Holding Pattern

There’s been no news since the last attack from our local terrorist. That’s all I can call her now, because that’s what she is. She’s made our quiet, small town in to a living hell by forcing those of us with abilities to hide, while the ones who don’t have them and are hostile towards us, get even louder about how much of a danger we are.

I’m missing part of my family, my life has been turned upside down and yet I’m the danger; according to them.

I’m not though. I’m the furthest thing from a danger right now. What I am is tired and scared and seriously pissed off.

There’s been more attacks on Otherkin in the last few days. I’m scared for the kids who have to go through the rocks through windows, cars set on fire, and watching their parents get beaten. All because they’re skin is purple, or they have tentacles or, like Ben, change once a month while being locked away.

Ben’s been busier than ever, treating those who can’t go to the hospital, like the Satyrs. Centaurs who are more horse than man have to go to him. I’ve braided the hair of more than one filly while her mother or father was getting stitched up.

It’s enough to make you scream.

Ben comes home every night exhausted and covered in what he couldn’t scrape off at work. I know this is wearing on him harder than myself because he dealt with the attacks after that September day nearly 14 years ago. He’s gotten quieter than usual around all of us, spending more time alone in the library, looking over the books he took out of the town’s stash.

He hardly eats. Sleeping is in bits and pieces. I’m worried.

I’ve already had to deal with people throwing things at me while I’m walking to my appointments or from store to store. I’m thankful that sometimes they’re metal things that I can catch before they hit me; but it’s horrifying. It hurts so much that people I once called friend are now my enemy, simply because there’s a terrorist that hates Otherkin out there and is using the whole city’s fears to keep all of us hostage.

I cry at night. Usually where the others can’t hear me, but the house hears me. It’s been trying it’s best to cheer me up; by putting in a slide for the kids so they don’t have to use the stairs, by giving me more space in my already enormous kitchen, and by bringing the cabinets and shelves down lower so I don’t have to use a stool to reach anything.

It’s been nice, but it still doesn’t make up for the fact that I cannot let my children go outside and play on nice days. We live on a dead-end street, but I’m still afraid that someone will come this way and do something to them. They do not deserve any of this.

No one does.

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Tarts and Lights

April moved in to May and I was attending my therapy sessions regularly. By regularly, I meant that I was regularly avoiding them until the last-minute, when Murphy and Jude would inevitably haul me to the car and drive me there themselves. They insisted that I’d been cleansed properly and that any left over depression I was having was because of something that I was not dealing with the right way.

They were right, of course. I wasn’t dealing with anything. I just didn’t want to. Dealing with it meant that I had to drag up unpleasant memories and left over feelings of hurt and betrayal.

I don’t know about you, but crying in the middle of my therapists office while shouting that I wasn’t a bad person, was not something that I looked forward too on a weekly basis. I felt wrung out at the end of it all. At least Murphy and Jude left me alone to sleep it off after we got home.

As much as I hated their actions, I couldn’t bring myself to actually hate them. They wanted what was best for me and were trying their hardest to do it while I kicked and fought back. They’re my Moms in every sense of the word. Jude especially. She’s happier than ever helping to take care of her grandsons while her daughter fights her inner demons. Though I get the feeling that she’d rather be back on the dig site sometimes.

I guess that’s what she’s used to after being shoved out of Ben’s life for so long. People tend to get used to the way things are done, so that when change comes along, they fight like hell to stay where they’re at or move on. I’m still stuck at the crossroads, deciding if I want to trust my therapist or not.

Yes, I talk to her. Yes, I tell her things. Do I trust her? All signs point to eventually.

So when I found myself eating ice cream while walking downtown with her, I started to warm up to the idea that trusting her wasn’t so bad. She didn’t bother to get me to talk until we got back to her office and I’d finished my ice cream.

“So when do you want to talk about the abuse?” she asked at the end of our session.

“Next to never.”

She laughed. “That’s a pretty long time. Are you sure?”

“No. I’ll let you know next week,” I said as I was putting on my jacket. May was still a bit chilly.

“All right, then. Next week.”

I paused with my hand on the door. “You’re not bad, for a shrink.”

“Thanks. You’re not so bad, either. Bit stubborn, though.”

I smiled. “You should have heard my grandmother when she was upset with me. Stubborn was the most positive thing that would come out of her mouth.”

“You’ll have to tell me next week, then.”

I nodded and stepped out of her office. Waving at her secretary, I let myself out on to the street to meet Ben. A rumble of thunder had me looking up at the sky and mentally cursing at myself for not remembering an umbrella.

I made my way to Indulgence Bakery. Waddling was as fast as I went these days, so Miss Maggie met me at the door and rushed me in just before the rain started. Maisy led me to an open table and ignored my protest as she pushed me down onto a chair.

“Hush now and sit. It was a smart thing, you coming here to wait this time,” Maisy said as she handed me a cup of tea. The smell of chamomile drifted up and had me sighing. She nodded when she was sure I wasn’t getting up and went back to helping customers.

“You holler if you see Ben’s car, yeah? My cell phone is about dead,” I said as I eyed the tart that Miss Maggie was dishing up for me.

“Will do, hon. Unless you want me to call his office and leave a message,” she said as she came over with the tart and pulled up a chair.

“No point,” I replied as I forked up a piece of cheese tart. The flaky crust melted in my mouth and I let out a sigh. “He’s out in the field today. Something about missing cows and burn marks.”

Maggie watched me like a hawk as I polished off the tart and then cleared away the plate for me.

“All right then. So how was your session?” She asked.

I looked up at her, a little annoyed. She put her hands on her hips and gave me a stern look. I kept my expression the same.

“Don’t you give me that, young lady. You’re every bit as precious to this town as Ben is. Of course we all know what’s going on and we all want to make sure that you’re doing better, not worse.”

“Then you know it’s intensely private and all I’m going to ever say is that it was good. Exhausting, but good.”

She waited for a minute, then when she realized I was serious about not giving up anymore information, she nodded.

“That’ll do, then.”

I watched for Ben out the front windows as I sipped my tea and rubbed circles on my belly. I was getting restless when Ben finally pulled up out front. Miss Maggie saw me motion out the window and hurried to step out and call to him before he went to my therapists office. He jogged over and managed to get in to the store without getting too soaked. The storm didn’t look to be letting up just yet.

“Hey, Salt-of-the-Earth,” I said with a smile as he bent to kiss me.

“Hey back, Trouble,” he replied as he sat next to me. Miss Maggie dropped off a cup of coffee, doctored just the way he liked it, and another tart for me.

I smiled up at her and turned back to Ben.

“Things go okay?” I asked as I took a bite of the tart.

“For the most part. There’s about a dozen missing cows, scorch marks that are bigger than George’s, and a broken fence. The new Sheriff is worried.”

News of there being a new Sheriff didn’t surprise me. We’d all voted in the interim election held last week. Jon Jones had won by a landslide because Captain Miller wanted no part of the office on account of his last name and the fact that he’s pushing sixty. I yawned a little and started rubbing my belly in circles again as I thought about what Ben said.

“He kicking?” Ben asked when he noticed what I was doing.

“SHE is playing soccer today,” I replied.

Ben laughed. “You know, we could always stop this and find out.”

“Then we’d have to find something else to argue about,” I pointed out.

“Good point. I like arguing with you,” Ben said as he picked up my hand and kissed my palm.

I smiled and was about to say something when the street lamps in front of the shop exploded. I curled in around my stomach and hid my face in case the window went next. Ben was already pulling me to my feet and pushing me towards the back of the store as more lights started to explode inside the store. I hustled as fast as I could towards the backdoor when Ben pulled me off to the side and pushed me into the storage room. There wasn’t a working light, it had already exploded.

“What the fuck was that?” I shouted.

“I don’t know, but I’m willing to bet its our friendly neighborhood terrorist,” Ben replied as he hustled more people in to the room.

“I am so sick of this bitch and her stupid ass fear mongering!” I shouted at his back as he went out to investigate. Miss Maggie rubbed my back and shoulders as I calmed down. As I waited for news that we could come out, Maggie and Maisy tried to get me to sit down, but I wasn’t having any part of what they wanted. If I was going to be attacked, I wanted to be on my feet.

Ben finally came back, telling us that it was clear. I stormed out of the storage room and headed for the car. I had no interest in staying any longer. Ben settled up with Maggie and met me at the car. He didn’t say much as he helped me inside and then went around to get behind the wheel.

“I’m sick of her too, ‘Lowe.” he finally said after starting the car and getting us pointed in the direction of home.

“Something must be done,” I said firmly.

“Something is being done. We have Alvin here, he’ll figure out what’s wrong.”

“He’s been here for more than a month. Doesn’t he have any clue what’s going on?”

Ben shook his head. “He says that she’s covering her tracks really well.”

“Everyone has a weakness, Ben. They have to find hers.”

“They will, Marlowe. In the meantime, just worry about the baby and getting better.”

“There may come a time when I’m not pregnant and I have the chance to end it,” I said. “When that time comes, I will end it.”

Ben didn’t bother to reply. He knew I would do as I said. I’d feel guilty as hell for taking another life; but if I had the chance to end it, I would.

Small victories

My anger collapsed in on itself around day four after they managed to clear the spell that I was under. The dregs that were left dragged my mood down and beat it with a stick until it was twitching. I tried to keep up with the kids, Jude, and Murphy; but I got tired easily in the days that followed the collapse. Ben has been supportive to the point where I get frustrated with him.

I am not an invalid, though I feel that way when people keep doing things for me that I would normally do myself. I try to explain to them that I need to do these things to feel better, but they’re determined to do it for me. It makes me frustrated to the point of tears most days. I am not the person that I was before the spell took hold of my body and mind.

So when Murphy showed up at my bedroom door on the second Saturday in April, I was thrilled to get out of the house with her.

“Get up. Get dressed. We’re going out,” she said as she flipped the curtains open.

I hissed at her and flicked a hand, drawing them back over the windows by their metal hangers. She put her hands on her hips and stared me down.

“You’re not going to get better if you don’t get out of this house, child.”

I pulled the pillow off my head and glared at her.

“Says the woman who won’t let me do things for myself. What’s your deal? First it’s ‘Marlowe don’t do that, I’ll get it for you,’ Now it’s ‘get your arse out of bed.’ Will you make up your mind?” I ranted.

Murphy smiled at me, but there was something about the way her lips twisted that made me shove my head back under the pillow.

“Girl you were trying to climb a ladder to get something off a top shelf. I stopped you because it’s heights and you’re not dealing with them well right now.”

“Semantics,” I shouted from under the pillow. A cold draft let me know she had pulled the covers off me. As I searched for them with one hand, Murphy lifted the pillow off my head.

“It’s not and you know it,” she said softly. “Come on, Marlowe. We’re all worried about you right now and a fresh air would do you some good.”

I laid there for a few minutes while considering my options. It was a pretty nice day outside and I had been stuck inside for weeks. It would be good to get out of the house for a little while. I looked up at Murphy and sighed.

“Fine. I’m getting up, but I need to shower and dress.”

“Take your time. I’ll be downstairs,” she said as she walked to the door. “I love you, Marlowe. I hope you know that.”

She slipped out before I could answer. I sat on the bed, staring out the window. The tears started before I could stop them. I was so frustrated with being depressed. I knew it wasn’t my fault, it was the spell, but there was still some anger left in me over what happened. It depressed me further, to the point where I just wanted to crawl back in to bed.

The baby chose that moment to kick and surprise me. I laid a hand on my belly, sitting there and feeling the life inside me move around. The tears that came while I was getting up to shower were good ones.

It takes me awhile to shower now, so I wasn’t surprised when a half an hour went by between getting in and coming back out so I could dress. Picking out clothing was harder than I imagined, the feelings of annoyance with jeans that were hard to button threatened to bring me to tears again. I pushed my feet into a pair of slides and made my way downstairs, smiling a little bit as I heard my boys and their shouts drift up from the Great Hall.

As I hit the bottom step, my reluctance to go any further in the house swamped me. I loved my children, but I did not want to deal with them at that moment. I made a move for my phone, hitting the speed dial for Ben. He picked up after the first ring.

“Baby? What is it? Is it the baby? Are you okay?”

I sniffled at his tone, he cared so much. “You’re right. I’ll see the therapist.”

I heard Ben sigh. “I’ll make the appointment for you. You’ll like her, ‘Lowe.”

“I’ll see her, Ben. Then make up my own mind.”

Ben let out a huff and a little chuckle. “You’re still you, even though you’re sad right now. I love you.”

“I love you too. I’ll see you tonight. Text me with the appointment.”

“Will do. Be safe.”

I hung up the phone and sat in the chair outside the dungeon door. I was still there with the phone in my hand when Murphy came into the hall way.

“Good. You’re dressed. Now grab your damn coat and let’s go before you chicken out again.”

I smiled a little and Murphy patted my cheek.

“You’ll be all right dear.”

I nodded and put my coat on, before getting up to follow her out to the car. Maybe getting out of the house wouldn’t be so bad at all.

Or maybe it would.

It’s dangerous business, going out your door.

Cold

I feel cold. It’s been three weeks.

Still no sign.

I’m not sleeping and everyone’s worried I’m going to lose the baby. I’m trying not to worry, but it’s getting to me.

The Sheriff won’t leave his room in the house unless it’s to go out looking for the Twins. He’s determined to find them, even though we haven’t had a single clue as to where they have gone. Even the FBI Agents can’t pick up a single trace.

I feel as though I’m watching a heart tear in two and my family disintegrate, while I can do nothing to stop what’s happening.

It sucks.

It makes me angry.

I am angry.

I’m so angry, that I managed to toss Miles up into the rafters with just a flick of my hand.

It helped that he was wearing a full suit of armor.

“Damn it, Marlowe! Get me down from here!”

I looked up at him and floated him down, but not before the kids got a good laugh out of the situation. Logan crawled in to my lap as soon as I sat down and put his ear on my bump. His latest obsession was to lay his head on my growing belly.

“What is it, poppet?” I asked while running my hand over his hair as he looked up at me.

“Baby sick. Mommy sick. Not happy,” he said as he reached up and touched my face. “Bad. Very bad.”

I studied him and then kissed his forehead. He smiled up at me, it was a little sad.

“Don’t worry, poppet. We’ll find a way out of this soon.”

He shook his head and slipped out of my lap.

“Bad. Very bad.”

I watched him walk to his bother and start playing with the Lincoln logs that Ben had brought home the week before. I watched them with a small smile until Sabine came over.

“He’s right you know,” she said through our link.

“I know,” I replied. “I just don’t know how to fix it.”

“It’s not up to you to fix. You did your part,”  she said.

I looked down at her and met her languid eyes.

“It’s my family. My herd. I will fix it if I can,” I said.

Sabine snorted, but said nothing. I was going to say something to her when Jude strolled into the room.

“Hi Mama,” I said as she dropped a kiss on to my forehead.

“You’re out of bed. Why?” she asked.

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“You need to try. For you and the baby,” she said sternly.

I ducked my head.

“No, you don’t get to go sheepish, it doesn’t suit you.”

That made me laugh and she smiled with me.

“You do need to get some more rest. There’s nothing that you can do to help right now,” Jude said, her voice taking on a scolding tone.

I sighed. “I know, I just need to do something instead of lay in bed all day.”

Jude sat next to me and looked up at the rafters. Her brow furrowed and she started chewing on her bottom lip. While she was thinking about things, I played catch with Logan.

“Lunch,” she suddenly said. “You can help me make lunch for everyone. Then you’ll go lie back down.”

I sighed and smiled up at her, grateful that she wasn’t sending me back to bed right away.

“I can do that. Help me up.” I said as I wiggled to the front edge of the couch. Jude smiled and helped me up and followed me to the kitchen. I was happy just to be included in anything and I think it showed. I was heading for the fridge when Murphy came through the backdoor. I let out a huge groan when I saw her.

“Don’t give me that tone, Young Lady. Jude called me. I’m sending you back to bed,” she said as she took off her coat and shook it out. The snow was still falling outside. I mentally cursed the Ides of March for being so fickle.

“Took you long enough, I was afraid I was actually going to have to give her something to do,” Jude said as she led me out of the kitchen with Murphy following close behind. I sighed deeply and let myself be led upstairs.

“You work all together too much. You were just at the office yesterday to do the books and play with the puppies,” Murphy said. She gave me a little push toward my bedroom and then followed me in when I walked inside.

The two of them together hustled me towards the bed and pushed clothes at me. I looked down and sighed again as I changed. I felt like crying, being pushed around and made to go back to bed. They must have seen my face because they looked at each other and then back at me when I took the potion out of Murphy’s hand and drank it before she could stop me.

I turned my back on both of them as I got into bed and curled under the covers. They left quietly, hissing at each other. I didn’t hear much of anything that they said, I was too busy holding back the feelings of uselessness and depression that had been plaguing me since the fight in the house. I cried myself to sleep. I woke a little when Ben came to bed, but I turned my back on him as well when he tried to kiss me goodnight. I curled tighter and hugged a pillow to my chest, falling back asleep again.

They must have been really worried about me because I stayed in bed for five days. I hardly left. I ate in bed, stayed put, I hardly picked up the books they brought me. On day six I must have worried them so much that they came to get me out of bed. They left just as quickly when I sent the swords over the fireplace sailing their direction. I was so entrenched in my own sorrow and misery that I let more days pass me by while I stayed in bed like I was supposed to do.

I scared the shit out of them and myself with the length of my depression. Not even Ben’s promise of getting out of the house made a difference. I just wanted to go back home and crawl back into bed. That’s all I was sure I was good for.

We came back inside, I barely spared a glance for Sabine and the children as they ran to the door. It made my heart ache inside to ignore them, but I figured it was best. I heard Alphie start crying and Logan shushing him as I headed up the stairs, dropping my coat and gloves in a pile on the stairs. In the hall I just stepped out of my boots and left them in the middle of the hallway.

I crawled back in to bed, the lump in my throat falling into my chest as I cried myself to sleep again and slept for three more days. Sometime in April Murphy finally figured out what was going on with me and came storming in to the room with Jude.

“Grab her. We need to force this down her throat if we’re going to save her,” Murphy said as she pulled the cork on the dark-colored bottle she held in her hand.

The smell of Lilacs and fresh spring grass hit my nose and made me gag. I tried to fight Jude off, but I was too weak from spending all that time in bed and using my abilities to do things for me. Jude gasped as I looked up at her.

“Her eyes have no color!” she exclaimed.

Murphy’s frown deepened. “Let’s hope we got to her in time then. Hold her head back and open her mouth.”

Jude obeyed her instructions and I tried to push the bottle away, the fresh spring smell made me recoil in horror and I wanted to part of whatever was in that flask. Murphy pushed aside my hands like they were nothing and forced the potion down my throat. I gagged, but swallowed it when it was clear that I had to do that or drown. They were firm with getting it down my throat.

When I had swallowed it all and started crying in to Jude’s chest, with Murphy petting my hair after setting the bottle aside, the worry lines on her face deepened.

“Did we get it in her in time?” she whispered.

“We won’t know until morning. Till then we have to watch. To make sure she doesn’t turn. I will not have one of them in my family,” Murphy said, her voice turning to iron at the end. I cried myself to sleep, clutching the woman I  called mother.

I woke the next morning and moaned. My head was killing me. I sat up and looked around, spotting Jude sprawled out on the bed next to me and Murphy parked in a chair next to the bed. I tried to ease my way out of bed for the toilet, but I managed to wake them up. Murphy stirred first, coming out of her sleep slowly, but when she did; the first thing she looked at was my eyes. She must have liked what she saw there because she nodded and helped me up. Jude woke up as we were walking to the bathroom.

“Murphy?” she said, letting the question hang in the air.

“She’s fine. We don’t have to worry anymore,” she replied.

Jude let out a huge sigh and moved off the bed, heading for the door. I was a little confused at first, but Murphy helped me to the bathroom and watched over me as I sat and relieved myself. I nearly fell asleep while sitting there, but she nudged me awake and helped me up after I’d dried myself off.

“What happened?” I asked softly as I washed my hands.

“Nothing you have to worry about,” Murphy said.

I got angry and sent the metal stand for the toilet paper across the room. Murphy looked from me to where the stand was embedded in the wall and sighed.

“You were under a particularly nasty spell. Whomever left it in that house, left it for you. They placed all the effects of postpartum depression times three on you,” Murphy said. Her words sunk in and I looked up at her in horror. “Yes, you would have lost the baby if we hadn’t held you down and made you drink the potion.”

“Who, why?” I said, stuttering out the words.

“We still don’t know, but you’re not going anywhere outside if this house without someone with you at all times. They’re playing nasty now and I’m not having it,” Murphy said as she led me back to bed. “They’ve messed with the wrong witches family.”

I sighed and floated my phone over to me. I scrolled through the numbers until I’d gotten to the one I wanted. Hitting call and then the speaker phone icon, I waited for the person on the end of the line to answer.

“Hello?” The person answered.

“Crows and brier thorns.”

“I’ll be there in the morning, Marlowe. Tell Ben I said hello.”

“Will do. Looking forward to your visit,” I replied and hung up the phone.

Murphy looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

“The head of the North American covens. All of the covens.”

She let out a whistle. “I didn’t know you had that kind of firepower in your pocket.”

“Not my pocket. Ben’s. He gave me the number with explicit instructions not to call unless my life was in danger again,” I said as I climbed in to bed and flopped back against the pillows. “I assume you didn’t tell Ben this was a spell?”

“No, we thought it best not to say anything since he’s been worried sick about you and the search isn’t going well. They’ve called it off completely. The Sheriff resigned. We’re without a protector now.”

I lifted the arm I’d thrown across my eyes and looked at her. Her face was drawn with worry and the lines on her face looked deeper.

“Then it’s a good thing I’m calling him in,” I said as I wiggled into bed and yawned hard. “How long till the effects wear off?”

“Few days, give or take,” She said as she pulled the covers up and straightened them over me. “What’s his name?”

“Alvin MacDoogan. He’s the opposite of Ben. You’ll see when he gets here,” I said with a yawn.

Murphy nodded and kissed my forehead before dropping back into her chair.

“Sleep child.”

“Plan on doing that,” I said as I dropped off again. I could hear Murphy chuckling before the darkness overtook me completely.

 

-Marlowe

No Sign

Day five.

Still no sign of the Twins.

Not. One. Word.

I’m terrified.

I imagine my babies out there in the cold, with someone they desperately want to get away from and I start crying. I want my family back and I want it whole again.

The Sheriff has been a walking ghost in the house when he’s here. He can’t go home. I’m honestly starting to suspect he may never go back to that house again if the Twins do not make it home. That’s not a thought that I like to think about.

The boys know something’s up, they just haven’t figured out how to put it into words. Alphie wanders around like a ghost behind the Sheriff, watching him carefully. When I pointed it out to Ben, he nodded and kissed my forehead.

“Don’t worry, He’s watching out for him in his own way.”

I tried to get him to explain, but I figure it’s a dragon thing.

The full moon this month was hard on all of us, this time around. No one wanted to be trapped inside, even for the night. It was a hard, restless night where I actually considered spending it upstairs. There were a few moments that, for the first time, made me re-think the “Dragons are cute!” feeling I’ve had ever since I met Ben and learned what he was.

Yeah, three fire-breathing, upset dragons will do that to a person.

They were just as upset the next morning. Sabine and I didn’t know what to do for them, so I started baking again.

I filled the kitchen with so much pie and bread that I had to call Grandmama Murphy to take it all away. She showed up just as I was pulling the latest cherry pie out of the oven.

“Give that here before you go dropping out of frustration,” she demanded and took the pie out of my hands when I teared up. “None of that now, you’ll work yourself into a tizzy.”

I sniffled, but nodded. Sabine huffed softly at me and flicked her tail. I could see her ears twitch back and forth with worry.

“I’m sorry, Sabine,” I said as I scratched her ears. She huffed at me again.

“Now, there’s a sight I didn’t think I’d see in my lifetime,” she said.

Sabine dipped her head to Grandmama Murphy, then trotted out of the room.

“Well! I hope it wasn’t something I said!”

I smiled. “No, she’s going to go check on the boys now that you’re here.”

“I like that, another babysitter for you. Why aren’t you lying down?”

I shook my head. “Too wound up. I can’t sleep.”

“Looks like you baked enough for an army. Do you have any flour left?” she demanded.

“No. I’m out. That pie was the last of everything,” I said as I sat down on a stool.

I rubbed my back as I watched her make room for the pie on one of the counters.

“I’ll take all of this off your hands for the restaurant. You’ll be paid, of course.”

“That’s not why I called you,” I said.

“I know, you called me because you’re feeling poorly and need support.”

I nodded.

“Well I’m here, but where is that man of yours?”

“Out with the search parties. They’re using a blue hills devil dog.”

Grandmama Murphy sucked in a breath.

“Oh my,” she said as she let it out. “No wonder they want Ben there.”

“Yeah. I can’t really blame him for being outside of this house. With the black magic Sabine and I dragged home, no one’s getting much sleep.”

She eyed me over. “You’re not sleeping at all, are you?”

I shook my head. “I’m too worried about the Twins. I want them home just as much as Eric does.”

Grandmama Murphy put her hands on her hips and stared me down.

“Now you listen here young lady. You calling me was the first smart thing you’ve done since the Twins went missing,” she said. “I’m going to take these pies to the restaurant, then I’m coming back here with one of Annabeth’s potions. You are going to drink it and then you’re going to bed.”

I wanted to protest, I really did. As I sat there and watched her load up the deserts that I had baked into her car, I realized on my own that I was being a twit. I let out a huge sigh and she smiled at me.

“There it is. I knew you’d come to your senses without my help.”

I smiled up at her. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

“Good for you. You’ll feel better. I’ll be back in an hour,” Grandmama Murphy said as she walked out the door.

I stared at the door for a minute before shaking my head and getting up from the stool I’d been sitting on. As I made my way upstairs,  I could feel the press of the magic that Sabine and I had brought home. It felt oily and thick while it pressed in on me, making me feel sick. Even the house was agitated and our combined magics didn’t help. Even the house was agitated.

I showered and dressed in night-clothes. I was just crawling in to bed when Grandmama Murphy opened the door to the bedroom and stepped inside.

“Good. I’m glad to see that you’ve sense left in that head.”

I sighed. “Yes Grandmama. I’m doing as instructed.”

“Don’t you take that tone with me. You’ve plenty of family willing to look after the Twins, but you insist on doing it yourself,” she said as she thrust the bottle she was holding into my hands. “You can’t. Not this time. This is too big. Now drink that.”

I studied the purple bottle, turning it in my hands while I watched the potion and its magic dance inside.

“You have to drink it for it to work, Poppet.”

“I know, ” I said as I uncorked the bottle and drank it down. I felt a little woozy and Grandmama Murphy caught my head as I fell over.

“There’s a good girl. You sleep that off. I’ll be here watching the boys.”

“Good night Grandmama. I love you,” I said with a yawn as I slid into darkness.

I never did hear her response.

 

-Marlowe

Valentine’s Day, Part 2

The next five minutes were agonizing as I hovered over the Sheriff, who was still lying on the floor. He babbled out what happened when he came around for a couple of minutes, but passed back out again. When the ambulance got there and I was pushed out-of-the-way, pacing the hallway was my next best option. I checked my phone every five minutes while waiting for Ben to come through the door. He came in just as they were taking the Sheriff away.

“I got here as fast as I could, what happened?” he asked as he came running through the door.

I launched myself into his arms and burst into tears. I was terrified not only for The Twins, but what would happen to The Sheriff if they were killed. Ben held me close, rubbing my back while he hummed. My chest was heaving by the time I calmed down enough to tell him what was wrong.

“Eric went home on his shift,” I said, breathing deeply and wiping away my tears. “He found the door wide open and the Twins were gone.”

“That’s not all that was there,” said Captain Miller as he came in to the Hall. “There were scorch marks everywhere, along with broken furniture, smashed doors and blood.”

I groaned and dropped my head to Ben’s chest.

“Please tell me it wasn’t the Twins..” I whispered. New tears were already falling.

“We can’t be sure,” he replied.

Ben’s grip on my back tightened. “Do you have anything, yet?”

Captain Miller shook his head.

“I sent Jones over with the crime scene unit, but there’s some kind of nasty mojo over the whole place. It’s taking down techs as fast as they go in to do their job,” he said. “Someone who’s immune to that shit needs to go in, but we don’t have anyone like that.”

“What about the priestess?” I asked.

“Went up to Grizzly Peak to help with a spot of trouble up there. She won’t be back until tomorrow and she might be too tired to help.”

I sighed and looked up at Ben.

“Sabine and I could go,” I said carefully.

Ben looked down at me, a little surprised I said anything to him first about going. I could tell he was thinking it over though.

“I don’t want to risk you or the baby,” he said to me, just as carefully. We both knew that something in our relationship had just changed. “but if you promise to listen to both myself and Sabine, back out when I feel there’s too much pressure on you, I can be okay with that.”

I nodded and looked over at the Captain. “We’ll follow you over with the truck and trailer.”

“Trailer?” he asked, looking a little bewildered. Then Sabine came around the corner and his jaw dropped. “Well I’ll be. I never thought I’d see one in person.”

“This is Sabine. We’re linked.”

That had the Sheriff looking at me sharply.

“You’ll need a key to the great library and you’ll need it fast if you’re linked. You need to read the Chronicles about unicorns,” he said.

There was a firm tone to his voice that didn’t make me put my back up, but rather made me incredibly wary about the link between myself and Sabine. I nodded at him.

“Okay, but first can we go find the Twins?” I asked.

He nodded to me and Ben left to get the truck and trailer together while I explained things to Sabine. She thought it was a fine idea to go over there and see if we could cut through the miasma surrounding the place.

“I would step lightly when we go, Marlowe. Anyone who does that kind of magic is not to be trusted. There could be any number of things waiting.”

“I know, but it’s herd and home.”

Sabine nodded. “I will make sure nothing happened to the baby. You may tell your mate.”

I thanked her while I got dressed in my outdoor gear, pulling on my boots. By the time Ben got back, I was dressed and Sabine was waiting with me at the door. While we helped her into the trailer, I told Ben what she said.

“That makes me feel better, actually.”

“Well that’s good.”

“I still don’t like this, but it’s the Twins. I know why you’d want to go.”

“Dragon day is tomorrow. You’ll need to be at home. We need to do this tonight,” I said firmly.

Ben nodded. “You promise to listen to me? Pull back when I feel you’re getting too deep?”

“I promise,” I said and hugged him. “I want them home. I want the family whole.”

“I know. We’ll find them if we can,” Ben said and opened my door to help me inside the truck.

He got in after making sure I was inside and we headed towards the Sheriff’s house. There was no talking between us, nothing more needed to be said until we got there. Pulling up to the house, I could see the scorch marks on the door frame as the light faded with the sunset.

My heart started beating faster and I reached over to grab Ben’s hand, calming down. He looked at me and nodded. I tried to smile, but I’m sure it was more like a grimace. My heart was starting to fill with icy dread that was as cold as the zero degree temperatures outside the car.

Sabine until now had been silent. As soon as we stopped she spoke,

“She was here.”

I jumped and gave a little yelp. Ben’s forehead wrinkled with worry.

“The woman who killed your herd?”

“Yes.”

I didn’t know what to say. My eyes filled with tears as her sadness joined my fear and filled me. At that point, I was worried that I’d never feel warm again if something happened to the Twins and we could not bring them home. I got out of the truck without waiting for Ben to help. I know it annoyed him, but I needed to do it myself to prove I wasn’t helpless.

As Ben and I unloaded Sabine, there was quite a crowed.

“Now, we do work to ruin her day,” Sabine said.

I smiled. “What do I do?”

Sabine explained that we were going to try to purify the area together by just walking through the scene. She said that between the two of us, there would be more than enough magic to cleanse the area.

“But, how?” I asked.

“The magic wants to help. It’s just waiting for direction. So we tell it what to do,” she said as we walked to the house together. “Do not run. Stand your ground. If you run, it might kill you out of spite.”

I nodded, looking back at Ben. He smiled, but I knew it was fake. I knew he was worried and would probably pace the side-walk. I wiggled the walkie-talkie at him that he handed me before we started up to the house and then blew him a kiss.

I turned to Sabine and nodded. She nodded back and led the way into the house. I was glad there was only one step up to The Sheriff’s house, we got inside pretty easily. Once inside, I felt the crush of magic as it swarmed us. Black mixing with light, my head swam.

“Don’t faint, Marlowe. It is strong, but we are stronger,” I heard Sabine say through the gray that clouded my vision.

“I’m not going to faint,” I said as I squeezed my eyes shut.

I could feel tears leaking out as it pressed down and I pushed back. I was so angry that it was trying to make me faint that pushed back harder than I intended and felt it snap like the draw string of a bow that’s been loosed. The blow back hit me in the chest and face hard. I could feel my nose bleeding. I could feel the hate from the black side, drowning

“You push too hard, Marlowe. We should leave.”

“I thought you said not to run?”

I heard Sabine sigh and I nearly smiled.

“They’re hitting you hard because She left the magic for you. We have to leave.”

One more hit from the magic had me rethinking my will to stay. My lip was split, I could feel it swell and pull when I moved my mouth to breathe. I nodded at her.

“Lets go,” I said. I could feel the lip pull hard as I mouthed the words.

We stepped outside the house and the pressure stopped. I almost wept with relief. Ben rushed up and checked me over before saying anything. Then he kissed me.

“Don’t do that again,” he said quietly. “You’re not supposed to go where I can’t follow, remember? We made a deal.”

“It only took her twice to get me to leave. I left. As promised,” I said as I dropped my head to his chest. “Lets go get me checked out at the hospital and I’ll tell you what happened.”

Ben hugged me close. “You’ve gotta stop being so hard-headed. It’s going to get you killed and We’ve got a family.”

“That’s why I left when I did,” I murmured.

“I’ll leave off, but we need to have a talk later.”

“Later,” I agreed. “Doctor first.”

“You did well, Marlowe. Even if you are a little stubborn,” Sabine said. I could hear the humor that covered the grimness of what just happened.

“Some of that crap is going to follow us, isn’t it?”

“Oh, Most definitely.”

“Great. Wonderful.”

“I hear the, what’s that word you humans use? Sarcasm? I hear it in your voice.”

“That’s because I meant for it to be there,” I replied.

Sabine snorted, but said nothing. She trotted over to the trailer and waited to be helped inside.

Ben led me to the truck and helped me inside after we put Sabine in the trailer.

“I want ice cream. A big tub of it,” I said when Ben got into the car.

He turned and stared at me.

“What? It’s for the baby and my lip.”

Shaking his head, he started the car.

“You might be the death of me.”

“Buddy, I’m your salvation. You just haven’t figured it out yet.”

He surprised me by laughing.

“I’m not entirely sure of that.”

The truth is, I think we’re going to be the death of each other if this keeps up.

-Marlowe

Valentine’s Day

With Jude back in the house as of yesterday morning, Ben and I figured that we could finally relax. We were so very wrong. This is how our Valentine’s day went and believe me, it’s a doozy of a day.

I woke up to the sounds of my beloved Fiance telling our son Logan to stop sniffing the dog’s butt. Logan thought this was hilarious and came running in to the bedroom with Alphonse, laughing hysterically and babbling. All in all, it was a bad way to wake up, just unusual.

Alphie stayed by my side today, he was practically stuck there. I spent the day trying to maneuver around him and when I was finally close to losing my temper, scooped him up and hauled him upstairs with me for a nap. Not even Sabina was helpful when it came to figuring out why he was acting that way. I gave up trying to figure it out while Ben was at work.

Having Jude back in the house is a godsend. She’s thrilled about the baby and insists on helping me plan the wedding. I even caught her upstairs in the nursery today moving furniture around and singing to herself. I can’t even get mad at her about it because everything she was moving is stuff I have wanted to move for weeks.

“A little more to the left with that photo, please.”

Jude jumped and turned around. “Don’t scare me like that!”

I laughed. “Sorry, Mom.”

Jude smiled at me and started to tear up. “Oh honey, I’m so happy you’ve started calling me that.”

I walked in to the room and hugged her hard. “I’m happy I can say that and not feel awkward about it.”

“Well, there’s no awkward between us dear,” she said as she patted my hand.

“No, no there isn’t,” I said. “if you insist on moving things though, I’m going to show you were I’d like them. Ben won’t let me move anything anymore.”

Jude laughed at the frustrated look on my face and I stuck my tongue out at her.

“It’s first time Dad, honey. If you have another child, he’ll be past most of this. Just let it ride out, but not too much. You’ve still got to maintain your independence.”

I nodded at her and we went about re-arranging the baby’s room.

“I’d like this room in yellow, please,” I said to the house as we left later.

“I can never get over how the house listens so well to you,” Jude said.

“I respect the house. The house respects me. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ makes life a hell of a lot easier and I am all for that,” I said as I hooked my arm through hers and we walked back downstairs.

“I can get behind that, actually.”

We hit the bottom of the stairs just as Logan streaked by naked, followed by Miles who was chasing him while wearing just a pair of pants and shouting at him.

“Damn it, Logan! Put these back on! I don’t care if dragon day is tomorrow!”

I started laughing and had to sit down on the stairs. Jude joined me and we sat there, propping each other up when Sabina came in to the hall.

“Why does Miles insist the child wear clothes?” she asked.

“Well, we don’t have the kind of hair you do, so he’ll get really cold soon. Probably get sick too,” I replied through the link.

“Oh, but why are you laughing?”

“Because it was a funny situation. A little absurd.”

The unicorn shook her head and stared at me. “Makes no sense, the way you humans wear clothing, but if he must then why doesn’t he wear them?”

“Because dragon day is tomorrow and he’s excited. He misses his other form.”

“He’s a changling?” her voice sounded a little alarmed.

“No, no. He’s a were-dragon. He changes in to a dragon for one night during the full moon.”

“Why?”

“We don’t know why. He just always has. Ben and Alphonse, too.”

“Strange,” she said.

“Yes, very strange.”

Jude was looking between both of us as we talked through the connection and finally spoke.

“Okay, watching the two of you stare at each other is creepy, even if I do know you’re having a conversation through that connection of yours.”

I laughed and Sabina nickered.

“Sabina was saying it was strange how Ben and the boys change once a month and Logan’s behavior.”

“Well, for a unicorn she’s got a sound head. It is strange, but we live with it anyway.”

“Welcome to Blueville, where everyone is strange and it doesn’t matter- hey can I have that cupcake?”

That set both Sabine and Jude off with the laughing and nickering. I grinned at both of them. Alphonse came out into the hallway and crawled in to my lap, tucking his head under my chin. I covered his face in kisses until he started giggling too. Miles came in to the hallway with a wiggling Logan, who was hanging upside down over Miles’s shoulder.

“Caught the runaway, eh?”

“and with a little bit of luck, got him back in to his pants. Why’d you have to adopt a kid that hates clothes?” He complained.

I laughed. “You hated clothes too at his age, if I recall correctly.”

Miles thought about it for a second and shrugged.

“You have a point.”

I snickered and cuddled Alphie close. Logan spotted Jude and held out his arms. “Grandma!”

Jude laughed and took him from Miles. He settled in to her lap.

“Wanna tell me why you’re half-naked too?” I asked.

“Logan spilled his milk on my shirt. I stuffed it into the washer with his shirt and pants that caught the rest of it when the little Houdini escaped the laundry room and took off down the hall,” Miles said as he stared up the stairs to his room. “I’m going to change for my date with Denver.”

I nodded and waved my hand at him. “Have fun, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Miles leaned over the banister. “Then I wouldn’t have any fun, but would still manage to end up in jail.”

“Miles that was fifteen years ago and three thousand miles away,”

“You still ended up in jail that day.”

“Go away, Miles.”

He laughed and continued up the stairs. Jude was looking at me as I turned back to her to finish the conversation.

“Spring Break, 2001.”

“I didn’t say anything,” she said.

“No, but I still feel damn guilty anyway,” I said as I ducked my head and looked down at Alphie. He’d fallen asleep in my arms.

“I think it might be time for bed for him,” Jude said.

“Do either of you know if he had dinner?” I asked.

“No, but it doesn’t matter. He’s asleep, let him sleep.”

I couldn’t argue with that wisdom, so I hauled him upstairs. I knew Jude wouldn’t rat me out to Ben if I carried him. I looked over my shoulder and she was right behind me with Logan, who’d finally worn out his energy for the day and had fallen asleep in her arms. We got them upstairs and in to the bedroom they shared. There were more than enough rooms in the house for them to have their own, but they insisted on being together.

“Some day, they won’t want to be in the same room,” I said softly as we walked out and I closed the door behind us.

“You’ll be ready for that day. It’s not like it’ll come any time soon.”

“I know, but they’re my babies.”

Jude laughed. “I know that feeling all too well.”

I smiled over at her and was about to say something else when I heard the pounding on the door downstairs. I felt a wave of dread wash over me and curl around my throat.

“Trouble,” I said as I took off running. The feelings got stronger as I got to the hall.

Sabina was still at the bottom of the stairs and was prancing in place.

“Hurry! There’s trouble!” She practically screamed in to my head.

I got to the door just as the Sheriff opened the door and ran in. His eyes were wild and he was out of breath.

“The Twins are missing,” he said and then collapsed.

I couldn’t catch him in time, so he hit the floor with a loud thud. I flinched and bent down to turn him over.

“Jude call 911. Tell them he’s here and what happened. Tell them to send Lieutenant Jones and Captain Miller.”

Jude nodded and ran for the phone. I pulled out my cell phone from my pocket, it never leaves my side these days, and called Ben.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Eric is here. The Twins were kidnapped. Come home.”

“I’m on my way.”

There called ended and I tucked my phone back in to my pocket. I looked up at Jude who came back in to the room with the phone attached to her ear. She was telling the operator on the other end exactly what I told her to say.

“What is wrong, Marlowe?” Sabine asked.

“My nice and nephew are missing,” I said, thinking fast of a way to describe what the Twins were to me. “They’re the same age as Alphie.”

I looked up at Sabine then and spotted the flash of anger in her eyes.

“They hurt the herd?” she asked.

“Yes. Someone hurt the herd.”

“Then they just became my enemy too,” she said quietly as she looked down at the Sheriff.

At that moment, I never wanted to be on her bad side and I prayed that the police found the bastard who took the Twins before she did.

-Marlowe