Tag Archive | Dellani Oakes

When Tis Done – Part 15

 

When Tis Done coverAfter talking to Chase, Neil has a short conversation with Cynthia, then heads to bed with the promise to text her when he wakes.

Morning came early in a household with a seven year old. Neil was sleeping soundly when his bedroom door banged open and a little blonde missile landed on his bed, bouncing.

“Unka Neil! Unka Neil! Brea-fist!”

Groaning, he rolled over, putting the pillow over his face. “I’ll be up in a minute, Sugar. Let Unka Neil sleep a little longer.”

“No. No. No. Got to be up for brea-fist! Mommy said!”

Neil doubted that. More likely, Dora had said not to wake him. The bouncing intensified as Lucy pulled the pillow off his face.

“Now, now, now, Unka Neil!”

“Lucy Lou, leave Uncle Neil alone. He’s tired. He drove a long time to get here,” Chase said from the doorway.

“But it’s brea-fist, Chase!”

“He’ll be up for lunch, Peanut. Go.” He lifted his sister off the bed, carrying her to the door. Setting her down, he told her to run up stairs.

“Thank you,” Neil mumbled into his pillow. “Would locking the door help?”

“No. Then she just knocks a gabillion times.”

“She usually do this to you?”

“Yep.”

“Lucky you.”

“Why do you think I chose the basement? The stairs slow her down a few seconds.” Chuckling softly, he closed the door.

Neil dozed a little longer, but his room was directly under the kitchen. Lucy seemed determined to have him up to join the family. If it wasn’t deliberate, then she was the noisiest child he’d ever met. Then again, he hadn’t been around that many kids, at least not early in the morning. Groaning, he rolled over with the pillows pressed to his head. There was an all mighty crash, followed by scolding and wailing.

“I’m UP! Dammit!” He got dressed and went upstairs, walking into complete chaos.

A huge dog was galloping around the kitchen with Lucy in its wake. A string of puppies followed, at least six of them, and another huge animal tried to get in the door, but Dora held it with flagging strength. He grabbed the dog at the door, dragging him outside. He took the collar of the other and hauled her out onto the deck. The puppies followed, all but one that Lucy had scooped up. The mother dog tried to get back in after her baby, so Dora grabbed the puppy from her screeching daughter and set it on the deck. Neil swung the door shut. Silence settled over the house.

“What was that?” Neil gasped, pointing at the deck where the enormous dogs frolicked. “Since when do you have Shetland Ponies?”

“Those are the puppies,” Lucy yelped. “Not ponies, silly.”

Folding his arms across his chest, Neil waited for a reply.

“They help the Circle,” Chase said, handing him a cup of strong, black coffee.

“Okay.”

“Their names are Janus and Zofia. They’re our Guardians. When there’s trouble, they come to our aid. When there isn’t, they hang around different houses and procreate.” Chase nodded at the puppies. “They were born at Jordan’s house. We all went over to witness the miracle of birth.” His tone implied he hadn’t found it very miraculous.

“Lucky you.”

“Yeah, it was three in the morning and freezing cold. Jackie insisted.” Chase chuckled, pouring his own coffee, adding lots of cream and sugar.

Pancakes appeared on a plate in front of Neil, decorated with berries and butter. He said his blessing and took his first bite.

“Holy wow, these are delicious. I’ve missed your pancakes, Mama.”

She beamed. “Katie and I made those just for you.”

“Katie’s a cook? Didn’t take after her mama, then.”

Dora giggled, swatting her brother. “I’m a good cook. You should taste my possum supreme pie.”

“Mommy’s teasing. She doesn’t cook possums,” Lucy explained.

“When you were Katie’s age, you burned the pancakes, as I recall,” Neil winked at his sister. “Darn near set the kitchen on fire.”

“You know that was your fault,” Dora countered.

Neil feigned innocence. “Mine? Just how?”

“Cliff was over and the two of you scared the bejeezus outta me! I ran and hid in the pantry.”

“Wasn’t me. All Cliff’s doing.” He took an innocent bite, chewing as silence followed.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 14

When Tis Done coverNeil and Cynthia have a lovely evening, but he has to get home. As he’s walking home, something jumps him. He gets away and runs home. Finding Chase there, he sits down with his nephew to talk. He reveals that he’s loved Cynthia since he was a teenager.

“We’re so completely different,” Chase said about himself and Marissa.

“Sometimes, opposites attract. And not so different. I see things in you both, where you compliment one another. You need to work out your intimacy issues—and I don’t mean that you need to have sex. But talk about things. Make sure she knows you care. You do, you know. You love that girl, probably more than Brian loves Jordan.”

“More than you love Auntie?”

Neil shrugged. “Maybe. I have one advantage that you don’t. I’m not seventeen itching to get laid for the first time. Trust me, I remember that feeling, like your insides are on fire. You’d do a handy hydrant if you thought you could get away with it.”

Chase laughed louder than he’d intended. Clapping his hands over his mouth, he chuckled and sputtered. “Not built the right way, or I might consider it.”

“Gas tank,” Neil suggested. “Or grapefruit, I hear that works.”

“Only warmed in the microwave.”

“Always good to warm up the lotion first, but don’t nuke it. Good way to roast your willie.” He rubbed his hands together as if he had lotion on them. “Friction works best.”

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation! I couldn’t talk to Dad like this.”

“No, but I bet you can with some of your friends.”

Chase shook his head. “Maybe when we’re older.”

“Meanwhile, I will be here for bizarre, off the wall, raunchy, inappropriate conversations whenever you like.”

“Thank you, Uncle Neil. It’s good having you home.”

“It’s good being home. And you can just call me Neil, Chase. I don’t mind.”

“Thank you—Neil.”

They said goodnight. Chase was ready for bed, so Neil took a quick shower and brushed his teeth. He could smell Cynthia’s cologne on his clothing and it made him want her again. He remembered, with a lurch, he’d promised to call when he got home. Picking up his phone, he saw a missed call. It was from Cynthia. She merely said to call as soon as he got the message. He called back immediately.

“You must think I’m a real dick,” he said when she picked up.

Cynthia laughed. “No, but I was worried.”

“I’m sorry. Chase was up when I got here. Kid needed to talk.”

“He’s going through a lot right now.”

“Yeah. I know. I hope that I can help.”

“I don’t know about Chase, but you sure helped me.”

“Yeah?” He couldn’t keep the delight from his voice. “You helped me, too, Cindy Lou.”

“Uhh, I wish I’d never told you my middle name is Louise.”

“Really? I’d forgotten that. I just always thought of Cindy Lou Who.”

“Now I really want to smack you.”

“Promise? Some gentle abuse, light bondage…. I’m up for it, but are you sure that’s how you roll, babe?”

“You are semi-impossible, Mr. Braxton.”

“Only semi? I think I should be offended. Really, the more accurate assessment is semi-improbable and nearly impossible.”

“Oh, I apologize for irregular use of adjectives.”

“I do love you, Cindy Lou.” He paused. “Shit, is it too early in this budding romance to say I love you?”

“Took you twenty years to say it. I think it’s allowed. Had we just met, Mr. Braxton, it would be entirely too soon.”

“Yeah, if we’d just met, I betcha we wouldn’t have done what we just did, either.”

“Safe bet. But we didn’t and Boy DID we!” She giggled light heartedly. “I think it’s semi-improbable that I feel this good.”

“It’s nearly impossible that you feel as good as I do.”

“Superlative Game, Mr. Braxton? Should I be offended?”

“No games, Cindy Lou, just the God’s honest truth. I feel better than I can ever remember. See what happens when I get to make love to the most beautiful woman in Miracle, Mississippi?”

“Not to mention the entire county.”

“Venture to say, the state.”

“The whole Southeast.”

“Babe, you are the most beautiful girl in the world, to me.”

Her reply was a sniffle. “I’ve missed you so much, Neil.”

“I’m back, Cynthia. I’m not going anywhere.” He yawned, loudly. “Except to bed. Jeez, is it really almost three? I’ve been awake nearly twenty-four hours!”

“Call me when you wake up.”

“How about you call me? I don’t want to wake you.”

“Shoot me a text or I will shoot you one. Whichever one of us gets the text first, calls.”

“Works. Goodnight, Cindy Lou.”

“Goodnight, Neilio,” she teased, hanging up quickly.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 13

When Tis Done coverCynthia tells Neil that he’s there to repair their Circle. He confesses to her that he’s always loved her. This time, when they kiss, they don’t stop there. Neil takes her upstairs to her room.

Fair Warning: When Tis Done is more mature than the prior two books. I have toned it down, but it still may not be appropriate for readers under 17.

Neil poured his love into the moment. The girl he’d had a crush on, had grown into a beautiful, desirable woman. The two of them shimmered like a Christmas tree. They made love, reveling in the fact that they were finally together, no longer teenagers, and able to express their desire. Afterward, Neil was tempted to stay the night, but he knew his mother would worry if he didn’t come home. More to the point, Chase would probably be up. With the promise to stay over the next time, he decided to walk home so she wouldn’t have to make the drive back by herself. It was a clear night, cool and breezy with a hint of fall in the air.

Neil thought about cutting through on the swamp road, but after all that had happened to both Circles, he decided not to risk it. Instead, he went the long way, passing by the Barrett’s house, as well as the Casey’s. As he neared his home, he sensed something not right. He’d been a Marine in hostile territory more years than not. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he watched his environment carefully. Wishing he had a weapon, he remembered that he did have keys. He placed them between his fingers, pointing out dangerously.

It rushed him from the bracken near the lane that lead to their house. Something came at him from the dark, jumping the last few feet. Ducking, he turned to follow the movement, but whatever it was, he couldn’t see it. He heard it running, but didn’t dare pursue in the dark. Worried it might return, he dogtrotted to the house. He didn’t hear or see anything else, but the sense of being watched was stronger. Dredging up the St. Michael prayer from some long forgotten memory, he repeated it as he unlocked the front door. Bolting it behind him, he made his way downstairs, turning off lights as he went. As he’d suspected, Chase was up and waiting for him. Neil dropped the keys on an end table near the couch, and slumped in the chair.

Chase cocked his head from side to side, eyeing his uncle with a twinkle in his eyes. “Holy shit, Uncle Neil! Did you and Aunt Cynthia…? Forget it, I don’t wanna know!”

“We had some adult fun. Is that a crime?”

“It is when your aura looks like that. Dude!” Blushing, he looked away.

“I didn’t know you could read auras. What else can you do?”

“All kinds of shit. You’ll have to learn it too, now that you’re taking Mom’s spot….” He blinked hard, his head dropping. “This is weird for me, Uncle Neil.”

“I know, kid. It’s weird for me too.” He sat quietly, staring at the wall, smiling a little. “I miss your dad. We used to meet up once a year and hang out. Even when I was deployed, I’d get a day or two of leave, we’d find a spot where there were no guns and bombs, and just shoot the shit.”

“Did Mom go?”

Neil shook his head. “I saw your mama in my dreams. We talked all the time. Your mom and dad, and Heath, were my best friends. And Cynthia…. No, she wasn’t my friend, she was my other half. I tried to find a woman, came close a few times, but none of them measured up. I gave her her first kiss on her front porch the night she turned fifteen. Broke my heart to leave her.”

“Why did you go? I feel like I never got to know you.”

“I couldn’t stay here. There was too much hurt. We were all close—until Dora joined the Circle. Then it was Dora and the Circle—and me. They shared so much that I didn’t. I couldn’t stand it another second. I’d always hoped that it would be me. When she was chosen, I was jealous.”

“I’m sorry, Uncle Neil. I hate that you felt like that all these years.”

“Me, too.”

“So, you think you and Aunt Cynthia will get married?”

Neil smiled, remembering the night he’d had. “If you think I’m letting that woman get away a second time, you’re messed up in the head.”

“I was dropped as a child.”

“I’ve heard rumors.”

They laughed quietly, sharing a moment.

“Was Auntie your first?” Chase asked quietly, embarrassed by the question, but wanting to know.

Neil sensed he was leading up to something else, so he answered truthfully. Besides, he’d lost any modesty he’d had when he became a Marine.

“No. That honor fell to a girl with low morals and a large tent.”

“This whole thing—of destiny. Do you believe in it?”

“Like you and Marissa being destined to be together?”

Chase nodded.

“Until tonight, kid, no. Now, I’m not sure. But give it time. Don’t rush. If the Circle chose you to be together, then you have to believe that it’s done it for a reason.”

“We’re so completely different.”

“Sometimes, opposites attract. And not so different. I see things in you both, where you compliment one another. You need to work out your intimacy issues—and I don’t mean that you need to have sex. But talk about things. Make sure she knows you care. You do, you know. You love that girl, probably more than Brian loves Jordan.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 8

When Tis Done coverNeil, Dora Finley’s brother, has returned after nearly two decades. Could he be the replacement that the Center Circle needs to heal it?

“Yes, the way Mama fixed it. Me, I’d have burnt it to a crisp.”

“Thanks, Peanut. This is great!”

“I’m Lucy, not Peanut!”

“Oh, sorry Lima Bean!”

She stamped her foot, pretending to pout, but the giggle escaped her. “You’re silly, Uncle Neil.”

“I got it from Mommy. She made me silly before we were born.” He stood slowly, rubbing the kinks from his thighs.

“You were twins!”

“Yep, we still are. Me first, Mommy five minutes later.”

She gave him a hug around his knees and ran in the yard after her sister.

“Come in and have a bite,” their mother said, after hugging and kissing him ardently.

“Mama, I could sure use a shower first.”

“Of course! Daddy’s inside. It’s hard for him to get around these days. His C.O.P.D. is real bad, Sugarbean.”

Neil followed his mother, shuffling his feet. It was hard enough coming home after all these years, but to see his formidable, robust father reduced to a tired, old man, was almost more than he could bear. His father sat in his comfortable, blue recliner, feet up, watching TV top volume. He looked up and grinned at his son. Releasing the lever, he lowered his feet and stood.

Neil held his father gently, afraid he’d bruise him, or worse. His father’s embrace was a shadow of what it had been, but the strength was there—briefly.

“Damn good to see you, son. Been too long since you were home.”

“Way too long, Daddy. I’m sorry….”

“Nonsense. You did what you had to. But you’re home now. By God, boy, you stink!”

“My air went out around Memphis.”

“No wonder, evil old place, Memphis.” He winked. A native of Tennessee, he enjoyed poking fun. No one else had better do it in his hearing, though. In his younger days, he’d been in more than one fight because of it. “Let this boy have a shower, Mama,” he said to his wife. “He reeks to hell and back.”

“That I do.”

“Go on up. You’re in the guest room. The girls are sharing your old room. Chase is in the basement.”

“There’s two rooms down there, you in both, boy?”

“No, sir.”

“I’d as soon be down there, Mom. Suits me to be underground.”

“Whatever you want, Sugar. There’s fresh towels and sheets on the bed.”

He gave her a kiss. Chase showed him to the basement. It looked much as it had in his youth. It was freshly painted and the pattern of the bedspread had changed, but the overall feel of it said home to him. He’d always liked the basement rooms. Built into the side of a steep hill, the back of the house was exposed, with a beautiful view of the woods. As a child, he’d spent as much time here as he could, reading, working on his school projects and daydreaming about his life to come. On cool days, he’d fling the French doors open to the outside, lie on his belly and watch the trees move, their leaves singing in the breeze.

“Takes me back a piece,” he told Chase. “Which you in?”

Chase pointed to the left. Neil nodded, heading to the room on the right. He put his bags in the floor and headed directly to the small, interconnecting bathroom. His shower was long and as hot as he could get it. It felt so good to get the road grit and sweat off his body, he indulged himself. Once he felt cleaner, he made sure to shave before getting dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. His mother insisted that they go without shoes in the house, to save the carpets. He didn’t mind, preferring going barefoot to wearing socks and shoes. His dirty clothing, accumulated over the last few days, went in the washer and he started a load. His mother might object, but his clothing reeked of sweat. He hardly wanted to touch it himself, let alone make his delicate mother do it.

Waiting in the sitting area, he found Chase. His nephew looked old beyond his years, care worn and down trodden. The emotions radiating off him were enough to make Neil gasp and take a step back. He’d always been empathic, but now—something was new here. Something had changed. Or maybe it was he who had changed? He didn’t know. Crossing the room, he sat by the boy, putting his arms around him as he drew him close.

“Let it out, son. If you can’t cry in front of me, who can you? I’ve been in your shoes, boy. Let it out.”

Chase sobbed, his body shaking with the horrendous emotions he’d tried so hard to contain. He wept for his father, and for his mother having to go on without him. He cried for himself, missing his father so much it hurt, and for his sisters, who would grow up without their daddy. He also wept for his grandparents, who missed their son.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 6

When Tis Done coverJackie has a heart to heart with Marissa, telling her to show Chase a little more affection. Jordan and Brian demonstrate how close they’ve become, virtually reading one anothers minds.

The men came in with a pitcher of fresh lemonade and glasses of ice. There were bowls with sliced strawberries and sprigs of mint.

“I’ve been wanting mint most of the day,” Heath admitted as he poured lemonade in the glasses. “But I sensed that you wanted strawberries, my love.” He handed Jackie a glass of lemonade with sliced berries in it.

“Perfect, I do. Jordan, what would you like?” Jackie raised an eyebrow, her eyes moving between her daughter and Brian.

“She wants mint,” Brian said.

Jordan’s eyes widened. “I do! And I know you want berries like Mom.”

Brian chuckled as he poured her lemonade, dropping three springs of mint into the glass before handing it to her.

Marissa’s face fell and she hid behind her hands. Chase sprang across the room, kneeling at her side. His hand caressed her pale blonde hair.

“Hey, no tears, Riss. I know—I know it’s not easy with me. I’m a dumb jock. I’m—I’m a pain in the ass, babe. I know that.”

The others drifted off, taking their lemonade with them. Jackie lingered in the doorway, watching the dynamic between them, nodding.

“I’m so sorry I’m such a jerk, Marissa. I don’t mean to push. I just—”

“I see how happy everyone else is. I want that, too, Chase. I don’t know how to get that for us.”

“Would you be happier—without me? With someone—not me?”

“Now you’re talking nonsense.”

“It’s just, Heath said that sometimes the Circle messes up. That we get one do over. One of us can leave the Circle and another mate is found.”

“You want to cast me aside for someone else?” Marissa’s tone changed as her temper rose.

“Dammit, Marissa, I’m not casting you aside! I’m giving you the opportunity to decide if you really want me. If you want to continue with the Circle, find another mate, I’ll bow out. I’ll do that for you, Riss. Because—ice crystals on my dick and all, I love you. I would die for you. But I need more from you. And I’m not talking about sex, cause God forbid I say anything of the sort!”

His temper rose, feeding off hers. Taking a deep breath, he put that old argument aside.

“What I’m saying is that I need a hug once in awhile. I need a kiss on your lips. I need to know you love me, Marissa. Because, if you don’t, I’m giving you the chance to change your mind. If I’m not the man for you, say so. I’ll step aside graciously.”

“If I do, that means you get a different woman,” she replied, angrily tight lipped. “Is that why you’re being so magnanimous? You’d get rid of me.”

“No!” Chase sobbed, collapsing at her feet. “No,” he whispered. “It means my heart would shatter. It means that I would fall to pieces. But I would give you this, Marissa Pennybaker. I would free you from our bond, if that’s what you want.”

“Well, I just don’t know,” she replied stiffly, her movements sharp and birdlike. “I will have to pray about this, Chase.” Her mouth worked, her lips tugging downward. “Is this what you want?” she squeaked, her voice high and girlish. She wouldn’t look at him, her hands working in the folds of her skirt.

“I’m on the floor, at your feet, Marissa. Does it look like this is what I want? It’s killing me,” he sobbed. “I’m dying and you don’t even care.”

Marissa burst into tears, pulling him to her. She kissed him on the mouth, holding his face in her hands. Her prim attitude shattered as she wept, hugging him tightly. Chase’s arms went tentatively around her, pulling her to him as he knelt at her feet.

“Dammit, I love you, Marissa. You make me angrier than a broke back snake, but I can’t live without you.”

“That’s the sweetest thing you ever said to me,” she whispered, running her fingers through his hair.

In the kitchen, Jackie smiled. Not all the issues were resolved, but they’d made their choice. She was glad, because she knew that this Circle, of them all, would face many challenges. They’d already been tested more in the last two years, than her Circle had since its birth.

Heath came in, pulling her close. “I guess what we said helped. Thank God. I hate to think where we’d be if they had to initiate two new members.”

“Their Circle would falter without Chase and Marissa. They stabilize it.”

He nodded, holding her close. “You scared the shit out of me with that fried food meal.”

Jackie giggled, giving him a kiss. “Sorry about that. I couldn’t resist. I have been craving it, but the girls think it might be Louisa.”

“I just thank God it’s not us. I love our kids, but I’m ready for it to be just us two. Miles and Maribelle are nuts to have Elise so late.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 5

When Tis Done coverMarissa and Chase are having even more relationship problems than usual. Although he claims to love her, he’s pressuring her to have sex. Marissa cares for Chase, but she’s very religious and has very rigid principles of behavior. She won’t even let him kiss her in public. It’s becoming a major problem for their Circle.

Marissa hung her head, lips trembling. “He hates me so!”

“Who hates you, honey?”

“Chase! He despises me! He can hardly stand to be near me and we’re always arguing.”

Jordan said nothing, letting her mother take the lead. Jackie knew about the problems between Chase and Marissa. Everyone knew. It had been worse since Cliff’s death, but had been building steadily to a head for the last two years. Now, more than ever, she saw changes between the two of them that she knew meant trouble.

“He doesn’t hate you,” Jackie said. “If anything, he loves you to distraction. But you’re frustrating him, dear. He’s a man.”

“Does that mean I should drop my panties and hop in his bed?” Marissa’s infamous temper flared, making the rose plates on the wall rattle.

“No. It means just what I said. He’s a man, with a man’s urges.”

“So’s Brian and he’s not always fussing at Jordan about—things.”

“Brian isn’t Chase. Not only that, Jordan gives him a bit more than you’ve ever given Chase. I’m not saying she’s been indiscrete,” Jackie said, her eyes flickering over to meet her daughter’s glare. “I mean she allows closeness, intimacy—not sexual—but loving. Do you let Chase hug you? Give you more than a little peck on the cheek?”

“No, ma’am. Things like that put impure thoughts in a man’s head.”

Jackie almost lost it. “Sweetheart, those thoughts are already there. Even a man with the self-control of a saint, has trouble with that. You have to give him a chance to be a man.”

“I’m not going—”

Jackie held up a hand, stopping Marissa’s rant. “Did I say that? I’m not condoning pre-marital sex. Even if we’re destined to be together, doesn’t mean that sex is for the taking. All I’m saying is, give the guy something. A kiss, a hug.”

“Throw him a fucking bone, Riss. You nearly froze his dick!” Jordan joined in rather loudly. Marissa’s Puritanical attitude annoyed her. They were friends only because of the Circle. Otherwise, she would have had nothing to do with the straight laced girl. “Brian knows his limits. He’s not pawing all over me.”

“He was earlier,” Marissa spat out angrily.

Jordan smirked, her eyebrows arched. “And how far did he get before I nearly broke his fingers? Seriously, Riss. I have him on a tight leash. He hates it, but he knows that eventually we’ll be together. It’s a given in my mind, and his.”

“I don’t want to know this part,” Jackie said, sighing. “It’s an inevitability…. At least I know Brian and love him like my own. You could do far worse for yourself, but not any better. The same applies to you, Marissa. Chase is a wonderful boy. But I see a crisis looming. If you don’t get this situation resolved, you will cause an irreparable rift in your Circle. I know Heath’s just spoken to Chase.”

“How do you know?”

“You get a feeling for it,” Jordan said. “When you get past—where you and Chase are. You know what he’s thinking, feeling, what he’s going to do next.” She pointed at the doorway, counting down, “Three, two, one….”

Brian popped around the doorframe, grinning. “Heath wants to know if we want lemonade out here or in the crystal room?”

“Which does he want?” Jackie asked.

“He said you’d say that. He wants out here.”

“That’s what I want, too, as it happens.”

“He said you’d say that, too.” He winked at Jordan and went back inside.

“That,” Jordan said with a smug grin.

“All couples have that to a degree. Just we have it more.”

“Why did Dad freak when you told him you were craving fried foods?” Jordan asked.

Jackie giggled. “Because the only time I crave fried foods is when I’m pregnant. I’m not, I promise. But I’m not entirely sure what brought it on. We know it isn’t either of you two.”

The girls exchanged a glance, grinning. “It’s Louisa,” they chorused.

“You think? She and Andre haven’t been married that long.”

“Seriously, Mom? They were having sex for ages.”

“Thank you for waiting,” Jackie said, her face serious. “Don’t make me a grandmother too soon, please.”

“No intention of it. We have to get our educations first. I don’t even want to get married until after we graduate from college.”

“Good idea. Ah, here we are!”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

When Tis Done – Part 4

When Tis Done coverHeath overhears Brian talking to Chase and sits the boys down for a talk. He explains that the Circle will pick a new person to replace Dora Finley, Chase’s mother, now that his father is dead. He also tells them that if Chase and Marissa can’t resolve their differences, one or the other could leave the Circle and a replacement would be found.

“Nope. From time to time, the force around us make mistakes. It’s bound to happen. Our choice of a mate may be pre-destined, but it’s not written in stone. Sometimes, your intended isn’t really the best person for you. So, an alternate is provided. You only get a second chance, not a third or fourth. This isn’t a dating service, after all. But it has to be a mutual thing and you both have to agree which of you leaves the circle. If neither of you wants to, then you’re stuck with one another. But solve this now before you get married. Or before you take your relationship further.”

“You mean sex,” Chase said.

“Yes. I went about it the wrong way, Chase. I almost lost the two most important things in my life; Jackie and the Circle. Until I hovered on the edge of that decision, saw the pain in her eyes because of my stupidity, I didn’t realize how important they both were. Don’t put yourself in that position. You and Marissa need to have an in depth talk. Jackie and I will be happy to mediate, because you’ll need to have someone there who’s been in your shoes.”

“I’d appreciate that, Mr. Barrett. Thank you. When?”

“Well, tonight is set aside for a party.”

“What are we celebrating?” Brian asked, feeling somewhat subdued after Heath’s revelation.

“Our Circle is mending itself,” Heath said. “We lost our Brother, gained a Sister, but now we need to find our Balance. Tonight at Chase’s house, we’ll be meeting our newest member.”

“Does this mean Mom is leaving the Circle?”

“Yes,” Heath said softly. “She doesn’t want to stay without Cliff, anyway. It doesn’t mean you’re moving or that you have to leave your Circle. And she will always be a part of us….” Heath sniffed loudly. His head dropped as he sniffed again.

Brian put his hand on the older man’s shoulder, doing his best to give comfort. He knew that Cliff, Heath and his father had been closer than brothers, brought together by their presence in the Circle. He felt that way about Chase and the others in their Circle. He didn’t know how his parents and the others in their group were coping with this break. It would be like having his heart ripped out and stomped on.

Heath clasped his hand, smiling at the boy who was working so hard to be the man he needed to be. Pride flooded through him when he met Brian’s intense blue eyes. They’d almost lost him twice, but he came back stronger. He seemed invulnerable, given what he’d been through and survived. Heath dearly hoped that invulnerability wouldn’t be put to the test again anytime soon.

“Party tonight. You’ll like this guy, boys. He’s a real pistol popper.”

“I don’t even know what that means, Heath,” Brian admitted. “Sounds like something my granddad would say.”

“He probably did. He’s a hell of a guy. Come on up, or Jackie will skin us alive if we’re late for lunch.”

“How do you know?” Chase asked.

Before the question was completely out of his mouth, the door at the top of the stairs opened and Jordan called down.

“Get up here now, or Mom swears she’ll skin you alive!”

Heath pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “Cause that. You’ll see when you progress past a peck on the cheek. Brian knows.”

Brian trotted up the stairs ahead of them, heading to the small bathroom under the front stairs, to wash his hands. Chase held Heath back a moment, his eyes full of pain.

“I do love her, Mr. Barrett. But—”

“You feel like there’s something more out there.” He nodded. “I’ll talk to Jackie.”

“Thank you.”

Forcing smiles, they took their places at the table. Jackie gave blessing and they dug into the meal. She might be a vegetarian, but she did eat fish. She’d prepared a feast of fried catfish and hush puppies, along with fried green tomatoes, fried dill pickles and fried squash.

“Why all the fried foods, Mrs. B,” Marissa asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head. “Just had a craving for it. I’ll have to figure that out when I meditate.”

Heath’s head snapped up, his eyes narrowing. Jordan watched her father carefully as he examined his wife for something. Soon, his face relaxed and he went back to his meal. Jordan had the distinct impression that he’d been checking her aura for something. Whatever it was, he was pleased by it, so she let the matter drop.

The rule of the house was if the women cooked, the men cleaned up, and vice versa. The women relaxed on the enclosed back porch as the men loudly and boisterously washed dishes and put up the leftover food.

“Talk to me,” Jackie directed at Marissa. “I haven’t seen you this despondent since Cliff passed.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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