Tag Archive | Dellani Oakes

He Thought He Saw – Part 60

He Thought He Saw redBrian and Jordan decide to spar in the Barrett’s dojo. When they come out, Zofia is waiting for them, clearly upset.

Brian walked behind and to her left, his own eyes trying to pick out details in the gloom. He felt the hairs on his neck rise and knew something was horribly wrong. Where were their parents? Why hadn’t they warned the children? Why hadn’t they asked them for their help?

The smell of sulfur assailed their nostrils when they got to the front rooms of the house. A fire burned in the living room fireplace, nearly down to coals. Furniture was knocked over, black singe marks marred the hardwood floor and area rugs. Grit crunched under their feet. Brian stooped to investigate as Jordan turned slowly, taking in details. Crystalline grit clung to his sweaty fingers. It had a familiar odor to it that he could detect, even with the sulfuric smell.

“Cumin,” he whispered. His tongue flicked out. “And salt. They were fighting something.”

“But what? And where are they? Why didn’t Zofia warn us?”

“I don’t know.”

They searched the downstairs thoroughly, but the living room was the only place that showed signs of violence. Jordan shivered.

“There must be a door or window open somewhere. Let’s look.”

They made the circuit again, this time finding a window in her father’s office open. Someone had used it. The screen was out, lying in a broken heap on the ground. The snow below was trampled as if hurrying feet had jumped out and run away.

“Where did they go?” Jordan’s voice squeaked like a little child’s.

“I don’t know, but your dad’s car is gone.”

“They left us?” Her voice rose to a near shriek. “All alone? They left us?”

“We aren’t alone. We’re together and we have Zofia. Maybe they figured we were safer where we were.” He closed the window, locking it. “And they were right. Misdirection, remember?”

Grabbing Jordan’s hand, he dragged her back through the house.

“Go upstairs and change into warm clothing. Boots, hat, gloves. We’ll need food and water. Do you have camping gear?”

“In the basement laundry room, on the shelves. The backpacks are already full of anything we’d need in an emergency. Dad’s pretty OCD about that.”

“Great. Change and meet me here in five minutes.”

“No. Get your stuff and come upstairs. I’m not going in that room alone.”

“Jordan, don’t be ridiculous. Take Zofia with you.”

“I don’t want to be alone up there. I’m scared.”

Brian took her elbows firmly in his hands. He gazed intently in her eyes, commanding her with his voice. “Jordan, you’re not a coward. Put on your big girl panties and do it.”

Her spine stiffened and he could tell he’d made her mad. Good, if she’s angry, she can’t be afraid.

“I’ll get you for this,” she muttered, storming past him.

“Sorry I don’t have a pillow handy,” he countered. “Must have left it in my other pants.” He dodged her jab with the end of the tonfa.

Brian changed quickly and went downstairs to get the backpacks. They were fully stocked as Jordan said they were. He grabbed a few more weapons from the dojo and scurried upstairs.

Jordan met him in the kitchen. She had a square of leather across her chest and she put several knives in slits.

“They aren’t just for cooking,” she remarked. “Steel, full length tang, oak grip, brass rivets.”

“Good. I got some things from the dojo. We’re as prepared as we can be.”

“I called Andre. He said they were already on the way. Ginnifer got a warning. They’ll be here soon.”

“We need more provisions.”

“They’re set. I asked.”

Andre’s truck pulled up outside. They bustled down the steps and dropped their packs in the truck bed before hopping in back seat with Sweet. Ginnifer and Louisa sat up front with Andre. Zofia hopped in the back with the packs and lay down between them.

“What’s wrong?” Ginnifer asked.

“Our parents disappeared. We were downstairs in the dojo and they were gone when we got upstairs.”

“Freaky, man,” Sweet said.

“You didn’t hear anything?” This from Louisa.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 59

He Thought He Saw redJordan and Brian find it a little intimidating knowing that they are destined to be married in the future.

“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 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 58

He Thought He Saw redNot only has Brian had a crash course in telekinesis, Jordan has been taking lessons too. She and the other women prepared a special meal to help protect them and boost their powers.

“This is delicious,” Brian said after taking a bite of the bread.

Jordan blushed, ducking her head.

Jackie patted her daughter’s hand. “You did well. Now, to tell you about the meal. The bread is infused with herbs that will help in healing and protection. The apples contain cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger. All these help with healing and protection as well. Maribelle, tell them about the rice.”

“I added saffron, three different peppers—red, black and white. Also, turmeric, cumin, fennel and a little ginger. These herbs add to strength and mental energy as well as helping to augment your psychic powers.”

The other dishes on the table each had specific combinations of herbs and spices that would aid and protect them. Brian found all the food delicious,though he really missed the fact that there was no meat. He was glad his family hadn’t adhered to vegetarianism.

“Why do we need all this, Mom?” Jordan asked.

“We are preparing our bodies for what’s to come,” Jackie replied. “Maribelle and I sense that something is going to happen soon. We need to be ready. Tomorrow, Maribelle and Brian will go back home. We’ve selfishly kept them here long enough.”

“Do you think that’s safe, Mom? If something bad is coming, shouldn’t they be with us?”

“Sweetheart, we can’t rely on Brian and Maribelle to be our backbone.”

“I can’t sleep in my room, Mom. After the frost, I’m terrified.”

“Then you’ll take what you need and move into the guest room,” her mother replied. “We can’t keep them from home any longer.”

Jordan’s mouth snapped shut and she looked as if she were going to cry. Brian wondered why the sudden change. He’d been under the impression Heath wanted them to continue living there more or less indefinitely. Was it because Jackie knew Miles was home? Or had she figured out what was going on between Brian and Jordan? Not that it had been much, but if Maribelle hadn’t walked in, would it have progressed? Brian didn’t know and he didn’t want to find out—not here, not under these circumstances. He glanced at Jackie and he knew that she’d seen enough to be worried. He smiled, letting reassurance flow from his gaze.

Nothing happened. Don’t worry.

To his surprise, she smiled, the worry gone. Had he actually communicated telepathically? He was shocked.

“If Jordan’s afraid, she can trade places with me,” Maribelle offered. “I don’t mind.”

“That sounds like an excellent plan,” Jackie agreed.

Brian stuffed his mouth full so he wouldn’t have to comment. Jordan, very pointedly, stared at her plate, fiddling with her food.

Once dinner was over and clean up complete, the teenagers and Zofia went to the basement to watch TV and play pool. The women stationed themselves in the living room to watch their favorite shows. Heath parked himself in the den with a cold beer. Brian told Jordan what he’d done with the pool balls earlier. He demonstrated and let her try. She did really well.

“I had to chop up the herbs and onions with my powers,” she told him. “Ever tried to use a chef’s knife and not use your hands?”

“No, but I bet you rocked it,” Brian said sincerely. “You can do anything you want, Jordan.”

“Except math,” she sneered.

“Well, Algebra won’t help you slay demons, will it?”

“I was thinking of hurling equations at them and attacking while they tried to muddle through them.”

Brian laughed. “That might work.”

“Interesting how our parents managed to keep us apart tonight? Do they think we’re going to do something bad?”

“Not bad, maybe naughty,” Brian corrected.

“Explain the difference.”

“Well, if we are going to be married, us being together wouldn’t be bad, but it would be naughty.”

“Marriage is way in the future, Brian. I can’t even think past school on Monday.”

“I know. Would it be so terrible, being married to me?”

“No. I think it would be great. Of all the guys I’ve known, you’re the only one who really gets me. It’s just the idea….”

“That we were destined for each other. We had no choice.”

“Exactly! See what I mean?”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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He Thought He Saw – Part 57

He Thought He Saw redOnce they get back to Jordan’s house, she’s taken to the kitchen to help her mother prepare dinner. Heath takes Brian to play pool in order to practice his skills.

“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.

“Break again.”

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.”

“Really?”

“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 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 56

He Thought He Saw redBrian’s had a bad day, seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. It’s very disconcerting and he’s very glad when school is finally over.

By the end of school, Brian was edgy and ready to go home. He smiled with relief when he saw Jordan at her locker and practically ran up to her.

“God, it’s been a day!” he said.

“Me too. I kept seeing weird shit,” Jordan said. “No one looked right. And there were shadows….”

“Like right here?” Brian waved his hands in the furthest reaches of his peripheral vision.

“Yes! I’m so glad it’s not just me. I thought I was going crazy! Not that it really should make me feel any better. It’s like all the shadows were gathering, preparing for… something.”

Brian shuddered. That was exactly what he’d felt. Having her say it somehow made it seem all too real.

Heath picked them up and took them back to their house. He tried to make it seem like any other day, but both the kids knew differently. He made small talk until Jordan stopped him. She and Brian described what they had been experiencing all day.

“Us too,” he said quietly. “Even Maribelle, as bad as her vision is, saw things. In fact, I think she saw more detail. It was as if the less we focused on it, the more we saw.”

“What do you think is going to happen,” Jordan asked.

“I don’t know, honey. But whatever it is, I think it’s going to be soon.”

Brian and Jordan spent a couple hours trying to do their homework, but neither of them could concentrate. They walked into the kitchen, looking for their parents, and found the three of them at the table.

“Hey, honey. Want to help Maribelle and me fix dinner?” Jackie asked.

“Sure! The men can bond over a game of pool or something,” Jordan said, going to the sink to wash her hands.

Brian and Heath looked at one another, resigned smiles on their faces.

“We know when we’re not wanted,” Heath said, trying to sound huffy. “We’ll find something to do.”

“Maybe we should knock out that wall you were talking about,” Brian said. “You know, the one in the basement?”

“Sounds like a great plan,” Heath said.

“No wall knocking allowed!” Jackie called after them, laughing. “No do-it-yourself anything!”

They trotted downstairs to the game room. A pool table and TV with game consoles took up most of the space. The laundry room was to the left and a closed door to the right.

“You like pool?” Heath asked Brian.

“Yeah.”

“How about a game?”

“Sounds good.”

Heath uncovered the table and racked the balls. Brian chose his cue, chalking the tip. They flipped a coin to see who would break. Brian won. As he leaned over to line up his shot, Heath stopped him.

“This is a good way to practice,” he said calmly.

“To practice what?”

“Your abilities. They need exercise in order to get stronger. You also need to get used to them. Focus on the front ball. As you draw back the cue, imagine it hitting the others in just the right spot to separate the balls. Can you do that?”

“I can try,” Brian said, leaning over once more. He aimed at the ball, concentrating on it. He hit the cue a little low. It nearly jumped off the table. “Dammit!”

Heath smiled, picking up the ball. “Try it again. This time, divide your attention between the cue and the other ball. You know where to hit it to get it to go where you want. Try again.”

Brian did. It was better, but not as good as it might have been.

“Again.” Heath racked the balls once more. “And this time, don’t hold your breath.”

“Could have told me that already,” Brian muttered.

“And spoil the fun? Just do what I tell you. Divide your attention, aim and breathe. Quit trying to make it hard.”

“Quit distracting me.”

Brian aimed again. Heath’s cue stick rapped his knuckles, commanding Brian’s attention. The smile was gone. His dark eyes were angry, frustrated.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 55

He Thought He Saw redWith school the following day, Brian needs to sleep, but he can’t seem to find peace to do it. With the tape recorder in his room, he’s somewhat apprehensive.

Tossing and turning, he finally settled down and closed his eyes. He was aware of the recorder and that kept him awake for some time. Finally, he dropped off. Immediately, his mind was filled with horrific, nightmare images. He saw flames, explosions, blood and devastation. A big, black, nebulous something lurked in the shadows. He couldn’t see it clearly, but he tried to make himself describe it. Speaking in his dream, he hoped he would speak aloud as well.

The creature grew fangs, that lengthened and dripped poisonous looking green goo from them. Brian shuddered, cringing away from it. A large, warm body cuddled up next to him. He didn’t know what it was, but in his sleep, he clung to the warmth, holding it close.

The black thing lunged at him, attacking with claws and fangs. The teeth ripped into him. Brian screamed, but no sound came out. He woke in a sweat to find Zofia lying next to him. Her big head was on his shoulder and he held tightly to her collar. Before he forgot the images, he spoke aloud, describing what he’d seen.

“I don’t know what this all means,” he concluded. “But I have the impression that something really bad is coming soon. We need to be prepared.”

Brian fell asleep once more, this time without dreams. The images still haunted him and he felt the shadow lurking at the edges of his perception. Zofia lay beside him, warm, huge and comforting.

Heath drove Brian and Jordan to school. Brian told them what he could remember of his dream and warned them to be ready for anything. As he dropped them off, Heath cautioned them for the third time.

“Be careful today. Look out for each other. If you have any problems, look for Mrs. Finely. She’s the school counselor.”

“We know who she is, Dad. Don’t worry. It’s fine.”

“Take this salt and cumin. Sprinkle it wherever you go. Don’t take chances, Pumpkin. I love you.”

“I know, Dad. But if you call me pumpkin again, I’m seriously gonna have to kick your ass.” She kissed her father’s nose and hopped out of the car.

“Keep an eye on her today,” Heath asked Brian. “I don’t think she’s taking this seriously.”

Brian, who had some insight into Jordan’s emotions, didn’t say anything. He thought she did take it very seriously and the casual attitude was her way of coping with something that terrified her.

“I’ll watch out for her. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”

“Remember, sprinkle that salt and cumin around….”

“Heath, we got it, okay? I seriously have to go. I’m gonna be late.”

“Go! Be safe!” He watched the two teenagers meet and walk in the school together.

Horns honked behind him. Waving out the window, he pulled out and drove away, feeling that something loomed on the horizon. He only wished he knew what it was.

The first half of the day went well. At lunch time, Brian made a point to find Chase and Marissa. Along with Jordan, he told them what had happened over the last few days.

Marissa clung to Chase’s arm, her blue eyes wide with fear. “Do you think that he’ll try anything here—at school?”

“Probably not,” Jordan assured her, though she wasn’t really that confident that Deidrich wouldn’t attempt something during the day.

“We don’t think so. But if you get in trouble, text Chase’s mom and then the rest of us,” Brian instructed. “It will be okay, Marissa. Just be strong.”

“I have my faith to protect me,” she replied piously.

Jordan, who was feeling snarky, patted her hand. “Sure, you keep on believing that when the big baddie is breathing down your neck.”

Brian gave her a dirty look. “What Jordan means is that your skills will protect you more—just as much. Oh, hell. Marissa, just remember what you’ve learned. You’ll be okay.”

“I haven’t learned anything,” she protested. “My parents never taught me that—stuff! They said I didn’t need it, that my faith in God would be enough.”

“Well, they were wrong,” Brian said, trying not to be mean. “Pray all you want, it won’t faze Mr. D. Stick close to one of us, we’ll protect you.”

As they went to class after lunch, Brian didn’t feel quite right. The atmosphere in the school seemed charged. His skin tingled and he kept seeing things in the corner of his eye. When he turned to look, there was nothing there. Peoples’ faces didn’t look right. They were all distorted, grimacing. He constantly heard whispering, but no one was speaking. The voices spoke in another language. Covering his ears didn’t help. The sounds were actually louder because he blocked out everything else.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 54

He Thought He Saw redBrian gets an additional shock when he finds out that his father has kept in touch with his mother while he’s been gone.

“She’s known where you were the whole time? And she didn’t tell me? How could you keep this from me?”

“It had to be this way,” Miles took his son’s face between his hands. “You’re in a very precarious position. If you knew too much, they would sense that. Remember the magic tricks I taught you as a kid?”

“Yeah. So?”

“Slight of hand and misdirection. As long as I can keep the focus on me, they don’t look at you too closely. But you damn near blew it when you challenged Mr. D. He’ll be back and this time, he’ll bring friends. Zofia is going with you. She’ll protect you. I’ll keep Janus with me.”

Miles embraced his son, holding him close. “You be careful. Do what you’re told and don’t go running off trying to be a hero.”

“Yes, sir.”

Miles hugged Jordan. “You’re his other half. Stay close. Each of you is stronger when you’re together and far weaker when you’re apart. And for God’s sake, don’t try to take on Mr. D. without help. Is that clear?”

Jordan’s gaze met his. “Yes, completely.”

“Good.” He hugged his son again. “I love you, Brian. Know that, remember it, believe it.”

“I do, Dad. I love you too.”

Heath pulled Miles into an embrace.”Be careful yourself, my old friend. Janus!” The dog barked sharply. “You watch over him, you hear me?”

The dog’s answering bark sounded a lot like yes. The dogs licked one another, almost like a kiss. Zofia went with Brian and Janus stayed with his father.

“He’ll be okay, won’t he?” Brian asked Heath as they drove away.

“Your dad is a survivor. He’ll be fine. At least he’s inside his own home. He’s safer there than anywhere else.”

“What did he mean about wards?”

“Wards are protective spells,” Jordan answered. “See, I do know something. They can be made from stones and metal, like the amulet you wear. Or different plants, like the charms Mr. Finley gave us. You can also use herbs and spells or a combination of all of them.”

“You were paying attention today,” her father remarked, proudly. “Did you recognize the twigs that Miles had woven in his hair?”

“Hawthorn and Rowan,” she replied with confidence. “And I noticed there are Hawthorn, Rowan and Ivy around the house. Just like Chase’s house.”

“And ours. I’m surprised you hadn’t noticed.”

“They’re covered with snow,” she replied. “Cut me a little slack, Dad. I didn’t know their significance until today.”

“You’re forgiven.”

They got back to Jordan’s house to find the women fixing dinner. Music was playing and they sang and danced as they moved around the kitchen. Brian didn’t recognize the band, but Heath did. He joined in, twirling the women under his arms as they danced around. Neither seemed the slightest bit perturbed that a huge dog had joined them. She yipped and skipped as the women danced.

Brian finally got a good look at his mother’s eyes. They looked better, clearer. The haziness was almost gone and the clarity of her gaze was returning. She smiled at him, patting his cheek.

“You’re still fuzzy, but you’re coming back into focus. Thanks to Heath and Jackie, I’m getting better.”

“Oh, Mom!” He hugged her, sobbing with joy.

Maribelle buried her face in his shirt, crying softly. They stayed like that a few minutes until Maribelle pulled away, wiping her eyes on the corner of her apron.

“If I keep that up, I’ll wash away all Jackie’s hard work.” She sniffled.

“Nonsense,” Jackie said, sniffling herself. “Tears are good for you. Now, if you will excuse us, we’ve got a meal to fix. Jordan, want to help?”

They had a great dinner and went to bed early. Brian and Jordan didn’t know what they might face at school the following day. Heath had set up the recording device. Brian wasn’t sure he liked the idea of someone being able to hear what he mumbled in his sleep, but he knew it was important for them to know what they were up against. If this could give them an edge, then he had to man up and get over it.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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