Once they gather for their meeting, Neil introduces John Curtis. He asks for their help, as their Inner Circle hasn’t got a full compliment. They need three of the girls, the siblings of Circle members, to fill their ranks.
“We can meet them in advance, right?” Sweet’s mother said. Her daughter was the eldest of the girls.
“Yes, of course. The girls and boys would meet and let the Powers That Be decide. Once this happens, they would be claimed by the other Circle.”
Dahlia looked at Emmett. “I don’t see how we can refuse this request. It’s up to Summer, of course, but we need to try.”
“I agree,” her husband replied. “Do we need to put this to a full Circle vote, or should the families involved decide?”
“I think it’s up to you,” Neil said. “They aren’t our children. I wouldn’t want someone else deciding my daughter’s future. This would involve the Sweet family, the Crismans, Beauchamps—and Pennybaker.”
“Our daughter isn’t old enough,” Nadine protested.
“Not Clarice, no. But Marissa is.”
“Marissa is with Chase.”
“And we all know they’ve been having issues. Which, based on how far away they are sitting from one another tonight, begs me to conclude that they haven’t resolved their problems. Marissa, I know that Brian gave you and Chase two options; resolve your issues, or you would be removed from the Circle.”
Marissa blushed a deep red. Nadine stood, gasping loudly.
Her father hopped up, “Now see here!” he bellowed at Brian. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“It was Marissa’s place to. Why didn’t you?” Brian shot the remark at Marissa.
“I thought you were kidding. I thought maybe it was just a way to make us talk to each other.”
“Have you made any progress?”
“We’ve tried. But I don’t know what to do! Every time I think we have it taken care of, something else happens.”
Brian turned to Chase. “And what do you have to say? Are you still fussing because she won’t go to bed with you? Have you managed to get past that, or are you still being a horny, selfish teenager?”
“Brian, not fair, man.”
“Answer me. Have you tried to fix things with Marissa?”
Chase’s ears turned red. His jaw clenched and he looked like he was near tears. “Do we have to do this in front of everyone?”
“I think so. You haven’t done what I told you to do. You’ve put me in a bad position, Chase. You’re my best friend and I respect Marissa for healing me when I was poisoned, but you make us weak. Your inability to heal your relationship puts us all at risk. Not just our Circle, but the Center and Outer Circles as well. You jeapordize our families.” He turned to Marissa. “I leave it to you to decide. Do you want to leave our Circle and be adopted by another? Allowing Chase to mate with another, and you as well?”
Marissa was in tears. Lips trembling, she stared at Chase. “What do you want?”
“I don’t know, Marissa.” He looked ready to cry.
She turned to face Brian, her face and voice expressionless. “I think that answers it for both of us.”
Brian nodded. He faced John, bowing formally. “Marissa Pennybaker will allow herself to be considered for a position in your Circle. After your members meet ours, we will prepare the unbinding ceremony. I will have to keep one of our girls to replace her. The Sweet girl has been suggested as a replacement, but ultimately, the Powers That Be will decide.”
Chase jumped up, rushing Brian. “You can’t do this!” He shoved at his friend.
“It’s done, Chase. I told you. I gave you time. Now, someone needs help and we’re out of time. You failed.”
“I was letting Marissa decide! It’s her self, her body.”
“She’s your mate. If you loved her as much as you say, there’s nothing in the universe that would keep you apart. By not speaking up for her, you showed her you’re all talk.”
Chase punched Brian in the gut. Brian bent over, but didn’t buckle. Taking up a defensive position, he waited for Chase to attack again. The other Circle members sat by, watching in silence. Neil and John moved into position where they could intervene if necessary. Chase’s fist lashed out again. Brian blocked it, waiting. Another swing and he ducked, jabbing under Chase’s guard. They sparred back and forth for a few minutes, looking for an opening. Chase dropped his guard and Brian jabbed him in the ribs again. Chase fiented to his left, but Brian read the move before he completed it.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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