“My only daughter is your future mate,” Heath said quietly, his teeth clenched. “You need to be able to protect her. Now, let’s take this seriously and try again.”
Brian didn’t flinch away from Heath’s anger, but he was somewhat intimidated. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “You’re right.”
He leaned over once more, going through the steps Heath had told him. Closing his eyes, he visualized the other ball, seeing the cue ball as an extension of the stick. His arm cocked back and he hit the cue ball in just the right spot. The balls scattered to the pockets, nearly all of them going in. Three were left, spinning on the felt.
“Not bad.” Heath sounded quite impressed, though he didn’t allow himself to fully show it. “Let’s do it again.” He didn’t move toward the rack.
When Brian did, Heath grabbed his sleeve. “Without touching the balls.” He stared at one pocket of the table.
Two balls slowly rose from the pocket and lay on the table. One by one, he raised the balls.
“Now, put them in numerical order.” He leaned back, hands on top of his cue.
Brian concentrated on the balls, lining them up in number order. Heath said nothing, waiting. Brian realized he’d just put them in number order, not laid them out in a triangle. He did it again, this time aligning them correctly. Heath smiled.
They went through the exercise until Brian was panting from the effort. He’d never realized that moving things with his mind could be so exhausting. After about an hour, Heath called a break. They sat down with a soda and talked about what they’d been doing. Heath gave Brian pointers for how to do what he did without using so much energy.
“You couldn’t tell me that to start with?” Brian laughed, sipping his drink.
“You wouldn’t have understood what I was talking about. You have to do it the hard way first. I will say this, you did better than I did the first time. I hit the cue ball so hard, it cracked and the pieces went flying around the room. See this?” He pointed to a scar below his right eye. “One of them got me.”
“Would I lie?” He winked.
Brian knew he’d told him the truth. He couldn’t have explained how he knew, but he was certain.
“Dinner!” Jordan called from upstairs.
Putting their cues back on the rack, Heath and Brian went upstairs.
“Smells delicious,” Heath said.
“I think I just started to drool,” Brian commented. “I smell fresh bread!”
The men went to the sink to wash their hands before sitting at the kitchen table.
Jordan blushed. “Thank you. Mom and Maribelle made most of the meal, but I made the bread.”
“Really? I love fresh bread,” Brian commented.
Jordan passed a basket of thick, steaming slices around the table. Brian held his a moment, inhaling deeply. In addition to the yeasty scent, he detected a variety of herbs.
“This is great! I smell garlic, onions,” he sniffed again. “This smells familiar. I know those herbs, but can’t place them all.”
Jordan smiled proudly. “You detect parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in addition to the garlic and onions. There’s a dash of pepper and I also used barley for part of the flour.”
“Wow!” He nibbled a corner of the bread, earning himself a scolding by his mother and Jackie for eating before blessing. “That’s amazing. I could eat just bread for dinner.”
“But you won’t,” Jackie chastised. “This meal has very specific properties, which I’ll tell you after blessing. Heath, would you do the honors?”
“I ask blessings on those present. For those absent in body, but still in our hearts. I ask that the food we’re about to eat nourish our bodies and minds and strengthen us.”
Brian thought of his father alone in an empty house. He hoped he was having success with the wards. If Mr. D. had been able to get in once, would he be able to do so again? Was his father safe?
Heath, who sat at the head of the table to Brian’s right, touched the boy’s hand. Their eyes met. Heath’s gaze filled Brian with reassurance. This new form of communication was going to take getting used to. Brian didn’t know how closely the adults could examine their thoughts, or how much Jordan could get from him. It could prove embarrassing if either of her parents saw what they’d been doing when Maribelle caught them.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes