Sensing that their nocturnal visitor thinks they are the weak link in the Circle, Neil and Cynthia decide to get married that day. After a few phone calls, they get dressed and head to City Hall.
As they exchanged their vows, a crowd gathered. Soon, the downtown shop owners and their customers were standing around, watching. After the bride and groom kissed, a huge cheer went up. Someone had brought confetti, someone else birdseed. The local baker invited them all in for cupcakes and the ice cream parlor supplied everyone with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate. It was an unusual celebration, but it made it much more special having so many people involved.
“We got our fuss after all,” Neil said, holding Cynthia close.
“I don’t think any conventional church wedding could top this,” she agreed.
They met up at the Braxton home for a reception in the form of a barbecue. The teenagers chipped in and bought another cake for dessert and everyone had a wonderful afternoon together.
When Neil and Cynthia got back to her house, he lifted her, carrying her into the house.
“Fifteen generations of Finley brides have been carried across this threshold,” he declared. “I may not be a Finley, but I’m not breaking tradition. I love you, Cynthia. With all my heart and all my soul. I will honor and protect you all the days of my life.”
“I love you more than I have words for,” Cynthia replied.
“Actions do speak louder.”
He carried her upstairs, taking two at a time. They made love for the first time as husband and wife, pleased to see that their glow hadn’t diminished, rather it seemed more pronounced. They made love most of the night, stopping for a meal and several showers before settling down for a nap around 3:00. That night, Neil slept deeply, dreaming of happy, blond children with their mother’s smile.
They woke the next day around 10:00 to the sound of someone knocking loudly on their door. Grabbing his boxers and pants, Neil stumbled down the stairs only half dressed. A man stood on the porch. Neil didn’t recognize him, because he stood with his back to the door, but his brown uniform made him think it was UPS. Warily, he opened the door with the chain on.
“Special delivery for you.”
“Who’s it from?”
“I’m not sure. Are you Mr. Braxton?”
“Who are you?”
“Able, the delivery man.”
“Where’s your truck?”
The man flashed a rather leering smile. “That would be telling.”
Neil slammed the door in his face, locking it tightly before dashing upstairs.
“Who was it?”
“No idea. Creep of the Week. Get dressed.” He called Heath and told him what had happened.
“We’ll be right over. Jackie says you need a full blessing and more wards. I’ve called the rest of the Circle and the kids are coming, too.”
“Thanks. See you soon.”
Within two hours, all the members of the Center Circle had arrived. All the teens from the Inner Circle were there and as many of the Outer Circle as were able to, had also gathered. They spread out with purifying sage, holy water and blessed salt with cumin, walking the house and property. Those who were best at laying charms and wards went behind, reinforcing the spiritual protection of the home.
“Were there holes?” Neil asked. “How did it get in?”
“I didn’t sense any weaknesses,” Jackie said. “I even laid wards underground to protect from there. Heath and Miles are checking water pipes and electrical wires. Anything leading to the house from the outside…. I can’t imagine what it was.”
“Had anyone around lately, someone you invited over?” Maribelle asked Cynthia.
“No. We all did the work for the repairs ourselves. The only different person who’s been here, is Neil.”
“I could have brought something with me,” Neil admitted. “I was in some rough places with bad things going on. I’d quit doing my cleansing rituals. Kind of hard to get hold of the ingredients in the desert.”
“Then we do a cleansing of the two of you,” Jackie said.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes