Heath 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.”
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