The girls take the computer, with the information on how to protect themselves against The Killing Hand, and the boys talk about the situation with Chase and Marissa.
“Too many emotions. You can’t function like that. I can see this storm inside you and it’s not got an outlet. I think at this point, not even sex would help. Not that I’m an expert….” He fell silent. “You have to pull this together. I can’t do it for you, but you have to. I don’t want to lose you both. The Circle would be weakened, damaged. We can’t be either of those things, not now. A storm is coming, so big and so bad, we might not survive it. I need you, Chase. And dammit, I need Marissa. But not like this. You’re broken.”
Chase wiped his eyes with clenched fists. He couldn’t deny that Brian was right, but he had no idea how to fix their situation either.
“What frustrates me the most…. What hurts, is that you act like you don’t care. You sit there and watch my pain and don’t lift a finger.”
“What finger should I life?” Brian lowered all but his middle finger, flipping it at his friend. “This one? Cause this is what we’re all gonna be if you don’t figure this out. I can’t do this for you, and I wouldn’t even if I could. This is your trial, your lesson.”
Chase jumped to his feet. “What about you, huh? Where’s your trial? Your lesson?”
Brian stood slowly, looming over his friend as he drew himself up. He was frightening, intimidating. Anger radiated from him making the walls shake. Elise started wailing in her room. Jordan dashed past them, running for the baby. Maribelle held Marissa back, who tried vainly to get to Chase. Jackie watched quietly, moving steadily to stand in the room a few feet from the boys, saying nothing.
“My trials?” A barking laugh escaped Brian’s throat. “Well, let’s see. I’m the Dreamer. Not so bad, I guess, except I’ve seen my own death a few times. It varies….” He shrugged. “I was possessed by Luminous, and tried to kill Jordan. Oh, I’m sorry, that was Opal, so that’s okay. I died two years ago, killed by Mr. D. I was poisoned last year, you remember that, right? Marissa saved my life. I’ve been beaten, strangled, choked in dirt, had whirlwinds flung at me, nearly had a building fall on my head. Do I really need to go on? Have I managed to imprint on you just how petty and stupid your little problems are? Cause if not, I can go on.”
Chase was red in the face, fists clenched at his sides. “At least you have your father.”
“Yes. You lost your dad and I can imagine how that feels. I thought mine was dead for awhile.” Brian inhaled slowly, trying to calm himself. The rumbling around the house settled down. “You don’t get past things, Chase. You grumble and fuss and blame everyone else for shit. Take control. Be the man your father wanted you to be.”
“I’m not you, Brian.”
“No. Be eternally grateful, you’re not.”
They stared one another down for several minutes. Neither moved, but the tremors of their emotions rattled the house. Wind whipped around the eaves, shaking trees and kicking up dust. Brian forced himself to be calm, but he could see Chase struggling. He wanted to help his friend, but he honestly didn’t know how. This was something Chase had to work out on his own. Only he wasn’t. He was suppressing and blaming everyone and everything except himself. It was stupid, pointless and annoying. Brian wanted to shake his friend to make him see what he was doing, but knew it wouldn’t help.
“Stop!” Marissa yelled. “Both of you! This isn’t helping anyone. If you can put aside your male egos for a second, we think we’ve found something.”
Brian broke eye contact first, his head swinging around to where Marissa stood. “I apologize, Marissa. You’re right. Please.” He gestured politely for her to continue.
Beckoning him excitedly, she led him to the table. Chase stayed where he was, frowning. Jordan came back down with Elise in her arms. She was pale and trembling. Jackie took the baby and gave her daughter an encouraging hug. They stood around the table looking at the page Marissa had discovered.
“There is a charm we can make. It’s less complicated than the spell, which is like a counter hex. The book says that once you’ve cast the spell, it’s easier, but I don’t think any of us have the time to learn it. But….the charm, even if it’s complicated, can be applied to any article of clothing or jewelry you want. It’s best to make it something you wear all the time, not something that comes off to be washed. We all wear our charmed necklaces that Cliff made for us. We can easily add this to them. It can be done all at once, in a group casting, which would be easier for the casters.”
“It’s easier than the counter-hex,” Maribelle said. “But it’s still a very difficult procedure. I think we should get the ingredients together and do this for everyone when the Texas group is here.”
“I agree,” Brian said, nodding. “Chase?”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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