Chapter Six Hundred and Nineeen: Changing times
Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-One: Hysterics

Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty: Can you help?


“How is Olympia?” Delphie asked

Heather took a glass of wine and glanced around at Valerie, Jill, and Delphie. She shook her head so hard that the water in the hot tub splashed a little. The women waited for her to answer.

“Stupid,” Heather said, finally. “Do you know about my grandmother?”

“What about her?” Jill asked.

“She was born of the ocean,” Heather said. “So she’s independent of family and not really connected to everyone else. Of course, Ares has a lot of family connections. You know, my father’s father. But. . .”

“Is there an issue?” Delphie asked.

“Of course there’s an issue,” Heather said. “She doesn’t want to be a part of all of it. She pitched a fit and I’m called in to ‘reason’ with her.”

Heather shook her head.

“It’s just stupid,” Heather added. “Makes me wish there was still a Sea of Amber.”

The women laughed. Tanesha came out on the deck. She spied the women in the hot tub and went back inside.

“How are you?” Delphie asked looking at Jill.

“I’m good,” Jill said. “A little tired.”

“It’s not too much?” Delphie asked.

“Not at all,” Jill said. “The more I use my gifts the more I seem to have to give. It’s weird like that.”

“I feel that way about acting,” Valerie said. “The more I act and the better parts I get, the easier it comes to me.”

The women nodded in agreement and understanding.

“How are Julie and the children?” Delphie asked.

“Healing, I think,” Jill said. “John Drayson was here. He said that Julie really should be in the hospital. Steve came by to assess her situation. He had her moved to the medical suites. Connor is now in with our twins. He seems totally better.”

“That’s a lot,” Heather said.

Jill nodded.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” Jill said. “But, there’s a nurse with Julie now and that’s good. Julie seems to be healing and that’s good. Paddie is still sick so he’s in our guest room in the loft. He’s quarantining there. He’s very serious about it — and so cute. He and Katy communicate via a walky-talky system.

“Adorable,” Valerie said.

“And Paddie has time to heal, as well,” Jill said shrugging. “I know that I will miss having my own thing, you know, my own life. But for now, I am enjoying being able to help.”

“Is there room for me?” Tanesha asked as she came out of the house.

Tanesha was wearing her bathing suit and carrying a towel.

“Always,” Jill said.

“Did you get a glass?” Heather asked.

“I. . .” Tanesha started.

Tanesha held up a glass. Tanesha climbed into the hot tub end of the swimspa.

“This is nice,” Tanesha said. “Swimspa?”

“I need to swim,” Valerie said.

“Do you mind if the rest of us use it?” Tanesha asked.

“Not at all,” Valerie said. “Do you swim?”

“When I can, which is not often,” Tanesha said. “This will really help me while I’m working.”

“Go for it,” Valerie said.

“Thank you,” Tanesha said.

“No, thank you for trying to save lives,” Valerie said.

“Here, here,” Jill said.

The women held up their mostly empty wine glassed in salute of Tanesha. Heather waved her hand and the wine glasses filled.

“What’s this?” Tanesha asked.

“I don’t know,” Heather said. “I stole it from my grandfather’s decanter.”

The women laughed.

“I will tell you that this mask thing sucks,” Delphie said.

“It’s just life now for a while,” Tanesha said. “If you’d seen how sick people are right now, you’d never want to take the thing off.”

“Sit by me,” Jill said.

Jill held out her arm, and Tanesha sat next to her. Jill placed her arm over Tanesha’s shoulder.

“Are you checking me?” Tanesha asked.

“If I were?” Jill asked.

“I’d thank you for it,” Tanesha said.

The women laughed. A few minutes later, Jill squeezed Tanesha’s shoulder and went to move away. Tanesha pulled Jill back.

“I know that I’m usually the one who’s like: ‘Get off me!’” Tanesha said, her eyes welling. “But with everything — work and Sam and Jabari. . . I can use the love.”

Jill scooted closer to Tanesha. Heather sat on Tanesha’s side. Delphie reached over to touch Tanesha’s shoulder. From the pool side, Valerie smiled at Tanesha. For a moment, they all focused their attention on their friend.

“Okay,” Tanesha said. “Now you can. . .”

“Get off me,” the women said in near unison.

They laughed. For the next hour, they laughed, drank wine, and talked about nothing. They could almost believe that Sandy was upstairs doing something, the world wasn’t struggling with a dangerous virus, and that they weren’t each in the middle of their own personal tsunamis.

Being together was exactly what they needed.


Thursday morning — 5:05 a.m.

Jacob was standing in the middle of the kitchen missing his father when he heard a knock on the side door of the Castle. Assuming it was Aden coming to pick him up for the day, Jacob jogged to the door. He opened to find Dr. John Drayson standing on the other side. Standing next to him were his two children and two children Jacob had never met. Their hair messy and eyes half closed, the children looked as if they’d been dragged from their beds. John was carrying a duffle bag over his shoulder. The handsome doctor was wearing a fabric mask over his mouth and nose.

“You are welcome to come in, but we’re on quarantine here,” Jacob said.

“I understand,” John said.

“Then, come in!” Jacob said. “Come in!”

Jacob stepped back and let John and the children inside the house. He quietly snapped his fingers which lit the kindling in the Castle living room fireplace.

“I was just getting a fire going in here,” Jacob said.

He leaned over to put a log on the growing fire. Delphie came from the kitchen to see what was going on.

“I’m so sorry to bother you,” John said. “My siblings have been taking care of my kids. Today is some Irish something or another that I should remember or care about.”

“They just want to get drunk,” John’s son, Joey, said.

Joey’s fraternal twin, Máire, nodded. Delphie put her arms around the two sleepy children and led them to the couch. Used to Delphie, they let her snuggle them close. The other two children were younger by some years. They looked a little stunned.

“Have you met Max and Wyatt’s sons?” John asked.

“I haven’t had the pleasure,” Jacob said, holding out his hand.

“This is Chase,” John said, gesturing to the toddler with brown eyes. Turning to the toddler with blue eyes, he said, “And this is Beau. Their fathers have been taking care of all of the kids. But Wyatt’s working like I am and Max was called in by the governor to help with acquire supplies or something like that. He left for Washington DC this morning.”

“Oh that is weird,” Jacob said with a smile. “I actually know Chase and Beau from the Marlowe School. They are friends of my toddlers.”

“That’s right,” John said, looking relieved. “I’m so glad they will have friends in the house. Our home is filled with old Irish people. They long for boys to play with.”

“Done,” Jacob said with a smile.

“Jill said that I could bring the children here if I needed help,” John said.

“Of course you can,” Jacob said.

“They are welcome as long as you need a place,” Delphie said. “We have lots of kids. I seem to remember that you both are friends with Ivy.”

Máire nodded.

“Did you know that Ivy lives here?” Delphie asked.

Máire noticeably brightened.

“Katy and Paddie too?” Joey asked.

“They are both here, but Paddie is sick,” Delphie said. “I know that Katy will love seeing you. She’s been very lonely.”

The twins looked at each other and grinned.

“There are lots of people able and willing to help,” Jacob said.

“I don’t know this for certain,” John said, “but it wouldn’t surprise me if my siblings no longer want the children in the house. They are older than I and terrified of getting sick.”

“Dying,” Máire said.

“They are sure they will go to hell,” Joey said.

The twins nodded in near unison.

“Did someone say ‘Hell’?” Fin said as he came out of their apartment.

He gave John a long look and then searched the children.

“Have you met Prince Finegal?” Jacob asked.

“Fin, please,” he said, in uncharacteristic humility. “You are John Drayson, husband of the identical twins, Alex and Max?”

“Just Alex,” John said with a grin. “Max is married to Wyatt Klaussen.”

Fin waved his answer away as if what he’d said didn’t matter.

“How you know Alex?” John asked.

“She met my father earlier this year,” Fin said. “He hasn’t stopped talking about her since.”

“Dare I ask who your father is?” John asked.

“Manannàn,” Fin said. “I’m from the Isle of Man. Your mother is a distant relative of mine. Your brother is married to my sister, Edith.”

John’s eyebrows went up. The two men gave each other a long assessing look. Mike came down the stairs and through the kitchen.

“Máire?” Mike asked. “Jackie was just talking about you!”

Máire smiled at Mike and then looked at her brother. She looked back at Mike.

“Can she come down?” Máire asked, shyly.

“I’ll bring her,” Mike said. “Have you two had breakfast? I have it started upstairs. I came down to see how Jacob was doing.”

“My father’s in the hospital,” Jacob said to no one in particular. “Sam’s holding his own. That’s what the nurse said.”

“I’ll find out and call you,” John said, turning to look at Jacob. “You’re sure? Even if they are here a while?”

“Of what?” Mike asked.

“He wants to know if we can keep the kids while he’s out there trying to save humanity,” Jacob said.

Rather than respond, Mike just laughed. John kissed his children goodbye. They whispered back and forth in a language Jacob didn’t know. When John pulled away, the kids had tears in their eyes. John spoke to Chase and Beau in the same language. The boys clung to him for a long moment.

“If you’re sure. . .” John said.

Tink came up the stairs from the basement. She waved at everyone as she walked through to the kitchen.

“Tink?” Jacob asked.

Tink stopped and turned.

“John needs some help with his kids,” Jacob said.

“We can help,” Tink said. “Charlie and me, I mean ‘I,’ we can’t go to school and can’t work. We have lots of time.”

Nodding, Tink gave John a charming braces-filled smile.

“Would you mind keeping them overnight?” John asked.

“Of course,” Tink said. “We have plenty of space. Delphie said it would be warm enough to look in the beehives today.”

Delphie nodded.

“Beehives!” Joey said.

“We know all about them,” Máire said.

“We can help!” Joey said.

“Then it’s settled,” Delphie said. “If we finish in time, we can go to your house and check your hives too!”

Joey and Máire nodded in happy agreement.

“I have an apartment near the hospital,” John said. “If you really don’t mind, I’ll stay there. I’m just exhausted. It will be a big help for me. I will come by when I can, and their mom is due back in a week or so.”

All four children nodded.

“Great,” Delphie said.

Ivy came down the stairs and through the kitchen.

“Máire?” Ivy said. “Joey? Are you here for a visit? My aunt’s away working so I’m here.”

The children nodded. Ivy gave them a wide smile. The kids caught her infectious smile and were grinning themselves.

“They have some calls with the military folks,” John said. “I figured you could handle it because you talk to MJ when he’s gone.”

“Easy,” Jacob said. “It sounds like everything is set. I need to get to work. Why don’t I walk you out?”

John kissed every child again and followed Jacob out the door. Jacob grabbed a cloth mask sitting on a table next to the door. He gestured to John and the doctor picked one up. They left the Castle.

“You can’t imagine what a help this is to me,” John said.

“Don’t think about it,” Jacob said. “There are a lot of people depending on you. At the very least, we can help support you.”

John gave a nod and walked to his sedan.

“Get some rest, Drayson,” Jacob said. “You look exhausted.”

John waved and got into his sedan. Jacob watched him drive away. Jacob got into the SUV and called Aden.

“What’s up?” Jacob asked.

“Just a slow morning,” Aden said. “Lots going on.”

“Why don’t you send the kids here?” Jacob asked. “Drayson brought his kids. They can all entertain each other.”

“Great idea,” Aden said. “Can you pick me up?”

“I’m in the car on my way,” Jacob said.

“I’ll get that worked out,” Aden said. “See you soon.”

Aden clicked off the call. Jacob started the SUV and moved out of the lot. As he waited for the metal gate to open, he thought about how lucky he was to have the help that he had. By the time the vehicle’s wheels hit the pavement, he was already lost in thought about what had to be done that day. He pulled up to Nelson’s house, where Blane was waiting for him. Blane got into the SUV.

“No Aden?” Blane asked.

“We’re picking him up,” Jacob said. “How’s Nelson?”

“As good as can be expected,” Blane said with a nod.

“Sounds good,” Jacob said.

Jacob waited until they reached the light before beginning to talk about what they had to get done today.


Thursday morning — 5:35 a.m.

Princess Marigold, also known as Mari, landed in the middle of the IUC. Her arms were wrapped around her boyfriend, Jill’s grandfather who went by the name “Otis” now. For a moment, she held him while he tried to breath. This type of flight always made him feel nauseous. Mari snapped her fingers and she was wearing scrubs like a nurse and personal protective gear. Otis was wearing the outfit of a doctor.

“Which one is he?” Otis asked, gesturing to a row of people lying on their stomached on ventilators.

“Where have you been?” A woman marched up to Mari. “You’re late!”

“I am?” Mari asked. She glanced at Otis. Using a bit of magic in her words, Mari added, “I thought this was my starting time.”

“Oh probably,” the woman sighed. “We’re just running like chickens with our heads cut off. Sorry I snapped.”

“No problem,” Mari said. “What can I do?”

The nurse rattled off a list of things and then told her that she probably should talk to the nurse in charge Mari raised her eyebrows to Otis, and he gave a slight shrug.

“Doctor?” the nurse asked Otis.

“I am looking for Samuel Lipson?” Otis said.

As an ex-oligarch and Russian mafia don, Otis was used to bluffing his way through tight situations.

“Are you his doctor?” the nurse asked.

“One of many,” Otis said. “I had a little bit of time this morning, so I thought I’d drop by and check on him.”

Mari used a little fairy magic to convince the nurse. Harried, the woman gestured to the bed in the middle.

“He’s right there,” the nurse said. “Come on. Let’s get you to the nurse in charge.”

Mari glanced at Otis. They gave each other a quick look, and Mari followed the nurse. Otis looked down the row of bodies. Shaking his head, he wondered if there was a way to help them all.

“Who are you?” a nurse asked.

She was covered in PPE — a paper coat, a mask, glasses, and a hat. He could only see her eyes. They were large with ridiculously long lashes. She was the same size as Mari but possibly a little smaller. He scowled.

“Who are you?” Otis asked, in an authoritative voice.

“Bloody hell,” the nurse said. The woman opened her hand and there was a ball of bright light. “You tell me who you are or I’ll. . .”

“I wouldn’t do that.” Mari’s voice was clear and strong.

Mari held her sword against the neck of the woman. Everything around them stopped moving. The woman whipped around. Prepared for battle, the woman raised her hands. But Mari was an experienced fighter. She stopped the woman in her tracks and looked at Otis.

“Where’d you pick up this one?” Mari asked.

“She was just here,” Otis said.

“I leave you alone for one moment and you pick up some half-wit fairy,” Mari said.

“I could never replace you, my love,” Otis said. “I am simply irresistible to the females.”

Denver Cereal continues next week...


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