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CHAPTER TWO HUNDRED and SEVENTY-NINE
Jill felt someone sit down on the bed and she opened her eyes to stare at the white ceiling above. Her first thought was about the boys, her second about Katy. Of course, the boys disappeared with Megan a half hour or so ago. Katy was at Paddie’s house. Jacob was out at the earthquake site with Aden, Blane, and Sam.
And she was … She wasn’t sure.
She looked around. She was in a comfortable bedroom just off the medical offices. She was looking around at the lovely room when she saw the person sitting on her bed. With a groan, she started to sit up.
“Please, don’t get up,” Liban said.
“Yes, I dare come into your room,” Liban said after reading her look.
“Please,” Liban said. “If I may, I’d like to talk for a moment. I have a few things to say. If you ask me to leave, I will go immediately. But please, hear me out.”
Jill was too tired to argue. She gestured for Liban to speak her piece.
“Thank you,” Liban said.
Jill lifted her lips in a guarded smile.
“The boys are beautiful,” Liban said.
“Thank you.” Jill squinted and wondered what Liban was buttering her up for.
“I know that you don’t trust me,” Liban said.
“If you’re here to talk me into letting your fairy take care of the boys, Jake and I have already decided that we do not need help from fairies,” Jill said. “You … people … don’t seem to hold the concept of children in the same way human’s do. I’d rather allow my children to be children, and not pawns in some political games.”
“You’re angry,” Liban said.
“Angry?” Jill asked. “Disgusted.”
“I understand,” Liban said. “I assure you, the situation with Prince Kirk was unique. In fact, all of Fand’s children’s situations were unique.”
“Fin was raised by Manannán’s human wives,” Jill said.
“He told you?”
“He told Tanesha,” Jill said. “He said that his sisters were raised by fairies and that Kirk was in the care of one of Manannán’s great-grandchildren when he was taken and she was killed.”
“Just gross,” Jill said.
“I see what you see,” Liban said. “I understand why you say it, and I would tell you that my sister’s children and their situation is unique. My sister … Well, as you saw, she’s not much of a mother. She was born a queen, born to bear a queen’s responsibilities. Her fairies take all of her time, energy, and thought. I’m not sure she was intended to fall in love. As you know, some things just happen. She is no mother. She couldn’t understand a child if she tried.”
“Why is she so interested in Katy then?” Jill asked.
“She believes Katy to be similar to herself, and thus in need of special teaching and care,” Liban shrugged. “You have impressed Fand, though. You are Katy’s mother, just as I was mother to my children. You know that Ne Ne raised Yvonne.”
“You’re angry about Kirk,” Liban said.
Jill crossed her arms and furrowed her brow.
“I understand,” Liban said. “Would it help to know that he no longer remembers what happened to him?”
“What about the scars?” Jill asked.
“The wounds healed the moment he arrived in this world,” Liban said. “His body shows that he’s suffered but his mind remembers none of it. He can remember it, though.”
“If you remind him,” Liban said.
“Where is he?” Jill asked.
“Your friend, Heather?” Liban asked. “Didn’t she leave to speak with her social worker? Something about …”
“Emergency placement,” Jill’s voice was filled with awe.
“Of course, the Oracle has agreed to raise him,” Liban said. “But he needs a place tonight. Tomorrow his …”
“Aunt …” Jill whispered.
“So you do know,” Liban said.
“Heather called when she found out,” Jill said.“She’s taking a boy for a few days … Keenan …”
“Keenan means ancient one,” Liban smiled.
“And his mother?” Jill asked. “Queen Fand?”
“She and the Oracle agree that she will be in his life, but he will grow up human,” Liban said. “Like his brother, Fin.”
“Like Fin,” Jill’s voice was vague, as she thought through what Liban was saying. “Fin and Abi?”
Liban gave Jill a broad smile.
“Love is unusual for us fairies,” Liban said. “We don’t usually mate for life. If we find love, it is strong, overpowering even, but fades. We rarely love another fairy unless, like Gilfand, we draw a mortal into our world. That takes the kind of power only available to the ancient, like Gilfand or myself.
“But Fin and Abi …” Liban smiled. “She’s supposed to be his mate. He is a fairy ruler, a prince, thus she should be a lady of court. She should not be on the fairy corps. And yet …”
“They are both here,” Jill said.
“As I said, love is unusual for us,” Liban said. “But then again, my nephew is half-Manannán.”
Jill looked at the wall to think it through. There was a large picture of Katy sitting on the table along the wall. Jill smiled at her baby-girl.
“I like that you ask me about the boy before you ask me about what you get,” Liban said.
“What I get?” Jill asked. “What do you mean?”
“As your gift for making our family, our entire community whole,” Liban said.
“My gift?” Jill asked. “I don’t really want anything from you.”
“Yes,” Liban said. “That’s refreshing.”
“But?” Jill asked.
“You are given a wish for every single person involved in this adventure,” Liban asked.
“A wish?” Jill asked.
“For your friends, Jacob, Sam, Valerie, James, the Oracle, your family, and your friends who valiantly fought the men who wanted to take your babies, the people at the earthquake site …,” Liban said. “You can wish for anything you want.”
“You mean you could heal Honey’s back so she can walk again?” Jill asked.
“No,” Liban said. “I cannot heal an old injury. A newer injury, sure, but Honey has healed and … I’m sorry. Honey is wonderful. Older injuries are … tricky. There’s a good chance I would make it a lot worse.”
“So you could heal Tink’s seizures?” Jill asked.
“Would you like that?” Liban asked.
“Yes,” Jill said.
“What about her memories?” Liban asked. “I can take them …”
“No,” Jill said. “She needs them for the trial so she can testify. But could you help her not feel so bad about them, or scared, or …”
“While you’re at it,” Jill said. “Can you help sort out that whole thing – the boys responsible and the boys who were just there and the boys who watched the videos and …”
“Done,” Liban said. “Good choices, Jillian. However, you must watch your own nature.”
“My nature?” Jill asked. “What …”
“You have a tendency to destroy to create something new,” Liban said.
“What?” Jill asked.
“It’s in your blood,” Liban said.
“How would you …?”
“It is what you do, isn’t it?” Liban asked. “Destroy an engagement party, get a new life?”
“I’m not chastising you, Jill,” Liban said. “I’m saying we need to be careful. For example, you might want to heal the child Sissy’s eating disorder. But by wiping her slate clean, you will leave her vulnerable to other trouble as she moves forward in her career as a ballerina. By having this disorder so early in life, she is less vulnerable to situations and people that keep other girls from greatness.”
“I see what you mean.” Jill nodded. “Did we do that with the rapist boys or …?”
“For a few,” Liban said. “As you know, destruction brings healing.”
“And I get to decide for everyone?” Jill’s inner meddler squealed with glee.
“Who else?” Liban smiled.
“Can I have some time to think?” Jill asked.
“No,” Liban said. “With the birth of the boys, the surrounding magic is elevated right now. We can get more done. Plus, I’m confident you already have a plan for everyone.”
“Well …” Jill smiled.
Jacob looked out over their old construction site. While he’d been in the Isle of Man, his crew had fought to stabilize the site and save lives. Their efforts were evident in every area of the site. He was proud of the men and women from Lipson Construction, who’d fought so valiantly through the night. He grinned at his princely thoughts, and wondered if his time at the Isle of Man had changed him.
“Marlowe?” an Adam’s County Sheriff’s detective yelled at him from an area near the trailers. “We’re ready.”
Today was the day of reckoning. The Adam’s County Sheriff’s along with police detectives from every city in Adam’s County were here to go over what happened last night and take their statements. Sam was out on the north side of the site, the pit area, with Rodney and Honey. Blane was with DeShawn, Jason, and Pete in the medical tents. Aden was with Jerry and his team going over their work.
They had asked Jacob to discuss how Lipson Construction managed to withdraw from the site four days before the earthquake. The first police detective they’d met with had told them the state was planning on charging Jacob for reckless endangerment of the other construction teams. The Adams County Sheriff was looking for reasons to charge Jacob with criminal negligence in causing the earthquake itself. There were other threats—survivors filing suits, the oil company claimed their wells were spoiled by the repairs, and every other fantastic claim designed to shirk responsibility. Jacob had smiled and called their lawyers.
Less than a day ago, he’d been wielding a sword in hand-to-hand combat against an experienced army. He rubbed the cut on his chin. This legal wrangling was nothing compared to the horror of staring down the Christian Cavalry. He waved at the detective and started toward the trailers. The alarm on his phone rang.
Looking down at the phone in his hand, he saw the picture he’d taken of Jill, Katy, and the boys. The alarm was to remind him of his life and his priorities. Smiling, he carried the phone in his right hand, or as Fin called it, his sword hand and went to the trailers.
He was met by two men in expensive suits. Samantha Hargreaves was out of town so she sent one of her colleagues to handle any criminal complaints. He introduced himself and smiled. Their corporate lawyer hugged Jacob. Flanked by the warriors of the law, Jacob entered the trailer to talk about the events, as he knew them, at the construction site.
“Hi,” James said in a low tone.
Edie looked up from the infant in her arms. She was sitting on a soft loveseat in the makeshift nursery in the medical offices. She smiled at him and nodded toward the seat next to her.
“Who is this?” James asked.
“Tanner,” Edie said. “He gets a little fussy after he eats.”
“How did you, uh, sort this?” James asked.
“My aunt, Liban, had a chat with Jill,” Edie said. “Jill agreed to let me help while she’s resting in the next few days. If all goes well, then we’ll talk about the future.”
“Wow,” James said. “That’s real progress.”
“She feels like I tried to steal Katy from her,” Edie said.
“Did you?” James asked.
“If we talk about what I did,” Edie’s cheeks flushed pink. “I tried to keep her safe. I encouraged her to bring her friend Paddie, who is clearly her champion. I taught her a few fairy skills so she wouldn’t be so vulnerable. I put them to sleep so they wouldn’t be frightened. That’s what I did.”
“My orders were to procure the child for the queen,” Edie said.
James nodded. They sat in silence
“Liban is your aunt?” James asked in a neutral tone.
“I’m Queen Fand’s third child,” Edie said. “Her second daughter.”
Edie’s face went bright red. She cleared her throat.
“Listen,” she started at the same time James said, “I wanted to …”
He chuckled and she blushed. To cover her embarrassment, she looked down at Tanner. He was squirming.
“They are good babies,” Edie said. “And so close with their mother. They don’t like being away from her for very long. She’s lucky she didn’t have them in a hospital.”
“They would have burned the nursery down,” James said.
“Abi told me what they said … to you … um … about me,” Edie said.
“Yes.” James furrowed his brow. “That was …”
“Mari loves messing with humans,” Edie’s voice was indignant. “She thinks it’s funny to make humans upset and uncomfortable. Everyone hates it when she does it but there’s no stopping her.”
“Why is that?” James asked.
“She’s my mother’s favorite daughter,” Edie scowled.
“Younger sister?” James asked.
“There were always guys like that at the orphanage,” James said. “They liked to make people feel uncomfortable. It’s like they got off on it. Very … uncivilized.”
“Uncivilized?” Edie smiled.
“Exactly,” James smiled. “Plus, I have a younger brother who can be a total pill.”
“John,” Edie said.
“So I have some idea of what you mean,” James said.
“My older sister is the blue fairy right now,” Edie said. “She’s also obstinate. She does whatever she wants to do and drives everyone crazy. Your brother is her personal favorite.”
Edie gave James an angry nod.
“Makes me sick,” Edie said. “The blue fairy is supposed to be supportive to humans and uphold a moral compass for children. She just does whatever she wants.”
“Does the blue fairy rotate?” James asked.
“It’s supposed to,” Edie nodded. “But my sister has been at it for a long time. I think now that Mom is back to herself, she’ll sort this kind of thing out. But without a queen, we’ve all been just kind of … making do. You did a big thing.”
“I did?” James looked surprised. “Really it was Jacob and Jill.”
“You helped,” Edie said. “You’ve been chronicled as ‘James the wise’ for all your help.”
“I would like to get to know you better,” James said. “My life is not stable or really sane.”
Edie nodded. They sat in silence watching the baby for a while.
“Mari said you were ready to have a child,” James said.
“That’s the crazy thing,” Edie said. “Like Mari would know one way or another.”
“So you’re not looking for a … uh … someone to breed with?” James smiled to soften his words.
Edie’s face became red and blotchy. The baby moved in her arms and she got up to put him back in the crib. When she looked back at James, he was smiling.
“I have a lot of sisters too,” James said. “And more than my share of meddling brothers.”
“I’d like to get to know you better,” Edie said.
“Hi, my name is James Kelly, international man of mystery,” James said. Edie grinned at him for repeating Valerie’s introduction. “I’m from Northern Ireland. My mother died when I was four, and my father when I was eleven. I grew up in an orphanage.”
He nodded to her.
“Hi, my name is Edith the fairy,” Edie said. “I grew up on the Isle of Man. My mother is Queen Fand and my father is the Manannán. I was raised by fairies.”
“Nice to meet you, Edith,” James said.
“Oh, you can call me Edie.” she smiled.
“Well, Edie, I’d like to get to know you better,” James said.
“I’d like that too,” Edie smiled and nodded.
“What are you doing right now?” James asked.
“Uh …” Edie looked at the boys and then at the clock. “Jill’s mother is …”
Anjelika swept into the room. She picked up the boys. With a knowing smile to Edie, she swept out of the room.
“How about lunch?” James asked. “My brother owns a bakery here. I know he’d love to meddle … I mean make us some lunch.”
“That sounds very nice,” Edie said.
James stood and held out his hand. Edie took his hand and followed him out of the room.
Blane lay back on the medical exam table. After spending the morning with the police at the job site, Blane had driven like a mad man to get to this appointment. Today was the day he was finally going to heal his liver. Valerie and Jackie’s cord blood had held him over until now.
Jill and her son’s cord blood would heal his liver for good and extend his life for at least a few years.
He closed his eyes to thank whatever God was listening for all of his good fortune. Tink was doing well at their home. Mack was healthy, happy, and mischievous. Heather was pregnant with his biological child.
As of today, he would most likely live long enough to see Heather deliver.
There was a knock on the door and his doctor came in. The man closed the door. For a moment, the doctor just looked at him.
“What’s going on?” Blane asked.
“Remember how I wanted to run tests to have a baseline reading of your liver function before we started?” the doctor asked.
“You mean a half hour ago?” Blane smiled.
“Yes,” the doctor said. “A half hour ago.”
Blane felt the blood rush from his head. The doctor was trying to tell him that he was too sick to have the cord blood. On this day, this very day, the day he’d waited so long to come, the day he was going to get well and live long enough to see his Mack enter kindergarten, his doctor was going to tell him he was on his death bed. Blane swallowed hard.
“What’s going on?” Blane asked.
“Remember how the nurse came in and got a second vial?” the doctor asked.
“Yes,” Blane said. “I’m sorry. I’m kind of freaking out. Can you just tell me?”
“I’m dying right?” Blane asked.
The doctor shook his head.
“Your liver is functioning at a hundred percent,” the doctor said.
Blane was so surprised he could only stare at the doctor. The man’s head went up and down.
“What?” Blane asked.
“Your liver is functioning better than mine is,” the doctor said. “Or probably anyone in this building.”
“It is?” Blane asked.
“It is,” the doctor said. “Any ideas why that would be?”
“None,” Blane said.
The doctor smiled.
“What about the cord blood?” Blane asked.
“We have some decisions to make,” the doctor said. “Jillian Roper is HIV resistant. There’s a procedure that’s proven to cure a few people, twelve, I think, of their HIV.”
“What?” Blane asked. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that your liver is miraculously whole,” the doctor said. “Because of that, I’d like to suggest that we try this procedure. It’s a kind of bone marrow transplant. We’d have to destroy your bone marrow and replant it with Jill’s cord blood. We have enough cord blood to do it twice, if we need to. Of course, there are risks. Everything has risks, but it could just give you a normal life expectancy.”
“Uh,” Blane felt like he was in the Twilight Zone.
“How about if I call Heather?” the doctor asked. “You can look it up online, and make a decision.”
Blane nodded and hopped off the treatment table.
“The only thing I’d say is …” the doctor touched Blane’s shoulder. “Don’t take too long. We’ve been able to cover the existence of this blood, but I don’t know how long we have. In fact, I’d like you to take it back to the special refrigerators we set up at Jake’s house. That way, we know you have it.”
“We’ll let you know in the morning,” Blane said.
The doctor shook Blane’s hand and left the room. Blane got dressed and picked up the cooler with the cord blood. He walked out of the office. He didn’t call Heather until he was in the car.
“You’ll never guess what just happened,” Blane said.
“What?” Heather asked.
“I have a chance of being completely healed,” Blane said. “No HIV, no liver damage, nothing.”
“What?” Heather’s voice went up with surprise.
“I might even live long enough to see our boys married,” Blane said.
When Heather didn’t say anything, he asked, “What’s going on?”
“I’m just …” Heather said through her tears. “Happy.”
“Me too,” Blane said. “I’m on my way home. We’ll figure it all out. Together.”
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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