Chase tells the other three the story of how Miracle, Mississippi got its name – Because of The Tin Man, also known as the Peddler, who helped their ancestors fight the evil witches.
“Yo, blood,” Chase jabbed him again. “Ladies,” he stood, welcoming the girls back.
Marissa allowed a virginal kiss on the cheek. It was more than he’d given him a year ago. It might not seem like much, but to Chase, it was a vast improvement. It was hard for him to accept that Marissa was to be his one, true love. As many times as he tried to break up and walk away, the attempts failed and they ended up back together. He couldn’t fight it, but he kept trying.
It wasn’t that he didn’t care about her, he did. It was the fact that she kept him at bay while all his friends were getting action. Well, except for Brian. He wasn’t in as dire straits as Chase, but Jordan was good at putting the brakes on. Still, he could see them consummating their relationship before they married and he’d still be languishing.
“Chase, honey?” Marissa said softly, stroking his cheek. “Will you be a sweetie and get me a slice of pie?”
“Sure.” He raised a hand to get Annie’s attention.
“I meant for you to go on over to the counter,” she pointed to the other side of the store where the pie was kept. “And ask.”
“Sure.” Chase knew she wanted to tell Brian something. It either concerned him or was potentially embarrassing. Why the hell do I have to be hooked up with a religious freak?
“With ice cream,” she called after him.
Chase nodded, waving as he walked away. Once Chase was out of hearing range, Marissa nodded to Jordan.
“Don’t yell,” Jordan said.
She pursed her lips, glancing at Marissa. “We think that we need to summon the Peddler.”
“Okay. Do we know how?”
The girls exchanged another glance, blushing.
“Yes, sort of. You won’t like it.”
“Do I have to dance naked at moonlight or something?”
They didn’t say anything. Their silence confirmed it.
“No. Oh, f**k no!”
Marissa glared. Jordan’s lips twitched as she suppressed a smirk.
“You promised not to yell,” Marissa snipped. “And language, Brian.”
“No. No, no, no, no, no—no. f**k no.”
“It’s the only way,” Marissa said. “It has to be you.”
“I want a second—no, third and fourth opinions on that. No freaking way I’m dancing around naked in this weather. Not at all, I might add. I didn’t even do that when I was a little kid. There is no way in hell!”
“You okay, Brian?” Annie asked. “You’re freaking folks out, honey. Settle down, or I’ll ask you to leave.”
“Sorry, Annie. The girls pulled a prank. I apologize for losing it.”
“You girls be nice to Brian. He’s a delicate flower.” She winked and pinched his cheek.
“Yeah, like oleander or nightshade,” Chase said. He arrived with a tray holding four pieces of pie with ice cream on the side. “I wanted pie too,” he confessed. “Not just so you could get me out of the way. You know, anything you said to embarrass my boy, you can say in front of me. I’ve got your back, babe.” He kissed Marissa lightly on the lips.
Her blue eyes sparkled for a moment, lighting her too pale face with a healthy pink glow.
“I couldn’t have said that in front of you. It was bad enough to tell Brian.”
“This isn’t over,” Brian snarled. “Don’t think that pie and Annie are going to stop me from discussing this. It isn’t settled.”
His anger seethed and bubbled under the surface. He was tall enough to be intimidating, even when he wasn’t trying. Jordan flinched away from his barely controlled anger. The silverware and water glasses near them trembled a few seconds, then stopped.
Rather than showing her distress, Jordan popped a bite of peach pie into his mouth. It was his favorite and Sweeties made it fresh every day. Chase had gotten his with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream, also his favorite He closed his eyes, rolling the tender peach and flaky crust over his tongue. A lingering kiss followed.
“Everything is better with pie,” she assured him. “We’ll ask the parental units. Don’t worry. If you have to dance, I’ll do it with you.”
He chuckled, the sound rumbling deep in his chest as he pulled her close. “Count on it.” He kissed her again, trying hard not to be fresh, but his hands had a mind of their own.
Chase cleared his throat. “Y’all done or you want I should get you a room?”
Brian punched him. “Jealous.”
“As all hell,” Chase replied. He ate the rest of his pie in irritated silence.
They headed over to Chase’s house and gathered in his basement. It, too, had been converted to practice space. They spent the next thirty minutes showing one another new things they had learned. No one wanted to broach the subject of Brian’s naked midnight dance, but it couldn’t be avoided for ever.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes