CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN
Turning off the highway, Jacob glanced at Blane.
“So …” Jacob said.
“So?” Blane asked.
“Dr. Nelson Weeks?” Jacob asked.
Blane groaned. His eyes flicked to the back seat.
“You really think this is the time?” Blane asked.
“They’re asleep,” Jacob said.
Blane turned around to see that everyone else in the car was asleep. Ares had his head resting on his son’s shoulder, and Perses had rested his head against the window. Katy and Paddie were sound asleep in the far back.
“So …” Jacob said.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Blane said.
Blane crossed his arms and lowered his head into the collar of his shirt. Jacob laughed. Blane scowled at Jacob.
“Oh come on,” Jacob said.
“He is nice,” Blane said with a sigh. “He’s incredibly kind. The kids love him.”
“He’s very hot,” Jacob said.
“And?” Jacob asked.
“He listens to what I say and remembers it,” Blane said. “I came home one day and he was talking to Heather in the Castle kitchen. He didn’t know I was there. He was respectful to her. He wasn’t afraid of her in any way, not even a little. When I came in, he smiled when I said, ‘Hello’ to Heather first.”
“Didn’t bother him,” Jacob said.
“Not in the least,” Blane said.
Jacob let the silence lag. When it seemed like Blane wasn’t going to add anything, Jacob asked, “Are you attracted to him?”
Blane nodded. Embarrassed, Blane tucked his hands into his arm pits and lowered his head. Jacob smiled at him.
“He’s attracted to you?” Jacob asked.
Blane nodded. Jacob gave a slight nod to his response. Seeing Jacob’s nod, Blane blushed even darker.
“You may as well tell me,” Jacob said. “We’re bringing this lot back to the Castle. Aden’s going to want to know the details.”
Blane groaned and looked up at the ceiling of the vehicle. Jacob laughed.
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” Blane asked.
“Would you?” Jacob asked.
Blane gave him a long look.
“My best-friend and cousin might actually have found someone to love who will love him back and …” Jacob started.
“No one said anything about love,” Blane said quickly, cutting Jacob off.
Jacob laughed so loudly that the Olympians awoke. Paddie and Katy roused.
“See what you’ve done?” Blane asked between clenched teeth.
“What is going on?” Asclepius asked.
“We are almost to the cemetery,” Jacob said, still bright from his laughter. “We have maybe ten more minutes.”
“No, I meant between you boys,” Asclepius said. “What is funny? Do tell, so we can all laugh. You know, laughter is the best medicine.”
“My cousin might be in love,” Jacob said.
“Jacob!” Blane said.
“He has found a man to love who will love him in return?” Asclepius asked. “How wonderful!”
“That’s not a problem for you?” Blane asked.
“Don’t be absurd,” Asclepius said. “One can only be what one is made to be.”
“What does that mean?” Blane asked his scowl in his voice.
“Some people are interested in everyone,” Asclepius’s eyes flicked to his father.
“He’s talking about me,” Ares said.
“Some people are only interested in the opposite gender,” Asclepius said. “So far, that has been me. Perses?”
“I’ve only loved two females in my long life,” Perses said. “I am the God of Destruction, not the God of Love.”
Jacob glanced at Blane, and they both nodded.
“Only females?” The God of War asked.
“Only females,” Perses said with a nod. “Why are we talking about this?”
“Young Blane here thought we might have some issue with his interest in men,” Ares said.
“Why?” Perses asked.
“It’s not considered ‘normal’,” Blane said, angrily.
The Greek Gods and Titan laughed loudly.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Asclepius said.
“In my day,” Ares piped up to say, “every once in a while, men who like men were forced to bed women to make heirs. A few complained about it, but truthfully, it wasn’t a big deal. Often children were made by servants or other siblings. The point was to have the child. As long as they looked close enough to the parents, no one bothered to think about it. I have heard that sci-ence …” He emphasized the word, “ … has made it so male unions can raise children.”
“It is brilliant,” Perses said.
“That’s right,” Ares said. “It was you who told me that.”
“Your grandson,” Perses said.
“His grandson?” Blane asked.
“You don’t know?” Jacob asked.
“Know what?” Blane shook his head.
“Meet your grandfather-in-law,” Jacob said.
“You’re the lad married to my Hedone?” Ares asked. “I knew I liked you.”
“Even if I like men?” Blane asked.
“Hedone has children,” Ares shrugged.
“She’s had my sons,” Blane said.
“Yes, that’s right,” Ares said. “That is the science that Perses was telling me about.”
Blane turned around to look at the God. Ares nodded. When Blane’s eyes flicked to Perses, the Titan shrugged.
“Why would we care?” Asclepius asked.
Blane looked at the God for a moment and then turned back to Jacob. They heard Perses tell Asclepius about the trouble gay, lesbian, and others have. For a moment, the Gods digested this information. They fell silent.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Asclepius repeated.
“Have you had carnal relations with this lad?” Asclepius asked.
“Not yet,” Blane spit out.
“Why not?” Perses and Asclepius asked in near unison.
“My point exactly,” Jacob said.
They laughed again. Jacob looked at Katy and Paddie through the rearview mirror. By some miracle, the children were still sound asleep. After a moment, Ares leaned forward.
“I had this wonderful affair with a man,” Ares said.
For the rest of their ride to the cemetery, Ares regaled them with stories from his romance with a strapping warrior. Jacob was just parking the car when Ares finished his story. Jacob looked at Blane and Blane just shook his head.
“See?” Jacob grinned.
“Shut up,” Blane said.
Jacob laughed. They helped Asclepius, Ares, and Perses out of the SUV. They woke up Katy and Paddie. Each of them took a child as they got out of the SUV. Carrying a sleepy Paddie, Jacob gestured toward where he knew the vent to the Fire of Hell was located. The group started walking. Wide awake, Katy peppered Blane with questions.
“What do you think about having new brothers?” Katy asked brightly.
“Okay, I guess,” Blane said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with me.”
“I like having brothers,” Katy said, as if that was the point of her asking the question. “I know you will too.”
Katy kissed Blane’s cheek and he set her down.
“Hold onto Blane’s hand, Katy,” Jacob said. “We don’t know what we’re dealing with here.”
“Everything is okay, Daddy,” Katy said. “I promise.”
Jacob stopped walking.
“You’ll hold Blane’s hand anyway,” Jacob said.
“Of course,” Katy said.
Katy shot him an “I’m a good girl” grin. Jacob gave a rueful shake of his head and began walking again. Blane grabbed onto Katy’s hand.
“I’m not a baby,” Katy said under her breath when her father was out of hearing range.
“I know you’re not a baby,” Jacob yelled back to her.
Katy stopped and put her hands on her hips.
“He just wants to make sure you’re safe,” Blane said.
“But I …” Katy said.
“He was nearly killed,” Blane said. “At this exact spot, due to an issue that’s not resolved. Is it so unreasonable for him to be a little over careful?”
Katy looked up into her Uncle Blane’s face. Seeing his kind sincerity, she nodded in agreement. She held out her hand. As soon as it had come up, her irritation had passed. They skipped until they caught up with Jacob just as he was putting Paddie down.
Looking up, Jacob stopped walking. His hand went to his chest. He bent over, trying to catch his breath. Blane let go of Katy and went to Jacob.
“What is it?” Asclepius asked. “What has happened?”
The God of Medicine went to Jacob.
“I’m okay,” Jacob said. “I’m okay. I just …”
“Panic,” Asclepius said. “It’s understandable.”
“I didn’t think that I’d …” Jacob said.
“You almost died, son,” Ares said. “Not many know what that’s like.”
Ares and Perses looked at Jacob with understanding and knowing. Jacob gave them a quick nod.
“I’ll hold your hand, Daddy,” Katy said.
Jacob looked down at this girl, his daughter. She was outrageously brave. She gave her a soft smile and held out his hand.
“Jake?” Sam Lipson’s voice came from behind monuments a few feet from them. “I think I just saw Jake!”
Jacob, Blane, Ares, Asclepius, and Perses with Katy and Paddie continued forward to the vent for the Fire of Hell. Now on their feet, it was clear that this little group of people had sat around this vent for the last few days.
A well of emotion rose in Jacob. These humans had sat here the entire time he and Abi had fought the soul stealer and when he’d rescued Ember, the fourth fairy queen. They’d believed in him throughout the entire thing. He wanted to weep and laugh at the same time.
His father grabbed his shoulder and pulled him into him. Jacob tried to come up with words, but nothing came. He held his father tight. Sam patted Jacob’s back before letting him go.
“Let me take a look at you,” Sam said.
Jacob stood before his father. Sam looked at his son as if he were seeing him for the first time.
“You’re a little taller,” Sam said, shrugging. “Otherwise, well done, Asclepius.”
Asclepius blushed and was appropriately humble as he edged his way toward Delphie. When Jacob looked up, there was a great deal of general chaos. The youngest of the three young men had jumped into Blane’s arms while the other brothers were loudly welcoming Blane. Ares was laughing at the boys’ exuberance while Perses was suspiciously looking around the cemetery.
Through it all, Maresol sat meditating. Her head was shaking back and forth. Jacob went to Maresol’s side.
“What is it?” Jacob asked.
“They are coming out,” Maresol said.
Everyone stopped moving. Perses took two quick steps to Maresol’s side.
“Who?” Perses asked, grabbing her shoulder to support her.
“The fairies and Abi,” Maresol said.
Maresol pointed to the vent hole for the Fire of Hell. The group became very silent. Blane set down the youngest brother. They turned en masse to look at the vent hole in the middle of the circle. As they watched, the ground began to vibrate. Dirt and rocks began to slide into the vent hole.
“Move back!” Ares yelled.
Jacob lifted Maresol to her feet. Their eyes on the hole, everyone jogged back a few feet. They fell silent. The air filled with the sounds of nature —the wind in the trees, and birds chirping — the tinny sound of the dirt slipping through the hole and landing on the rock below. They watched with equal doses of excitement and horror.
Abi’s head slowly appeared as she rose out of the vent. Her shoulders and her waist were above the dirt when Asclepius and Perses dropped to their knees.
Ares, the God of War, squealed with delight. He did a fast pass at kneeled and then ran to Abi.
“Mother!” Ares said.
He twirled Abi around and then crushed her in a tight hug. His sheer delight was infectious. Perses and Asclepius rose to standing and went to say hello. Ares set Abi down and turned to see that they were looking at him.
“You told me about some ‘Abi’,” Ares said. “I didn’t realize that you meant the mother of us all! Where is …?”
He said an unpronounceable name.
“He was just at my house,” Ares said.
“They know him by Gilfand,” Abi said, breaking off from saying hello to Asclepius and Perses. “He went to work out a few things out while I am here.”
Abi grinned at Jacob. “You look well.”
Jacob felt the desire to drop to his knees, as well. Abi held out her arm and hugged him tight. She kissed Jacob’s cheek.
“Sam!” Abi said. Sam and Abi hugged.
“You did some great work, Abi … mother, uh,” Sam said.
“Just Abi,” she corrected. “It was Jacob that did the hard work. Without him, and all of you, we would have been lost.”
Abi looked around until she saw Maresol. She walked to Maresol. Before Maresol could say anything, Abi kissed the woman and hugged her tight.
“Thank you,” Abi said. “I could feel your humanity. Your dedication truly helped.”
Abi and Delphie hugged. They whispered something back and forth before they separated.
“Now, introduce me,” Abi said to Jacob.
“Where are the fairy queens?” Jacob asked, wincing as if he was expecting to be hit.
“I sent them somewhere to reconnect,” Abi said. “We won’t see them for a while.”
Abi laughed at the looks of relief on everyone’s faces.
“Don’t look too relieved,” Abi said. “We will need to reorient the entire fairy world before they get back. There’s bound to be some push back for people who’d rather the fairies were four warring tribes.”
“But you will,” Delphie said, with a nod. “You will.”
“Introduce me to these lovely young men,” Abi said. She put her arm over Blane’s shoulders and said, “Blane?”
“I don’t know their names,” Blane said. “Jake told me that we share a biological parent.”
Abi nodded to the young men.
“Heather said that you found them?” Blane asked.
“I did,” Abi said. “But I don’t know their names either.”
“I’m Gregg,” the eldest brother said. “Two ‘g’s if you’re spelling it.”
Gregg pushed the middle brother forward.
“Gary,” the middle brother said. He gestured to his younger brother. “This is George.”
“Lipson?” Blane asked.
The boys shook their heads. With their shake of head, Blane noticed that they looked quite a bit like Jacob. Their skin was darker, but closer to what Blane looked like when he had been in the sun. Their eyes were darker, but the youngest eyes were hazel. In fact, they looked quite a bit like what his son, Wyn, will look like when he grows up. Any of these boys could pass as his sons.
“We have our mom’s name,” Gregg said with a nod. “Luciano.”
The boys nodded.
“How …?” Blane gestured to himself and the boys.
“Mom used a sperm donor,” Gregg said.
“She just knew who it was,” Gary added.
“Oh,” Blane said. “Why would she …?”
“She doesn’t like men,” Gary said. “Plus, she interned at Cañon City when your dad was there.”
Blane raised his eyebrows and then scowled. Blane had always been ashamed about his criminal father. Why would this woman choose to have his father’s sons?
“Why …?” Blane started.
Sam came up behind him. He looked at Blane.
“Did you meet each other?” Sam asked.
“Gregg,” Blane said, pointing to the eldest and then his brothers. “Gary and George.”
“Nice to meet you,” Sam shook each of their hands in turn. “I’m Sam Lipson.”
The boys looked at each other and grinned.
“Gregg looked up the name ‘Lipson’ and you came up,” George said.
“We figured that we were from pretty good stock if you were related to our dad,” Gregg said.
“As long as you don’t drink,” Sam said with a laugh.
The boys shook their head.
“We are really against that stuff,” Gregg said. “Pot too. We know that we have a genetic tendency toward it so we’re careful.”
The boys nodded.
“I’ll tell you what,” Sam said. “When we’re done here, I’ll show you around where I grew up.”
“I haven’t seen that tour,” Jacob said with a laugh.
“We’ll all go,” Blane said.
Sam nodded at Blane. They stood around smiling at each other for a moment.
“What’s happening there?” the youngest brother, George, asked, pointing to where Delphie and Asclepius.
The God of Medicine was weeping into his hands while Delphie was comforting him by patting his shoulder.
Scowling, Jacob looked around. Perses was still watching their perimeter. Abi was standing next to his father, Sam. Ares was looking inside the hole that had been the vent to the Fire of Hell. Maresol was talking to Katy and Paddie.
Something was going on. Jacob looked at Abi.
“I am aware,” Abi said to Jacob.
She turned and walked to Paddie. Abi put her hand on Paddie’s shoulder and bent over to speak into his face. The boy’s head bounced in a nod. Paddie turned toward the group. Katy moved to his side.
With learned flourish, Paddie took out the Sword of Truth.
Katy dropped back into a fighting stance. Paddie set the tip of the sword into the earth. He held the sword perpendicular to the ground. He held his other hand next to the blade and looked at Abi.
Abi gave a slight nod and put a hand on Paddie’s shoulder as well as one on Katy’s shoulder.
Paddie ran his thumb and index finger along the steel blade. The sword made a slight humming sound which grew in pitch. The humans’ hands grabbed at their ears. They bent over in pain. The Greek Gods were knocked off their feet. Delphie’s eyes went to the sky while her hands covered her ears. Only Perses, Abi and the children she was touching did not react.
“Wait for it,” Perses yelled.
Paddie stroked the blade again, causing every human to groan.
“Wait for it,” Perses yelled over the sound.
“One more time,” Abi yelled to Paddie.
Nodding, Paddie stroked the blade one last time. The dark clouds appeared in the sunny sky. The wind picked up the dust of the cemetery. Soon they were belted by tiny rocks. Lighting began to crackle from cloud to cloud.
“It’s Thor!” George yelled. “Thor’s coming!”
“No, son,” Ares, the God of War, yelled. “This is something evil.”
There was a loud clack of thunder and Ares’s clothes transformed into his war clothing. He wore a tight metal armor, a metal helmet, and his hand held a sword of power.
“He’s coming,” Abi said in a soft voice.
“Get down!” Jacob yelled and dropped to his belly. The humans followed his actions. “Cover your heads!”
Perses pulled out a broad sword. The air crackled as he unveiled another sword of power. Perses slapped his free hand against the hilt of its blade and it began to vibrate. Perses’s sword joined the hum of the Sword of Truth.
A monster-sized human form appeared. Delphie screamed in horror. Noting her horror, Asclepius pushed her behind him as he rose to his feet.
The man who’d won Delphie in a card game when she was a child. The man who’d held her hostage, raped, and beaten her, used her to make money until Delphie was rescued by Celia Marlowe and her father. The man who had triggered Delphie’s stroke. The man who’d died through Jill’s efficient use of a hockey stick.
Levi Johannsen had returned.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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