CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and FOURTEEN
Still asleep, Jacob felt a pressure from deep inside him. The pressure became an itch until the intensity of the urge grew enough to wake him. His hand went to his genitals. He hadn’t felt this intense need for release since he was a teenager. Not sure where he was, he squeezed himself to keep from just exploding with desire.
He opened his eyes. Nothing – no light, no darkness, simply nothing.
In one fluid drop, he was falling fast.
“Enough!” He recognized Hedone’s voice.
He flushed with shock and shame. His wife’s best friends had caught him like a horney teenager. He covered his genitals with both hands and wished his situation away.
He heard a soft chuckle. A warm small hand touched his shoulder.
“Do not be ashamed,” Hedone’s voice said clearly. “Your children are in your bed.”
He felt her lean in to him.
“Cherubim are jokesters,” Hedone said in a low tone. “They wanted to see you resolve that situation.”
He heard or maybe sensed a high pitched laughter.
“You are healthy,” Hedone said. “Well. This is a sign of your return to vibrant health.”
He felt Hedone’s warm hand on his eyes.
“Watch,” Hedone said.
Jill was sitting up against their backboard. Katy and the twins, Bladen and Tanner, were sprawled across the bed. Jill was crying and staring off at the wall. Her hand rubbed Katy’s back like she did when Katy was ill. Jill sighed, wiped her eyes on a tissue, and got up. She wandered into the loft.
“Ready?” Hedone asked.
“I think so,” Jacob said. “I feel whole, well, a little … stiff.”
Hedone laughed. He grinned.
“You will need to take a breath right away,” Hedone said. “If your lungs are not working, we’ll take you back.”
Somehow, those words sounded really familiar.
“How many times have we done this?” Jacob asked.
“Six,” Hedone said.
“Six times,” Jacob said. His voice reflected a kind of awe.
“The work is complicated,” Hedone said. “This is the first time …”
She gestured to his crotch.
“It’s a very good sign,” Hedone said.
“Won’t I scare her?” Jacob asked.
“No,” Hedone looked him up and down. “Not at all.”
Jill leaned over into the refrigerator. Her rear poked out — round and full.
Jacob groaned. Laughing, Hedone kissed Jacob on the cheek.
“For luck,” Hedone said.
“Bring on number seven!” Jacob said.
With the Goddess’s laughter in his ears, Jacob had the sensation of falling again. He landed softly in the small loft kitchen. His feet felt the cool tile. His skin responded to the warm air. He felt faint and then remembered that Hedone had said that he needed to breath. He took a breath and felt his lungs fill with clear, cool air. He took another. His breathing continued automatically. He could breath. Not sure where he should look, he looked up and nodded in thanks.
Turning his attention to the love of his life, he walked to the kitchen area of the loft.
“Jill,” Jacob said.
Wednesday morning — 6:35 a.m.
Heather was gone by the time Jill and her girlfriends woke. Sandy had to rush off to get her kids up for school. Tanesha had stayed as long as she could, but Tanesha was on Fin-patrol this morning. Tanesha had slipped out just after six but not before she’d helped Jill change and feed the twins. Katy had awoken with a fever. Tanesha and Jill had moved the children to her large bed.
Jill had the day off work to focus on her finals, which were scheduled for tomorrow.
Tanesha refused to leave until Jill had climbed into bed with a good cup of tea, the remote control to the television, and a good book. Jill had waited until the loft door had closed before she broke down in tears.
She told herself that she would let herself cry for ten minutes only. She had way too much to do to spend her day moping around.
Sure, her husband’s body was burned to a crisp trying to help the stupid, selfish fairies.
No. Her father had said that Jacob had saved the world, not just the stupid fairies.
He’d also said that Jacob would be home — whole and well.
“When?” Jill whispered.
As if she’d heard her mother’s words, Katy moaned in her sleep. Jill touched her daughter’s warm back. If the fever didn’t break in an hour, she was taking her daughter to the doctor.
Jill gasped. With everything going on, Jill had forgotten to call Paddie’s mother. When Katy was sick, Paddie was usually sick. They had both been on some top-secret adventure in Olympia. It was likely that Paddie was sick too.
She couldn’t call Julie in this condition. Julie was a military wife. Her husband was off in Africa somewhere on a mission for the U.S. military. Julie spent most of her time without her husband.
At least Jill’s husband was home most of the time.
That is, when he wasn’t out saving the world. For the fairies.
Jill sighed at her mental loops. She wiped her tears and got out of bed.
She needed to call Julie.
But first … Had they finished that ice cream? Was it okay to eat ice cream at six in the morning? Jacob would tell her that it was always okay to eat ice cream.
She hiccupped a breath and left her bedroom. She went across the cool wood floors to the small loft kitchen.
It might not be okay to eat ice cream at six in the morning, but she was pretty sure there was no rule about eating Sandy’s chocolate-chocolate cake with vanilla cream frosting between the six layers. Smiling at her own logic, Jill opened the refrigerator.
Now she had to find it.
Sandy had hidden the cake at the back of the refrigerator so the kids wouldn’t find it. She leaned into the refrigerator. Her head stuck deep inside the cool box.
Jacob? Was that Jacob’s voice?
“No, Jill, Jacob is not here,” she said out loud.
She was pretty sure that the condiments agreed with her. Shaking her head, she continued her search.
A warm hand touched her hip. The hand sent waves of warmth through her.
Shocked, she stood up fast hitting her head hard against the top of the refrigerator.
Jill passed out.
Jill hit her head hard on the refrigerator. Jacob just managed to catch her before she face planted into a Tupperware full of moldy something or another.
Holding her in his arms, Jacob looked up and scowled at the trickster cherubim. He thought he could hear them laughing at him.
For the first time in a very long time, the spirit of his mother appeared in front of him.
“Mom,” Jacob said.
“Look at you!” Celia said.
Jacob looked down. To his chagrin, he was completely naked, rigid, and bent over Jill’s unconscious form.
“Very funny,” he said.
He easily lifted Jill out of the refrigerator. He took a step and his muscle strength slipped. He almost fell before he was able to get his balance again.
“Slowly,” Celia said. “It’s a whole new body.”
Jacob set Jill on the couch before looking at his mother.
“What whole new body?” Jacob asked.
“You were rebuilt from scratch,” Celia said. “You don’t remember?”
“I guess I don’t believe it,” Jacob said. “I remember the heat, pain … lots of pain.”
“I would have given anything for a new body,” Celia said with a sad smile.
“I would have given anything for you to have a new body,” Jacob said. “I was very lucky.”
“You saved the world, son,” Celia said.
“I just did whatever was next.” Jacob lifted a shoulder in a shrug.
Celia smiled at her son.
“She’s coming around,” Celia said.
He felt a soft touch on his cheek.
“I’m glad for you, dear boy,” Celia said. “I love you.”
Seeing that Jill’s eyes were fluttering open, he smiled at his mother and waved for her to disappear. Smiling, she did as he asked.
“Jacob?” Jill asked. Her hand went to her head as she tried to sit up. “What?”
She looked him up and down. She scowled at his erection.
“I’m not sure it will ever go down,” Jacob said.
“Well,” Jill said with a sigh. “There are worse things.”
Jacob laughed, and she laughed at his laugh.
“Dad said you’d have a whole new body,” Jill said.
“Want to try it out?” he suggested.
Jill nodded. Her nod made her head hurt. She grimaced. He put his hand on her head. The head from his hand fill her body with warmth. She gave him a suggestive smile.
He flipped on the gas fireplace before carefully lifting her robe. His body might feel like a teenager, but inside, the part that mattered, he knew how to make love to his wife. He slipped his hands along her naked shoulders. Her pajama top strained against the top button. She flipped the button and the top slipped to the couch.
“Every time you touch me, I feel …” Jill swallowed, “ … heat.”
“No idea,” Jacob said.
“Touch me,” she whispered.
So he did. He touched every piece of her soft, pliable flesh until the moment they joined. His passion rushed forward in an instant.
“At least we know it’s not a permanent fixture of the new model,” Jill said.
“Sorry,” he said.
She laughed again. The sound of her laughter reignited him and they were back to the dance. Whether by accident or intent, time stood still. They moved in rhythm until she gripped him tight. They exploded together.
“I see lights,” Jill laughed.
Jacob laughed. He kissed her nose.
“What can I do for you?” Jacob whispered.
“I think you just did that,” Jill said.
He laughed and got up. He stood in their sitting area and stretched his arms.
“No scars,” Jill said.
“No pacemaker,” Jacob said, putting a hand to his chest.
“Wow,” Jill said. She shook her head. “Wow.”
“We’ll see,” Jacob said.
“Let me see you,” Jill said.
He held out his arms and she looked him over from head to toe. This brought up both of their interest. They went for fast love.
“Body seems to work,” Jacob said.
Jill laughed. Remembering that she needed to call Julie, she picked up her bathrobe. She nodded toward the clock.
“Time?” Jill asked.
He scowled and the clock started ticking again. She smiled and kissed his lips.
“Your eyes are a little different color,” Jill said. “They have a golden ring in the iris, near the pupil. It makes your eyes shine. Your voice is a little deeper, stronger.”
“Does it matter?” Jacob asked.
“I would have noticed right away,” Jill said.
She slid on her bathrobe. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to him.
“I have to call Julie because Katy is sick,” Jill said.
He held her tight.
“I love you,” Jacob said. “That’s all. I just wanted you to …”
When he looked down at her, her eyes were filled with tears. She pressed her head into his shoulder.
“You’re taller,” was all Jill could manage. Rather than deal with her anger, loss, and relief at his return, she tucked her feelings away. She pushed away from him. “Katy’s sick.”
Reality hit Jacob like a brick.
He was a father.
His children depended on him.
His father must be worried sick.
He picked up a blanket from the basket near the gas fireplace and wrapped it around his waist.
Then he remembered.
“The fairies,” he said, under his breath. “War.”
“Dad said that they were working it out,” Jill said.
“No war?” Jacob asked.
“I don’t know the details,” Jill said. “Should we call my dad?”
Jacob gave her a pained looked, and she laughed.
“What if we hold off a bit?” Jacob asked.
“Good idea,” Jill said.
“I feel this odd sensation.” Jacob touched his stomach.
“You’re probably hungry,” Jill said.
“Hungry?” Jacob asked. “Yes. I guess …”
Jacob grabbed his stomach and collapsed to his knees. Jill was rushing to his side when there was a knock on the loft door. Jacob groaned in pain and fell forward. Katy ran out from her mother’s room and opened the door.
“His tummy!” Katy said to the man at the door.
“Ah,” the man said in a big booming voice.
“Jacob!” Jill said. “Oh my God, Jacob!”
She looked up at the man. He was tall and big. He had sand colored hair to his shoulders. His eyes were dark and his skin brown. He wore a tunic, similar to what people wore in Olympia, and leather sandals. Seeing Jill, he dropped to a knee.
“Mistress,” the man said.
“Who are you?” Jill asked. Too panicked and exhausted, she started to sob. Her solid core evaporated and she said the only thing she could think of, “Dad! I need you!”
Perses arrived a moment later. Katy ran to say hello to her grandfather. Perses picked his granddaughter up in his arms.
“Lord Perses,” the stranger said, and bowed his head.
“What is it?” Perses touched Jill’s shoulder.
“I don’t know,” Jill said. “He was fine. I mean he just got back and … He just grabbed his stomach and I don’t know who this is and Katy, she …”
“By your leave,” the stranger said to Jill and Perses.
Nodding to the stranger, Perses lifted Jill up and helped her to the couch.
“We forgot to start his digestive system,” the stranger said. “Close your eyes.”
The man pointed at Katy and said, “No cheating. You’ll go blind.”
Jill covered her eyes with her hands. Katy shut her eyes tight. For good measure, Perses covered Katy’s eyes.
There was a sound that was not quite a sound. Jacob screamed out in desperate pain. Jill went to remove her hands, but found them magically stuck in place. She could not see what was happening.
Jacob panted with pain.
The stranger said something like, “There, there. You’re almost there.”
Jacob screamed again.
“Kidneys, too,” the stranger said.
Jill heard the faint sound again.
“Breathe, brave Jacob,” the stranger said.
Jacob huffed at the air. Jill opened her mouth to scream for them to stop. Before she could get the words out, the air changed. Her hand easily lifted from her eyes. Her voice came out in a scream!
Her scream caused the twins to scream in the bedroom.
When she opened her eyes, the stranger was holding her twins, one on each shoulder, and comforting them. She looked for Jacob.
Jacob was sitting up on the ground. He was drinking water from a glass.
Looking for her father, she saw Perses was sitting on the couch next to her.
“She is hot,” Perses said. “Paddie is as well.”
To her stunned face, Perses shook his head.
“I told him that it was too much travel in a night,” Perses said with a “tut, tut.”
Jill’s mouth dropped open. She looked at Jacob again. He was still drinking water. She looked at the stranger. He smiled at her.
“We’re pretending that little bit didn’t happen?” Jill asked.
The stranger laughed. He nodded to Perses.
“She’s your daughter,” the stranger said.
“Who are you?” Jill asked.
“He’s Asclepius,” Jacob said in a hoarse voice. “My doctor.”
Jill got up and slapped him across the face. Asclepius laughed.
“You are wonderful, Jillian,” Asclepius said. Still managing to hold the twins, he knelt to her. “I am at your service.”
Jill scowled at him.
Asclepius looked at Jacob.
“She’s even better than you said,” Asclepius said to Jacob.
“What just happened!?” Jill screamed. Her voice dropped to a soft, harsh whisper. “I am not some stupid woman in awe of the Greek God.”
“Now, Jill,” Perses said.
“No,” Asclepius said. “She’s right. She deserves to know.”
Jill collapsed back to the couch.
“Jacob went down into a very hot place,” Asclepius said. “It dried out his tissues. His physical body fell to ash. The creature you call ‘Abi’ was able to get him to me before his spirit returned to the veil.”
Jill nodded. Perses had told her something like that.
“The cherubim have recreated him,” Asclepius said. “It’s a very painful process.”
“Cherubim?” Jill asked. “I could hear something …”
“You could hear them?” Asclepius asked. “That’s rare for a human, but then you are half Titan.”
“The cherubim usually make infants,” Asclepius said. “Infants don’t feel anything until they are much older. Your Jacob went through it all with his consciousness intact. That is no small thing. He has survived an enormous physical and mental challenge. He is mostly whole.”
“And the digestion?” Perses asked.
“We forgot,” Asclepius said. “In infants, the intestines grow. Jacob is an adult so needs an adult intestines and kidneys. He had the structures. They just weren’t moving.”
“Why did he scream?” Jill asked.
“It’s very painful,” Asclepius said with a nod. “But he’s through it now.”
“And that’s it?” Perses demanded.
“We hope so,” Asclepius said.
“But possibly not?” Perses’s voice rose in threat.
“We did our best,” Asclepius said. “The rest we’ll have to see. We cannot guarantee that there won’t be other issues. We can promise to be here to help when necessary.”
“Thank you,” Jacob said.
“That’s all you can do,” Jill said with a nod.
“There were some people getting ready for breakfast when I came up,” Asclepius said. “They asked for you to come down. I think they’d love to see you, Jacob. Probably want to thank your brilliant doctor.”
Jacob laughed at Asclepius, and the God grinned. Jill looked at Jacob, and he nodded.
Jill took Bladen from Asclepius. She kissed her baby and he squirmed to be let down. His brother squirmed in Asclepius’s arms. He set Tanner down. The boys ran to the door. They opened the knob with their psychokinetic abilities and toddled down the stairs in no time flat.
“Bladen? Tanner? What are you doing here?” Honey’s voice came back to the loft.
Asclepius laughed. Katy hopped up and went to her room.
“I’ll get them,” Perses said to Jill and Jacob. “Get dress. I’ll meet you downstairs.”
Asclepius helped Jacob up from the ground. Perses slapped Asclepius on the back. The Titan and the God left the loft.
Jacob grinned at Jill.
“Sorry?” Jacob asked.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” Jill said.
She got up from the couch and kissed him. He held her tight. Jill pressed her head against his chest and listened to his new heart beat.
“I should put some clothing on,” Jacob said.
“Welcome home?” Jill asked.
Jill laughed. They went into their bedroom to get dressed.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.