Chase and Marissa have a serious talk and start mending their relationship. Heath and Jackie are worried about them because they help stablize the Inner Circle.
“Miles and Maribelle are nuts to have Elise so late,” Heath said.
“You know how much they wanted another child. The rest of us have so many. For them, it was only ever Brian,” Jackie replied.
“I have a feeling that baby girl is going to be a lot like her brother.”
“Oh, surely not. There’s only one per family.”
Heath pressed his lips together, shaking his head. “Not entirely true. I’ve been going through the archives with Chase and Cynthia, trying to make sense of Cliff’s system. We came across something. I haven’t said anything to the others yet. I don’t want Maribelle to worry. Once in awhile, a second child can also be chosen by a Circle. It’s rare, but it happens.”
“Lord have mercy, I was so hoping that Maribelle would have one normal child.”
Heath chuckled. “Baby, it’s not like any of our kids are exactly normal. The boys grew up knowing their baby sister was going to be the chosen one from their generation. They know about more weird stuff than some folks twice their ages.”
Chase and Marissa were still talking quietly on the porch when the house phone rang. Jackie reached for it.
“Hello?” She listened for a moment. “Oh, hi, Dora. Yes, Chase is here. He’s kind of—occupied at the moment. He and Marissa have been talking.” She nodded. “Yes, exactly. Well, good. Thank you for letting me know.” She turned to her husband, worried frown on her face. “He’s almost here. She wants Chase home for when he arrives.”
* * *
Crossing into the city limits of Miracle, his skin tingled. It wasn’t unpleasant, exactly, more along the lines of a sensual touch from someone he didn’t know. It felt great, and disconcerting at the same time. He was hot, sweaty and exhausted. His air conditioner had crapped out somewhere south of Memphis and he’d made the remainder of his trip with the windows down, praying it wouldn’t rain.
Rolling up to his parents’ home, a place he hadn’t been in close to twenty years, was strange to him. He’d left, not under the best of circumstances, putting Miracle, Mississippi and all its oddities, behind him. He’d seen his folks a few times, when they came to see him. He loved his family, but he’d never been able to live with the disappointment of who and what they were—that he wasn’t.
Shutting off the engine, he stared at the house without moving to get out of the car. Couched in a grove of giant magnolia trees, it looked magical. A snort of laughter left him feeling weak. Magical…. Yeah. Stepping out onto the gravel driveway, he inhaled deeply. The scent of pine trees, magnolia blossoms and the tang from the river, filled his nostrils. Closing his eyes, he inhaled again, feeling something sweep over him, knocking him back a step. He couldn’t put a name to it, but it was a sense of belonging that he’d never felt before. It comforted and scared him all at once.
It’s so beautiful here. I never noticed just how stunning it is.
The front door opened and his family walked out. He hardly recognized the two girls, Katie and Lucy, having only seen them in pictures. His sister looked older and care worn, not unexpected under the circumstances. And Chase….
God, he’s the image of his dad!
Seeing his nephew, he burst into tears. The boy, now man, raced down the steps, hurling himself at his uncle.
“Uncle Neil! It’s so good to see you!”
Neil clung to his nephew, weeping. He’d held himself together through the entire trip, only to lose it right before he walked in the door.
Some Marine you are, Braxton, he mentally chided himself. The girls drew back from him, but Dora rushed down the front steps, flinging herself into his arms. He held his fragile, slender twin, as she wept uncontrollably.
“Oh, Neil! I’ve missed you so!” she sniffed and sniffled.
He became aware of how rank he smelled and how damp his shirt was. “Sorry, I’m not real fresh. Damn air in the car conked out. Maybe you can help me fix it later?” he appealed to Chase. “Your daddy said you’re pretty handy.”
“We’ll pop the hood tomorrow.”
“Come meet the girls,” Dora said, taking his hand. “Katie, Lucy, this is Uncle Neil.”
Katie, the older of the two, stepped forward, smiling up at him. Throwing her arms around his waist, she hugged him. “Welcome home,” she said.
Lucy came forward shyly. He went down on one knee to be on her level. She handed him a drawing of two men standing together, a huge fish hanging between them.
“This is you and Daddy fishing,” she said with a gap toothed grin. “I copied the picture on Mamaw’s dresser.”
“Yes, I remember this day. We went to the river and caught that granddaddy catfish. He was some good eating, wasn’t, he Dora?”
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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