Miles has an unpleasant confrontation with Mr. Fēng at the school. He and Brian are finally able to leave, and find out that Elise has been nearly hysterical since Brian’s phone call with his mother. Called to Neil and Cynthia’s house, they meet up with Jordan’s family shortly after they arrive.
“It was clearly self-defense. Besides, I think he used some of the druid mind shit on the officer. It was kind of like watching Obi Wan ju-ju the Storm Troopers.”
“Thing is, I think I did it to Mr. Ferris, too. I didn’t try to, but he was way more cooperative than usual.”
“Maybe he believed you?”
Brian tipped his head, pursing his lips. “Don’t think so. I should have been suspended for fighting. I didn’t throw a punch, but I grabbed him. Ferris didn’t even blink when he saw me.”
“He saw you with Fēng?”
“In a chicken wing. Yeah.”
“Major Mind Mojo, babe!” she bumped knuckles with him.
Brian chuckled. “It was kind of cool.”
The house was crowded when they arrived, but everyone was slowly making their way to the backyard. Dinner items that needed refrigerating or heating went to the kitchen, everything else came out and was set on the picnic tables in the yard. Brian put their pasta salad in the kitchen and followed Jordan outside. She had three loaves of homemade bread and he wondered if she’d baked them herself. She had become a very good baker the last year and was shaping up to be a great cook, like her mother. They got beverages from one of the coolers and sat on a bench around the fire pit, where the others had congregated.
When Neil decided it was time, he stood up. A man they didn’t know, sat next to Cynthia on the bench near the altar.
“Hi, everyone. Thank you for coming on such short notice. This is a good friend of mine from the Marines. His name is John Curtis and he’s my former C.O. Captain Curtis came to see us on behalf of his brother, who is the Voice of his Center Circle. I’ll let him explain.”
To quiet applause, Curtis stood up.
“Thank you, Neil and Cynthia. Good friends, I’m here on behalf of my brother, Roy Curtis, who is voice of his Circle in Beaumont, Texas. He is also the Dreamer for his Circle.”
They all gasped.
“He has been having dreams about this Circle and its troubles. He wants to help, but he is also having Circle troubles of his own. Several of the Center Circle, have not been able to conceive, or have lost their children during pregnancy. They don’t have a full Inner Circle. In fact, they are only half complete, mostly boys. The Outer Circle has several doctors who have looked into this situation, but none of them have been able to determine where the problem lies. We appeal to your healers and doctors for help in that. We’ve come under attack several times during the last couple of years, just as you have.”
“Has your brother posted this on the Circle boards?” Miles asked. “This is the first we’ve heard any of this.”
“No. Roy has reason to believe that the Circle boards may have been compromised. He’s urging everyone to stop using them.”
“How has he determined this?” Heath asked.
“The nature of the attacks and the people who were involved. He saw the annoncement of Neil and Cynthia’s appointment the day after it happened, and Neil tells me they were attacked shortly after that—more than once. The latest when I arrived and tried to kill Neil.”
“You what?” Miles sprang to his feet. “Neil….”
“It’s all right. It wasn’t his fault. He was possessed. We dealt with it, for now. But we need Jackie and Nadine to check him before he goes home.”
“Absolutely,” Jackie said. “But you’re all right? Both of you?”
“Yes. We’re fine,” Cynthia said. “It was terrifying, but I listened to the inner voice, as Jackie taught me, and followed what it wanted me to do.”
“Good girl,” Jackie said with a smile.
“What can we do for your brother’s Circle?” David asked.
“It’s a lot to ask,” John replied. “We need some of your girls. If the Powers That Be will allow it, we would like to initiate them into our Circle. Am I right that you have three girls, all the right ages, in the Circle families, and two more near to their coming of age?”
“That’s right,” David said. “Do you need all five?”
“No. We need three of them.” His head drooped. “I know it’s a lot to ask and I wouldn’t do so, but Neil has been a good friend a long time. We’ve saved one another so many times, we’ve both lost count. I sensed that he was like me, but neither of us could take the chance and fully disclose our true natures.”
“It has to be by consent of parents as well as the girls,” Neil said. “No one is being forced. With this group so close to us, we hope that we can maintain our balance for each group. The girls would, in terms of the Circle, be adopted by the families in question. They would live with their own parents until such time as they married their mates. This is not an unknown arrangement, though having so many move from one group to another, is unusual.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes