To their surprise, they find out that John Curtis’ brother is the Voice of his Circle. John was just as glad that he wasn’t chosen himself. He has come to them, to ask for help. Their Inner Circle is weak, and not all the families have children. Cynthia calls the other Circle members, asking them to come and meet him.
She walked in about that time, smiling. “They’ll be here at six thirty. They’re bringing food. The local members of all the Outer Circle will be here, the other two will be complete.”
“Thank you,” John said, smiling at her. He cocked his head to one side. “Did you say wife?”
“All this, and you come back to that?” Neil laughed loudly. “Yes, we got married yesterday.”
“Holy shit, you work fast!”
“We felt it was necessary for the Circle. It was severely damaged when my brother was killed. We did the ritual to hand over the position, but the Circle couldn’t fully heal until we married. We’re still coming under attack, if your posession is any indication.”
“You’d still be perceived as weak,” John replied. “Since your bond is new. I’m surprised, though. As Voice and married, you should be strong. Your wards are kick ass. I don’t know how I even got through.”
“Because you didn’t intend to harm us, whatever was inside you, did. But their intentions could be masked by yours.”
“That’s a terrifying thought,” Cynthia said, wide eyed. “What if others can do the same?”
“It has to be something very powerful,” John replied. “Not just anything can possess. Not only that, I’ve had the same training you and Neil had—all my life. I still practice my cleansing rituals. My brother sends me stuff. Now that I’m State Side, it’s easier.”
There was a knock at the door. Neil hopped up and looked out the peephole.”It’s my folks.” He opened the door.
Mr. and Mrs. Braxton came in slowly, with her supporting him.
“Dad, we could have come to you.”
“This is the ritual grounds,” he wheezed.
Myra bustled to the kitchen, coming back with a glass of water. She wasn’t happy until he’d sipped the whole thing. Neil made introductions and waited for his father to finsh his water.
“We came right over,” Myra said. “David knew it couldn’t wait. When you called, we’d been talking about things, looking at some of the journal entries made by Evangeline Cayce.” She pulled a three ring binder from a bag. “Brian is borrowing our audio discs, but I like to read things for myself.” She plunked the thick volume on the table. “Have a look at page four seventy-three.”
Brian’s day wasn’t going well. He found that not only was Jian Fēng on the debate and speech team with him, he was in five of his seven classes. The only ones Fēng wasn’t in were his A.P. English and P.E. classes. For five hours a day, he got glared at by the dark eyed Asian and it made his skin crawl unpleasently. It seemed that no matter where he sat, Fēng was behind him, staring. Disconcerted and irrate, Brian scurried back to his locker, to find that Jian and Lian had lockers nearby his. He wasn’t sure how that worked. They were assigned alphbetically and Fēng wasn’t so close to Casey that they should have been anywhere near one another. Chase’s locker was at the other end of the hall, which was where the Fēngs should be as well—but weren’t.
“You okay?” Jordan asked as he threw books into his locker at the end of the day.
“You don’t look peachy.” She touched his cheek, a worried frown on her face.
Fēng flashed a toothy, leering grin at her as he closed his locker. The ground trembled slightly as Brian tried to contain his temper.
“Will you get a grip!” Jordan whispered.
“Right. I guess the earth moving under my feet is just because you’re near.”
He gave her a look down his nose. “That guy gets under my skin.”
“You let him get to you. What did Neil tell you? Kill him with kindness.”
“Not kill, just kindness. I know, but it’so hard. He’s such a dick.”
“Then you be that much nicer. The more of a prick he is, the nicer you get. I know it’s not easy, but what in your life is?”
“Loving you,” he replied without thinking.
Jordan stopped talking, staring at him. Tilting her head, she tried to decode what he’d said. Yes, he had said that, and he meant it.
“Brian Casey, you’re a wonder. If we weren’t in school, I’d kiss you.”
He pulled her close, gazing into her lustrous blue eyes. “If we weren’t in school, I’d strip you naked and do more than kiss you.” Letting go rather abruptly, he slammed his locker closed and headed for debate.
Stunned, Jordan took off after him. Her short legs couldn’t catch up. He was in the debate room, the door closing behind him, before she reached it. She didn’t dare go in, Jian was right by the door. He turned around and saw her, flashing another toothy grin. Jordan’s grimace didn’t seem to faze him in the least. She scurried off, worried she’d be late for drama practice. When she arrived, she found Lien there. The shy Asian girl was sitting by herself, looking anxious. Jordan sat by her.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes