Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Four Hundred and fifteen : Shifting wind

CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED and FIFTEEN

Jacob had never felt more exhausted. He would have stayed asleep, but an unrelenting sunbeam shone in his eyes. He tried to turn over, but he was trapped by the blanket he was swaddled in.

“Ahhh!” Jacob screamed in frustration.

Sarah barked, and Jacob jerked to full attention. He was lying on the extremely comfortable bed in the cabin built by love. Sarah barked again. Her nose snuffled around the blanket with great interested.

“Blane and Val and Dad,” Jacob said. “You’re a smeller, Sarah.”

Sarah gave him a strong nudge and Jacob rolled over. He felt her snuffle around on his back and then he felt a tug. Sarah had found an end to the blanket. He rolled over again as she unrolled the swaddling. When he was half free, he took the end from the dog and freed himself. Finally able to stand, he picked up the blanket to look at it. It was made out of what looked like rough, untreated wool. The tight, but uneven weave, made it seem as if the blanket was hand woven.

“This is a wonderful …” he started to say.

The blanket disappeared leaving only a puff of dust. He scowled.

“Magic,” he said with a nod. “That’s a shame because it was nice.”

Shrugging, he made a note to ask Jill to get a blanket like that for home. The thought made him smile. He was ready to go home.

“I was in the Sea of Amber!” Jacob said to Sarah as he rubbed her ears. “Dad, Val, and Blane saved me.”

She licked his face in understanding.

“I bet you went home,” Jacob said. He put his nose in the scruff of her neck. “You smell like … Jill. God, I can’t wait to see her again.”

Sarah panted in such a way as to say that she couldn’t agree more. He went to use the bathroom. When he came out, he put on the clean pair of jeans that lay on the rocking chair. He dug around in the fireplace. There was nothing left of the fire. Shrugging, he used the small axe to cut some kindling from the logs. He went about setting up a fire.

When the fire was ready, he realized he’d never seen a match in this cabin. He tested the stones in the fire mantle to see if they would spark. He dug around in the wood pile to see if he could find a light. Finding none, he went to the kitchen. He was about to open the drawers when he saw a matchbook sitting on top of the counter.

“Tocabe,” Jacob said out loud.

He grinned. Tocabe was a Native American owned restaurant in Denver. He and Aden often went there in secret because the fry bread tacos were not necessarily healthy for his heart. When he got back, he was most definitely going to head there — in secret, with Aden, of course.

Jacob stopped for a moment. For the first time in what felt like a lifetime, he actually felt at peace with himself and the world. Grinning, he took the matchbook to the fireplace. Two matches got the kindling lit. Another match got the kindling really burning. A few minutes later, the fire was raging. He set some logs on the fire and waited to see if they caught. When the fire was really going, he got up to get the kettle. He filled the kettle and hung it over the fire.

His stomach grumbled.

He’d spent what felt like a month in this cabin before and had never been hungry. He opened the cabinets and found a loaf of sourdough bread. Shrugging, he tore off a piece and ate the bread. He stood at the counter devouring the bread until the whistle of the kettle blew. He retrieved the kettle and set it on the counter. To his surprise, Tanesha’s tea was no longer waiting for him in the drawer. Instead, there were three Meyer’s lemons.

“I love these!” Jacob said.

He immediately peeled one and ate it. Cutting another, he put it in a cup and added hot water.

“I wonder if there’s honey,” Jacob said.

He dug opened the cupboard again and found another loaf of sourdough sitting next to a bear filled with honey. Jacob grinned. He loved these bears. Delphie refused to use them because she was sure the plastic was toxic. He still loved them. He squeezed honey in his hot water and lemon. For good measure, he poured honey over the end of the new loaf of sourdough.

“Clearly someone wants to replenish my gut,” Jacob said. He laughed at the idea that he even knew what that was. As if it were a drink, Jacob raised the bread and honey. “God bless you, Delphie! I’m sure it’s exactly what I need!”

Laughing to himself, he moved the rocking chair next to the fire. Sarah barked.

“I know,” Jacob said. “It would be fun to head out into this world again. I just have this feeling that we’re better off staying safe and sound in this cabin.”

Sarah sat down next to the rocking chair. Jacob finished the bread and the hot lemon water. He stared at the fire for a while and then at the ceiling. He was sure he was going to go mad when he saw a journal book and a pen sitting on a shelf in the fireplace. Curious, he got up to look at it.

The journal was empty. He tested the pen. The pen had lots of ink. He brought the pen and journal back to the rocking chair.

“What should I write about?” Jacob asked Sarah.

Sarah barked and Jacob nodded.

“You’re right,” Jacob said. “I should write about everything. Where should I start?”

Jacob tapped the pen against his lip for a moment before nodding.

“I know,” Jacob said. “I’ll start with those leather boots and Trevor’s engagement party. No one who reads that story will ever believe it all happened.”

He pet Sarah head.

“Now, what came first?” Jacob asked. “That’s right. Jill and Megan fought over her going to the engagement party.”

Smiling, he began to write.

~~~~~~~~

“Are we sure there is a dam?” Valerie asked.

“I’ve never been more sure of anything,” Sam said. “But if you don’t believe me, ask them.”

Sam pointed up and went back to what he was doing. Valerie stepped away to communicate with the crow and hawk.

“How are we going to get to this dam?” Blane asked. He looked down the shore. “It looks like we can walk the shore, but it’s a very long way. From my experience, walking around here isn’t straight forward. It’s likely that we’ll fall into any number of traps. Even with our crow and hawk help!”

Sam looked up from where he’d been working. Without saying a word, he pointed to the raft.

“We can’t take the raft!” Blane said with a shake of his head. “If we manage to blow the dam, we’ll die!”

“Who said anything about blowing the dam?” Sam asked with a grin.

Used to Blane’s objections, Sam shook his head and kept working.

“What do you have there?” Valerie asked.

Sam looked up at Valerie and grinned. He held up a round tipped long handled shovel.

“How …?” Valerie asked.

“I heard Blane say that he was able to get spears,” Sam said. “So I figured that if I really wanted and needed a shovel, it would appear.”

“And that worked?” Valerie asked.

“No,” Sam said.

“You had to feel love,” Blane said.

“Exactly,” Sam said. “I remembered the first time your mom and I shoveled this job. We’d low balled the job just to get on the list of reliable people. We didn’t have the money for gas to run the backhoe so we dug it out by hand.”

Sam stood up. He gave Valerie the shovel.

“I got two shovels,” Sam said. “I haven’t been able to get any dynamite or C4 or whatever they say on the television.”

Sam bent over and gave the other shovel to Blane. He picked up a pick axe.

“Then, I realized if it was a simply matter of blowing the dam, someone would have done that a long, long time ago,” Sam said. He looked at Valerie and then Blane. “I think we have to use the tools of our trade.”

Sam held up the pick axe and nodded.

“Ready?” Sam asked.

She looked up. The hawk and the crow were circling an area across the sea and at least five miles from where they stood. She pointed. Sam glanced to where she pointed and nodded. Blane put his hand on his brow and watched the hawk and crow.

“That’s a long way,” Blane said.

“What exactly are we going to do?” Valerie asked.

“We’re going to drain this pond,” Sam said. “And try to do it fast enough that those horrible creatures don’t come after us.”

“How are we going to do this?” Blane asked.

Sam put his hand on Blane’s shoulder and nodded.

“Seriously?” Blane shook his head. Imitating Sam almost exactly, Blane said, “We’ll figure it out when we get there.”

“We always do,” Sam said with a laugh. “Plus, she’s the crow.”

He winked at Blane and walked toward the raft. Along the way, he picked up the beaver.

“Can you get the rabbit?” Sam asked.

Blane bent and picked up his spirit animal.

“Dad?” Valerie asked.

“Well, come on!” Sam said. “You don’t want to miss this.”

Shocked by his rash behavior, Blane and Valerie stood staring at him. Sam laughed at the looks on their faces.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to just do it,” Sam said. The mountain lion ran down the embankment and hopped onto the raft. “No thinking, no hand wringing, no worrying about tomorrow. This is a once in a lifetime chance to change the world for ever. If you want to just stand there, I’ll understand. But I know you, Val, Blane. You’re not going to want to miss this.”

Blane laughed and stepped onto the raft. He set the rabbit down and turned to Valerie. He held out his hand.

“You really don’t want to miss this,” Blane said.

Biting her lip with worry, Valerie gave him a vague nod. Sam laughed.

“Come on, little Celia,” Sam said.

Valerie laughed and got on the raft.

“If only Mom could see us now,” Valerie said.

“Oh, Val, she’s right here,” Sam said. “Look.”

He pointed to a dead tree about a hundred feet away.

“Oh, come on now,” Sam said. “Show yourself.”

A tiny owl stepped out onto a branch. It seemed to bow before taking off. It circled the raft before landing on a limb of the tree.

“That owl lives in the evergreen in the Castle backyard,” Blane said. “You know, right where Jake thinks he should make those high priced condos.”

“High priced condos?” Sam asked with a shake of his head.

“Jake’s going to tear down the Castle?” Valerie asked in a horrified voice.

Realizing they had no idea what he was talking about, Blane shook his head.

“No, sorry,” Blane said. “Jake’s not tearing down the Castle. It’s some weird mind worm he’s had since he first started working on the Castle.”

Unconvinced, Sam and Valerie gave him a similar sideways look with made Blane laugh.

“What are you saying son?” Sam asked.

“That owl,” Blane pointed to the owl. “It nests in that Blue Spruce on the north side of the Castle backyard.”

“It does?” Valerie asked. She leaned forward to look at it. “Small, cute.”

“That’s Celia’s owl,” Sam said with a nod. “She’s been here all along.”

Valerie kissed her hand and gestured toward the owl. She and Blane were so focused on the owl that they gasped when the raft moved.

“No time like the present.” Sam used his pushing pole to move the raft.

Blane put his arm around Valerie and she pressed against him. They had no idea what they’d do when they got to this dam. If the dam actually existed, that is.

As they floated past the dead tree, Valerie caught the eye of the Boreal Owl. It gave a hoot to Valerie and she smiled. Under her breath, she said, “I love you, Mom.” Sam looked at Valerie and grinned.

“I love her, too,” Sam said.

“So do I,” Blane said with a nod.

“Then let’s get this done,” Sam said with a nod. “Just follow the coast. Usually these shelfs last the entire coast. We should be able to use the pole most of the way.”

He gave the pole to Blane.

“You can get us there faster,” Sam said.

Nodding, Blane took the pole and moved them rapidly along the coastline.

~~~~~~~~

Friday afternoon — 5:45 p.m.

Tanesha set down her pencil and glanced at Fin. He leaned back and winked at her.

“Pencil’s down,” the professor said from the front of the room.

The test monitors walked through the room.

“Pass your tests to your closest aisle,” the professor said.

Tanesha watched her last Scantron form for the year slide from hand to hand until it was somewhere in a pile. The test monitor counted them and then checked the names. He pointed to each individual. When he pointed to Tanesha, she nodded her last nod of the year. When he was sure he had them all, he went to the next row.

She looked at Fin. He was grinned his satisfaction.

“How did you do?” Tanesha asked.

“I will never understand why we must have this conversation after every test,” Fin said. “I say …”

“I did fantastic,” Tanesha mimicked him. “I am a prince after all. Everything I do is fantastic.”

“And you say …” Fin said. Before she could respond, “I don’t know. I’m a fairy princess but I refuse to be what I am. So I’m a wash of insecurity and doubt. Oh life! How can you be so cruel?”

She gave him a dark look and he laughed. They spent a few minutes packing up their personal items and waiting for the traffic jam of students at the door to pass. She looked at Fin and he was drinking a full cup of warm black coffee in a coffee cup. Tanesha scowled. She knew better than to ask where the coffee came from.

“Yes, I do know that only psychopaths drink black coffee,” Fin said. “My sister, Aife, tells me this fact almost every time I see her.”

“How is she doing?” Tanesha asked.

“Good,” Fin said. “She clear and stronger. She’s still obsessed with your friend, her twin, and her husband, but that’s simply not going away.”

Tanesha nodded.

“If you check your mug, you have one of those margaritas you enjoy,” Fin said. “I removed that ridiculous tea. When will you stop drinking it?”

“Never,” Tanesha said as she reached for her travel mug.

Fin shook his head with dismay and looked away. Two students were arguing near the middle of the room. The usual “beg the teacher not to fail them” crowd was standing near the front.

“Are we going to the Castle after this?” Fin asked.

“I don’t think you can be there,” Tanesha said, as she took the top off her travel mug. “No fairies.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Fin said. “My sister Edie and many of the Fairy Corps are there taking care of the children.”

Tanesha grinned at her joke and he scowled. She held up the mug of margarita to Fin and they toasted their victory. She took a sip and put the cup away.

“I’m driving,” Tanesha said. “Why haven’t you had your baby?”

“It’s mother,” Fin said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “She’s being irrational. After we save Jake, we will go home and set this right.”

“Maybe it’s better to stay away,” Tanesha said. “Jake told us about what your mother is like when she’s crazy and angry. Not a pretty site.”

“This is true,” Fin said. “Abi is singing with those native peoples. Gilfand is drumming.”

“That can’t hurt,” Tanesha said.

“Yes,” Fin said. “It was just enough to give Blane the power to rescue Jacob. Your friend is now safe and sound.”

“That’s good news,” Tanesha said. “I’m surprised Jill didn’t call.”

“He isn’t here yet,” Fin said.

“What?” Tanesha asked.

She gestured toward the door. Most of the students had left the room. They got up and made their way to the door.

“He is rescued but not all the way back yet,” Fin said. “He still needs these native people’s magic to bring him all the way.”

“And his family?” Tanesha asked.

“It’s my understanding that they are on another quest,” Fin said with a nod. “Noble people — Sam and his family.”

Tanesha looked at him but his mind was somewhere else. They stepped through the door and Tanesha sighed.

“I’ve visualized this moment for … years,” Tanesha said. “And here I … what the …?”

She pointed to the bodyguards standing in front of the door. Fin raised an eyebrow to her.

“Mommy!” Like a dream, Jabari ran to her screaming her name. “Mommy!!”

She picked him up and kissed his cheek. The child threw his arms around Tanesha’s neck. When she looked ahead again, the bodyguards had stepped aside to show Jeraine. He held a bottle of expensive champagne and a few dozen red roses. He took two quick steps across the hall to her.

“I don’t want to interfere,” Jeraine said. “I just wanted to be here to celebrate.”

Tanesha felt like she was floating. She looked at Fin, who smiled at her. He plucked Jabari off her chest to make room for Jeraine to hug her. Jeraine kissed her cheek and gave her the roses. Tanesha felt her eyes well with tears.

“Say something,” Jeraine said in a soft tone.

“It’s good to see you,” Tanesha said.

“There’s a mess at the Castle,” Jeraine said. “I knew if I wanted even a moment with you, I should come here.”

She leaned back and kissed his lips.

“It’s all arranged,” Jeraine said. “I’m staying with you in the little basement room. Fantastic, by the way. Jabari’s staying with my parents. My mom’s mad that she hasn’t seen him in a while.”

“Grandparents rights,” Jeraine and Tanesha said in unison and laughed.

“Blane’s not here,” Tanesha said.

“But I am,” Jeraine said. “I haven’t cooked in a good while.”

“What about Jake?” Tanesha asked.

“I was just about to say that,” Jeraine said. “We stopped there on our way into town. I made some marinade for the chicken. We got a list of what was needed and a couple of my guys have gone to pick it up.”

Jeraine grinned at her dumbfounded looked.

“I feel better,” Jeraine said with a shrug. “I was like this before …”

“Before the drugs?” Tanesha asked.

“The women, the booze, the rough living,” Jeraine said. “I’m really happy you’re here.”

“I’m going to need time to recover from all of …” She gestured to the school they were standing in.

“I know,” Jeraine said. “I just want to be here when you were done. To welcome you home, to us, again.”

Tanesha smiled. Jeraine put his arm around her shoulder and the entire entourage moved down the hall to the elevator. Fin was deep in conversation with one of the bodyguards as they got on the elevator. She was wondering if she should worry about what he was saying when Jeraine pulled on her.

“Let’s let them go ahead,” Jeraine said.

The elevator door closed and Jeraine hugged her. He held her for a long time.

“I’ve missed this,” Jeraine said.

“You used to go years at a time without it,” Tanesha said.

“I’ve always missed it,” Jeraine said. “And you.”

He kissed her lips.

“You want to make out?” Jeraine asked.

Tanesha laughed. He took her bag from her and put it over his shoulder.

“You know there are paparazzi out there,” Tanesha said. “They can’t get in the building but they wait for me every day. I guess someday I’ll tell them what they want to hear.”

“What’s that?” Jeraine asked.

“Fuck if I know,” Tanesha said with a laugh. “Where’s Mom? Dad?”

“We dropped her at her house,” Jeraine said. “Your Dad was there.”

“He’s been drumming,” Tanesha said.

“He wanted some time with his wife alone,” Jeraine said. “I can understand that.”

Tanesha winced.

“I have responsibilities to …” Tanesha started.

“I know,” Jeraine said. “I get it. They’ve been there every day for all of your life. They’ve been there for you and our family when we’ve needed them. Jake needs everyone now. It’s important.”

Surprised by his understanding, Tanesha could only nod.

“That doesn’t stop us from making out,” Jeraine said.

“Hey! Get a room,” said a male student standing behind them on the elevator landing.

Jeraine turned to look at the man.

“Oh, it’s you,” the man said. “Jeraine. Sorry. I didn’t know it was you.”

Tanesha laughed.

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