Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Forty-five : Shifting wind


Thursday evening — 6:41 p.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

“Okay, thanks,” Kimber said. “I’m just …”

“If you feel up to it,” Valerie said. “Just take care of yourself, first. We’ll be here for a few more days, so that’s more days of heat, dirt, and signs.”

“Thanks,” Kimber said.

She gave Valerie a big smile and walked down the hallway to find Candy, her new mother. After seeing Blane for a treatment, Kimber had decided to join Nash, Teddy, and Noelle on the water well sites. She and Noelle had spent the day directing traffic while Nash and Teddy, because they were older, had spent the day hauling things and cleaning up the sites. They’d worked with a team of Navajo teens about their age. Noelle and Kimber had worked on the sign team with Valerie.

It was ridiculously fun. Kimber secretly liked the idea that she was making her own money, money that Candy had said she could spend on whatever she wanted. Kimber fell asleep each night thinking about what she might buy. At first, it was just some music or maybe an iPod. But she had a lot of that now. Then she thought about the clothes she wanted to buy. She realized that she had all the clothes she and her siblings could ever wear and then some. Last night, she realized that if she worked this week and then on Saturdays until the summer, like the other kids, she’d have enough money to get her mom a nice headstone.

Candy told her that morning that she would match whatever money Kimber made. They would go look at headstones as soon as they returned to Denver. Candy talked to Kimber about maybe starting a savings fund for college.

For college!

Kimber felt a sense of pride and purpose that she’d never in her life felt before.

This afternoon, though, Kimber was covered head to toe with dirt and dust. She was so exhausted that she’d slept the back seat of the SUV on the way back to the hotel. She was on her way to take a shower and go straight to bed when Valerie had told her about a dinner with the sign team.

Kimber really liked being on the sign team. She didn’t want to miss a dinner!

“There you are!” one of the mean girls from the pool said.

The other mean girls came up behind the first. Kimber was too tired to even remembering their names.

“Hey,” Kimber said. “I was just going to find my mom.”

“We’re heading back out to the pool,” the girl said.

“Where you been?” the second girl asked.

Kimber blinked. The girl was white, financially well off, and well educated. Kimber wondered vaguely if she’d sounded as stupid when she was a mean girl.

“I’ve been working on the sign team,” Kimber said. She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and nodded. Grinning, she said, “Valerie Lipson, you know the movie star, took over the team for this week. We get to work with these fun girls from the reservation. It’s …”

She stopped talking when she caught a look of disgust passed between the girls.

“Work. How fun,” the girl said with a curled lip to show her disgust.

“Why you have to work?” another girl asked.

“Why can’t you speak English?” The question just popped out of Kimber’s mouth. She blushed.

“What did you ask me, freak?” the girl asked. She pointed to Kimber, “Ima goin’ kick your ass.”

Terrified, Kimber took a step back. She felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to see that Tanesha had put her arm around Kimber’s shoulder. She felt someone come to the other side of her. She looked over to see Jeraine. The pop star Jeraine and his Miss T. Kimber took a quick in breath.

The girls stepped backward. Tanesha gave the girls an irritated look and turned to Kimber.

“We were looking for you,” Tanesha said.

“I … uh …” Kimber looked back at the girls. “ …finding mom.”

“She’s in the room waiting for you,” Tanesha said.

“Why you looking for her?” one of the mean girls asked.

“Aren’t you missing a verb there?” Jeraine asked with a sniff. “My mother would have slapped my mouth if I sounded so ignorant.”

The reproach from the world famous music star was like a dagger through the heart of the mean girl.

“We … uh …” the girl said.

“We were looking for you, hon, because you were invited to a dinner on the reservation,” Tanesha said. “You remember Dibe? She worked on your street today. Her mother wanted to meet you and the other girls.”

“What about Valerie?” Kimber asked. “She wanted me to …”

“She thinks it’s a better offer,” Tanesha said. “She and the other girls were invited too.”

“Really?” Kimber asked. “Everyone’s going there?”

“Of course,” Tanesha said. “Go. You don’t want to be late.”

Mean girls forgotten, Kimber jogged down the hallway to her room.

“We want to go to the reservation,” one of the mean girls said.

“It’s only for the sign team,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine held out his arm and Tanesha tucked into him. They walked down the hallway to the main room.

The mean girls watched them go. They looked at each other.

“Want to go to the pool?” one girl asked.

The girls looked at each other.

“My dad said I should be ready to go,” one girl said.

“My mom’s probably waiting for me,” another girl said.

The mean girls split off into all directions. Tanesha snorted as she walked away.

“Yeah?” Jeraine asked.

“Nothing,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine glanced back at the girls and nodded. They kept walking toward the dining room.


Thursday evening — 9:01 p.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

When Blane came in the hotel room, Heather got up from a chair to hug him. Tres was sitting on the couch with Wyn asleep against his shoulder. Tres got up, gave Wyn to Blane, patted Blane’s back, and left the room.

“Did I interrupt?” Blane asked as he looked into Wyn’s face. “How are you sleepy boy?”

Grinning, Wyn put his hand on his father’s face.

“Not at all,” Heather said. “Tres was asleep before you came in. Early mornings. Late nights. Too much socializing for an introvert.”

Blane nodded.

“Where’s …?” Blane asked.

Heather stepped aside to show Mack, Maggie, and Jabari asleep on the second bed in their room. With Wyn on his shoulder, Blane went to check on the children. Only Jabari opened his eyes. The boy blinked at Blane, smiled, and then fell sound asleep.

Blane held out his free arm. He held Heather tight.

“How are you?” Heather asked.

“Tired,” Blane said.

“I bet,” Heather said. “We haven’t had a chance to talk since …”

“Forever,” Blane said with a smiled.

Heather grinned at him.

“Do we still have …?” Blane gestured to the adjoining room.

Heather nodded. He went through adjoining door, and Heather followed. He took a stop on the bed, and she sat next to him.

“Do you mind if we talk for a while?” Blane asked. “I really feel like …”

“I’d love that,” Heather said with a smile. “Any idea why Nelson didn’t come back?”

“He left a message saying that he doesn’t think it makes sense to come back here,” Blane said. We’re only here for another day. Plus, he’s working on some swords.”

“Swords?” Heather asked.

“That’s what he said,” Blane said. “He’s pretty excited about it. I guess his father was there for a while. They made a plan for the blades before his dad came here to get the bodies.”

He shook his head.

“He actually has a forge in his garage,” Blane said.

“Who knew?” Heather asked.

“Who knew?” Blane repeated.

“He’s not going to France with his dad?” Heather asked.

“No,” Blane said.

“Is it dangerous still?” Heather asked.

“Seriously?” Blane asked. Heather watched him. “Who fucking knows? I mean, how weirdly complicated does life have to be? I finally get involved with someone and it’s all this complicated, international intrigue crap.”

Heather kissed his cheek.

“It’s going to be okay,” Heather said.

“The FBI agent really thinks that I killed all of those men,” Blane said. “Me! Just unbelievable.”

“Any ideas on who did kill them?” Heather asked.

Blane shook his head.

“You?” Blane asked.

“None,” Heather said.

“What about Perses?” Blane asked. “He was really chomping at the bit to kill them all. He can bend time.”

“Wasn’t him,” Heather said.

Blane gave a dark shake of his head.

“The police station was bad?” Heather asked.

Blane nodded. Wyn squirmed to indicate that he wanted to be set down. Blane put the infant on the bed between them. Heather gave Wyn a soft smile and then looked back at Blane.

“I just …” Blane put his hand to his heart. “I never thought that I would be the focus of … I mean, murder! It’s … hard.”

Heather touched his shoulder, and he leaned his head on her shoulder.

“She went so far as to say that our situation was hedonic,” Blane said.

Heather chuckled.

“I …” Blane sighed and shook his head. “All of my life, I’ve have to defend my life from someone’s ignorance. Never. I never thought I’d have to do that to defend my marriage to a woman and our children and …”

Blane shook his head.

“You know how many ‘straight’ men have gay lovers?” Blane asked. “How many women cheat on their husbands with some dude?”

“A lot,” Heather said.

“Every day in the suburbs,” Blane scowled. “But set it up so everything is clear and …”

“How are you with seeing Tres here?” Heather asked.

Blane looked at Heather and then looked down at Wyn.

“I …” Blane started. “Well …”

She gave him a soft smile to encourage him.

“I felt like I’d been replaced,” Blane said. “Just a flash when I walked in the door. Then I looked at Tres and saw how happy he was to see me. I have known him for … ever. I mean he’s Enrique’s little brother. I watched him grow up. Tres …”

Blane glanced at Heather.

“You cannot be replaced,” Heather said. “Not by me. Not by our babies.”

Blane nodded.

“It was just a moment,” Blane said.

“What did you see when you looked at me?” Heather asked.

Blane shook his head.

“No really,” Heather said.

“I saw my life,” Blane said. “My life really started when I met you and …”

Heather smiled.

“So it’s weird,” Blane said. “Ah fuck. I’m just tired.”

“Do you wish you’d killed the Templars?” Heather asked.

Blane laughed. Heather grinned.

“Hey, I met … uh … HeeKat …” Blane said.

“Hecate,” Heather said with a nod.

“Creepy how she looks like Tink,” Blane said.

“It’s funny because everyone has said that,” Heather said. “I don’t see it.”

“Of course you don’t,” Blane said. “Jer says she’s moving in with us.”

Heather shrugged.

“She’s trying out being around people,” Heather said. “It’s been a long time since she left Olympia. She’s fragile. I’ve been telling her that she could hang out with our friends and be okay. When Perses asked her to help, she decided to try it out.”

“Sounds like she’ll fit right in,” Blane said with a nod.

He yawned.

“Did you eat?” Heather asked.

Blane shook his head.

“Jeraine gave me a plate for you,” Heather said.

She got up and took a plate out of the little refrigerator in the room. Using the microwave, she warmed up his dinner. Blane ate it in less than a minute.

“Starving,” Blane said.

Heather nodded. Blane yawned again.

“I should shower,” Blane said.

“Seems like you need to sleep,” Heather said.

“You don’t mind?” Blane asked.

“You cannot imagine how people smelled just a hundred years ago,” Heather said.

“There’s a perspective,” Blane said with a laugh.

“Go on,” Heather said. “We have a long day tomorrow.”

“We’re heading home?” Blane asked.

Heather nodded.

Blane shuffled back into the other room. He undressed to his T-shirt and boxer briefs and got in the free bed. Heather picked up Wyn. She changed the infant and set him in the bed bassinette. By the time she got in bed, Blane was sound asleep.

Grinning, Heather turned off the light. Blane rested his head on her shoulder. She fell into a dreamless sleep.


Friday morning — 7:01 a.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

After reviewing all they’d done this week, the early morning leadership crew determined that today would be a day of socializing and packing up to go. Everyone was coming to the hotel for a big breakfast this morning and then the Navajo crew were taking the Denver group out sightseeing. The crew from Denver would head home Friday evening or Saturday morning.

Jeraine, Blane, and Tres took over the kitchen while Heather, Tanesha, Jill, and Sandy went to the market. The men were so joyful that the girlfriends left them to their joy. By 7:00 a.m., people began to arrive.

Because the dining room was near the back, Heather sent her friend Hecate out to the front of the hotel to direct people toward the dining room.

“Excuse me,” FBI Agent Rodriguez said to Hecate.

“Yes?” Hecate asked.

“I’m wondering if you can point me in the direction of Blane Lipson,” Agent Rodriguez said.

She pointed to two larger, male FBI agents. Hecate scowled. She didn’t know what this F. B. I. did but in her experience, anything written in big letters on clothing was not a good thing.

“Are you a friend of his?” Hecate asked.

The agent snorted.

“Just tell me where he is,” Agent Rodriguez said.

Hecate reached out and touched Agent Rodriguez’s elbow. It was a light touch. The agent didn’t notice it.

Agent Rodriguez looked away from Hecate. Her eyebrows furrowed for a moment and then she looked at Hecate.

“Can you point me in the direction of Blane Lipson?” Agent Rodriguez repeated her question as if she’d never asked it.

“Are you coming from breakfast?” Hecate asked.

“He invited us,” Agent Rodriguez said. “I’ve heard he’s a good cook.”

“He and Jeraine have been working all morning,” Hecate said.

“Jeraine? As is the pop star?” Agent Rodriguez asked. “Is Miss T here too?”

“She’s right there,” Hecate said. “Tanesha?”

Tanesha looked up from where she’d been directing people to breakfast.

“She would like to have some breakfast,” Hecate said.

Tanesha took in the FBI jackets and then gave Hecate a hard look. The Titan gave Tanesha a smiled.

“She just asked if you were here,” Hecate said. “Miss T?”

Agent Rodriguez looked a little star struck. Smelling magic in the air, Tanesha gave Hecate a side look. Hecate just smiled.

“Ma’am,” Tanesha said. “Let me show you the way.”

Agent Rodriguez gestured to the two other men and they followed Tanesha down the hallway.

Chuckling, Hecate watched them go.

With her eyes on the agents, a human male was able to walked right into her.

She felt him a fraction of a second before he hit her. For the briefest moment, she felt his chest against her breasts. His hips moved against her pubis.

She felt an instant heat inside her core.

She felt a heat rise inside him

Like all Titans, she was immovable. He bounced off her and fell to the ground.

She missed him the moment he was gone. Her entire being longed for him as he fell through the air. She felt his spirit long for her as well.

They were like two ends to a magnet. Instant attraction. Instant repulsion.

Hecate hadn’t been that close to a human man in nearly a thousand years.

Curious she watched him on the ground. She was about to call Hedone to her side when he jumped to his feet and went to her.

“Are you okay?” he said.

Not sure of what to say, she continued to watch him.

“I really creamed you,” he said. “I’m so sorry. I was talking to my friend and didn’t see you there.”

He reached out and his hand cupped her elbow. She felt that heat ignite inside her again.

“Did I hurt you?” His concern was palpable. “Are you injured?”

She felt more than saw his body respond to hers.

The tall thin warrior woman that Hedone had called “Alex”, her gorgeous husband, and their two children walked passed. This Alex took one look at the man and started to laugh. He looked at Alex but didn’t let go of Hecate’s elbow.

He did not move away. It was like his hand was locked onto her elbow.

The man looked back at Hecate.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am Hecate,” she said, evenly. “Who are you?”

“Gando Peaches,” he said. Clearly flustered, he said, “I heard that you arrived during that mess with the Templars. To help protect the kids. Right? That’s why you came?”

Hecate gave a quick nod.

“You’re a friend of Heather’s?” Gando asked. “I know them from when I’m in Denver. My brother’s daughter lives with … Uh …”

He stopped talking. His dark eyes looked into hers. For a moment, they just looked at each other.

“We haven’t met before,” he said.

“I don’t think so,” Hecate said.

“But you’re a friend of Heather’s?” Gando asked. “Blane? Tanesha?”

“I have known Heather since she was a child,” Hecate said. “I just met Jeraine and Tanesha. Blane, too. While I have seen Heather, I hadn’t met their children yet. What a treat! I like them. Do you know them as well?”

Gando nodded.

“What’s a Gando?” Hecate asked. “Are you from this place? Or from Denver?”

“I am a member of the Navajo Nation,” Gando said. “We call ourselves the Diné.”

She nodded. He gave her a soft smiled.

“Why don’t you have breakfast with me?” he asked. “We can talk.”

She blushed.

“Are you Perses’s daughter?” Gando asked. “He’s my friend Mike’s father too. I’ve known Mike since the Army.”

“In fact, I am,” Hecate said. “Different mother.”

“You don’t look like him,” Gando said.

“I take after my mother more,” Hecate said.

Gando nodded. He had such beautiful brown eyes that she couldn’t tear her gaze away. In his eyes, she saw his ancestors echoing back through time to the first humans. She saw that he was a shaman, a warrior, and a scholar. They looked at each other for a long moment.

“You’re sure we haven’t met before?” Gando asked.

“I am sure,” Hecate said.

The minutes seemed to tick by as their gaze extended. He held out his elbow.

“I would very much like to …” Gando shook his head. “Sorry, this is so unlike me. Alex was just telling me that I was ‘ripe’ for finding … That’s why she laughed. And then here you are. It’s …”

“Odd,” Hecate said. “Shall we start with breakfast?”

Hecate put her arm through is elbow. They walked toward the dining room together.

“I can’t place your accent,” Gando said. “It sounds both familiar and also unfamiliar.”

“My homeland is near Greece,” Hecate said.

As if to protect her from the cold, Gando pulled her a little closer.

She smiled.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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