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Thread: This thread for parallel stories not directly linked to "Disturbing News"

  1. #121

    Default The Man Who Wasn't There by Dellani Oakes Part 17

    "Oh, thank you for feeding my bacon craving!" Jordan took a piece in each hand, alternating bites. "I don't know how my mother doesn't think bacon is a slice of heaven. Yum!"

    "I gather that once you and Brian are married, you won't be keeping the vegetarian tradition?"

    "With his hulk? He'd rebel and start eating the vertical blinds."

    "Only if they're made of bacon," Brian replied, stuffing a biscuit in his mouth.

    "I know Mom thinks it clears the brain and keeps her more spiritual, but I can't deny my carnivorous moments. She made the switch when I was ten. I don't know what brought it on, she never told me. It wasn't an easy transition, especially for Dad and my brothers."

    "If you decide to enforce it, warn me so I can divorce you and marry some other sultry, brunette beauty with nice boobs and a great smile," Brian teased, forgetting his mother was in the room.

    Maribelle cleared her throat pointedly. Brian dropped his head to the table.

    "Sorry, Mom. That was a joke because I nearly landed face first in Jordan's chest the day we met." He raised his head, looking guilty. "You know, I had no clue you were even a girl until that happened."

    "You thought I was a boy?" Jordan's laugh burst forth. "Oh, that's great. Way to stoke my ego, Casey."

    "In my defense, Jordan isn't exactly the most gender specific name. And you have a husky voice And you were wearing a very bulky jacket."

    "I concede your defense," she replied. "As long as you're clear now."

    Brian smirked, raising an eyebrow as his eyes drifted to her chest. Her sweater clung to her curves, emphasizing her lush figure to perfection. "I'm not sure. Maybe you need to convince me further."

    Maribelle cleared her throat again. "Brian, I didn't raise you to be a leach."

    "No, Mother, you didn't. It's an ironic quirk of fate and, no doubt, a misalignment in the stars that causes my loutish behavior. I promise that I shall strive to do better, but please don't expect it to improve. I have testosterone."

    "Go away. Now, before I am forced to smack you." She brandished a spatula at him.

    Brian jumped away as she swung playfully at him. "Watch it, Mom. You'll hit the baby!"

    "Go away," she repeated.

    "Yes, ma'am. Going away now, ma'am."

    Brian and Jordan cleared the table and cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast. He felt marginally normal, despite his odd experiences last night.

    "You need to journal this," Jordan decided. "Let's go to the basement, and we'll do a video log of it."

    "Did all our friends go home last night?"

    "No, they're still here, but we're not getting together until lunch time. After that, they'll head home. Meeting at my house this time. Some of the ladies are already there getting things set up."

    "It's cool that you're here?" Brian didn't want her to leave.

    Jordan put her hand on his cheek. "I'm where I need to be—where I want to be. I never really got the chance to say this yesterday. You were too hell bent on blurting out everything on your mind. I love you, too, Brian. We've battled fire and ice together, vanquished a demon—"

    "You raised me from the dead," he murmured, his lips near hers.

    "You gave me my first real kiss," she whispered. "And even if we weren't betrothed by Fate, I'd choose you, too. You're the only guy who gets my sense of humor. You laugh at my jokes and you don't let my sarcasm set your skin on fire." She giggled as he moved closer. "And you look at me as if I'm the most beautiful girl in the world."

    Brian kissed her deeply. Heat blossomed in his chest, spreading warmth all over his body. He hadn't realized how cold he'd been after the ritual, until now. Jordan rekindled the heat inside him, making him feel more alive than ever. Hearing Andre's voice in his head again, he backed off. Only Andre's voice wasn't in his head, it was in the next room.

    "Could y'all keep it down? We were trying to sleep!"

    Brian laughed, shaking his head. "No, you weren't! I may not be psychic or see auras, but I'm a man. Mom's got breakfast ready. Might wanna get dressed and eat."

    "Asshole!" Andre tossed back.

    Prick!" Brian countered.

    "Thanks, I got me one already."

    "Mine's bigger," Brian couldn't resist adding.

    Andre made a disgusted noise. He and Louisa came out of their room a few minutes later.

    "Sorry, dude. I forgot you were here," Brian apologized.

    Louisa went upstairs with Jordan to fix plates for herself and Andre.

    "I get it, man. It's been a busy couple days for you. Cool it, though. I know the urge to take it fast, believe me. I got a kid to prove it."

    "Does Louisa know?"

    "Yeah. She's met the ex, and knows my baby. We have an amicable relationship, but it was never love. Both women know that. I can't stress enough how important it is to wait. Trust me, the first time with the woman you love, the one you're bound to—nothing like it." He clapped Brian on the back, shaking his head slowly. "I sound like an old man, don't I? Mr. Experience at twenty."

    Brian laughed. "Yeah, you're the old man of the bunch. But we love you, gramps."

    © 2017 Dellani Oakes

  2. #122

    Default The Man Who Wasn't There by Dellani Oakes Part 18 & 19

    Andre poked him in the ribs. "I'm gonna go eat. Then I want to hear all about what you saw. You were pretty messed up last night. Couldn't hardly get out two words when Jordan and I put you to bed."

    "You did that?"

    "Yeah. You think a bitty thing like her could get you up the steps? Our folks were asleep, so I gave her a hand."


    "No problem, Brian. That's what friends do."

    Jordan and Brian had a cup of coffee while the other two ate. Back in the basement, Jordan set up the camera on Brian's laptop. He sat on the dilapidated couch and told about his vision. Afterward, the others asked him questions and he explained more about his impressions and feelings.

    "Since we don't know who will see this in the future," Brian said. "I want to make it clear that I have no idea if the ritual worked or not. I don't know if I summoned the Peddler, or had a vision of Heaven, or something else entirely. I don't feel all that different, but I did have the sensation this morning, as if someone else looked through my eyes. It was strange, like what I was seeing was all new."

    He shook his head, closing his eyes for a moment. Inhaling deeply, he could pick out the scents of the three others in the room. He smelled laundry soap and baby spit up. He could taste Jordan's kisses on his lips, flavored by her breakfast and coffee. The texture of the couch was more pronounced, the worn areas distinctly softer than the other material.

    "I can sense more. Feel more," he murmured. "Everything—stronger, better, more pronounced. Smells and tastes, especially, but my vision seems clearer too." He cocked his head to one side, listening. "Someone turned on the TV upstairs. ESPN. Must be Dad." He chuckled. "I can feel the walls of the house. If I concentrate, I can sense the cracks in the foundation and the spaces between the bricks."

    Brian's eyes fluttered open. "I don't know if it's the Peddler, or something new about me, but I've never felt like this before. Whatever we unlocked last night—" He shook his head. "We did something, but heck if I know what it was."

    The others listened in silence. Jordan inhaled sharply and turned off the camera.

    Disturbed by the resounding quiet, Brian spoke. "Someone say something."

    Andre cleared his throat. "Dude...." It was obvious he had no idea how to continue.

    "Do you feel—like someone else is—possessing you?" Louisa asked.

    "No. More like someone is along for the ride." He paused, pursing his lips. "You know how they will put a helmet camera on someone who's going skydiving or dirt bike racing? Same kind of thing, like someone is watching through my eyes. There, but not there."

    "Have you told your folks yet?" Louisa asked.

    "No. I just realized it this minute."

    "We need to tell your folks," Louisa said. "And Claude needs to check you again."

    "I'm fine, Louisa." Brian tried to walk past her, but she halted him.

    "Please. It would make me feel better."

    "And me," Jordan added in a small voice.

    Put that way, Brian relented. How could he claim to love Jordan, and not put her wants ahead of his own, once in awhile? Especially when it was a such small thing.

    Andre already had his phone out, calling his father. A short consultation, they decided to head to the hospital in Natchez. Dr. Beauchamps had a few friends who would get them in so he could run some tests.

    Maribelle Casey hugged Brian so long, he was afraid they'd be late. Miles peeled her arms from their son.

    "He's fine, Mamie. No worries allowed. Jordan, you coming?"

    "Yes!" she grabbed Brian's hand as they walked to the car.

    Maribelle broke down, sobbing as they pulled out of the driveway. Adele Beauchamps held her, crooning softly. Elise fussed, her plaintive wail audible over the baby monitor. Louisa went up for her.

    Andre called the others, telling them what was going on. They met up for lunch, but no one felt much like eating. Andre played the video for them, summarizing what Brian had said after the camera turned off.

    "You mean we could have called something that possessed that boy?" Marissa's father, Harold Pennybaker, snarled. "If I didn't have an obligation to be a part of this, I'd put it behind me. This is treading on the Devil's ground!"

    "Oh, stuff it, Harold," Heath Barrett said. "I don't know what crawled up your behind, but this isn't demonic possession. Could the Peddler be a Rider? Now, that's possible. It's not unheard of. Lore and legend...."

    "Lore and legend be damned! It's exactly that kind of wild thought that makes this so dangerous!"

    "Lighten up, Harold," his wife said, her nostrils pinched and white. "I've listened to your narrow minded slop as long as I can tolerate. It's bad enough you've squelched our daughter's skills and warped her faith, I won't let you do it to anyone else. At least you haven't done so to mine. If I had my way, I'd have put a sock in your mouth twenty years ago. I can't help that your granny had religion and infected the rest of you with it"

    The adults and teens sat in mute shock as the scene unfolded before them. Fortunately, the children were enjoying the lovely fall day outside with the dogs.

    Nadine Pennybaker stood, marching over to her husband on the other side of the room. Shaking her finger under his nose, she continued. "This ends today, this very second. You can be Mr. Religion all you want, but you leave me and our daughter out of it. Marissa has a place in all this. She's been chosen. I've taught her what I could on the sly, camouflaging it so you wouldn't know, but she's got a place to fill, a job to do. She can't do it with you hollering about demon possession and all that other crap!"

    Nadine turned to the rest of the group. "I apologize for this. It should have been a family matter, but I can't stand listening to it another minute. So, Harold, what's it to be? Can you set this nonsense aside and focus on the real problem?"

    "I'm sorry, Nadine. I thought I was. This is serious! That boy could be injured or sick in the head. We did this to him. Us and that witch doctor from the Outback."

    "Dr. Meru is a well respected historian who lives in Sydney," Andre stated calmly. "And your wife's right. This isn't helping Brian. You've got some mad skills, Mr. Pennybaker. Skills we need."

    "You don't have to be scared of this, Daddy," Marissa said quietly. "I was terrified until last night. Brian took on that job, even though he didn't want to. I know he was scared, but he did it. Whatever experience he had, it was fantastic! He's not possessed—I know Andre can confirm this. There's not another person inside him. I can see it. It's like Heath said, he's got a Rider."

    "A Rider is like a demon on your back," her father protested.

    Marissa stamped her foot. "No, it isn't! Must you be so utterly obtuse? Let me put this in terms your primitive little brain can understand, okay?"

    Her father crossed his arms, glaring at her. Andre and Chase moved closer to Marissa. Chase took her hand in both of his, nodding at her to continue.

    "The Rider, Heath mentioned, it's energy. You know how pirates are always depicted with a parrot on their shoulders?" She cast about the group for a response.

    The others nodded. It was a familiar, comfortable image.

    "A Rider is like that. Like this little bird perched on your shoulder. It's not there to cause trouble or hurt you or anyone else in any way. It's an observer. It would be like the Google maps guy who walks around with the camera on his head."

    The young people chuckled softly, understanding that image even better.

    "Maybe he was sent by the Peddler. Maybe he is the Peddler. Whatever's the case, he's here to help. I can see it."

    Jackie and Andre exchanged a look.

    "Whatever it is, it's changed his aura," Jackie said. "Not in a bad way. It's like he's got this golden—something...."

    Andre motioned toward his right shoulder. "Here. Like the parrot. It glows white hot. It's not dangerous."

    "It's pure good," Jackie concluded. "They can run tests, but it's not something to worry about." She went to Maribelle, hugging her. "Brian is fine, Mamie. Whatever the Rider is, it's here to protect him—to protect us. If it was evil, don't you think one of us would have spotted it? Or the dogs? They are better judges of evil than any human I know."

    Harold Pennybaker tossed up his hands in disgust. "I see no one will listen to the voice of reason."

    "When you've got something reasonable to say, Harold, we'll listen," his wife snapped. "Meanwhile, I'll pray for a change of heart for you. We need everyone at a hundred percent capacity. You can't pretend this isn't real. Everything we've seen in the last year, should convince you."

    He hung his head, shaking it.

    Marissa took her father's hand. "It's okay to be afraid, Daddy. We're all scared."

    He put his arms around his wife and daughter. "Do you think I'm scared for myself? Never for a minute. I'm terrified of losing the people I love. You're all I've got. If anything happened to you, it would kill me. Forgive me for hiding behind God, baby girl." He kissed Marissa's brow. "He is our shield and protector. I wanted His strength to aid us."

    "No one's denying God's existence, Daddy. We're just spreading our faith. Who's to say God didn't put us here? Seems to me, the world is a mess and needs all the help it can get."

    Harold kissed his daughter's forehead. "How'd you get so wise?"

    "I listened to you and Mama."

    Harold chuckled. "My friends, I apologize for the drama. I got so snarled up thinking this was wrong, I couldn't see what was right."

    Everyone hugged everyone else. Maribelle's phone rang. It was Miles.

    "Hey, darlin'," he greeted her when she answered. "He just got out of the MRI. It looks good, according to Claude. The radiologist has to do her thing with it, but Claude watched the whole procedure and said he's never seen a prettier brain." He paused for a moment. They could hear another voice, a woman's, speaking. "Doctor Rosenthal agrees. Beautiful brain. That's a relief, anyway. They did blood work and so on, but won't have the results on that for awhile. We're checking out now and should be on our way home in an hour at the latest. We're probably going to stop for lunch. We're starving."

    © 2017 Dellani Oakes

  3. #123

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 20

    "Did you hear that snow is predicted for tonight?" Marissa said as she passed Brian and Jordan's table.

    "Hey," Chase, one of Brian's few good friends, stopped at their table, flopping on Jordan's stool while she was at the supply cupboard. "Did you remember about the bonfire tonight?"

    "No, where?"

    "My place, of course. Dad and I have been gathering wood for days. It's going to be a great one. Bring whatever you wanna toast. Mom will have every conceivable, non-alcoholic beverage imaginable. Bring your lady friend. Starts at eight."

    "She's not my girlfriend," Brian tried to explain.

    "So what. Bring her anyway." He leaned closer. "So, if y'all aren't dating, is she single?"

    "I have no idea. You'd have to ask her."

    "'Cause, dude, if you haven't noticed, she is smokin' hot!"

    Brian had noticed, but it didn't seem quite as important as the fact they'd both been attacked and seemed to be the targets for some massive paranormal upheaval. He hadn't missed the fact that Jordan was pretty and well built, he just hadn't dwelt on it. Apparently, Chase had.

    "I'll see if she's free. My mom and I are going to her house for dinner. We may be later than eight."

    "Fire won't start until nine, so that's cool. See you there."

    "I hope so."

    It did sound fun. Brian wanted something like a bonfire party to make him feel like a real teenager again. He'd played adult since his dad left, even more after his mother's accident robbed her of her sight. The days and nights of worrying about her, spending weeks in the hospital, hoping she'd be able to see again, had taken their toll. He wanted something calming and a bonfire would go a long way to relaxing him.

    "Who's that?" Jordan asked as she sat down.

    "That was Chase. He invited us to a bonfire tonight."

    "Sweet. Not quite the social pariahs we envisioned, huh?"

    "I guess not," Brian chuckled. "Have to square it with the folks. We're due at your house for dinner."

    "Mom will probably be delighted I'm meeting more young people. She used to worry about me back home. I never went out much. So many kids my age are so superfluous." She waved her hands like she was brushing away fluff.

    Brian had to agree. With very few exceptions, he found kids his age annoying. They embraced the rap culture, watched reality TV and thought that The Lord of the Rings was a series of movies, not epic novels.

    "I still need to call Andre and them," Brian murmured as he measured water for their experiment.

    "Wait until after school. Then, if we need to, we can make plans to get together this weekend."

    "Good point. They're probably all in school, too."

    "How's it coming along?" Mr. Sullivan asked from behind Brian, making him jump.

    "Fine, until you scared three years off his life," Jordan replied with a sweet smile. "You always sneak up on folks like that?"

    "Not unless I think they're talking about something other than the experiment. Were you talking about personal matters?" He raised a curious, yet knowing, eyebrow.

    "Never, not us," Jordan replied with a perky grin that made Brian choke. "We're all business, Mr. Sullivan." She sounded a lot like Shirley Temple, pout and all.

    Brian almost choked, he was trying so hard not to laugh. Instead, he made it sound like a sneeze, covering his mouth with his hands.

    "Bless you," Mr. Sullivan said automatically.

    "Thanks." Brian rubbed his nose, pretending it still tickled. "I guess these chemicals irritated my delicate nasal passages."

    Mr. Sullivan smiled and moved on. The two of them fought down the giggles. Fortunately, class was almost over. They were able to contain their laughter until they got down the hall a few steps.

    "Oh, my God!" Jordan burst out laughing. "I almost peed myself!" She clung to Brian, laughing so hard she had tears.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  4. #124

    Default Re: He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 20

    I apologize for missing several weeks. I've been sick. For your reading enjoyment I give you 4 parts.

    The Man Who Wasn't There by Dellani Oakes Part 21

    Flowers of every type and color danced around him. Soon, they turned into lovely, slender women with flower petals for skirts. They swooped and whirled around him in an evanescent blur. Their faces were beautiful, delicate, ethereal. Their bodies were as brightly colored as their skirts. Long, green hair flowed down their backs. When he looked more closely, Brian could see it wasn't hair, but fine vines. Brian was happy there, content. The pain receded, joy filled him. They invited him to dance. He joined them, twirling and spinning until he was too dizzy to stand. The dance whirled faster. Brian stumbled and fell to his knees. His stomach clenched and he vomited.

    Gentle hands wiped his face. The stench of vomit filled his nostrils and he knew he'd really thrown up.
    "At least he missed my shoes," Jordan said quietly. Her hands mopped his brow "Hey, baby, we're home."
    Brian's aching eyelids rose slowly. He saw Jordan's house out the window of Claude's Escalade. "Sorry I hurled in the car," he mumbled.

    "Not a problem, son," Claude said calmly. "We'll get it taken care of. Are you all right?"

    "No. I think—" he stumbled, falling on the grass of Jordan's yard. He vomited again, gagging on bile. "Sorry," he groaned. "I feel—" He gagged again, but nothing came up.

    Strong arms lifted him, carrying him into the crystal room. Jordan followed as Claude and Miles carried Brian in the house and laid him on the floor. Jackie joined them, kneeling by Brian. He felt a coolness on his brow and recognized the resonance of Lester, his favorite crystal skull. It hummed and thrummed, warming his skin. Unlike the MRI, which had felt oddly hot and uncomfortable, the skull drew the pain and nausea away. Two smaller skulls were placed in his hands. These filled the spaces left by illness with a delicious contentment. His eyes drooped shut.

    When he woke later, Brian's head rested on a pillow and a soft chenille throw kept him warm. He could smell Jordan and knew she was nearby. He lay on his side, face mere inches from the large, pink crystal in Jackie's meditation room. His movements alerted Jordan. She knelt beside him, touching his face.

    "Are you okay?" Her voice was rough with emotion, her eyes full of worry. "Mom," she called. "He's awake!"

    Jordan's parents and his rushed in, followed by Claude Beauchamps. He took Brian's vital signs, smiling.

    "Better," he announced. "I should never have done the MRI, but after Rose and I weighed the risks, we decided we had to."
    "Wait, you knew I was gonna hurl?" Brian asked.

    "We suspected. MRI's are difficult on our kind, especially those who shape earth. Throws us all out of whack. I didn't think to bring a crystal with me, or we could have taken care of it before you vomited the first time. I'm sorry."

    "Sorry about the car."

    Claude laughed. "It's all right. I've had worse to deal with."

    "You're sure he's okay?" Jordan hadn't left his side since he woke. She held him, supporting his weight.

    "Good as new."

    "Dinner will be ready soon," Jackie promised. "Are you hungry?"

    "Starving." Brian replied weakly.

    His father and Claude helped him stand. They supported him as he went to the small bathroom under the stairs. He felt much better, but a little shaky. Jordan was waiting when he came out. She gave him her shoulder for support, but he didn't need it. Instead, he held her close, kissing her deeply.

    She smiled up at him. "You're feeling better."

    "Much. You taste fantastic," he said, licking his lips. "New lip gloss?"

    "Not wearing any."

    "Yum," he whispered. "I could get addicted to that easily."

    Jordan buried her face in his chest. "You looked like absolute hell in the car," she whimpered. "Like when we pulled you from the ground last year, kind of like death. I thought I was going to lose you. Don't scare me like that again."

    "I told you, I can't promise that. I'm not doing it on purpose," he assured her.

    "I know, but it doesn't make it any easier."

    "I know." He raised her chin. "But no tears, okay? I'm fine. Tell me what I missed." They went to sit in the formal living room.

    Their parents were talking in the kitchen, but the two of them didn't feel like joining the adults. Brian sank onto the comfortable couch with a sigh. He was much better, but he still felt like he'd been someone's punching bag. His sides and head ached, but it was dull, not sharp or immediate. He could live with it.

    "Everyone's gone home expect Claude and Andre. They refused to leave. Louisa and Adele went home with her family. I called Dr. Meru and he was really concerned about you, but he wasn't surprised."

    Brian nodded, but it made him dizzy, so he stopped. He grunted instead, finding that something he could handle without a problem.

    "Want something to drink?"

    "Yeah, but if we go to the kitchen—noise."

    "I know. Is the ringing in your ears better?"

    "Yeah, little bit. How did you know?"

    She motioned around herself. "Your aura was all off. There were black lines stabbing into it near your stomach and ears. I knew you were going to puke before you did. I was lucky I had a reusable grocery bag within reach. That caught most of it."

    "Good. At least I didn't puke on you—did I?"

    "No. And it would have been okay even if you did. In sickness and in health, right?"

    "We aren't married yet."

    "But we will be. Why not start now?" She sighed, brushing hair from his brow.

    "I have other things I'd rather start," he growled softly, taking her face in his hands. Groaning, he stopped himself. "I feel like I've fallen off a speeding bike, and it caught me in the balls."

    "I'm guessing that's happened."

    "When I was ten."

    "Good news," she whispered against his lips. "It didn't damage the goods. They still work."

    Brian groaned again. "You're aware of what that kind of talk does to me, right?"

    "Sadly, no. I don't have testicles."

    "Remember what Claude said about setting his crush's books on fire?"


    "I don't wanna burn down the house. And that's where this is going."

    Jordan scooted away, creating a small space between them. Brian pulled her back, his lips touching hers. He kissed her deeply, tasting her. His senses revealed so much more—her hair smelled of rosemary and mint. Her skin was soft and silky. The tiny hairs on her cheeks tickled his hands, where he'd never even noticed their presence before. Her body pressed against his was torture. He was so much more aware of her femininity. She was as hot for him as he was for her, which excited him more than he could possibly describe. Trying to stop himself, he filled his mind with negative thoughts. Nothing worked. Not even knowing that they were in her living room with his parents, and hers, only a few yards away. It wasn't enough of a deterrent. He wanted. He needed.

    "Brian?" Jordan's voice held concern. "What's going on?"

    Her face was red from the roughness of his kisses. Her eyes were wide with fear. She backed away from him, her hands on his chest. He realized his mouth hovered over her breast while one hand grasped the other. She was dressed, but he'd obviously tried to take her clothing off.

    "I'm so sorry!" He sat back, hands in the air as if she held a gun on him. "I don't know what happened."

    Andre came into the darkened room, sitting across from them. "You okay?"

    "Yeah. No. I don't know," Brian replied. "What's happening to me, Andre?"

    "Wish I knew, my friend. Dad sent me in here. He knows something's up, but he's cool. He won't rat you out."

    "Maybe he needs to. I need to be locked up before I hurt Jordan."

    "You won't," Andre assured him.

    "Look at her and tell me if I'm in control."

    Andre's silvery gaze turned to Jordan. He smirked. "She looks like a woman whose man can't control his testosterone. Point is, you won't hurt her."

    "I already did," Brian countered.

    "No, you didn't," Jordan said, touching his cheek. "And it felt all kinds of right. But not on Mom's antique couch in the living room, with our folks a few feet away. And Andre all up in here with his sexometer."

    Andre laughed. "I prefer sexisensor."

    "Nope, sexometer is—sexier."

    "I concede to the lady's judgment." Andre tilted his head, rolling his eyes toward Brian. "So, we cool?"

    "We're cool." They tapped knuckles.

    "Good, cause dinner's ready and I don't know about y'all, but I'm starvin'."

    Jordan washed her face with cold water, hoping to do away with some of the redness. They joined the adults in the dining room. Maribelle hugged her son. Miles helped him sit. Elise dropped her bottle, expecting him to pick it up. Brian did so with a grin.

    "Glad to see you're feeling better," Claude aid, his dark eyes twinkling.

    "Thanks. Never better," Brian said, taking a bowl from Jordan. "Don't suppose I can miss school tomorrow?" He winked at his father.

    "I think you'll be fine," his father said. "Any excuse, I tell ya. Send the kid to another realm, and this is the thanks we get. Ungrateful."

    Brian chuckled. Jordan giggled, putting her napkin over her face so she wouldn't spew her food.

    "I'm staying the night," Claude said. "But I have appointments tomorrow afternoon I can't miss. However, we will all be back for the Halloween Ball and we'll be in attendance. If something happens, we'll be ready."

    Feeling better, Brian sits down to dinner with his family, Jordan's and the Beauchamps'.

    "Still got the rest of this week to get through," Brian said with a sigh.

    "Meru wants to talk to you," Miles said quietly. "Do you feel up to it?"

    "Yeah, I guess."

    "I'll set it up after dinner," Andre said.


    Dr. Meru's smile had dimmed since Brian last spoke to him. He eyed the younger man critically, desperately wanting more nuance. He'd spoken to Andre and Claude, but he wished he could make his own hands on assessment. At least the boy looked well, though he was slightly pale.

    "Tell me what you experienced."

    Brian gave him a detailed account. Dr. Meru nodded, making notes as Brian spoke. He asked very pointed questions, clarifying details the way that Jordan and the others had.

    "This is fascinating, Brian. You've been somewhere and seen something that no one else I know, has ever seen. This is absolutely unprecedented!" He couldn't control his enthusiasm any longer. "Do you realize how special an honor you've been awarded? You've been to another realm. You brought back a Rider!"

    "So far, it's been a rare treat," Brian replied, somewhat sarcastically. "I could have done without the pounding headache, the vomiting, the vertigo.... The enhanced senses are kind of cool, but I have to say," he leaned toward the computer, lowering his voice. "The jacked up sex drive is awkward."

    Meru leaned forward too. "Increased libido? That is interesting. Disconcerting, to be sure, at this stage of your life." He nodded, considering a few moments before replying. "You have noticed a marked increase? This isn't just, forgive my belittling it, teenage hormones?"

    "Trust me, Doc, there's a huge difference. Teenage hormones heat things up, no doubt. But I feel as if I have a tendency to start fires."

    Dr. Meru caught the song reference and laughed. "Indeed. I wish I had a solution for that, my young friend. Sadly, other than the usual remedies, I have none."

    "I'll have to make sure Jordan and I aren't alone," Brian said. "I can't keep Andre around as a watch dog."

    "To be sure. I might have an additional aid." He flipped through a book and landed on a page. "This is a chant—not a spell, no tedious ritual, no special ingredients, merely a meditation aid." He rattled off a few words in a language that Brian didn't know. "Repeat it."

    Brian did. Strangely, it helped. He felt less burdened.

    "Completely reusable and non-addictive. Say it whenever you have need of it. If I come up with anything else, I'll contact you."

    "Thank you, Doc. You've been a huge help."

    "I fear not as big a help as I'd like, but I'll keep looking. I have my colleagues world wide, searching through their files as well. Perhaps we'll find a solution before Halloween."


    They bid farewell and disconnected.

    Brian and his parents headed home a short time later. Andre and Claude went with them. Brian had been very careful how long he kissed Jordan when they said goodnight. He made sure that Andre was nearby and kept a slight distance between them. He didn't dare risk her safety again.

    School the next day, was predictably boring. If he hadn't had Jordan, Chase or Marissa in most of his classes, Brian would have gone out of his mind. He waited for Jordan to finish with play practice after school, since he was giving her a ride home. They were doing an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that the speech teacher and the senior English teacher had written. Jordan, to her surprise, had been chosen for Juliet, although she'd tried out for the part of the Nurse.
    Brian sat in the semi-dark theatre, watching the party scene unfold. The boy playing Romeo wasn't bad. He carried himself well and spoke distinctly. Brian couldn't help but be impressed. He wasn't really paying attention until it came time for the kiss at the party. Throwing himself into the scene, Romeo got a little too familiar with Juliet. Whether it was scripted or not, he decidedly slipped her some tongue.

    Jordan, taken by surprise, rabbit punched him in the gut. With a yelp, Romeo jumped back. Jordan dropped into a fighting crouch, fists raised.

    "Come on, I was in character," he whined, stumbling back a couple of steps.

    Jordan shook back her hair, color high in her cheeks. "Because you're so irresistible, is that it? I'm supposed to excuse you because you say you're in character?"

    "You know you wanted it."

    Jordan screeched, lunging at the hapless boy. He staggered back another couple of steps, tripping over his own feet. He landed hard on his butt. One of the girls jumped forward, grabbing Jordan before she flailed him.

    Brian stood angrily, not moving right away. He watched, fury pooling in his belly. The floor quivered under foot. No one seemed to notice at first.

    "I have a boyfriend," Jordan reminded him.


    "So, he's here," she explained, pointing to Brian.

    Brian squared his shoulders. He was considerably taller and more muscular than Romeo. His anger made him even more formidable.

    Romeo glanced at Brian, face going slightly pale, but he'd come too far to back off. "Big whoop. It's for the play, Jordan. Get over it."

    "Nowhere in the script does it say, Romeo slipped her some tongue," Jordan explained. "Don't do it again, or I'll bite you."

    "She threatened me, Mrs. Faust," the boy appealed to the teacher.

    "I didn't hear anything," she replied. "And if you do it again, I'll replace you. You've got an understudy." She stood with her hands on her hips. "Just because the scene calls for a kiss, doesn't mean you can take advantage. Apologize."

    The boy mumbled something unintelligible.

    The floor shook again, this time the director and her assistant took note. Jordan's frown deepened.

    "What was that?" Mrs. Faust asked.

    "I don't know. Maybe a train?" the girl replied.

    Mrs. Faust glanced at her watch. "Not time for one."

    There was another shudder. Jordan's horrified gaze met Brian's.

    "Excuse me, Mrs. Faust. I want to wash the taste of his tongue out of my mouth. He tastes like cigarettes and fruity Mentos." She hurried off the stage.

    "Sure. Take ten, kids."

    There was another rumble. Jordan rushed up the aisle to where Brian stood. Grabbing him by the arm, she dragged him out of the theatre.

    "Stop that right now! It's over. He's just an idiot who thinks he's God's gift to women."

    "You don't know how bad I want to punch him," Brian growled. His hands balled into fists and the windows rattled.

    "Yeah, I do. You have to calm down," she cautioned. "Please, Brian. Go splash water on your face, or something."

    Brian wouldn't move, so Jordan dragged him to the men's room. It was empty, so she shoved him inside, following him. Jordan wet a paper towel and tried to mop Brian's face with it. He blocked her hands, breathing rapidly, his anger still strong. The mirrors and sinks shivered. Bits of plaster fell from the ceiling.

    Pointing her finger at him, Jordan concentrated a spurt of frigid water at his face. Sputtering, Brian looked at himself in the mirror. Red in the face, he was covered in water and tiny ice crystals. His shirt was wet and the slush was dripping on his pants. A warm wind dried him.

    "Better?" Jordan glared up at him. "Because this is stupid. He's just some dumb boy who thinks he's way hotter than he is. He got fresh, I took care of it. I don't need you to protect me, Brian. I'm pretty good at doing that myself."

    Sighing, he hung his head. "You're right. I'm sorry. And I deserved that."

    "You deserved way more, but I don't want you bringing the school down on my head because you're angry."

    "You're right. I'll wait outside for you."

    "Okay. Good plan." She kissed his cheek and went back to the stage.

    Brian shuffled outside and flopped on the grass. His phone rang. "Yeah, Chase."

    "Dude, was that you?"

    "Was what me?"

    "We had tremors at football practice. Coach is freaking. He was gonna call the fire department or something, but it stopped."

    "Romeo dove for Jordan's tonsils. I got pissed."

    "That's it? Jeesh, Brian. What's up with you?"

    "Not much, Chase, except I've got a psychic Rider on my shoulder." Stopping himself before he lost his temper again, he took a deep breath and repeated Meru's mantra. "Sorry, man. I'm edgy, and I don't know why. I feel like there are icy spiders running up my spine."

    "Bhhhg," Chase shuddered. "Great, now I feel that way. I'm on my way."

    "You've got football."

    "Things are such chaos right now, Coach won't notice. Where are you?"

    "Outside the theatre."

    "Stay put. I'm coming. I need to tell Marissa and Mom. Hang tight." He hung up.

    Brian didn't want to go against Chase's instruction to stay put, but he was worried about Jordan. Phones weren't allowed during practice, so hers was off and in her backpack. If something was about to happen, she needed to know. He'd headed toward the door when Chase called to him.

    "Where are you going?"


    "Marissa's on her way. She's at chorus. Mom's coming."

    Mrs. Finley joined them a few minutes later. "What's happening?"

    "No clue. Brian said something about icy spiders and I realized I've felt like that the past couple hours."

    © 2017 Dellani Oakes

  5. #125

    Default Re: This thread for parallel stories not directly linked to "Disturbing News"

    My apologies to anyone who was reading my stories. It's been a busy time for both of us. We've been dealing with some health issues, family drama and the like I will try to get something posted later this week. Until then, have a fabulous time in Istaria, and pop by to visit Wind's plot in Water's Edge!

  6. #126

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 21, 22, 23

    Brian chuckled as he supported Jordan. He didn't think the situation was nearly as funny as she did, but it was amusing.

    School went well. The weather stayed chilly, but there were no more weird winds or sleet storms. After school, Brian and Jordan waited for her mother to pick them up. They sat on the steps leading up to the school, sharing a Coca-Cola and a cinnamon roll Brian had leftover from lunch.

    "Mom would kill me if she knew I was eating junk. She thinks we shouldn't eat meat or refined sugars. Of course, Dad and I like Reuben sandwiches and steak, so we sneak out for a Dad and Daughter day and gorge ourselves."

    "Doesn't your mom suspect?"

    "Oh, sure. When you come back smelling like fried food, it's hard to deny."

    Brian chuckled. "Worse things to smell like."

    "Yeah, don't get me started on that stuff. Mom would seriously give birth to a cow if I did drugs. And she's a drug rep. She would know."

    "The one time I smoked a joint, my mom knew. She was cool about it, didn't freak out, but she also didn't let me go out for a week and I'm not allowed to hang out with that kid any more."

    "Doesn't it bother you that she's that over protective?"

    "Not really. It shows she cares."

    "Hadn't thought of it that way."

    "I don't always agree with my parents, but over all, they're pretty okay. Then again, I don't give them any reason to freak, either."

    Jordan raised the Cola can in salute. "Being a social pariah has its perks."

    "Yeah." Brian laughed loudly. "Yeah, it does."

    Jacqueline Barrett was only a few minutes late. She'd cut short an appointment in order to pick the kids up. She was a little flustered. "I can't wait until you can drive, Jo-Jo. It will make life easier."

    "Mom, Jo-Jo? Really?"

    "Sorry, baby name," Jacqueline apologized. "But the sentiment remains."

    "I wish I could drive," Brian said. "Dad was gonna teach me, but he left right after my birthday."

    "I'll talk it over with your mom," Jacqueline said. "Maybe Heath and I can take that in hand when we teach Jordan. We'll see about getting learner's permits next week, if it's okay with her."

    "You'd do that for me? Thank you."

    "You're so welcome, honey. I wouldn't do it for everyone, but you have such a beautiful aura. You're a lovely green with a strong blue presence."

    "I don't know what that means," Brian admitted sheepishly.

    Jacqueline smiled as she pulled into Brian's driveway. "It means that you're a strong healer, and you're very peaceful. It also means you're steadfast and a wonderful young man. I couldn't ask for a better friend for my daughter. Her aura is a lovely sunrise yellow."

    Brian looked at Jordan for an explanation.

    "It means I'm full of inner joy and love," she replied with a smirk and an impudent flutter of her eyelashes.

    "You sure your mom's not color blind?" Brian asked with a sly wink.

    Jordan punched him.

    "Yup! I'm feeling the love right now, Mrs. B."

    Jacqueline laughed at him. "Well, we all backslide sometimes."

    "Before we forget, Mom, Brian and I were invited to a bonfire at nine. Is it okay if I go?"

    "How will you get there?"

    "I guess we'll need a ride," Brian admitted. "I can see if maybe Chase's dad can come get us."

    "Heath or I can take you," Jacqueline replied. "Of course, it will depend on if your mother says it's all right. Does she know Chase's parents?"

    "Ms. B, there's like fifty people in town. Of course, she does."

    "If she says it's all right, then yes. But you'll have to come home by ten thirty. It's a school night."

    "Thanks for the ride. I'll see y'all at seven for dinner." He waved as he got out.

    "I'll pick you up in the morning," Jacqueline said as he got out. "I don't like you kids walking in the dark in this weather. It's supposed to snow."

    "That'd be great, Ms. B. Thank you." He closed the door and headed up the steps to the house.

    Brian's mother reluctantly agreed to let him go to the bonfire. She didn't like the idea of him being out at night. After a bit of cajoling, he got her to agree. He'd be surrounded by others, he'd have Jordan and her father with him. After all, hadn't he fought off the whirlwind by himself? He judiciously left that incident out of his argument. He didn't think that his mother would like it. He hoped that Jordan's parents wouldn't mention it to her, though he was sure that Mrs. Barrett would probably tell her husband.

    At 6:50 on the nose, Mr. Barrett drove up. He helped Maribelle into the front seat while Brian hopped into the back. Jordan greeted him when he got in. They drove to Jordan's house, chatting happily about the weather. Fortunately, Mr. Barrett said nothing about that morning's encounter.

    "Does he know?" Brian asked as he took off his coat in Jordan's room.

    "Yes, but he won't say anything unless he thinks we're in trouble. My folks are pretty cool. They won't narc us, but they do like to know."

    "I will tell her," Brian promised. "I just couldn't tell her today. She'd never let me out of the house again."
    "Do you think it's safe going to the bonfire?"

    "I think so. We'll be surrounded by people. Besides, Chase's dad is a deacon. Reckon he can handle an icy whirlwind, if anyone can."

    "Maybe he knows what's going on. We should ask him."

    "Not tonight. We can go by the church sometime and see him at the office. I'm also supposed to go visit our priest. I bet he'd have some answers too."

    "You're Catholic?" Her eyes brightened.

    "Yeah. Born and raised. You?"

    "Yes. Despite their oddities, Mom and Dad are very traditional in some ways. What's the priest like?"
    "He's a nice guy, probably about my dad's age. He married my parents, baptized me, gave me First Communion and was there for Confirmation."

    "Why do you have to go see him? Confession?"

    "Nothing like that. Mom's worried about all this—whatever it is. She thinks he can help."

    "Let's go see him tomorrow. Maybe see Chase's dad too. Did you ever call Andre?"

    "No." He pulled his phone out of his pocket.

    Andre's phone went right to voicemail. Brian left a message and called Sweet next, getting the same thing. Frustrated, he called Louisa. She answered absently, as if she were busy with something. When she heard Brian's voice, she perked up.

    "I've been checking the e-mail we set up. We got some replies already. I'm reading through them. Unbelievable! We'll talk about it more when we see you. What's up?"

    He gave her a brief rundown on meeting Jordan and battling the whirlwind. Louisa made all the appropriate noises and promised to talk to the others and set up a meeting for the weekend.

    "Thanks, Louisa. I appreciate you passing word along."

    "Not a problem, Brian. I can't wait to meet Jordan. Bye!"

    Brian hung up, feeling better about the situation. At least there were more of them involved than just him and Jordan.

    "We should go downstairs and sit with our folks," Jordan said once he was off the phone. "Mom likes me to help entertain company."

    "Thought that was what you were doing," Brian replied. He gave Jordan a hand up.

    The two of them went downstairs just as Jacqueline appeared at the bottom to call them down.
    "Perfect timing, you two. Get washed up. Jordan, can you give me a hand?"

    "Sure, Mom."

    "Can I help with anything?" Brian offered.

    "Sure. You can carry in some of the dishes for me. We're ready to serve."

    A few minutes of bustle and they were seated in the kitchen. Brian sat between his mother and Jordan at the large, circular table.

    "Everything smells delicious," Maribelle said, inhaling deeply. "Do I catch a hint of anise?"

    "You do! I made my vegetable lasagna. It has layers of anise cookies in it. Strange as it sounds."

    "Sounds and smells divine," Maribelle complimented.

    Brian took a few minutes to serve his mother's plate before serving his own. He told her where each food was located, but wasn't sure what everything was. Laughing, Jacqueline explained.

    Brian chuckled at himself. "All I could tell was it's green," he told his mother. "I had no idea it was spinach pilaf."

    "Well, I'm sure it's delicious."

    Heath led the blessing and they ate, exclaiming over the excellent meal. Brian wasn't sure half the time what he was eating, but it was all so good, he didn't care. At the end of the meal, he had to control a burp. The others chuckled at him as he blushed.

    "That's the nicest compliment my food has gotten in a long time," Jacqueline said. "I'm glad you liked it. Did you leave room for dessert?"

    "Depends on dessert," Brian responded with a wink.

    "I think we can find something good," Jacqueline replied. "Honey, do the honors?"

    "Sure thing. I suppose I should mention that my wife is half Greek. She makes the most delicious baklava in the history of mankind." He went to the kitchen and brought out a platter of the flaky, honey drenched pastry.
    Brian thought he'd died and gone to heaven. He'd never had baklava before, but decided that it was now his favorite sweet.

    "I could die right now and be happy," he declared. "That was heaven, Ms. B."

    "A delicious meal, Jackie," Maribelle added. "Thank you for having us over."

    "No need to rush off," Heath said. "You ladies stay here and visit. I'll take the kids at the bonfire and hang out for a little while. You ladies can get better acquainted. Sound like a plan?"

    "That sounds delightful," Maribelle said.

    "Good, because I can't stand the idea of you spending the evening alone," Jacqueline said. "Jordan isn't the only one who left her friends behind. It's such a delight to find a kindred spirit, don't you think?"

    Brian thought it was a weird thing to say, but apparently his mother agreed with her new friend. Jacqueline had a strange way of expressing herself, but Maribelle liked her. He was glad to see her out with other people. She spent too much time at home alone. Her blindness had isolated a woman who was normally outgoing. This was good for her.

    Jacqueline made sure the kids had hats, scarves and gloves before she allowed them to go. Armed with three different kinds of marshmallows, they hopped in the SUV.

    "This is one treat Mom doesn't mind me having, for some reason. It's sugar and air. Go figure." She shrugged.
    "Because your mother loves marshmallows," Heath replied. "She's a closet sugar addict," he told Brian. "My favorites are the coconut ones."

    They arrived at Chase's house and Heath parked about half a block down the road. Chase lived in the woods a mile or so from Brian's house. Tall trees ringed the two story home, standing guard over it. The property was on the edge of the swamp, so the pine trees mingled with swamp bay, dogwood, spruce pine, black gum and hawthorn. Holly bushes circled the base of the house and ivy climbed up the walls.

    "It's like something out of the Old South," Jordan mused as she approached. "I expect to see Scarlet O'Hara running down the steps." It was oddly romantic of her to say. "Of course, she'd trip on the hem of her dress and fall splat on the ground, but I can totally see her."

    Brian and her father laughed loudly. So like Jordan to find the humor in something that wasn't really humorous.

    "We just go around back," Brian said. He'd been to Chase's bonfires many times in the past.

    Loud music played and Jordan was surprised to hear Lynyrd Skynyrd crooning Sweet Home Alabama. Most kids their age played rap and hip hop at parties. It was a relief to hear something different for a change. As they walked up, a song by blues guitarist, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, blasted from speakers.

    "Your buddy has good taste in music," Heath commented loudly.

    "Yeah, he does. It's one of the reasons we get along. That, and he actually has read a book or two."

    The fire was set well away from the house in a clearing not far from the swamp. The ground was damp, but logs had been laid out and covered with plastic tarps. When they walked up, Chase yelled loudly.

    "Dad, you can light her up. Brian's here!" He turned to greet his friend. "Hey, man. Good you came. And Jordan, right? Nice to meet you. Can I get you a drink? Totally no alcohol," he added quickly when he saw Heath's frown. "Chase Finley," he introduced himself, holding out his hand.

    "Heath Barrett, Jordan's father."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  7. #127

    Default The Man Who Wasn't There by Dellani Oakes Part 25

    "Me too. I thought it was just me," Chase said.

    "What do you think it is?"

    "No idea," Dora replied. "But I'll bet it has something to do with that." She pointed at a dark cloud low on the horizon. It moved quickly toward them.

    Dora Finley pulled out her phone and dialed 9-1-1 reporting a tornado.

    "Our emergency system hasn't registered it," the dispatcher said.

    "Look out the window," Dora said, leading the boys inside.

    "Oh, my God!" the dispatcher said before hanging up.

    The town warning siren went off. Students and adults ran for cover. The cloud moved quickly toward the school, specifically toward Brian and Chase. Glad to be inside, they followed Chase's mother down the hall to her office.

    "Go inside and wait. These are all interior walls, and there's only the window in the door. Go!"

    "Where are you going?" Chase asked.

    "To help with the drama kids and the choir." She took off.

    Brian and Chase exchanged a look. Their girlfriends were in drama and choir.

    "No way I'm sitting in here," Chase said.

    Brian was already out the door and down the hall, running toward the fine arts building. Fortunately, it wasn't far. Wind wailed around the building. Windows shuddered, walls shook. Screaming people tried to find a safe place to ride out the storm. By the time the boys had reached the theatre, the students had taken refuge in the dressing room. Brian determined that Jordan was safe and followed Chase to the choir room.

    This room was in chaos. Three large windows sat high in the wall. Two had burst, showering the room with broken glass. High winds circled, flinging glass in razor-like shards. A clutch of people tried to hide under the risers in one corner. Another two hunkered under the baby grand piano. Sheet music whirled around, slicing through the air. The wind increased when they opened the door. By some miracle, the flying glass missed both boys. Their clothing whipped around them as they assessed the situation.

    "Chase!" Marissa screeched.

    "I told you to wait," his mother called, fear tingeing her voice.

    They huddled under the risers, not far from the supply cupboard.

    "Get in the supply room," Chase ordered.

    The door popped open. The chorus members rushed toward the open door. When they were inside with the door shut, Brian and Chase faced down the wind. Though it whipped their clothing, the debris didn't touch them. Concentrating on the source, Brian filled himself with calm, sending it forth like a wave. The wind stopped howling, paper and glass dropped safely to the ground.

    Chase ran to the supply room door. Brian headed back to the theatre. White faced and trembling, the cast and crew members left their hiding places. Jordan ran to Brian, flinging her arms around him.

    "Was that you?" she whispered.

    "No, I swear. I don't know what that was."

    "How are the others?"

    "They're fine. Don't worry. Shh." He held her close, stroking her hair. "Shh. Chase and I took care of it. You're all right." He gave her a quick kiss. "I need to go. The people outside might need help."

    "I'm coming too."

    He couldn't stop her and didn't try. Jordan grabbed her jacket and backpack.

    "I'm going to help look for injured people," she told Mrs. Faust.

    Several of the other students did the same. They followed Jordan and Brian.

    Romeo trotted up beside Brian. "Dude, about earlier. That was a jerk move. I'm sorry."

    "Don't tell me, tell Jordan. She will bite you."

    "Yeah." He hesitated. "I just wanted you to know."

    "Do it again, we'll have trouble," Brian said in a matter of fact tone. "No harm, no foul—this time."

    The boy nodded and ran off toward the cheerleaders who were hiding under the bleachers. Brian headed toward the equipment storage on the other side of the field. Partially collapsed, the roof had fallen in. People could be trapped in there. As he approached, he heard voices.

    "Help! Please, help!" a young woman called.

    "I'm here," he called. "I'm getting help. Hang on!"

    "No, don't leave!" she yelled. "My boyfriend is holding the roof up on his back, but he's hurt. I'm trapped. The wall collapsed on us."

    Brian called 9-1-1, but the line was busy. Yelling at Romeo, he finally got the other boy's attention. "There are people trapped in here. They're hurt. Find help!"

    Romeo dashed off. Some of the boys on the cheerleading squad ran over. Brian activated the flashlight on his phone and led them into the dilapidated shed.

    "We're in here," the girl called. "Please, help."

    "Coming!" He turned to the boys. "Okay, the roof collapsed and the wall caved in. There are people trapped. Can you handle this?"

    The boys shrugged, nodding
    "People need help," one of them replied. "I can handle anything."

    © 2017 Dellani Oakes

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