“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?”
“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.”
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.”
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