“Even if it wasn’t written in the stars, or whatever, I would’ve wanted to meet you and get to know you. You’re smart and funny and you get my sense of humor—even if you do hit me with pillows when you’re mad.”
Jordan bopped him with a small pillow from the ratty basement couch.
“Dammit, do you have one in every room just so you can hit me?”
He laughed, taking the pillow from her, popping her on the head with it. They wrestled around, grabbing the pillow, giving one another playful blows with it.
“I have an idea,” Jordan said, breathless and laughing. “We have a sparring mat in the other room.”
“What other room?”
She beckoned to him, leading him passed the laundry room to an almost invisible door. Inside, Brian was surprised to find a small, well equipped dojo. He slipped off his shoes and socks, following Jordan on to the mat that took up most of the space.
“What do you study?” Jordan asked after bowing to him.
“Aikido, mostly. You?”
“Kick boxing. A smattering of American Martial Arts.” She started stretching.
“I just started Krav Maga a few months ago. The Sensei wouldn’t take me until I was fifteen. I wish I’d remembered some of it when I got attacked in the swamp.” He stretched too.
“Tell me about that again. And about the whirlwind.”
“Why? You know all about it already.”
“But when I heard it before, I didn’t know anything. I think we need to look at our experiences and see what we could do differently. Before, they were attacking us when we were weak and uniformed. We know something now.”
As they stretched on the mat, Brian told her again about his encounters with the fog creatures and the whirlwind. Jordan retold her experiences as well. Afterward, they sparred and discussed what they could have done differently. They pretended to attack one another and made suggestions on how they might fight off something in the future.
They spent over an hour working out. Brian showed Jordan ways to use the staff. She showed him some combinations of kicks. Both were hot, thirsty and sweating before they had finished. As they made their way up the basement stairs, Jordan’s fingers slid between Brian’s. She tugged on his arm, halting his ascent.
“Thank you,” she said quietly. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had with a guy.”
“Most fun I’ve ever had with a girl,” he replied, stepping closer. “Except for that kiss….”
Brian lifted Jordan, setting her on the step ahead of him, so her face was nearly on a level with his. He drew her close, lips barely touching. Zofia whined behind them, nudging Brian’s foot with her nose.
Ignoring her, he kissed Jordan lightly, then deeper when she parted her lips. It felt good and right to hold her in his arms. He never wanted to let her go. The idea that they were destined to be together no longer felt strange.
Zofia whined again, tugging his pants leg with her teeth. Brian looked down at her.
“What’s wrong, girl?”
He listened closely to the rest of the house. It seemed awfully quiet. He let go of Jordan, motioning her behind him. She protested mutely. Casting about for a weapon, Brian signaled that they should do downstairs. He led the way to the dojo, quietly shutting the door before he would speak.
“Something’s wrong. Get a weapon you’re comfortable with and we’ll investigate.”
Jordan picked up a pair of tonfa, wooden batons shaped like police nightsticks. Brian took a bo staff from the wall, swinging it for balance. The solidly crafted length of red oak made him feel better prepared.
As he walked to the door, Jordan stopped him. “Dad always says to use this on them if you need them for real,” she said. She picked up a small spray bottle. “It’s mugwort oil. It’s really supposed to be used on crystal balls or divining tools, but Dad likes it on his weapons. It’s good for protection.”
“God knows we can use that,” Brian said.
They sprayed the weapons quickly, spending more time than Brian liked, but he knew they were ill prepared for an encounter. Muttering every prayer he could think of, he led the way.
At the door, Zofia waited, the ridge on her back standing at attention. A low, thrumming growl rumbled in her chest. The air in the house was chilly as if a door or window had been left open. The house was fairly dark, the only illumination coming from scattered night lights. Jordan took the lead since she was more familiar with the space. Her dark eyes flickered around the rooms, watching, waiting.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes