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“Don’t mind me,” Delphie said and moved onto the balcony
where she was standing behind Sandy. “Anything else?”
“It’s weird,” Sandy said without removing the binoculars
from her eyes. “They’re reverent to Abi and Gilfand, like they are Gods, but
you can tell that they kind of hate them.”
“That’s always the case,” Delphie said. “We never want to
see our beliefs confirmed. Especially by those who are unassuming, and those we
worship are always unassuming.”
“Has it happened to you?” Sandy asked.
“Let’s see,” Delphie said in a wry tone. “I’ve met a Greek
God recently who was fairly disappointing.”
She leaned in to whisper “Eros.”
Sandy grinned but never stopped looking through the
“Any ideas what’s going to get this show back on the road?”
“Is the child awake yet?” Delphie asked.
Sandy searched around for a moment before shaking her head.
“The child will know what to do,” Delphie said.
“She will?” Sandy asked, her voice laced with doubt.
“She spends a lot of time with Paddie and that sword of
his,” Delphie said. “She’s good with truth. In the meantime, we may as well let
them enjoy this experience of discovery.”
Nodding, Sandy lowered the binoculars.
“Do you have time for some tea?” Delphie asked.
“Jill’s on carpool?” Sandy asked.
“I have time for tea, but …” Sandy looked
at Delphie’s ragged, faded red hair with inch long grown out roots. “What if we
had out tea at the salon? I have some great tea there.”
“Why Sandy!” Delphie pretended that she was surprised.
“You’d do my hair?”
She pressed her hand against her chest as if she’d just won
the Miss America contest.
“Little old you?” Sandy asked with a laugh.
“Little ole me,” Delphie said.
“It would be my pleasure,” Sandy said. “Will you tell me
more about the fairy queens?”
“Of course,” Delphie said.
Sandy set the binoculars on the counter. She opened the
shower to tell Aden what she was doing. They checked in with Jill to see if
they could help. A less than five minutes later, they were walking along Colfax
Boulevard taking the short walk to Sandy’s studio.
“You were going to tell me about the fairy Queens?” Sandy
“Well, you know about Fand,” Delphie said.
“I guess I thought she was Abi and Gilfand’s,” Sandy said.
She unlocked and opened the door to the salon. Delphie shook her head. “It
doesn’t make sense since Abi and Finegal are in love.”
“That would be kind of …” Delphie
“Gross,” Sandy said.
“I was going to say Greek,” Delphie said with a laugh. She
went inside the salon and Sandy grinned at her back. She’d finally found a way
to get Delphie into the studio. When Delphie turned, Sandy closed and locked
“You can imagine that the ones who raised themselves are not
the nicest fairies in the world,” Delphie said.
“Will I have to meet them?” Sandy asked with a wince. “The
ones I’ve met are pretty self-involved.”
“They specifically said that fairy magic wouldn’t save
Jake!” Teddy said in a fierce, but quiet tone.
“I’m with you, Teddy,” Aden said.
He put his hand on the high-spirited boy’s chest in an
attempt to keep Teddy from jumping out of his skin. They were surreptitiously
standing on the tiny balcony off Jill and Jacob’s bathroom.
“They’re saying that they aren’t fairies,” Sandy said. She
was holding binoculars trained on the deck off the medical offices. She was lip
reading what Abi, Gilfand, the grandmother, and grandfather were saying. “We
don’t have fairy magic.”
“How is that possible?” Aden asked under his breath.
“The grandmother keeps saying that they are First Woman and
First Man,” Sandy said. “But …”
Her lips moved as she sounded out what she was saying.
“The grandfather wants proof,” Sandy said. “Gilfand is angry
and threatening to leave.”
Sandy pulled the binoculars away from her eyes.
“They aren’t fairies?” she asked.
“With these guys, you never know what’s true,” Aden said
with a shrug.
“They are first woman and first man,” Delphie said from
inside the bathroom. “And they don’t have fairy powers. The fairy stuff comes
“What?” Nash asked with the derision of a teenager.
“Watch your tone,” Aden said sternly.
“I’m sorry, Delphie,” Nash said.
He hugged Delphie and she held him tight for a moment. With
Nash against her, Delphie explained.
“Four female children were dropped in the world,” Delphie
said. “Abi and Gilfand found Fand. One other was cared for. Neanderthals, no
less. She is the sweetest of the four. The other two had to make it on their
own. You can imagine what these two are like. They define the four fairy
“Doesn’t Fand have a twin?” Ivy asked. “Something that
starts with an ‘L’.”
“She does have a twin,” Delphie said. “Liban.”
“She’s the one who gave Honey the use of her hands,” Ivy
“You do have a good memory,” Jill said from the doorway.
“Can I bring you anything?”
Sandy held out her hand and Jill set a travel mug of Jasmine
Green Tea in it.
“It’s almost nine,” Jill said. “I know we slept in after a
big night, but we need to get moving. Katy’s all ready for school. I was going
to take her when I realized I can take everyone.”
“Go!” Sandy said. “You, Noelle — did you shower last night?”
“Then you’re on breakfast duty,” Sandy said. “Nash, take our
shower. Teddy, shower in your bathroom.”
When no one moved, Sandy pulled Nash away from Delphie.
“Go,” she said.
Grumbling, the children disappeared. Aden looked at Jill.
“You can shower here,” Jill said.
“Would you mind …?” Aden started.
“Our coffee pot is on,” Jill said with a nod.
“Thanks,” Aden said.
“Ivy, why don’t you come with me?” Jill asked. “You can
finish getting ready in Jacob’s special apartment.”
“Nice!” Ivy said. “I’ve never been there before.”
Jill smiled and led the girl out of the bathroom. Aden
looked at Delphie.
“Don’t mind me,” Delphie said and moved onto the
balcony where she was standing behind Sandy.
“We are out of time,” Hedone said. “This dragon is young.
She is no match for the creature. The serpent can easily call for others.”
“So can the dragon,” Valerie said mildly. She pointed to the
“Have you ever seen a dragon and serpent fight?” Hedone
asked. She involuntarily shivered.
“We have,” Valerie said.
“We need to get this done,” Hedone said with a nod.
“How are we going to …?” Sam started to
The crow came down from the wind to land on the raft. Valerie
nodded to the bird. It moved to the edge of the raft and began flapping its
“Hold on!” Valerie yelled.
One flap, two flaps, and they were moving across the burning
Sea of Amber toward the rocky peak. Holding tight to the raft, they watched in
awe as the dragon teased the serpent into following it. The creatures flew mere
feet from the raft.
“There’s a rider!” Blane yelled in an awe struck voice.
“Did you see who it was?” Valerie asked.
“It looks like …,” Blane said. He turned to
look at Valerie. “That’s impossible.”
“Mack,” Sam said in a low voice.
“Dad!” a young man’s voice came from the other side of the
dragon. Mack’s blue eyes and shock of black hair appeared over the curve of the
dragon’s back. “Catch!”
Mack dropped a single oxygen tank with a mouthpiece and mask
from his seat on the dragon. Sam and Blane caught the rig together. Hedone
grinned at the young man and he threw her a kiss.
“Great catch!” Mack said with the joy of a young man. “Go
get him, Dad! We’ll keep this turd busy until you’re done.”
Valerie watched the sky where the hawk was flying. The hawk
gave a loud cry. The crow stopped flapping its wings. They had reached the
rocky point. Blane jumped up. He stripped off his clothing leaving only his
“We’re here,” Valerie said.
“Can you see him?” Sam yelled over the sound of the fire as
he helped Blane put on the oxygen tank, mouthpiece, and mask.
“He is here,”
“Now,” Valerie said in a low, intense voice, “It’s unlikely
that this amber stuff is going to work like water. You might not be able to
dive deep or come back up easily. Don’t give up. This might be a magical place,
but it’s also a physical place.”
“The rules of physics apply, just differently,” Blane said
with a nod.
“Exactly,” Valerie said. “This amber stuff is created out of
human despair. You’ve seen a lot of despair. I remember you and mom talking
about the best way to deal with despair.”
“Despair is a part of the human experience,” Blane said.
“It’s not to be ignored or cast aside …”
“But embraced,” Valerie nodded. “Look up when you’re done.
The birds will spot you if you drift.”
“We will find
you,” Hedone said.
Sam hugged Blane tight. Valerie touched his shoulder. Hedone
nodded to Blane’s underwear. Blushing, he stripped off his boxer briefs.
Valerie and Sam hugged each other while Hedone coated Blane in the golden power
that was her powerful love. She kissed his cheek. Blane nodded to her in
thanks, and dove into the Sea of Amber.
He turned around to the raft. The bunny held out a strand of
“Where did that …?” Valerie started.
“It’s yarn,” Blane said with a grin.
He put in his mouthpiece, tested it, and gave them a thumbs
up. Grabbing the end of the yarn, he dove into the Sea of Amber.
They worked as a team. Sam used the pole to move the raft.
Blane kept his eyes on the amber sea in the hope of visually seeing Jacob. The
dragonfly flew a half inch above the amber fluid. Valerie kept her eye on the
crow and eagle above. They had past the center of the lake without finding
Jacob. Sam was about to suggest they head back, when Hedone stepped out onto
the Sea of Amber.
“Have we slipped time again?” Valerie’s voice rose with
“Not that I can tell,” Hedone said. She bent over to look
into the sea. “No, we are in the same time.”
“Where is Jake?” Sam asked. “Where is my son?”
“He has drifted from this spot,” Hedone said.
Valerie whistled and waved to the crow and eagle. The
enormous birds dropped down and landed on the raft. Their sharp intelligent
eyes looked to Valerie in question. Valerie gestured to Hedone.
“As you know, Jacob is no longer at this location,” Hedone
said. “Will you look over there?”
She pointed to a rocky point about a mile ahead. The eagle
took off low over the water. The dragonfly flew in a zigzag formation toward
the point. The eagle cried and landed on the point.
“Crap,” Hedone said.
“What is the problem?” Sam asked.
“We are on a kind of shelf,” Hedone said. “That’s why you
can use your pole to get us out here. The sea is much deeper there.”
“So?” Blane asked.
“We won’t be able to get there using that pole to get us
there,” Hedone said. “And …”
Rather than respond, she gave Blane a half smile. He nodded.
“What?” Valerie asked. “And what?”
“It’s too deep for me to go,” Blane said.
Valerie and Sam looked at Hedone but she looked away from
“I’m the crow, right?” Valerie asked.
The Goddess looked at Valerie out of the corner of her eyes.
“Then it’s up to me to figure this out,” Valerie said. “We
need to get over there, right? And we need to find a way to keep Blane alive
while he goes after Jacob. That’s our problem, right?”
Hedone gave her a mild look while Blane nodded. Sam was
leaned over the water watching something.
“I’m the crow,” Valerie said under her breath.
“There’s something in there,” Sam said, pointing to the sea
The dragon was upon them. The dragon laid a thick layer of
fire over the surface of the sea. The dragon surrounded the raft with fire
burning on the surface of the sea.
“Jake!” Blane and Sam screamed and leaned over to look for
him. Valerie watched the dragon with keen interest.
Valerie grabbed the backs of Sam and Blane’s shirts and yanked
them back from the edge of the raft. They fell onto the raft.
“Grab on!” Valerie screamed.
Just then, a serpent burst from the sea. The serpent erupted
through the layer of fire. With a beat of its wings, the creature took off
after the dragon.
The raft rocked in its wake. They clung to the raft as it
went almost vertical in the wake of the serpent. The bunny slid toward the
water. Hedone caught it right before it fell in.
“We are out of time,” Hedone said. “This dragon is young.
She is no match for the creature. The serpent can easily call for others.”