Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)155 - 8/24/19 - Complete

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keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)150-5/28/19

Post by keepsmiling7 » Wed May 29, 2019 8:27 am

So glad to see this story continued......however, allow me time to go back and refresh my memory.
Thanks for not giving up!

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)151-6/1/19

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:57 pm

Chrystalkay: Well, we can tell you that the next few parts are ready and we’re posting a new one today! Thanks for reading!

keepsmiling7: Here’s another update so at least the last part should still be fresh in your mind, lol! Thanks for reading!



Part 151

“Do you think we’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?”

After sitting in silence for the past hour, that was the last thing Alex had expected Isabel to ask. They had ended up having dinner with his parents because she had jumped on the invitation his mom extended. Afterwards she had insisted on helping clear the table and get the dishes sorted. He was aware of his girlfriend’s penchant for organizing things to death when she was stressed out so he had simply stayed out of the way and let her get her thoughts in order.

He had been ready with a backup plan in the event Plan A failed when she finally ran out of things to clean in the kitchen, but as it turned out he hadn’t needed it. His mom had been happily going on about some story from his childhood when he’d caught the flash of fear that skated across Isabel’s features. She must have sensed his focus on her because she hadn’t been looking at him, but she had given a nearly unnoticeable shake of her head when he started to tell his mom they had to go.

Isabel had carried her end of the conversation until his mom had excused herself to get ready for the movie his dad was taking her to see. He hadn’t mistaken the relief that had been so apparent in her eyes when they were left alone. Taking the opportunity that had fallen in his lap he had asked if she had ever seen Hercules. Her expression had been one of surprise that was quickly replaced with a lack of interest before he’d assured her he wasn’t talking about television shows or movies.

They had driven out to Frasier Woods and found a good spot to gaze up at the stars and they’d taken turns pointing out the constellations, talking about nothing of consequence for a while before falling silent. It hadn’t been an uncomfortable silence, but it had carried the weight of unspoken words, and he had sensed that she had to be the one to break it.

“I think we’re only doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we don’t learn from them.” He took one of her hands, rubbing it between both of his when he felt how cold it was. It wasn’t the temperature causing the cold that permeated her skin because it was just over eighty degrees. He had a feeling it was directly related to the emotional rollercoaster she had been on all day.

“But how do you know?” She turned to look at him, desperately seeking reassurance. “I mean, what if it’s not the same when you’ve lived before, at least in some form?”

“You think you’re predisposed to certain behavior simply because they cloned your essence?”

“What if I am?”

He shook his head. “That’s not the way it works.”

“You don’t know that!” She jerked her hand free and pushed away from the boulder they had been sitting on. She paced back and forth, agitated and out of sorts. “We were engineered, Alex. These bodies were cloned from alien and human genetic material and they transferred our essences into them. Why? If it wasn’t to retain who we were on Antar, then what was the point?”

“I don’t know why they did what they did. I don’t know why they chose Earth as your destination. I don’t know if there was some nefarious purpose for their decision to clone your essence or if it was done out of love and a desire to see you free to live a life of your choosing. We may never know the answer to those questions.”

She slowed to a stop and looked at him, assessing. “And you can live with not knowing?”

Alex smiled. “I know what I need to know about you, Isabel Evans.”

“You may know Isabel Evans but you don’t know Vilondra.” She looked away and swallowed hard.

“Vilondra,” he said slowly, testing the name out. “That was your name on Antar?”

She nodded and looked up at the sky, searching the constellations. “The name of a traitor,” she whispered after several long, heavy minutes.

“You think you betrayed someone?”

“Someone?” she laughed, the sound harsh as she fought to control her emotions. “Didn’t you see the way he looked at me today? No, I didn’t betray someone, Alex, I betrayed everyone. I’m the reason we were killed on Antar.”

Knowing she was volatile in her current frame of mind, Alex chose to wait her out. If she hurt him in this state she would feel like she was giving credence to her belief that she was somehow tainted by the past. He pulled his right leg up, resting his heel on the boulder and looping his arms around his knee so he could prop his chin on it.

“How did you betray them?”

“There was a man there… I can’t really pull him into focus, but he was important. He was an enemy of Antar, from another, I don’t know, kingdom or realm, I don’t know what the territories or whatever were called there. I know he wanted the throne of Antar and I… I helped him try to take it.”

He studied her, taking in every nuance of expression that crossed her features as she tried to reconcile a past she suddenly remembered. “Why?”

“What?”

“Why did you help him try to overthrow the throne?”

“I was in love with him.”

He’d expected the answer. “Can you remember how you ended up together? What led you to believe that following that path was a good idea?”

“He was charismatic and he didn’t treat me as if I was insignificant. It was the first time anyone had ever really listened to anything I had to say. Maria was right when she said it was a patriarchal society. I was suffocating. It’s not like women were abused or mistreated. Quite the contrary. The women of Antar were held in high regard – protected, cared for and revered, but at the same time it was very isolating.”

“Women were basically decorative ornaments meant to keep their opinions to themselves.” He shrugged when she looked at him in surprise. “It’s not so unusual in a society like that.” They had studied societies like that in their History classes the past couple of years. “It’s no wonder you were suffocating in that environment.”

“It doesn’t excuse the fact that I betrayed my family, my people.”

“No, it doesn’t.” He pondered that a moment. “But do you remember everything?”

She shook her head. “What if it happens again, Alex? I mean, if I was capable of it in that other life, what’s to stop me this time around?”

“Isabel,” he leaned forward and captured her hands, “listen to me. You don’t have total recall of everything that led up to that betrayal. You said the guy was charismatic, right? Well, people with that particular trait also have the ability to abuse it, to manipulate it and twist it into something dark and evil if they want to.”

“You’re saying he used me.” She looked at him, wanting to believe it, wanting some of the weight from the burden of guilt and shame to ease.

“You said you loved him, but you didn’t say he loved you. There’s a reason for that old line about there being a thin line between love and hate. Maybe he did love you, I don’t know, but the fact of the matter is, he was an enemy of the throne and he wanted that throne for himself. It doesn’t sound to me like he was very discriminating in how he achieved that goal. And if using your feelings for him to obtain that goal was his method of carrying it out then I think that just makes him a snake and a coward.” He shook his head. “I think you were isolated and fighting to be free. I don’t think you simply followed his lead with the intention of betraying your family and your people.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s not who you are, Isabel. You’d take on anyone who intended to harm the people you care about, I don’t see that part of your character changing from one life to another. I’m as certain of that as I am that I need air to breathe.” He shook her gently, making sure he had her attention. “Do you remember what else the hologram said?” He fell silent for a moment, trying to pull the words into focus so he could get it right. “He said, ‘It was the inability to believe that evil could infiltrate our ranks at such a high level that led to your deaths. Know your enemies, know each other, and most importantly, know yourselves and do not fall prey to deceit.’ Between what you’ve told me and what he said I can only draw one conclusion.”

“What?” A spark of hope ignited in her chest, chasing the icy feeling of fear and dread back into the shadows.

“The society you were raised in at that time was patriarchal, which kept you separated from two important parts of yourself. No matter the time you wouldn’t have been satisfied to just sit back and let life pass you by. You’d have wanted more in that life just like you do now. This guy you’ve remembered, he would’ve seen that, determined it to be a weakness and then lied to get what he wanted.”

“Maybe…”

He chuckled and shook his head. It was only a theory after all, but he thought it was a damn good one. Sobering, he met her gaze head on. “Isabel, you said you were the reason you were all killed on Antar. All of you, not just the others. I can’t imagine that you knew what he intended to do to your family or your people because that goes against the heart of who you are. Some things about people are so deeply ingrained that nothing can change them, and when it comes to you, protecting those you care about is one of those things. You, Max and Michael are a strong unit and I’ve seen that bond strengthen over the past few months. Where one of you might be a little weak in areas, the others take up for that in different ways and it creates a seal that protects all of you. You were denied that on Antar, so you struggled to find your way in another manner that didn’t end so well.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Thank you for that,” she said dryly.

“My point is, that’s not gonna happen here. You’ve got that bond with your brothers, you’ve got a family that loves and encourages you to be yourself…” he trailed off when she pressed a finger to his lips, stilling the flow of words.

“I’ve got you,” she whispered and replaced her finger with her lips. He was right, but then she’d found that he usually was. He didn’t simply rush to judgment. No, he weighed the issue at hand before drawing a conclusion. She was the same person she had been on Antar, but at the same time, she was also different. Maybe she would never know the truth, but after listening to him, she had to agree that he had made some valid points and she was happy with the conclusion he had come to.
*****
Max knocked on the café door, every strike of his knuckles reverberating through his arm. He had walked around town for a couple of hours after the talk with his dad, going over his words of advice repeatedly. He knew Liz had to come to the realization that he wasn’t going anywhere in her own time, but he was afraid that if he let it sit too long she’d decide her hypothesis was right.

He wasn’t willing to wait for that to happen because she wasn’t right.

He raised his fist to begin another round of knocking when the door was suddenly pulled open and he found himself staring at his girlfriend. She didn’t look all that surprised to see him but the misery was clear on her face.

“Max, what’re you doing here?!” she hissed.

He drew himself up to his full height and pushed past her, deciding to take the bull by the horns.

Liz’s mouth dropped open in surprise when he just walked in without so much as a word. He’d been spending too much time around Michael, she decided uncharitably. “My parents – “

“ – aren’t here,” he finished before she could get any further with the lie.

She hurried to lock up again before following him as he moved through the dining room with purpose. “What do you think you’re doing?” she asked when she finally caught up with him. He was standing in the break room, calmly erasing the whiteboard she had painstakingly worked on to create the employee chart and graph.

“I’m here to refute your conclusion before your brain has the chance to upload the results.” He nodded at the chair off to the side. “Sit down.”

Yeah, way too much Michael exposure, she mused when he spit the order out exactly the way the other guy did.

“You’re so sure I’ve got some destiny to follow, that I apparently don’t have the backbone to make my own decisions,” he held a hand up when she opened her mouth to protest, simply pointing to the chair and continuing, “and that I have no choice in the matter. I’ve listened to you so now you’re gonna listen to me.”

Liz sat down more out of shock than in response to any order he’d given. How did he not understand? She didn’t want to lose him, but what right did she have to hold onto him when he had something much bigger in store for him than a life on Earth?

“You define things scientifically, right? Fine, you want a hypothesis, so here goes.” He slapped the eraser down on the table next to him with enough force to leave a mark on the surface. He’d spent the past hour going over the steps it took to form a hypothesis using the scientific method, making sure he was ready before he’d approached the café. He uncapped the marker, ignoring its heavy scent as he pressed it to the board and started to write.

She winced when he mashed the tip of the marker to the board as he scrawled on its surface. She worked so hard to maintain the tips on the damn things.

“Number one, ask the question, right? Okay, do I have a choice in following some destiny I never asked for? Right?” He glanced over his shoulder, satisfied when she gave a meek nod in response. He scribbled out a YES next to the question. “Number two, research. You wanna know why I have a choice? Good, because I’m gonna tell you exactly why. Zan may not have had a choice in the matter, I don’t know, but I do. I wasn’t raised on Antar. I may have been a king in that other life, but here and now, there’s nothing royal about me. I’m just a guy trying to get on with his life by making it to college with his relationship with his girlfriend intact.”

He paused to draw a deep breath. “Now, you’ve got it in your head that what Tess said has some merit, but it doesn’t.” He scrawled her name across the board with more force than was necessary and then underlined it three times. “Her obsession with me was just that – an obsession. She wasn’t interested in me. I was nothing more than a means to an end. The attraction I felt for her was a controlled response and she was pulling the strings. As deranged as she was I can’t believe that you continue to believe that anything she said had any merit.” He didn’t look at her as he held a hand up to stop the interruption he knew was coming. “Yeah, there’s usually some truth in even the smallest lie, but again, I’m not the same guy I was on Antar. I have no interest in leaving you, in leaving Earth, or in going back to a planet I’ve never been to so I can rule a kingdom or planet or whatever the hell it is.”

He sighed and wrote DESTINY across the board before drawing an X through it. “I don’t believe in destiny, I never have. It implies that we really have no choice in the outcome of our lives. The hologram we saw today even said the same thing. ‘Nothing in life is predetermined, but without conscious effort, the mistakes of the past are destined to be repeated.’ We make our own path in life and the choices are ours to make. Yeah, I could choose that other life, but even if it was possible, I wouldn’t choose it, Liz.” He stared at the board, realizing he’d gotten off track as far as the hypothesis business was concerned.

Max sighed and shook his head as he capped the marker and carefully placed it in the thin tray at the bottom of the board. “I could stand here all night and give you a hundred different reasons why I wouldn’t choose to leave. I have no interest in that other life, I don’t want it. I may carry the same genes and essence but it’s not who I am now, I have a family I have no intention of deserting, I have a life that I love right here, but most importantly I have you, Liz.” He turned to look at her. “I wouldn’t leave you for anything in the world – this one or any other, don’t you understand that?”

“Finding that cave was so important to you.”

“Adopted kids often have a need to find their birth parents. I don’t have that option. Finding the cave where we were…” he made a face. He just couldn’t say ‘hatched’ because it sounded so wrong.

“Where you were born,” Liz spoke up when he fell silent.

“Yeah, that’s the closest I could get to learning about where I came from. It wasn’t a matter of wanting to go back to a life I don’t know, that I have any emotional connection to. I just wanted that closure so I could move forward without that question hanging over my head. If I’d known it was gonna cause so much trouble between us I would’ve just left it alone.”

She shook her head. “No, that’s not fair to you.” She swallowed with difficulty and stood. “And I haven’t been fair to you either.” Her eyes locked on his as she closed the distance between them. Maria was right. The truth was right there in the depths of his dark eyes. She had been so blinded by the fact that there could be more for him that she’d stopped listening to him when he assured her what he wanted was her. “I’m sorry, Max.”

“I’m not goin’ anywhere, Liz. Everything I’ve ever wanted is right here.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the pendant he’d discovered in the cave.

“That’s from Antar,” she murmured as reached out to tentatively stroke the warm metal.

“Yeah.” He shrugged as he slowly removed the thin rope threaded through the small hole at the top of the pendant. “I didn’t take it because of its link to Antar. I took it because it’s a symbol of power, a symbol of family… a symbol of honor.” He folded his fingers around it and a glow pulsed around his fist for a few moments, fading as he slowly extended his hand in her direction.

Liz stared down at the ring that lay on his open palm, a perfect circle with the dark lines that created the Antarian symbol coming together to form a series of interconnected branches.

“I want you to have it, Liz. Power, family, honor and most importantly, love. It’s my promise to you. I want to go to college with you, I want to come home for the holidays and spend time with our families, I want us to make our way in life, together and separately because that’s important, and when we graduate I want to marry you.”

Her eyes welled up with tears and her lower lip trembled as she ran the tip of her finger around the band. How had she so completely misread the situation? She looked up at him and nodded and before she could get a word out he dropped to one knee before her.

“Liz Parker, will you marry me when we graduate college?”

She gave a watery laugh as she nodded and fell into his waiting arms. “Yes, Max, I’ll marry you. Four hours, four days, four weeks, four months, four years, whatever the timeframe, yes, I’ll marry you!”

“We’d better stick with after college. I’m not sure either of our parents will be too thrilled if we spring it on them sooner.” He laughed and held her tight, feeling his world finally right itself again.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)151-6/1/19

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:12 pm

I loved Isabel's honesty with Alex.
Really proud of the backbone Max demonstrated. He will make his own decisions, even after Tess was pulling the strings.
Of course it is natural for adopted children to be curious about their birth parents.
Yea........Max proposed!
Thanks

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)152-7/6/19

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:37 am

keepsmiling7: Alex has earned Isabel’s respect and trust and we really get to see it as she opens up to him here.

Max wasn’t about to stand back and get steamrolled by someone else’s decisions. He stood up and took charge of the situation… and it worked well for him.


Part 152

Maria covered a yawn as she shuffled down the hallway on Sunday morning. They had gotten home late the night before as the celebration had carried on until nearly midnight. She’d had dinner with Mom and Gabriel before they had gone out to the Rez to join the celebration to honor their veterans. Dinner had come with a couple of unexpected surprises but thankfully they hadn’t been bad. She shook her head when she remembered her reservations about Gabriel a few months ago, grateful her fears had been put to rest. She smiled as she thought about sitting down to dinner with them.

Maria hurried in the house, shouting to let Mom know she’d be down as soon as she cleaned up. She had just gotten off from her shift at the Crashdown and she desperately needed a shower. She hadn’t rushed her shower, taking her time because she knew they’d be heading out to the Rez after dinner. She hadn’t seen Michael since Wednesday and it felt like it had been weeks instead of just a couple of days.

It didn’t register that Mom had made lasagna until she was on her way to the kitchen. Gabriel had arrived and she rolled her eyes when she saw him standing behind her mom, arms wrapped around her and chin resting on her shoulder as he talked to her in low tones while she finished putting the salad together. She leaned her shoulder on the doorframe and smiled to herself as she watched them.

When the mood between the couple changed she cleared her throat to announce her presence. She was very happy for her mom, grateful she had found someone who made her so happy and gave her a sense of stability, but that didn’t mean she wanted to watch them make out, and especially not over the food she was getting ready to eat.

“Maria, honey, I wasn’t expecting you to be down so soon!” She fanned herself with a potholder. “It’s so warm in here!”

Mom was blushing when she turned to look at her and even though the high color in her cheeks had nothing to do with the heat coming from the stove she let it go. Everyone deserved some happiness in their lives. “Yeah, well, the sooner we eat the sooner we leave,” she said with a smile and a shrug.

They were halfway through dinner when surprise number one was sprung on her.

“Honey, Gabriel and I have been talking about something for a while now and we’ve come to a decision.”

Maria could hear the excitement underlining her mom’s words so she set her garlic bread down and brushed the crumbs from her hands. “That sounds serious.” She didn’t miss the way he reached over and covered her mom’s hand, stilling the nervous movements as she picked at her napkin.

“We’ve been together for a while now and we’ve talked about taking the next step in our relationship.” She looked at Gabriel, smiling softly at him for a moment before turning her attention back to her daughter. “We’re going to move in together.”

Maria glanced around at the house she’d lived in her whole life. “Here?”

“No, Gabriel’s work keeps him close to the Rez.”

“And your mom’s work allows her the freedom to move around,” Gabriel said as he raised Amy’s hand to press a kiss to her knuckles.

“So you’re gonna move out there?” She looked around the house again with a frown.

“That’s the plan. I won’t make the move until you leave for San Francisco. We talked about it and we both think it’s best to wait. I don’t want to miss any of our time while you’re still here.”

“Okay, well, I can understand that. But what about our house? Are you gonna sell it?”

“No, I don’t have any plans to sell it. Actually, that’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”


Maria couldn’t stop the sleepy smile as she remembered Mom’s idea for the house. She should have known she would have given it a lot of thought before coming to a decision.

“I may decide to sell the house down the road but for now I was wondering if you thought Linda might be interested in staying here. I’ve been spending more time searching for local talent and matching the artists up with buyers than I’ve been working in the shop. Nina’s been keeping an eye on both of the shops and we’ve been talking about hiring someone we can train to help her on a part-time basis to start. If the job suited her and we decide it’s a good match we’d put her on full-time at the end of the probationary period. If she’s interested it would give her the opportunity to earn a decent paycheck and maybe she’ll even want to take some college courses.”

She was impressed. “Wow, Mom, you’ve put a lot of thought into this.”

“When you told me what happened and what her own mother did…” Amy trailed off and shook her head, feeling the anger at the situation and a woman she had never even met boiling up inside of her. “I can’t imagine what kind of woman does something like that, but Linda shouldn’t have to suffer because of her mother’s stupidity. Catherine said the girl wants to go to college and she’s going to miss Maggie and Christina terribly, so I thought maybe this would give her the chance to take control of her life and stand on her own two feet.”

Maria’s eyebrows shot up. “You um, you talked to Catherine about this?”

Gabriel chuckled at the younger woman’s shock. He’d been fairly shocked himself when Amy came out to see him and asked that they stop at the Two Feathers residence. The women were both strong-minded and strong-willed and they approached things in very different ways that were unique to them, but the desire to make things better for a young woman wronged by the very person who should have protected her had given them a common goal. He had been fine hanging out in the barn with John, pitching in to give him a hand while their women talked.

“Shocking I know, but yes, we discussed it at length. Catherine knows Linda a lot better than I do and based on her knowledge of the situation we’ve agreed that this could be very beneficial for her. She’s certain Linda will be interested and she’s assured me that in spite of her mother, Linda has a good work ethic, she’s good with money and she’s very responsible.” She’d been shocked to learn that the girl had basically been paying her own way since she was barely fifteen years old. Catherine had confided that she worried about Linda being taken advantage of because she wanted so badly to please people and Amy agreed that it was a definite possibility.

They had come away from their conversation feeling better about the situation. It would give Linda the opportunity to not only gain independence, but hopefully to also build her self esteem before she decided to move on and step out into life. She knew Nina would be a great role model for the young woman and Linda would be good company for her.

“So, she could just live here?”

“Well, I thought I’d take a page from Deanna’s book. Our house is small and the outgo isn’t much, so Linda would just be responsible for the basic bills. Electric, water, that sort of thing. The house is paid for and we’re fine financially so if it could help Linda get on her feet then I think it’d be well worth waiting to sell it.”

“And if anything goes wrong with the house we’re just a phone call away,” Gabriel added.

“So what do you think, honey?”

“I think that’s really nice, Mom. And Linda could really use a break.” She wondered what Michael would think of her mom’s offer.


They had made it through dinner without any more surprises. Mom had saved the last one for when they were on their way out of the house.

“Are we all going together?” she asked as she leaned back against her mom’s car and waited for them to join her.

“I guess that depends on whether you want to drive us out there in your car.”

She straightened up. “My car?” She glanced between her mom and the Jetta. “But we only have one car.”

Amy handed her a key ring with a couple of keys on it. “It’s all yours, honey. You’ll need a car to get around the city and while I know they have plenty of public transportation, it’s always nice to not have to rely on it if you don’t have to.”

Maria threw her arms around her mom, overwhelmed by the gesture. “But what about you?” she asked as she pulled back. “You can’t do your job without a car.”

“We’ve got that covered,” Gabriel spoke up with a smile. “I use my truck most of the time but I do have a car as well and it’s your mom’s now.”


Maria smiled at her reflection as she brushed her teeth. She was comfortable with her mom’s relationship with Gabriel. They were a good match and she hoped they stayed together long term. She knew he’d asked her mom to marry him more than once but so far her mom hadn’t said yes. She just hoped that hesitation didn’t cause problems between them.

She finished brushing her teeth and got dressed before heading down to the kitchen. There were no telltale smells to indicate that breakfast had been started but she the scent of freshly brewed coffee wafted on the air, tantalizing her senses. Mom’s bedroom door was still closed but she could hear her moving around so that meant Gabriel must have come by. He had stayed at home the night before, intending to spend as much time with his cousin as possible since she was flying out the next morning.

Gabriel’s cousin Kateri had been a surprise. He’d told them all about her harrowing fight for survival after being shot down during the Gulf War and as she’d listened to him she’d formed an image of the woman in her mind. She’d imagined a large woman with the physique of a bodybuilder and a tough personality. She hadn’t even been close.

Kateri was tough, there was no doubt in her mind about that, but it was tempered with a gentle nature. She wasn’t a large woman either. On the contrary, she was petite, but she carried an air of authority that demanded respect. It didn’t take much of an effort to imagine the woman ordering around men who were easily twice her size. Kateri was a gifted storyteller and she had enthralled her listeners, captivating her audience with stories of her time in the military as well as traditional stories of the ancestors learned in her youth. She didn’t have to embellish the details to hold their attention and more than once Maria had found herself spellbound by the woman’s words. Even Michael had been transfixed by the woman’s ability to weave her tales in a way that even the most mundane details gained importance.

“Good morning.”

She was drawn out of her thoughts when Gabriel spoke and she smiled in greeting. “You’re here early.”

He chuckled and took a drink of his coffee as he held the carafe up in question. “I haven’t been to sleep yet,” he said as he filled a mug in response to her nod of affirmation. “Amy let me in and suggested I make coffee while I waited for her to wake up and get moving.”

“Oh, that’s right. You guys are going to Alamogordo today.”

“Um-hmm, the big festival started yesterday and she’s got a lead on a new artist. I would’ve started breakfast but I wasn’t sure what you like.”

“No, that’s okay. I’m meeting some friends for breakfast this morning, but I appreciate the offer.”

He nodded. “Are you doin’ okay with your mom moving in with me next month?”

Maria nodded. “Yeah, I think she’s finally ready to make that move.”

Gabriel studied her for a few moments. “It’s just the first step. Her moving in, I mean. I fully intend to marry your mom one day.”

She bit her bottom lip as she considered her next words. “She might not agree right away.”

“No, but in time I believe she will. It’s not that she doesn’t want to marry me, it’s that she needs to know I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

“Can you really promise that?”

“I can only promise that I’ll work hard at our relationship, that I’ll give her everything I have and everything I am. Life, people, circumstances, they all change, but you have to be willing to change with them. There are no guarantees in life, but I do believe that when you’re in love with someone you should be open to change and you have to be open to each other. There’s no magic formula that guarantees any relationship will work out, but I’ll do everything I can to make sure it works.”

“I think one of these days you are gonna convince Mom to marry you.”

“I’ll never be able to take the place of your dad, and I’d never want to, but I promise I’ll be the best stepdad I can be.”

“When you and Mom make it official and we adopt you into the family you won’t be a step-anything, Gabriel.” She shook her head when she saw his expression, certain he was jumping to the wrong conclusion. “I’ve never understood that whole stepmom and stepdad business. A family is more than sharing the same blood.” She thought about her relationships with Liz and Alex and Michael’s relationships with his family. “There’s a bond that families share that goes so far beyond bloodlines. We’re already well on our way to being a family. You love my mom and you’ve shown that in so many different ways.” She gave him a hug. “When you guys make it to the altar I’ll be happy to call you Gabriel or Dad, whichever you like.”

*****

Michael rolled over and buried his head under his pillow, doing his best to drown out the sounds of the girls singing at the tops of their lungs. Now that Maggie and Christina had been told about Linda’s situation they had closed ranks in an effort to make sure she knew they were there for her no questions asked. No questions asked, he snorted quietly. The two of them couldn’t keep their traps shut if they tried.

The three of them had been glued together for the past few days and last night after the veterans’ celebration ended, Christina had come home with them. He yawned and then coughed when he tried to inhale the corner of his pillowcase. He didn’t know how the three of them were going to survive with two of them heading off across the country. He knew Linda would be kept safe, but he also knew she would do better if she could get away from the Rez. She needed time away to heal and to find a way to make peace with her situation.

He and Maria had talked about it and she was willing to let Linda live with them until she could get on her feet and out on her own. He smiled as he thought about the conversation he’d had with Maria the night before. She’d been bouncing off the walls when she arrived and it’d taken three tries before he was able to get everything she was trying to say because she was so excited she kept jumping around from topic to topic. Mom and Amy were going to talk to Linda about the offer and he wondered if she would accept it.

Linda was a good kid and she deserved a break. She had been working part-time jobs since before she was even legally old enough to work so he wasn’t worried about her being able to find a job. Hell, she’d been buying her own clothes and pitching in for rent and groceries since she was fifteen years old. She’d managed to buy the jeep herself, only asking his help to check it out and maybe help negotiate the price. The guy selling it had refused to budge on the price. It had been an honest price, but it had also been four hundred dollars more than she had to spend so he’d stepped in and worked out a deal.

He knew she’d do well for herself no matter what she decided to do, but Amy’s offer would be a good opportunity for her. And as much as he was willing to allow her to stay with them, he also really wanted it to just be him and Maria for a while before anyone stayed with them.

Someone pounded on his door and startled him out of his thoughts. “Hey, Grumpy, time to get up!”

He cringed when Jacey’s voice breached the barricade of his bedroom door. Maybe she’d go away if he ignored her. That thought was blown out of the water less than a minute later when the pounding started in stereo. He threw the covers off and snatched up the pair of jeans hanging over the trunk at the foot of his bed and pulled them on, glaring at the doors as he tried to figure out which one to open first.

“C’mon, Grumpy, we’re burning daylight out here.”

Jacey’s cheerful voice made the decision for him and he jerked the door to his room open. “What do you want?!”

She gave him a wide grin. “Oh, so many things, Cuz.” At her chirpy response the pounding coming through the bathroom door immediately ceased and suddenly the hall was filled with girls. “At the moment though, we seem to be having technical difficulties with the truck and since we were planning to go to the mall you can imagine the slight dent that’s put in things.”

He made a face. “You’re having ‘technical difficulties’ with the truck?” His gaze bounced over the girls gathered in front of his room, eyeing him with different levels of anticipation and trepidation. Maggie, Christina, Linda, Jacey, Summer and Sierra.

Jacey had no qualms about pursuing her objective. “Yes, as in it won’t start.”

“How long have you been here, Jacey?” he asked with exaggerated patience.

She made a show of studying her nails for a few moments before shrugging. “A couple of hours.”

A couple of hours? He glanced over his shoulder to check his alarm clock. Everyone had gone home late the night before and most people were still sleeping. Anyone with any sense, which excluded the six fiendish, fickle females blocking the hallway. Okay, he’d been up well before dawn, done chores and gone back to bed, but that wasn’t the same thing as being up for the hell of it. “Meaning you forgot to turn the lights off again and now the battery’s dead.”

Jacey cleared her throat. “Look, are you gonna fix it or not?”

Michael sighed heavily and turned around to grab the nearest tee shirt. “Let’s go,” he growled as he pushed past them, yanked his door closed and pulled the shirt on all at once. “And this time I want all of you to pay attention because you need to know how to jumpstart a damn car. You can’t always rely on someone bein’ around to do it for you.”

“Well, how can you do it by yourself?” Summer asked as they followed him outside. “I mean, you have to have at least two cars to do it.”

“Yeah, otherwise how does it work?” Sierra tacked on.

He stopped so suddenly the six girls piled into him. He shrugged them off and turned around to shake his head. “You two, you get a pass because you don’t have a car yet and I don’t recall you bein’ here for one of these lessons. The rest of you? No pass. Linda, I know you have one in the Jeep.”

“Um, I don’t have it anymore,” she mumbled.

“You don’t…” He trailed off, letting it go when he noticed her downcast gaze. Translation: her mother’s boyfriend had probably taken it. She was too responsible for her to have lost it or given it away. “Alright, no problem.” He pulled his keys out of his pocket and held them out to her. “Mine’s behind the seat in the truck. Go get it.”

She nodded and took off with a grateful smile.

“Alright, the rest of you listen up. If you’ve got a car you’ve got certain responsibilities. It’s not just takin’ care of the bucket of bolts to make sure it gets you from one point to the other. You have yourself to take care of too. You get stranded or there’s an accident you have to be prepared because you don’t know if help will come. And even if someone does come along, you can’t rely on them to be trustworthy. You get what I’m sayin’?” His mind kicked up the memory of Maria having a flat on her way out to visit him that first time and he quickly shook it off. That situation could’ve ended so badly.

Jacey leaned back against the Jeep next to Maggie, arms crossed over her chest while she listened to Michael ramble on, the annoyance in his tone lessening the longer he instructed them on the proper use of a portable battery charger. She knew from experience it wouldn’t be long before he was walking them through checking the fluids, proper tire inflation, and eventually he’d move on to how to change a tire.

She’d been through this routine several times and if push came to shove she was capable of changing her own tire. She even knew how to jumpstart the car – she actually had listened when he’d gone over that ad nauseam. Not necessarily because she was interested in anything to do with mechanics, but because they did live in a remote area, cell signals were iffy at best most of the time, and her parents had raised her to be independent as well as smart, especially when it came to her safety. The only reason she was even doing this was because she was going to miss him and his grumpy, put-upon, long-suffering, overprotective self.

“You got all that?” he asked nearly an hour later as he turned to look at them. Maggie was wearing her annoyed expression, Summer and Sierra looked bored, Linda was somewhere between the two, Christina’s eyes were glazed over, indicating she had stopped listening to him some time ago, and Jacey simply looked amused. He threw his hands up in the air. “Why do I even bother?”

Jacey practically bounced over to hug him. “Because you love us!”

Before he could get away he was surrounded by the girls and he was the victim of an unending round of enthusiastic hugs. “Okay, that’s enough!” he grumbled as he pried himself free of them. “Go away, all of you!” He was halfway to the house when he turned and nodded at Linda. “Put that charger in the Jeep. I’ve got a backup.” He hurried inside before the girls had a chance to attack again.

“They’re gonna miss you bein’ here.”

He followed his dad’s voice to the kitchen and wasted no time washing his hands. “They’ll find someone else to pester.” He nodded when Mom gestured to the food on the stove and he sat down when she let him know she would fix him a plate. “So, Mom, when are you an’ Amy gonna talk to Linda?”

“Well, the girls are spending the day in Albuquerque so we thought we’d have lunch with her tomorrow and talk to her then.”

“I thought they were just goin’ to the mall?”

“We are, Grumpy,” Jacey said as she breezed through on her way to the refrigerator. She pulled the door open and started loading the cooler waiting on the floor. “We’re going to the big mall and making a day of it.”

“That’s right, Sunshine,” Christina said as she came up behind him and ruffled his hair. She just laughed at him when he growled and brushed her off.

“Well, see if you can remember to turn the headlights off when you get there.”

Jacey turned and made a face at him. “Why on earth would I have the lights on to drive there while the sun’s up?”

“How the hell should I know why you do anything you do?”

She grinned at him and thumped the top of the cooler to lock it in place. “Grumpy, be nice and carry this out to the truck.”

He got up with an annoyed huff. “Fine, whatever gets you out the door and outta my hair.” He bent over to pick the cooler up, paused, and stood up again. “What’ve you got in here anyway?” He opened the door of the refrigerator and looked over its contents.

“You act like we emptied out the house. We made sandwiches and put some snacks together with Aunt Catherine and Uncle John’s blessing. Satisfied now?”

“Hey, what’s the holdup?” Sierra asked as she and Summer piled into the kitchen doorway.

“Grumpy,” Jacey said with an expressive roll of her eyes. “What else?”

“C’mon, Michael, we’ve gotta get on the road,” Summer said, injecting enough whine into her voice to get him moving.

Michael hefted the cooler up and carried it outside, shouldering past the girls and ignoring them when they squawked indignantly.

“I’m gonna miss this,” Catherine said when she and John were left alone in the kitchen.

“Yeah.” His eyes rested on the chairs his kids occupied at meals and sighed quietly. Where had the years gone? He turned his attention back to his newspaper, glancing up when his boy came back and dropped down in his chair.

“Who packs a picnic lunch to go to a mall?” He shook his head and dug into his breakfast when Mom slid the plate on the table in front of him. It made no sense. Just go through the nearest drive-thru and grab a burger and keep going. Girls! Most senseless creatures on the planet!

“Do you and Maria have plans today?”

He shrugged. “Nothin’ big. Gonna do a tune-up on her car.” He reached for another piece of cornbread. “Her mom was gonna pay the shop to do it, but why waste the money when I can do it myself?”

Catherine smiled at her son’s practical streak. “How’s the motorcycle coming along?” She still didn’t like the idea of him riding around on the contraption, but she had accepted that he was old enough to make that decision for himself.

“It’s getting close. I’ve got a couple more parts to pick up for it, but they’re on backorder so it’s gonna be end of next week before I can get my hands on them.” He glanced over his shoulder when he heard a car pull up. “That’s probably Maria.” She was already twenty minutes late, but he had expected as much. She tended to be early or late, on time was a rarity in her universe.

“No,” Catherine said slowly and with a small frown.

John straightened up when he heard the wary tone in his wife’s voice. “Who is it?”

“Dawn.”

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)152-7/6/19

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:12 pm

Thanks for another great part. Looking forward to more Max and Liz in the future.

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)153-7/28/19

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 7:14 pm

keepsmiling7: Thanks for the review!


Part 153

“Dawn?” John set his coffee mug down next to his newspaper and got to his feet. He motioned for them to stay where they were. “I’ll go see what she wants.”

Catherine stood when the phone started to ring, crossing the room to pick it up while keeping an eye on her husband. “Maybe we should just ignore her.”

His eyebrows rose at the unexpected response. “Ignore her?” He turned his head when the pounding on the front door increased in both frequency and volume. “I’ll let her know we’re busy and if she wants to come by later we’ll talk then.”

An eerie feeling moved through her as she recalled the owl she’d heard that morning. She had discounted it at the time as she had many times before. The owl symbolized many things for their people and at the time she had seen it as a representation of further change in their lives. Change was one of the things the owl symbolized… it could also be a harbinger of death.

Michael watched his mother as she answered the phone, her eyes never leaving his dad. Her behavior was a little odd to say the least. He wasn’t a big fan of this particular aunt and he knew Mom barely tolerated her on a good day, but this was a little extreme even for her. He couldn’t tell much about the conversation, but he heard enough to determine she was talking to Uncle Randolph. His eyes narrowed when her complexion paled.

“Michael, stay here.” She dropped the phone and hurried after his dad. “John!”

He frowned at the directive and got up to pick the phone up. He held it to his ear and shrugged at the dial tone before hanging it up. He was moving to follow his parents when he saw them backing up, hands raised in a manner that was unmistakable and shot fear through his entire being. The phone rang next to him and somehow he knew it was Maria. And Maria was on her way to meet him, running late as usual.

There were only a few places she could get a signal on the highway between Roswell and the Rez and based on those spots she wasn’t that far away. His mind went over his options in a matter of seconds. Dawn would know he was there so he wasn’t going to be able to surprise her. There was only one way in or out of the kitchen. But if he didn’t warn Maria she was going to walk into something dangerous.

Decision made, he jerked the phone off of the hook.

*****

Maria glanced at the rearview mirror, checking the empty road behind her before pulling over and digging in her bag for her cell phone. She hadn’t expected to be early getting to Michael’s house, but she hadn’t thought she’d be running this far behind either. Not that it was her fault this time. Breakfast with Liz and Alex had been relaxing and felt like old times and in spite of lingering for a while enjoying the company and the conversation she’d still been on the road with plenty of time to spare. There was nothing she could do to control road maintenance crews. And she hadn’t been able to call and let him know she was going to be late because cell service was abysmal for miles once she hit the highway. There were only a few spots that had decent service and even those weren’t reliable.

As hot as it was and today of all days they decide to fix a pothole the size of a small country? Once the crew had completed the job and opened the highway back up the cars lined up behind her had gradually thinned out until she had the road all to herself again. She held her phone up, checking to make sure she had a decent signal. Satisfied it would do, she punched in Michael’s number and reached out to adjust the rearview mirror out of habit. Her fingers tapped out a rhythm in sync with the music on the radio while she waited for an answer.

“Yeah?”

“Michael, we’ve discussed phone etiquette before – “

“Now’s not the time, Maria,” he interrupted. “Look, somethin’ came up and I’m not gonna be able to do the work on the car today.”

“Okay, well, there’s no rush on it. We can – “

“I’ve gotta go. I’ll call you later. I won’t be here so just stay home.”

She held the phone out and stared at it when he hung up without another word. Okay, she mused with a frown, she was pretty sure they were beyond the point where they just hung up on each other because they were in a mood. No, she decided, that wasn’t him in a bad mood. Michael had many variations of bad moods – angry, irritated, agitated, aggravated, and annoyed to name a few. Whatever was going on had him on edge. His voice had sounded stressed, which was more than enough to cause her internal alarms to start blaring. Stress wasn’t one of his default settings, but on those rare occasions it made itself known, it was revealed in the form of anger.

She glanced down when she felt warmth spread through her body and her eyebrows rose when she noticed the color of the stone. Was it reacting to her concerns about Michael? She lifted it, her thumb unconsciously rubbing over the chain it now hung from. Michael had given it to her the night before and the stone had fit into the setting like the two pieces had been together from the beginning. The color shifted as she touched the stone, the image of the cosmos she’d become familiar with since first picking it up coming to life.

After a moment her thoughts returned to Michael and she watched in fascination as the color shifted once again, this time becoming a mottled red that seemed to pulse. Her palm became warm where the stone was nestled against her skin. It wasn’t an uncomfortable heat, but it was constant and demanded her attention. It was as if the stone was trying to tell her something… something related to Michael.

Her eyes widened and she suddenly dropped the stone, not even feeling its slight weight as it reached the end of its tether and pulled against her neck a moment before settling into place. It had given off a heat signature and changed colors in response to her thoughts about Michael, she realized as she hurried to put the car in gear. She checked the mirrors for oncoming cars and quickly pulled back onto the road. Something was wrong, she was sure of it.

*****

“It’s all your fault!” Dawn railed as she paced back and forth, her left hand waving erratically.

Michael kept an eye on that hand and more importantly the gun it held. His aunt had herded his parents into the kitchen and he’d quickly disconnected the call and set the handset on the counter before she could see he had been on it.

“You just had to bring that mongrel onto the Rez.” Hatred seared the air as she glared at Michael. “You come in here and expect everyone to bend over backwards to make a place for you.” She waved her arm in a wide arc. “You Whites, you think you own everything and everyone! Haven’t you taken enough from us?!”

“I didn’t – “

John placed a hand on his son’s chest, silencing him and keeping him from taking a step forward even as he moved to place himself between them. The last thing he wanted was for her to have a clear shot at his boy. He glanced at his wife, easily detecting her thoughts, and he gave a sharp shake of his head. He didn’t want her doing something foolish that might get her hurt or worse.

“Dawn, I want you to put the gun down,” he said, careful to keep his hands visible and in a non-threatening position. “There’s no reason this has to escalate to violence.”

Her eyes narrowed for a moment before she turned her hateful gaze on her ex brother-in-law. “You turned your back on your own blood! You turned the entire family against my son! And for what? To bring a White onto the Rez? To try and make him one of us? His own didn’t want him so you had to bring the stray home and domesticate him?” She laughed, the sound harsh and humorless. “He’s dead because of you!”

Michael took a step back, more shocked by the news than the accusation.

“Dawn, I just spoke to Randolph,” Catherine spoke up, hoping to calm the hysterical woman. She’d been shocked by her brother-in-law’s news but she hadn’t had time to process it. Even now all she could remember was him saying that his son had gotten involved in some sort of altercation with another group of prisoners and he was in critical condition. “He said the doctors said Dakota still has a chance.”

“A chance to live as a vegetable,” she railed. “Even if he recovers from what they did to him he’ll never be normal! He’ll live the rest of his bed confined to a wheelchair or a bed with no understanding of what’s going on around him! That’s not a life!” She suddenly calmed and all of her focus once again zeroed in on Michael. “He wouldn’t have been in prison if not for you. You turned everyone against him! Not only his own family, but most of the Rez too! He wasn’t welcome by his own people because of you! You turned them against him because you were jealous and you wanted to take his place!”

“You should go be with your son, Dawn. He – “

“Catherine!” John barked, reaching out to place his arm in front of her to prevent her from moving towards the other woman.

Dawn was oblivious to anything but the woman she despised. “He what, Catherine? He needs me?” She shook her head when angry tears blurred her vision momentarily. “What he needs from me, if he ever needs anything from me again, will be nothing more than a garden needs to allow it to thrive, but even that will do nothing more than allow him to exist! That’s not a life!” she screamed.

“And you blame us for what’s happened to Dakota.” Catherine shook her head. On the one hand she was sympathetic for what the woman was going through, but on the other she was a mother whose child was being threatened, and in that regard she had no sympathy for Dawn.

“You brought him here, allowed him to insinuate himself into every part of our lives, and now my son is paying for it! Dakota had no choice but to lash out against the unfair treatment he received from his own people!”

“Unfair treatment?!” Catherine bit out as the thread on her temper snapped. “For years your son has been on a crusade to do every hateful thing he could come up with to hurt my son. Michael did nothing to deserve the treatment he received from Dakota. You come in here waving a gun around, threatening my family, accusing us of turning everyone against your son.” She shook her head. “Your son wasn’t born hating anyone. He and Michael played together as children. If you want to blame someone for what’s happened to him, you’d better find a mirror because that responsibility belongs to you. His hatred for Whites started with you. You encouraged it, you fostered that resentment, and you looked the other way when he began to escalate. The signs were all there, Dawn, and you chose to ignore them.” She raised her right hand, her fingers moving and curling, her hand gesturing, all the while continuing a steady stream of words to keep the woman’s gaze on her.

John could feel the tension thrumming through his son’s body and he knew he was running out of time. The threat Dawn posed was going to unleash the powers that Michael was holding in check and if that happened it would expose his boy and he couldn’t allow that to happen. He watched as Dawn’s attention focused solely on his wife, knew she would see the movements of Catherine’s hand as nothing more than an outlet for nervous energy. It was one time he was grateful for her disinterest in learning sign language for Shysie’s sake.

Michael couldn’t see what Mom was saying with her hands, but the slight nod that Dad gave told him that the message had been received loud and clear. He was afraid for his parents, scared that they were about to do something that would result in harm coming to one or both of them. He should’ve told Maria to call the police but his fear that she would run headlong into the situation had made him shut down and push her away.

He felt helpless and that made him angry. He was fighting to control his powers, feeling them build in response to the stress of the situation. For years he’d practiced his abilities, honing them so that he could control them, but he had learned that it was more difficult when the people he loved were being threatened. He wasn’t worried about exposing himself to save them; that thought never even entered his mind. It was the fact that the gun Dawn held was primed to fire and if she so much as twitched unexpectedly someone could end up with a gunshot wound.

The sound of gravel crunching under tires moving at a high rate of speed was quickly followed by those same tires sliding across the gravel as the car came to a sudden stop and Dawn couldn’t stop the involuntary motion as she turned her head to look out the window. John took advantage of the situation and shoved his son back before Michael could attempt what he himself was about to do.

*****

Maria heard the gunshot ring out and she absently noted the birds that flew from the tree at the corner of the house at the disturbance. She heard Michael’s name echo in the air around her and she wasn’t sure if it was her that had screamed his name or someone else. She could hear her heartbeat pounding in her ears as she tripped over the top porch step, mindlessly scrabbling to regain her balance. She grabbed the doorknob, turning it and running through the front door, terrified of what was waiting for her but unable to wait to go inside.

Another gunshot was fired and the sounds of a struggle pushed past every other sound in ears that were suddenly startlingly clear. She reached the kitchen doorway and froze at the sight that greeted her. John was leaning back against the refrigerator, his normally bronzed features pale and pinched. His left hand was clutching his right side and Catherine was beside him, fighting to hold him back and stop the flow of blood. Both of them were shouting in a vain attempt to stop the fight, their fear for their son evident.

Across the room Michael was fighting with his aunt, desperately trying to get hold of the gun before it could go off again. Under normal circumstances he would’ve disarmed her in nothing flat. But these were far from normal circumstances. She had read that adrenaline could increase people’s strength for a time but she’d never actually seen it happen. She didn’t know what was going on, what had set his aunt off on a violent path like this, but whatever it was, she was like a woman possessed. There was a third gunshot and she ducked when something next to her shattered.

Her heart lodged in her throat when Dawn managed to twist her hand in his grasp, a move that aimed the barrel of the gun at his abdomen. Later she wouldn’t remember screaming the woman’s name, wouldn’t remember the shock on her boyfriend’s face when he realized she was there and in danger, wouldn’t remember the manic gleam in Dawn’s eyes when they locked on her, and the memory of launching herself at them, determined to stop the woman before she could hurt Michael would forever be locked away.

What she would remember was the struggle as she wrapped both hands around the hand that held the gun. Everything in her world narrowed down to that moment. She felt one of Michael’s hands wrap around both of hers, felt the frisson of heat as he allowed his powers to bleed into their joined grip, and slowly the guns’ aim was redirected at the floor. Her self-defense training kicked in without a second thought and between the two of them they managed to pin Dawn to the floor and hold her there. She pounded on the woman’s hand, mindless of any damage she might cause, her only intent to release the weapon before Dawn could gain the upper hand again.

Someone tried to pull her away and she fought against them, struggling to maintain her grip on the woman’s wrist. She didn’t realize Michael was no longer next to her until a pair of familiar arms wrapped around her from behind to pull her away. It was only when he called her name sharply that she looked up and realized there were uniformed officers in the house.

Her legs felt like jelly and he must have realized that because he hooked a booted foot around the leg of a nearby chair and pushed her down to sit on it. He crouched down in front of her, big hands wrapping around hers.

“What the hell were you thinkin’ comin’ in here like that?” he growled.

“I was thinking you were in trouble and I couldn’t stay away.” She freed one of his hands and reached up to cradle his cheek as she met his fierce gaze.

“How could you possibly know I was in trouble?” His gaze was in constant motion – checking on his parents, watching her, and keeping an eye on Dawn in the event she presented a viable threat. She had been handcuffed and the gun had been bagged for evidence but he wasn’t taking any chances.

She shook her head slowly and nodded at his parents. “Go check on your dad. I’m okay.”

“Stay here.”

Maria smirked at him weakly. “Don’t worry, I don’t think I could stand on my own right now if I tried.” She closed her eyes when he leaned in for a quick kiss and she wondered how long it was going to take to get all of this straightened out.

“I’ll be right back,” he whispered before quickly crossing the room to check on his parents.

“Miss Deluca?”

She looked up at the officer and nodded.

“I’m Sheriff Jaye Blackwolf.” He wasn’t a tall man but he had a stocky build, smooth features, and long jet black hair pulled back in a ponytail.

“Oh, right. I think I talked to you.”

“Um-hmm, and I seem to recall telling you to remain outside of the house until we arrived to secure the scene.”

“And I really meant to, but…” she looked over at her boyfriend and shrugged, “I heard the gunshot and all I could think about was getting to him.”

“Right. Well, let’s hope there’s never a next time because I have a feeling you’ll disregard those orders as well.” He pulled a chair close and took a seat as he pulled a small notebook out of his shirt pocket. “I’d like to go ahead and get your statement.”

Maria nodded. “Do you mind if I just check on them first?”

Sheriff Blackwolf sighed and motioned for her to go ahead. He could tell she was a handful and until she’d seen that the family was alright he wasn’t going to get anywhere with her.

“Catherine?” Maria called the woman’s name quietly and shot a quick glance at John. “How is he?”

“He’ll be fine. Luckily the bullet just grazed him so there’s no major damage. We’re still going to go to the hospital because he’ll need stitches and I won’t rest until he’s seen a doctor.”

“Didn’t I tell you to sit still?” Michael bit out as he glared at his girlfriend.

John chuckled and reached out to pat his boy’s arm. “Women like these two don’t sit still for much of anything, Son.” His gaze shifted to Maria. “What you did was very brave.” He inhaled sharply when his wife prodded his wounded side. “Woman, would you stop fussing already?” He focused on Maria again. “Like I said, it was very brave. It was also very stupid.”

Maria’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Stupid?” she echoed in disbelief.

“Hell yes, it was stupid,” Michael interrupted. “You could’ve been killed.”

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

He looked at his dad with a frown on his face. “I couldn’t just stand by after she shot you.”

“Like father like son,” Catherine muttered under her breath.

“Hey,” John said when he caught the words, “I was following the plan. I just wasn’t counting on her movin’ quite so fast.” He reached over and caught one of her hands, stilling the erratic, nervous movements. He had jumped the gun, so to speak. His wife had been effectively distracting Dawn and the plan would’ve worked just fine, but he’d taken advantage of the woman’s momentary distraction when Maria arrived and he’d made his move. The distraction hadn’t proved to be nearly enough to keep her attention away from him and she’d managed to get a shot off, thankfully only grazing him in the process.

Sheriff Blackwolf cleared his throat as he joined them. “Catherine, John, the ambulance is here to take you into Ruidoso. I’m gonna send one of my deputies along with you to take your statements. I’ll get statements from your son and Miss Deluca and then we’ll need a few hours to process the scene. We should be finished before you get back home.”

“We’ll hang around until you get back, Mom,” Michael offered.

Catherine wanted to argue, wanted to insist that he accompany them to the hospital, but she looked at her son, looked at the young woman he held securely against his side, and for the first time she saw a man standing before her. “Good. I wouldn’t want Maggie coming home early and walking into this.”

Michael barely managed to cover his surprise when she gave in without a fight. He snorted. No way was his sister coming home early from the mall. He looked at the sheriff. “It’s cool if we stick around?”

“That’s fine. I’ll just need you to stay out from under foot while we’re processing the scene and then we’ll be outta your way.”

“No problem.” He stood up and backed out of the way for the paramedics, giving them room to get to his dad. He watched everything they did, listening with half an ear as Maria gave her account of events. It was a cut and dried case as far as he was concerned but he knew that legally there was a little more to it than that. He reached out to rest a hand on his dad’s shoulder when the paramedics started to wheel him past.

“I’m fine, Son. If it wasn’t for your mom I’d just be slapping a bandage over this and going back to work.” He patted his boy’s hand and then reached out to grasp his forearm. “You did good. Now go take care of your woman.” He smiled knowingly. “And when she fusses over you, just accept it with as much dignity as you can.”

Father and son shared a look of shared understanding for a moment before the paramedics whisked John away. Once his parents were gone Michael turned to find the sheriff. The man was busy collecting evidence while one of his deputies interviewed Maria. He checked on her, nodding when she motioned to let him know she was alright, before moving across the room in the opposite direction. Later, he knew there would be fallout, but they would deal with that once this was settled and they were alone.

“Sheriff, can you tell me what’ll happen to Dawn?” he asked as he leaned against the doorframe, leaving plenty of space between him and the officer.

Sheriff Blackwolf looked up from the camera he held to photograph the scene, straightening up to meet the younger man’s gaze head-on. “It’s likely she’ll be facing prison time.”

“Will it be a long sentence?”

“That depends on many factors – extenuating circumstances, her lawyer, the jury and the judge. But currently our hands are tied when it comes to enforcing a long sentence, even in a situation such as this one.”

“So she could get off with a light sentence? Maybe even serve no time?”

“I won’t say it’s impossible. She’ll be tried in Tribal Court since the assault occurred on the Rez and your father was injured as a result.”

“She could’ve killed my parents.” His gaze moved to Maria. Even though he knew she was protected to some degree by the stone he wasn’t interested in testing it to see just how far its protection went.

“She could’ve killed my girlfriend.” He didn’t speak the words but the sheriff heard them just as clearly as if he had. “It’s possible that there could be Federal repercussions since you and your girlfriend are involved and you’re both non-Indian.” He nodded at the younger man. “We consider you one of us, regardless of the color of your skin or who you were born to, but in the eyes of the law…” he shook his head. “If you wanted to pursue that avenue, it’s possible that the case could be tried outside of the Rez.”

Michael shook his head. He didn’t question whether he belonged on the Rez. It was where he had grown up, it was where his family was, and it was the place he called home. He didn’t want to be involved in the case to that degree, didn’t want the attention a trial off the Rez would create. “No, Tribal Court should have jurisdiction.”

Sheriff Blackwolf gave him a slight smile and nodded. “Then that’s the direction we’ll take. I know you have concerns, I would too, but this incident will bring the people closer together and if your aunt returns once her sentence has been served – in whatever capacity that is, your family will be protected.”

“She stopped being my aunt years ago in anything but name only.”

The sheriff was familiar with the situation and it saddened him to see anyone hate someone else for any reason, but to hate simply because of another person’s skin color was something he would never understand. “It looks like your woman’s finished her statement. Why don’t you go make yourself available and give your own statement and then you two make yourselves scarce while we finish up here?”

Michael exchanged a look with Maria. It didn’t matter that they could see the other was fine; there was a deep-seated need to know that in the most elemental way possible. He nodded at her, communicating a dozen things in a single look. He would give his statement, call his sister to let her know what was going on, probably even make a call to Amy since she had so many connections to the Rez that she would hear about what had happened before long, and then he and Maria would go out into the desert, to the spot they had claimed as their own.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)153-7/28/19

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:18 pm

WOW......so much action going on here.....
Maria was so right, something was wrong with Michael.
She was very lucky she didn't get killed.
Guess we 'll have to find out the final results.......prison time, or what?
Thanks for the update

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)154-8/4/19

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 1:41 pm

keepsmiling7: It was a good thing Maria not only realized something bad was going down, but she called the police and notified them as well. And that could’ve gone horribly wrong with her rushing right into the middle of that situation, but luckily they all came out of that relatively unharmed.



Part 154

The silence inside the cab of the truck was deafening. It had been several hours since the police had shown up and taken control of the situation. Their plan to get away and head out into the desert had taken longer than they had intended. True to his word, Sheriff Blackwolf had been quick and efficient, completing his work and having his people out of the house in less than two hours.

Then Michael’s family had started showing up, one after the other, until the house had been practically bursting at the seams. His mood had only gotten darker, his temper shorter, and his responses more acerbic the longer it took for them to get away. It wasn’t until his parents had returned home that their chance to escape had presented itself. Surprisingly enough, it had been his mother that had told them to get out of the house for a while.

The woman’s expression had been both understanding and knowing as she looked between them. It was a little disconcerting to think Catherine knew why they were so desperate to get away from everyone so they could be alone. She supposed it only made sense; his parents had been married for a long time and in that time they’d experienced their own scares that had left them needing reassurance that went beyond a bone-crushing hug.

“Are we gonna talk about this?” she asked as he braked with more force than necessary when they reached their destination.

He shoved the truck into gear with so much force she was surprised it didn’t snap off of the column. He turned the engine off and jerked the key out, throwing it on the dashboard and staring out through the windshield, trying his damnedest to soak up some of the peace he always found there.

“You wanna talk about this?” His voice was calm, too calm.

“Michael, what happened was a shock – “

He shoved the door open and got out, expecting it when she scrambled after him and grabbed the door before he could slam it shut. “The only damn thing that was so shocking was the fact that you thought it was a good idea to get between me and a bullet,” he gritted out.

“You were in danger! How is that shocking?!”

His eyes narrowed as he stared at her. “How’d you know?”

“Jeez, that cryptic phone call was a pretty big tipoff.”

“What?” He frowned as he tried to recall his exact words.

“Besides,” she continued, not bothering to give his memory a nudge, “the pendant changed colors.”

“What the hell does that have to do with the situation you blindly charged into?”

His tone was grating on her nerves. “It has everything to do with it!” God, why did he have to be so obtuse? “It was further proof that you were in danger and it wasn’t wrong, was it? You said yourself that it was somehow sentient.”

For the space of a heartbeat his features changed to curiosity but just as quickly resumed their previous stony expression. “It doesn’t matter what that damn stone can or can’t do, Maria! You can’t just run into a dangerous situation like that!”

“So if the situation was reversed you would’ve what, just waited outside?”

“It’s not the same thing!” he roared as his temper finally boiled over.

Maria screamed and ducked when the rear window behind her blew out unexpectedly and as soon as she was sure she was alright she straightened up and slowly turned to survey the damage. “Are you insane?! Who the hell needs to worry about a bullet when I could be taken out by flying glass?” She whirled around and shoved her boyfriend as hard as she could, oblivious to the fear in his eyes as he stared at his hands.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered, cursing himself for losing control like that.

“You’re sorry. That’s great, Michael. What happens when we’re out in public and we get into a fight? It’s bound to happen sooner or later considering our personalities.”

“It didn’t happen because of a damn fight, Maria. It happened because you deliberately ran into a situation that could’ve gotten you killed! Did you stop to think about that? No, you didn’t!”

“No more than you would’ve if you’d been in my place.” She shoved him again. “Go ahead, deny it!”

“Quit it, Maria.”

“Then tell me I’m wrong! Damn it, if you think I could ever just stand back while you’re in danger then you don’t know me at all!”

“Do you have any idea how dangerous that situation was? It wasn’t just that she had a gun, it wasn’t that she was entirely unpredictable… there are so many ways it could’ve gone wrong!” He motioned to the rear window frame that had been reduced to a handful of glass shards hanging from the edges. “You charged into the middle of a volatile situation and if that gun had gone off while we were fightin’ over it you could’ve been killed!”

“You could’ve been killed too, Michael! Just because you’ve got alien genetics working for you, it doesn’t make you invincible!”

“I’m not dead!” he shouted.

“And neither am I!”

They faced each other, both refusing to give an inch as they fought to bring their rampant emotions under control. Heat arced in the air between them and anger gave way to pent-up passion as they came together without ever knowing which of them took the first step. Harsh words gave way to breathless sighs and soft groans as they sought to reassure themselves and each other that they had come away from the danger of the situation physically unscathed.

Later, as streaks of pinks and purples swept across the sky and the setting sun cast shadows across the desert, Maria lay contentedly across Michael’s chest, enjoying the soothing feeling of his fingertips dragging over her arm from shoulder to elbow and back again.

“Neither of us is ever gonna be able to just stand back while the other one is in danger,” she said, finally breaking the silence that had fallen over them.

He grunted in response.

She shifted against him, propping her chin on her hand where it rested on his chest. “Michael.” She waited until his dark gaze focused on her. “I couldn’t just wait outside. I heard that gun go off and…” she shrugged as her eyes watered against her will at the memory of him fighting with Dawn, of the gun barrel being so close to his abdomen, “I couldn’t lose you. I can’t promise you I’d never do it again because if you’re in danger…”

He sighed quietly and ran his thumb under her eye, catching the tear before it could fall. “I know. Doesn’t make it any easier though.”

She caught his thumb and pressed a kiss to it. “You’d do the same for me.”

“You scared the hell outta me, Maria,” he admitted gruffly. “If she’d shot you I don’t know what I would’ve done.”

She could feel his heartbeat picking up speed beneath her. “But she didn’t.” She stroked the side of his face while holding his gaze. “She didn’t,” she repeated.

He nodded and checked the position of the sun. “We should probably head back. Your mom should be arriving pretty soon and if she gets there before us there’s gonna be hell to pay.” That was one phone call he’d never wanted to make, but he’d felt it was only right that he make it. Amy had been justifiably upset, but thankfully Gabriel had been with her and his presence had grounded her. She had immediately insisted that they would be leaving right away but Maria had talked to her and just as adamantly insisted that they stay and finish the show.

He’d be surprised if they made it back before Amy arrived at his house. He fully expected to be on the receiving end of the older DeLuca woman’s temper, but he knew Maria would be able to calm her down without too much fuss. Besides, he really did need to check on his parents and make sure Maggie had made it back safely. More than likely she’d be coming home with at least one speeding ticket in her name.

He knew he couldn’t really ask Maria to promise him that she’d never get between him and danger if it arose again. He couldn’t ask that anymore than she could ask it of him. That just wasn’t the way they were wired. It was something they had to accept about each other. He glanced at the pendant that lay warm against his chest and he picked it up, rubbing his thumb over it, and wondering why he didn’t recall anything from his recessed memories about it warning the wearer that their mate was in imminent danger.

“I love you.”

His gaze lifted from the pendant and he gave her a small smile. No, he didn’t want her in danger of any kind, but the fact that she had been more than willing to throw herself between him and a bullet was humbling. It was proof he’d never needed to know just how much she loved him. “Love you too,” he mumbled and pressed a kiss to her forehead before giving her an unsubtle nudge. “Now, get up before your mom comes lookin’ for us.”

Maria snickered at that thought. She wouldn’t put it past her mom to do just that.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The mood hanging over the house was somber. River Dog stood on the back porch, his saddened gaze searching the early evening sky but there were no answers to be found there. He closed his eyes as grief overwhelmed him. His oldest son had arrived just a short while ago with the news that Dakota had passed as a result of the injuries he had sustained. Randolph was a tough man but he had lost a child and that loss would forever leave its mark.

He turned his head when Randolph stepped out on the porch to join him, his footsteps laden with the heaviness of grief. He watched his son, aching for him and wishing for some way to take his pain as his own. His features were pinched, his mouth an unforgiving straight line, his eyes filled with a pain no words could adequately describe, and his shoulders bowed under the weight of the compounded guilt he carried.

Dakota had carried a darkness in his soul, a darkness that he had welcomed and allowed to consume him, but that didn’t make the loss any less painful for his father. Dawn would grieve her loss in her own way, but she would never feel the burden of guilt the way Randolph did. It was easier for her to blame others, to refuse responsibility, and that was something that had always been lurking in her soul.

“She could’ve killed him, Dad. Hell, she could’ve killed any of them, but she came here with the intention of taking Michael’s life.” He drew in a shaky breath, fighting to control his emotions even as he struggled to find some way to live with what had happened. He dropped his forehead to rest against the beam next to him, shaking his head at the senselessness of all that had happened.

“Randolph, we can’t control the darkness in others, Son.” He crossed the space separating them and placed a hand against his son’s taut back, feeling the fine tremors that raced through his tall frame.

“Why didn’t I see it years ago? Maybe I couldn’t have controlled the darkness in her, but if I had listened to you and Mom I never would’ve married Dawn.”

River Dog sighed inaudibly. “We don’t always see the truth in another’s soul, and you were in love with her. It is one emotion that has the ability to blind us to truths that may not be so apparent unless one is seeking them.”

“Mom knew it was there.”

The old man nodded and patted his son’s shoulder. His wife had been blessed with a gift, although at times she had sworn it was more of a curse. She had somehow known that Dawn harbored a deep-seated resentment of Whites and she hadn’t wanted that darkness in their family, but Randolph had been in love with the girl and she had resigned herself to the fact that the mistake was his to make. She had warned him that one day the girl was going to lose the battle and when she did they would suffer greatly.

She had never spoken of it again. He could remember when Dakota was born and he’d watched his wife as she held their grandson for the first time. She’d loved the child immediately, but she’d warned Randolph that he had to protect his heart and soul from the darkness that lay within. He was grateful she wasn’t there to see how this situation had played out. Although, with the gift she’d had, he knew it was fully possible she’d known something of how it would end. He prayed she hadn’t seen this because he knew it would’ve torn her apart.

“I failed him, Dad.” Randolph’s dark eyes glistened as he stared into the past, recalling his mother’s words as she warned him of the danger that came from within.

River Dog remained silent for several minutes. “Son, you didn’t do this to him. You didn’t turn him into a young man full of deceit, hatred and disregard for human life.”

“Maybe if I had just stayed with Dawn – “

“No! Do not start second guessing your choices. Dawn made her choice and so did Dakota. We have to live with the choices we make, good and bad. When you learned years later that Elizabeth had given birth to Shyanne you wanted to be part of your daughter’s life. You didn’t make a spontaneous decision to divorce Dawn. She refused to embrace the girl, insisted you have no contact with her, and refused to budge on the issue. She demanded the divorce when you said you intended to be a part of your daughter’s life, and joint custody of Dakota wasn’t part of the agreement.”

No, Dawn had refused to share custody of Dakota, insisting that it would be damaging for him to spend part of his time in Santa Fe and the rest of his time at home on the Rez. He’d never liked the thought of uprooting children in cases of divorce and he’d agreed with her decision. He’d stayed in constant contact, come back to the Rez every couple of weeks to spend time with his son, and he’d pleaded with Dawn to let him at least take him for a few weeks over the summers but she’d dug her heels in and refused.

“I just feel like I should’ve done more, Dad. I won’t deny that it was easier when he said he’d rather stay with his mom. He was hateful towards Shyanne from their very first meeting and there was no reason for it. Elizabeth and I hadn’t even thought about seeing each other at that point. I tried to explain to him that she wasn’t a threat to our relationship, that he would always be my son, and I wanted him with me, but the more time we spent apart the worse it got. I didn’t know how to fix it.”

“Some things can’t be fixed, Son. We do the best we can and we have to find a way to live with the mistakes that can’t be rectified.” He exhaled quietly. “We’re all born with a dark side and we all have the opportunity to decide for ourselves whether or not that side will dominate our lives. Dawn unleashed that darkness when she learned you had a daughter by a White woman.”

“Would that have happened if she’d never learned about Shyanne?”

“Randolph, do you remember when Michael came to live with your brother and his family?”

He nodded, unsure of where his father was going with the question.

“You came to me a couple of days later. Do you remember why?”

Understanding dawned a few moments later as the memory surfaced. “Yeah, I do.” Meeting Michael for the first time, Dawn had been pleasant and friendly, but it had felt forced to Randolph and he had questioned her about it after they had returned home that night. He’d been taken aback by her insistence that the little boy had no right to be on the Rez, that his brother and sister-in-law were disgracing their people by bringing a White into their home as part of their family. Hatred and disdain had dripped from her words and he’d suddenly remembered the warning his mother had given him – a warning he hadn’t heeded at the time.

Disturbed, he’d gone to see his father, seeking guidance. River Dog had told him that there was no way to make someone stop hating others. He wasn’t going to be able to force her to change her point of view, but he had a child who hadn’t yet been tainted by that darkness, and he had a responsibility to Dakota to broaden his horizons.

“It probably would’ve made a difference if Shyanne hadn’t been born to a White woman. But it wouldn’t have stopped it indefinitely. That hatred was living inside of Dawn. She tried to hide it rather than deal with it, and it festered like an open sore, becoming diseased and spreading outward. She was simply looking for a reason to release it, and your divorce gave her the perfect opportunity, because she was suddenly able to justify that hatred for Whites.”

“Maybe there was nothing I could’ve done to prevent what happened with Dawn, but there must be somethin’ I could’ve done to protect my son.”

River Dog sighed. His son had come back from his time in the desert feeling more at peace with the situation, but he was once again lost and adrift. He knew there was no easy answer to be found. There were many stories of families who did everything right and their child still turned out bad. Randolph had done everything in his power to raise his son right, but without his presence being a constant in the boy’s life, he had lost control of the situation and Dawn’s prejudiced influence had become a dominant factor.

“I just don’t understand that kind of hatred, Dad.”

“We’ll never understand it, Son. We know it exists but the truth is that it’s been there since the beginning of time. Most likely it’ll be there until the end of time.”

“I just… she could’ve killed Michael.”

“But she didn’t.”

Randolph jerked around at the young man’s voice and he stared at his nephew in surprise, in relief.

Michael shrugged when his uncle just looked at him like he’d seen a ghost. “And it’s not your fault. She was more than old enough to make her own decisions and she chose to come here with a loaded gun. The only one in all of this that thinks it’s your fault is you, Uncle Randolph.”

He took a couple of steps in his nephew’s direction, cautiously reading his expression for any signs of warning before he pulled him into a crushing hug. He knew Michael wasn’t big on demonstrations of affection, but the boy didn’t try to pull away, even when the hug went on far longer than he was comfortable with.

River Dog smiled when Michael accepted his uncle’s embrace, even reaching up to awkwardly pat the man on the shoulder a couple of times. After a few minutes he reached over and rested his hand on his son’s back. “Randolph, why don’t we go inside and visit with the others for a while,” he suggested.

Michael breathed a sigh of relief when his grandfather led his uncle back into the house. His parents had told him about Dakota as soon as he’d arrived back home and he’d felt the need to reassure his uncle before doing anything else. Maggie had met him at the front door and nearly strangled him, she’d hugged him so tightly. He felt like he’d been hugged more in the past ten minutes than he had in his entire life. Everyone in the family had crossed his boundaries to make sure he knew they were glad he was okay, and he appreciated the sentiment, he really did, but he felt like going back inside at the moment would suffocate him.

“Michael?”

He shifted around when Amy stepped out on the porch. “Yeah?” he asked warily.

“Thank you.”

He frowned with a confused shrug. “For what?”

“For my daughter. I know, I know,” she said before he could shrug it off, “but there are so many ways that could’ve gone badly.” She moved to stand in front of him and she could see him holding his breath, probably preparing himself for another bone-crushing hug. She was aware of his discomfort in that arena and she’d witnessed him being hugged by every member of his family as he tried to make his escape to the back porch, so she settled for resting her hand on his arm. “I’m thankful you’re all safe.”

“Yeah, well…” he had no idea what to say in response to that. “I don’t really know which one of us saved the other, but you’re welcome, I guess.”

Amy smiled broadly and managed to hold the tears back, knowing that it would make him so painfully uncomfortable if he had to deal with his girlfriend’s crying mother. “I think no matter what life throws at the two of you, you’re always gonna protect each other.”

He nodded, grateful when she didn’t attempt to hug him. “I can promise that.”

She tipped her head towards the house. “Why don’t I send her out and run interference for the two of you for a while? You just come back inside when you’re ready.”

Maria stepped outside a few minutes later, closing the door behind her, and moving to ease into his welcoming embrace. “If my mom didn’t love you before, she sure does now.”

He chuckled quietly and stared at the setting sun. “Whatever punishment they give Dawn, it won’t be enough. What she did to my parents, what she could’ve done to you, what she’s done to Uncle Randolph… there’s no sentence they can give her that’ll ever fix any of that.”

“No,” she agreed quietly and pressed a kiss to his chest over his heart, “there’s not. Do you think your uncle will be okay?”

“In time maybe. I hope so. Mom called Aunt Elizabeth and Shyanne to let them know what happened.”

“I heard her talkin’ to a couple of your aunts about getting everyone together for the end of summer.”

“Yeah, they were already plannin’ that since there are several of us leavin’ home in just a few weeks.” He made a face. “I’m sure it’ll be a blast with all the moms crying about their babies leavin’ home. We’ll all be back for the holidays but you’d think they were never gonna see us again.”

She reached up and pressed a fingertip to his lips. “After what could’ve happened today they probably will be more emotional than normal. I think the least we can do is deal with it with as much dignity as possible. Don’t you?”

He made a face before resting his chin on her head. “Fine, but if they all start huggin’ me we’re headin’ out into the desert.”

Maria smiled and rubbed his back as she rested her cheek against his chest. His heart thumped its familiar pattern under her ear and she sighed happily. A month from now they’d be able to go to sleep in each other’s arms, lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves lapping against the sides of the houseboat. His arms tightened around her and she wondered if he was thinking the same thing or if his thoughts were somewhere else entirely. She knew it wouldn’t be long before they would need to go inside because he’d want to make sure his family was doing alright. More than likely they’d make their escape to the back porch more than once throughout the evening since the bear couldn’t handle but so much affection before he ran for the hills. He loved his family, cared about them more than he’d ever be able to verbalize, and in spite of his need for solitude at times, it was evident in his actions.

It was one of the things she loved so much about him and as much as she wasn’t used to the dynamics of large families, she was adjusting to it. He leaned back against the railing, holding her against him, and she sighed in contentment.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)154-8/4/19

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:34 pm

Michael might not be invincible.......but he's sure around.

Thanks for the update.

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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)155-8/14/19

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:52 pm

keepsmiling7: Yes, he is around and Maria would like to keep it that way.


Part 155

Isabel drummed her fingernails against the porch railing as she stared at the three grease monkeys messing around under the hoods of several vehicles. “So, how long does this typically take?”

“Oh, they could be out there all day,” Maggie said helpfully as she bypassed her on her way out the door.

“Great, this’s just what I had in mind for my last Saturday at home,” she muttered under her breath.

“Hey, you’ll be glad he knows how to do this later on,” Michael hollered from under the car.

She rolled her eyes when he continued his rant, going on and on about the money they’d save on oil changes and other things she didn’t really care about down the road. “I’d rather pay someone to change the oil and spend that time with my boyfriend.”

“So you’d rather spend your time sitting in the shop with him waiting for the oil to be changed and payin’ for somethin’ he could easily do himself?” His tone easily relayed just how stupid he thought that was.

“Y’know you’re just gonna piss her off.” Max’s relaxed voice carried on the light breeze and his sister narrowed her eyes.

“No one said she had to hang out on the porch. She can go inside and wag her tongue like the rest of the women.”

“Wow, you are really pushin’ it,” Alex mumbled as he secured the oil pan.

“Hey, if she wants to learn this stuff I’m all about equal rights. Matter of fact, this is car maintenance 101 and she oughta know how to do it.”

“Yeah,” Max drawled slowly, “I don’t see that happening.”

Isabel’s attention was drawn away from the guys - and the temptation to drop that oil pan on Michael’s head, when several vehicles turned onto the street and a moment later the gravel driveway began to fill up. Mostly trucks, she noted as the doors opened and people streamed out onto the front lawn.

There were only a couple of people she didn’t recognize. Most of them she’d met over the course of the past few months. She’d never been around all of them at one time though.

“They can be a little overwhelming all at once,” Maria said as she joined Isabel on the porch.

“I thought holidays with my family were crowded,” the tall blonde muttered.

“Is that all Michael’s family?” Liz asked as she leaned against the porch railing next to Maria.

“Oh, they’re all family, but that’s not even half of them. The rest are on their way.” She waved back when Joey noticed her and started to wave frantically. He bounded up the walkway and onto the porch, slowing down dramatically as he approached her. “Hi, Mighty Joe.” She accepted the exaggeratedly gentle hug, patting his arm as he backed away. She introduced him to her friends and he responded with a shy smile before focusing on her again.

“I brought Coda with me. Wanna see her?”

“I would love to see her. But first…” she directed his attention to the pair of big feet sticking out from under the car and she grinned when his eyes lit up.

“Mikey G?” he whispered.

“I think he needs a surprise gorilla hug,” she whispered back.

“That’s what I do!” He shook his head when he saw her finger waving in his direction. “But only with Mikey G.”

“That’s right, so go give him a big gorilla hug and then you can show Coda to me.” She pointed at her boyfriend once more and then pressed a finger to her lips and Joey nodded.

Liz’s eyebrows shot up when Michael’s cousin carefully and with exaggerated quiet crept over to the car the guys were working on. “What’s he gonna do?” she asked, her voice hushed when she realized silence had fallen over the crowd of people now watching him. He was oblivious to the attention, his focus solely on his cousin as he approached him.

“He’s gonna give Michael a gorilla hug.” She shook her head when she glanced at Liz and saw the confusion in her expression. “Just watch.”

Isabel smirked. She’d only heard about the so-called gorilla hugs and she was looking forward to actually seeing one for herself. He deserved it for giving her grief over the oil change.

“Oh, crap,” Michael muttered when he felt a pair of large hands wrap around his boots right below his ankles.

“What’re - “

He never heard the rest of Max’s question as he was suddenly yanked out from under the car. He was grateful the car was up high enough that he didn’t have to worry about cracking his forehead on the underside. He was quick to grab onto Joey’s forearms when his cousin leaned down and wrapped his fingers in the material of his shirt to pull him to his feet.

“Gorilla hug!”

“Easy, Jo-“ was as far as he got before those big arms wrapped around him in a viselike grip.

The family laughed raucously as they broke apart and starting moving towards the house.

“Wow, that looks painful,” Liz murmured when Michael’s face started turning red.

“Time for me to rescue him.” She greeted her boyfriend’s family as she passed them on her way to join the boys. “Mighty Joe, you promised to let me see Coda.”

Michael was immediately released when Joey’s beloved puppy was mentioned and he drew in a deep gulp of air quickly followed by another as he took several steps backwards in an effort to maintain his balance.

“Man, I’m surprised you don’t have any cracked ribs,” Alex said as he wiped his greasy hands on a rag.

Max leaned back against one of the trucks and shook his head, laughing when he caught the satisfied look on his sister’s face. She was talking to Shyanne, Kai and Shawnee, the four of them laughing about something he was sure he was safer not knowing about. He rolled his eyes when the laughter quieted as their focus turned to two men roughhousing on the lawn.

“More cousins?” Alex asked as he craned his neck to see what was holding the girls so captivated.

“Can’t lay claim to those two,” Michael answered as he turned and slammed the hood shut. “Nick and Jake, engaged respectively to Shyanne and Shawnee.” The guys had met over the Christmas holiday and had immediately clicked. He was glad because it had given Shyanne common ground and since then she’d really started to open up more around the family. She was finally starting to feel like she belonged.

“And the reason they’re holdin’ the girls’ attention would be…?”

“Hell if I know,” Michael muttered and shook his head. It didn’t really matter to him because his girl was busy with Joey, fawning over Coda like she was the only puppy in the universe. “It’s probably the military thing and the accent. Jake’s a Marine and Nick’s from Australia.” He shrugged carelessly. “Apparently there’s some attraction thing there for girls.”

“Well, we’ve got that family thing at three so we’d better get goin’,” Max said as he placed the tools in the toolbox Michael had brought out that morning.

The other hybrid simply snorted and wiped grease from the socket in his hand before tossing it in the top tray. They had all been roped into family gatherings for the afternoon. He could think of at least a dozen things he’d rather be doing, but it would be the last time the whole family would be together for a while so he knew ducking out wasn’t an acceptable option. The good thing was it gave him a solid excuse for not spending his afternoon in Roswell. Max and Isabel’s parents were having a barbecue at their house with Alex and Liz’s families all joining them. He and Maria had been invited along with their parents but if he had to spend his afternoon being social he’d rather be social in his own circle.

“You think Isabel’s actually gonna be ready next Saturday?” he asked with a glance at the porch where every female in a five-mile vicinity had gathered to flap their gums.

“Ready, yes,” Alex said with a fond grin in his girlfriend’s direction. “On time, highly doubtful.”

Michael’s eyes narrowed. “I thought we agreed our departure time would give us plenty of cushion for the girls to get all their crap together so we could leave on time?”

Max decided to avoid putting his two cents in because Alex had already warned him that they needed to add a minimum of three hours to their departure time if they intended to leave on schedule.

“You do realize we’re not just leavin’ for a week or two, right?”

“Yeah, and we’ll all be back for Christmas.” Michael shrugged. “What’s the big deal?”

Alex studied him for a good thirty seconds before shaking his head. He was pretty sure the other guy knew what the big deal was. He was being difficult, which Maria had informed him on multiple occasions was Michael’s default setting. “I’ll do what I can to keep her on schedule.” His head snapped to the side and he glared at Max when he coughed, using the exaggeratedly fake sound to cover his laughter. “I’m leaving before I land in the doghouse along with the two of you.” He slammed the hood on his car and went to collect his girlfriend.

“He’ll never have her ready on schedule,” Michael muttered as he dropped the lid on the toolbox and secured it.

Max shook his head in agreement. “Nope. Well, we’d better get going too. My parents are expecting us to be on time and Mom’s been kinda….”

“Yeah, mine too.” It’d been getting worse the closer it came to time for them to leave. Really, it was kind of weird. One minute things were fine and the next Mom just burst into tears and ran out of the room until she had herself under control again. She was acting like she’d never see them once they left. He was sure his afternoon was going to be plagued by bawling moms everywhere he looked.

Once the others were gone he ambled over to join his girlfriend, smiling when she stood. “She’s growing into a beautiful dog, isn’t she?”

“She’s pretty!” Joey enthused.

“Yeah, she is,” Michael agreed as he crouched down to rub the dog. She was a beautiful dog; friendly, personable and fiercely protective of her master. Uncle Elijah was happy with the addition to their family, especially after witnessing the dog’s defense of his son when a group of teenagers tried to hassle him. “C’mon, Joey, let’s get inside before the guys wolf down all the hot dogs.”

The teenager’s eyes widened. “Huh-uh.”

“Uh-huh.”

“How come you don’t got a dog?” Joey asked as they went inside, cutting through the kitchen on their way to the backyard.

“You remember we’re leavin’ here pretty soon, right?”

Joey paused and turned to look at them. “Do you gotta?”

Michael nodded. “Yeah, Joey, we gotta. But we’ll be back for holidays and stuff.”

“And you can come visit us,” Maria added with a smile. “Your dad said you’ve always wanted to go out on a boat and see the ocean.”

“Really? And we can go to Disneyland too?”

“Is that in California?” Michael asked, his tone absent as he poked around in a few of the dishes set out on the counter. He didn’t care for theme parks personally, too many people, but it was something that Joey had wanted to do for a long time.

Joey stared at his cousin, his head tipped to one side as he tried to figure out if he was joking or not. He was sure Michael knew where Disneyland was. Hadn’t he told him before?

“I’m kidding, Joey, I know it’s in California. And once we can work out schedules and everything we’ll take you to see that oversized rat you like. It won’t be until next summer,” he squeezed out when the admission earned him a rib-crushing hug as the teenager pounced on him. It was only a matter of seconds before he was bouncing out of the house, announcing his impending visit with Mickey Mouse.

Elijah stepped into the house while his son was busy telling everyone about his summer plans, reaching up to take his hat off while pinning his nephew with a look. “Michael, I know you mean well, but next summer’s a long way off.”

“It’s not that far off,” Michael said with a frown.

His uncle ran a hand through his hair as he turned to watch his son for a few silent moments. “A lot can change in a year.”

“I’d never break a promise to him, Uncle Elijah.”

He sighed and shook his head. “You wouldn’t mean to and I know that. The thing is, you can’t predict where you’ll be in a year.”

“Can anyone?” He wasn’t sure what the problem was. “We talked about this a couple weeks ago and you said it’d be okay.” Colt and Rebecca were planning to take their boys to the theme park next summer and since Michael and Maria were going to be living a few hours away from Anaheim they’d asked if they’d be interested in getting together for the trip. Honestly, he hadn’t been interested at all but then Maria had asked if Joey had ever been since he enjoyed Disney movies so much. His cousin and wife would pick Joey up and bring him to California and they’d all meet up for a couple of days, then he and Maria would take him and the twins back to San Francisco with them for the weekend while Colt and Rebecca enjoyed a weekend without kids underfoot.

“I did. And it is. I should’ve asked you to keep it under your hat until it was a sure thing.”

Maria had been watching from the sidelines, following Michael’s lead as he dealt with his uncle. He’d been surprised when Elijah agreed to the trip and he’d assured her that it wasn’t because he didn’t trust them to take care of Joey. When her boyfriend seemed to struggle with the reassurance he was trying to get out she moved to stand next to him, smiling inside when his hand reached down to tangle with hers.

“We know how important it is to keep a promise to Joey and for Michael, that’s no different than keeping a promise he makes to anyone. He never makes a promise unless he’s sure he can keep it.”

“It’d be good for you to have a few days to decompress too,” Michael added. He knew it was hard for Elijah to let Joey out of his sight for long in spite of the necessity for the breaks that allowed him to regroup. He was his son’s fulltime caregiver and even though he loved him and would do anything for him, the constant demands on him took a toll. “The trip is a sure thing. I swear to you we won’t let him down.”

“It’s not you, Michael.” His gaze shifted to his nephew’s girlfriend for just a moment. “And it’s not you either, Maria. I know you’d never do anything to hurt him intentionally. It’s just… so much can happen in a year. Things change, people change, situations change… plans change, and he doesn’t understand that.” He was careful to never promise his son anything too far in the future for that very reason.

“Uncle Elijah, I swear to you, no matter what happens we will take him to see that stupid rat next summer.”

“Mickey is actually a mouse, Michael, he’s not a rat,” Maria tossed out in an effort to lend a bit of normalcy to the moment.

“I beg to differ,” he said, running with it. “Have you ever seen a mouse that big?”

Elijah smiled fondly and shook his head at them. He couldn’t help worrying about things changing. Joey didn’t handle disappointment well and he didn’t understand when plans didn’t go as scheduled. “Just keep me in the loop as it gets closer, okay? If anything changes I need to know immediately.”

“We’ll do that,” Michael promised, “but come next summer we’ll be takin’ Joey to - “

“Hey,” Maggie interrupted as she burst through the back door, “how come no one invited me to go to Disneyland next summer?” She stopped to hug her uncle and then crossed her arms and focused on her brother. “Well?”

“Well what?” He shrugged. “Since when do you have any interest in that place?”

“Better count on increasing the ticket count.”

Michael scowled at her. “We’re gonna have a full house so you’re not stayin’ with us if you go.”

She started to make a face at him but suddenly smiled instead. “Yeah, you’re gonna have a full house alright.”

He glanced at Maria. “Isn’t that what I just said?”

It took an effort to maintain a straight face. “That’s what you said.”

“Joey’s gonna have a blast, Uncle Elijah,” Maggie said with a grin. “I’ll bet a bunch of us could get together and rent a beach house.”

“Who’s renting a beach house?” Linda asked as she came outside.

“All of us!” She ignored her brother’s impressive eye roll. “Summertime, California, the beach and Disneyland. I’ll bet if a bunch of us got together and split the cost it wouldn’t be that bad. You’re in, right?”

The other girl considered, mentally calculating numbers in her head before nodding. “I’m in.” She had already started working part-time in Amy’s shop, learning the ins and outs of the job, and she was going to be completely supporting herself in a matter of weeks. It was as scary as it was freeing and she couldn’t wait to be independent. She loved Amy’s friend Nina, the woman who owned and operated the store next door. She hadn’t known what she was getting into when she’d accepted the proposition Catherine and Amy had laid out for her, but the opportunity to get off the Rez and on her own two feet had been all she needed to know she had to take the chance.

“We’ll have to rope Christina into going too.”

Michael shook his head when the girls started chattering, the racket drawing more of his cousins inside to see what was going on. Before long it was going to be a huge family affair. He glanced down when Maria leaned against his side, her arms sliding around him. His arm settled across her shoulders to pull her closer.

“If your cousins all decide to go we’re gonna take over the park,” she said with a quiet laugh.

Before he could respond the front door opened, permitting another visitor and an unfamiliar bark caused silence to fall over those gathered in the kitchen. Coda ran into the room ahead of Joey, excited to see the new visitor. She slid across the tiled floor just as Eddie came inside, his arms full of fur.

“What the hell is that?” Michael asked with a frown. It had a mottled brown and tan coat, a black face, with paws easily the size of a man’s fist and it was… fluffy. It was not a man’s dog. “Your girlfriend buy that for you?” He supposed the indignity of being saddled with something like that was understandable to a certain extent if that was the case.

Eddie grinned and shoved the excitable puppy into his friend’s arms. “Nope.” He took a moment to brush his hands over his clothes in a useless attempt to dislodge the dog hair sticking to him. “I’m just the delivery guy.”

“You’re just…” He glanced around at his cousins, wondering which one of them was the unlucky recipient of the so-called gift. He ignored the noises Maria was making as she fawned over the raggedy animal and he suddenly realized that everyone was staring at him expectantly. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. No way was Mom saddling him with a dog that was likely gonna be as big as a horse judging by the size of his feet. He shoved his way through the people cluttering the room and barreled out onto the back porch. “MOM!!!”

Catherine looked up from her conversation with Amy and several other women and a smile spread across her face when she saw the dog held in her son’s hands. “Isn’t he simply beautiful?” she asked no one in particular.

Amy bit back a smile at the stormy look on Michael’s face.

“You knew about this,” he accused. His eyes widened comically after a moment of studying her expression. “You were in on it?”

“He’s a lovely dog, Michael.” She glanced at her daughter and knew by the way she couldn’t keep her hands or eyes off of the dog that she was already in love with the bundle of fur. “And he’ll be wonderful protection.”

“Of course he will,” Catherine insisted.

“Mom, the houseboat is not that big.”

“You said it had ample room and besides it has two bedrooms,” she rationalized.

“He’s not getting his own room,” he denied.

“Well, of course not, honey. He’ll sleep in your room.” She smiled. “He’s just a baby and he’ll be in his new home.”

“Mom,” he held up one of the puppy’s monstrous paws, “do you see the size of his feet? He’s gonna be huge!” He looked over at Dad, annoyed when he just held his hands up and shook his head. “Dad, c’mon, tell her we can’t have a dog.” An idea popped up in his mind and he smiled triumphantly. “We probably can’t have a dog. I mean, it’d probably have to be approved and…” he trailed off when Maria’s mom just smiled and his brief vision of victory deflated. “You’ve already talked to Deanna.” Next to her Gabriel cleared his throat and excused himself to refill his tea glass. He had a feeling the man was doing his best not to laugh at him where he could see it.

Maria moved in and extricated the energetic puppy from her boyfriend’s arms, cuddling the animal close and talking to it. “Aren’t you just the sweetest boy?” She stroked his floppy ears, ran her fingers through his fluffy coat and ended by cupping one of his massive paws in her hand. “You’re gonna be a big boy too, aren’t you? Yes, you are.” She laughed and leaned back when he swiped his tongue over her chin.

“Don’t get attached,” Michael warned her. He looked down when small hands tugged on his tee shirt and he bent over to pick Shysie up. He shook his head in response as her little hands signed a question about the dog. “No, we’re not keeping the dog.”

“Oh, Michael,” Maria turned and reached up to move the puppy’s face in his direction, “how can you say no to this face?”

He pointed to himself. “Does this face answer your question?”

She ignored him and focused on the newest member of the family. “What’s his name?”

Catherine and Amy shared a triumphant, knowing smile before Michael’s mother answered. “They called him Aldo.” She laughed when the younger woman made a face. “You can change his name. He’ll adapt to it easily enough.”

“We don’t need to name the dog.” Michael knew the battle was already lost but he couldn’t let it go. “Maria, if we have a dog we’re gonna have to plan around him. He’s gonna have to be walked, there’ll be vet bills, he’ll wanna sleep in the bed,” and she’d probably let him, too, “and can you imagine how much he’s gonna shed?”

Maria dismissed all of the points Michael was rattling off as she mulled over the puppy’s new name. It needed to be something strong, something that would fit his gregarious personality, and something that spoke of his majestic appearance. And she smiled as it came to her. “We’ll call him Magnum.”

Michael scowled as the crowd in the yard broke out in raucous laughter. Magnum, he huffed silently. He’d never live that down.

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