,” Brian said. “I want to make it clear that I have no idea if the ritual worked or not. I don’t know if I summoned the Peddler or had a vision of Heaven, or something else entirely. I don’t feel all that different, but I did have the sensation this morning, as if someone else looked through my eyes. It was strange, like what I was seeing was all new.”

He shook his head, closing his eyes for a moment. Inhaling deeply, he could pick out the scents of the three others in the room. He smelled laundry soap and baby spit up. He could taste Jordan’s kisses on his lips, flavored by her breakfast and coffee. The texture of the couch was more pronounced, the worn areas distinctly softer than the other material.

“I can sense more. Feel more,” he murmured. “Everything—stronger, better, more pronounced. Smells and tastes, especially, but my vision seems clearer too.” He cocked his head to one side, listening. “Someone turned on the TV upstairs. ESPN. Must be Dad.” He chuckled. “I can feel the walls of the house. If I concentrate, I can sense the cracks in the foundation and the spaces between the bricks.”

Brian’s eyes fluttered open. “I don’t know if it’s the Peddler or something new about me, but I’ve never felt like this before. Whatever we unlocked last night—” He shook his head. “We did something, but damn if I know what it was.”

The others listened in silence. Jordan inhaled sharply and turned off the camera.

Disturbed by the resounding quiet, Brian spoke. “Someone say something.”

Andre cleared his throat. “Dude….” It was obvious he had no idea how to continue.

“Do you feel—like someone else is—possessing you?” Louisa asked.

“No. More like someone is along for the ride.” He paused, pursing his lips. “You know how they will put a helmet camera on someone who’s going skydiving or dirt bike racing? Same kind of thing, like someone is watching through my eyes. There, but not there.”

“Have you told your folks yet?” Louisa asked.

“No. I just realized it this minute.”

“We need to tell your folks,” Louisa said. “And Claude needs to check you again.”

“I’m fine, Louisa.” Brian tried to walk past her, but she halted him.

“Please. It would make me feel better.”

“And me,” Jordan added in a small voice.

Put that way, Brian relented. How could he claim to love Jordan and not put her wants ahead of his own once in awhile? Especially when it was a such small thing.

Andre already had his phone out, calling his father. A short consultation, they decided to head to the hospital in Natchez. Dr. Beauchamps had a few friends who would get them in so he could run some tests.

Maribelle Casey hugged Brian so long, he was afraid they’d be late. Miles peeled her arms from their son.

“He’s fine, Mamie. No worries allowed. Jordan, you coming?”

“Yes!” she grabbed Brian’s hand as they walked to the car.

Maribelle broke down, sobbing as they pulled out of the driveway. Adele Beauchamps held her, crooning softly. Elise fussed, her plaintive wail audible over the baby monitor. Louisa went up for her.

Andre called the others, telling them what was going on. They met up for lunch, but no one felt much like eating. Andre played the video for them and summarized what Brian had said after the camera turned off.

“You mean we could have called something that possessed that boy?” Marissa’s father, Harold Pennybaker, snarled. “If I didn’t have an obligation to be a part of this, I’d put it behind me. This is treading on the Devil’s ground!”

“Oh, stuff it, Harold,” Heath Barrett said. “I don’t know what crawled up your ass, but this isn’t demonic possession. Could the Peddler be a Rider? Now, that’s possible. It’s not unheard of. Lore and legend….”

“Lore and legend be damned! It’s exactly that kind of wild thought that makes this so dangerous!”

“Lighten up, Harold,” his wife said, her nostrils pinched and white. “I’ve listened to your narrow minded slop as long as I can tolerate. It’s bad enough you’ve squelched our daughter’s skills and warped her faith, I won’t let you do it to anyone else. At least you haven’t done so to mine. If I had my way, I’d have put a sock in your mouth twenty years ago. I can’t help that your granny had religion and infected the rest of you with it”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Maker is Back!

The Maker front

It’s been a long time coming, but The Maker is back! Welcome to the world of Shakazhan – again – where our heroes wait for the Kahlea Grand Master to arrive. Though he may not be there yet, he’s got plenty of resources and angry slaves to send their way. As if the threat of interplanetary warfare isn’t enough, they are also getting attacked from inside the planet. It seems that nowhere, and no time, is safe from the Kahlea’s flunkies. It’s Mariah’s first birthday and everyone is relaxed, enjoying the celebration.

The party was in full swing, Happy Birthday was about to be sung and cake served when Wil got the first tingle of trouble. He couldn’t explain how he knew something was wrong, but it was as if he felt a change in the wind. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, getting his full and undivided attention. He could see that several of the Cousins, Marc and Ben all had the same feeling, the look in their eyes unmistakable.

“Get the children inside quickly!” Wil’s voice carried all over the compound. The call was taken up by the other leaders. Mothers ran for their little ones. Older children grabbed the younger and they made their way quickly and quietly to the nearest training hall. Guards were posted and the doors locked tightly.

“They can get out in an emergency, but nothing can get in there, at least I hope not! Hammer!”

“Yes, Wil.”

“Evacuate the children, you see them?”

“Yes, Anvil has already begun. Styx and Quick Silver will also be working at it. Don’t worry about the children.”

“Does anyone see anything? Talk to me!” Comunits popped and crackled with static, something that never happened. “What’s going on? Talk to me!”

Wil ran wildly around the compound checking on the others. Matilda joined him as soon as she was certain the children were taken care of.

“What’s happening, Wil?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does, but something is up. Sentience!”

She didn’t reply right away. After a short, uncomfortable pause, she answered. “Yes, Wil?”

“Tell me what’s wrong, I can taste it on the wind.”

“I am afraid there has been an insurgence from below.”

“Coming from where?”

Sentience hesitated, her voice deeply concerned when she replied. “From the Chimarria.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Wil’s voice was harsh with reprimand. “Where are they coming up?”

“They come from the hills, the mountains and the plains. They have found many outlets which were sealed. They broke through.”

“So what you’re telling me is that we’re surrounded and your bots didn’t stop them?”

The fighters scrambled and the cats prepared to do a swift reconnaissance of the area surrounding them. The foot soldiers and armored divisions took their spots waiting for news.

“Talk to me, Cap!”

“Difficult to see, Wil. There’s an unusual cloud cover. We picked up some life forms in the foothills, but it was cattle, not devils. Dropping below the clouds a wee bit more.”

A few tense moments passed, then Cavitus’ voice broke through the silence. A loud, long caterwaul echoed in Wil’s head.

“I see them! Strange robots to the north-northwest, hundreds of them! Heavily armed, I don’t see energy weapons, but do see projectile weapons. Shall I strafe them?”

“Not yet. If they get within three clix of the compound, open fire.”

“There are more from due west, Wil,” Ariella added.

“I see about a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty to the southeast. Where the hell are they all coming from?” This last from Escascia.

“Defensive positions. I want my Marines in the tanks outside the compound now! Targets of opportunity. Let’s not mess this up!”

Wil and Matilda ran to the nearest training building, climbing the ladder on the outside wall. They took a position on the roof. It was from this vantage point that they first saw the wave of Blue Devils.

“Look!” Matilda pointed beyond the lines of Blue Devils. Something else, bigger, more menacing followed them in a darker cloud against the night. “What are they?”

Wil shook his head. “No idea. Sentience? What’s with them?” No answer. “Sentience, answer me!Dammit! All right, we do this our way, people! Wait until you have a clear target, let them attack first. Give them the opportunity to surrender.” He sighed deeply, “If they don’t, vaporize them.”

Matilda’s gaze held worry and a hint of reprimand, but she couldn’t deny this was an aggressive move on the part of the Chimarria. She made herself ready. Unlike her last battle with the Blue Devils, she was prepared to kill them.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

The Maker – Book Three is on sale for only .99 cents. Get yours now!

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 17

the-man-who-wasnt-thereBrian wakes from a deep, dreamless sleep to find Jordan there. They head downstairs for breakfast with his parents and baby sister. Jordan is delighted that Elise says her name for the first time.

“Oh, thank you for feeding my bacon craving!” Jordan took a piece in each hand, alternating bites. “I don’t know how my mother doesn’t think bacon is a slice of heaven. Yum!”

“I gather that once you and Brian are married, you won’t be keeping the vegetarian tradition?”

“With his hulk? He’d rebel and start eating the vertical blinds.”

“Only if they’re made of bacon,” Brian replied, stuffing a biscuit in his mouth.

“I know Mom thinks it clears the brain and keeps her more spiritual, but I can’t deny my carnivorous moments. She made the switch when I was ten. I don’t know what brought it on, she never told me. It wasn’t an easy transition, especially for Dad and my brothers.”

“If you decide to enforce it, warn me so I can divorce you and marry some other sultry, brunette beauty with nice tits and a great smile,” Brian teased, forgetting his mother was in the room.

Maribelle cleared her throat pointedly. Brian dropped his head to the table.

“Sorry, Mom. That was a joke because I nearly landed face first in Jordan’s chest the day we met.” He raised his head, looking guilty. “You know, I had no clue you were even a girl until that happened.”

“You thought I was a boy?” Jordan’s laugh burst forth. “Oh, that’s great. Way to stoke my ego, Casey.”

“In my defense, Jordan isn’t exactly the most gender specific name. And you have a husky voice And you were wearing a very bulky jacket.”

“I concede your defense,” she replied. “As long as you’re clear now.”

Brian smirked, raising an eyebrow as his eyes drifted to her chest. Her sweater clung to her curves, emphasizing her lush figure to perfection. “I’m not sure. Maybe you need to convince me further.”

Maribelle cleared her throat again. “Brian, I didn’t raise you to be a lech.”

“No, Mother, you didn’t. It’s an ironic quirk of fate and, no doubt, a misalignment in the stars that causes my loutish behavior. I promise that I shall strive to do better, but please don’t expect it to improve. I have testosterone.”

“Go away. Now, before I am forced to smack you.” She brandished a spatula at him.

Brian jumped away as she swung playfully at him. “Watch it, Mom. You’ll hit the baby!”

“Go away,” she repeated.

“Yes, ma’am. Going away now, ma’am.”

Brian and Jordan cleared the table and cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast. He felt marginally normal, despite his odd experiences last night.

“You need to journal this,” Jordan decided. “Let’s go to the basement and we’ll do a video log of it.”

“Did all our friends go home last night?”

“No, they’re still here, but we’re not getting together until lunch time. After that, they’ll head home. Meeting at my house this time. Some of the ladies are already there getting things set up.”

“It’s cool that you’re here?” Brian didn’t want her to leave.

Jordan put her hand on his cheek. “I’m where I need to be—where I want to be. I never really got the chance to say this yesterday. You were too hell bent on blurting out everything on your mind. I love you, too, Brian. We’ve battled fire and ice together, vanquished a demon—”

“You raised me from the dead,” he murmured, his lips near hers.

“You gave me my first real kiss,” she whispered. “And even if we weren’t betrothed by Fate, I’d choose you, too. You’re the only guy who gets my sense of humor. You laugh at my jokes and you don’t let my sarcasm set your skin on fire.” She giggled as he moved closer. “And you look at me as if I’m the most beautiful girl in the world.”

Brian kissed her deeply. Heat blossomed in his chest, spreading warmth all over his body. He hadn’t realized how cold he’d been after the ritual, until now. Jordan rekindled the heat inside him, making him feel more alive than ever. Hearing Andre’s voice in his head again, he backed off. Only Andre’s voice wasn’t in his head, it was in the next room.

“Could y’all keep it down? We were trying to sleep!”

Brian laughed, shaking his head. “No, you weren’t! I may not be psychic or see auras, but I’m a man. Mom’s got breakfast ready. Might wanna get dressed and eat.”

“Asshole!” Andre tossed back.

“Dick!” Brian countered.

“Thanks, I got me one already.”

“Mine’s bigger,” Brian couldn’t resist adding.

Andre made a disgusted noise. He and Louisa came out of their room a few minutes later.

“Sorry, dude. I forgot you were here,” Brian apologized.

Louisa went upstairs with Jordan to fix plates for herself and Andre.

“I get it, man. It’s been a busy couple days for you. Cool it, though. I know the urge to take it fast, believe me. I got a kid to prove it.”

“Does Louisa know?”

“Yeah. She’s met the ex and knows my baby. We have an amicable relationship, but it was never love. Both women know that. I can’t stress enough how important it is to wait. Trust me, the first time with the woman you love, the one you’re bound to—nothing like it.” He clapped Brian on the back, shaking his head slowly. “I sound like an old man, don’t I? Mr. Experience at twenty.”

Brian laughed. “Yeah, you’re the old man of the bunch. But we love you, gramps.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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