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CHAPTER TWO HUNDRED and SEVENTY-EIGHT
Jeraine looked up when two strangers entered the room. The man had dark skin and long dread locks. Even in an expensive tailored suit, the man looked powerful and strong. In his heart of hearts, Jeraine had always hoped to be like that man – powerful, virile, and attractive. Except, of course, he didn’t want to be so dark. Embarrassed at his own prejudice, he glanced at the guitar he was playing.
The woman brushed past him and he looked up. She was gorgeous, beyond beautiful. Her skin was light, not quite white, but not quite black. She glowed with a kind of inner radiance. The only other woman Jeraine had seen do this was Tanesha’s mother, Yvonne. When Jeraine looked up, the woman smiled at him.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jeraine,” the woman said. Jeraine’s brain felt fuzzy and warm. He smiled at her. “I’m Fand. Your music is very popular in our land.”
She smiled at Jeraine again and he felt as if he was in the presence of royalty. Instinctively, he reached for her hand and kissed it.
“Ma’am,” he said.
She gave him a sweet smile. In his fuzzy state, he beamed, but his logical mind, the one who went to AA meetings, told him that something was not quite right. He needed to stay on his game.
“Manannán?” Jill’s father walked toward the strangers. “No, it can’t be.”
“Perses!” Manannán said. “My old friend.”
“I can’t believe my eyes!” Perses said. “It’s been an age! How …?”
The men hugged each other.
“Where have you been?” Perses asked.
“Where have you been?” Manannán laughed. “You remember Fand.”
“Ma’am,” Perses dropped to one knee. She held a hand out to him which he kissed. She nodded to him and he stood. “You are as lovely as always. Please come meet my princess, Anjelika. She’s here with her father. We are waiting for our youngest to have her children.”
“Jill is your child?” Fand asked. “Actually … she has your strength and clarity of sight. Of course, she is your child, of course.”
“She looks like her mother,” Perses said. “Anjelika is of the healers, East Slav, from Rus.”
“Our son is her mate,” Manannán said.
“Husband,” Perses corrected. Manannán nodded. “Now that you say it, he does carry your look.”
Manannán smiled at Jill’s father as if they were old friends.
“It’s wonderful to see someone from the old days,” Manannán said.
The men hugged again.
“Come, let’s get caught up,” Perses said. “Queen Fand? Will you honor me by meeting my wife?”
“Of course,” Fand said. “But you need not call me Queen. This is a free land.”
Perses smiled at her, and she beamed.
“I like being Fand,” she said. “It’s refreshing.”
Perses glanced at the two lovely young attendants following the queen. He smiled at her pretense and they all went into the alcove where Jill’s mother and grandfather were sitting.
“Ok, that was weird,” Mike said as he sat down next to Jeraine.
“Did you look these guys up?” Jeraine asked in a low tone.
“After Val told me about them,” Mike said. He nodded to where Valerie was nursing Jackie and chatting with Tink. “Queen Fand is the queen of the fairies.”
“And Manannán?” Jeraine asked in a low tone.
“He’s a God,” Mike said. “He’s supposed to be the first ruler of the Isle of Man, but most Irish and Scottish stories say he’s a God.”
A burst of laughter came from the alcove where Jill’s parents were sitting.
“Your dad greeted him as a …” Jeraine nodded to finish the sentence.
“Friend,” Mike said. “I know.”
“What’s that make your dad?” Jeraine asked.
Mike shook his head. They both looked over at the alcove for a moment.
“Ah shit,” Jeraine said, under his breath. “What’s that guy doing here?”
Mike looked around to see what Jeraine was talking about. Jeraine gestured to his right. A tall, medium dark skinned man came into the room. The man looked like a male model. He had a small waist and broad muscular shoulders. He moved with the ease of a dancer. He wore his hair clipped tight to his head. Looking around the room, he smiled at Yvonne’s friend Abi and Tanesha’s father Rodney. Abi gestured him over to talk to them.
“Who is that?” Mike said under his breath.
“Tanesha’s lab partner,” Jeraine said.
“Shit,” Mike said. “I want to fuck him.”
“I know,” Jeraine said. “She says there’s nothing going on but …”
They turned to look at him. Sam came over to shake his hand. As if they were old friends, the lab partner put his arm around Sam. The lab partner looked at Jeraine and smiled. He glanced at Yvonne and nodded. Holding his hand out, he walked over to Jeraine.
“You’re Tanesha’s man,” the lab partner said.
“Husband,” Jeraine said. “She’s my wife.”
The handsome man’s amber-colored eyes seemed to laugh at Jeraine’s claim. Jeraine stopped playing long enough to shake the intruder’s hand and went back to his guitar strings.
“I’m Fingal,” the lab partner said. “Most people call me Fin.”
“Tanesha wanted to study today,” Fin said. “But I see there’s more going on.”
“You know Yvonne?” Jeraine asked.
“Abi and I have been friends for …,” Fin smiled, “ … a long time.”
Jeraine scowled at him, and Fin smiled.
“Fin?” Jacob asked, when he came out of the room. Jacob hugged the lab partner. “I barely recognize you. You’re so… tall and… gorgeous.”
“It’s the altitude,” Fin said.
“Glad you could make it,” Jacob said. “Jill asked me to get her some ice chips, so I …”
“How do you know Tanesha’s lab partner?” Jeraine asked.
“You’re Tanesha’s lab partner?” Jacob laughed. Fin nodded. “Jeraine, this is my brother. We met him on our recent travels.”
“How is Jill?” Fin asked.
“Ice chips,” Jacob jumped into action and Fin laughed. Jacob got some ice chips and went back into the room where Jill was in labor.
“So you’re Jake’s brother?” Mike’s voice betrayed his suspicion. “On his mother’s side? Or …?”
“You are a Titan’s son, Michael Roper,” Fin said. “Surely you understand what’s going on here.”
Mike squinted at the man. He smiled. Mike felt compelled to nod. He gave the man a deep scowl.
“Tanesha?” Fin turned back to Jeraine.
“She’s in with her girl, Jill,” Jeraine said. “She is not going to do a damned thing until her girl doesn’t need her, so you may as well leave. It’s going to be a while. I can have her call you.”
Fin sat down next to Jeraine.
“This gives us a chance to get to know each other,” Fin said.
“So you can take Tanesha from me?” The words popped out of Jeraine’s mouth before he thought of them. Even Mike looked surprised at his honesty.
“If you’re so worried, maybe you should be a better partner,” Fin’s voice was mild.
“I’m trying!” Jeraine said through his teeth.
“Then you have nothing to worry about,” Fin said. “Anyway, I’m no threat to your union.”
“Why’s that?” Jeraine asked.
“It’s hard to explain,” Fin said. “Now tell me this. How can you speak and play at the same time?”
Even though Jeraine knew he was being manipulated, the man’s attention was soothing to Jeraine’s jangled nerves. His usual headache eased and he answered Fin’s question. In a few moments, they were talking and laughing like old friends.
From across the room, Abi smiled.
“Is that your man?” Yvonne whispered.
Abi turned to look at her. Abi’s eyes seemed to assess Yvonne, as if she was wondering what Yvonne could understand or hear.
“I think Yvie deserves to hear the truth,” Rodney said.
Abi looked at Rodney for a moment, before turning to Yvonne.
“Prince Fin belongs to no woman,” Abi said. “But yes, he is, as you say, the love of my life. We have a child together.”
“You have a child?” Yvonne asked. “Why, you can’t be more than eighteen years old!”
“Looks are deceiving, Yvie,” Rodney said. “She’s a fairy.”
Yvonne looked like she was going to laugh, but looking into Rodney’s face, she saw that he was dead serious.
“Um,” Yvonne said. She looked at Abi again. “I guess, you can’t be eighteen since we’ve been such good friends for such a long time. Um. When do I get to meet your child?”
Abi looked at Yvonne, glanced at Rodney, and then looked across the room at Fin.
“You already have,” Abi turned to smile at Yvonne. “Her name was Ne Ne.”
Yvonne’s mouth dropped open.
“My Ne Ne?” Yvonne asked. “Rodney did you …?”
“She told me,” Rodney said.
“But Tannie said Ne Ne died,” Yvonne said. “Fairies can’t die!”
“Fairies can die,” Abi said. “We just live a much longer life than you.”
“But Ne Ne …” Yvonne started.
“She’s a librarian where I come from,” Abi said. “She had to … retire from life here.”
Yvonne’s brow furrowed as she thought through what Abi was saying.
“But Tannie said …” Yvonne started again.
“Tanesha doesn’t know,” Abi said. “Did you ever notice that Ne Ne never seemed to age?”
“That you never seem to age?” Abi kept her voice soothing with an edge of kindness.
“I can’t remember what I look like one day to the next,” Yvonne smiled.
Abi looked at Rodney.
“You haven’t aged a day since we were twenty,” Rodney said. Yvonne turned in her seat to look at him. He placed his hand over her heart. “Here, in your heart, but not in your face or body.”
“You are a sweet, sweet man,” Yvonne said. “You always know how to say just the right …”
“He’s telling you a truth,” Abi said.
“Oh,” Yvonne said. “But how can that be? Ne Ne might have been your child, but I’m …”
“Her daughter,” Abi said.
“No,” Yvonne shook her head vehemently. “As much as I’d like that to be true, my mother is …”
“Ne Ne,” Abi said. “There was another child, a girl, born from a rape of the woman who claims to be your mother, Tanesha’s gran. The child didn’t survive and it broke the woman’s mind in two. Ne Ne was with child at the same time. She chose to pass her child off as her friend’s child in an effort to help her friend.”
“Why?” Yvonne asked.
“Can you think of no reason?” Abi asked.
“That woman hates me,” Yvonne said. “Ne Ne loved me so much and …”
Yvonne’s eyes well with tears.
“Might I see her again?” Yvonne asked.
“Who is my father?” Yvonne asked.
“Someone she loved very much,” Abi said. “She’s yet to love another.”
“Am I a fairy too?”
“Half,” Abi said. “You are human as well. You and Ne Ne, you are Fin’s only living family. His family was killed …”
“That’s a horrible story for another day,” Abi said. “Not today, when we are welcoming new members to our family, our fairy tribe.”
Yvonne smiled. She held her hand out to Rodney and he took it. They looked over to where Jeraine and Fin were talking.
“Does he love you?” Yvonne asked in a low tone. “Treat you well?”
“Yes,” Abi smiled. “He’s allowed me to spend all this time with you.”
“You’re my grandmother,” Yvonne said.
“Will I get fairy powers?” Yvonne asked.
“More than you already have?” Abi asked. “Would you really like that?”
“No.” Shaking her head, Yvonne laughed.
Abi smiled at Yvonne.
“Why did all of that … happen?” Yvonne whispered.
“He wanted your fairy power,” Abi said. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault really. It never occurred to me. I discounted the human need to own and destroy what is precious.”
“I met you right after,” Yvonne nodded.
“Yes,” Abi said. “I came as soon as we knew. There was little I could do but … help.”
Yvonne smiled at her.
“Everything is fine now,” Yvonne said. “Is your man my Tannie’s lab partner? She said he was handsome.”
“He is,” Abi smiled. “And Tanesha? She is magnificent.”
“She is,” Yvonne said.
There was a sound of a baby wailing and the waiting room broke into cheers. A few moments later, another baby cried and they cheered again. Jill and Jacob’s boys had arrived.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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