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Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine: As if there wasn't enough going on... (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE

(part six)

Nelson opened the door. He sucked in a breath.

The room was beautiful. It was everything he could have ever wanted and then some. The back wall had a large window that opened out onto a tiny patio. He floated through the room touching this and that. There was the antique armoire he’d used when he was a child. The mirror that had been his mother’s hung on the wall next to a closet filled with his suits, workout clothing, and even a chest of drawers with everything else.

The walls were painted a color that he couldn’t begin to describe. The floors were made from his favorite wood — beetle-kill pine that meant that they were light yellow with streaks of blue. The bed was. . . perfect. He recognized the bedframe as one he’d used where. . . This was from his father’s home as well!

Nelson wandered into the bathroom to find all of his favorite products lined up waiting for him.

Waiting for him.

It was like this entire life — his entire life — was waiting patiently for him.

He came out of the bathroom and went out to the open windows. Blane was sitting at a small table reading a book. There was a bottle of champagne and two empty glasses. Blane looked up when Nelson appeared at the door.

“What do you think?” Blane asked.

“Wow,” Nelson said. “I don’t think that I’ve stayed at a hotel that was this nice. It’s perfect.”

Blane grinned.

“Did you do this?” Nelson asked.

“No,” Blane said. “This was Jill and Jacob. I found a few things for them, but mostly it was them.”

“The only thing that I notice is that this patio is too small for my telescopes and. . .” Nelson started.

Blane pointed to something behind Nelson. He turned to look. There was a spiral staircase that went up.

“Shall we?” Blane asked.

“I don’t want to miss our time together.” Nelson gestured to the champagne.

“We can take a look and come back down,” Blane said with a grin.

Nelson gave a nod to Blane and started up the stairs. Very soon they were at the top of the building. A wide patio was cut into the roofline. There was a gas barbeque and a comfortable outdoor seating arrangement

“This was attic space,” Blane said. “We thought it would be perfect for a little observation platform. All of your gear is. . .”

Blane pointed to a closet sized space with a microwave, a small refrigerator and a closet.

“We took the liberty of putting all of your star watching stuff in there,” Blane said. “Even all of the stuff from your attic.”

Blane opened a door in the little space which opened a long storage space where his books, charts, and telescopes were arranged. Nelson giggled like a school boy. He went through the space and touched everything.

“This is. . .” Nelson said. “Is yours ready too?”

“All of our space,” Blane said. “Tanesha and Jeraine’s is the last space to finish because Jeraine has been a little slow to let go of control.”

“Ah,” Nelson said. “I never would have given over this much control.”

Blane nodded.

“Lucky, I’ve been so sick,” Nelson said.

Blane grinned in agreement.

“I need to rest,” Nelson said. “I have to meet with the Templars this afternoon.”

“Yuck,” Blane said.

“I know,” Nelson said. “But I have time for champagne and you.”

Blane turned in place and jogged down the stairs. Laughing, Nelson followed him.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine: As if there wasn't enough going on...

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE

Saturday afternoon— 12:15 p.m.

Nelson Weeks awoke with a start.

He took a breath.

He knew this feeling — a low grumbling in his belly, a sense of tension across his shoulders, a feeling light a bright light had been shone in his eyes but was suddenly gone.

Something — some thing? —was happening.

He needed to get ready. His feet hit the floor with purpose. He pushed himself across the room to the closet. He let out a breath. A broad sword in its scabbard was leaning against the closet.

He reached for the sword and stood up.

By magic, he was clothed in the garb he wore as a Templar. He jerked open the door.

“Is it the 14th Century in that room?” Mari, the fairy, asked.

“Wha. . .” Flooded with words in a variety of languages, this was all Nelson managed to say.

Mari nodded to what he was wearing.

“Out here,” Mari said, “it’s already the 21st century.”

“And?” Nelson asked, irritably.

“Humans have developed this incredible stuff they call ‘body armor,’” Mari said.

“Then tell the magic on the sword to dress me in this,” Nelson said.

“You could actually use your eyes. . .” Mari started. “Oh, never mind.”

She snapped her fingers. One item at a time, Nelson’s 14th Century gear was replaced with modern military body armor.

“But. . .” Nelson started.

“The sword is tuned to whatever you’re wearing,” Mari said. “When you touch the sword next, you will be dressed in this.”

“Fine,” Nelson said. “Why are you here?”

“I came to get you,” Mari said.

“For what?” Nelson asked.

“What do you feel?” Mari asked.

“I’m not sure I can put it into words,” Nelson said. He fell silent thinking for a long moment. “Time for battle, I guess. But. . .”

“Yes?” Mari asked.

“Who?” Nelson asked. He looked at the fairy. “Am I well enough to do this?”

“Do what?” Mari asked. “I’m not sure who’s ass we’re about to kick.”

Nelson grinned at her. He looked down at himself in this armor. He had become heavier, with denser, bigger muscles across his chest and his arms. His thighs and calves bulged through the fabric of this new body armor. He was surprised at how thin he’d become as well. He looked down at himself for a long moment.

“You look good,” Mari said with a nod.

“Do you know what’s happening? What triggered my. . .” He waved his hand in front of his face. “Spidey sense?”

“I don’t know about spidey senses,” Mari said, “but your father is in trouble.”

“Why?” Nelson asked.

“Templars,” Nelson and Mari said in unison.

“Assholes,” Nelson said. “Let’s go get them.”

“You sure you don’t want to call the cops?” Mari asked. “They are trespassing.”

Mari nodded to her left. She was standing in front of the window in what was now an nearly completed small kitchen. Because Jeraine and Tanesha needed the privacy, the window was set up so that while you could look out it, no one could see inside. A group of seven men and women were creeping in front of the window.

“Why?” Nelson asked.

“You’re asking that as Nelson the brilliant doctor and forensic scientist,” Mari said. “We need Nelson the Grand Master of the Templars.”

Nelson heaved a heavy sigh.

“Look at your sword,” Mari said.

Nelson looked at the sword for the first time. This was not his sword. He held it up to his eyes.

“This is. . .” Nelson whispered.

“Come on,” Mari said.

She snapped her fingers, and they were standing next to Nelson’s father Pierre’s bed. Nelson slipped the sword back into its scabbard.

A nurse wearing a face mask looked up at their sudden arrival. She stood and walked toward them.

“I don’t know how you got in here, but this man is very ill,” she said. “He. . .”

She looked at Nelson for a long moment.

“Guy?” the nurse asked. “Guy Semaines? You probably can’t tell with this mask but I’m Mary Joy. Mary Joy Baldwin.”

“Mary Joy?” Nelson asked. “Wow, I haven’t seen you since. . .”

“Junior high,” Mary Joy, the nurse, said. “Yeah. We moved. I came back for nursing school. I saw that this position was for Pierre Semaines and thought that I. . . You probably aren’t here to chat. You look. . . Wow.”

“I’ve been working out,” Nelson said with a smile. “Nice to see you. I apologize, but we’re expecting family that. . .”

“Yes, I was warned,” Mary said. “I was assigned here because I was a medic in the Army. Afghanistan. Let me get dressed.”

Nelson gave her a kind of nod and a bow. Mary Joy stopped at the door.

“Please put on your face mask,” Mary Joy said in a soft chide. “Your father is very ill. He doesn’t need the coronavirus as well.”

“Sorry,” Nelson said. “I should know better.”

“Yes, you should,” Mary Joy said before she disappeared out the door.

Mari snapped her fingers, and they were both wearing face masks.

“Fin said that we should wear them too,” Mari said. “He said that humans are part fairy so there’s no way to know if we’ll be affected. I’ll tell you that Edie shut down the fairy queendoms. No one in or out. Since we went to help Sam Lipson. “

“You went to help Sam?” Nelson asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I took Otis there,” Mari said. “I found a lost fairy working in the ER there so I called Edie. She thought. . . well, let’s just say that she’s annoyed with me.”

“Is that new?” Nelson asked.

“No,” Mari said. “Sisters. They are always annoyed with you for something. Just be glad you don’t have any.”

Nelson grinned at her but then realized that she couldn’t see him smiling. He winked, and she nodded in understanding.

“Here they come.”

He heard Mari whisper through the mask. Sighing to himself, he turned toward the door.

They heard scratching and saw the door knob giggle. Mari raised her hand to block them out but Nelson pushed her hand down.

“We need to deal with this,” Nelson said.

“Why?” Mari asked.

“They’ll keep coming until they know,” Nelson sighed. Taking a breath, he said, “They have to know that I am the Grand Master and that everything that happens from here on out is up to me by the blessing of. . .”

He waved his hand in the air.

“Blah, blah, blah,” Nelson said.

“I’m here,” Mary Joy said.

They turned to look at her. She had changed into modern military grade body armor. Her face was covered in a black mask and she was holding a machine gun.

“I don’t think we’ll need that,” Nelson said.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” Mary Joy said.

“I like her,” Mari said.

“Who are you?” Mary Joy asked.

“This is my friend, Princess Marigold,” Nelson said.

“Oh, a princess,” Mary Joy said with a roll of her eyes.

“She’s of the fairy realm,” Nelson said. “Don’t antagonize her. Fairies are fierce warriors, not little fluffy, giggly things like in the movies. They are long lived and have spent much of that time battling for their realms. In fact, they are the only realm that held back the Viking hoards. We are no match for them.”

Unoffended by Mary Joy, Mari just lifted an eyebrow and nodded.

“Just don’t get in front of her,” Nelson said with a sigh.

“Are you getting tired?” Mari asked. She put her hand on his elbow.

“I’m tired of having to protect myself and my father from people who are supposed to be family,” Nelson said.

“I understand,” Mari said.

“I know you do,” Nelson said.

The door moved a tiny bit.

“Here they come,” Mari said.

Mary Joy turned off the lights.

The door opened with a dramatic bang. Two men and a woman slipped inside the door. The back door of Nelson’s little house banged open. A man and two women moved in their direction. When they were set, Nelson pulled the sword from its scabbard.

Sparks of light burst from the sword as it was pulled from the scabbard. Nelson held the sword above him. The light from the sword was so bright that the invaders had to cover their eyes from the sight.

“I am Guy Semaines, the Grand Master of the Templars,” Nelson said in old Frank. “Who dares to disturb my father’s sick bed?”

“What did he say?” A woman whispered.

Nelson sighed and shook his head.

“You are Templars,” Nelson said in modern French. “You should, at the very least, be able to speak old Frank.”

There was some mumbling between these invaders. Nelson pointed the sword at Mary Joy and she flicked on the light. Nelson, Mari, and Mary Joy shaded their eyes. The invaders groaned and covered their eyes.

“And you should be wearing eye coverings,” Nelson said, continuing in French. “You say that you are Templars, are will to kill for the cause, and yet you are. . .”

“Pathetic,” Mari said.

“Pathetic is too mild of a word,” Mary Joy said.

Nelson sighed and shook his head.

“Go home,” Nelson said. “That is my order.”

“You can’t order us,” a middle aged man with a significant paunch said. “You are not Grand Master.”

“I am the surviving heir of Bernard of Clairvaux,” Nelson said. “My father passed the Grand Master to me when he inherited it.”

“Show them the sword,” Mari whispered.

“Jacque de Molay gave me his sword,” Nelson said. “It’s a direct pass of the Grand Master position from him to me.”

He held up the sword and the invaders took a step back.

“Where did you. . .?” the woman who’d come to kill him previously.

“I went back in time,” Nelson said. “I fought side-by-side with our ancestors for more than seven years. I was returned to this time by some ancient ancestral magic. The sword came with me. I have been recovering. But, I promise you — I am well enough to kill all of you.”

“You wouldn’t kill us!” the elderly woman who came in the back door said.

“I’ve killed plenty,” Nelson said. “You are here to kill my father?”

The invaders gave him a variety of guilty looks.

“Prepare to die,” Nelson said, feeling a bit like the movie character Indigo Montoya.

“Yay!” Mari said. “Let’s kill them all!”

The invaders turned in place and ran out of the building. Nelson grabbed Mari by the shoulders to keep her from running after them. She let him hold her back.

“Consider your life forfeit should you ever return,” Nelson yelled after he got a hold of Mari.

“Your life forfeit?” Mari asked. “Who talks like that?”

Nelson laughed. He swung the sword around and stuck it back into the scabbard.

“How did you get that?” Mary Joy asked. “The sword I mean. It’s beautiful and so powerful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“I went on a quest for it,” Nelson said. “Right after my father got sick. It was my effort to help him get well. But I have only completed half of it.”

“Count me in on the next one,” Mary Joy said.

They heard rustling behind them and turned quickly. An elderly man stepped out from behind them. He gave Nelson a kind of bow.

“What do you want?” Mary Joy asked irritably.

“We have met,” the man said in modern French. “We have decided to accept you as the Grand Master.”

“Whoop-di-doo,” Nelson said. “Why would I give even one care about that?”

“We are having issues in France,” the man said.

“Okay,” Nelson said mildly.

He had a vague memory of his father speaking about the government taking land from the Templars and something else. He glanced at Mari. She gave him a curt nod. She had blocked him from any stress that might impede his healing.

“If you are to be Grand Master, then our problems are your problems,” the elderly man said.

“Who are you?” Mary Joy asked. “Where do you get off telling someone else what to do?”

“I am his great uncle,” the elderly man said. “His mother was my niece.”

“The mother you killed?” Mari asked.

“I don’t know anything about that,” the elderly man said.

“One of the women you travel with told us that she paid for the bombing,” Nelson said.

“I will look into it,” the elderly man said. “My name is ‘Guy.’ I am also a Semaines. You were named after me.”

“I go by Nelson now,” he said.

“Yes, I am aware,” Guy said.

“How are you a Semaines?” Mari asked.

“Pierre took our name,” Guy said. “It was your mother’s father’s requirement.”

“He still tried to kill us anyway,” Nelson said.

“Yes, I know about that,” Guy said. “And you killed him?”

“I wasn’t there,” Nelson said.

“They were killed by an ancient and angry God,” Mari said.

The man snorted and shook his head in disbelief.

“Who could believe this kind of tripe?” Guy asked. “There are no Gods. No. . .”

He sucked in a breath when Perses appeared out of nowhere.

“May I introduce you to Perses?” Nelson asked, mildly. “You may remember that he’s a Titan. He was also there.”

“Want me to kill him?” Perses said in a loud excited whisper.

The man fell back. After a moment, he gained his bearings.

“You are connected with the Titans?” Guy asked.

“Beings of power seek each other,” Perses said. “I am married to the mother of his partner’s cousin. His partner is married to a Greek Goddess.”

“I’m a fairy,” Mari said.

“She’s a fairy,” Perses said.

Guy looked at Mary Joy. She shrugged.

“I’m human,” Mary Joy said. “As far as I know.”

“You’re super-human,” Nelson said. “You’re a nurse.”

“And a soldier,” Mari said.

Mary Joy blushed and nodded.

“Why don’t you head back to wherever you are staying?” Perses asked. “Discuss what you need from your grandmaster. He and I and possibly one of those. . . what are they called?”

“Lawyers,” Mari said.

“Lawyers,” Perses said. “And this little fairy. Is your partner around?”

“Otis?” Mari asked.

Perses nodded.

“I’ll bring him,” Mari said. “Good thinking.”

“Why so many?” Guy asked.

“We need to support our friend,” Mari said.

“Teach him how to lead,” Perses said. “Her partner, a man named Otis, has led large groups of humans. He will be able to help.”

“If you have a partner, I’d like to meet her,” Guy said.

“Him,” Nelson said. “We are not ashamed.”

“Of course,” Guy said. “Good for you.”

With that, the man turned in place and walked out of the building. They waited to see if anyone else would show up. When no one appeared, everyone took a breath.

“How is he?” Perses asked.

“Stable,” Mary Joy said. “He has been sick for a long time.”

“He touched a powerful object,” Perses said.

“Yes,” Mary Joy said. “Let’s hope that someone awakens him soon.”

“Why soon?” Nelson’s voice was tight with concern.

“No human can stay in this state forever,” Mary Joy said.

Nelson gave a stiff nod.

“If we are meeting them later, I need to rest,” Nelson said.

Mari touched his arm and he was back in the little room that he’d been staying in. Oddly, the room was bare of all furniture and equipment.

“Where is the bed?” Mari asked.

She tipped her head backward.

“Upstairs,” Mari said.

She touched his sleeve, and they moved through the house. They landed outside the door to what would be his bedroom.

“I’ll be back,” Mari said. She turned to go and pushed him forward, “Go on.”

Nelson opened the door. He sucked in a breath.

The room was beautiful. It was everything he could have ever wanted and then some. The back wall had a large window that opened out onto a tiny patio. He floated through the room touching this and that. There was the antique armoire he’d used when he was a child. The mirror that had been his mother’s hung on the wall next to a closet filled with his suits, workout clothing, and even a chest of drawers with everything else.

The walls were painted a color that he couldn’t begin to describe. The floors were made from his favorite wood — beetle-kill pine that meant that they were light yellow with streaks of blue. The bed was. . . perfect. He recognized the bedframe as one he’d used where. . . This was from his father’s home as well!

Nelson wandered into the bathroom to find all of his favorite products lined up waiting for him.

Waiting for him.

It was like this entire life — his entire life — was waiting patiently for him.

He came out of the bathroom and went out to the open windows. Blane was sitting at a small table reading a book. There was a bottle of champagne and two empty glasses. Blane looked up when Nelson appeared at the door.

“What do you think?” Blane asked.

“Wow,” Nelson said. “I don’t think that I’ve stayed at a hotel that was this nice. It’s perfect.”

Blane grinned.

“Did you do this?” Nelson asked.

“No,” Blane said. “This was Jill and Jacob. I found a few things for them, but mostly it was them.”

“The only thing that I notice is that this patio is too small for my telescopes and. . .” Nelson started.

Blane pointed to something behind Nelson. He turned to look. There was a spiral staircase that went up.

“Shall we?” Blane asked.

“I don’t want to miss our time together.” Nelson gestured to the champagne.

“We can take a look and come back down,” Blane said with a grin.

Nelson gave a nod to Blane and started up the stairs. Very soon they were at the top of the building. A wide patio was cut into the roofline. There was a gas barbeque and a comfortable outdoor seating arrangement

“This was attic space,” Blane said. “We thought it would be perfect for a little observation platform. All of your gear is. . .”

Blane pointed to a closet sized space with a microwave, a small refrigerator and a closet.

“We took the liberty of putting all of your star watching stuff in there,” Blane said. “Even all of the stuff from your attic.”

Blane opened a door in the little space which opened a long storage space where his books, charts, and telescopes were arranged. Nelson giggled like a school boy. He went through the space and touched everything.

“This is. . .” Nelson said. “Is yours ready too?”

“All of our space,” Blane said. “Tanesha and Jeraine’s is the last space to finish because Jeraine has been a little slow to let go of control.”

“Ah,” Nelson said. “I never would have given over this much control.”

Blane nodded.

“Lucky, I’ve been so sick,” Nelson said.

Blane grinned in agreement.

“I need to rest,” Nelson said. “I have to meet with the Templars this afternoon.”

“Yuck,” Blane said.

“I know,” Nelson said. “But I have time for champagne and you.”

Blane turned in place and jogged down the stairs. Laughing, Nelson followed him.

Denver Cereal continues next week...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine: As if there wasn't enough going on... (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE

(part five)

“If you are to be Grand Master, then our problems are your problems,” the elderly man said.

“Who are you?” Mary Joy asked. “Where do you get off telling someone else what to do?”

“I am his great uncle,” the elderly man said. “His mother was my niece.”

“The mother you killed?” Mari asked.

“I don’t know anything about that,” the elderly man said.

“One of the women you travel with told us that she paid for the bombing,” Nelson said.

“I will look into it,” the elderly man said. “My name is ‘Guy.’ I am also a Semaines. You were named after me.”

“I go by Nelson now,” he said.

“Yes, I am aware,” Guy said.

“How are you a Semaines?” Mari asked.

“Pierre took our name,” Guy said. “It was your mother’s father’s requirement.”

“He still tried to kill us anyway,” Nelson said.

“Yes, I know about that,” Guy said. “And you killed him?”

“I wasn’t there,” Nelson said.

“They were killed by an ancient and angry God,” Mari said.

The man snorted and shook his head in disbelief.

“Who could believe this kind of tripe?” Guy asked. “There are no Gods. No. . .”

He sucked in a breath when Perses appeared out of nowhere.

“May I introduce you to Perses?” Nelson asked, mildly. “You may remember that he’s a Titan. He was also there.”

“Want me to kill him?” Perses said in a loud excited whisper.

The man fell back. After a moment, he gained his bearings.

“You are connected with the Titans?” Guy asked.

“Beings of power seek each other,” Perses said. “I am married to the mother of his partner’s cousin. His partner is married to a Greek Goddess.”

“I’m a fairy,” Mari said.

“She’s a fairy,” Perses said.

Guy looked at Mary Joy. She shrugged.

“I’m human,” Mary Joy said. “As far as I know.”

“You’re super-human,” Nelson said. “You’re a nurse.”

“And a soldier,” Mari said.

Mary Joy blushed and nodded.

“Why don’t you head back to wherever you are staying?” Perses asked. “Discuss what you need from your grandmaster. He and I and possibly one of those. . . what are they called?”

“Lawyers,” Mari said.

“Lawyers,” Perses said. “And this little fairy. Is your partner around?”

“Otis?” Mari asked.

Perses nodded.

“I’ll bring him,” Mari said. “Good thinking.”

“Why so many?” Guy asked.

“We need to support our friend,” Mari said.

“Teach him how to lead,” Perses said. “Her partner, a man named Otis, has led large groups of humans. He will be able to help.”

“If you have a partner, I’d like to meet her,” Guy said.

“Him,” Nelson said. “We are not ashamed.”

“Of course,” Guy said. “Good for you.”

With that, the man turned in place and walked out of the building. They waited to see if anyone else would show up. When no one appeared, everyone took a breath.

“How is he?” Perses asked.

“Stable,” Mary Joy said. “He has been sick for a long time.”

“He touched a powerful object,” Perses said.

“Yes,” Mary Joy said. “Let’s hope that someone awakens him soon.”

“Why soon?” Nelson’s voice was tight with concern.

“No human can stay in this state forever,” Mary Joy said.

Nelson gave a stiff nod.

“If we are meeting them later, I need to rest,” Nelson said.

Mari touched his arm and he was back in the little room that he’d been staying in. Oddly, the room was bare of all furniture and equipment.

“Where is the bed?” Mari asked.

She tipped her head backward.

“Upstairs,” Mari said.

She touched his sleeve, and they moved through the house. They landed outside the door to what would be his bedroom.

“I’ll be back,” Mari said. She turned to go and pushed him forward, “Go on.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine: As if there wasn't enough going on... (part four)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE

(part four)

“You say that you are Templars, are will to kill for the cause, and yet you are. . .” Nelson paused to find the words.

“Pathetic,” Mari said.

“Pathetic is too mild of a word,” Mary Joy said.

Nelson sighed and shook his head.

“Go home,” Nelson said. “That is my order.”

“You can’t order us,” a middle aged man with a significant paunch said. “You are not Grand Master.”

“I am the surviving heir of Bernard of Clairvaux,” Nelson said. “My father passed the Grand Master to me when he inherited it.”

“Show them the sword,” Mari whispered.

“Jacque de Molay gave me his sword,” Nelson said. “It’s a direct pass of the Grand Master position from him to me.”

He held up the sword and the invaders took a step back.

“Where did you. . .?” the woman who’d come to kill him previously.

“I went back in time,” Nelson said. “I fought side-by-side with our ancestors for more than seven years. I was returned to this time by some ancient ancestral magic. The sword came with me. I have been recovering. But, I promise you — I am well enough to kill all of you.”

“You wouldn’t kill us!” the elderly woman who came in the back door said.

“I’ve killed plenty,” Nelson said. “You are here to kill my father?”

The invaders gave him a variety of guilty looks.

“Prepare to die,” Nelson said, feeling a bit like the movie character Indigo Montoya.

“Yay!” Mari said. “Let’s kill them all!”

The invaders turned in place and ran out of the building. Nelson grabbed Mari by the shoulders to keep her from running after them. She let him hold her back.

“Consider your life forfeit should you ever return,” Nelson yelled after he got a hold of Mari.

“Your life forfeit?” Mari asked. “Who talks like that?”

Nelson laughed. He swung the sword around and stuck it back into the scabbard.

“How did you get that?” Mary Joy asked. “The sword I mean. It’s beautiful and so powerful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“I went on a quest for it,” Nelson said. “Right after my father got sick. It was my effort to help him get well. But I have only completed half of it.”

“Count me in on the next one,” Mary Joy said.

They heard rustling behind them and turned quickly. An elderly man stepped out from behind them. He gave Nelson a kind of bow.

“What do you want?” Mary Joy asked irritably.

“We have met,” the man said in modern French. “We have decided to accept you as the Grand Master.”

“Whoop-di-doo,” Nelson said. “Why would I give even one care about that?”

“We are having issues in France,” the man said.

“Okay,” Nelson said mildly.

He had a vague memory of his father speaking about the government taking land from the Templars and something else. He glanced at Mari. She gave him a curt nod. She had blocked him from any stress that might impede his healing.

“If you are to be Grand Master, then our problems are your problems,” the elderly man said

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine: As if there wasn't enough going on... (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE

(part three)

“Here they come.”

He heard Mari whisper through the mask. Sighing to himself, he turned toward the door.

They heard scratching and saw the door knob giggle. Mari raised her hand to block them out but Nelson pushed her hand down.

“We need to deal with this,” Nelson said.

“Why?” Mari asked.

“They’ll keep coming until they know,” Nelson sighed. Taking a breath, he said, “They have to know that I am the Grand Master and that everything that happens from here on out is up to me by the blessing of. . .”

He waved his hand in the air.

“Blah, blah, blah,” Nelson said.

“I’m here,” Mary Joy said.

They turned to look at her. She had changed into modern military grade body armor. Her face was covered in a black mask and she was holding a machine gun.

“I don’t think we’ll need that,” Nelson said.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” Mary Joy said.

“I like her,” Mari said.

“Who are you?” Mary Joy asked.

“This is my friend, Princess Marigold,” Nelson said.

“Oh, a princess,” Mary Joy said with a roll of her eyes.

“She’s of the fairy realm,” Nelson said. “Don’t antagonize her. Fairies are fierce warriors, not little fluffy, giggly things like in the movies. They are long lived and have spent much of that time battling for their realms. In fact, they are the only realm that held back the Viking hoards. We are no match for them.”

Unoffended by Mary Joy, Mari just lifted an eyebrow and nodded.

“Just don’t get in front of her,” Nelson said with a sigh.

“Are you getting tired?” Mari asked. She put her hand on his elbow.

“I’m tired of having to protect myself and my father from people who are supposed to be family,” Nelson said.

“I understand,” Mari said.

“I know you do,” Nelson said.

The door moved a tiny bit.

“Here they come,” Mari said.

Mary Joy turned off the lights.

The door opened with a dramatic bang. Two men and a woman slipped inside the door. The back door of Nelson’s little house banged open. A man and two women moved in their direction. When they were set, Nelson pulled the sword from its scabbard.

Sparks of light burst from the sword as it was pulled from the scabbard. Nelson held the sword above him. The light from the sword was so bright that the invaders had to cover their eyes from the sight.

“I am Guy Semaines, the Grand Master of the Templars,” Nelson said in old Frank. “Who dares to disturb my father’s sick bed?”

“What did he say?” A woman whispered.

Nelson sighed and shook his head.

“You are Templars,” Nelson said in modern French. “You should, at the very least, be able to speak old Frank.”

There was some mumbling between these invaders. Nelson pointed the sword at Mary Joy and she flicked on the light. Nelson, Mari, and Mary Joy shaded their eyes. The invaders groaned and covered their eyes.

“And you should be wearing eye coverings,” Nelson said, continuing in French. “You say that you are Templars, are will to kill for the cause, and yet you are. . .”

“Pathetic,” Mari said.

“Pathetic is too mild of a word,” Mary Joy said.

Denver Cereal continue tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine: As if there wasn't enough going on... (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE

(part two)

“Why?” Nelson asked.

“Templars,” Nelson and Mari said in unison.

“Assholes,” Nelson said. “Let’s go get them.”

“You sure you don’t want to call the cops?” Mari asked. “They are trespassing.”

Mari nodded to her left. She was standing in front of the window in what was now an nearly completed small kitchen. Because Jeraine and Tanesha needed the privacy, the window was set up so that while you could look out it, no one could see inside. A group of seven men and women were creeping in front of the window.

“Why?” Nelson asked.

“You’re asking that as Nelson the brilliant doctor and forensic scientist,” Mari said. “We need Nelson the Grand Master of the Templars.”

Nelson heaved a heavy sigh.

“Look at your sword,” Mari said.

Nelson looked at the sword for the first time. This was not his sword. He held it up to his eyes.

“This is. . .” Nelson whispered.

“Come on,” Mari said.

She snapped her fingers, and they were standing next to Nelson’s father Pierre’s bed. Nelson slipped the sword back into its scabbard.

A nurse wearing a face mask looked up at their sudden arrival. She stood and walked toward them.

“I don’t know how you got in here, but this man is very ill,” she said. “He. . .”

She looked at Nelson for a long moment.

“Guy?” the nurse asked. “Guy Semaines? You probably can’t tell with this mask but I’m Mary Joy. Mary Joy Baldwin.”

“Mary Joy?” Nelson asked. “Wow, I haven’t seen you since. . .”

“Junior high,” Mary Joy, the nurse, said. “Yeah. We moved. I came back for nursing school. I saw that this position was for Pierre Semaines and thought that I. . . You probably aren’t here to chat. You look. . . Wow.”

“I’ve been working out,” Nelson said with a smile. “Nice to see you. I apologize, but we’re expecting family that. . .”

“Yes, I was warned,” Mary said. “I was assigned here because I was a medic in the Army. Afghanistan. Let me get dressed.”

Nelson gave her a kind of nod and a bow. Mary Joy stopped at the door.

“Please put on your face mask,” Mary Joy said in a soft chide. “Your father is very ill. He doesn’t need the coronavirus as well.”

“Sorry,” Nelson said. “I should know better.”

“Yes, you should,” Mary Joy said before she disappeared out the door.

Mari snapped her fingers, and they were both wearing face masks.

“Fin said that we should wear them too,” Mari said. “He said that humans are part fairy so there’s no way to know if we’ll be affected. I’ll tell you that Edie shut down the fairy queendoms. No one in or out. Since we went to help Sam Lipson. “

“You went to help Sam?” Nelson asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I took Otis there,” Mari said. “I found a lost fairy working in the ER there so I called Edie. She thought. . . well, let’s just say that she’s annoyed with me.”

“Is that new?” Nelson asked.

“No,” Mari said. “Sisters. They are always annoyed with you for something. Just be glad you don’t have any.”

Nelson grinned at her but then realized that she couldn’t see him smiling. He winked, and she nodded in understanding.

“Here they come.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


New websites, new changes.

DenverCereallogo_rgb

January 25,2021 

We're getting ready to sort of/maybe shift the Denver Cereal over to this site.

Welcome!!

You'll notice that this site is a little more streamline than the old site.

1. Probably the biggest change is that all 12 years of Denver Cereal is no longer available on this site.

In this site, we are posting everything that is not yet in book form. Right now, Denver Cereal is available in very affordable eBooks, paperback books, and even signed paperback books. A lot of people don't actually know that the chapters are edited and put into book form. This is a way of highlighting that these books are available.

We are just trying this out. If it turns out that people want the early chapters, we can always put the chapters back. For now, we're going to try this other method.

2. This site contains both the chapters and the daily posts of Denver Cereal.

Previously, the chapters were located on Stories by Claudia. We decided to move all of Denver Cereal to the Denver Cereal website. 

This feels like radical change for us, but it likely not going to affect you at all.

3. We are radically changing the way our websites work. 

You may not know this, but we have a lot of websites. Claudia has a variety of interests which, over the years, have become websites. 

In the next week or so, we are releasing an all encompassing website under the umbrella of the Stories by Claudia site. This site will be released on February 1. It will take a few days for everything to click into gear. We ask for your patience.

 

As always, if you have anything to say, feel free to write Claudia. She loves to hear from you.

We hope that the new websites will serve you better. 

Thank you for reading and caring!

Be well!


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine: As if there wasn't enough going on... (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE

(part one)

Saturday afternoon— 12:15 p.m.

Nelson Weeks awoke with a start.

He took a breath.

He knew this feeling — a low grumbling in his belly, a sense of tension across his shoulders, a feeling light a bright light had been shone in his eyes but was suddenly gone.

Something — some thing? —was happening.

He needed to get ready. His feet hit the floor with purpose. He pushed himself across the room to the closet. He let out a breath. A broad sword in its scabbard was leaning against the closet.

He reached for the sword and stood up.

By magic, he was clothed in the garb he wore as a Templar. He jerked open the door.

“Is it the 14th Century in that room?” Mari, the fairy, asked.

“Wha. . .” Flooded with words in a variety of languages, this was all Nelson managed to say.

Mari nodded to what he was wearing.

“Out here,” Mari said, “it’s already the 21st century.”

“And?” Nelson asked, irritably.

“Humans have developed this incredible stuff they call ‘body armor,’” Mari said.

“Then tell the magic on the sword to dress me in this,” Nelson said.

“You could actually use your eyes. . .” Mari started. “Oh, never mind.”

She snapped her fingers. One item at a time, Nelson’s 14th Century gear was replaced with modern military body armor.

“But. . .” Nelson started.

“The sword is tuned to whatever you’re wearing,” Mari said. “When you touch the sword next, you will be dressed in this.”

“Fine,” Nelson said. “Why are you here?”

“I came to get you,” Mari said.

“For what?” Nelson asked.

“What do you feel?” Mari asked.

“I’m not sure I can put it into words,” Nelson said. He fell silent thinking for a long moment. “Time for battle, I guess. But. . .”

“Yes?” Mari asked.

“Who?” Nelson asked. He looked at the fairy. “Am I well enough to do this?”

“Do what?” Mari asked. “I’m not sure who’s ass we’re about to kick.”

Nelson grinned at her. He looked down at himself in this armor. He had become heavier, with denser, bigger muscles across his chest and his arms. His thighs and calves bulged through the fabric of this new body armor. He was surprised at how thin he’d become as well. He looked down at himself for a long moment.

“You look good,” Mari said with a nod.

“Do you know what’s happening? What triggered my. . .” He waved his hand in front of his face. “Spidey sense?”

“I don’t know about spidey senses,” Mari said, “but your father is in trouble.”

“Why?” Nelson asked.

“Templars,” Nelson and Mari said in unison.

“Assholes,” Nelson said. “Let’s go get them.”

“You sure you don’t want to call the cops?” Mari asked. “They are trespassing.”

Mari nodded to her left. She was standing in front of the window in what was now an nearly completed small kitchen. Because Jeraine and Tanesha needed the privacy, the window was set up so that while you could look out it, no one could see inside. A group of seven men and women were creeping in front of the window.

“Why?” Nelson asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Eight: Ahead. Or maybe A Head?

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-EIGHT

Saturday morning — 9:02 a.m.

“Oh, no way,” Sandy said. “Jeraine had a poster of himself with his thumb in the front of his pants?”

“Kinda pulling them down,” Tanesha said as she slowly walked by Sandy’s side.

“How did we miss that for our dart board?” Sandy asked.

Tanesha laughed. Sandy had greeted Tanesha at the door of Seth O’Malley’s house. They were moving into the house.

“You know what he told me?” Tanesha asked.

“I’m not sure if I do,” Sandy said with a laugh.

“‘I am very sexy,’” Tanesha said.

They broke down laughing. Sandy stopped rolling and Tanesha bent over with laughter.

“What are you girls laughing about?” Bernie asked, poking his head out of the front room.

“Tanesha’s husband,” Maresol coming from the kitchen. She patted Bernie’s chest. “You remember that Tanesha’s married to Dionne’s son.”

“R and B star,” Bernie said, with a nod. “Jeraine.”

“That child never knew any shame,” Maresol said. “Remember when he decided that ripped shirts were his style? He’d tear them so that you could see just his little boy belly.”

“‘Shows off my hotness,’” Sandy said in an imitation of Jeraine.

“He was ten!” Tanesha said.

The woman laughed again.

“He is very handsome,” Bernie said.

“Don’t defend him,” Maresol said. “He’s done many, many, many cruel things to our Tanesha. He would be in prison if Seth hadn’t saved him. That was enough of an effort from your male kindship.”

Bernie scowled and looked at Maresol. Catching Sandy’s expression, he nodded.

“I acquiesce to your greater wisdom,” Bernie said.

“Smart man,” Maresol said.

Bernie chuckled and went back into the front room. In a few minutes, they heard him playing the grand piano that lived in that room.

“Where’s O’Malley?” Tanesha asked.

“He’s in New York,” Maresol said. “He has to finish that fourth movie. Plus. . .”

Maresol raised an eyebrow.

“What?” Tanesha asked.

“That jackass wants to own all of Hell’s Kitchen,” Maresol said.

“And remake it in his image,” Sandy said. “He owns the building around O’Malley’s and is trying to pressure O’Malley to sell his. If O’Malley caves, he thinks the rest of Hell’s Kitchen will cave.”

“It’s a real stand-off,” Maresol said. “They’re harassing the tenants of O’Malley’s building. They tried to steal the food trucks in O’Malley’s parking lot last night.”

“How did they stop that?” Tanesha asked.

“O’Malley and Claire told the tenants that this was coming,” Maresol said. “They were ready for the assault. One of those music guys was coming back from a gig and found them trying to break into the trucks.”

“What happened?” Tanesha asked.

“He called the police,” Maresol said. “The men said straight out that they were paid by that asshole.”

“Awful,” Sandy said.

“What about the other buildings?” Tanesha asked. “Will they cave?”

“Probably not,” Maresol said. “They are owned by Tafoya Industries.”

“Isn’t that your name?” Tanesha asked.

Sandy and Maresol laughed.

“O’Malley bought it about a year ago when it was clear what was coming,” Sandy said. “It’s this weird deal where he owns the property but the original owner manages the buildings and collects rent. After ten years, we can get control if we want it. Those idiots haven’t figured it out yet. They keep calling Maresol.”

Sandy nodded to Maresol.

“I answer: ‘Que?’ and just keep repeating it until they hang up,” Maresol said.

The women laughed.

“Frankly, it would be a bigger deal if O’Malley wasn’t wealthier than they are,” Maresol said. “They owe on everything. If O’Malley holds out for even just another month, they’ll likely default.”

“How did O’Malley get wealthier than them?” Tanesha asked.

“Look around you,” Maresol said. “This is his father’s home. The man doesn’t spend money.”

Maresol set a cup of coffee in front of Tanesha, who took a long drink. Maresol filled the cup again.

“Suits, planes,” Sandy said.

“He rents planes. But he does spend on people,” Maresol said. “But all of it is a lot less than spending money on failing business projects, lawyers, and federal penalties on your crimes.”

“Should he invest more?” Sandy asked with a scowl.

“That’s your department. I just answer the phone,” Maresol said with a smile. “Now, what are we doing today?”

“I was hoping to get back to organizing the crap from Poland,” Tanesha said. “I’ve been working at the hospital so much that I’ve fallen behind my schedule.”

“As long as you realize the schedule exists only in your head,” Maresol said. “That junk sat in a tunnel in Poland for decades. It can sit here a while longer.”

“I know,” Tanesha said. “I just like to finish what I start.”

Maresol nodded in understanding.

“What are you up to?” Maresol asked Sandy.

“I was going to hang out with Tanesha,” Sandy said. “She found a crate that she thought we could start with.”

“Don’t overdo it,” Maresol said.

“I’ll be careful,” Sandy said. “I should be out of the wheelchair by Monday.”

Maresol gave Sandy a worried nod.

“What are you up to?” Tanesha asked Maresol.

“I was going to help Delphie,” Maresol said. “You know their cleaner, Rosa?”

Sandy and Tanesha nodded.

“She said that Delphie has too much on her plate,” Maresol said. “You know — with the kids and the new greenhouses. . .”

“And Sam,” Tanesha said. “I found her with Sam when I got home yesterday. She’d clearly been there since he got home. She was exhausted. Overwrought.”

“She needs her friends around her,” Maresol said. “Just like we all do sometimes.”

“What will you do there?” Tanesha asked.

“I was going to teach a little cooking class,” Maresol said. “Get that Charlie and his teens working in the kitchen. I can’t believe they aren’t cooking!”

“Quanshay’s there,” Tanesha said.

“She’s the woman you were talking to your mom about?” Maresol asked.

“She’ll be a big help,” Tanesha said with a nod.

“Blane’s around too,” Maresol nodded. “Sounds like we’ll have a fun day. You girls will be all right here?”

“Of course,” Sandy said.

“We’ll avoid any creepy objects,” Tanesha said. “Dark energy and all of that. I’m pretty good at picking up on that stuff. I have lots of practice.”

“I bet you are good at it,” Maresol said. She nodded. “Well, I’ll get ready to go.”

In turn, Tanesha and Sandy hugged Maresol and the older woman headed back to her rooms.

“What did you see?” Sandy asked.

“When?” Tanesha asked.

Sandy gestured toward the stack of crates, boxes, and other precious antiquity junk.

“Oh, I have to show you,” Tanesha said.

They went over to where the crates were stacked. Tanesha pointed to one near the bottom.

“Do you see this stamp?” Tanesha asked.

“Looks like a rose,” Sandy said.

Tanesha dropped to a crouch and Sandy bent over. Tanesha brushed dust off the imprint.

“I think so too,” Tanesha said.

“What is it?” Sandy asked.

“Have you ever heard of the ‘White Rose’?” Tanesha asked. She continued when Sandy shook her head. “It’s kind of complicated but this woman, girl really, called ‘Sophie Scholl’ and her brother ‘Hans’ were involved in Hitler Youth, but became disgusted with it. Hans fought for the Nazi’s in Poland and saw the atrocities for himself. They started printing and distributing leaflets around 1942. It was kind of a college group.”

Sandy reached out to touch the rose.

“Should I continue?” Tanesha asked.

“Please do,” Sandy said. “There was a core group of students and professors. They only published six pamphlets. And remember there wasn’t printing like there now.”

“Typewriters and mimeographs?” Sandy asked.

“And the mail,” Tanesha said with a nod.

Tanesha stopped talking. Sandy nodded.

“Killed by the Nazis?” Sandy asked.

“Beheaded by guillotine,” Tanesha said. “At least Sophie and her brother were. Hans. There was a gruesome mock trial and long interrogations. They never gave up their friends. But they were arrested anyway. The last question asked her was if she thought that she’d committed a crime against her community.”

Tanesha sighed. She glanced at Sandy and saw Sandy’s rapt attention.

“I memorized it when I was in college,” Tanesha said.

“What did she say?” Sandy asked with a nod.

“‘I am, now as before, of the opinion that I did the best that I could do for my nation. I therefore do not regret my conduct and will bear the consequences that result from my conduct.’”

Tanesha gave Sandy a soft smile.

“She was so brave,” Tanesha said. “I wished for her surety and courage so I could. . . You know, because my mom was trapped and my dad in prison and gran. . . Jeraine. . . I mean, things have turned out really great, just then. . .”

“You needed courage and surety,” Sandy said.

Nodding, Tanesha sighed. She nodded to the box.

“The sixth leaflet was smuggled into the UK,” Tanesha said. “It was reprinted and dropped from planes just months after she and her brother were killed.”

“Wow,” Sandy said.

“Yeah,” Tanesha said. “Anyway, this crate could have leaflets or. . .”

“Let’s find out,” Sandy said. “Whatever is here — we will celebrate a life well lived. Depending on what it is, we’ll send it on to a museum or start one ourselves.”

Tanesha took the top crate off the stack. Setting it to the side, she took the next crate and stacked it on top of the other. She took the crate that was stamped with the rose. Using the small crowbar for leverage, she broke the seal on the top of the crate. The lid opened just an inch.

A musty smell filled the area.

“No,” Ava O’Malley, Seth’s wife, said running in their direction. “Leave it. Back up.”

“What is it?” Tanesha asked as she and Sandy backed away.

“That’s the smell of death,” Ava said. “Decay.”

Ava was a forensic scientist who ran a lab at the Denver Crime Labs. She pressed her way passed Tanesha and Sandy, effectively blocking them from the crate.

“Do you mind if I take a look?” Ava asked. “Sorry. I heard you talking about Sophie Scholl. She’s a hero of mine. I. . .”

Ava looked at the crate and saw the Rose stamp.

“Oh,” Ava said.

She turned her back to Tanesha and Sandy in such a way that she covered what she was doing with the crate. They saw only her back and rear end. After a long moment, they heard the top of the crate close. There was a pounding sound as Ava resealed the crate. Ava stood up holding the small crowbar.

“I’m sorry,” Ava said. “I have to report this.”

“Wha. . .” Sandy asked but didn’t finish.

“What is it?” Tanesha asked.

“A decaying head,” Ava said.

Sandy and Tanesha gasped.

“I’m telling you this because you’re strong,” Ava said. “You can handle this. There’s no way to know why this is here. It could be the Nazis. It could also be her friends and family keeping these remains away from being shown off by the Nazis.”

Sandy gave Ava a vague nod. Tanesha stood gawking at Ava.

“What will you do?” Tanesha asked.

“I have to call this in to the Denver Police,” Ava said. “So they don’t think we’re killing people and saving the heads. They will call my friend at Colorado History. She’ll come out to check to see if it’s a criminal matter or archeological. We also have to check with the Council on Indian Affairs so that they know these remains aren’t theirs. In all likelihood, it will go to Dr. Quincy. You’ve met her, Sandy.”

“Joan,” Sandy said.

Ava nodded.

“She’s a bone specialist,” Ava said. “Why don’t I call her so that she can have a look before all the chaos starts? I’ll call my friend from Colorado History as well.”

“That sounds great,” Sandy said. “Thanks.”

“Of course,” Ava said, as she moved toward the landline phone.

“It’s Sophie,” Tanesha said softly.

“Probably,” Ava said. “I’m sorry.”

Ava touched Tanesha’s shoulder as she passed. Sandy and Tanesha watched her go. Tanesha sighed.

“What do you want to do now?” Tanesha asked.

Sandy chuckled.

“Why don’t we work over on the end here?” Sandy asked. “I think maybe, just maybe, there’s one of those missing art works in these big crates. We’ll be out of the way of whatever chaos comes, but we’ll also be right here to watch.”

“Do there are more bodies?” Tanesha asked.

“Since we’ve only found one, I bet we’re safe,” Sandy said.

“We live on hope,” Tanesha said.

Grinning, Sandy rolled over to the stack of crates against the wall.

~~~~~~~~

Saturday morning — 10:35 a.m.

Quanshay was laughing at something Maresol had said when she realized that the pocket of that cozy robe was buzzing. She was sitting in the beautiful garden drinking tea when Maresol had stopped by to ask for her help in the kitchen.

“Your phone?” Maresol asked.

“I lost my phone,” Quanshay said. “Turns out it was here in this pocket. Ugh!”

“He’ll understand,” Maresol said.

“It’s really the worst sin a military spouse can do,” Quanshay said.

“He’ll understand.” Maresol nodded.

“I’ll see you there,” Quanshay said as Maresol left her to her call.

“Hello?” Quanshay asked.

“Where have you been?” her husband Chief Petty Officer Royce Tubman asked.

“Don’t take that tone with me,” Quanshay said. “I am not someone you get to boss around.”

Royce was silent for a long moment.

“And, no, I wasn’t messing around with Jeraine,” Quanshay said. “But today is a new day.”

When she heard Royce’s low chuckle, she laughed.

“How are you holding up?” Quanshay asked.

“I’m okay,” Royce said. “I’m sorry for barking at you.”

“I understand,” Quanshay said. “It’s the longest we’ve gone without talking since you were a SEAL.”

“Hard days,” Royce said.

“It was hard on us,” Quanshay said. “I’ve missed you. I just lost my phone.”

“How are you?” Royce asked. “Honey said that you’ve been sleeping a lot. Are you sick?”

“We called Dr. Bumpy,” Quanshay said. “Did you remember that he was Jeraine’s father?”

“I did not,” Royce said.

“I didn’t either,” Quanshay said with a snort of a laugh.

“What did he say?” Royce asked.

“He said that they don’t have a lot of tests,” Quanshay said. “If I don’t have fever or a cough, then they can’t really give me a test.”

Royce sighed.

“I think that I’m just tired,” Quanshay said. “That son of ours has been creeping around with some girl. This virus. The business. Everything. I haven’t been sleeping very much. Then I got here and. . . It’s like everything just slipped away.”

“That sounds good,” Royce said.

“I talked to John Drayson,” Quanshay said. “He came by here to check on Julie Hargreaves and Margaret’s uncle, Gando. They both have had Covid. Bad. So does Jake and Val’s father, Sam.”

“That’s a shame,” Royce said.

“They’re getting better, slowly,” Quanshay said. “You remember that kid Paddie? White hair?”

“Colin’s eldest,” Royce said.

“That’s right,” Quanshay said. “He was really sick but he’s better. He was at dinner last night. I guess he’s been quarantining by himself. He was kind of shy at first. After a bit, he was playing with the other kids.”

“And Katie?” Royce asked. “Isn’t that his best friend in the world?”

“She was there,” Quanshay said. “They are really cute. Our youngest played with all of the kids they call the ‘Wild Bunch.’ He’s there now. I think.”

“You haven’t seen him?” Royce asked.

“Not today,” Quanshay said with a little laugh. “They are giving me a break since I kind of freaked out.”

“I saw,” Royce said.

“I bet you did,” Quanshay said with a laugh. “Do you remember Rodney Smith?”

“The name is familiar,” Royce said.

“He was wrongly charged with murdering someone and got out?” Quanshay asked. “We went to see him speak when we first got here.”

“Uh-huh,” Royce said doubtfully.

“He’s Tanesha’s father,” Quanshay said. “And you know who Tanesha is?”

“Miss T?” Royce asked.

“Miss T!” Quanshay said. “This place is like a resort. I sleep in late. The food is good. My kids are taken care of. I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.”

Royce chuckled.

“What did John Drayson say?” Royce asked.

“He said that we should worry about the loan or the business,” Quanshay said. “I told him that I didn’t want to put them out. You know what he said?”

“He told me they save for rainy days,” Royce said.

“And it’s pouring!” Quanshay said with a chuckle. Royce laughed. “When did you talk to him?”

“He’s married to the LC,” Royce said.

“Oh, that’s right,” Quanshay said. “You probably talk to all these people more than I do.”

“You’ve been asleep,” Royce said.

She could hear the smile in his voice. He never resented the time she spent caring for himself. When he was home, he would insist on it. She smiled.

“Today, I’m going to help teach the teenagers how to cook,” Quanshay said. “Maybe I’ll figure out who J’Ron’s dating.”

“Or see our youngest?” Royce asked.

“Maybe even that,” Quanshay said.

Royce chuckled.

“I’m glad that they are taking such good care of you,” Royce said.

“They are caring for everyone,” Quanshay said. “It’s amazing. The kids are having a great time. The teens aren’t as sneering or surly. It’s like a miracle.”

“Someone else’s house,” Royce said.

“Exactly,” Quanshay said. “Kallyn told me that no one wants to go home to their boring house so they are on their best behavior.”

“I bet,” Royce said.

“I think she has a crush on Alexander,” Quanshay said. “They’ve been practicing fighting with those sticks.”

“Bokkens?” Royce asked.

“That,” Quanshay said. “He’s become so handsome.”

“He has,” Royce said. “I saw a picture of his parents once. They were gorgeous. So it’s not much of a surprise.”

They were quiet for a long moment.

“You’all ’re going ta be home when I get there?” Royce asked.

“We’ll be there waiting,” Quanshay said. “I just needed a break.”

“I understand completely,” Royce said. “I’ll be home soon.”

“You’d better,” Quanshay said.

Chuckling, Royce hung up. Quanshay looked at the clock. Maresol said that they would work with the kids at 11:30 am. She just had time for a bath.

Smiling to herself, Quanshay started the water for a bath.

Denver Cereal continues next week...


Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven: Where is this?

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-SEVEN

Jill waved for Jeraine to follow her through the new home. They went up a now wood clad stairwell and into what would be a gorgeous entry area for Jeraine’s recording studio. Jeraine pulled up the hood on his jacket. Jill took a knit cap from her jacket pocket. She pulled it down low on her head. They slipped out the side door and walked down the driveway. They made it across the street. They were through the gate and into the house before the photographers caught up with them.

“What was that?” Jill turned on Jeraine. “What bullshit are you involved with? What did you do?”

“Nothing,” Jeraine raised his hands. “I swear, Jill. I swear. No women. No drugs. I’ve been good. Really good.”

Jill sniffed at him in disbelief. They walked into the Castle main living room. For the first time in days, no one was there. They continued through the building to the backyard.

Delphie was teaching the children how to plant seeds. The older kids were filling seedling trays with dirt and giving them to the younger kids to place the seeds. The teenagers were watering the seed trays and labeling them. Everyone was happily working.

“Hey,” Jill said to Valerie, who was looking hugely pregnant.

“I think I grew four inches,” Valerie said.

“The baby’s ready to come,” Jeraine said.

“Yeah,” Valerie said. “Another baby to add to the crowd.”

“I’m sure your baby will be wonderful,” Jeraine said.

Valerie smiled. Jeraine started inside.

“Hey, Jer?” Valerie asked.

“I’m going to find Jacob,” Jill said.

“You’ll do the colors?” Jeraine asked. “Make it nice for Miss T and us?”

“Of course,” Jill said.

“For Miss T?” Jeraine asked.

“Of course,” Jill said with a grin.

Jeraine nodded with all the sincerity he could muster. He knew that he could never make up for all of his misbehavior to Tanesha’s friends. He was just glad that they loved her enough to be decent to him.

“What’s up?” Jeraine asked Valerie.

“They got a photo of you,” Valerie said.

“Just now?” Jeraine asked. “With Jill?”

“Jill? No,” Valerie said. “Why?”

Jeraine explained what had happened.

“Assholes,” Valerie said. She shook her head. “This photo is actually worse than that. They took a photo of you with Quanshay.”

“Who?” Jeraine asked.

“The woman yesterday?” Valerie asked.

Jeraine scowled and then gave Valerie a vague shrug.

“You look naked,” Valerie said. “See for yourself.”

Valerie held out her cell phone, and Jeraine took it from her.

“Oh fuck,” Jeraine said. “Miss T’s going to kill me.”

“She’s seen it,” Valerie said. “On the bus.”

Jeraine groaned.

“They were waiting for her at school,” Valerie said. “But. . . Don’t freak out.”

“Too late,” Jeraine said.

“Here’s what she said,” Valerie said.

Valerie played the full video of Tanesha’s mini-rant. Jeraine watched it twice before handing the phone back to Valerie.

“She’s really great,” Valerie said.

“You don’t think she’s going to say that in public and be pissed at me in private?” Jeraine asked.

“Does she do that?” Valerie asked. “She strikes me as pretty straight forward.”

“No, I guess she doesn’t,” Jeraine said.

“You’d better call her to be sure,” Valerie said.

Nodding, Jeraine took his phone out of the pocket in his pants.

“In the meantime,” Valerie said.

“We avoid the photogs,” Jeraine said.

“Vultures,” Valerie said. “You might also want to keep your shirt on.”

Jeraine scowled and shook his head. He stood there for a moment before heading inside. He walked with purpose until he was in their apartment in the basement.

Then he freaked out.

It was a nightmare that never ended. His past just screwed him over and over again. What was he going to do if Tanesha left him? What was he going to do about all of this?

His head exploded with pain. Rather than deal with everything, he went to the bathroom, took his meds, and got in bed. He called Heather to ask if she would keep an eye on Jabari. That’s the last thing he remembered before the drugs kicked in.

~~~~~~~~

Friday afternoon — 2:13 p.m.

“Kallyn?”

The word was on the lips of her mother, Quanshay, before Quanshay was even awake. Quanshay’s eyes fluttered open.

Where on earth?

Quanshay sat up in bed.

The bed was so comfortable and inviting that she almost lay back down. She looked down at herself. She was wearing a man’s old T-shirt. It was roomy and soft from multiple washings. Her hand went under the covers. She was wearing just her underwear.

She lay back down in the warm bed and fell asleep again.

Sometime later. . . Had it been three minutes? Two hours? She sat straight up in bed. Her daughter was talking? Was she crying or laughing?

Where was she?

Quanshay saw the old soft robe on the end of the bed. She wrapped herself in its warmth and went to the restroom. Her purse was set on the counter. Her phone was charging on a cord hooked into a socket.

She grabbed her phone and started to look at it.

She heard her daughter again.

Without thinking, she walked toward the sound. She opened a glass door that led to a lovely garden patio. There was a small pond with fish and benches around the edge of the patio. The planters were filled with winter dormant plants, but the flowing ivy and box made the patio inviting. Quanshay saw a few shoots of bulbs coming up from the soil. A foot above this beautiful shady oasis was what looked like a brightly lit driveway.

Looking up, she recognized Kallyn’s shoes moving forward and then back. There was an odd slapping sound.

If someone was beating on her daughter, they were going to have Quanshay to deal with. Quanshay trotted up a shady paved path to the driveway. Standing just out of sight in shadow, she saw that her daughter was fighting a boy with some kind of wooden sword.

The boy was much better with the wooden sword than Kallyn.

But Kallyn was good. Really good.

They were speaking. . . something. Quanshay knew she should recognize it but it always took her a moment. It sounded like French sometimes but it wasn’t. It slid across her mind like a river.

Quanshay sighed at her exhausted mind.

Kallyn was studying. . . in school. She had to get special permission and the mean kids had made fun of her but she was almost fluent in. . .

Arabic. The word popped in her mind.

Kallyn started learning Arabic when her father started with the language. Of course, Royce picked it up like he picked up everything — easily with a lot of grace.

Kallyn and the boy were speaking Arabic.

Laughing. They were laughing. Quanshay smiled.

The boy said something to Kallyn and her daughter turned.

“Mama!” Kallyn said.

“Watch it girl!” Quanshay said.

The boy had distracted Kallyn in order to win at whatever game they were playing. But Kallyn was able to block his attack. The boy cheered for her.

Kallyn said something to the boy, and he gave her a solemn nod. He turned to Quanshay and raised a hand in “Hello.”

In that moment, Quanshay recognized him. He was Alexander, son of one of Royce’s bosses, Major Joseph Walter. He had grown into a very handsome teenager. She smiled at him.

Kallyn hugged her mother, and Quanshay wrapped herself around her first born. Kallyn was silently weeping into her mother’s chest.

“I’ll get J’Ron,” Alexander said.

Quanshay nodded. She made soothing sounds to Kallyn.

“What’s wrong, baby?” Quanshay asked.

“I just missed you,” Kallyn said. “I was so worried and. . .”

J’Ron threw himself on them. They weaved for a moment before finding balance. Quanshay held onto her children. After a few moments, Quanshay led them to the sitting area. Kallyn didn’t let go of her arm while J’Ron just wanted to be as close as possible.

“You’re wearing those masks,” Quanshay said, noticing for the first time that she wasn’t.

J’Ron pulled a clean mask from his pocket.

“We pick up two every day,” J’Ron said. “Our rule is one for the pocket, one for the face. I guess they liked it so much they’re using it at the construction company.”

Quanshay smiled broadly, “That’s really good.”

“Where have you been?” Kallyn asked, still crying. “I tried to call.”

“So did I,” J’Ron said.

“I was asleep in this room,” Quanshay said. “Where are we?”

“We’re at the Castle,” J’Ron said.

“You don’t remember?” Kallyn asked.

Quanshay shook her head.

“We came here and you saw Jeraine and. . .” J’Ron said.

Quanshay gasped. She looked embarrassed.

“That wasn’t a dream?” Quanshay asked.

“Oh, no,” J’Ron said. “Look.”

He took out his phone from his pocket and showed her the photo.

“It’s everywhere,” J’Ron said.

“Are they mad?” Quanshay asked. “I don’t want to cause them any trouble.”

“It’s just a part of their life,” Kallyn said. “Or at least that’s what Charlie says. I guess it happens all the time to either Jeraine or Valerie, you know, Valerie Lipson. She’s a movie star.”

“I know,” Quanshay said. “She’s a very beautiful movie star.”

“I thought Dad would call us but. . .” J’Ron said.

“He doesn’t have your numbers,” Quanshay winced. “Remember, he got his new phone after he left the house.”

Her kids nodded.

“He must be really worried,” Quanshay said. “Upset.”

“Why?” Kallyn and J’Ron asked in near unison.

“I had this thing about Jeraine when we were in high school,” Quanshay said. “Your dad was so mad about it. But I. . .?”

Quanshay looked at her kids.

“Jeraine lives here?” Quanshay asked.

Both children nodded.

“Your dad is going to be flipped out,” Quanshay said with a little laugh. “He’s just going to have to deal with it.”

When she laughed, her children laughed with her.

“Where have you been?” Kallyn asked.

“In there, I think,” Quanshay said. “Asleep. I just. . . I remember talking to. . . Oh my God, that’s Miss T. I know people have said that to me before but I never quite. . . Tanesha Smith is Miss T.”

Quanshay shook her head.

“Mercy,” Quanshay said. “Well. . . Can’t change the past.”

She looked at her children.

“Any idea why I’m here?” Quanshay gestured to the room she’d come out of.

“You’re staying in Fey Team Honey’s guest room,” Kallyn said. “I never would have guessed that it was here.”

“It’s really nice,” J’Ron said.

“Come on,” Quanshay said. “I’ll show you.”

Quanshay got up. The kids followed her inside to where she’d been sleeping. She was going to get dressed but when she saw the bed, her fatigue returned.

“Are you sick, Mama?” Kallyn asked.

“I doubt it,” Quanshay said. “I’m just tired. All of this stuff — virus, business, your dad being gone, you kids being home. . . I. . .”

There was a tap on the door. Quanshay saw the stack of masks next to her door. She put one on before letting Honey inside.

“I heard voices and wanted to check on you,” Honey said.

Uncomfortable with another adult they didn’t know, the kids moved away from the door.

“I can’t get over how well you’re walking,” Quanshay said.

“It’s still early in the day,” Honey said with a smile. She gave Quanshay a critical look. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” Quanshay said. “Hungry.”

“Should we get you a Covid test?” Honey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Quanshay said.

“Mom, you really. . .” Kallyn started at the same time J’Ron said, “Dad would want you to. . .”

“I guess I’d better,” Quanshay said.

“Best to be safe,” Honey said. “I’ll make an appointment with Dr. Bumpy.”

“Oh,” Quanshay said. “You know him?”

“He’s Jeraine’s father,” Honey said with a shrug. “We all see him.”

“Jeraine’s father?” Quanshay asked blushing. “I forgot that.”

“Is it okay?” Honey asked. “Should I call someone else?”

“No,” Quanshay said. “I really like him. We’ve come into to town to see him. He’s taking care of our kids and me through my pregnancy.”

Quanshay looked at her children.

“Where’s your brother?” Quanshay asked.

“He’s playing with the ‘Wild bunch,’” Honey said with a smile.

“Wild bunch?” Quanshay asked.

“We have a lot of kids who are about the same age,” Honey said. “Your son fit right in. They have so much fun that we call them the ‘Wild Bunch.’”

Quanshay looked at her kids. They both nodded at Honey’s words. Honey grinned at the silent communication between mother and children.

“You have been asleep for a long time,” Honey said. “You need to drink some fluids and eat. I made a sandwich if you would like it. . .”

“Thank you,” Quanshay said, embarrassed.

“We Fey wives have to stick together,” Honey said. “I’m sure the kids will tell you. We have a few sick people in the house, so we’re all wearing masks and trying to stay well.”

“Mama, Julie Hargreaves is here,” Kallyn said softly.

“Paddie’s mom?” J’Ron asked.

“Oh,” Quanshay said. “She’s such a sweet woman. I’d heard that she was sick.”

“She’s getting better,” Honey said. “I just wanted to make sure that you knew to be careful. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance from people even if you’re outside.”

Quanshay nodded.

“Call Royce,” Honey said.

“I will,” Quanshay said.

“Kids?” Honey asked. “Let’s let your mom get some rest.”

“They’re okay for now,” Quanshay said.

“You’re sure?” Honey asked.

“I am,” Quanshay said with a nod.

“I’ll let you know about the doctor,” Honey said.

Honey brought in a tray with a sandwich and a glass. She pointed that there was filtered water in the corner.

“It’s like a hotel,” Quanshay said.

Honey grinned, “We aim to please. Dinner starts at six. We have so many people now that it goes for a while. You don’t have to worry about being on time.”

Quanshay nodded.

“I washed the clothing you were wearing,” Honey said. “It’s hanging there. You didn’t bring other clothes so I thought you’d like something clean.”

“Thank you,” Quanshay said.

“It’s my pleasure,” Honey said. “Absolutely. I’ve had so many people help me over the years. It’s wonderful to have a chance to give back a little.”

Quanshay smiled, and Honey left them.

“Well, how is it here?” Quanshay asked the kids.

“Perfect,” Kallyn said. “We’re having a great time.”

“A blast,” J’Ron said. “We play video games from three to dinner. It’s. . . Amazing. I’m learning a lot and. . .”

Quanshay grinned. She was sure that they would go home when her husband returned. For now, this was a great place to land.

“I’m going to eat my sandwich and rest some more,” Quanshay said. “If you want to hang out with your friends you can.”

The kids gave each other guilty looks.

“I’m serious,” Quanshay said. “Go have fun.”

The kids nodded to each other. They hugged their mother one more time and then left her. Quanshay ate her sandwich, drank a lot of water, and went back to bed. For the first time since she knew about this stupid virus, she fell asleep quickly and slept well.

~~~~~~~~

Friday afternoon — 4:43 p.m.

“How is he?” Tanesha whispered to Delphie.

Tanesha and Fin were sent home early because of the chaos of reporters. She went to check on their patients in the medical office. Even thought they were still on oxygen, Julie Hargreaves and Gando Peaches were sitting in chairs on the deck off the medical offices. They nodded to Tanesha as she’d passed through the doors to check on Sam Lipson.

“The nurse said he’s doing well,” Delphie said.

“But?” Tanesha asked.

“I just have never known him to sleep so much,” Delphie said with a sigh. “I keep thinking that he must be really sick because he’s sleeping.”

Tanesha picked up the chart and started going through it.

“Do you mind if I take a little break?” the nurse asked.

“Of course,” Tanesha said, looking up at him. “I’ll stay until you’re back.”

“Thanks,” the nurse said. “I have to pee.”

Tanesha grinned at the young man before turning back to Delphie.

“He’s on some heavy meds,” Tanesha said. Looking up at Delphie, she added, “That’s why he’s sleeping.”

“But why does he have to sleep?” Delphie asked.

The women looked at each other for a long moment before Tanesha nodded.

“I see what you mean,” Tanesha said. “He wouldn’t be on the meds and wouldn’t be sleeping if he wasn’t so sick.”

“Exactly,” Delphie said with a nod.

“This is just a really awful disease,” Tanesha said. “We know that he’s getting great treatment, right?”

Never taking her eyes off Sam, Delphie nodded.

“Then we have to trust that he will get well on his own terms,” Tanesha said. “Julie and Gando seem much better.”

Delphie nodded. After a moment, Delphie looked at Tanesha.

“You think Sam will get better too?” Dephie asked.

“His chart is good,” Tanesha said. “It looks like he was very, very sick. But he doesn’t seem to have much lung scarring.”

She looked at Delphie and nodded.

“My guess is that he’ll be back to his old self sooner than you think,” Tanesha said.

“I hope so,” Delphie said.

Tanesha turned an assessing look at Delphie.

“How are you?” Tanesha asked. “Have you been taking care of yourself? Sleeping?”

Delphie shook her head.

“I can’t sleep,” Delphie said. “You probably know that I’ve been a little crazy.”

“You need to rest!” Tanesha said. “What would any of us do without you?”

Delphie gave a slight nod.

“When the nurse returns, why don’t we get some tea?” Tanesha asked.

“You’re going to put me to sleep,” Delphie said.

“I am,” Tanesha said with a grin.

“You’re mom told me that you can do that,” Delphie said.

“I practiced on Gran,” Tanesha said. “She could be a real bear when she wasn’t sleeping.”

Delphie gave a slight nod. The nurse slipped into the room and gave Tanesha a nod.

“Come on,” Tanesha said to Delphie.

Delphie looked at Tanesha for a long moment before following her out of the room. They went down the hallway. Valerie was waiting for them at the head of the stairs.

“Delphie needs rest,” Tanesha said.

“Delphie?” Valerie put her arm around Delphie. Using her gift of commanding voice, she said, “You need to sleep.”

That was enough of a nudge for Delphie to go with Tanesha toward her apartment. Valerie followed close behind. Together, Tanesha and Valerie got Delphie into bed. They left her when she was sound asleep.

“How are you?” Tanesha asked Valerie.

“I feel huge,” Valerie said.

“Any day now,” Tanesha said.

Valerie gave her a worried look.

“What’s going on?” Tanesha asked.

“The hospitals are full of sick people,” Valerie said. “Jake made those medical offices so I could have Jackie. Now, they are full of people.”

Valerie stopped walking and looked at Tanesha.

“What am I going to do?” Valerie asked.

“Well,” Tanesha said and then thought for a moment. “Your pregnancy is normal?”

Valerie nodded.

“Nothing for the doctor to worry about?” Tanesha asked.

Valerie nodded.

“You could have her anywhere,” Tanesha said. “My gran used to say that my ancestors had their babies in the fields and went back to work.”

“I don’t want to do that,” Valerie said.

Tanesha grinned.

“You always get a little weird when you’re going into labor,” Tanesha said. “Give it time. Whatever happens will be perfect. I’ll certainly help in any way that I can.”

“Promise?” Valerie asked.

“Promise,” Tanesha said. “I’d better go find Jeraine.”

Valerie nodded. The women walked together down the stairs until the reached the kitchen. Valerie was immediately caught up in making dinner. Tanesha smiled at the happy chaos and went to find Jeraine.

Denver Cereal continues next week...