What’s Next

the man who wasnt there

The Man Who Wasn’t There is over. The time has come once more, to start sharing another book. I have a third book in the Miracle, Mississippi series, called When Tis Done. It isn’t as polished as the first two, but I’d like to share it anyway.

Brian and the others are just about to start their senior years. Most students would be worrying about what clothing to wear the first day or school, or how they’re going to get their crush to notice them. Brian, Jordan and the others have more important matters on their minds. They’ve been practicing their skills, determined not to be taken by surprise anymore.

Their parents have been teaching Chase’s aunt, Cynthia, to take his father’s place. The problem is, there’s no one around to take his mother’s…. Or is there?

Please note that this book is a tad more mature than the first two. I’ll be going through and toning it down, so I won’t offend anyone. Be watching this space Wednesday, October 18 at 8:00 AM Eastern time, when I start sharing When Tis Done – Miracle, Mississippi Book 4.

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Character Interview with Yancy Fredrick from So Much It Hurts by Dellani

SoMuchItHurtsbyDellaniOakes500What is your story?

My Story is told in So Much It Hurts

Who are you?

My name is Yancy Fredrick.

Where do you live?

I live in a former grand hotel in the heart of the City.

Are you the hero of your own story?

Define hero. I don’t think I’m particularly heroic.

What is your problem in the story?

I’m in love with my best friend’s girlfriend, Pia.

How do you see yourself?

I’m a man who’s feeling somewhat lost. Some days, I wonder if I’ll ever find my way again.

How do your friends see you?

They see me as capable, decisive, responsible and confident. They’re not wrong. I’m all that, and a lot more – as well as a lot less.

How does the author see you?

She thinks I’ve got a killer smile that can seduce a woman with its power…. She’s not wrong.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Yes, she did. It’s like she was inside my head.

Do you have a goal?

My goal hasn’t changed since I was twelve. I want my doctorate in business. Additionally, I want to start an art school with Flynn, maybe build on that to set up a program to help emotional healing through art.

What do you want?

I want to finish my degree and start up the art school with Flynn.

What do you need?

I need to find love.

What do you believe?

I believe in myself. In Flynn. In our dream to start an art school.

What makes you happy?

My friends, my work — Pia.

What are you afraid of?

Losing everything I’ve built.

Are you lucky?

I’m one of those fortunate individuals who’s had an easy life. My family is great, my folks are wonderful. I have four younger sisters, and we’re all happy and doing what we love. I’d consider that to be lucky.

Have you ever failed at anything?

I never was any good at water skiing, other than that, no. Like I said, lucky.

Do you keep your promises?

I do my best not to promise, because I don’t want to break my word. That said, if I do promise, I make it happen.

Are you healthy?

I love to run, play rugby, climb steps for cardio, I don’t eat as well as I should…. I haven’t had a serious illness since I had chicken pox at six. I’m allergic to birds, but otherwise, I’m disgustingly healthy.

What was your childhood like?

My childhood was great. Dad was gone a lot, and we moved a good bit, until he left the military. We settled in the suburbs outside the City when I was ten. It was a great neighborhood, good school, lots of friends.

Do you like remembering your childhood?

You know those old sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver, or Dick Van Dyke Show? That was me and my family.

Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?

Yes. I was born.

Did you get along with your parents?

They and my sisters are my best friends – except for Flynn – and Pia.

What in your past would you like to forget?

If I’d like to forget it, what makes you think I want to talk about it?

Was there a major turning point in your life?

One day, Flynn came in and said, “Get dressed. We’ve got a new neighbor and we’re taking her to dinner.”

Do you have any hobbies?

I play rugby with a local team. I have taken up golf, because a lot of business can be done on the golf course. I don’t like it much, it’s boring. If I examine it scientifically; from a physics and math perspective, it’s okay.

What is your favorite color? Why?

I don’t really have one, but if anyone insists on an answer, I say blue.

What is your favorite food? Why?

Pia made this great puttanesca sauce one night. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted.

What is your favorite beverage? Why?

Hard cider. Because it’s great.

What is your favorite music? Why?

I’ll listen to just about anything, but I love the old torch songs and blues. I also love Big Band stuff.

What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

I have this pair of pants that’s the absolute perfect fit. Shows off my ass and thighs to perfection. I wear them when I’m out at a bar, because they attract women. Yes, I am that calculating.

Name five items in your pockets.

I don’t carry much: wallet, keys, phone and I’m good to go.

What are the last three books you read?

Right now, I’m pretty focused on school. When I’m not reading scholarly crap, I like a good mystery or a political thriller.

If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

Coffee, sugar, creamer, hard cider, bagels, cream cheese…. Hell, I need more than 10 items.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

I have no interest in sharing space with another man. We burp, fart and scratch rude places. If I’ve got to be somewhere it’s hot and sunny, I’ll take a sultry woman with no inhibitions and a good tan.

So Much It Hurts is currently on sale for only .99 cents until November 8.

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A Thank You from Dellani

The Kahlea frontI want to thank all of you who have been following my Miracle, Mississippi books. I’ve gotten a great response! As a token of my appreciation, I wanted to share an excerpt from my upcoming sci-fi book, The Kahlea. This is Book 4 in my sci-fi series.

The Shakazhan Force has grown and is stronger, but they are still in need of help. Timokuan warriors from all over the galaxy have responded to the Maker’s call, but there still aren’t enough of them to fight off the Kahlea. Wil must turn his attention inside the planet, calling upon the residents of the artificial environments deep within the labyrinthine passages below. To this end, he calls upon experts in caving, linguistics and science to explore for him.

Kaz (Kazinski) is their unwilling caving expert. Claustrophobic in the extreme, he forced himself to explore underground, taking every specialty course the Galactic Marines offered. Even more terrified afterward, he reluctantly agreed to take the job. Now, he’s beginning to enjoy it.

Other members of the team are linguist, Hal Membray, as well as Ray and Benni Schmidt. Joining them is a woman who has traveled the interior for almost ten years. A native of the planet, she was separated from her people as a teenager. Now, Barengaria is working with them to help them find support.

Unfortunately, they can’t progress until they pass through a maze. Kaz is in the slow process of disentangling the ever changing series of tunnels.

Deep Within Shakazhan

Underground, Ray’s team was unaware of reinforcements arriving. They’d begun the slow, mind wearying process of threading the maze. Using a systematic, scientific approach, they’d tried to eliminate one tunnel or another only to have them change directions and shift on a daily, if not hourly basis. Each time they thought one was fully mapped, new entrances opened, intersected with old ones previously marked. Horribly frustrated, they sat around a small camp fire to discuss it.

“What a hell of a day!” Ray rubbed furiously at his short hair.

All of them were equally frustrated, but it was he who had the ultimate annoyance and scare. He’d been scouting one of the tunnels, only to have it shift with him inside. The way forward was blocked with a portion of another tunnel which was already marked. Behind him the tunnel closed as well, trapping him in a tiny cell of stone. He waited, praying all the while the walls would shift again and free him. It had taken three hours to get out again.

Ray had used the time to his advantage by running scans continuously and saving them to the nearly limitless storage of the Kindred scanner. He was looking for a pattern to the movement and so far it seemed hopelessly random.

“We’re missing something,” Kaz said for the fourth or fifth time in as many minutes.

“Obviously, Gunnery Sergeant, but what?” Ray snapped. Taking himself in firm control, he continued in a much more level tone. “I sat in that hole for three hours, Kaz. Excuse me if I’m not in the mood for your babble right now.”

Kaz waved it away as unimportant. “I’m just trying to be systematic, sir. I tend to think out loud. I’ve been going over these scans we’ve taken. I started with day one until now. I even put a remote device in the tunnels on an automated bot so it can travel around independently and gather information. What I’m seeing is fantastic!” Eyes glittering, he looked around at the others who eyed him with grim expectancy. All their faces held the same question, Well?

Clearing his skinny throat, Kaz swallowed, the lump of his Adam’s apple bobbing nervously. “‘K, mind you I’m not one for spacial mathematics or anything. Kinda failed that in school,” he blushed deeply, his face rivaling his hair for intensity. “There is a pattern, of sorts, emerging. On a crazy whim, I tapped into Sentience’s memory banks and down loaded some specs about the galaxy this planet was supposed to be the center of. Did you know there were originally twelve planets? This was the fifth one from the sun, optimal distance as it happened. Seven moons surrounded it, apparently artificial, stars all over creation, constellations of amazing configurations!”

“Gunny,” Ray interjected, “get to the point.”

“Yes, sir, sorry. Astronomy is a hobby of mine. So I fed all this into the Kindred device, color coded each of the tunnel openings, and made a Tri D schematic and voila!”

A punch of a button produced a Tri D projection. Twelve tunnel entrances all in a circle with a thirteenth hole in black.

“That’s the outside entrance, which remains static” Kaz pointed to the black circle. “There are twelve tunnels, one for each planet. Starting with the black one, running clockwise, that puts the tunnel for Shakazhan here.” He pointed to a bright green circle. “I also realized that it could run counter-clockwise, putting it here.” He pointed to a vivid blue one. “Little more playing, I thought, what if this is some kind of code key, a way to protect whatever’s behind there from interlopers like us. Maybe it’s not that easy. So I did a simple little math problem. I numbered the tunnels from one to twelve, going clockwise, then added the two together. Split the difference and, of course, ended up with six point five.” He held up a hand to still comment.

“Obviously there is no six point five tunnel, however, add the two numbers together and you get eleven,” he pointed to the pulsing purple tunnel.

“So your supposition based on elementary mathematics, is that tunnel eleven is the one we want?” Ray sounded annoyed.

Kaz shrugged. “It’s an uneducated guess, sir. It could just as easily be two. Or they could’ve done something really sophisticated which would take years to figure out, if at all. But the races here on the surface were ultra sophisticated, high tech and extremely intelligent. I saw a genius, level twenty-seven programmer stumped by a simple math error on line four hundred seventy-two. Instead of two plus two equals four, he’d inadvertently coded it to say, two plus two equals five. It took three lesser programmers to catch the error and convince him he was wrong.”

“You’re saying then that whoever set this here used a simple code to confuse them?” Hal chuckled. “It’s so stupidly simplistic, he might just be right!”

“We’ve been down that tunnel before, why hasn’t it opened up for us?” Benni asked.

“Could be any number of factors, ma’am. Time, alignment of planets, configuration of constellations, anything. It could be completely random.”

Ray made a face. He didn’t like how many times random was cropping up lately.

“What do you suggest then, Kaz?” Barengaria had been silent during this entire conversation. Her Galactix was getting very good. It was in that language she spoke now. “We think we’ve the right tunnel, now what?”

“Now we wait for a pattern to evolve. We set up more bots, watch them and see what happens.”

“Or,” Ray rose suddenly. “We take the direct approach. Pack it up, people, we’re going in.”

Benni started to protest, but her husband looked at her with a blank, stony expression on his face. She knew that look, it said, Don’t argue with me. Snapping her lips shut on her comments, she merely nodded and started to break camp, the others joined her.

“First Lieutenant?”

Ray turned slowly and looked down at Barengaria.

“Do you think it’s wise, all of us going?”

He smiled gently. “Barengaria, if some of us got through and some of us didn’t, we’d have a deuce of a time getting back together. Suppose the conditions are right for only a short space and don’t occur again for a long time. Then what would we do?”

She nodded quietly. “I see your point, sir.” Her smile was soft and gentle in understanding. She gathered her few possessions, whistled to Ayonyo and declared herself ready.

When they’d all assembled, Kaz led them into the mouth of the tunnel and they waited. Tunnel number eleven looked perfectly innocent and completely normal, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but then again looks were always deceiving around here.

“Just when you thought you’ve it figured out,” Ray muttered, “you get a jackhammer in the ribs.” Shaking his head, he led the tightly grouped team into the mouth of the tunnel, half expecting it to close up on him again. It took every ounce of his courage to keep walking, but he insisted they stay close together.

“If the walls move as we anticipate, I don’t want anyone cut off from the rest of the team.”

Nods of assent were all that he got and he didn’t need anything else. All these people were professionals. They walked slowly at first, warily taking each step. No one wanted to get too far ahead of the others, neither did they want to get left behind.

Hal could see Kaz was getting impatient. He wanted so much to be right but was prepared to be wrong. So many variables were here that there was no way to be certain they’d caught the correct one, all they had to go on was a guess. Somehow Hal thought Kaz was correct, but he said nothing, prepared to offer congratulations or support as necessary.

“It’s shifting,” Barengaria warned, taking a tight grip on Ayonyo’s jess, stroking his feathers ostensibly to calm him. Slipping into the mundane eased her fears as well.

The party moved close together, hoping the space around them wouldn’t contract or cut anyone off. They noticed gratefully that the walls moved around them, leaving plenty of space.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Alisha, Eden and Gary

Join us LIVE TODAY, October 9

from4-6 PM Eastern

It’s already October and, in some parts of the world, it’s getting chilly and the leaves are turning. Not here in Florida, but somewhere! We’re ready to sit by the fire and crack open a book. (Or, like here in Florida, it’s still so hot, we don’t want to go outside) In any case, we want to read. Today’s guests are ready to entertain us and entice us with their stories. So, hot or cold, inside or out, fall or spring, have a listen!

Our first guest is no stranger to the show. In fact, I think this is his fourth time visiting with us. Gary D. Henry is the author of In the Manor of Heather Black, Witchwoods, Groundsmen of Sleepy Hollow and many more. Welcome Back, Gary!

Our second guest was supposed to be on a few weeks ago, but wasn’t able to make it. We’re delighted to welcome Eden Walker, author of One Night in Venice coming soon from Tirgearr Publishing. Hello, Eden!

Our third guest is also new to the show and we’re so glad she could join us. Alisha Knaff author of School of Sight and the Four Windows Serialized stories of ghosts, fairies, revolutionaries, vampires, and magical artifacts in Seattle. Hiya, Alisha!

Be sure to tune in while we chat with these three amazing authors!

 

Join us LIVE TODAY, October 9

from 4-6 PM Eastern

Or catch the recording at your convenience

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Conclusion

the man who wasnt thereThe following morning, they all meet up at Brian’s house for breakfast to discuss what happened the night before.

“Opal was killed, but a skillful surgeon, who happened to be there—and one of the chosen—saved her child, Olivander. Luminous nearly turned his back on the babe, but his eldest daughter insisted that he care for the child. It was no fault of the baby that his mother was evil. As he grew, he developed some miraculous gifts, not the least of which were prophetic dreams.”

“How do you know all this?” Brian asked. “I didn’t get that much from Luminous.”

“Virtuous did a lot of talking over the last few days. He was most concerned about your Rider. He had a theory about that too.”

“I’ve been wondering about that,” Andre said. “It seems way too weird that we found that incantation with no real explanation. We assumed it was the Peddler.”

“When the Peddler was in Meru all the time,” Marissa said with a grin.

“It was Luminous, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. He knew one day that Opal would try to come back. Rather than letting that happen, he left clues in various places. It wasn’t until Cliff compiled everything, donating it to the historical society, that his secrets were revealed. He hoped that we would find his information and bring him back so he could fight Opal. Which he did. None too subtle, perhaps, but certainly final. The drawings we found were done by the Olivander, the Dreamer, drawn after the fact, of course.”

“This is making my brain hurt,” Chase declared. “What I wanna know is what’s next? Are we always going to be battling some hidden evil, or will we get to live normal lives from now on?”

“I’d never call my own life exactly normal,” Annabelle said. “But it’s certainly been quieter than yours. We had the odd crisis, but never anything this serious. I don’t know why your generation is plagued so much more with these things.” She shook her head sadly. “If I could take the burden from you, I would.”

Brian looked at the group of people to whom he had grown so close over the last year. “I don’t know about the rest of us, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even if someone walked up and said they could take this job from me, make my skills go away, I wouldn’t do it.”

“Why not?” Marissa asked. “It’s been nothing but trouble for you. You’ve nearly died more times in the last year than I can count.”

“Someone has to, Marissa. There will always be evil in the world, of one kind or another. I’m proud of how we’ve come together and fought against it. Even if nothing else ever happens to us, we can look back at this time and know we made a difference.”

“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Marissa replied.

“So, what now?” Sweet asked. “Do we just go back to being the class nerd or the jock or the social pariah? Where do we fit in now?”

“Wherever we want,” Brian replied. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not scared to be me anymore. I’ve battled elementals, saved the girl I love from demons. I’ve been possessed and survived. I’ve dodged swamp wraiths and thrown my coffee in the eye of an ice storm. Do you think that the high school cliques scare me anymore?”

Everyone laughed.

“You’ve got a point, Brian,” Ginnifer said. “When you’ve done what we have—which we can never in a million years tell—the things that used to be intimidating, don’t matter anymore.”

The adults finally called it a day, deciding to go their separate ways for relaxing naps. The teenagers gathered in Brian’s basement once more. Sitting around the ping pong table with cans of soda and bags of chips, they talked about everything that had happened.

“What about the heightened senses,” Jordan asked. “Are you still on a Rider high?”

“Not like I was, but I can still see, hear and smell things better than before. I don’t think that will ever go completely away. I have to admit, disconcerting as it is, it came in handy.”

Jordan kissed his cheek and he smiled almost sadly.

“I was wishing to be a normal teen just a few days ago,” Brian said. “But now, I don’t want the drama. All that angst and wondering if the girl I like is interested in me. I’m just as glad that we come in pairs, destined to be together. It takes all the stress of dating out of the equation.” He stretched, putting an arm around Jordan. “Yup, got me the best girl in the world and didn’t have to work to get her.”

Jordan rabbit punched him, making him gasp. Laughing, she gave him a kiss. “But you have to work to keep me happy. Just because it’s preordained doesn’t mean you can be a jackass.”

“I will never purposely be a jackass,” Brian promised. “I can’t be held responsible for the occasional judgment errors.”

“Like telling me you were Luminous?”

“Ah, lass,” he drawled. “But I was, just for a moment. Right before I kissed you.”

“You said that you kissed me.” She tensed up, ready to smack him again.

“He initiated it,” he admitted. “Your kiss is what brought me back. He’s gone for good, Jordan. I promise. Andre can confirm, no more Rider.”

“He’s right, Jordan. The Rider is completely gone. No more worries about the man who wasn’t there.”

“Thank God,” Jordan said. “Because I really hated that guy. He had shit taste in women.”

“That he did,” Brian said, kissing her. “But I don’t.”

THE END

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Character Interview with Pia Donovan from So Much It Hurts by Dellani

SoMuchItHurtsbyDellaniOakes500What is your story?

My story is told in So Much It Hurts

Who are you?

My name is Pia Zamora Donovan. I’m a 22 year old music major.

Where do you live?

I just moved into this great old hotel in the heart of a huge city! Way different from Kearney, Nebraska, let me tell you.

Are you the hero of your own story?

I wouldn’t say that. I’m not particularly heroic.

What is your problem in the story?

I’m doing my best to forget this creep I was dating, as well as my bitch of an ex-roommate. They got pregnant and married one another. Now that I’ve met Flynn and Yancy, things are so much better.

How do you see yourself?

I’m determined, driven, excited about my new experiences, and intimidated by City life. I’m certain I can make it work, though.

How do your friends see you?

Out with the old, in with the new! My old friends probably saw me as stupid for staying with Steven. My new friends don’t know him, (and don’t want to), but they see me as confident, happy and full of life. This is the me I was before Steven, and who I want to be.

How does the author see you?

She sees me as I see myself, only more. She found a core of strength I didn’t know I had.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Very. It’s like she heard my voice in her head! How cool is that?

Do you have any special strengths?

Being the daughter of a college professor, I learned to adapt to change every time we moved. I wasn’t very good at it when I was little, but my family helped me a lot. I learned to be confident, and I never lost that.

Do you have any special weaknesses?

Does chocolate count?

Do you have any skills?

I can sing and play a wide variety of musical instruments.

Do you have money troubles?

Doesn’t every college student?

What do you want?

I want to finish my education so I can start to teach music and share my love with children.

What do you need?

I need to make up my mind about something. It’s really bugging me.

What makes you happy?

My new friends and home make me happy. Flynn and Yancy make me even happier.

What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid I’ll do something awful and break someone’s heart, the way mine was broken.

What makes you angry?

Stupid people who are mean to each other – for no reason.

What do you regret?

I regret I ever gave my love to Steven. He didn’t deserve it.

Are you lucky?

I wouldn’t have thought so a year ago, but yes. I’m the luckiest woman alive.

Have you ever failed at anything?

How long an interview do you want?

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Yes. My ex-boyfriend had an affair with my roommate, got her pregnant and dumped me so he could marry her. They’re blissfully happy.

Do you keep your promises?

When I make a promise, I keep it.

Are you healthy?

I rarely get sick, which is a blessing.

What was your childhood like?

We moved a lot, because Mom was in school and then getting her first jobs, but it was good. I have a bunch of brothers and sisters, who helped me learn to adapt and make friends in a new place.

Do you like remembering your childhood?

Very much. I have a great family and we always have a good time together.

Did you get along with your parents?

Yes, I still do. Mom has been with me all through this crap with Steven. She wasn’t very supportive when I started dating him, and now I see why.

Have you ever had an adventure?

I’m having one now!

What is the most important thing that ever happened to you? Why?

Meeting Flynn and Yancy, as well as everyone here at the hotel, has been the best thing ever.

Was there a major turning point in your life?

I made the decision to apply to the City University because it’s got a world renowned reputation. I needed to get as far away from Steven as I could. Then I was accepted and everything just fell into place. I know this is where I’m meant to be.

Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

Yes, when my suitcase caught in a hole and Flynn helped me.

What is your favorite color? Why?

I love so many, but dark, dusky reds and pinks just make my heart sing.

What is your favorite food? Why?

My dad has a Mexican restaurant. He makes cinnamon rolls to go with the chili, and I love them. Every time I smell them baking, it makes me feel like I’m in his restaurant back home.

What is your favorite beverage? Why?

Is anything better than coffee? Didn’t think so.

What is your favorite music? Why?

I love nearly all music. There are a few exceptions; pop schlock, rap crap and that trippy shit they play in clubs. It’s not music, it’s garbage with a beat.

Name five items in your purse.

Only five? Whew! Phone, keys, wallet, sunglasses, lip balm…. You want me to keep going?

If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

I put off grocery shopping, because I hate it – So… One of everything that isn’t fish, beets or rutabagas. Or nuts.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

If I were there with a woman, she’d probably bitch the whole time about how hard the sun was on her skin, or that it was bleaching out her hair. Yuck! I’ll take a hot man who knows what he’s doing in bed—and a large umbrella. ‘Cause, you know, the sun is bleaching out my hair!

How do you envision your future?

Teaching music and happily married to a great guy.

So Much It Hurts is currently on sale for only .99 cents until November 8.

Pre-order your copy now!

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 55

the man who wasnt thereIt’s finally over and they managed to vanquish Opal. Luminous lingered for a little while, but Brian is back. Tired and hungry, they order pizza and head to Brian’s home to relax. His grandmother is there watching Elise.

“It went well?” Brian’s grandmother asked repeatedly.

“Yes, Mom, it went very well. We’re just so tired. We’re going to eat our pizza and go to sleep,” Maribelle told her, giving her mother a hug.

Annabelle Girard held her daughter close. “I’ve never been so scared. I was afraid we’d lose you all.” She went around the room, hugging and kissing each of them. She would have made a second round, but the pizza arrived.

The boys laughed when they saw that there was a whole pizza for each of them. The others shared. Not to be daunted by the challenge, Sweet and Brian ate every slice of their large pizzas.

Beyond tired, everyone went right to bed. Brian didn’t even remember falling asleep. He was marginally aware of his grandmother checking on him while he slept, but the rest of the night, he was oblivious to everything. He was so tired, he didn’t even care if he dreamed.

The next morning, he woke to the smell of good food cooking. The scent of his grandmother’s signature cinnamon bread swirled invitingly around him. He dressed and trotted downstairs. His friends and their parents arrived, each bringing a special breakfast treat to share.

They gathered around the table and were about to give blessing when there was another knock at the door. Brian, who was closest, hopped up. Chase walked in with his Aunt Cynthia and his mother. They all greeted Dora, hugging her gently. Brian gave her his chair and Annabelle got her a small plate of food. Chase served himself and his aunt before sitting on the floor next to Brian. They shared the coffee table in the living room.

“Your mom looks good,” Brian said.

“Yeah. We’re gonna be okay. We’re going to move in with my grandparents for awhile. Mom’s determined not to go back to our house. Honest to God, I can’t even think about it either. I’ll still be at school, so it’s not like I’m leaving.”

“Good. Cause I’d miss seeing your goofy grin every day.”

Chase laughed, throwing his napkin at Brian.

When breakfast was over, the children went outside to play with the dogs, who had popped over for a visit, leaving the adults and teens together.

“Now,” Annabelle said. “I want the full details. I know all hell broke loose, I could feel it. I may not be in fighting form anymore, but some things you never lose.”

“You’re the chosen one from your generation?” Brian was surprised to find that out. “I had no idea.”

“Yes. I’m surprised you never picked up on it. It’s not like I ever tried to keep it a secret.” She smiled, running her fingers through his hair. “But your grandpa and I never had to face what you have.” She hugged her grandson, kissing his forehead. “Oh, you’ve had us so scared!”

Once she’d calmed down, they talked about what they’d felt or observed. They were most interested in what happened to Jordan, Brian and Meru.

“It was like she stepped into me,” Jordan explained. “It was cold and dark, the place I went when she took over my body. She didn’t shut me completely off. I think she wanted me to see what she was doing to Brian. She had some sick reason to punish him and torture me.”

“So Opal was a witch? I wonder how that happened,” Marissa said.

“I have a theory on that,” Annabelle said. “There are often, even among the chosen, those who are hungry for power. They’re ambitious and will stop at nothing to get more. Mr. D. exploits that. He’s a master at temptation, seducing someone with their own desires. My guess is that Opal was one of those.”

“What a shame,” Jordan said. “There were vestiges of her there. I caught glimpses of her memories of her life with Luminous. They were good together.”

“But they were never in love,” Brian said. “Unlike you and I, they didn’t bond. Luminous was in love with another woman, but he couldn’t have her. She was married to his best friend. She died in the fighting. Opal killed her. That’s what he meant by losing the love of his life.”

“Man, that sucks!” Chase said. “He sure had a shit ton of kids for a man who didn’t love his wife.”

“Interesting thing about that,” Brian added. “This was a slave territory. Luminous was a preacher, but he was also the son of a wealthy man.”

“So, some of those children were born on the wrong side of the sheets,” his grandmother said. “Men!” She rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

“Enough about Opal and Luminous,” Jordan said. “I want to hear about Meru!”

Dr. Meru smirked, sitting up straight. Hands on his knees, his dark eyes glittering excitedly, he explained.

“My family line is full of spiritualists and shaman,” he explained. “We have the Druid blood line because of the people who settled from the British Isles, but there was magic in our blood before that. Virtuous Meru, as he was known in this country, was my many greats-grandfather. He was a descendant of prophets, priests and kings. I’m not sure why he was here, though I know he was a freeborn man. How he came to be in this area in 1713, I don’t know. I hope to find more about it later. In any case, he arrived near the height of the fighting. Skills he never knew he had, kicked in when Opal and Luminous fought. He didn’t interfere, by then it was too late. He knew Opal had to die in order for the others to survive. He proceeded as I did, drawing a magical symbol on the ground and cast a spell. You have seen first hand what happened afterward.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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