At the Braxton house, Brian and David have a very honest chat about being part of the Circle.
David didn’t say anything. He reached out, taking Brian’s hand in his. His knuckles were swollen with age and gnarled by hard work. He wasn’t much over sixty, but his illness had aged him. He projected peace and contentment at Brian and watched as the red maelstrom eased and subsided.
“You’re right. I let my boy down. I honestly thought he’d be the one. He was always so much stronger than his sister, not just physically, but emotionally. Cool as a cucumber even in the worst circumstances. Grace under fire, I guess you could call it. He’s come round the hard way, but here he is, full circle. And I do believe you’re right about Chase. Next to you, he’s the strongest member you’ve got. Boy doesn’t know his own abilities fully. And he needs to get a grip on his libido.”
Brian chuckled, nodding. “Yeah. We all have that problem though, right? Swear ta God, he keeps it up, I’m gonna have to flatten him.”
“Excuse me?” Brian couldn’t believe David condoned him fighting Chase.
“The boy has to learn not to let it distract him. If that means you give him a smack down, do it. This is your Circle and you have to know your people will do what needs doing. If he’s too busy worrying about his willie to take care of business, he needs an attention grabber. A puff of air would be the thing. Don’t wanna bruise him too bad.”
Brian chuckled. “Did you ever have to do that?”
“To your grandfather, as a matter of fact. Maribelle’s daddy. That man is the stubbornest fella in three states, and that’s including me—and you. You got a lot of his better qualities. You’ll make a hell of a leader, Brian. You have the skills and the confidence. Just keep your temper.”
“Not always easy.”
“No. Don’t let it get to the point that you get angry. Take care of it before you lose control, or you’ll end up hurting someone by accident.”
Brian nodded. “Thanks for asking us over tonight. I know the invitation came from you.”
“Yep. You and I needed our chat. Now we’re on the same page. You do me a favor, though.”
“Straighten out my grandson if you must, but try not to humiliate him too bad. Do it in private.”
“I’ll do my best, sir. I’d never intentionally embarrass him like that.”
David nodded, shaking Brian’s hand. “Good man. Now, tell me what you found out at the archives.”
Brian told the old man about listening to Evangeline’s diary and viewing the portrait. “I need to ask Chase for the disc so I can listen to it. I should listen to them all.”
“Tell you what. Cliff and Dora gave me a full set for Christmas. He had them made up and ready before….” He batted away a tear. “See that black box up there?” He pointed to a high shelf. “They’re in there. You take ’em and have a listen. Bring ’em back when you’re done.”
“Thank you.” Brian put the discs in his car and came back in just as Chase and Marissa arrived.
She looked flushed and flustered, he looked cross. Neither of them spoke to one another all through the meal. David gave Brian a pointed look after dinner and asked Jordan if she would play the piano for him while the others cleaned up.
“Brian, you help Chase put the trash and recyclers out, if you would. I’m sure he’d like the help.”
“Happy to, sir.” Brian plucked at Chase’s sleeve.
They walked to the trash cans at the side of the house. Since they were rural, the county only picked up once a week. The heavy duty plastic bins were packed full and several bags sat on the ground beside them. Brian tugged a can while Chase lugged a couple of bags. They made two trips just for garbage. The recycling took only one. When they were done, Brian dusted his hands on his jeans. Chase stood still, shuffling his feet.
“Thanks. Takes forever when I do it by myself.”
“Oh, I know. I’m the trash guy at my house, too.” Brian eyed his friend. “You and Marissa have to stop this fighting, Chase. It’s bad for the Circle.”
“I know, Brian. But….”
“No pathetic excuses. I’m done with that. Get it solved. We have no idea what we’re up against or when it’s coming. If you’re not able to work in a unit, I’ll throw Marissa out and get someone else.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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