Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Thirty-nine : Step forward?


Sunday night — 10:21 p.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation

Aden pressed the door open and waited.

“See you tomorrow, Dad,” Jacob said.

Sam nodded. Blane gave Sam a hug.

“I’ll see you at 7?” Blane asked Grando Peaches, Margaret Peaches’ uncle. “We’ll get breakfast and figure out what we need to do.”

“See you then,” Gando said.

Smiling, Blane nodded. He knew that Navajo people avoided being touched including something like a hand shake. Gando was no exception. He nodded to Blane and went to talk to Alex Hargreaves, who was sitting on the other side of the room with her feet on the table.

Blane touched Sam’s shoulder. Sam grinned at Blane. With a nod, Blane followed Jacob to the door. When Jacob was behind him, Aden moved out of the room. Jacob followed Aden. Blane jogged to catch the door after Jacob.

“Well that was long,” Aden said, stifling a yawn. “Why was it so hard?”

“No idea,” Jacob said. “One man wants to start a company. Another man wants to run the company. We have the money. Blah. Blah. Blah.”

Blane yawned. The men looked at Blane, and he shrugged.

“There’s a lot of drama in my life right now,” Blane said.

Aden and Jacob laughed. They turned the corner in the hallway to see that Candy, Jill’s older sister, was leaning against a wall.

“Hey,” Candy said. “I wondered if I could talk …”

The men stopped moving.

“Whoa,” Candy said. “That’s a little intimidating.”

“Do you need me?” Aden asked, putting his hand on his chest. “Because I’m beat.”

“Blane,” Candy said.

Aden nodded and started down the hallway. Jacob didn’t move. Candy gave him a classic annoyed sister look. He gave her a classic younger brother “What?” look in response. Blane watched them both with amusement.

“Candy?” Blane asked.

“We’re here for the week,” Candy said. “Jill suggested we come and bring the girls. But …”

Candy shot a worried look down the hallway.

“How can I help?” Blane asked.

“It’s Kimber,” Candy said. “You know that she can be … well, there’s no beating around the bush, she can be a real mean girl.”

Blane and Jacob nodded in near unison.

“Oh, you know about it,” Candy said, looking relieved. “I thought I might have to explain everything and …”

“Noelle is pretty good at letting everyone in her orbit know what is going on with her at all times,” Jacob said. “I think … Blane, did you treated her?”

“I might have,” Blane said, vaguely. “What can I help Kimber with?”

“She’s afraid,” Candy said. “Kimber that is, that she’ll fall into with the mean girls and … Well, I know what it sounds like but Kimber finds that kind of behavior to be highly addictive. For her, that is. She doesn’t want to go back to being a mean girl.”

Naturally thin, when worried Candy’s light hair and thin face made her look hear skeletal.

“Is there something in particular going on?” Jacob asked.

Candy gave him an irritated look and then shook her head.

“I’m supposed to tell you to not read me,” Candy said with a nod. “But actually, I’m kind of relieved. I know this who ‘addicted to being mean’ is kind of weird and a lot of people just think she’s a bad girl but …”

“She and Noelle worked it out,” Jacob said. “Noelle couldn’t be friends with someone mean or bad. She just doesn’t have it in her.”

“We’re trying to say that we understand,” Blane said. “Would you like my help?”

Candy nodded.

“There’s something going on with these girls and Nash?” Candy asked. “Do you know about it?”

Blane and Jake shook their heads.

“You know, that look alike thing is really kind of cute,” Candy said. Seeing their exhaustion, she pressed on. “I couldn’t get it out of Kimber, you know? That’s why I didn’t want Aden to be here because …”

The men looked at Candy. Her face flushed and she looked like she was going to cry.

“I’m happy to help,” Blane said. He touched Candy’s arm in support. “Are you up in the morning? Can you get there by 6 tomorrow morning? That should give me a chance to talk to Kimber and see what she feels like she needs.”

“We’re up,” Candy said, looking relieved. “We’ll be there.”

“You know where?” Jacob asked.

Candy nodded.

“See you then,” Blane said.

Relieved, Candy rushed away from them. She stopped mid-way and turned around.

“Thank you,” Candy said. “This is a big help and …”

Blane and Jacob nodded. Candy blushed again and ran back to her hotel room. Blane looked at Jacob and then shrugged.

“You’re a popular guy,” Jacob said. He nodded forward. “Steady on.”

Jacob pushed Blane forward. By the time Blane could catch his footing, Jacob was gone. He shot a dark look in the direction Jacob had gone and only then noticed that Nelson was sitting on the couch. Nelson had a head set on. He was looking forward into his laptop and talking as if he was on a video call. Feeling Blane nearby, he looked up.

He gave Blane a beautiful smile. Blane felt a brief burst of joy and then remembered that he was angry with Nelson. Blane looked down as Nelson said his good-byes into the computer. Unsure of what else to do, Blane continued walking toward Nelson.

“That was Ava,” Nelson said. “She wants me to stay by the phone in case I’m recalled for that trial.”

“No clinic time?” Blane asked.

“I don’t think so,” Nelson said. “I told Nadia today that I was still a little sick. She’s fine with it. I might go in later in the week, if I don’t have to return to Denver.”

“Nadia seems really great,” Blane said.

“She is,” Nelson said. “One of the best people I’ve ever known. Oh, Ian is here too. Do you know him?”

“I treated him, his partner, and their daughter this afternoon,” Blane said. “Don’t ask me the partner’s name. I don’t think I ever got it. The daughter is called …”

Blane closed one eye and thought for a moment.

“Madison,” Nelson said. “His husband is Jeff.”

“Husband,” Blane said. “I never really get used to that.”

“Me neither,” Nelson said. “It sounds good though.”

Blane nodded.

“Nice of you to treat them,” Nelson said.

“It’s what I do,” Blane said with a shrug. “I need to check on the kids.”

“They’re with Tink and Charlie and the other kids,” Nelson said. He gestured down the hallway. “Mack said he wanted you not to forget to say ‘good night.’ So cute.”

“He’s like that every night,” Blane said. “Something about going to sleep freaks him out. He only feels better, safer, if he says good night to me and his mom. It was crazy when I was in the hospital, but somehow Heather managed it. You mind?”

“I just need to …” Nelson said.

Nelson closed his laptop computer and shoved it into a backpack. He pulled of his head phones and shoved them into the computer. He was almost done when Alex Hargreaves and Gando came out of the room.

“Hey Blane,” Alex yelled. “You mind if I go with you?”

Blane shook his head. Alex gave him a broad smile. She looked at Blane and then at Nelson.

“Tomorrow,” Alex said. “To the Navajo Nation Business Development offices?”

She looked at Nelson and then at Blane again.

“Not tonight,” Alex said, with a grin. “Since you might have plans.”

“Funny,” Blane said.

“Grumpy, grumpy,” Alex said. “Nice to see you, Nelson. You’re looking nice tonight.”

“I shaved,” Nelson said.

“Glasses too,” Alex said, gesturing to her face. “Handsome man.”

With that, she and Gando walked down the hallway. Blane scowled after them.

“I don’t think she meant anything by that,” Nelson said. “They tease each other a lot.”

“Yes,” Blane said. “I know.”

He let out a big sigh.

“You’re still angry with me,” Nelson said. He got to his feet. Before Blane could protest, he gave Blane a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “How was your meeting?”

“Good,” Blane said. He gestured to where Gando and Alex had disappeared. “We’re going to the Nations Business Development Center to get Gando set up. Alex wants to come because she’s going to put in money. She thinks they’ll want to know where the money comes from and why.”

“Alex and Gando?” Nelson asked.

“Military thing,” Blane said. He opened his mouth to explain and then wondered if it was classified. He shrugged. “I don’t really know the details.”

Nelson nodded. They started walking toward Charlie and Tink’s room.

“I ran into Tres,” Nelson said.

“Oh?” Blane asked.

“Heather was ‘recalled to Olympia,’ whatever that means,” Nelson said.

“Something must have happened,” Blane said. “She can bend time now so she’s never gone very long. Did she lay her body down?”

“That’s what Tres said,” Nelson said. “Do we know what that means?”

“It looks like she’s sleeping but she’s not breathing,” Blane said. “Her human body stays in a kind of stasis. It’s warm to the touch, but she’s not there.”

“Like a coma?” Nelson said.

“But not breathing,” Blane said. “Did he say how their dessert date was?”

“Good,” Nelson said. “He felt like they are moving forward. He’s excited. Happy. It’s … nice to see.”

Blane nodded. For a few minutes, they walked in silence.

“I don’t know how to get us back on track,” Nelson said. “I … We’ve just had so much trouble …”

Blane took a breath to respond.

“And I know that I’m at fault for most of it,” Nelson said with a nod. “But I think that some of it is that we don’t know each other very well, trust each other … maybe at all. We’re just starting that process and I can’t help wondering if …”

Blane stopped walking and turned to look at Nelson.

“Just ask,” Blane said.

“Is it too late?” Nelson asked.

“There’s no time for us …” Blane sang.

“Oh God, you are not singing Queen are you?” Nelson spit out laughing.

“There’s no place for us …” Blane sang. “What is this thing that builds our dreams for us, yet slips away from us …”

Nelson was laughing so hard that he started to cough. They stopped walking. Blane pat Nelson’s back until Nelson caught his breath. When Nelson stood up, he pointed at Blane.

“No,” Nelson said. “No Queen.”

“If you say so,” Blane said.

They both laughed and started walking again.

“We’re just getting to know each other,” Blane said. “Jake reminded me that you’ve never really been in a relationship and I … Well, I have been in other relationships besides Enrique but …”

Blane sighed.

“Let’s just say that I’m trying something new, as well,” Blane said. “I was a fool with Enrique, a complete fool. I don’t want to do that ever again. I have way too much to lose to throw it all away like I did with Enrique. On the other hand, I don’t want this … friction either. I don’t like it. It’s not natural for me.”

Nelson nodded. When Blane didn’t say more, Nelson turned to look at him.

“I don’t want it either,” Nelson said. “I really …”

Nelson sighed and shook his head.

“That’s a good way to look at it,” Nelson said. “We’re both learning.”

“About each other,” Blane said.

“I thought a lot about what Jake said,” Nelson said. “And what you said. And …”

Blane stopped walking and turned to look at Nelson.

“Thank you for saving my life,” Nelson said. “I wouldn’t have expected it. I’m so grateful you did. I … Honestly, I never remembered that Enrique used to say that about you. He … well, I just didn’t want to lose my chance with you.”

Rather than get into the argument again, Blane simply nodded.

“You’re welcome,” Blane said.

“Me, my people, my father — love for us is rare,” Nelson said. “Something to do with the whole ‘immunity to magic.’ It doesn’t come easily and only found once a lifetime. I learned that my father and Maresol were lovers for a number of years. They are still very close. But they are only sexual partners — not even lovers. I may find another sexual partner but I will only have one love. You’re really it for me.”

Nelson took Blane’s hand.

“I didn’t want to lose my chance at having love in my life,” Nelson said. “Having you in my life.”

They walked hand in hand.

“So you want to …” Nelson said.

Blane shrugged.

“Probably not tonight,” Blane said with a saucy grin.

Nelson blushed and wouldn’t look at him. Blane chuckled.

“Seems like it’s late and we have early mornings,” Blane said. “You are still recovering. Maybe tonight’s not the best night.”

“Maybe?” Nelson asked.

“You sleep alone,” Blane said.

“That’s true but …” Nelson said.

Blane grinned and didn’t say anything. They kept walking down the hallway. They got to a turn and Blane spun into Nelson. He gave him a hard kiss on the lips and pressed Nelson’s hips toward him. Blane stepped away and continued walking down the hallway. It took Nelson a moment to catch up.

Nelson cleared his throat.

“Well,” Nelson said with an intentional croak.

Blane laughed. Nelson fanned himself with his hand. Grinning, Blane softly knocked on Charlie and Tink’s door.


Monday early morning — 3:34 a.m.

Kayenta, Arizona, at the hotel on the Navajo Reservation


Nelson jerked up to sitting on the Queen sized bed. His hand automatically went to where Blane had been when Nelson had fallen asleep. He glanced at the adjoining door.

The adjoining door was firmly closed and the lock turned.

He noticed that he was naked. He started to fall back to the bed.

“Don’t.” A woman’s accented voice — English? Irish? — came from the middle of the room.

Fully awake, he sat up and turned on the lamp on the bedside table. Standing in front of him was a woman. No, an elf. He blinked in the dim light.

She was a fairy warrior.

She wore a suit of modern military armor. She had a thick sword in a scabbard on her belt. Unlike any fairy he’d ever seen, she also had a handgun in her waist band. The top of a compound bow stuck out an inch above her head.

Her hair was long, curly, and vibrant red. Her hair was held in place by a thin, but not insignificant, precious jewel encrusted tiara. Her eyes were larger than normal, auburn in color, with fairy long lashes. Her face was easy to look at — beautiful, in a kind of precious or rare way. Her mouth set in a strong line.

He squinted. He had met her before but …

She pulled a sword from its scabbard. His eyes focused on the sword. The blade was unevenly shaped. One side of the blade was thin like a Japanese sword fighting sword and designed to be razor sharp. The other side of the blade was brutishly thick like a broad sword or a falchion. Blunter, this side of the blade was for hacking. It could easily take off a limb in one blow and a head in two. The blade came together in an uneven foible that ended in a viciously sharp point.

“Where’d you get that?” Nelson asked.

“I took the head of the human who possessed it,” the fairy said.

Princess? Fairy princess? Fairy warrior princess? Was there such a thing as a fairy warrior princess?

“Okay,” Nelson said. “It hasn’t been sharpened in …”

The fairy warrior princess looked at the blade.

“I keep it sharp with magic,” the fairy warrior princess said.

“You must be very strong,” Nelson said.

The fairy warrior princess grunted.

“The edge will never hold,” Nelson said. “You need it properly sharpened. How long has it been?”

“Few thousand human years,” the fairy warrior princess said. “It still works pretty well.”

“Not really,” Nelson said. “It wasn’t designed to hold magic so the magic will start to dissipate almost as soon as the spell is cast.”

“How could you possibly know that?” the fairy warrior princess said.

“See the notch on the pommel?” Nelson asked.

The fairy warrior princess blinked at him.

“The nob on the end of the handle?” Nelson said.

The fairy warrior princess looked for the notch at the end of the pommel. She nodded when she found it.

“It matches a notch on the guard,” Nelson said.

She looked on the piece of metal that separated the handle from the blade.

“Looks like a scratch,” the fairy warrior princess said. “The sword has had quite a lot of use.”

“Odd that the two random scratches line up,” Nelson said.

The fairy warrior princess nodded.

“It says ‘Semaines’” Nelson said. “‘Semaines’ on the guard and repeated on the pommel. If it’s the blade that I think it is, the pummel should read ‘W. Semaines’ for its maker.”

The fairy warrior princess looked at her sword.

“Well, I’ll be,” the fairy warrior princess said. “How would you know that?”

“That is a missing blade,” Nelson said. “It is a real prize. My father has been looking for it all of his life. His father, too.”

Shaking his head, he moved to get up.

“Do you mind?” Nelson asked.

“I don’t,” the fairy warrior princess said.

“I’m naked,” Nelson said.

The fairy warrior princess appeared to laugh at him before her face turned to stone.

“Get dressed and packed,” the fairy warrior princess said.

“Why?” Nelson asked.

“You’ve been found,” the fairy warrior princess said. “There are forces coming for you. They mean you no good will. They will bring destruction to every human in this place and feel justified in doing so.”

Nelson gawked at the fairy warrior princess.

“Go,” The fairy warrior princess said, pointing to the bathroom with the sword. “Now.”

His shy embarrassment for being naked in front of this stranger evaporated. Nelson jumped up and started toward the bathroom. He stopped midway.

“What about the people here?” Nelson asked. “I cannot just leave them to fend for themselves.”

“There is nothing you can do here,” the fairy warrior princess said.

“I can fight!” Nelson said. “My problem. My fight. I will not run away.”

“Not this time,” the fairy warrior princess said. “You love these people?”

Nelson nodded.

“You need to flee this place,” the fairy warrior princess said. “Disappear.”

“But I …” Nelson started.

“Just for until this threat is neutralized,” the fairy warrior princess said. “Go. Get packed or I will take you, naked and all!”

“Who will save them?” Nelson asked.

“Your pursuers will meet a power they have only imagined,” the fairy warrior princess said. “How do you fight the wind? The rain? The sheer power of the earth herself?”

“Abi,” Nelson whispered.

“You’re not as stupid as you look,” the fairy warrior princess said.

The fairy opened her left hand and a ball of light appeared. She tossed it at Nelson. It smacked him on the rear and he ran to the bathroom. He grabbed his medications and used the toilet.

“Take everything,” the fairy warrior princess said. “Anything left of you will be destroyed down to the DNA level.”

He grabbed his toothbrush and ran into the room. He pulled on his jeans as he walked and yanked a shirt over his head. He shoved everything else into his backpack. When he turned a bundle of his gear was floating in the air. He held open his backpack and his gear floated inside.

“Are you ready?” the fairy warrior princess asked.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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