Jennifer sat down across from Teren.
“You sounded serious when you asked me to tea. Serious really isn’t your thing.”
Teren shook his head.
“Yeah, I know. I don’t like serious stuff, but this is kind of important.”
He cleared his throat.
“We both agree that we don’t feel romantically about each other, and don’t want to get married, right?”
“So far I’m with you, yes.”
“I think we should tell my father how we feel about it. And if he doesn’t know about Stuart and Jolie-”
“I’m not sure if Stuart and Jolie even know about Stuart and Jolie.”
“Then we could wait for them to figure it out.”
“That might take a while, and we only have two more days here.”
“Oh, wow! I didn’t realize! Time really flew!”
“I know! So what do we do?”
“I’ll talk to my father about the possibility of Jolie and Stuart taking our place as an alliance of sorts, and see how he feels. Even if he is opposed to the idea, I’m not sure if you and I could really work out as a couple, anyway.”
“Sometimes I hate being a princess.”
“Oh? What do you like about being a princess?”
“The food, and the shopping privelleges.”
“Good reasons to like being royalty.”
Stuart came to Jolie’s room and stood awkwardly before the door. He cleared his throat, raised his hand to the door, cleared his throat again, blinked rapidly, and knocked. Jolie opened the door and looked out. She flushed.
Stuart cleared his throat for a third time.
“Uh… I was… wondering if… uh… you… would… like to… uh…”
Jolie blinked expectantly.
“Have… dinner… with me… tonight?”
Jolie smiled brightly at him.
“Yes! That’s… That would be… Yes!”
“Great! Um, I thought… There’s this place… in town… that I thought we could… go to… Does that sound good?”
“That sounds good, yeah! Should I be ready, like, what time?”
“Does about six work for you?”
“Six works fine!”
Stuart smiled awkwardly and ran his fingers through his hair.
“Great! I’ll, uh, pick you up then, I guess.”
He waved awkwardly and walked down the hall. Jolie closed the door, leaned against it and squealed, nearly dancing with joy. The evening came, and Jolie met Stuart at the front door, and the got into a cab he had hired, and drove into town, and Stuart helped her out of the car when they reached the cafe. Food was ordered, and they sat for a few moments before Stuart tried to casually start a conversation. Although there was nothing casual about it, he did manage to start some form of conversation, and they had a rather good evening. At the end of the night, Stuart cleared his throat and addressed Jolie.
“Yes? What is it?”
He rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
“I, uh, wanted to hang out with you more. I was going to talk to your uncle about maybe, um, staying at the manor another week. What do you think about that?”
“I’d like that very much!”
“Then I’ll speak with Sir Lennon and my father about it.”
Jolie couldn’t stop smiling, and Stuart’s face was pink with pleasure. He bid her a good night as they parted just inside the door, going each their own way towards their separate rooms. From the shadows, Teren watched them as the parted. Deep in his gut, he felt a twist of something. Was it jealousy? It couldn’t be. He’d never liked Jolie much, and they’d pretty much hated each other from childhood, since Teren pulled so many pranks on her. It was something else. Although he’d never liked Jolie much, she was like a sister to him. When Jolie was very small, both her parents died in a car accident. Teren’s mother, her only living relative, took her in, and when Mrs. Lennon became sick and passed away when Teren was ten years old, Duke Lennon kept her there. And so she and Teren grew up together, at odds with each other as siblings often are. Teren turned and walked towards his own room. What he felt now was a protectiveness for the girl he loved like a sister. He’d seen her sad, and he’d seen her happy, and he had definitely seen her angry. He didn’t want to see her heartbroken. He lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling. He remembered his mother’s face, smiling at him as he showed her an interesting bug he’d found in the garden. And when he was scared of the thunder and lightning on a stormy night…
“Teren, are you in here?”
Teren crouched in his toy cupboard, wrapped up in his blanket. The door opened, and a figure was silhouetted by the flashing lightning. Teren cowered under his blanket, whimpering. The figure leaned down toward Teren, and Mrs. Lennon pulled the blanket off of his head.
“Hey Teren, are you okay, little one?”
Teren looked up at his mother with tears in his eyes.
“Mommy, it’s scary! The sky is angry!”
Mrs. Lennon smiled at her young son.
“Oh, honey. The sky isn’t angry! That’s the angels having a bowling night!”
She sat in the cupboard next to her son and closed the door, cuddling the little boy close to her.
“The angels are taking a break from delivering messages for tonight, and they are bowling in the sky. When one makes a strike, the others take pictures of them, and that’s why the lights are flashing.”
“What about the rain?”
“The angels are helping to water the plants, too. Aren’t they nice? Now the gardener won’t have to water the plants tomorrow!”
Teren was still afraid. Mrs. Lennon rubbed the boy’s head.
“Would you like to hear a song?”
Mrs. Lennon began to sing a sweet song, and when it had finished, the music ran on through Teren’s head…
The sun shone on Teren’s face, and it was morning. He didn’t remember the dream he had dreamt, but a song ran through his head, and he hummed it as he prepared for the day.
Jason and Cybille were enjoying their week at the Williams’ home, but one morning, while Jason was taking a walk, he wandered into a rather bad part of town. He failed to see the signs of danger, and ran right into trouble. He was walking past an alley, the first sign of trouble, and saw two boys with spray paint cans, spraying graffiti on the alley wall, the second sign.
“Hey! What are you doing?” he yelled, walking towards them. When the two boys saw him, they ran off, grabbing a backpack that was sitting on the ground next to them as they ran. Jason idiotically ran after them, yelling, “stop there!” and other things. He didn’t notice that they were drawing him out into strange and hostile territory. Suddenly he was surrounded. These guys were older, tougher, and looked like they meant business.
Cybille walked around the house, peeking in each room. She came to the living room and found her mom sitting on the computer.
“Hey Mom? Have you seen Jason? I can’t find him.”
“Oh, yeah. I think he went out for a walk about an hour ago.”
“Oh? That’s a long time for a walk.”
Suddenly, there was a thump at the front door. Cybille jumped, then ran to the front room, followed by her mother. Jason was sitting on the front porch, covered in bruises and scrapes, with a cut and swollen lip, and a beautiful shiner on his left eye. Cybille stared for a full fifteen seconds before her mother broke the silence by exclaiming,
"What happened to you?"
Jason looked up at them, tried to stand, and gave up instantly.
"I think I got into a fight with a local gang?"
"What? Why?" Cybille asked sharply. Jason attempted to stand once more, gritting his teeth. Cybille and Mrs. Williams helped him up and half-carried him inside.
"Well," Jason continued,
"I saw a couple guys spray-painting some graffiti, so I chased them down, except they weren't alone, and their big friends didn't like my face, so they beat me up."
Cybille shook her head.
"Always the hero, except when you're playing pranks."
She and Mrs. Williams deposited Jason on the couch, and Mrs. Williams said,
"I'll get an ice pack."
As she left, she looked rather pointedly at Cybille. Cybille sighed and turned back to Jason.
"Alright, where does it hurt?"
Jason laughed, grimaced, and held his side.
"Everywhere. They were very thorough."
Cybille rolled her eyes.
"That doesn't help me."
"Um, well, all of the bruises and scratches you can see, plus they got my ribs pretty good, and I believe my stomach got kicked a couple times, before I curled up and they started pounding my back and legs instead. Is that specific enough for you?"
Cybille ignored the sarcastic edge to his voice as she replied.
"Yes, I believe that will be of great assistance."
Holding out her hands, she concentrated hard, and green light began spilling from her palms, radiating over Jason's body.
Jason started, his mouth hanging open at the unexpected sight. Cybille frowned.
"Sit still, your wiggling is making this harder than necessary."
Jason froze, shocked, as the green light washed over him. His bruises and scratches disappeared almost instantly, and soon he didn't feel any of the pain from the rest of his injuries. Cybille let her hands drop, letting out a deep breath.
Jason's hand flew to his face. His black eye was gone, as was the cut on his lip.
Cybille stood up, looking him in the eyes.
"I have magic. I've had healing abilities since I was born. I try not to let anyone know, because people would start coming to me to be healed all the time, and I don't have time for that."
"But think what good you could do for the world!"
Cybille shook her head.
"I was told when I was very young that the world was not ready for me, so I shouldn't be open about my powers."
Jason looked confused.
"Then why show me?"
"Cybille shrugged. You're my friend, and you were hurt. Am I supposed to ignore that?"
Jason looked away.
"I don't know. Maybe."
Cybille opened her mouth, as if to argue, then shut it. She turned away.
"Try not to get into any more trouble, please?"
And with that, she walked out of the room, leaving Jason staring at the floor in confusion.