DYNASTY OF DREAMS: Web of Deception


 ©2008  RKB 

All Rights Reserved




Chapter One


Apathy described Jenna’s world. She’d created her own web of reality, mentally numb. Her life dwindled to a chair on the front porch. Five days ago she sat with her fiancé discussing their honeymoon plans. Minutes later a truck ran a red light. Jenna became hysterical trying to wake David. She withdrew into a state of shock unable to grasp the magnitude of her situation. Her last recollection, blood splattered clothing.


Krysta sat next to her sister on the porch. “Do you remember anything about the accident Jenna?”  She listened while Jenna vented.


“Is there any doubt? I resented the abuse. Hospital staff treated me equivalent to a mental patient.”


“They kept his death from you?”


“Yes, the nurse refused to divulge details. I rang for her repeatedly before she showed up, pissed me off!”


“What can you do when someone’s terrified? She wanted to keep her job.”


“They pumped me full of drugs. My sense of reality distorted and my head throbbed. I started screaming, begging for answers. No one seemed to comprehend how overcome I’d become with fright. Their answer being put more medication into the IV.”


“I can’t listen further, I love you.” Tears welled in Krysta’s eyes. She got up and ran into the house.


Jenna existed in her thoughts, unaware her sister left. The accident was etched in her mind. When she revived she relived every moment in silence. Through her stupor she remembered everything. She heard her mother say, “I’m sorry honey, time to take you home. The staff assured me you’re fine and able to be released. Your father’s on his way.”


She nodded and dressed to leave. Signing out of the hospital was torture, but they managed to finish the paperwork.


“Thanks for getting me out of there, mom.” 


“Help me get Jenna into the car Mona” said her father. He rode with her in the backseat.


Not a long drive, but to her parent’s home rather than Jenna’s place. She wasn’t ready to go back yet. The house was empty, a tragic reminder of David’s death. What a mess she faced.


The limousine pulled up in front. They planned her trip to the funeral for her benefit. Why fight the inescapable? The cemetery appeared vacant. All that remained concealed the memories of others who experienced the same ordeal.


The memorial so surreal, she tuned out. The service seemed like nothing more than an echo. Jenna imagined David’s spirit beside her. The idea of him nearby helped her get through the platitudes friends kept repeating. She longed to forget and leave the cemetery; a reminder, a place of death.


“We’re leaving.”


“What did you say?


Even though her sister stood at her side, depression controlled her thoughts. She remained oblivious to outside stimulus.


“Sorry, I didn’t mean to ignore you. I …” The words caught in her throat. Tears ran down her cheeks.


Jenna fixed her gaze down the lawn. The old gravestones jutted up from the ground seldom visited. Someone’s past forgotten but a stark reminder of the inevitability of death.


“David,” screamed Jenna, heading across the grass.


Krysta stared in disbelief as Jenna ran away screaming David’s name. She followed after her grabbing her arm as she shuddered ready to collapse.


“Where are you going Jenna?”


“After David, he was standing near the gravestone,” pointed Jenna.


“No you’re mistaken. Grief clouds perception, look closer.  The grounds keeper is cleaning the stone”


“I’m not delusional.”


“We need to get you into bed.  Any further stress and you’ll be in the hospital.”


Nothing pacified her grief. The experience a freak incident she was ill prepared. Her vision was clear, David watched his own funeral. He slipped away without being seen except by her.


“I don’t want to go home and validate his death.”


“Let’s leave. Your hands are trembling. There are no words for what you’re experiencing. Reality gets bent in contact with grief.”


“How dare you insinuate I’m imagining phantoms. Don’t patronize me.”


“I’ll excuse the last remarks.”


“Sorry, if I had the guts I’d join him.”


“Please Jenna don’t give up.”


“Don’t worry Krysta suicide isn’t my blueprint for happiness. Thoughts are one thing, action another.”


Now she stared, eyes vacant from her chair on the porch. They managed to convince her she hallucinated. Two weeks after the funeral her grief eased and Jenna packed to go home.


“Mom, you ready to take me to the house?”


“You sure you want to return this soon?”


“Yeah, I have to start living again, time to get to work.”


“You still plan to rent out your place?”


“That’s the idea Mom. I’m house-sitting for the summer.”


“Where, Jenna?”


Carlton, thirty minutes north of here.”


“Can’t you wait until Friday?”


Rhode Island is dinky. I’m not leaving the state.”


“I’ve got to pack for storage and get David’s possessions ready for his parents.”


“Okay, I wish you’d stay longer.”


“It’ll be cathartic.  Time alone is what I want.”


“But …”


“I need to work on the books mom. I can’t with constant visitors. They keep reminding me of David’s death.”


The house rented with one ad. Freedom meant time to complete her novels. The Marrens were elderly and anxious for Jenna to stay in their home while vacationing. Her sister would drive her.


“Is staying alone in a strange Rhode Island house logical Jenna?”


“Yes Krysta, I’m behind on my novel. I have deadlines to meet. No distractions necessary.”


“I get your work ethic. I’m worried about you.”


“The decision is final. Please stop hassling me. Should I implode into a thousand pieces collect them for me.”


Krysta laughed, but realized Jenna was trying to avoid the seriousness of their conversation and lighten things up. She felt guilty.


“Hope you can tolerate the noise?  The cars speeding up the street to the Interstate are annoying. Who knew you would be spending the summer of 1978, alone. I guess it's time for me to get going. Bye Jen, call me if you need anything."


“Take care, sweetie.”


The phone rang and Mrs. Marren was on the other end. “Hello, we wanted to tell you about our extended family. They show up without calling. Let them inside to retrieve items they stored in the basement. Some have keys to the house. I’m not expecting anyone but I thought I should forewarn you.”


“Thanks for the information. I’ll check out strange sounds before calling the police.”


“I apologize we forgot to leave you a note.  I have to go, we’re about to board our flight. Enjoy yourself Jenna. We’ll see you at summer’s end.”


Jenna embraced the idea of boredom. What a crock thought Jenna. Why such a long list of rules? An envelope contained the security codes, keys, and even a key to the spare car. Access to a vehicle was unexpected. She looked around and grinned. They were collectors. That’s the reason they hired her.


She wanted to inspect her bedroom before she explored further. Upstairs door ajar, she peered inside her room. Jenna was puzzled at its obvious incongruity with the rest of the house. The place was contemporary, for some reason not here. She spied an unusual free-standing mirror in the corner, but ignored it when she climbed onto the bed. Letting her shoes fall to the floor, she opened her arms and stretched out. Wow, she thought, a feather topper. Jenna controlled the urge to roll around on the mattress.


Hunger pangs distracted her. She raced downstairs to check out the kitchen. They kept the area magazine perfect. She stood and stared. The fridge was well stocked with her favorite foods. She grinned and made a sandwich. The family room oozed comfort. The television was large and she decided to take advantage of the luxury of watching since it wasn’t often she had the time.


Tomorrow a walk downtown she thought. She wanted to peruse the shops they passed while driving through Carlton. One of her weaknesses was shopping. but she was a careful shopper. She loved to hunt for bargains. Yet hated to spend her money on items she considered frivolous female expenditures, a conundrum on her part. However, a necessary segue to distract from her blues. She needed the outlet to begin writing again. If she ruined her career, what would she do then?



Chapter Two


The doorbell rang and Jenna jumped, startled by the sudden sharp sound. She made her way to the foyer. There were two Police officers, a man and a woman, on the porch. A man in plain clothes accompanied them.


“Good evening miss, my name is Officer Lewis and this is Officer Hurst.”


“Why are you here, I didn’t call?”


“No your neighbor, Mr. Saunders, called us. He reported a possible burglar in the Marren house.”


Saunders stood next to them looking at the ground. He avoided eye contact.


“Who are you miss? Why are you in this house?”


“The owners hired me to watch the house. They left the country on vacation.”


“Do you possess anything to substantiate your claims?”


“How’s this, my contract and ID?”


He looked at the documents and looked up at Jenna.


“Sorry we bothered you. This was a wasted trip. Tell Mr. and Mrs. Marren to call us next time.  We need to know when someone is staying in their home.”


“I’ll pass on the information.”


“Good, you have our thanks.”


She was trying to be polite, but her anger surfaced. “Are we done? You finished with the inquiry?”


“Yes, here’s my card. Call the number if you need us.”


The neighbor appeared mortified. She had no sympathy for him.  Saunders stood at the bottom of the steps mumbling he was sorry. He left in a hurry back to his house without another word. She watched him walk away, thinking what a strange person occupied the house next door. He was one of those eccentric neighbors you found on every street. She climbed the stairs two at a time to her room, exhausted emotionally and physically. The thought of sleeping on a cloud present in her mind.


Jenna was restless haunted by random dreams of the accident. When the truck hit, Jenna woke up with a start. Her heart was racing. Distracted by the pounding on the front door, she calmed down. She ran down the stairs thinking it was an emergency. Through the peephole, she saw Mr. Saunders. The same person again thought Jenna. What is wrong with him, she wondered? Jenna opened the door for Saunders. He pushed his way inside.


“What’s wrong? Did someone break into the house? Have you been attacked?”


“What are you talking about?” Jenna looked at Saunders confused and thoroughly disgusted by his behavior.


Saunders walked past her peeking behind the curtains and under the couch. The actions were bizarre. His state of agitation obvious as he continued to pace and move around the living room. What was he looking for under the couch she wondered? Jenna watched incredulous. She stepped back staring at him wide-eyed.


“What’s wrong with you?  Have you gone mad?”


“You’re lucky I’m the only one who showed up at your door. I’m sure others in the neighborhood heard you screaming.”


“What are you talking about?” repeated Jenna. “I didn’t know I was screaming. I experienced a nightmare and woke up shaking.  I didn’t mean to disturbed you. Next time, call over here.  The number is in the book under Marren.”  Jenna sighed, realizing he was overwrought and concerned about her welfare. “Why don’t you come into the kitchen? I’ll make us a cup of coffee. Coffee calms my nerves and helps me relax which hasn't been the case lately.”


“There’s nothing wrong over here?” 


“I think that should be obvious by now.” Jenna had grown impatient with his asinine questions. He was trying to hide his embarrassment. Calling the police earlier ruined his chances at instant friendship. She was being polite. “Let’s go into the kitchen. We can talk there.”


“Thank you.” What else could he say after he had created so much havoc in her house?


He followed Jenna over to the kitchen door. Neither of them could see the sudden glow getting brighter in her bedroom.


“Did you hear a noise?” 


“Yes, that’s why I’m over here.”


“Not screaming, said Jenna exasperated. “I mean something different. I thought I heard noise upstairs.”


“No, I heard nothing. Old houses are always making settling sounds.  The pipes are moving and rattling.”


“That’s not what I heard.”


He was beginning to think Jenna might be delusional. He hoped he was wrong about her. She walked into the kitchen. He followed and they both sat down.


“This is my first time in the house. The outside is deceiving.”


“Yes I noticed when I arrived. Are you always jumpy about new neighbors?” He started blushing before he could respond. How comical she thought, but pretended not to notice.


“I don’t know what to say. We have a “Neighborhood Watch” on the block. Mr. and Mrs. Marren didn’t alert us. I saw a stranger in the house and called the cops.”


Jenna knew he was uncomfortable.  He was nerdy which she despised. When he paused, Jenna asked him what he did for a living. She handed Saunders a cup of coffee and sat back down to sip her own.


“I was left money by my parents. They died in a car crash. I decided to stay in their home rather than sell to strangers, completion of my thesis the excuse. I’m a historian and anthropologist specializing in ethnology.”


“My condolences, Mr. Saunders, I can imagine these words have become redundant.”


“I appreciate the thought. They died two years ago. I’m past mourning my parents.  I miss them, which is the downside of living in their house. Call me Steve.”


“What does an ethnologist do, Steve?”


“Trust me you don’t want to know?” he smiled. “Find the meaning in the dictionary.  The meaning will be clearer than my ramblings. I’m not proficient in my explanations of technical ideas.


“Okay, I trust your judgment. I have a general understanding of the subject. I’m impressed, but shades of old pipes and tweed coats in dusty libraries come to mind.”


Steve chuckled. “That’s a colorful description Jenna. I guess you’re right.”


“What’s your thesis topic?”


“Career specific, dry and dull to others, dealing with legends of nomadic tribes.”


“Are you making headway?”


“Yes, he said opening up to her. I’m aware people consider me a bore. I always have my face in a book. I spend hours in the library taking notes and copying materials. Guess I’m a loner as well.”


“I see I opened a flood-gate. Don’t you have anyone to share your interests?”


“Nope, as I stated I’m reclusive.”


She noticed his intensity about his work. Yet he exhibited a humorous side. His line of research was dry but she paid attention to his words. Steve noticed she listened. The two drank their coffee and he told her his passions. She found his private interest in the paranormal intriguing.


“What about you?”


“Not much to say. I’m a writer. My specialty is romance novels but recently I've branched out into mystery and the paranormal, but I haven't had anything published yet in that area.  It's not my forte and I don't generally write anything more than straight romances."


“Sounds difficult to me, creativity with urgency.”


“Yes, the field is saturated and competitive. I met a friend of my father. He gave me the break I needed.”


“Now you house sit for a living?”


“No, but we’ll save that for another time.”


Steve stood up and said, “I’d better get going. I need time to rest. Got an appointment tomorrow. Thanks for the coffee and good talk. I’m sorry about the trouble I caused earlier.”


“You’re forgiven.”


“Good luck with your writing.” He turned and left.


Jenna stood watching Steve walk away. Maybe she should have been more compassionate to him. Shutting the door, she headed upstairs. She hoped to catch some of the sleep she missed spending time with this ditzy man. When she woke up six hours had passed.



Chapter Three


Jenna stretched in bed contemplating a lazy day. Lack of sleep disturbed her thinking and ability to function. Her therapist swore a sure sign of her depression. She slept longer now providing Steve didn’t interfere. She dressed and left the house. Around the corner was her target, the occult bookstore.


She reached over her head to pull a book off the shelf. This culminated in books scattered about the floor. Annoyed, she bent to pick them up. A voice out of nowhere asked if she needed help. Jenna glanced up into a pair of blue eyes and replied, “No I’m fine thank you.”


“Let me help put these books back on the shelf.”


“If you insist.”


“My name is Quinn. You can find me at the front counter.”


He towered over her, his auburn hair worn long but tied back. She stared at a tattoo of a spider visible on his neck. Not an ordinary spider, a symbol reminiscent of a tribal marking. Jenna continued down the isle. She needed information for her novel which didn’t include gawking at young men.


“I’ve decided on this book.”


“A great choice! Banks is a thorough author and noted expert on herbs and their folkloric history.”


“Yes, my sister recommended his books. I want to ask you an embarrassing question.”


“Okay, ask away. Don’t be shy.”


“Have we met somewhere?”


Quinn smiled, entertained by the question. “No, I don’t think so miss.”


“I’m confused. I guess that’s not a rational idea.” She glanced down and avoided his eyes. She felt foolish and cliché.


“I don’t think we’ve met. I would remember meeting you. I’ve traveled to numerous places in the world including most of the United States.  You never know.”


“You have? That’s probably the answer. I’m assuming you don’t own this store?”


“Yes, I’m the owner. I’m rarely here. I own a few of these stores around the country. I visit when I’m between digs.”


“Digs? I’m not sure what you mean.”


“I’m an archaeologist. I finished a dig in South America. I either teach or work at one of my stores in the interim."


“Oh, now I understand, I apologize. I’m prying into your private life.”


“Not a problem. I find your questions refreshing. You didn’t ask me about my hair.”


“You need to rethink your last remark.  Hair color like yours is rare.”


“In whose opinion?”


“My stylist says our color is rare. Your hair is a foot longer and I’m envious. Grown past the waist isn’t common for a man these days.”


“Yes an unusual coincidence. The questions get tiresome though. The touching irritates me.”


“Yes, I guess a bit too personal.”


“Exactly, I work miles outside of civilization. I don’t shave or cut my hair, which may change soon. I do meet lots of people this way.”


Jenna heard a slight accent but kept quiet. “I bet,” she grinned. “In your case, I would suspect women?”


“You’ve got me pegged I see. I surrender to your intuitiveness.” They both started laughing. "I hope this doesn’t offend you but it’s time for lunch. Would you consider having lunch with me?”


Jenna paused to think. She didn’t know him, but she’d take a chance. “Sure, I was thinking about a place to eat. I’m not familiar with Carlton. Thanks for the invitation.”


“Glad you accepted. I hate to eat alone.”


The phone rang somewhere in a back room. Quinn excused himself. Jenna heard his voice and picked up a word or phrase. She listened knowing she was guilty of eavesdropping. 


“Is there a problem Quinn?” 


“No, my brother worried about a personal issue, nothing out of the ordinary.”


Quinn locked his cash register and put a closed sign on the door. He opened the door and motioned for Jenna to go outside. He stopped and asked, "What’s your name?"


“Oh, I forgot to tell you.” 


“Yes you did, but you can fix that detail now.”


“My name is Jenna Gabriel.”


“Nice to meet you.” He smiled and winked.  "Take my hand and follow me.”


“Ah, a mysterious man.”


“Not really. My thing is sharing. I’m into illumination.  Hence my metaphysical store. Some prefer the word occult.”


“Perhaps you can illuminate me?  At the moment your words are cryptic.”


“Yes and you'll learn why in time, providing I don’t scare you away.”


“I noticed your height, near seven feet tall.”


“Everyone notices how tall I am. It's a common topic of conversation with people I've just met. We're all tall. I have to crane my neck to talk to everybody.”




“Yes, my brothers and myself.”


“How many brothers?”


“Three of us born on the same day. You’re not exactly petite, I’m guessing six foot?”


“That’s a spot on guess.”


“Did you invest in a lot of flat shoes?”


She flashed an annoyed look at his outrageous bid for comedy but laughed regardless.


“Yes, but my family is average height. The females no more than five-foot five. I’m the only one with this hair color.”


“You weren’t adopted?”


“Not that I’m aware. They never mentioned adoption.”


The time passed as he drank warm ale and she drank a soda. She enjoyed herself for the first time since the funeral. Quinn walked Jenna back to the store and she thanked him. He bent forward and gave her a kiss on the cheek saying, “My pleasure.” He handed her his business card.


“If you need to get hold of me to assist you with technical information for your book, call me any evening after eight. I’m usually home by that time. If not leave a message and I’ll return your call.”


“I enjoyed your company. One last thing Quinn, you’re a triplet? I just want to clarify what you told me."


“Technically yes, Niall was born first. He’s a single and Orin and I are twins. I hope that satisfies your curiosity.”


“I’m not sure; temptation and I are old friends.” She looked up laughing.


“I’ll ask the questions next time." Quinn grinned, walked her to the corner and kissed her on the cheek.  He said he hoped to be seeing her soon. Took the short walk back to his shop and started unlocking the door.

What a difference from David and sexy as well. She turned back and waved to him before he went inside. The walk down the street toward the Marren house was filled with thoughts of Quinn. She knew she shouldn't be interested in any man so close to David’s death but Quinn was definitely a charmer. Jenna stared at the business card Quinn had handed her. She read, Quinn Fitch, archaeologist and entrepreneur. Two numbers were listed, home and business. Beneath his phone numbers in parenthesis she found Golden Door, owner. She had explained why she moved into town. She wasn’t up to talking about David’s death yet, the subject taboo at the moment.



Chapter Four


Jenna approached the Marren house. Steve sat on his porch poring over something. At first, she thought he was writing but he held a document. She didn’t want to intrude so she tried to pretend she hadn’t seen him sitting there.


“Hey there,” said Steve waving.


Jenna looked up. “I didn’t see you sitting on the porch.” She lied since it was expedient. “I took a walk into town today and I’m beat. Please excuse me. Right now a nap is on my mind.”


“Don’t worry about it.  We can talk another time.”


“Yes, later.”  Jenna started walking up the porch steps. Right in front of the door sat a package. The name was odd, Mihai Marrenescu. Jenna walked to the end of the steps. Steve was still sitting on his porch.


“Steve, sorry to bother you, but I found this package for Mihai Marrenescu. Do you know him?”


“Yes, the Marren’s son. Why do you ask?”


“I’m confused. They never mentioned a son or the name difference.”


“The name, that’s nothing. Many immigrate to the US. They Americanize their last names. His family is from Romania.   The ‘escu’ was removed.”


“Does their son live here?”


“Not that I’m aware. He stops by the house now and then. I think he travels. His parents may get his mail. I have no idea.”


“Thanks Steve. Now I know his identity.  I’m exhausted, excuse me, I need sleep."


“Rest well Jenna.”


Back inside, she went upstairs to her room. She didn’t realize the extent of her fatigue and climbed up on the bed, curled into the fetal position and slept.


When Jenna woke up, other than a sliver of light showing through the shade, it was dark in her room. Her stomach was growling, a sign she needed to eat. Someone knocked on the door as she sat down. Maybe it’s another neighbor. The lights blazed but the Marrens were not at home.


Jenna opened the door, the safety latch left attached.


“Who’s at the door?"


“Sorry to bother you this late. I’m Michael Marren. I hope you received a package for me?"


“Yes, of course, come inside.” Jenna unlocked the door.


“Go ahead and sit down. I’m going to the kitchen. Water’s boiling on the stove.”


Michael scrutinized Jenna as she returned from the kitchen.  She wore no make-up, dressed in casual clothing, yet she was stunningly beautiful.


“I started to say, no one told me about you. The nosy neighbor explained.”


"I use an English version of my name. Mihai is Michael in Romanian.”


“I see, but no accent?"


“What nosy neighbor?”


“He lives next door. He’s on the Neighborhood Watch. Your parents didn’t tell anyone concerning their trip. I got a visit from the police. The neighbor identified me as a burglar. The police expect notification when someone hires a house-sitter and there's a local Neighborhood Watch.”


“My parents are getting old. They live by a code of honor. People don’t meddle into each other’s business you see. It would be an invasion of their privacy to contact the police. What a busy couple of days you’ve experienced.”


“Yes as you can imagine.”


“Mama told me someone would be staying in the house. I hadn’t realized they’d hired you. When I drove up I saw the lights. I suppose you’re still wondering about the accent?"


“Yeah, I forgot. What’s with the accent?”


“I was born in the United States. My parents came here four months after mama conceived. Aside from being accused of burglary, what’s your profession? I doubt you stay in strange houses for a living.”


“I’m a writer.”


“A writer, what an interesting occupation. What type? I’m curious too. I’ll ask you about your accent next.” Michael looked her up and down.  A slow grin crossed his face while he waited for her to answer.


“A comedian I see. I write paper back novels. The type you see on shelves in women’s homes. It’s a living. I write articles for magazines and newspapers, the occasional book review. As for the accent, I’m detailed. I notice subtle things about people. You’re not the first I’ve asked.”


“Explains the question. Why use your writing as an excuse for curiosity?”


“That’s a convoluted idea don’t you think?  What do you do?”


“I’m a professional pilot. I fly private jets. I own charter companies.  When the courts contact me I do interpreting. I speak a number of languages."


“A well-rounded education.”


“Yes, I went to school in a variety of countries. My parents sent me to live with relatives around the world. I’m Romani but our family line stopped traveling. It’s been this way for generations.”


“How unusual.”


“Not these days.”


“You’ve led a colorful life. Must be helpful in your line of business.”


“I guess. I hadn’t thought about it.”


“I’m impressed. A lifestyle most would covet.”


“No need, you flatter me.”


“No, your life is impressive.” Jenna deliberately flirted but didn’t care.


“I’d like to take you flying Jenna. How about dinner?”


“I’ve never been on a jet. Sounds exciting and scary. Yes I’d love to go.”


“I know the number here, I’ll call you. Time to leave. A day full of business meetings tomorrow.”


“How did you know my name? I forgot to tell you. I got sidetracked. This is the second time in a short period.”


“You forgot to introduce yourself to someone else?”


“Yes, earlier today.”


“I found your name on your contract. You left it on the coffee table. I’m afraid I peeked when you detoured to the kitchen."


“I forgot I left the contract there.”


“Next time we can talk about your writing. Maybe I’ll read one of your girly books."


“Yes, next time." She hoped that would be soon. She found him mysterious. Michael’s coloring was darker than the majority of men she had dated. The best description, exotic. She thought of him as romantic with an earring dangling from his left ear and about thirty-three.


“No, I’m thirty-two,” said Michael. He walked out the door smiling leaving Jenna blown away by his response.


She shook her head and strolled back into the family room. Still hungry, her sandwich on her mind. She didn’t notice the dry bread. Her thoughts of David returned. Jenna tried to focus on the movie. She was going to watch TV.  No more mental debates about men past or present.


Jenna heard a light rapping coming from the backdoor.  She glanced out the door and there stood Steve. His unannounced visits suggested a nasty habit developing.


“Hi Steve what’s up?”


“I know it’s late. The light in your room keeps flashing on and off. I have my curtains shut, but it’s bright. I don’t have blackout curtains.”


“The light is off upstairs. I left the room in darkness. Let’s investigate to satisfy your curiosity.”


Steve followed her upstairs.  She swung open the door, and they peered into a dark room.


“I don’t understand.  I know what I saw.  The light kept going on and off.”


“Not now as you can see. Let me see you to the front door. I think you need to get some rest. I need to get some sleep too.  Didn’t you notice the time, past midnight?”


“Not really. I noticed the damn light. I’m going to get blackout curtains tomorrow.”


“You do that.  Good night Steve.”  Jenna shut the door and went upstairs. The mess would have to wait. She was at her limit.  The stress affected her sleep. The men needed to learn to read a clock. Her head ached from the disruption.  She took the job to write, recover alone and avoid socializing. She resented the conflict and considered breaking her contract.



Chapter Five


Jenna tried to ignore the noise downstairs and rolled over to go back to sleep. The sound increased getting louder.  Someone kept pounding on her front door. She looked at the clock and saw it was three in the morning. She heard her name being called and recognized the voice.  She grumbled to herself and put on her robe.


Steve was standing on her doorstep. “What’s the matter Steve, is your house on fire this time?” Jenna was exasperated and thinking of getting a restraining order.


“Not exactly Jenna.”


“Why bang on my door at this time of night or more accurate, morning?”


“I’m not getting any sleep Jenna. What’s going on over here? I thought someone was trying to kill you.  This problem has to be resolved. I need my peace and quiet at night. If you haven’t noticed, your bedroom window is right across from mine. When you started screaming I woke up. I rushed over here with the idea someone broke into the house. What would you do? There’s the chance one night might be different.”


“Are you finished with your harangue?”


“I guess.” He stood with his arms folded in front of him, sullen like a child.


“Come in and sit down, I apologize Steve, I had no idea. I thought maybe you had an emergency. I wasn’t up to it. I was sound asleep. I got angry. I’m not civil when I get disturbed while sleeping. In fact, a few people I know used some colorful expletives to describe my behavior.”


“I’ve noticed your downside. This is the second time I’ve heard you. I thought someone hurt you.”


Jenna felt demoralized. She sensed Steve’s anger.


“Listen Steve, I have to tell you something. I wasn’t ready the last time you made a nighttime visit.”


Steve decided to remain quiet and listen.


“Approximately a month ago my fiancé died a horrible death in a car accident.  I witnessed the accident. The experience spawned frightening, disjointed nightmares. My therapist gave me medications to help me sleep. Nothing helped. I don’t know what to do.  The diagnosis is night terrors. She decided what I experience mimics a nightmare. Makes no sense to me.”


“You need to continue therapy. Sleep isn't the cure for you. Are you depressed? Grief is debilitating. This of course is my opinion.”


“True, but I’m stymied. There’s no stopping these dreams.”


“Can you talk about the details with me?”


“I don’t know. It’s difficult to talk about the accident. I end up in tears. I need to make some coffee first.  Come into the kitchen. As I said before, when you were here last, it helps me relax.” 


Steve got up and followed Jenna into the kitchen. He hoped she would open up and tell him about the accident.  A vent might release the suppressed emotions she carried around.


Jenna poured the freshly made coffee into mugs and sat down. She began to tell him what she had experienced. Steve saw the look on her face and couldn’t fathom what he heard.


“I’m not sure if the police report is right, everything blurred.  A man in a construction truck crossed the intersection against the light. He tried to stop, but skid hitting our car.  A long piece of metal flew off the truck. I ducked down yelling to David.  The rod shot through the window into his head killing him instantly. They called the metal rod rebar. The driver of the truck freaked. I refused to talk to him, hysterical for the first time in my life. I tried to wake David in confusion. My mind rejected his death, oblivious to blood and brain matter covering my clothing. I relive these moments in gruesome nightmares. They tried to calm me down.  I screamed and screamed at the scene of the accident. They found some cuts and bruising, nothing else. EMS sedated me. When I woke up the memory was dim. The accident flooded my mind.  I started screaming at the hospital and the doctor sedated me again.”


“My god what an ordeal. I’m sorry I bothered you. You experienced something devastating.”


“No doubt the worst experience of my life. Now I’m having nightmares or night terrors, something. Talking about the accident seems clinical. I won’t discuss it again unless forced.”


“Have you tried writing in a journal? Incidents written down help release pent up emotion. When entries are read they aid healing. A catastrophic experience is difficult for anyone.”


“A great idea. My therapist didn’t suggest a journal.”


“I do understand Jenna.” Steve went on to tell her about how his parents died.


“I decided to vacation with my parents.  The road curved into the mountains.  A deer suddenly ran in front of the car. I tried to avoid hitting the animal, but one of the tires struck a sharp object and blew.  The car careened across the road and flipped. Lucky me, I survived, thrown out beside the road. My parents went into a ravine with the car.  When the car hit bottom it exploded. I ended up with a few cuts and a concussion. I could swear I heard my mother scream. Doctors said they died on impact according to autopsy findings.  I moved next door two years ago and rarely drive a car.”


“You’re not to blame. Freak accidents happen.”


“Yes, but I wasn’t rational. I was drinking everyday after the accident.  I almost ruined my life. One day I stopped. Now I drink the occasional glass of wine or beer.”


“Let’s go back to bed. We both need rest. I’m grateful for your concern Steve.”


“Yes or we’ll end up in the hospital, diagnosis, sleep deprivation. Good night Jenna.”


Jenna turned off the porch light and the light she had turned on at the bottom of the stairs. Telling a stranger her problems countered Jenna’s personality. She would never forget David but she wanted to forget the accident. She hoped she survived what remained of the night dreamless.


Jenna went to the window. Steve stood in his room across the way. The light went out, a signal to go back to sleep. She fell asleep and as she did a pinpoint of light formed in her mirror. It was growing brighter but Jenna didn’t stir, too tired to even notice.



Chapter Six


The phone rang at the side of Jenna’s bed. She looked at the clock. Oh no she thought, half-past ten, but she wanted to sleep longer. Jenna picked up the phone and heard someone say, “Hello Jenna.”


“Who is this calling?”


“Quinn, don’t you recognize my voice?”


“No.  You got my phone number, how?”


“You mentioned the owners of the house. I flipped through the telephone directory and voila. Did I wake you?”


“Yes Quinn. Okay, you found me, what’s up?”


“Tomorrow night a well-known medium will be channeling at my store. I booked a private session, invitation only.  I thought you’d enjoy a new experience.”


“Thanks for thinking of me. Anything recommended prior to the channeling?”


“Eat vegetarian tomorrow. No smoking or drinking, only water.”


“Sure, I’m up for the veggie thing. The rest is insignificant. Anything else?”


"Bring something for notes. Recorders and cameras are forbidden.”


“Right, a notebook is definite. What time?"


“Start time is nine o'clock. Please don’t be late. We’ll have to start without you. Once we’ve started you stay outside. Someone came into the shop. See you tomorrow night, bye.”


Today she felt lazy. The idea of getting dressed the last thing on her mind. She needed more sleep but decided to go downstairs, clean up the mess she had left and try to write.


What is that buzzing sound Jenna thought? She realized it was her pager set on vibrate from the previous day. Avoidance had been her plan. She hated to lie. Diane, her editor, was paging to check on the progress of her first draft. She picked up the phone and dialed.


“Hello Megan, this is Jenna. Yes, I’m fine thank you.  Diane paged me. I’m calling her back.”


Diane was sympathetic but her first priority, a good business woman. She could be relentless when a deadline needed to be met.


“Hello Diane. I’m doing all right.  Thanks for asking. Yes, I’m working on the story. I’ll send it in the mail tomorrow. Okay, sure.  I’ll include a general outline of the story I pitched to you. Why request the outline now? Oh, I didn’t know.  Will do, bye.”


What next? Now she wanted an outline of her subsequent book. She never made her send in an overview of her stories. Three years and now the newbie treatment. The publishing company changed some of their policies according to Diane.


Jenna worked on her book for the rest of the day. Her writing completed, she checked the time.  The clock on the mantel showed six. Time to get ready to go to Quinn’s store. Jenna jumped at a sudden noise upstairs. She got up to check. She rounded the corner at the top of the stairs. A dim light cast a shadow when she passed. Creepy, thought Jenna. She began to open her bedroom door and the light started to fade. She yanked the door open and the light went out.  The mirror was the point of origin. The mirror was massive, but she managed to slide it from the wall. An unfamiliar symbol was painted on the back. She didn’t see anything else. There was nearly an hour before she needed to be at the store, time to eat. She entered the kitchen when the phone rang.


“Hello,” answered Jenna


“Hi, this is Michael,”


Jenna paused and replied, “Michael I hadn’t expected to speak with you this soon.”


“I’ll be coming into town Friday. I have a check for you and for your expenses. What’s a good time for me to drop by?”


“After three would be ideal. I write in the mornings and into the afternoon."


“I have business earlier. The time frame is perfect. I’d like to take you to dinner.  We can fly to a nearby town. I know a superb restaurant.  You like lobster, Jenna?”


“My favorite shellfish.”


“Would you go with me?”


“Is there really any doubt Michael?”


“You’re in a mood aren’t you? Coy, a new side of you.”


“Wait until tomorrow for analysis. Gotta’ go Michael, I’m going out.”


“Quinn promoting a channeling session?”


“Why yes.  You have underground sources of information?”


“I’m intuitive. Quinn makes money hosting psychics.”


“Been to any of these demonstrations?”


“No, people tell me things. Must be my gypsy charm. What trickles down is by word-of-mouth and limited.  Small town gossip.”


“Yes, I can imagine. I've run across the chatter in my home town. Where are you, Michael?”


“My main branch in Atlanta.”


“You have a lot of offices.  Your job must keep you busy.”


“Around holidays, yes. I’m used to the stress that goes with the season.”


“Your career is exciting. I envy you.”


“No, pretty routine Jenna. Clients are thoughtless. I get tired of the bullshit.”


“You’re jaded Michael. The job reeks of the glamorous lifestyle; jetsetters.”


“Routine work most of the time. Talk to you tomorrow Jenna, bye.”


That was a shocker.  She wondered where he planned to take her. Jenna noticed the time on the clock. Disappoint Quinn, no way. That was not an option. Snatching her purse and jacket, she ran to the car.



Chapter Seven


Jenna parked across from the Golden Door. The note on the front door directed guests to the alley door. Quinn opened the door and let Jenna into the hallway between the storefront and his office. He showed her into a room straight ahead off the hall. Chairs were placed in rows. A recliner faced the chairs in front next to a podium and microphone.


Quinn seated her and said he’d be back after the channeling. Jenna had expected a room full of women. The mix of people in the room consisted of ages from teen to elderly and a lot of ethnic diversity.  Quinn sat by the door waiting for the cue to turn down the lights. The room was noisy with participants talking to those around them. Some seemed to be friends or relatives. Quinn got up and introduced the psychic to the audience. He lived in Chicago and toured giving lectures and doing channeling sessions for groups and individuals. 


“Good evening. My name is Bailey Conover. I’ll be channeling for you tonight. The guide in attendance is Fogarty. He’s affable and precise with his responses.”


“What’s the purpose of a guide Mr. Conover?” asked someone behind her.


“He’s my safety net, an intermediary.  Fogarty is the means to gaining a gateway for anyone who wishes to use him as a tool to speak. I channel with another guide as well but tonight only Fogarty. He’ll forward information from some who won’t speak via a medium.  Spirits on the other side are as nervous about mediums as anyone else.”


The audience laughed at the remark. Conover sat down, adjusted his recliner leaning back. He muttered a few words asking for protection for himself and everyone in the room.


“All right, Quinn, if you will dim the lights, we’ll get started.”


He moved getting comfortable and leaned forward. What she heard next astonished her. A man with a slight Irish brogue began speaking.


“Good evening everyone.  I didn’t expect such a large group of people. Raise your hand and I’ll answer questions as time allows. My name is Sean Fogarty, but you can address me as Fogarty.”


“You probably were expecting a rogue with a lilting Irish voice. You’ll be disappointed because it's not as obvious anymore. I’m using this carcass to speak. I need to access Conover’s mental records to be able to understand what people are asking me. I’ve learned enough over the years to be reliable in my responses. Modern society is different from the life I lived.”


Fogarty captivated Jenna. She laughed like others in the audience. Whether the speaker was Bailey or someone else, he was a hoot. 


A woman raised her hand in the back of the room.


“Yes dear, what’s your question?”


“How can you see us with your eyes closed?”


“I don’t need his eyes. I’m able to discern everyone in light or dark."


“What did you do in your lifetime?” said the same woman.


“Well darlin’, he paused, “I redistributed money. I took from the rich and gave to the poor, me. My classification, pickpocket.”


Everyone in the room laughed including Jenna. Fogarty entertained the audience regardless of his paranormal aspect.


“Let’s clarify the substance of what you found hilarious, shall we? I stole for necessity and not dishonesty. I objected to my family starving during the famine.”


A man at the other side of the room said, “We apologize to you Fogarty for the laughter but you’re a very entertaining entity.”


“You don’t understand I’m not an entity. I lived as a man same as you in my lifetime as Fogarty. The frame of reference is different without a body. Where I exist we think of you as dead. There’s much you cannot see, we can see. I’m at a higher frequency. I learned to work with frequency levels and this is how I can communicate with you through someone who is attuned. Everyone else is cut off unless they work with one of these instruments like Bailey here. I’m not an amorphous bit of ectoplasm floating around the cosmos.”


Time passed and the questions dealt with dead relatives or items they had lost and wanted to recover. No academic or serious questions. Nothing to spark Jenna’s interest.


“Young lady in the second row, end chair, don’t you have questions for me?”


“You mean me?” Jenna gaped at the audience, embarrassed being singled out.


Yes dearie, I mean you. I’m waiting.”


“Yes but...”


“Ah now, don’t be shy young woman.”


“Where are you located and where does Mr. Conover go when you take over his body?”


“You ask the hard questions.  The best description is the multi.  Bailey goes to the turtle pond or the Library.”


“What’s the multi?”


“Some call it the multiverse, or alternate dimensions, things of this sort.”


“Please explain the turtle pond and the Library.”


“You’re an inquisitive one now aren’t ya’ girl? The turtle pond is a metaphor for a place to contemplate and rest. The Library is what some folks call the Akashic Records. Before you ask me to define Akashic Records, I’ll answer the question ahead of time. The Library is a location where all human knowledge is kept, including the history of the universe.  Not everyone accepts the validity of the Library. Hope my answer is satisfactory?”


“Yes,” Jenna responded. She didn’t know what else to say, unfamiliar with any of the terms he mentioned.


“What else?  I know there are a number of things itchin’ to get out.”


“Is David here?”


“Lots of David’s over here. Be more specific dear?”


“David Bradley, I’m sorry.”


“Oh that guy, the one who keeps trying to get my attention. I’ll pass onto you what he is obsessing about. Listen to me carefully. David is saying the accident was meant to happen. Don’t be unhappy but move on with your life.  He gave you a warning about someone but he faded out. I’m sorry dear, he’s gone. His energy is depleted. He’s not use to communicating with those on your plane. This David of yours is disoriented. I caught a goodbye and remember he will always love you. He mumbled your name but all I heard was juh or something like that. Sorry nothing profound.”


“It’s Jenna. Thank you Fogarty.”


Others raised their hands and asked numerous questions until Fogarty said Bailey needed to come back, the link was getting weak. He would be too fatigued if he continued any longer.


“May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past,” said Fogarty. He left with a goodbye to everyone.


Conover moved forward, rubbed his eyes and stretched. “You can turn up the light Quinn.”


Quinn turned the light up and gave Conover what appeared to be a glass of orange juice. Conover got up and walked to the podium.


“I hope you enjoyed the session. If you’d like to book private readings or channelings, see Quinn. I’ll be in town for two weeks, but my time is limited. You can leave donations for this session if you wish with Quinn. I don’t charge fees for the readings or channelings but it’s helpful for my expenses. Thank you and goodnight.”


Guests were getting up to shake hands with Conover and others were leaving. Some of the guests were giving donations and booking sessions.  Jenna was trying to finish her notes before she left. The details would fade and be sketchy by the time she got home. She wanted to incorporate similar ideas into her new story. It was fortunate she had learned shorthand in her senior year of high school. School ended six years prior but she remembered her steno. Jenna closed her notebook and put her pencil in her purse.


“Did you enjoy yourself Jenna? Was Bailey what you expected?”


“I’m… I have no words, a mind-blowing performance. If you host another medium put me on the guest list.”


“Of course, I always have someone each month. I’m not sure who I’m booking yet. Bailey is not a performance artist, he’s for real. I’ll call you again. My sales boost when one of the readers guests here. Paranormal investigation is an indulgence and passion of mine.”


“My neighbor shares your passion. I’ll introduce the two of you.”


“I have to see the guests out Jenna. Thanks for coming. I’m happy you enjoyed yourself.” He excused himself and walked over to the door as his guests were leaving.


Jenna decided to leave. She walked to the table and left ten dollars in the donation basket. She turned to find Bailey Conover standing behind her.


“I wanted to say something to you. When I came out of trance and looked around the room, I saw a shadow behind you. Not a good sign in my opinion. Thought I should forewarn you. I prefer to keep delicate information to myself, an unwritten code of ethics among psychics. Your case seemed urgent. Someone is intervening in whatever is happening in your life. Please be careful.”


“Wow, I’m speechless.  Thanks Mr. Conover for the warning. I’m confused but I’ll take it seriously.”


“I hope you do. Please call me Bailey. There’s something nagging at me about you,” he continued.  “Recognition but I can’t seem to place the origin.  I’m not all knowing even if people idolize psychics. Sometimes I’m stumped. The impressions don’t make sense or are vague. Do you understand young lady?”


“I’m terribly sorry. My name is Jenna Gabriel. Name dropping hasn’t been my vocation lately. I’m forgetting to introduce myself. It’s really weird too because it’s not like me but at the moment it seems to be the norm.”


“I wouldn’t worry about it Jenna. May I call you by your first name?"




“When one undergoes stress, has a traumatic experience, it can cause forgetfulness.”


“Someone close to me died in a car accident.”


“Recognize the connection? Doesn’t take a psychic to figure that one out. Sometimes it’s about understanding body language. Many psychics have the knack. Debunkers trivialize psychic abilities to cold readings and body language. Nowhere near the truth.  Body language is a jump-start to figuring out the over all picture of what we are receiving.  Clients get nasty and I get embarrassed because people think I should know everything but I don’t. I’m just a man with a gift I didn’t ask for. Psychics make the best out of what they've been given. Oh, there’s my wife. I’d better be going. It’s been delightful meeting you Jenna.  I hope to see you again soon.” 


Conover went over to Quinn and said something she couldn’t hear and left out the door. His wife, what she could see of her, was waiting for him outside the alley door. Jenna felt overwhelmed and decided it was about time she left. She preferred not to be the last person left in Quinn’s store. At the door, she turned, Quinn had reached over and grabbed her hand.


“I’m glad you came tonight Jenna. I’ll give you a call soon.” He squeezed her hand and smiled.


“I’ll be waiting.” Jenna forgot she was holding his hand.  He was staring at her. She looked down overcome with shyness.


He gradually released his hand from her grip. Quinn noticed he was making her uncomfortable. He felt satisfaction he unnerved her and told her goodbye.


When she got home she realized she was hungry. She decided to go into the kitchen and eat. The fridge was full. Her decadent side spurred her on to eat and take a leisurely bath before bed. The fact the clock read 1:00 am didn’t faze her. She would set her alarm so she wouldn’t miss getting to the post office in time to mail her manuscript.



Chapter Eight


Morning came sooner than Jenna expected. What an irrational thought she realized because it came when it came.  The grogginess that followed each night plagued her, a reoccurring problem since she had started house sitting  for the Marren family. She was there to write and rest but it hadn’t panned out that way so far.


Downstairs her rough draft was still lying on the table. She didn’t know why she thought it would be moved but she had been having strange ideas lately. Turning on the radio, she heard a song from the movie Grease.  She really wanted to see the movie, but she wouldn’t get the time to go to the theater while it was playing.  The usual outcome would be to see it on television which might be a long time afterward. 1978 is almost over she thought and she would be turning twenty-five in November. Depression had left her with a sense of growing old even though she knew it was another silly thought.  She wasn’t even thirty yet, which was a milestone in her mind.


She hadn’t arrived in Carlton on the first of the month . There had been some last minute arrangements made concerning David which held her up a few days. Carlton was typical of many towns in Rhode Island. The population was low. Therefore, the theater wouldn’t be packed. Maybe Quinn might be interested in seeing the film providing he could find free time. He was busy with his shop and who knew what else. Of all the people she had met, he was her favorite. He was casual, considerate and open to new things. First priority at the moment was to focus her mind on getting her manuscript and walking down to the post office.


Handing the clerk her money, she was glad she finally got her novel sent off. It was one less thing to worry about.  She wasn’t going to start writing on the next novel until Monday.  She needed a break, a whole new life. House sitting wasn’t the panacea she’d hoped, but it was better than staying back home grieving over David’s death. Why even think about it anymore? It was time to move on, there was no choice. Coming out of the post office she ran head long into Steve.  He was carrying a package which he almost dropped. 


“Hi. I'm surprised to meet you here, but then I have met you under some of the strangest circumstances." Steve acted nervous but he laughed to take the edge off.


“Why is it so strange, Steve? This is Carlton and there’s only one post office.”


“We keep running into each other even though we’re living next door. I know very few of the neighbors. You’ve only been here a short time and I know you more intimately than anyone else in town. It’s ironic because you’re only visiting for awhile.”


“I guess." Jenna was bored by the conversation and in a rush to get away from Steve.


“I think I should tell you, you left your light on in your room. I saw it when I came out my door. It’s pretty bright.”


“That’s odd, I was sure it was off when I went downstairs. There’s only one light in my room and it’s a twenty-five watt light. It’s not very bright. For some reason, the Marrens only put one lamp in the bedroom. It’s one of those old-fashioned floor lamps. There’s a light in the bathroom but I know I didn’t leave it on.  How strange but thanks for telling me. I’ll check when I go home.” 


Who cares if I left the light on, she thought. He was becoming meddlesome like an old woman.  She wished he would mind his own business once in awhile. She liked him and she knew he was trying to be nice, but she felt he was really odd and she didn’t want to spend much time around him.


“I have to get going Steve. I’ll talk to you later.” Jenna turned and walked down the street toward the house.


Steve stood there with his mouth agape wondering what was wrong with her.  He never would understand women he thought and especially this one. He looked down at the box thinking how glad he was he hadn’t dropped it.  He would be very upset if he broke his Aunt's birthday present. Getting the package shipped right away was a priority, so he forgot about his encounter with his moody neighbor and went into the post office.


Jenna was crossing the street corner when Quinn came out of his shop and locked the door. He looked up and saw her and hurried over to the corner as she came to the other side.


“Hi there. I wasn't expecting to see you today."


“Hi back. What are you doing down here this time of day?” He smiled and winked. “Aren’t you usually sleeping into the morning?” 


“How perceptive of you.” Jenna responded in a sarcastic tone, not in the mood for playing word games after seeing Steve.  “You know it was only one morning due to my neighbor. I ran into him at the post office.  I don’t want to stand here long. He’s being a pest.”


“I locked up for lunch, you want to come along?  I know you loved the pub and that’s where I’m goin’ right now.”


There was the accent again.  This time Jenna intended to ask him about it.  She knew he had been around the world but for some reason she didn’t think he was born in the United States. Jenna, a stickler for details, often created embarrassing moments for herself due to her lack of tact at times. She realized she was too inquisitive to the point of prying.


Quinn grabbed her hand and they walked together to the pub. They sat in a booth this time and Jenna was trying to figure out how to bring up the subject.


“Jenna, I can tell something is on your mind. I have a hunch I know what it is by the way you reacted to something I said.  Is it my accent? I have to tell ya’, people ask me all the time but you were polite enough to refrain. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. You accepted me just for who you thought I was. It’s nice for a change. Everyone is always grilling me about my hair, about my heritage and a lot of other things. It’s nice to have a friend that wants to have a good time and not ask constant questions.”


“I don’t know if I can live up to that standard.” Jenna smiled but lowered her eyes from his gaze, embarrassed. “I warned you how inquisitive I am.  I was going to ask you.”


“I know and now I’m going to tell you. I wasn’t born in the states as you've obviously discerned. I’m from Ireland. I was about twelve when my parents brought me to the US. I actually have many places I could call home.  This is only one among them.”


“Yeah, I kind of picked up on that." Jenna felt sheepish but smiled to hide her feelings.


“I noticed, as I said the other day, you're a very intuitive woman. Now we've moved past this subject, what would you like to eat?” 


Jenna pointed on the menu and smiled. 


“Sheppard’s pie, one of my favorites."


The waiter arrived and said, "Are you ready to order?”


“Yes, Carl, two orders of Sheppard’s pie, a cola for the lady and a pint for me.”


“Wonderful choice. Our chef adds his own special ingredients to a simple recipe.  It’s a favorite here. I’ll place your order and if there’s anything else you would like, either of you, just call out my name. I’ll hear ya’.”


Jenna and Quinn talked the gamut of their interests. He spoke about his next dig which would be connected to the Incas. He would be in Bolivia for about eighteen months. She hated the idea he would be leaving town.  She was already fond of him, but at least he wasn’t going for about a year. Who knew where either of them would be months from now.


“Yes, it’ll be interesting. I’m afraid I’ll have to cut my hair some. I’m not looking forward to that but I’ll save it as sort of a trophy.” He grinned looking uncomfortable about the prospect. “I have to tell you something Jenna and I have been weighing how to go about it.  It’s something that's never happened at any time when Bailey has been channeling. I don’t know if I believe it myself but he says it’s the truth.”


“What is it Quinn?”


“Fogarty talks to him you know, he's his guide, and they're always in communication.  He was alarmed. He said for the length of time he had been working with an instrument he'd never encountered this anomaly.”


“All right but what is it?"  Jenna becoming impatient, was short in her response.


“Hold on there girl, I’m gettin’ to it.”


“He says the spirit who identified himself as David was not your David. It was a living person who was out of body in the astral. He or she was pretending to be your fiancé now passed. He doesn’t know why, he doesn’t know who, but you should be cautioned.”


Jenna felt sick, not to mention shocked. The color drain from her face.  She was frightened.


Quinn could tell she was upset but chose to continue. “I know this has scared you Jenna but just take it purely as something you need to know but nothing to be afraid of because over time we'll find out what it means. You have people all around you who care for you. Your family is only thirty minutes away. You have your crazy neighbor as well. I’m sure he would dive into anything at a moment's notice. He has already put himself to action twice. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. There have always been and always will be tricksters in the higher frequencies and some can get pretty nasty.  They derive pleasure off of someone else’s pain. They're negative feeders. That's what they do in the astral.”


“The feeling I got when Fogarty was talking to me about what this person, being or whatever you guys call them, was benign.  He said he, she, it, was trying to warn me about something but he didn’t get it all.”


“Yes and this is why Fogarty feels as well as Bailey, whoever it was meant you no harm. They felt you should know.”


“Honestly Quinn, I don’t know what I believe about all of this metaphysical stuff. I find it interesting but I’m still a skeptic at heart.  Tell them thanks for me and I’ll be careful.”


“Great, that’s all they ask.  You needed to know. Here’s our food, let’s eat,” he said changing the subject.


By the time Jenna got back to the house, it was already three o’clock.  She had left early but she was having such a wonderful time with Quinn that neither of them noticed how fast the time passed. Quinn had offered to take her to dinner but she said no, she had a better idea. She invited him over to have dinner with her.  A two hour nap would be sufficient and she could get up, start dinner and get ready. She knew what she would fix. Everything was there in the refrigerator and he wouldn’t arrive until nine. There was plenty of time. Quinn had some business to take care of until eight thirty, so the timing was in her favor.


Jenna climbed the stairs and went into her room.  As soon as she entered, she remembered about the light. The light wasn’t on. Steve was imagining things again she thought. She probably wasn’t even screaming either time he came over. It was his way to ingratiate himself with her.  It wasn’t working and she was going to keep her distance or he would get on her nerves. He spent too many hours nose diving in a book.


Snuggling down into the bed Jenna fell asleep.  She hadn’t been getting enough rest and she was determined she wasn’t going to be yawning all evening while Quinn was there.


The light was starting to increase, creating a soft glow in Jenna’s room. She was too tired to even notice but the alarm was set so she wouldn’t oversleep.  She knew, without that she probably would sleep for hours. She did hear the alarm. Jenna reached over and hit the off button and sat up in bed. She didn’t recall dreaming but it was how most dreams ended, forgotten.


Chapter Nine


The light in her room was dim. Jenna turned on the floor lamp. Going into the bathroom, she started running the water. Dinner was first on her list and since it had to simmer for awhile, there would be plenty of time to take a short soak in the bathtub. The dress she planned to wear wasn’t fancy but she knew it would be effective for the evening. A show of long legs would catch his eye. Why was she going to such lengths? The answer was simple she wanted Quinn to desire her even though she felt guilty. Right now she would slip on her robe and go down to set the table. Her friends had told her she was driven. She was always over-detailed but she didn’t recognize this side of herself. She referred to it as thorough. Going to extremes was what she did. The use of chargers and crystal was nothing new for her. She wanted him impressed since he was a world traveler. The wine was being chilled; white to go with her planned meal.  Everything was perfect, candles and some flowers for a centerpiece.  No one realized there was a garden in the back of the house. She had no idea why they kept the front so plain but the backyard was gorgeous with a pool created to blend with the landscape. It was the first of its kind she had ever seen.  They had a bathroom off the back and extra bathing suits. Maybe he would like a swim after dinner. Now all that was left was for her to get dressed, put on her makeup and finishing touches. She was as critical about her appearance as she was her writing, but she knew it was lack of confidence causing her to be a perfectionist.


Jenna was coming back down the stairs when she heard a knock on the door.  As expected he looked, there were no words for how he looked. He was impressive in his black silk shirt. Quinn caught the look she gave him and the feeling was mutual. 


“Come in Quinn. Dinner is nearly done.  Would you like to go into the dining room?  There’s a formal room in this house." She took his hand and led the way.


Quinn was flattered that she had gone to so much trouble.  The table looked remarkable and the food smelled even better. He was starved but he couldn’t take his eyes off her.


“Sit down Quinn, relax, we know each other well enough to dispense with formality. I invited you and I can hardly serve dinner if you’re standing there staring at me."  She giggled, pleased by his overt reaction to her.


“Was I doing that?” said Quinn smiling.


“Yes you were and I’m getting self conscious. My cheeks are getting rosy.”


Quinn laughed at her response to his attention.


“You sit down and I’ll go get the salad and we can start eating. I know when a man looks hungry, I have two brothers.”


They continued staring at each other but Quinn was being furtive about it. He started to help her clear the table but she said to leave it.  She’d get it later.  They took their glasses of wine and she started showing him the house.  She wanted him to see the pool.


“This is a surprise,” said Quinn. “Who would have guessed the backyard looked like this? Why don’t we take a swim Jenna?  I don’t want to miss the opportunity to swim in this pool. You think they would care?”


“Not at all, it’s not on the don’ts list.”


Quinn looked at her quizzically. “Don’ts list?”


“Never mind, I’m being facetious and will explain later but for now, there’s a bathroom entrance right over there. They have a number of bathing suits for use.”


“Who needs a suit Jenna?”  His voice took on a sultry tone as he stepped over and began kissing her. He brushed the hair away from the sides of her face and kissed her again. He couldn’t hide how excited he was.  She could feel it when he held her close.


Quinn pulled down the straps of Jenna’s dress taking his time. She threw her dress aside and began to unbutton Quinn’s shirt. He stepped out of his pants and let them drop to the ground. He had braided his hair but she reached back and started pulling it apart.  She wanted his hair down. She loved the feel of it in her hands and let her fingertips glide down his chest. He was muscular and so much so, she reacted to him as she never had to David.  She felt guilty and it hadn’t fit into her plans but Quinn was unique. She couldn’t stop touching him. She loved the feel of his body and how he was responding to her. Quinn stared at her almost holding his breath. She was, he didn’t know, he’d never taken the time to analyze his feelings in the past. It was always an urge to satisfy his desire. In Jenna’s case, he was confused. They slid down into the pool and embraced.


He explored her body in every way she could have imagined but she was done with that. She took his hand and pulled him up out of the pool.  They went through the bathroom grabbing towels and up into her room.  She wanted him and now.  Her reaction was immediate and overwhelming yet she embraced it.  She had never felt anything like it.


Quinn looked toward the mirror. He had seen a soft glow that had faded while they were distracted. He didn’t know who or what it was but someone had been watching them make love. He wanted to get a closer look at the mirror but he knew this wasn’t the right time.


“What’s wrong?”   


“Nothing darlin’, just enjoying it here with you?” He was lying and hoped she hadn't realized. He didn’t want to lie to her but he knew now wasn’t the time to be honest about what he saw. Right now all he wanted to do is hold her, kiss her and make love to her again. Twenty minutes later that was exactly what he was doing. It was so intense they both were dazed. She couldn’t believe how good she felt but all her energy was gone. She wondered if he was feeling the same. By the looks of him, she thought he was, he looked exhausted. They had been in a state of frenzy almost like animals mating.  She loved it!


“I hate to be saying this Jenna, but I have to go. I don’t want to leave you, but I have business early in the morning. Please understand it isn’t that I don’t care but I have to go home and prepare for tomorrow.”


“I don’t want you to go Quinn.” 


“I know honey, but I have no choice.  I have a business to run and you have deadlines to meet.”


“All right, I’ll walk you to the door.  Let me get my robe out of the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”


Her departure gave Quinn an opportunity to look at the mirror closer. He didn’t see anything unusual except for the intricate carving but he moved it so he could see the back side. There was the symbol Jenna had found, but he didn’t know then she had already seen it.  She hadn’t said anything about it, assuming she would tell him. It appeared to be a gypsy sign but he wasn’t sure. He’d look it up tomorrow at the store.  For now, he had to go.


Quinn didn’t want to get this involved with Jenna. He wasn’t prepared for it. It would be the first time he had let his emotions take control. There was no reason to ask her for any sort of commitment, that wouldn’t be justified considering her fiancé had died only a few weeks earlier. Besides they’d only met a few days ago in her view. He believed she needed time to heal and relationships to compare, experiences to know what she felt. He knew this, he knew this well. He didn’t want to be her rebound experience. Jenna’s responses to him were sufficient for him to believe there was more. She walked back into the bedroom but she hadn’t hooked her robe shut. Quinn looked surprised when she nuzzled him. He had been so busy checking out the mirror he was still standing naked by her bed. She dropped to her knees and he grabbed her by her hair and gently pulled her up saying, “No you don’t wench.”


Jenna giggled and said, “You know you want to stay.”


“Of course I do, but I’m not a teenager. I know when it’s time to leave and that time is now.”  He grabbed his briefs and pulled them on, his pants and put his shirt on buttoning it up part of the way.


“Come on, walk me to the door.  I’ll call you soon and you know where to find me." He marveled at how comfortable he felt with her. They got to the door and he turned and gave her a quick kiss and was out the door. He knew better than to linger. His will power was waning and he had to get away or he would stay and he couldn’t do that right now.


Jenna was happy, she didn’t care if it was only one night but she knew inside he had feelings for her. She could feel it by the way he touched her. She thought he was overwhelmed by how fast it happened.  What he didn’t understand, so was she. He was right, she was an intuitive one. She was supposed to go out with Michael tomorrow night and she would go.  She had to know what she was feeling was real and not out of loneliness.


Sleep would come easily this time. She was exhausted but felt invigorated. Her mind was racing with so many thoughts she wanted to sleep so it would stop. As she began to dream, she had visions of rolling hills and thatched houses. It was a place where she could rest and find solitude.  This had been her goal when she came to Carlton.  She had yet to have a day that was peaceful. Tomorrow she wasn’t going to write.  She would take a bubble bath, go into town to buy a dress for her date with Michael and for once get her hair done including a pedicure and a manicure.  She would take the car to make travel quicker.  She remembered seeing a beauty salon next door to the boutique. It would be ideal if they catered to walk-in clientele.



Chapter Ten


The memories flooded her dreams. Restless, she woke up suddenly. It was disappointing to see it was already eight thirty in the morning. The plan had been to sleep in. It was early but she couldn’t go back to sleep. She pulled her hair up into a ponytail, and got dressed. Grabbing her purse she left.  By the time she got into town, it would be after nine when all the stores would be open. There was so much to do she decided to take the car. She turned down the street where Quinn’s store was located and saw it had the closed sign up. That’s strange thought Jenna. Quinn didn’t say his business would take him away from the store.  She didn’t have time to worry about it now.  Parking she headed for the boutique. A well dressed middle-aged woman walked up and said welcome and asked if she could help her find anything.  Did she have something particular she was looking for?  Jenna hated retail people but in this case it was what she needed.


“Yes, I’d like to find a dress fancy enough for an evening out of town dining and a flight on a plane.  I don’t want to over dress but I want to look my best.”


“What size are you dear,” said the lady. “I can see you are a little voluptuous so I would suggest maybe this size for you?” 


Due to her measurements, she usually had to have her dresses altered. She picked out a red dress and left. Next door the stylists looked busy, probably working on their regulars.  Jenna went up to the desk and said, “Do you take walk-in clientele?”


"It’s not our policy,” said a woman who walked up behind the hostess. “I have an opening now.  One of my regulars cancelled this morning.”


“I also need a pedicure and a manicure.” 


“No problem,” said the woman. “We can accommodate you.  Let’s get your hair done and then you can relax while you have your pedicure and then the manicure. My name is Sophia and I will be your stylist today.  Amy will be doing your nails and giving you a pedicure.”


That worked out well thought Jenna.  She could relax while they did everything.  She loved having someone wash her hair, but not so much the combing out. She would try to think of other things. She didn’t know why she was going to so much trouble but she wanted to give the date a chance.


Jenna left the girls tips and went up to the cashier in the front to pay her bill.  Another woman walked over to pay for her visit and she looked at Jenna and said, “Are you the young lady staying in the Marren house watching it for them?”


“Yes,” said Jenna.”


“I’m Lisa, Steve’s cousin. He’s always saying Jenna this and Jenna that. We’re about the only relatives we both have left, although my parents are still alive.  I worry about him so I call and I come for the occasional visit.  He thinks you’re a very special person Jenna. I hope you appreciate that?  That’s a lot coming from Steve.”


Jenna wasn’t happy, it meant another complication. She took it as a warning and would keep her distance from Steve.


“We’re just friends but I’m flattered.  Are you a Saunders as well?” said Jenna. 


“Yes I am, I never married and my father and Steve’s father are brothers.”


“I see, well Lisa, it’s been nice meeting you. Steve never mentioned you.  I have to go but maybe we’ll run into each other again while you’re here.  You’re going to be here how long?” inquired Jenna.


“Two or three weeks. I'm sure we'll meet again. Maybe we can go out for coffee or lunch with Steve?”


“Sounds like a date,” said Jenna.  She extended her hand and shook Lisa’s.  “I hope to see you again but I have to leave now. I’m going out of town for the evening and I have to hurry.”


Lisa watched as Jenna got into her car and left.  Steve had been right, the woman was gorgeous, but something about her wasn’t right and she didn’t think she even was aware of it. Steve hadn’t mentioned her because he didn’t want everyone to know his cousin was a psychic and involved with ghost hunting. Most didn’t know she had a cousin including Quinn who had called her about a mirror.  He had some business out of town for a couple of days so she planned to see him just as soon as he got back.


Carlton was an average town but full of interesting cases of the paranormal; hauntings, poltergeist activity and other manifestations she didn’t talk about with anyone because she didn’t want to be labeled the loony psychic.


When Jenna got home she sat down all her packages in the living room.  It was only two in the afternoon and Michael said he would call first. He knew she would be writing and not answer the phone until three, even though today that wasn’t exactly the case. She had time to eat something light before he called. Carrying her packages upstairs, Jenna heard the phone ringing. 


“Hello,” said Jenna. It was Michael on the phone. He was as charming as she remembered. She wasn’t dreading going out with him because she didn’t know how she felt about Quinn. Maybe she needed diversity so close after David’s death.


“When should I pick you up Jenna?”


“Give me about an hour Michael.”


“An hour it is, see you then,” and they both hung up.


Jenna had the salon also do her make-up so she wouldn’t have to worry about fussing with all the goo.  She took out her jewelry and laid out her dress.  It hadn’t wrinkled, which saved her time. Now she’d dig into her case, which wasn’t unloaded. She found the shoes she wanted and the small bag that matched. She was tan but tonight she needed stockings. It was cold out, which was unusual for this time of year.  Maybe it was going to rain.  Summer along the eastern seaboard could be unpredictable, sunny one day and raining the next.


Downstairs she got out her light coat and sat her purse down beside it.  She went into the kitchen to stick some things into the dishwasher.  She didn’t want Michael to think she was a messy person even though on occasion she was known to be but that was as a teenager. 


Thirty-two was almost eight years older. How could anyone know what a number really meant, she thought. He didn’t look or act older than most of her generation. It was Steve that fit that description.  He was a little conservative but not outwardly. He was only twenty-eight and Quinn was twenty-six, a little closer to her age.  She was curious to see how the evening would go with a man several years older.


There was the knock at her door she was expecting. She opened the door but it was Steve standing on her doorstep instead of Michael.


“I’m sorry you’re all dressed up. I guess you’re going out tonight?”


“Yes Steve I am and I’m in a hurry.” 


“I came over to ask if you’d like to go see the movie Grease with my cousin Lisa and I next Friday night?  We could go to dinner afterward.  Come on Jenna, I know you’ll have a good time.”


Jenna sighed, almost starting to laugh but she gave into inevitability.  “Sure Steve, I’d be happy to go with the two of you. I’ve wanted to see it since they started advertising on TV.”


Lisa guessed right thought Steve overjoyed. “We’ll come by for you about five on Friday.  I’ll see you later.” Steve left with a grin on his face.


About ten minutes passed and there was another knock.  She hoped this time it was Michael. Jenna breathed a sign of relief when she opened the door. Michael was standing there. She’d been afraid Steve had returned with some other request.


“Hi,” is all Jenna could think to say.  He looked fantastic. Like Quinn, he had known how to impress a lady and had gone all out. He had gotten his hair trimmed. His hair was in a shag style which was popular with all the younger men.  He was darker in coloring with deep brown eyes. When he smiled he had two dimples that would appear suddenly making his face almost light up. He was very masculine but he was what her mother would call a “cutie.” She was starting to feel as she did when he was there the last time. She was attracted to this man even under the circumstances. It was strange, she felt much like she did when she first met David.


“You look beautiful Jenna.  I knew you were attractive but you’re much more than that.”


Jenna blushed at his comments.  He could plainly see he was embarrassing her.  He knew she wasn’t that worldly but it surprised him his flattery had this affect.  He smiled at the prospect of the evening.


Jenna hadn’t been blinded to how well he had dressed for their date. He was wearing black just like Quinn but Michael was wearing a suit with his silk shirt.  What was it about these shirts that caught the eye of so many men?  They definitely looked sexy thought Jenna smiling to herself. At least it wasn’t polyester. She was glad that was fading out.


They arrived at the airport ten minutes later.  Michael wouldn’t be flying. He had one of his pilots doing that for him. He wanted to use his time to be with Jenna.  He liked this woman and wanted to see where it led them.


“Where are you taking me?” asked Jenna.


“You’re a curious woman aren’t you,” said Michael smiling.


“Yes, of course, aren’t all women?  I’m no different and I hate surprises. I have since I was a little girl. I like to know where I’m going and what is happening. It’s just my nature. I guess I’m somewhat controlling but not in a pushy way,” said Jenna smiling back at Michael.


“Well, my dear, I’m taking you to New York City for dinner. I’m sure you’ll love it.”


New York?” said Jenna excited.  “That’s a distance from here isn’t it?”


“Not at all,” said Michael. “It’s about a forty-five minute flight by jet.


Jenna had never been to New York even though her publisher’s office was in the city. If Michael was trying to impress her, it was working. She felt like a teenager on her first date.


“I have a reservation at Marco Angelos. I’m friends with the chef so he is making us something special and his signature lobster pasta dish for you. We’re going from there to a private night spot where I have a membership.”


“I’m so surprised.  You went to such lengths.  I don’t know what to say.”


“Then say nothing. Just enjoy yourself.  That will be thanks enough for me,” said Michael smiling.


She felt like Cinderella and she knew it was silly but that’s how he made her feel. He never looked at another woman and some very attractive women walked by. His eyes never strayed. Men were looking at her and she thought Michael noticed by a faint look that crossed his face but he tried to hide it.  Jealousy she thought was all right as long as he didn’t get out of hand. She liked the attention she had to admit.


He took her dancing at a high-end private club.  This was the first time she had gone dancing on a date.  He ordered a popular southern drink for her.  She hadn’t been enthusiastic about trying it, being a light-weight when she drank.  Pleasantly surprised, it merely tasted like punch to her.  It wasn’t long before he ordered her another one.  The evening was a blur and they decided it was time to go but when Jenna tried to stand and she wasn’t able. She was weak in the knees and fell back into her chair when she tried to get up.

“I’m having trouble standing Michael.  What’s wrong with me?”


“Michael threw his head back and laughed. Haven’t you ever had too much to drink, Jenna?"


“No,” said Jenna. “I avoid drinking because of this possibility. I don’t like the taste of alcohol.”


“I should have listened Jenna. I apologize. You’re inebriated on a few drinks. I can get us adjoining suites in a nearby hotel and we can fly back after breakfast in the morning.  Would you like that?”


“Yes, I think that’s best.”


Michael’s limo was waiting and he helped Jenna inside.


“My head is spinning Michael. You’re spinning as well,” said Jenna holding her head.


Michael couldn’t help but grin.  He hadn’t been with anyone in a long time that reacted to alcohol in this fashion.  He felt a little ashamed he hadn’t listened to her but he would get her into her room, have her take a shower and order some coffee. He called ahead on the car phone to get everything she would need brought to her room and ready for her when they arrived. He’d thought he might need rooms and had reserved adjoining suites ahead of time. He was a man who liked to be prepared and he felt the small fee for cancelling his reservation well worth the time he would have with Jenna.  She was attractive not to mention well educated, even if she was a bit flighty.


They arrived at the hotel in a couple of minutes. He checked in and helped Jenna to her room.  It was a beautiful suite but she wasn’t able to appreciate it at the moment. She could navigate now but her head was still swimming.


“Jenna I’m going next door to my room.  Knock on the door when you’re done. Everything you need is either on your bed or in the bath.  You need to take a shower or bath whichever you prefer but take one of them. It’ll help you sober up. I have coffee coming to my room and I hope you’ll come over and have some with me."  He turned and walked through the suite door.


Jenna grabbed what she needed and went into the bathroom. After about thirty minutes she felt better.  She had combed down her hair and found the gown, robe and slippers left on her bed.  A few last touches and she knocked on the door between their rooms.


Michael opened the door smiling. “The coffee is here. Would you like some?”  he said seating her at a table in his room. There was also an assortment of cheese, fruit and crackers.”


“What a treat,” Michael. "You’ve made this evening special. I’m sorry I’ve spoiled it.”


“Spoiled it, on the contrary, I’m having a great time. I find your encounter with alcohol delightful. Just relax Jenna everything is fine.”


Michael leaned forward grasping both of Jenna’s hands and kissed her pulling her close. It was different from Quinn, not so energetic but it aroused her.  He pulled her to a standing position. Putting his arms around her, he kissed her again, but this time it was intense. It reminded her of David.  She was unsettled by that acknowledgement. A lot of things about him reminded her of David. Jenna knew she was infatuated but the distinction between that and love was sometimes minor.


Chapter Eleven


Jenna woke up to someone knocking on her door.  She didn’t realize where she was at first.  It must be Michael she thought because it was coming from the connecting door.  Getting up she walked over and opened the door.


Michael noticed how tired she looked. “Were you still sleeping Jenna?”


“Yes,” she said yawning. 


“If you’d like to sleep longer that’s fine. There’s no rush and we can leave whenever you want within reason.”


“No I’m all right. I can change and we can go if you need to get back.”


"I don't need to hurry at the moment. Come back and sit down on the bed.”


He walked over and motioned her to slide down to the end of the bed. He sat behind her and started to massage her neck and back. It felt fantastic, she couldn’t move. He was soothing with his hands thought Jenna. Michael must have spent an hour giving her a massage.  He never once tried to do anything more. She was so relaxed her head had dropped forward and she was almost asleep.


“Jenna, said Michael into her ear, "are you still here with me?”


Jenna stirred, turned around and said, “Yes, but not for long.”


“Here,” he said, “Lie down and sleep for awhile.  Would you mind if I stayed and held you?”


“Not at all, Michael. I’ve been told I snore and now you’re forewarned.”


Michael was charmed by her confession but he told her he didn’t care.


Jenna curled up on the bed with Michael curled up behind her and they both fell asleep. Michael roused as he heard the telephone ringing. It was the wake-up call he had put in prior to coming into Jenna’s room. He wanted to be sure they were up and dressed at least by noon.


Michael placed his hand on Jenna’s shoulder and gently shook her. “Jenna, we need to get up,” said Michael.


Jenna turned over to face him rubbing her eyes and said, “I feel so much better Michael. Thanks for the massage, it was perfect. My muscles ached from lack of sleep.” She looked into his eyes and without thinking she put her arms around his neck and kissed him.


Michael was caught by surprise. This was the invitation he had been waiting for. He kissed her back but this time not as he had before.  He was sensual which sparked her recognition. It was as though he treasured her body and didn’t want to violate it unless invited. He was a very enigmatic man. Jenna was curious and she didn’t want to hurt Quinn but she wanted to make love with Michael. He knew it and said, “I feel the same way Jenna.”


Could he read her thoughts? Maybe he could but not all of them, only the ones that most concerned him and emotions. She wasn’t going to question it but she was going to experience him. Everything he did was with care.  He took off her robe and took off his and dropped them on the floor by the bed. He asked her to stand up and take off her gown. She stood up and did what he asked.  He was motionless looking at her, her body and sensing her emotions. He seemed to be savoring every inch of her with his eyes. It made her feel sexy and she reacted to it. He liked what he saw and he also liked the reaction he was getting from her.


He grabbed her hand and pulled her down.  She took off the rest of his clothing and they joined. He moved away from her and ran his hands down her body. His passion overwhelmed her and his kisses were deep and sultry. The look in his eyes as he stared down at her filled her with desire. They had a moment they both would remember. It was surreal thought Jenna and it went on and on and on. He touched her and that only contributed to the pleasure she was feeling. She couldn’t get enough.


“Oh my god,” said Jenna, above a whisper. She wanted more of him. He couldn’t believe how much she was deriving from their experience together and how much he wanted her again.


Michael never thought she would let him touch her but she did. He knew it would be singular, he could sense it.  He couldn’t hide how he felt but he was going to try to remain casual. It was obvious to him that she was seeing someone else. He always knew about these things but if he could be with her once in awhile he would be satisfied for now. He wasn’t after her body, he enjoyed being with her, he cared for her but he didn’t want it to be a complication right now. This was his ideal woman because intimacy had been on the top of his list for a female companion, it was important to him. He was a passionate man and beyond that, it meant commitment.


“Come with me Jenna,” said Michael with mischief written all over his face. Taking Jenna into the bathroom, he started the water in the tub and added foaming bath oil. He told her to sit on the vanity chair in the bathroom. He opened the drawer and found hair pins. He pinned up her hair and went over to shut off the bath water.  Jenna got into the tub.  Michael grabbed a sponge and began to wash her body.  He was slow and methodical, washing in circles down her back.


He loved touching her body.  She was so beautiful he felt as if it was the first time he had made love. He knew she wasn’t promiscuous, that she saved herself for those she cared about. Michael was glad she didn’t know what he had been thinking in that moment. It would have embarrassed her but he was a man. He felt her and her thoughts. Michael handed her the sponge and told her she would have to finish up. He was going next door to shower and get dressed.


“All right,” said Jenna.

She was done and got out of the bathtub.  She picked up the big towel folded on the counter and dried off.  She opened her purse where she had left it on the vanity and started to apply her make-up. Taking the pins out of her hair she began to brush it.  All that was left was to put her clothes back on.  When she came out into the room there were clothes that had been left for her. Her clothes from the night before were folded in a pile next to them. This man is really pampering me she thought, but she loved the attention. She got dressed and went over and knocked on his door.


He opened the door and she observed he had changed as well. He looked fabulous she thought. His clothes gave him the look of money. She didn’t think that was how he was trying to portray himself. He had good taste in clothing. 


“Stop staring,” said Michael. “You’ll have me blushing,” he said laughing.


“You’re,” said Jenna and stopped.


“What?” he asked Jenna”


“Reading my thoughts,” she said. “You always seem to know what I’m thinking”


“I know Jenna,” he said hugging her.


They collected their things and went downstairs. Jenna waited while he checked out.


“It’s late. I ordered food to go on the plane. The limousine is going to take us to the airport and we can eat on our way back to Rhode Island. Is that to your pleasing?”


“Yes Michael,” she said meekly. She was afraid to say anything more or she would be in his arms again on the floor of the limo.


Michael smiled to himself and said, “I’m glad you’re pleased Jenna.”


They ate and he put his arm around her.  She leaned over and put her head on his shoulder. She was confused but she wasn’t going to try to figure anything out anymore.  She was going to let things happen.  Life was something that couldn’t be counted upon she realized, especially after David’s death. She was going to experience life to the fullest. This wasn't  out of maliciousness because she had no intention of hurting anyone but she had lost her faith in the future. It was too soon for her to get involved with any one person.


“Jenna, I need to tell you something.”


“I'm listening.” said Jenna.


“When we get to the house, I’d like to come inside for awhile. I need to get something from the basement. Do you mind?”


“Of course I don’t mind.”


Michael took a breath and said, “I want to spend the rest of the day with you. I know you’re seeing someone else, maybe more than one other person. I don’t care about that. It’s none of my business. I’m only interested in our time together. I won’t be able to see you again for at least two weeks after I leave.  I’ll try to call you but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to.  Would you like me to stay?” he asked. “Don’t feel pressured to answer yes.”


“I’ll miss you Michael. I have to admit, I’m very confused right now. A myriad of things have happened to me since my fiancé’s death. I’m trying to sort it all out in my head but I can’t right now. If that’s enough for you, yes, that would make me happy.”


Michael smiled and didn’t say anything.  He took her hand and held it. The limousine pulled up in front of his parent’s house and he got out and walked around opening the door for Jenna. He had waved off the driver. Neighbors were watching and he knew there would be gossip. He hoped she could accept the criticism she might receive.  He had a reputation but it dealt with his younger years. People still thought he was going around carousing with any good looking woman he could find. It wasn’t the case but he had never been able to overcome the image everyone held of him.


He helped her out of the limousine and they walked up to the door and went inside. Sitting her things on the coffee table she asked if Michael would like something to drink. He said he was fine and Jenna sat down on the couch beside him.


“I forgot,” said Michael, “I need to give these to you.” He pulled out his wallet and took out two checks and handed them to Jenna.


“Thank you,” said Jenna and dropped them into her purse.


“I'm going down into the basement to get my ledgers. I keep them here in case of break-ins. I wouldn’t be able to replace them.  We’re doing our yearly audits.


“Is that why you’re busy over the next couple of weeks?” 


“Yes,” said Michael.


“Sure, go, I’m not going anywhere except upstairs,” said Jenna smiling. “I’m going to lie down while you’re searching in the basement.  You know where to find me.”


Michael got up as Jenna went upstairs.



Chapter Twelve


Next door Steve was still sitting on the porch. He had been on the porch when Jenna had returned.  He saw who she was with and didn’t like it. He was mad about it but what could he do?  He knew she thought of him as the asinine neighbor. Hope had lingered because he saw the way she had looked at him when they first met.  She had been annoyed but she had noticed him and it was in a good way.  What had changed he wondered? He decided to gather his books and go inside. He was jealous. Slamming down his books he turned and took his hand and knocked his chess set to the floor.


Lisa had heard the noise upstairs and came rushing down the stairs. “What happened?” she said to Steve.  Looking down she saw his chess set strewn across the floor. “What’s going on Steven?”


“I don’t want to talk about it,” said Steve sitting down.


“You need to talk about it Steve, why are you this upset?”


Steve sighed and looked up at his cousin.  “I was an idiot to think I could stand any chance with Jenna but still I had hope, you know?”


“I know Steve,” said Lisa.  She could feel his sadness.


What was it about this particular woman that had all of these males running around in a haze of desire?  She was beautiful but so were many women. What made her unique? She had a vulnerability she felt that gave her a child-like quality but that wasn’t enough to send most men into a queue just to be with them.


Lisa put her hand on his shoulder and said, “You’ve got to get your mind off of her. You’ve been battling depression since your parents died.  This isn’t healthy for you, Steve.  Maybe you shouldn’t see Jenna.”


“You don’t understand, I want to see Jenna. It’s the first woman I’ve found engaging. There’s more to her than her appearance. Now that Marren is hanging around she won’t even tolerate me.”


“You don’t know that to be the truth.  Michael isn’t as insincere as you think.  He’s good looking and attracts women to him and he’s successful in his business.  It was a date, Steve. She lost someone close to her a few weeks ago and she’s probably rebounding. Many women do given the circumstances you told me. Don’t be negative and give yourself credit.  Wait until Friday and see what happens.  You’re just as attractive as Michael. You just haven’t reconciled that fact in your mind.”


“Oh come on Lisa, me?”


“Yes you. I’m going to see to it you get some new clothes.  At least when we make you over, she might take a little more of a romantic interest rather than an academic one.”


Steve was willing to try anything to gain Jenna’s attention.  He felt it wouldn’t work given the fact she was seeing others and he suspected they had a bevy of women interested in them.  He had never been that fortunate. His work was all he had a romance with these days. Maybe the fact that presumably these men had a lot of women circling around them and he was only interested in one would be in his favor. He wasn’t going to think about it anymore or what they might be doing next door.  He was going to take Lisa to an early dinner and get away from the house.


Michael found his ledgers and put them on the stand by the door so he wouldn’t forget.  He went upstairs to find Jenna asleep. He wasn’t going to wake her.  He went back downstairs and decided he would cook for her.  Rom, including the men, were known for their cooking or at least he thought they were. That was what his mama told him when she was teaching him. She had wanted him to be self sufficient.  He couldn’t count on these American women is what she would tell him. He always found her sayings and ideas endearing.  He thought of other things when she gave one of her lectures. If she knew he was tuning her out he would get a verbal barrage of criticism. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, therefore he pretended to listen to all she said and showed him. He found when he got older it did pay off.


Jenna woke up and rolled over.  Where was Michael she thought?  She went into the bathroom and combed her hair, but it wasn’t out of vanity, it was a mess.  She could hear movement downstairs and was going to investigate.  She walked into the dining room and couldn’t believe her eyes.  Michael had the table set for two. He had gathered flowers and had placed them in a crystal vase and candles to boot.  She stood there stunned.


Michael walked in from the kitchen with a tureen.  “You finally woke up,” said Michael. “I was getting ready to come up and wake you for dinner.”


“I can see that,” said Jenna surprised.


He had surprised her. She couldn’t hide it from him. Michael sat everything down on the table.  “Just a minute,” he said and walked back into the kitchen. He came back carrying a bottle of wine under his arm and a dish with salad and another with bread.  She hadn’t realized he had the skill of a waiter or was it skill he had gathered entertaining his countless stream of lady friends.  She knew, she had heard the gossip in town. Setting everything down on the table, he walked around and pulled out her chair. She sat down still staring at everything half asleep.


Michael laughed at the look on her face and said, “Are you hungry Jenna? This is my mama’s favorite dish.  She taught me how to make it when I was thirteen. I hope you like it.”  Michael opened the bottle of wine. He knew Jenna might not be interested in drinking so soon so he had fixed some southern sweet tea.


“Would you like some tea? I thought you might prefer that to the wine.” 


“Yes,” she said. She was still staring at everything and looking up at him and back at the table. 


“You made all this for me?”


“Of course and why wouldn’t I?” 


“No reason she said except I’m touched at how much trouble you have gone to the last day and a half.  I’ve never experienced so much attention from a man.  I’m overwhelmed right now.”


“I can see that," said Michael smiling. “It’s what I wanted for you, an experience to remember me by Jenna.”


“Remember?” questioned Jenna. 


“Speaking figuratively,” he said. He filled the plate he had in front of him and got up and took it over to Jenna. Picking up the clean plate he took it back and filled it up for him.  He handed Jenna the rolls. The salad was going to be served last, European style.


“This is fabulous,” said Jenna enjoying the dish he had made for her.


Michael was happy she liked the food because he was going to have to leave soon. His driver was exhausted and had sacked out in the limo.  He really needed to go back to Atlanta.


“Jenna, I’m going to ask Peter to come inside. I sat something up in the kitchen for him so he could eat.”

“By all means, do what you think is necessary. It’s your parent’s house, not mine. You can deal with them not me,” she giggled.


“No accountability I see,” said Michael laughing. He excused himself and went outside to get Peter.  He came through the dining room and went into the kitchen to eat.


It didn’t bother Jenna in the least. His driver had been hilarious and attentive to her needs. They finished eating including a dessert Michael had whipped up and were going to have coffee in the family room. They decided to watch a movie before he had to go. He’d made sure everything had gone into the dishwasher and Peter had already gone back outside to the limo. He didn’t want to cook and then leave her with a mess.  What a final impression that would be.


Neither of them could keep their mind on the movie. It didn’t take long before they were in each others arms. It wasn’t like New York. In this situation, their only option was kissing. They both knew Michael had to leave. It was the attraction that was the problem. She had felt something similar with Quinn but she couldn’t remember if it was this all consuming at the time. She knew she would have to quit comparing them. They were nothing alike. The only similarity was that they both fancied her, which was fine for now.


When he got the opening he stood up and said, “I have to go Jenna as much as I would like to stay.  I still have to attend a meeting tomorrow and get started on the audit.  It’s almost three hours home. Before it gets too late, I’m taking off. I enjoyed the time I’ve been honored to spend with you. I’ll give you a call as soon as I can.” He gave Jenna a kiss, grabbed his ledgers and left.  She watched as the limo left the curb and went down the street and up the on-ramp to the freeway.


She decided it was time for a bath and washing her hair.  She needed to relax and unwind.  She was so confused now she didn’t know what she felt and she’d have to get started on her book Monday morning. She needed to clean up around the house and get her things ready so she could concentrate which was going to be difficult.  She hoped she wasn’t falling in love with either of these men.  She was attracted to them both and Michael had just left.  He was romantic and intense. She was torn. She failed to grasp that another man was seeking her affection. This one was nothing but a joke to her and no one she wanted to call a friend.  She tried to humor him since he lived next door. Her first impression of him had deteriorated due to his behavior.


Jenna took her bath and sat down on the bed.  She had always valued relationships and she wasn’t going to change now.  She didn’t know how to juggle both of these men and felt guilty about spending time with Michael. If she was a man she knew that wouldn’t be the case. She wasn’t going to dwell on it anymore and slid under the covers. Time to sleep and gain back all the lost hours when she had been unable to even drowse. Maybe rest would calm her down. Fear was controlling her and she knew it. The unknown and uncontrolled emotion had her unsettled. This time she wouldn’t let it unravel her life as it did when David died.



Chapter Thirteen


Steve watched as Michael left, relieved that he had gone.  He had been sitting brooding and finally after cleaning up his mess from his outburst, gone upstairs.  He went over to his bedroom window to close his curtains when he saw Jenna’s light go out.  He stood there for awhile and starred at her bedroom window. There was a glow that started to form. It was faint but he could see it.  He had to find out what that was. He didn’t think it had to do with Jenna but something happening around her that she hadn’t picked up on as yet. He would keep watch.  He was good at people watching and not much good at interacting with them on a personal level.  He thought that was why he hadn’t had a girlfriend in two years. He couldn’t give what he knew they expected. He was still haunted by the death of his parents even though he professed otherwise.


The light came streaming through the window.  Jenna had forgotten to close her blind. She needed to get up because it was after nine.  She pulled on her jeans and a shirt and went downstairs. Coffee was next on the agenda. Looking around, she hadn’t realized how thorough Michael had been cleaning the kitchen. Unbelievable thought Jenna. She’d never met anyone like him. Right to her word, she did miss him.


Jenna took her coffee into the family room and turned on the television.  It was Sunday and a lot of religious programs were being aired.  Flipping from station to station, she found a movie and settled onto the couch to watch.  Half way through the movie, the telephone rang.  Wouldn’t you know thought Jenna.


“Hello,” said Jenna answering the phone.


“Hi kiddo,” said her sister.


“Krysta,” said Jenna happy to hear her voice.  “What’s up with you calling me on a Sunday?  You usually sleep into the afternoon on Sundays.” Krysta was full of energy, she was twenty-two and always on the go.


“Yeah, but not today,” she said.  “Guess who’s here Jenna? Mark flew in from the coast. He wants to see you. Can we visit where you’re staying?”


“I don’t see why not.  The list I have, says I can have guests but not too many. I’m responsible for whoever comes to the house.  Come see me, I’m excited to see Mark. I haven’t seen him in such a long time.”


“Cool,” said Krysta.  “We’re going to run a couple of errands but we’ll probably make it there about noon.  Maybe we can all go out for lunch.”


“Sure, that would be perfect,” said Jenna.  Krysta knew where the house was but she wanted directions regardless.


Jenna finished her coffee and straightened up the place.  Upstairs she rummaged through her things to find something to wear.  She found a dress and hurried to get ready.  She would go back into the family room and watch television until they arrived.  Mark would be visiting and she couldn’t contain her excitement.  He was an attorney and practiced in San Francisco.  His time was limited. He was a good lawyer and well sought after.  This was why he couldn’t make it to David’s funeral.  Krysta said he took time off, a well needed vacation. He was anxious to see Jenna because he knew she must have gone through a lot and he had been very close to her. He hadn’t been able to take time off prior. She was busy and so was he so time passed and before they knew it, it was a few years.


Jenna heard tapping on the front door.  She’d fallen asleep while watching the TV. It must be them she thought and got up and hurried to the door.  Opening the door she saw Quinn standing there smiling down at her.


“Quinn,” said Jenna puzzled.  “I’m surprised to see you here.” She opened the door and gave him a hug. There was some sort of energy flowing between the two of them and her sensitivity to him returned. She felt it every time she was in close proximity to him.


“I guess you missed me,” he said grinning.


Jenna lowered her lashes feeling guilty but said, “I guess I did.”


“Come sit down, I have something to tell you,” said Quinn.


“All right but you’ll have to wait a few minutes,” said Jenna and ran outside.  A car had pulled up and Jenna was hugging a man who had just gotten out of it.  A younger woman was with him and hugging them both. 


He wondered what was going on. Quinn didn’t like seeing her hugging another man.


“Come on you two, let’s go inside,” he could hear Jenna say.


Krysta whispered to Jenna, “Who is Conan standing in your doorway?”  


Jenna laughed. She couldn’t help herself at Krysta’s colorful description of Quinn. “You read too many comics Krysta,” said Jenna.


“You knew that already.  You’ve seen my collection.”


“Let’s all go inside, what will the neighbor’s think?” said Jenna.  She knew it would be a lot and spread like wildfire.


“Introductions, Krysta and Mark I would like you to meet a friend of mine, Quinn.  Quinn this is my brother and sister. I haven’t seen my brother in a couple of years.”


“I’m glad to meet the two of you.  I knew Jenna had family nearby but not so many of them.”


“This isn’t all of them Quinn, I have a brother living in Providence and another sister living in Denver.”


Mark noticed the look of relief on Quinn’s face. He realized Quinn was infatuated with his sister. He smiled to himself, all the guys in town had a thing for his sister but she never seemed to notice and this one had succumbed as well.  He could bet there were others, there always were.  He never could understand why she wanted to marry so soon but that was her choice.  Now she was alone again and by the looks of it not for long.


“We were planning on going out for lunch Quinn. Would you like to join us?”


“I had planned to invite you out,” he grinned, “but I guess you already have plans.  Sure, I’ll go with the three of you to lunch.”


“I haven’t been here long. Do you have a place to suggest other than the pub? I want to take them some place a little nicer.”


“There’s the Ranch House.  They serve barbecued ribs, chicken and steaks.  Would that interest the three of you?”


“Anything will work,” said Mark.  "Let’s go, I’m hungry and my stomach is making noises.”


Mark noticed the furtive looks they were giving each other.  There was more there than casual friendship. He had to admit the man was impressive.  He reminded him of a medieval warrior to a degree. He wondered why his hair was long but at least he braided it. For some reason he didn’t think he was a musician.


Quinn opened the door for the girls and Mark followed behind turning the lock on the doorknob so the house would be locked when they left.


Next door Steve looked out his window pulling the curtains back a little. He felt like a peeping Tom but wondered where the voices were coming from.  It was Jenna again. More people were coming out of the Marren house and she was leaving with them.  This time there were two different men with her and a younger female.  He wondered how she was connected to these people, but did it matter?  He knew there were at least two people she was seeing. Maybe he should get to know some of her friends.  He turned around, sat down turning on the TV. He knew he was obsessed with Jenna. He needed to get his mind off of her.


They finally got to the restaurant and it didn’t take long for them to decide what they wanted to eat.  While they were waiting for the food the discussion got around to Quinn’s hair. He knew it would, it always did.


“Krysta, don’t be so nosey,” said Jenna laughing. “He’s an archaeologist and out in the field a lot. His hair just grew and grew and that’s that.” 


Quinn laughed. “Jenna,” he said, “I’m not mute you know. I can talk for myself.”


“I’m sorry,” said Jenna, “but I didn’t want my sister to hit you with a barrage of questions.


“I’ll fix that for you Jenna,” said Quinn smiling. “I have had my hair like this for a number of years.  I was out in the middle of nowhere and just never cut it, simple as that. I’m originally from Ireland and I run the metaphysical store downtown. I’m twenty-six and single.  Anything else you'd like to know? Oh I forgot, I’m six foot seven and no I don’t play basketball.”


At that they all laughed.


“All right Jenna,” said Krysta with mischief in her voice, “you need to grab this one he’s a keeper.”


“Excuse my sister’s enthusiasm Quinn.  Since she was little she’s been playing matchmaker,” said Mark grinning.


“No harm done,” said Quinn, amused by Krysta’s antics. “If it’s up to me, she won’t have to try too hard.” He looked over at Jenna and smiled and then the food arrived.


That was a quick save thought Mark.  He hadn’t realized that Quinn was in love with her.  He thought it was the usual dating, lusting after each other type of thing but in his case it was apparent it was not.  He wanted her. He wondered if there were any others that felt the same way.  Unfortunately that could complicate this situation. He didn’t know if Jenna was ready for a serious relationship. There was some sort of rapport between them almost imperceptible but it was definitely there. How interesting this situation was going to be, thought Mark. He analyzed everything, it was habit. He wouldn’t be able to win criminal cases without this sensibility.


“Since I’ve answered a lot of questions, why don’t the two of you tell me about what you do?”


Krysta was the first to speak up.  “I’m finishing college with a major in ecology. Bluto over there is an attorney practicing criminal law in San Francisco.”


“Must be tough in a town like that.”


“It can be,” commented Mark.


“Mark is from our Mother’s first marriage including our sister in Denver.  The other three of us are from her last marriage.  Their father died of cancer,” said Krysta.


“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Quinn.  “It’s a hardship loosing a loved one.”


They were all hungry.  Conversation died to almost nil as they all ate.


“I was wondering Quinn,” said Mark. “You mentioned a metaphysical store, what did you mean by that?”


“The usual, I sell incense and books. People come to the store for lectures and the occasional psychic gives readings or channels.  Our local ghost hunter group meets there.”


“I’ll have to check it out,” said Mark, “and is this your only store?”


“No, I have a few more but they aren’t part of a chain. I’ve opened them randomly in various places.”


“It must be a juggling act with your archaeological pursuits.”


“It can be, but I have good managers and all of my stores are mainly in the East.  Makes it convenient to keep track of them all and when I’m off on a dig to travel from one to the other to see how things are going. I have a good management company that oversees all the individual managers. It works and I have time to do other things.”


“That makes a lot of good business sense.”


“Besides,” said Quinn laughing, “there’s too much competition out on the coast.”


Jenna knew what Mark was doing and she was getting tired of his mental jousting.  She gave him the “look” and he knew what it meant. He changed the subject.


Mark paid for the lunch and they went out to the car and Jenna drove back to the house. They were silent on the drive back.  Everyone seemed to be stuffed with food and lethargic.  Not uncommon after a large meal.


They got out of the car and Quinn said, “It was a pleasure meeting the two of you but I don’t want to intrude on your evening so I’m going to leave and let you reminisce.”


“No, Quinn,” said Jenna.  “They won’t mind if you stay awhile.”


“It’s cool,” said Mark. “I’m going to take my bags upstairs if Jenna will show me my room and take a nap.  I have jet lag and then the drive here. I want to get some sleep.”


“Me too,” said Krysta, “I’m exhausted, so by all means stay and keep Jenna Company for awhile.  I can see she doesn’t want you to leave just yet,” she said with a knowing grin. 


“Okay, I guess I’m outnumbered. I can stay but not long. I have to meet with someone later.”


Jenna looked at Mark and mouthed, thank you.


He smiled at her and thought, still the same old Jenna.  She was always suffering from some sort of crush or another.  This guy, though, was her equal and more.  He approved of him even if he was a little eccentric. He was just the right height and was educated with businesses on the side. He wanted to know about his metaphysical interests. Some of his friends in California had gotten involved with the paranormal and had gone ghost hunting. Maybe Quinn could set something up and they could all go.


“Mark held his hand out to Quinn and said, “It’s been nice. Hope to see more of you while we’re here.”


“Thanks, me too,” said Quinn surprised by Mark’s friendliness. He thought he would disapprove of him but that didn’t seem to be the vibe he was getting.


“Come on you two, your rooms are just down the hall,” said Jenna. She turned at the top of the stairs and said, “I’ll be right back Quinn.  Wait for me in the family room.”


Jenna was quick.  She walked right up to Quinn and planted one on him.  He was shocked by her sudden impulse, but pleasantly.”


“How bold you are Jenna but what about your family upstairs?” said Quinn smiling at Jenna’s show of affection. He knew she was glad to see him but he wasn’t expecting a kiss like that. She had been shy with him, except during love making. He was pleased she had missed him.


“Don’t worry about them they’ll be out for a few hours.”


“You sure of that?”


Krysta knocked on Mark’s door. Mark opened his door ajar.  Seeing Krysta he wondered what was up.


“Can I talk to you a minute before you rest?” said Krysta.


“Sure hun, I have all the time in the world for you, you know that.”


They sat down in a reading area in the corner of the room and Krysta said, “Did you notice what I did Mark?”


“That depends. I noticed a lot of things. What in particular are you getting at?”


“Quinn looks like he is related to Jenna more than we do;  his coloring, his hair and the way he moves.”


“Yeah, I noticed that too but I chalked it off to coincidence.”


“That’s a pretty strange coincidence Mark, and the way he looks at her. He loves her, its only evident. He tries to hide it but I saw it on his face. I don’t know what it all means but it’s really weird. From what I understand, they just met, but he doesn’t act like it.”


“I realize that, and that’s what I was feeling but you know, since I have been practicing law, I’ve seen and heard a lot of strange things and met a lot of unusual people. I wouldn’t worry until you need to if ever. I don’t think he has plans to harm Jenna. I think his plans are much more in line with his feelings.”


“I’ll let you get some rest Mark and I hope you’re right.” Krysta opened the door and went back to her room.



Chapter Fourteen


“Let’s sit down Jenna.”  Quinn walked around to the couch and reached up and pulled her down beside him. “I missed you the two days I was gone,” he said. He brushed her hair back from her face and pulled her to him and kissed her.


“Why don't we go for a swim?  This time with the suits," he grinned. "I wouldn’t want a stray relative peeking at us naked in the pool.”


“You spoiled my mental image,” said Jenna laughing.


“Of course I wouldn’t do anything like that with your family upstairs. What do you think of me?"


Jenna sighed but was flattered. The complication was coming. She wasn’t ready for the complexities of multiple relationships or what to expect from them since it was her first experience at least in her mind.


Quinn could feel her retreat from him and changed the subject. He went into the pool room to change and she went upstairs to put on her suit and put her hair up.


When Jenna returned Quinn was already swimming. He looked up and stared. She was breathtaking he thought. He wasn’t going to tell her what he was thinking.  He felt her going through some sort of mental turmoil and he didn’t want to put her in overload. It was in the way she would withdraw and change the subject. He was afraid, afraid she would send him away.  If she did he would have a difficult time protecting her from whatever or whoever was watching her. He didn’t want to lose her.


Jenna eased into the pool and Quinn came over to the side and took her hand.  They kissed and the same feelings washed over her again.  It scared Jenna and it was because of the way she felt about Michael.  She knew she would have to choose and even though she was enamored of Michael, something she sensed told her it was Quinn she would choose.  She didn’t know why, but it was a feeling she couldn’t explain.  Right now was not the time for a mental debate, she was with Quinn and that was all she was going to think about.


The time passed quickly as it did when Quinn was around. She knew her brother and sister would wake up soon so she said to Quinn, “As much as I hate saying this, I need to get out of the pool and take a short nap myself. Someone or something seems to be interrupting my sleep one way or another.”


“I need to get going as well Jenna.”  He got out of the pool and changed and came back with a towel, helping her out of the pool. She walked him to the door and kissed him goodbye.  Going upstairs she thought she saw a glow inside her room but when she opened the door there was nothing.  It was dusk and she hurried into her bathroom to clean up and put on something simple and sack out on her bed for an hour or two. She knew the others wouldn’t be up for awhile with Mark’s jetlag.


Quinn was just about to cross the street to his car when he heard a voice shout, “Quinn.” He turned around and it was Lisa standing in the doorway of the house next door.


“What are you doing here?” said Lisa smiling. “I thought we were meeting later at the store.”


“We are,” said Quinn shocked by Lisa’s sudden appearance. “I guess more to the point, what are you doing here?” said Quinn.


“This is my cousin’s home. I stay with him when I come into town. He has room for six people so he said I’m not to pay for a hotel room but stay with him. It gives us more time to spend with each other.”


Quinn wondered if this cousin was the nosey neighbor Jenna mentioned. “Is his name Steve?”


“Yes it is. How did you know?”


“Jenna, the lady I was visiting has mentioned him once or twice in passing.”


“Oh really,” said Lisa with peeked interest.


“Yes, it’s a small canvas fate seems to weave. I have to go now Lisa, but I’ll see you later at the store.” Quinn got into his car and drove off. He didn’t go back to the store right away. He had to go somewhere else first. He needed help.


Lisa turned around and went back into the house.  Steve was standing at the bottom of the stairs and said, “How do you know that man, Lisa?”


“He owns a book store in town, you know for those with alternative interests. I’ll be doing a lecture and a reading for him. I’m consulting with him tonight.  We have a trip planned to investigate a house not far from here. The family thinks their house might be haunted.”


“Sorry to question you. There's so many people coming and going from that house recently my curiosity got the best of me. I want to go with you when you give your lecture. Do you mind?” 


“No, not at all,” said Lisa. “Anyone is welcome to attend, although Quinn tends to give private invitations to those he knows will show up. It’s more lucrative for him and for me that way.  It keeps the casual spectator out and the media. I’ll take you with me, what can he say, you’re my cousin.”


Steve hoped he would notice Lisa. His cousin had very long blond hair and brown eyes and was at least as attractive as Jenna. Many men wished they could get close to her but she was never interested.  He had a hunch that this guy was the reason why. He knew she rarely gave readings anymore, but she was doing them for him. Maybe he would turn his attention to Lisa rather than Jenna.  He could only hope. He wanted Jenna and he was determined to gain her love. Maybe Lisa could find out what the mystery was concerning the light that was going on and off in the Marren place.


Quinn’s brother had arrived. He opened the door to the store and they went inside to get some reference material.  Lisa would be there soon and they didn’t want to have to get up and search for books.


“You sure you aren’t meddling Quinn in something best left to be worked out by Jenna? Now you’re bringing Lisa into it all. I don’t know if I approve,” said Orin.


“I understand, but Jenna told me the couple that lives in the house she is watching are Romani.  This might account for the type of symbol on the mirror. I’m no expert in gypsy magic and that’s why Lisa was invited here. Jenna wouldn’t be receptive to the suggestion of paranormal activity in that house. She’s noticing odd happenings but she thinks it’s stress from her fiancé’s death. Orin, grab the book on my desk in the office. I took it out before I went over to Jenna’s.”


Orin walked into the conference room and said, “You mean this monstrosity?” It was leather bound and huge.


“That’s the one,” said Quinn smiling at Orin’s remark.


“Why do you need this old book on sigil magic Quinn?”


“Weren’t you listening Orin? It deals with a symbol on the back of the standing mirror in Jenna’s bedroom.  I thought maybe it was for protection but I don’t think that’s the case. I believe it opens a portal and is used for viewing much like a crystal ball.”


“I wouldn’t know,” said Orin. “I was never interested in old books written by mad men many of them religious fanatics.  I like something more direct.”


Lisa walked into the room.  “Hey, guys you two left the side door unlocked.” 


“We know,” said, Orin.  “It was left unlocked for you. You had to be on your way to the store.  You’ve never been late yet.”


“Got me stereotyped and everything don’t you?” Orin.


“Did you think I wouldn’t?” he said.  “You’re a woman.”


“Enough you two,” said Quinn.  He was irritated with their lover’s duel, which didn’t exist except in their minds. They hadn’t been seeing each other for a number of years. It was Orin’s choice and not hers.  She was bitter and it was obvious she hadn’t gotten over him.


“Come over here Lisa. I made a sketch of the symbol for you as well as I remember it. I only got a quick look at it.”


“It’s definitely gypsy but that’s not a very accurate term. I have no idea what clan. Appears to be the creation of a single individual. It’s not part of their magic but the idea of it.”


“How can we stop the spying?”


“My best guess would be to paint over it and cover the mirror or all mirrors in the house except when she needs to use them. Will Jenna be open to this or believe you?” said Lisa.


“No,” said Quinn. “It’s too edgy for her to grasp. Her knowledge of the paranormal is miniscule. She’s on the skeptic end of the spectrum.”


“I guess you’ll have to wait until the right opportunity to tell her,” said Lisa.  “I have to go home. My cousin is in a mood and it’s driving me crazy.”


Everyone finally got up from the table. Jenna had made a light dinner for everybody.  They all took their coffee into the family room and turned on the television.  Jenna mentioned that Quinn had told her there was going to be a guest psychic channeling at his store Thursday night. He told her she could invite Mark and Krysta if they wanted to attend. Krysta was excited right away and said a resounding yes and Mark was undecided but finally agreed.


“We can all go together,” said Jenna. "I’m telling you it will be astounding if it’s anything like the previous one I attended.”


Mark wasn’t so sure but he was going to see what it was all about.


Jenna came down in the morning and Krysta and Mark were already in the kitchen fixing breakfast.  “Sorry Jenna,” said Mark.  “We aren’t on Jenna time, we wanted to eat breakfast in the morning,” he said laughing.


“Very funny,” said Jenna, who was not amused.  “Since you’ve got it handled, I’m going into the office to write. I’ll get behind and won’t be able to make deadlines if I don’t.  It’s only a few blocks into town if the two of you want to go out and explore the town.”


“Maybe a little later Jenna,” said Mark.  We want to go out and swim in that great pool out back.  Is that ok?” 


“Sure, that’s no problem at all.  I’m not hungry so I’m going to go in and work on my book.  If you want me you know where I’ll be.  There are snacks in the cupboard and all sorts of things to eat in the fridge so help yourselves. Just open all the cabinet doors if you get stuck but don’t bother me,” she said grinning. 


“Thanks Jenna, go write, we can take care of ourselves. We’ll probably spend a couple hours out by the pool,” said Mark.


Jenna’s new story wasn’t going well. She still was having trouble writing. She decided to wrap it up, put on her suit and go out back and join Mark and Krysta in the pool.  She was just about to go upstairs when the phone rang.


“Hello,” said Jenna.


“Hello,” said a voice she recognized. “I wasn’t sure I would catch you. I had a free moment and I was thinking of  you so I called.”


“Michael, I’m so glad to hear your voice. How is your audit going?”


“Boring as usual but I wish you were here.”


“I know,” said Jenna, not knowing how to respond.


Michael could sense something but he wasn’t sure what it was.  “What’s wrong Jenna?” said Michael.


“Nothing really, I’m just tired. My sister and my brother I haven’t seen for two years came down to stay for awhile. I hope your parents won’t mind.” 


“Not a problem Jenna.  They have always believed that family comes first.  They would be the first to open their home to them if they were there.”


Jenna was relieved.  “When do you think you’ll be free?”


“As I said before, it’s going to take about two weeks, maybe more.  I have to go now and I’ll call as soon as I can. I look forward to seeing you again,” said Michael and hung up. He knew there was more than what she was telling him and it was major. He had a lot he was going to have to tell her and when he did she might not want to talk to him again. He didn’t want to tell her but she needed to know the truth.


She didn’t have time to say anything back but she was glad. He was so sensitive to her that she was afraid he would sense how torn she was since she saw Quinn again. Jenna went on upstairs and changed and opened the door to the back.  Krysta looked up from the pool and said, “Hi, I thought you were writing?”


“I was but I couldn’t keep my mind on it so I stopped. I thought I would come out and go swimming.  Where’s Mark, Krysta?”


“He went inside to get a book he’s been reading.”


Mark came out the back door and sat down on the lounge chair beside Jenna and said, “I’m sorry, when I came inside I couldn’t help but over-hear a conversation you were having on the phone.  What’s going on with you Jenna? It’s not like you to be so involved with so many men at one time? Who’s this one? I don’t mean to pry but I’m concerned.”


“His name is Michael. He’s the son of the owners of this house.”


“Does he live here too?”


“No, he’s older and charters planes. He lives most of the time in Atlanta, Georgia.”


“How did you meet him if he lives so far away Jenna?” 


“A package came here for him and he knocked on the door one night to retrieve it. Mark, he’s really nice and he’s a perfect gentleman. He treats me like I’m made of glass. He is smart, funny, charming, speaks more languages than you do fluently and he knows so many things. He seems to almost know what I’m thinking.”


“What’s he look like,” said Krysta?”


“Krysta is that all you think about?” 


“Is he foxy Jenna?”


“Yes in a dark foreign sort of way.”


“What do you mean, where’s he from?”


“He’s from here Krysta. He was born in the US.  His parents are from Romania and they are all Romani.  They immigrated to the US.”


Mark could tell by her defensiveness that she and this Michael were more than friends. He knew his sister and when she was being evasive there was much more there than she was telling.  Mark sighed and hoped his sister knew what she was doing. He wasn’t sure if she wasn’t rebounding to block out the grief over David’s death.


“You mean he is a gypsy Jenna?”


“Yes, but he told me his family doesn’t travel anymore.”


“He sounds interesting. I’d like to meet this man.”


“I doubt you’ll be able to do that, he’s tied up for a couple of weeks with business.”


“That’s too bad.”


“Yes, you have a lot in common and the two of you are the same age.”


“So you are going for much older men are you now Jenna?” said Mark laughing.


“He doesn’t look older and he’s a great guy. I really like him.”


“Sounds to me like you have a problem brewing but you’re a big girl so I’ll stay out of it. Just a little concerned is all.”


“Maybe I am, but I like him and I like Quinn and I’m not going to be forced to choose one or the other right now. I don’t see why I have to choose.”


“You don’t but the guys may force you to if they are as smitten with you as I think they are already.”


“I guess I’ll worry about that if and when the time comes Mark,” said Jenna sighing.


“Leave her alone Mark, sounds to me Jenna is having a wonderful time dating these two men. I’m envious,” said Krysta smiling at Jenna.


“You two, quit talking to me like I’m embroiled in some cheesy romance novel lifestyle.”


“Aren’t you?” said Mark grinning.


“Shut up Mark,” said Jenna laughing. “I’m going inside. I had intended on swimming but now I’m hungry, either of you two hungry?”


Krysta jumped up and said, “I am. I’m starved.”


“Come on then, let’s go see what we can find.”


“Wait for me,” I’m coming too,” said Mark.


Jenna got out an array of cold cuts, cheese and other things she thought the three of them might like on a sandwich. They could build their own. The Marren’s had stocked the fridge well. While Mark and Krysta were eating Jenna got out a roast and started it in a crock pot for dinner. 


“You’ve become very domestic Jenna. You use to hate to cook,” commented Mark surprised.


“I’m a lot older now Mark. I use to cook for David all the time.” A faint look of sadness crossed Jenna’s face but she tried to hide it looking up smiling at her brother. Grabbing her plate and coke she sat down to eat. 


“I see you’re still addicted to soft drinks?” said Mark


Jenna glared at her brother while Krysta had turned on an interesting movie about a husband and wife being persecuted by a cult of devil worshippers, Bay something or other.



Chapter Fifteen


The next few days passed quickly until it was finally Thursday and they were going to see the psychic at Quinn’s store. Krysta was so excited she needed a tranquilizer. Mark was more non committal about it all, but he was curious. After dinner they all got in the car and Jenna parked across the street from the store. She was familiar  with where to go and led them down the alley to the side door. Quinn opened the door and his face brightened up immediately when he saw Jenna. He ushered them inside.


“Nice to see all of you and I’m glad you could come tonight.  A very tall man with long auburn hair had his back to them as they entered. 


“Jenna I’d like you to meet my brother.” As he turned around, Jenna gasped, he was almost a carbon copy of Quinn but about an inch taller, with slight differences.


“I’m Orin,” he said, “hasn’t this brother of mine mentioned me?”


“Actually only once in passing,” said Jenna clearly staring. She held out her hand and he grabbed it and the same feeling of being shocked ran up her arm.  She pulled her hand away trying to disguise how much the sensation had unnerved her.


“Wow,” said Krysta, “you two look so much alike.” 


“Yes, people seem to notice that most of the time. We’re twins,” said Orin grinning. “We still look enough alike it causes heads to turn. I’m here tonight to see Lisa. Quinn told me she would be speaking and channeling.”


“You have known this psychic for awhile?” said Jenna.


“Yes, I’ve known her for a few years now and Quinn too. Lisa Saunders is a fairly well known psychic by most who like to attend channelings.  She is the top of her field and especially solving or rather debunking cases of paranormal activity.”


“Does she have a brother named Steven Saunders?” asked Jenna.


“No, he is her cousin,” said Orin. “He’s right over there talking to Gemma who showed up unexpectedly.  Quite an interesting girl, she’s gypsy. We don’t know where or why she showed up here but she wants to see Lisa channel and hear her lecture.”


“Quinn whispered in her ear, “the nosey neighbor?”


“Yes,” said Jenna very quietly so the others wouldn’t hear.


“I can sit with you tonight Jenna.  Orin is going to work the lights.”


Jenna was relieved and took his hand. Lisa noticed the exchange but wasn’t happy about it.


She came over and said hello to everyone and said to Jenna, “nice to see you again.”


“You two know each other?” said Orin and Quinn at the same time.


Laughing Lisa said, “Yes we ran into each other outside a boutique around the corner from here.”


“She never mentioned it,” said Quinn giving her a look.


“I didn’t know there was any relationship between any of you. I’m sorry. It was one of those chance meetings I guess.”


Lisa looked at Orin and Quinn and said, “Shall we get started?”


“Come on,” said Quinn, to Jenna, Krysta and Mark.  “We can sit over here. You’ll have a good view of everything and I’ll join you,” he said smiling at Jenna.


They all sat down and Steve was sitting in the front row with Gemma on the side.  He hadn’t even come over and said hello. He turned around and smiled at Jenna and acknowledged her finally.  Lisa began her lecture. Lisa had been involved in a lot of things from what she mentioned including helping the police solve missing person cases. She had no idea how old she was but she was somewhere between Quinn and Mark’s age and very attractive.  She noticed Lisa giving side long glances at Orin. She must be in a relationship with him thought Jenna or she wanted one. Orin smiled and listened intently to what she was saying.


Jenna leaned over and whispered to Quinn, “Has Lisa been seeing Orin?”


“You noticed that did you?” said Quinn. “They’ve been seeing each other off an on for a few years. I think she is in love with him but if you knew Orin well, he just isn’t into monogamy or commitments. I think if I pushed him he would admit to me that he loves her too.  The problem is I don’t think he will ever tell her. He likes his lifestyle. He takes love casually, he always has.”


“What does he do Quinn?” 


“He’s an archaeologist like me.  Sometimes we work tandem and other times we’re on separate digs. He doesn’t have any businesses on the side. He just loafs when he is off a dig. He does write articles on the discoveries of various digs but they are in topic appropriate journals. No one ever sees them.”


“I noticed his hair is long too. Is that a trend in your family or who is copying whom?” 


“I don’t know it just sort of happened.  We both were out on different digs and when we came back we both had long hair. Sometimes it is uncanny how we think so much alike.  That’s why I have to watch him. The next thing I know he will be trying to hit on you. That’s something I’m not going to let happen this time.”


“What do you mean Quinn?”


“I mean he has a tendency to try and steal the women I want to be with, date, you know.”


“Oh, now I get it.  You have nothing to worry about Quinn” said Jenna smiling and squeezing his hand.


Someone up a few rows turned around and said shush. They hadn’t realized anyone could hear them.  They looked at each other and smiled and Quinn held up two fingers to his lips and they concentrated on the speaker.


“If Orin would kindly turn down the lights we can get started,” she was saying.  Jenna edged forward on her chair in anticipation and Mark and Krysta were rapt.  As she went into trance, there was a very subtle change in her voice.


“Greetings, my name is Obdrazmeonia.  I am from the last days of Azlanteel or what you call in your historical records, Atlantis. Does anyone have a question for me?”


What was the average lifespan in Atlantis said a woman in the back row?


“Oh, 14-1600 years old would be considered average depending on which part of the continent and which bloodline. We were in the northeast of Azlanteel and we had a somewhat longer bloodline because we were considered a little bit higher in caste. We had practiced the Pra much longer than the others and so in our genetic background was this helper energy that was sent through us and the very high diet that we also used. And so we were called the Blue because our hair color was blue or so black that it looked blue and we practiced the Pra. To the very south, in the colonial continent, where it is connected, the other people were of the darker race.  They had then a somewhat lower expectancy. Maybe only 1200 years.  But they were more recent into learning Pra.


Pra is the breathing, the neutral breath and the alignment of the body energies in the spine to where all of the electrical impulses are cleared constantly in the body.”


“What did you eat,” said a man in the second row.


“It was a combination of things. You cannot exist with only physical exercise and no food. Having a good diet is important when the child is in the very formative stages, so that the body is of the full height, seven feet or you know, seven feet three inches or so, and fully developed, and weight is proper you see. There was always a food diet, but it was a very light food compared to the heavy meats that you eat in this culture. They were very light. They were almost totally synthetic foods, you see. There was never only pure air. We thought the synthetic foods were very important. Most of the diet in which Pra was utilized as essential was to utilize direct sunlight into food in the most basic form. This was plants and fruit and the photosynthetic foods of the ocean are very helpful and there is what is called the kelp. This is useful. You have to grind it up and then you can also energize any of these food substances with higher forms of ultraviolet radiation, and then it becomes much more substantial in regenerating tissue.”


“What would you eat on an average day?” he continued.


“It would depend on my mood of course. I could take the concentrate which would be just a liquid diet. If I had more time I could have the regular food dishes which again had a liquid poured in it. Then there was the very, very steamed flat vegetables and proteins and normally there would be something as a dessert you call it, something to add appetite and to flavor at the end.  This would be very, very complex. You have nothing quite like it at this time, but it would be a fruit that was concentrated into crystals and you would eat that and it was extremely flavorful. More so than any flavor you have now, very intense because it is crystallized and made solid.”


She went on to answer many more questions about the last days of Atlantis before it fractured and disappeared into the sea.  She answered a variety of personal questions of the type asked at the last channeling she attended. Krysta and Mark seemed to be mesmerized.


Jenna realized the end of the channeling was coming because she mentioned Lisa was tiring.  She said it was time to leave. With those last few words she said, “May the power of the cosmos protect you and give you strength” and she left.  Lisa gradually came back and asked Orin to turn on the lights.  She sat up and told everyone she hoped they enjoyed themselves.  Have a good evening were her last words.  As before, people left donations and booked private readings. Some went into the store to browse. Unlike the last demonstration, Quinn had his store open for people to purchase items. Lisa had her books on display and was willing to sign any that were purchased that night.


Steve finally came up to Jenna and her brother and sister and said, “Nice to see you here tonight Jenna.”


“Nice to see you too, Steve.  Have you met my sister Krysta and my brother, Mark, who are also visiting?” 


“Actually I haven’t.  Nice to meet the two of you,” he said shaking hands with Mark.


“Your cousin’s lecture and then her channeling is like nothing I have ever witnessed before. I have to say that I’m very impressed and it takes a lot to impress me.”


“I’m sure she will be gratified with your words Mark.  Why don’t you go over and talk to her.  I’m sure she’d love to hear your thoughts,” said Steve smiling. Mark excused himself and went over to talk to Lisa.


Jenna turned to Steve and said, “What happened to your friend Steve?”


“I honestly don’t know, when the lights went up she said a quick goodbye and left. I have no idea where she came from or where she went. She was mysterious and not wanting to talk much about herself.  Odd, but I’ve met some very odd people at Lisa’s lectures over the years. I thought she knew you because she kept looking your way.”


“No, not at all, I’ve never met her.”


“She told me,” Said Quinn, “that she was a college student studying the paranormal trends in modern society.  She’s writing a thesis and wanted to sit in on Lisa’s session.  She said she had overheard someone at school talking about it.  She decided to take her chances and see if she could get in and I let her in as long as she had no cameras or recorders. I don’t mind taking notes but none of that other paraphernalia. It’s distracting to the psychics.”


“She must have been worried about getting back to school by curfew, although she probably had a pass so she could attend,” said Quinn.


“That’s probably it,” said Steve. “I’m going to go see when Lisa will be ready to leave.  By the way, are Krysta and Mark coming to the movie with us tomorrow night?”


“I hadn’t thought about that. If they’d like to and it’s okay with the two of you I would assume they would love to go. Why don’t you come as well Quinn?  We’re going to see Grease and then have dinner.  That will kind of even out the group to six.  We can take your car and mine Steve and meet you there. Let me know tomorrow what time?”


“Will do,” said Steve, upset that she had invited Quinn along. He saw how they looked at each other and held hands.  He wondered how Michael fit into it all and if Quinn even knew about Michael. It wasn’t going to happen he thought. He kept telling himself but it looked like it was out of his control, fate had taken over. He looked at Quinn and said, “Bring Orin along as well. I’m sure Lisa would love that. It might be the only time we can get together again as a group.”


“Thank you said Quinn. I’m sure he’d love to come. He’s the one with the musical background so he will probably be up for Grease.”


Everyone gradually left and Jenna felt it was time for them to go as well.  Krysta had been talking to Steve and Mark with Lisa which surprised Jenna. Quinn silently observed it all.


“Seems your family has developed a liking for the Saunders,” said Quinn.


“I can see that,” said Jenna.  “Do you think it will bother Orin?”


“It might, but he’ll survive. He keeps himself at arms length from Lisa. There was a time when he didn’t but that was years ago. He has no business having any reaction to what is going on. I’m sure if your brother and Lisa get together he will be happy for them. It never would have worked out between them. He is a loner.”



Chapter Sixteen


Jenna drove the car back into the garage and Krysta and Mark went into the house through the side door. They were all tired but they wanted something to eat before bed. Jenna went inside and put her things down on the coffee table and walked into the kitchen to see what they were up to.


“Hey Jenna, you want some scrambled eggs?” said Krysta.  “We’re going to have some eggs and heat up some of the ham we found in the refrigerator.”


“Yes, I’d love some eggs,” said Jenna. 


“Jenna, Jenna,” said Krysta gently touching her arm. “Where did you go?”


“Nowhere, I’m sorry I guess I was day dreaming. I need some advice.”


“Something isn’t right here. I feel like I’m being watched all the time. I see light coming out of the mirror in my room and other places as well but not as often. I have to go see Michael.  The house belongs to his parents and he might know what's happening.”


Mark and Krysta looked at each other and although they knew she was distraught by David’s death she wasn’t known for strange imaginings.


“Do you know how to get hold of him Jenna?” said Krysta.


“He left me his card just in case any problems might arise. Seems that giving women business cards has become a male trend,” said Jenna trying to smile.


“Try to call him sweetie,” said Mark. “We’re behind anything you feel you need to do. You aren’t forced to stay here even with a contract if it’s not safe.”


“Always the lawyer, aren’t you Mark?” said Jenna.

“All right I’m going to try and call him. I’ll be back. This is supposed to be his personal phone at his home. It’s late so maybe he’ll be there.”


Krysta and Mark looked at each other as she left the kitchen. Krysta was the one to say it first. “Do you think she is becoming delusional Mark?  Could it be schizophrenia or something like that? I never told you what happened at the funeral.” Krysta sat down at the table by Mark and began to relate what had happened the day they buried David.


“Hello,” said Michael.


“Hello, it’s Jenna, Michael. I need to talk to you and right away. Something is really wrong here and I’m afraid. It seems to deal only with me so I’m not worried about my brother and sister.” 


“Okay Jenna, I can’t come there but I can arrange for a charter to fly you to the airport here and a car to pick you up and take you to my house. Bring some things and you can stay with me and come back tomorrow. Can you get to the airport by nine?


“Yes,” said Jenna.


“Your call was forwarded. I’m auditing in Providence so you’re only fifteen minutes away by jet.  You’ll be here shortly before nine thirty.”


Jenna was surprised, but said nothing.  She wanted to see Michael and learn more about his family. Creeped out was an understatement for how she was feeling.


Mark dropped off Jenna at the airport and Krysta went next door to see Steve.


The flight was short but it seemed to drag on for Jenna.  She felt something in her gut. She thought it was anxiety but it wasn’t going away until she saw Michael. She didn’t know why she felt uncomfortable but she did. Jenna disembarked and walked into the airport.  Looking around she saw Michael waiting.  She almost ran into his arms.


Smiling he said, “What’s this all about Jenna?”


“I don’t know,” said Jenna, “Can we go now? I want to get out of here. I feel like someone is watching me, following me. I’ve felt that way since I moved into your family’s house. I just shrugged it off but now I’m tired of it and I have questions. I thought you said you were sending a car for me?”


“I did but I changed my mind. I’m not sure I can answer your questions Jenna but I’ll hear you out.  Come on we’ll go to my house and talk.”


They pulled up in front of a house and Michael helped her out of the car.  He hadn’t told her he had a home in Providence. She had a hunch there was a lot he hadn’t told her. She realized she was expecting too much from only one date but there was something special between them and she didn’t know why it happened so quickly. But there was recognition she didn’t understand. At least she had known Quinn for a few weeks, but that wasn’t the case for Michael. Yet there was attachment that defied logic.


“Come in here Jenna,” said Michael, “and relax. Would you like something to drink?” 


“Yes, just some water, thank you.”


Jenna was beginning to have second thoughts and feeling foolish for calling Michael but she was glad to see him.


“Here you go hun,” said Michael sitting a glass on the table beside her.


“You’re really stressed out aren’t you Jen. What’s wrong?”


“I honestly don’t know Michael, its something about that house. There are strange lights all the time and funny sounds coming from the basement. Your Mother warned me that people might drop by anytime of the night and day but so far, you’re the only one I’ve seen. It’s getting to where I’m uncomfortable being there alone. I can’t get my writing done.”


“I don’t think it is anything to worry about Jenna.  There are a few people with keys and with the note you placed on the door, they most likely came in quietly and left. You probably heard them in the basement.  They shouldn’t have done that but Romani are very quiet about the things they do even if they celebrate loudly. They probably didn’t want to get social, just an in and out type of thing. I’m sorry Jenna.”


“That makes sense, Michael explained that way.”  Jenna sighed in relief.  She had been about ready to call Lisa over to do some sort of exorcism or something.


Michael laughed and said, “I think you used this as an excuse to come and see me.”


“You think so do you? Well it sounds good to me,” said Jenna smiling.


Michael reached over and pulled her into his arms.  “I love the way you feel when I hold you. I’ve missed that,” he said.


“You’re so full of charm aren’t you Michael. I bet all the ladies fall for your words.”


“You think you know me that well? Come with me miss smarty pants,” he said. Michael stood up and held his hand out to her.  She grasped it and he took her upstairs.

“This is the room where you can stay.  I’ll bring your things upstairs. Michael took her down the hall and said, “This is my room if you need anything.”


Jenna looked into Michael’s eyes and said, “I’d rather stay here if you don’t mind.”


Michael picked her up and sat her on the bed. He began to undress her.  He was still amazed at how lovely she was.  She was perfect and he wanted her, he wanted her now.


She hadn’t forgotten how sensual Michael was. He took his time touching every inch of her body. He opened a drawer by the bed and took out a bottle of lotion. Rubbing it all over her back he proceeded to give her a massage. He knew she loved it and he thought she would relax more.  Her muscles were tight and she was all pent up. He wanted to give her more than one kind of pleasure. He turned her over and stared for awhile. She had fallen asleep much to his dismay, but he should have known from the last encounter.  That was a first for him. He leaned over and started to kiss her neck and gently nibble her ear. He thought that would wake her up.  He was right because her arms came up and pulled him down.


He kissed her and touched her lightly. It seemed like they were connected on a level she couldn’t explain. She thought it was her own fantasy but he seemed to be enjoying being with her, almost possessing her. She felt different connections with both Quinn and Michael but they were there.


Michael knew he was going to have to tell her something and very soon. He held her close and said, Jenna, I love you.”  He felt it might be the only time he would have to tell her how he really felt. He had loved her from the first day he laid eyes on her and it wasn’t when she thought.


Jenna didn’t say a thing; she lay there in his arms very still.  Michael thought she had fallen asleep again and hadn’t heard what he said. He pulled up the covers and went to sleep.


Everything was rushed but they had breakfast and he told her he would see her at his parent’s house on Sunday. He was going to arrange it but he had to go back to Atlanta first. They kissed goodbye and boarded their planes. On the flight back Jenna whispered, “I love you too Michael.”


Mark picked her up at the airport and said, “So?” 


“Nothing Mark, Michael is coming on Sunday. He said he had some things to explain to me, to all of us. Please don’t mention this to Quinn. I don’t want to hurt him.”


“Whatever you want Jenna, but I hope you know what you’re doing,” said Mark worried. “Tonight we’re all going out to the movies.  Have you forgotten?”


“No I haven’t forgotten.  It’ll be fun and I’m going to forget about everything I’ve been worrying about.”


“Aren’t you going to be uncomfortable with Quinn there Jenna?”


“No why should I be? I like the both of them. Why should I be any different than a man who dates more than one person? I haven’t committed myself to either of them. They both know I’m seeing other people.  They’ve accepted that for now. It’s too much for me to choose just one. I’m not emotionally ready. I’m not over loosing David. I don’t want to have to worry about losing someone else right now.”


“Okay, honey. We’re leaving early so dinner isn’t so late.  The movie starts at six so we’re leaving at five fifteen. We want enough time to park and find good seats before the rush. Be sure you leave a little earlier since you have to pick up Orin and Quinn.” 


“I won’t forget Mark, but for now, I’m taking a nap. I’ll see you later,” said Jenna and went straight upstairs and to her room.  She curled up on her bed and fell asleep. She didn’t want to choose, something would happen if she did.


Michael finally made it back to Atlanta. It was evening and he was tired and dreading having to tell Jenna the truth. He unlocked the door and went inside.  Someone unexpected was sitting in his living room.


“What are you doing here?” said Michael


“I want to know where David is hiding. I know he isn't dead. He did one of his disappearing acts but I don't know how he managed it since that woman you are seeing now thinks he died in a car crash,” said the intruder holding a gun.


"I saw the obituary in the paper and the write up on the accident.  You two don't have me fooled.  You arranged it because he thought the family was after him again."


"Nothing of the kind,” said Michael. “I read what you read and then I saw the funeral announcement. So I went to the funeral. I know my brother and what he can do. I don't know how he does it but he does.” 


"Magic Michael, you should know that. You have a little of it in you remember?"


"Are you the one whose been watching Jenna through the mirrors, especially the one in her room?"


"What do you think Michael? I thought if I watched her I could find David but she actually thinks he's dead. He fooled her and now she has taken up with that guy from the occult bookstore."


"Quinn?" said Michael disturbed. "I knew there was someone else but I never expected him."


"Yes, I watched them making love in her room. I think she loves him, but she seems unsure.  Are you the reason Michael? You know you can't have her. You would be shunned as well. You know who was chosen for you. Circumstances change nothing. You are lucky the family hasn't objected to your antics already. I would get ready to disentangle yourself from that one or you may wish you had a little sooner than you had planned."


"Is that a threat?"


"Not exactly, but I would take it as fair warning for your own good."


Satisfied, the gun was withdrawn and tucked away in a bag. It was obvious Michael didn't know the whereabouts of David. “I’m leaving but if I find out you withheld information from me, I’ll be back.”


That was the actions of someone totally out of control thought Michael. I need to let them know Sunday. Jenna needs to be warned.  I only hope nothing happens before I can get back to Carlton.  The search for David was on and nothing was going to stop until he was found.



Chapter Seventeen


Jenna arrived at the Golden door about ten after five for Quinn and Orin.  She went up to the door but it was locked.  She knocked on the door but no answer.  She was about to leave thinking they forgot when she heard a familiar voice behind her say, “You leaving without us Jenna?”


“No, but you could have answered the door,” said Jenna grinning.  Actually she was about to leave without them and they knew it.


“We were in the back room Jenna.  We didn’t hear you knocking at first. I’m sorry.”


“You’d better be,” she said laughing.  “Come on we’ll be late.”  They climbed into the car and Jenna drove to the theater and parked.  They got out and walked up to get tickets. They entered the theater and everyone else was just inside waiting for them.


Jenna looked at the price of the tickets.  “Look at that she said, “Prices have gone up almost a dollar. $2.50 is really high. I’m used to paying about $1.75. I guess it’s because there has been so much hype about this movie on TV.  At that price it better be good.”


“You can afford that Jenna. You’re not paying for anyone else. Everybody decided to go Dutch so no one would feel obligated to pair up.  We just want to have a good time tonight,” said Orin grinning.


“Listen to you she said giggling.  I can afford it, no problem but if it keeps going like this I see us eventually paying almost ten dollars a ticket in the future.”


“Come on Jenna it will never get that high.”


“Let’s just get our tickets and go inside. I’ll stop complaining.” Jenna grabbed Quinn’s hand and Orin followed behind.  They bought some popcorn and drinks and went to look for good seats. They were glad they came early because when they started showing the movie, the place was packed.


Jenna and Quinn sat in the back while the rest sat a couple of rows up. Quinn leaned to the side and gave Jenna a kiss.  “Come on Quinn, save that for later. I really want to watch the movie,” she said poking him.


“As you wish, but remember you said that.”


Jenna laughed and the others turned around and said in unison, “shhh.”


They both laughed.  It was the part where Frankie Avalon was singing Beauty School Dropout.  She heard they had stylized the part just for him in the movie deviating from the original.


The credits were playing and everyone got up to leave but they all remained in their seats until most had cleared out and then got up to leave.  Jenna and Quinn had gone down first and they were waiting for everyone else in the lobby.


“Where does everyone want to eat?” said Steve.


“Let’s go over to the Chalet,” said Orin. 


“Where’s that? What kind of food do they serve?” said Jenna


“American food,” said Orin.


“They have a variety of things on the menu. I know you’ll find something you’ll like. For a large group of people, it’s the best place around here. They’re only about two miles away,” said Quinn.


“Sounds good to me, what about you Lisa?  That okay for you?” asked Steve. 


“That’s fine, said Lisa, “I’m famished.”


“Me too,” chimed in Krysta and Mark.


“The Chalet was a quaint Swiss style building but inside it was modern. They served American food.  Quinn explained that it had been sold and they hadn’t changed anything on the outside but renovated the inside and changed the menu.  Since the take over people had been flocking to the place.”


They ordered hamburgers and fries all the way around except Lisa who ordered a chef’s salad.


“You said you were hungry a minute ago and you order a chef salad Lisa?  What’s up with that,” said Mark smiling.


“I’m just use to eating salads all the time. It’s habit.”


She cancelled her order and reordered what everyone else was having. She was a little embarrassed. Mark grinned slightly but was clearly fascinated by Lisa. She was attractive but very old fashioned even if she was only twenty-six.


Jenna was watching Quinn and Orin eat.  They looked so much alike it almost unnerved her.  For some reason Orin seemed older but they both had very different personalities. She was already use to some of Quinn’s eating quirks like ordering salad dressing to dip his fries into. Orin wanted ketchup. Trivial things she knew but differences that distinguished the two of them.


Jenna pulled up across from the Golden Door to let off Orin and Quinn.  Orin went inside but Quinn wanted to spend a few minutes alone with Jenna.


“Jenna there’s something that I have to tell you.  I‘d like you to come to the store next Friday night if you can make it, it’s really important or I wouldn’t ask you to come by,” said Quinn.


“Why can’t you tell me right now?” said Jenna.


“I wish I could explain the reasoning for you but if I did it would be so confusing and without Orin, you wouldn’t understand.”


“You’re being so cryptic Quinn and I’m not really sure I want to know. I trust you and your judgment. You’ve been nothing but kind to me while I’ve been here.  I guess I’ll be there unless something beyond my control prevents it.”


“Fair enough,” said Quinn.


“Quinn,” said Jenna taking his hand. “Something is really bothering you.  What is it, can’t you tell me?” 


“There are a number of things Jenna but all in due time. I’m only at liberty to give you a glimpse. Step out of the car please.”


“Why do you want me to step out of the car?” said Jenna a little disturbed by his request.


“Trust me.  Take my hand.”


Quinn took Jenna’s hand and pulled something out of his pocket and held it in his hand. Suddenly she found she wasn’t by the car anymore. He had taken her somewhere but she didn’t know where somewhere was. Jenna screamed and Quinn said, “Don’t be frightened this is your home.”


“What do you mean home?”


“I’ll explain that to you next week. I wanted you to understand how important our meeting will be for you and for all of us.  You won’t remember coming here but you will retain an urgency to make the appointment at the store.”


It was light outside and there were green rolling hills with flowers everywhere. She could see what she thought were cottages sprinkled around. She saw people walking down paths that looked like them, looked like her, not exactly but they all had her coloring.


Quinn reached up and touched her forehead. Light appeared to be coming out of his hand.  He took the artifact he was using and placed it in the center of a large standing stone and pulled it out and whoosh, they were back but she didn’t remember having gone anywhere.


“Well?” she said to Quinn, “you were saying?”


“Would you like to come over for a little while?  The movie and dinner didn’t last that long and it’s still early.  I’d like to spend some time with you. I have little free time and tonight’s one night I saved just for you.”


“I don’t know,” said Jenna thinking of Michael.  Jenna looked up and saw the look on his face. It was so hopeful and he gave her the same type of look that Michael did. Seeing the two of them was causing so much turmoil and confusion in her life. Now Orin had showed up and their mysterious request made things all the more complex. She had almost had enough to pack up and go back home. She knew she couldn’t do that, she’d signed a contract but she was on edge.


“All right Quinn but I can’t stay too long.”


“I understand,” he said. “You can leave your car parked here and we can walk over to my house or you can drive, since it’s later in the evening.”


“I think I should drive so I can just climb in the car and go home when I leave.” They got in the car and it only took a couple of minutes to get to Quinn’s.


“Where’s Orin?” asked Jenna.


“He had a date actually. A woman he met when he was shopping for food. They always say women look for men in the market. I guess they were right,” said Quinn grinning. “I know Orin he won’t be back for hours.”


Jenna followed Quinn inside.  She hadn’t noticed all his books and photography on the wall when she was there the last time.  She wondered how she could have missed such a display. She walked over and was looking at them as he came back with a soda for her and a beer for him.


“These photographs are outstanding Quinn.  Who took them?” 


“Those are photos I took in places where I had digs.”


She pointed at one of them and said, “What is that?” 


“Those are Incan ruins in South America. In fact, that’s where I'll be going.  We went in there to check the place out and put in papers for permission to start a dig at that location and take out artifacts if we found any.”


“I can’t imagine how you got some of these shots. You should be a photographer, they look professional.”


“It’s just a hobby of mine, nothing more.”


“Among the many you should say.”


“Come here you.”

He took her hand pulling her down on the couch beside him. He turned on the television set and a rock concert was being shown. They watched it for awhile but Quinn had other things on his mind.  He turned her head and began to gently kiss her. He pulled her to her feet and led her upstairs to his room.


Jenna didn’t know what she was going to do with these two men wanting to be with her. She liked them both and thought she might even love Michael. Then Michael would be gone and Quinn would make her change her mind. She was so torn between the two of them.  It wasn’t indecision but the timing was off so close to David’s death. She couldn’t resist either of them she kept telling herself but she knew better. The underlying question in her mind was why?


Quinn started to undress her and she reached back and took the band out of his hair.  His hair was still her weakness and she loved the feel of it. It was electric and glistened in the dim light.  It was the color of her hair, dark cinnamon.


He laid there letting her play with his hair, touch his skin and generally explore his body. He recognized she was in a mood and wasn’t going to interrupt her thoughts. She removed the rest of his clothing sliding his pants onto the floor at the end of the bed. “Come on Quinn,” she said. “I’m going to try something new. Turn over on your stomach.”  She had paid close attention to the things Michael did for her.  She was going to transfer that to Quinn. It would be fun she thought to see his reaction.


“Do you have any lotion or baby oil Quinn?”


“Yeah, of course I do, under the counter in the bathroom. What do you want with that?” he said with curiosity in his tone.


She found the lotion and grabbed a large towel.  “Get up for a minute Quinn.”


“Yes my lady anything for you,” he said laughing wondering what she was up to but knowing all too well what she wanted to do. He was intrigued by her bid for mystery but he was going to relax and let her take the lead.


“All right, I’m ready, lie back down and pull your hair up to the side. Are you ticklish Quinn?” Jenna asked.


“Not that I’m aware.”


Jenna started with his feet.  She massaged each of them slowly and methodically helping him to relax. She actually found it enjoyable that she was giving rather then receiving. She gradually worked up his body until she reached his neck. He was so relaxed she wondered if he had fallen asleep. She had found the massages almost hypnotic. When she told him to turn over he turned over proving he was wide awake, stimulated but awake.


“Let me have your hand Quinn.”  He extended his right arm and she grasped his hand and began to massage it gently. 


“That feels great Jenna.  Did you train somewhere in massage?” he asked.


“Nope, I’ve just watched a lot of movies,” she said giggling.


He realized she didn’t want to tell him how she learned to give a massage but he had a good idea.


“Okay, now it’s my turn,” he said and slid off the bed. He pointed to where he had been laying. Jenna stretched out and Quinn said, “I’ll be right back,” and went into the bathroom. He came back holding the bottle of lotion and when he poured it on her back it was warm.  It felt so relaxing. Quinn was actually very good in fact better than Michael. He seemed to know the right places to touch and how.


“Where did you get trained?” said Jenna inquisitively.


“The New York School of Massage Therapy,” said Quinn.


“You’re kidding me right?”


“No, I actually went there one summer when I was on a break. I thought it would be fun.”


“Wow, you know so many things I can’t take it all in. You’re an anachronism. You don’t belong to this time yet you fit in quite well. It doesn’t make sense to me.”


“Then,” said Quinn kissing Jenna, “don’t try to make any sense of it at all. It’s not important, at least not right now.”


Another cryptic statement she thought but she let it pass.


Jenna grabbed him and pulled him down and they began to make love. There was something about him, different than Michael and she couldn’t explain it. It was an imperceptible alchemy that kept her from making a choice.  She recognized her behavior was out of control because normally she had one relationship at a time.  This was something new to her and she wasn’t so sure she could go on much longer.  She knew other people dated more than one person at a time but it wasn’t her style. She wasn’t into playing the field and was beginning to feel like a prude and maybe she was given her upbringing.


Quinn showed her to her car and leaned over and kissed her through the window.  “I’ll see you later this week Jenna. Please be sure you make it a priority. It’s important to me and you may find you feel the same as well.”


“I won’t forget,” said Jenna kissing two of her fingers and placing them on his lips. “Now I really have to get home. I don’t want to be rude to Mark and Krysta.”


Quinn watched as Jenna drove off and quietly said, “I love you Jenna, I hope you can forgive me for keeping secrets.”