Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Won!

I did it! It was a hard, uphill battle but I have persevered. At times I didn't think that I had any words left in me and I had to pull them out, kicking and screaming until I wanted to tear my hair out. Sometimes I was on a roll, words spinning out of me uncontrollably and creating a massive confusion pile-up that I had to clean up one sentence at a time. It wasn't always easy. It wasn't always fun. But, it was always worth it.

I am now a NaNoWriMo 2008 WINNER!! I stand at 50,139 words and still counting (my story needs another 5 to 10K before it's done and I'm going to strive to get that done before the night's over as well. Last time I NaNo'd I finished with 56 K and I'm striving to break that this year.)!!

But that swell of accomplishment is in the air. Whoever thought writing a short novel in a month (that might possibly be loads of crap) could feel so good. I love words!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Let's Get Intuit, Chapter 11

Chapter 11
Delilah sat on her couch fresh from the shower, water slowly dripping down her shoulders from her wet hair, slippered feet tucked up under her for warmth, methodically turning the pages of the worn Intuit manual her mother had left her.

She wasn’t sure what she was trying to find there, just skimming the pages of wisdom of the ages and Intuit history and practical tips about keeping the sinuses clear (eat a raw pepper once a week) and the long hair tangle free (comb lemon juice through the stands every other day and braid immediately afterwards). But that kind of information wasn’t what Delilah was looking for.

At that moment she wished for nothing more or less than insight but not into the future, into the past. She wished with all her heart that she could look into a crystal ball and get clarity on that which has already past instead of that which has yet to come. She knew exactly what she would ask it – what happened to my mother?

Telling Jensen hadn’t been hard and she didn’t regret it but speaking it out loud had brought that tug for an explanation back to the forefront of her mind. She had started wondering if maybe it was their gift that had gotten their mother killed but was, once again, stymied by indecision over whether she actually wanted to know or not. If Intuit’s, or at least Intuit’s in her family, were destined to lead short lives she’d rather not hear her death sentence at the moment. Maybe the letter would explain though . . .

It all kept coming back to the letter, she thought, reaching the end of the book and running her fingers down the fold where it had been hiding for so long She pressed her palm against the page, thinking that her mother might have done the same thing many years ago and wishing she could feel her across time itself. It had been getting harder and harder to remember what her mother had looked like, what kind of person she had been. Madge helped, telling her amusing little anecdotes about things they had done in their youth, but it was such a far cry from the person that she remembered raising her that she craved for an answer even more. She had never seen her mother do any type of magic, still had a hard time believing it even after everything she had seen and learned.

Why hadn’t her mother told her about her future? Her hand reached up and caressed her necklace and it calmed her though it did not give her any answers, simply another question. If the necklace was so important, why wasn’t her mother wearing it when she died? Come to think of it, she didn’t remember ever seeing her mother with the necklace on her whole life.

She grabbed the phone and dialed without thinking. It rang three times before a groggy but cheerful voice picked up on the other side. “Hello?” it asked, clearly still asleep.

“Oh Madge I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize how early it was. Did I wake you?”

“No,” she answered and Delilah immediately knew it was a lie but instead of being angry she was excited. She was becoming better at doing the things other Intuits took for granted. It buoyed her confidence a bit and her question suddenly seemed less preposterous.

“Sure,” she said with a roll of her eyes. Just then the floor started shaking, her cabinet doors clapping and dishes rattling crazily. Things started leaping up off of her floor like kernels in a popcorn machine, jumping here and there. It lasted only for a moment but when it was done it looked like a tornado had ripped through her apartment, glasses shattered on the floor, clothes flung over the back of her kitchen chairs, books tumbled from the shelves. “What’s that? Did you feel that? Was that an earthquake?”

“What?” she asked groggily.

“Nothing,” Delilah murmured with a few sidelong glances around her apartment. “Sorry, nothing. I guess I’m just a little jumpy and tired.”

“Sweetie was there something you wanted to ask me?” Madge asked in tired amusement.

“Oh, yeah, there was. Remember when you told me that my necklace was very powerful and sacred and I shouldn’t take it off.”

“Mmmhmmm,” she replied drowsily before the question woke her with a start. “Oh Delilah, please don’t tell me you took it off and lost it. Please, please, Please.”

“No, no, nothing like that. I still have it, no worries.” She reached a hand up into the hollow of her neck to check, just to be safe.

"Oh good," Madge said, breathing a huge sigh of relief. Delilah could picture her with a dramatic hand over her heart and smiled. "Because you can't ever honey. That is irreplaceable. It's protected by being close to you so it can't be broken but you have to be very careful with it."

"How did I get it?" she asked, picking it up and peering down into it, still getting the odd sense at times that if she looked at it just the right way it would give her all the answers she was looking for.

"What do you mean sweetie?"

"Well, where do you get them? Where are you going to get the one you give to Jam one day."

"Oh I thought you were asking where the gifts come from that is an entirely different and unanswerable question that we really shouldn’t be getting into around seven am on a Saturday. You get them at Gilded Hill of course but once you try it on, that's it. It bonds with you and becomes an irrevocable part of what makes each of us so special."

"What happens if you lose it?" she asked, thinking again about her mother. "Or if you take it off?"

"Your magic is always stronger when you wear it so I suppose your powers would become weaker."

"You mean," she gulped, her heart starting to race at the possibilities, "that if I get tired of this whole smelling emotions, seeing the future thing then I can just take it off?"

Madge’s voice came out angry, a thread of power running beneath her words. "No that is not what I said! These are your gifts, they are yours whether you wear the stone or not but you should not take the necklace off. It protects you."

"How? Like from danger?"

"Well it doesn't make you indestructible or anything of the sort. You get hit by a bus it's still going to hurt though it might not kill you. And at times it has been known to send out distress signals so if you were in trouble, real trouble, my necklace should burn and let me know that I need to get to you."

"How come it didn't work then?"

"What do you mean?" Madge asked in confusion though no longer from drowsiness but from the sudden edge of emotion and hysteria in Delilah’s voice.

"How come it didn't work for my mother? How come no one came to rescue her when she died? And why wasn't she wearing her necklace if it’s so sacred and important?"

Madge was shocked by Delilah's questions for a moment, sitting in bed simply grasping for any kind of answer that she could give to not only help her find peace of mind but peace of soul as well. As Delilah waited she heard the sounds of the children in the background, probably running around in morning cheer, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and without a care in the world. She hadn't been like that for a long time now, couldn't remember if she had ever been like that actually, so unaware and unworried over the things that life would bring.

"Forget it, forget it," Delilah said. She heard Madge's voice protesting as she pulled the phone away from her ear and severed the line, keeping the phone off the hook so she couldn't call back. She drew her knees up under her chin and stared without seeing at the book on the coffee table which might as well have been written in Swahili for all of the answers it was providing her with.

She sat there for what felt like minutes but must have been longer, had to have been. The knock on her door scared her and she jumped up in fright as it sluggishly pulled her away from her dark thoughts and persistent fears. And Madge wondered why she hated change? Every change, every new piece of information she found, only dug a bigger hole into her heart.

The knock sounded again, insistent, persistent. "Coming," she grumbled, quickening her pace to the door so they wouldn't knock a third time and annoy all of her neighbors so early in the morning.

Madge was standing on the other side, hand raised in mid-air to pound again, when she finally pulled the door open. She had a long jacket pulled over a pair of pajamas, looking like she had hopped straight from her bed to Delilah's entryway. Delilah didn't even get a chance to say anything before Madge made a maternal clucking and rushed her, enfolding her into her arms.

Delilah didn't know how long she stood there wrapped in Madge’s embrace, tears falling freely from her eyes but it was long enough to drain away the whole pool of sadness and tears inside of her. After she had cried herself out she sniffed inelegantly and backed away, rubbing a wayward hand across her eyes. She turned from Madge so she couldn't read the feelings in her face (though considering who Madge was she needn't have bothered) and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She gasped out loud at what she saw there. Her eyes were white, only the inky iris peering out from behind her eyelids. She started to panic but Madge was behind her, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder and guiding one of Delilah's stray fingers to her necklace, calming her on contact.

"I hate it," she spat, wishing to wrench the thing from her neck and hurl it across the room. "I hate that it has so much control over me, can calm me with a single touch. If it's so special than why didn't it protect my mom? Why didn't it save my mom?" Her eyes were pleading with Madge who sighed and led Delilah to the couch.

"You don't mean that. It's hard to get used to and understand, especially at such an old age, but it's a good thing. It's good that it can clear your head when need be. We're taught, trained, to see and feel emotions everywhere. It's a good thing that it can clear our heads. That it keeps us sane and from going crazy at the overload from the emotional fight the neighbors are having or the depression of the guy walking down the street or the anger at the commuter in the car beside you. It is necessary for our survival to have that bond, this gift. It is essential."

"I know," she pleaded, her voice full of tears even though none fell from her face. "I know it's true but then why didn't any of that help my mom?"

Madge looked at her for a long time before she answered, choosing her words carefully. "Truth?"


“I don't know. When your mom found out she was pregnant with you, she changed. We didn't see her as much as before and then finally she turned her back on the community, just up and left. I still saw her but not nearly as often. I don't think anyone but me had seen her for at least a year when she was killed."

"Then why were you waiting for me? Why did you think I would come if my mom didn't even want this anymore?"

A sad smile appeared on Madge’s face. "Your mother came to see me at least once a year, usually around your birthday and she came to see me that year, two days before she died. And after we talked and caught up, just as she was leaving, she repeated what she always said to me in parting, every time. She'd say ‘Take care of my daughter Madge if anything happens to me. Teach her the things that I no longer can’ and then she’d smile sadly and walk out.”

“Did she know something bad was going to happen to her?” Delilah asked.

Madge shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. The older you got the more and more anxious she became until she barely ever came to visit and that youthful spark she used to have was completely gone. I always thought it was from the strain of being a single mother – she was so stubborn and would never let any of us help her, which we would have done in a heartbeat – but maybe there was more. Maybe I should have tried harder to find out.” She looked away from Delilah, staring off to the side with blank eyes, seeing something else besides the bookcases and furniture before her.

“It’s not your fault Madge,” Delilah whispered, leaning her head on her shoulder.

“She was my best friend and even though she pushed me away, I should have found some way to help her. None of us knew where you lived and I still pray every night now in thanks that the Conrads took you in and kept you safe when I couldn’t. Your continued happiness and safety was my last promise to Genevieve and I fully intend to keep it.”

She turned big, compelling, deep purple eyes to Delilah. “That’s why you can’t ever take the necklace off honey. I need you to be safe. I need to know that you are safe,” she implored with feeling, tears shining brightly in the depths of her eyes. There wasn’t much Delilah could do – she simply shook her head in agreement, hoping that it was a promise she’d be able to keep but doubting it all the same.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's Get Intuit, Chapter 10

Chapter 10
Jensen stopped flipping haphazardly thorough the book in his hand. It started to slip from his fingers and he made a wild grab for it, narrowly missing the floor. “I, um, didn’t know that.”

Delilah smiled but wasn’t looking at him to see the shock register on his face even though the sudden appearance of the scent of sea spray, as if they’d been transported to a sandy beach during high tide, should have tipped her off that something was different. “Didn’t Stephen tell you how we know each other?” she questioned in distraction, her eyes still preoccupied with all of the books laid out before her.

“Nope, uh, I don’t think he ever did mention it.” He dropped the book in his hand, cleared his throat and pulled against his collar, looking like he was suddenly in need of more air.

“It’s not that great of a story to tell you the truth,” Delilah said, looking up to meet his eyes for the first time. He saw a little hesitation in them and it scared him for a moment.

"I'd like to hear it anyway."

She took a deep breath and grabbed a book idly from the shelf, just so she could have a prop in her hand to distract her. "Well when I was sixteen my mom died. They found her randomly in the middle of a field, no sign of how of why she died, perfectly healthy except for the fact that she was dead. It was like something out of a book, you know?

"I didn't have any place to go and Amelia was my best friend so the Conrads took me in and let me stay with them until I graduated from high school." She shot him a teasing smile that was unable to completely masquerade the sadness behind it. "See, all totally harmless."

"So you weren't shacking up with him then?" Jensen asked. His face was sympathetic and his heart panged for her but he could tell, by the way she was leaning against the bookcase, by the way she wouldn't meet his eyes, by the way the lines of her body had stopped moving as if waiting for something to happen, that she did not want to talk about what she'd just revealed. She wasn't ready for that yet but he'd be there when she was so he obeyed her unsaid wishes and passed it by.

"Ugh, God no," she said, a look of disgust passing across her face as she shivered at the terrible thought.

Jensen laughed and came around the room towards her. "Good because I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack. I think we just found our angst."

"Jealous already? You know that's not a very attractive quality." She addressed her comments to the slight dimple in his chin, her lips almost brushing it as she spoke. Jensen didn’t see the need to keep much space between them and Delilah was hard pressed to find any disagreement inside of her.

"I think I have a few others to make up for it."

"Really?" she asked with that laugh in her voice that hadn't been absent since she'd started talking with him that evening, the levity she was sorely missing in the other parts of her life bursting full blown into the air when she was with him.

"Really,” he asserted confidently, wrapping his arms around her again and pulling her even closer to kiss her again.

"So, what's next on this list of yours?" he murmured in her ear, his lips softly brushing her hair.

"Well . . ." She opened her mouth to speak but was taken aback by what caught her eye in the mirror on the wall across from them. She had raised her hands to brush at the nape of his neck and spotted something bright underneath the few tendrils of his hair brushing down that far. "What is that?"

"What?" he asked, following her eyes to the mirror.

"That," she murmured, pushing his hair up off of the back of his neck. She circled him and climbed up onto a chair to get a better look.

"Oh, that," he laughed with a sheepish and charming grin. "I was hanging out with my niece this afternoon and I foolishly allowed her to give me a tattoo with markers I didn't realize were permanent." He shook his head a bit ruefully and tried to catch a glimpse of it in the mirror.
"I can't actually see what it is. She told me she wanted it to be a surprise. Care to enlighten me?"

"It's a buzzing bee and a smiling sun." Delilah could barely breathe. What was the universe trying to tell her? That tonight the future held for her Jensen. Was she ready for that? Was she ready to be manipulated like that? Was it even manipulation? A headache was starting to form right between her eyes and she raised a hand to try and rub it away.

Jensen laughed. "Okay, that is definitely some creative license she took there. I told her I wanted something manly."

"Would you have preferred a bee riding a motorcycle into the angry sunset."

"Much more masculine," he answered. She stopped playing with his hair and leaned against him, letting her arms drape down around his neck and resting her chin on the top of his head. His slightly callused hands felt so good running up and down her arms that she was having trouble coming up with a reason why she had to move.

But she was suddenly inspired. What was it that she had been seeing in her dreams about knitting needles? She grabbed her right hand back and slid it across the breath of his wide shoulders, down his massive back, and down over his backside. She bit her lip in concentration as she slipped her hand into his back pocket.

"I can't believe it," she murmured to herself when she came out with a pair of knitting needles.

"You know if you want to feel me up I don't have a problem with that." Jensen turned to look at her, the husky timber of his voice causing shivers of awareness to grate along her skin.

“What are you doing with these, cowboy?” she asked in a breathy voice, unsure on if she wanted an answer or not since it probably wouldn’t make one bit of difference. Why he had them wasn’t as important as the fact that he did and it looked like her prophetic visions of the future, no matter how scattered or random, were actually coming true.

He looked a little ashamed and cleared his throat, reaching up to take them from her outstretched hand. “What am I doing with these?” he repeated.

“Yes, what are you doing with knitting needles in your back pocket?”

“Would you believe I use them to play the drums?” he asked hopefully, twirling the needles idly in his hand like he had down it numerous times before.


“Knitting keeps dexterity in the fingers. I got into the habit of knitting when I was doing my medical residency and a few of the girls in my year convinced me it would get me all the ladies. Plus . . .”

“Plus . . .” she prompted, reaching to grab his face and tip it up to look at her, still standing on the chair. She liked utilizing the height to her advantage and slipped her hand back into his hair, running it slowly through her splayed fingers.

“Plus,” he began once more, having to clear his throat to push the words out, “I heard that you liked to knit from Stephen and I thought it might be a quirky gift to get your attention.”

“You were carrying the needles around for me?” she asked in surprise, taking a step back but upsetting her balance in the process. Jensen had to reach out to steady her, his hands sparking her to life again where they settled on her waist. He pulled her down off of the chair and held her close.

“Sure was.” Excitement and elation bubbled over inside of Delilah. Not only had she sparked his interest she had also captured his attention. The party was cluttered with girls shooting covetous glances at him but he couldn’t see any of it, his eyes focused only on her.

She cleared her throat and smiled blindingly, causing Jensen to blink at its brilliance. “The next thing that Amelia told me to find was A Star Is Born. Do you know that movie?”

“I like old movies,” he said, sliding a strand of her hair behind her ear, “My decorator centered that one over my bed.” He punctuated that statement with a kiss.

“Is that so?” she asked breathlessly when they parted.

“It’s a fact ma’am. What you don’t believe me?”

“Nope,” she said, the smile she was trying to hide teasing itself around the corners of her mouth. “It’s just too much of a coincidence.”

“Maybe I’ll just have to show it to you.”

“Maybe you will.”

They stood there for a second together, each trying to figure out if they were serious or not. “I can get Stephen’s kayak tomorrow,” Jensen murmured, running his hands up her bare arms and unhooking them from around his neck. But he didn’t let them go immediately, holding them gently between them like a set of prepubescent lovers unsure of what to do next. “Okay then,” he said at the look on her face, clearing his throat and dropping her hands.

“I’ll meet you out front,” she said, “I just have to get my coat.” They parted at the doorway as he slipped out the front door and Delilah wound her way around the ever growing crowd of people. She spotted Amelia leaving the bathroom and followed her through the pulsing crowd, catching up with her near the living room sofa.

She had to reach out and grab her arm to get her attention, the bass on the stereo making it hard to talk as it punctuated every word. “Hey, there you are.”

“Hi,” Amelia responded, her annoyance at her best friend not yet drained away.

“Look Am, I’m sorry I was being a colossal grouch. I swear, sometimes I don’t know what is wrong with me but I’m really glad that you dragged me here. Really.”

“Really?” she asked, her eyes lighting up with the hope of juicy gossip to follow, “why? What’s going on?”

“I – ” she began but didn’t get very far before Jensen popped up beside her.

‘’Ready?” he asked before noticing that Delilah was in the middle of a conversation. “Oh, I don’t want to interrupt.”

“That’s fine,” Delilah said, grabbing his arm as he backed up and pulling him closer before he could disappear into the crowd. “Jensen this is Amelia. Amelia, Jensen.”

“Stephen’s sister, right?” he asked, extending a hand for her to shake.

“Mmmhmmm,” was all she said, her tone speaking volumes. She shot a look at Delilah out of the corner of her eye and she just barely managed not to laugh.

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow?” Delilah asked as she started to leave, pulling Jensen along beside her.

“You better!”

Jensen took her hand in his, reluctant that she would slip away from him again, her elusivity before tonight making him wonder on more than one occasion if he had only just dreamt the stunning redhead with charm to spare, and led her through the house. As they left the house she was so preoccupied at the way that their hands fit perfectly together that she was barely noticed when they stepped out into the brisk evening. "Where's your car?" she asked, barely glancing away from his captivating smile to see where she was going, let alone notice it parked in front of them.

"You're looking at it," he answered with a laugh and pointing at a gleaming, beautiful piece of machinery. It was parked haphazardly in the driveway, the back half sticking out into the street at a rakish angle.

"This is your car?"

"I am a doctor after all you know," he replied, taking great delight at the appreciation in her suddenly light gray eyes.

She let out a low whistle as she released his hand to walk around it in admiration. "I've never ridden in a Ferrari with the top down before."

"Well get in." He didn't need to ask her twice; he didn't even have time to open the door for her before she slipped into the leather interior. "Wow" was all she could say.

He laughed. "The color makes it so much better, right?"

"Oh, so much."

"Shall we?" he asked with a quick look at her in his passenger seat. "I like you sitting next to me," he murmured, reaching a hand out to push another one of those flyaway strands of hair behind her ear. Every time he did it a rush of emotion started skittering down along her limbs and making her wonder if the spark Madge had talked about was real, was about to jump from her like an electric conduit and catch the house on fire.

He took to the roads like a teenager in his first solo drive, taking the turns quick and revving the engine to speed the car along to dizzying heights, so fast that the wind was the only thing keeping them down, holding them against the seats with its strength. After fifteen minutes as they were coming off of a tight curve on an old, country road, he slowed the car.

"Are you cold?" he asked, twiddling confidently with the knobs and buttons on the dash until heat came blasting out of the vents and warming her from head to toe. The top started rising and she couldn't hold in the sigh of sadness that escaped her even as the car gratefully warmed ten degrees.

"You liked that then I take it?"

"Definitely," she smiled. He returned it but it took her breath away and she could only hold his gaze for a moment before she had to look away and at the countryside whizzing by the window much slower now. The car slowed to almost a snails' pace, so slow after the intense speed up the mountain that she wasn't even sure if they were still moving. "Why are we stopped? Did we run out of gas or something?"

He shined that half-cocked grin at her again and the air seemed to leave the car. "This is where I live."

"All the way out here? In the middle of nowhere? Is there a house to go along with it?"

"Yes, there’s a house – right up there, see. And no, not the middle of nowhere. I have neighbors. See there, and there, and oh, there's one over there to." He reached a hand out to run through the ever-lengthening strands of her hair. "Why, are you afraid to be alone with me now?"

"I guess that depends on what you plan on doing with me," she whispered softly. He moved his hand to cup the back of her head and pulled her towards him to capture her lips in a slow, sensual kiss. He rested his forehead against hers when they broke apart as they both tried to catch their breath.

"This is beautiful," he murmured, moving his hand down to the hollow of her neck.

"Thanks. It was my mother's," she replied, her eyes following his finger as he ran his hand over the ever present orange stone.

The minute he touched it, she knew what Madge meant about a spark. That calm that she felt when she touched it suddenly exploded inside of her, into a thousand sharp fragments cutting holes into her, burning white hot and intense. She felt it, all of the possibilities of Jensen and Delilah, against her skin, inside her mind, through her heart. Everything that had been, everything that could be, every single moment of togetherness and apart was sitting there for her to take.

He only touched it for a moment but when his fingertip had skirted across and landed on the other side, touching her skin again, she was gasping for breath, as if she had been drowning and was just able to come up for air.

"Are you okay?" he asked with concern, dropping nicely into competent caregiver and grabbing her wrist to take her pulse.

"I'm fine," she panted, closing her eyes and pressing a hand to forehead to try and quiet the noise that had exploded there at his touch.

"Your pulse is racing."

"I'm with you - what would you expect it to do?"

"Delilah," he said, worry and hesitation evident in just that one word.

"Take me inside Jensen" was her reply. Reluctance was clearly evident in the planes of his face. She leaned over and did her best to remove it with her lips, pressing softly against the hollow of his neck. "Take me inside," she whispered in his ear, her breathing all but back to normal.
"I'm not sure that's a good idea."

"Then sign me out against medical advice and you don't have to do anymore thinking." He met and held her gaze for a moment, running that stray hand down the side of her face again before giving in and exiting the car. She waited for him to come around to her side and open the door with a satisfied smile. Surrender, she thought, could be so nice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let's Get Intuit, Chapter 9

Chapter 9
“Hi,” Jensen said in surprise as he spotted her there in Stephen’s kitchen, halting on the spot and blocking the flow of traffic. The man behind him protested and he took a step towards her to move out of the way, pushing aside almost all of the space between them. The crowd seemed to demand more of it and he was forced to lean over her, bracing himself against the counter behind her and leaving them with barely enough space to take a breath without touching.

“Hi,” she replied, looking up and connecting with the cleft in his chin, so close she couldn’t see his eyes.

“Cramped in here,” he murmured, swallowing hard if the way his Adam’s apple fluttered was any indication. She just laughed a little bit. He looked down at her and their eyes met, but only for a moment before they slide to the right and saw the wine glass in her hand. “Any good?” he asked.

“I haven’t tried it yet,” she answered.

With one more quick look at her eyes, he touched her; starting at her elbow and running his hand slowly down her arm to remove the glass from her hand. He raised it to his lips, meeting her eyes again, and drank. “Good,” he informed her as he set the glass back into her grasp, fingers brushing and causing that now familiar tremor of energy to spread over her.

He leaned over her, the scent of dark chocolate flaring wildly as he did so. She thought he was going to, or wanted him to, kiss her, embrace her, whisper something seductively in her ear but he did nothing of the sort. He slid the wine bottle across the counter with a strangely soothing grate of glass across the counter. “Hmm, I never would have thought such a sophisticated taste would come from a wine label named Kite.”

“What?” she asked, turning so quickly her hair must have whipped across his face. She placed her hands over his and turned the label towards her so she could read it. And there it was. Kite. And a label that looked a lot like the pictures she was getting when she fought sleep at night, a cute little pigtailed girl looking a lot like Jam running across a meadow with a red winsome kite trailing in the sky.

“I’ve been looking for this,” she murmured to herself, and though it seemed like a herculean feat, managing to forget that Jensen was next to her listening.

“You’re an interesting one miss,” he whispered in her ear. She held her breath as he lifted a hand, gathered the strands of her ever growing hair and pushed them away from her shoulder, exposing the smooth column of her neck.

She waited a moment but nothing happened. He grabbed the glass from her hand and took another sip. “I aim to please,” she murmured a bit ironically as she peered over her shoulder at him downing the contents of her glass. He handed her the half empty glass and she threw back her head and emptied the contents in one quick gulp.

With the wine sitting boldly in the pit of her stomach she turned around again to face him and pulled out her cell phone. He looked at her quizzically as she dialed and took an involuntary step backwards. She made a covert grab for the hem of his jacket, not wanting him to wander too far, before his phone started ringing.

He took a step to the side and turned to lean next to her against the counter. “Jensen Michaels,” he answered as his eyes caught sight of her tugging lightly on his clothes.

“Hi, it’s Delilah,” she said with a smile as his eyes swept over to meet hers. That infectious smile broke out across his face as he realized she was on the other line.

“Sorry, who?”

“Delilah. You remember, that smoking hot patient you doc blocked from Stephen Conrad the other day.”

His grin got wider and there was a laugh in his voice when he responded. “Ah yeah, I remember now. Are you thinking about changing your health care provider?”

Delilah laughed a little and stuck her tongue out at him. He outright laughed then. “Not today,” she answered, “but I am going to this party at Stephen’s tonight and I was just wondering if I might see you there.”

“Do you want to see me there?” he responded coyly.

“I don’t know,” she said in her best hard to get voice, “it wouldn’t be the worst thing I suppose.”

“Oh well, in the face of so much flattery how can I resist?”

“You can’t.”

“Guess not.”

“Okay, then it’s a date.”

“Wait, how will I know it’s you? I’m not sure I remember what you look like,” he said. Delilah let go of his jacket and punched him playfully in the arm. He looked at her with fake puppy dog eyes and rubbed his bicep, doing his best to appear wounded. They stared at each other, letting the moment quiet down and the scent of dark chocolate intensified.

His eyes moved down to look at her lips again and it was all she could do to resist the urge to lick them, couldn’t turn away from his stare no matter how much she wanted to and didn’t want to all at the same time. He inched closer to her as both of their cell phones disappeared again.

“Oh look, here you are,” he murmured, not taking his eyes off of her for a second to muster up any kind of believable fake surprise.

“Here I am,” she answered in a voice that sounded distinctively unlike hers, much too low and seductive to belong to her.

“So now that I’ve found you, what should I do with you?”

“You don’t have any ideas?” she prompted as they inched closer to each other, the lines of his jacket brushing ever so softly against the length of her arm.

“Oh I have ideas I’m just not sure if you’ll like them,” he answered, leaning into her just like he had when they had met on the sidewalk.

“Try me. You might be surprised.”

He leaned even closer though Delilah wasn’t sure it was possible. He lifted his hands to her throat. But what she thought was going to be romantic was quickly just another joke as his fingers probed her jaw line with that clinical detachment he’d shown her in his office. “Yep, you seem to be recovering nicely.”

She reached up and pushed him and his laughing face away, causing him to step back into a tall, scrawny blond dude and topple the plate of cheese and crackers from the plate in his outstretched hand.

“Sorry,” Jensen said as he bent down to pick up the food he’d spilled across the floor. “Sorry,” he repeated with a crooked smile as he dropped the slightly disheveled food back on his plate, Delilah laughing so hard she had to bring her hand up to her mouth to keep it in.

Jensen turned to her with crazy eyes and they both started laughing heartily. “Let’s get out of the line of fire,” he said with a twinkle when they’d died down. He grabbed her hand, causing tremors to speed up and down her arm and across her body, and threaded her neatly through the crowd. He squeezed around a bulky Chinese medicine cabinet, pushed aside a deep blue curtain, and pulled her through the window onto a hidden little balcony overlooking the street.

“I didn’t know this was here,” Delilah marveled, stepping to the railing and looking down at the ebb and flow of the party with people coming and going as they pleased.

“Stephen’s afraid of someone doing something stupid out here when drunk so he always slides the cabinet in front of it.” Delilah looked at him in wonder. “I know this because I’m the one that always has to help him slide it in front of the window when he has a party.”

“You didn’t do a very good job this time,” she said, perching on the corner of the railing and leaning against the wall, trying to find a place where the wind didn’t slice through her so completely.

“Well I was still holding out hope that I might see you tonight.”

“Oh,” she said with a smile as he stepped closer to her, raising their hands and threading their fingers together, “and you were hoping what?”

“That I’d have a chance to get you alone.”

“Well now that you have me what do you plan on doing with me?” Delilah smiled slightly and tilted her head to the side to look at Jensen from the corners of her eyes. The wind changed for a moment and his scent, sandalwood and dark chocolate, overwhelmed her, so strong she could almost see it. She couldn’t stop it, she purred at the feel of it against her skin, closing her eyes at the taste of it.

The wind stopped as Jensen stepped in front of her, blocking it from her skin. He laughed softly as he cupped her face in his hands, bringing her face up to meet his. He quickly put an end to the exquisite anticipation she was feeling waiting for his lips to find hers.

He tasted like the wine – bold, full, and tangy. She couldn’t resist sinking her teeth into his bee-kissed bottom lip, as soft and inviting as she thought it was going to be. He made a guttural sound, deep in his throat, and she swallowed it as he tilted her head slightly to capture her mouth more completely. His tongue challenged her to take things deeper and she gladly accepted, matched him thrust for thrust.

When they finally broke apart she wrapped her arms around his torso to keep him close and the biting chill away. They didn’t speak but his hands wound around her and ran softly up and down her back. She leaned her head back to look at him as his hand came up to caress her cheek, the back of his hand cold against her heated skin. “What’s this?” she asked in a voice that didn’t sound like her own.

“This?” he repeated as her fingers toyed with the inside of his wrist. “It’s here to remind me not to leave without Stephen’s kayak.” But Delilah wasn’t really listening as she pulled his arm closer to investigate the yellow string that was tied haphazardly around his wrist. She bit her lip in concentration, staring past Jensen to the window then back into the house. A kite, a yellow string . . .

“What’s wrong?” he asked with a hint of laughter in his voice, “You don’t like kayaks?”

“No,” she laughed, putting a hand to her forehead and trying her hardest to be two people at once – the Intuit that was trying to figure out what the future was telling her and the woman that didn’t want to do anything but make-out with the hot young doctor all night long. “I just . . .”

She pushed away from the wall and had her hand on the curtain before she stopped and turned to look at him. She studied him for a moment before considering what to do next. “You wanna help me with something?” she asked, mischievous hanging off of her every word.

“Sure,” he replied, reaching a hand out to push a few strands of hair behind her ear.

“Okay so Stephen’s sister Amelia told me that I need to have more fun in my life so she is making me do this silly scavenger hunt thing and wants me to find a few things in Stephen’s house.”

“What kinds of things?”

“Oh just really random stuff she told me was going to be a ‘blueprint for unforgettable’ by I figure if you help me out maybe it might live up to its promise.” Delilah shot him a flirtatious look from under her eyelashes and her heart skipped a beat when he returned it. “The, um . . .the yellow string reminded me because that was on the list. The next thing is the letter X.” When he looked at her like that it made it hard to breathe, let alone think.

“X huh,” he murmured, coming to stand right in front of her. “Does this count?” She couldn’t move, the look on his face pinning her to the spot. His hands came down and rounded her hips as he pulled her slowly towards him, pressing the length of her body against his own. His hands slid slowly up her back, insinuating their bodies together even more. She buried her face in the side of his neck as he wrapped himself languorously around her. His embrace was warm, and she could taste his heart beating again as well as feel it beating against the palm of her hand.

She felt the reluctance in him as he let her go, his eyes cloudy with desire, the scent of dark chocolate flaring dangerously between them. “What’s the verdict?” he asked in a low voice.

“Verdict?” She could still taste his desire on the tip of her tongue, all around her, and his words were having a hard time wading through it to get to her.

“On whether a hug counts as the X you are looking for.”

“Oh,” she said with a throaty laugh since the choices seemed to be either laugh or go positively weak at the knees at the smile he was shooting her way. “Well if the point is to be unforgettable than I say count it.”

“What’s next?”

She had to close her eyes to remember, the sight of Jensen too terribly distracting to her concentration. “Angst.”

“Hmmm,” he paused, pulling back the curtain so Delilah could reenter the house before him, “well this is one of Stephen’s parties so I’m sure there’s someone feeling it somewhere.” They ducked into the room right across from the hidden balcony. “Stephen uses this room as his office slash library, not that he ever actually reads anything.”

“Just thinks it makes him look important,” Delilah finished, running her fingers over low shelves filled with books. “I know, I used to live with him you know.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let's Get Intuit, Chpater 8

Chapter 8
When Delilah closed her eyes at night, she was getting inundated with information. Thoughts, fears, emotions, images – stuff was just cluttering her brain waves, everything getting past her normally stringent filter now that her senses were being overloaded; evidently security had become lax now that she couldn’t tell for herself what was important and what wasn’t.

Everyone that she had met in the last two weeks were running though her mind, literally. They kept looping past like a CD in her car, over and over and over again. She needed something to change it with but she didn’t have anything else to fall back on. The worst part was that they weren’t alone – those things she saw (if you could even call it that) in the future were always there in the background. Jam with a kite running in a field. Jensen on a stroll with two knitting needles hanging out of his back pocket. Amelia sitting on top of a treasure map with angst-ridden cupcakes and a childish smiling sun above her. If Madge hadn’t described this to her in perfect detail (she had to use a book since she had none of these problems – as part gypsy she could tell the future with much more clarity and accuracy) she would have brought back her hallucination assumption.

Because all she seemed to think of anymore was yellow string and buzzing bees, she was having a hard time sleeping. In fact she was trying to see how long she could lay in bed each night before sleep came out of hiding to capture her. She was starting to look drained again, like her sickness had just gone into hiding and it was trying to stage a siege of her body once again, and Amelia was jumping on her to take better care of herself at every turn.

“Have you called Dr. Gorgeous yet?” she demanded with that glint in her eye one day as she stared at Delilah’s back from her overstuffed sofa.

“I’m working here Am,” she replied, her fingers skating quickly over the keyboard, glasses perched on the end of her nose.

“Does that mean you’ve lost the ability to talk?”

“And if I answer yes?’

“Then I might be forced to unplug your computer from the wall,” she replied sweetly.

“Fine,” she conceded, swiveling around in her chair to face the living room, “you have ten minutes. Chat away.”

“I asked,” she stressed loudly, moving positions so that she was hanging over the arm of the sofa, “if you had talked to Dr. Too Gorgeous For His Own Good.”

“No, I have not.”

“Good,” Amelia said.

“Good?” Delilah asked in surprise. “Where’s the lecture and the pressure and the thousand and one questions why I haven’t called him? Good is all you got?”

“Good because then what I did doesn’t make you look stupid.”

“Why?” she asked, suddenly filled with trepidation. “Am, what did you do?”

A devilish look descended over her face, that mischievous sparkle twinkling in the corner of her eyes and her lip curled just enough to be more that mocking. Amelia didn’t answer but got up off of the couch and grabbed her purse from the coffee table, her smile growing as she saw Delilah’s unchanged face.

“Am!” she yelled, hopping from her desk chair and racing across the room to catch her before she could make her way into the hallway. “Am, what did you do?”

“I was just trying to be your guardian angel, baby. You know you need some looking after,” she murmured in a mothering tone though her eyes still betrayed the attempt at sincerity. Amelia looked her up and down and clucked her tongue as she set her sunglasses on her face. “I’d get dressed if I were you. You know, just in case.”

Delilah tried to go back to work after Amelia left. She had been trying to come up with a great story to write to prove to Bianca that she could be ready to slide right in as a reporter when the time called for it. But nothing exciting was going on that she could find. Samson’s Department Store had revitalized downtown but that was old news, that business was booming in the district that few and far between had been visiting in the last few decades.

She wasn’t skilled at eking out corruption, she was skilled at eking out problems with web servers and security protocols, so she wasn’t sure in which way to turn. Trying to seek out danger had only led her to fiery Mexican food so she wasn’t sure where to go next. She supposedly had great instincts, should have been able to follow any little hunch into a full-fledged expose, but she wasn’t ready to trust herself. And that was her main problem with everything in her different lives at the moment; whether magical, personal, or professional, all of them seemed to be suffering from a lack of courage.

Delilah liked to say that if there was just a manual for this she would be much better off but that wasn’t entirely true; she’d probably spend the first few months second-guessing everything that the manual said and critiquing herself as inadequate at every turn. Delilah wanted, craved, needed to be flawless. She measured herself against the unattainable ideal and berated herself when she was human like everyone else and couldn’t reach it. The instinct had been tamped down on the past few years but at the emotional upheaval in her life at the moment it sprung back to life. Because she wasn’t all human, she wasn’t normal, and the impossible wasn’t out of reach. She could see the future, she could smell danger – surely she should be able to do the mundane?

Amelia’s actions, whatever the hell they were, just preoccupied her further. She couldn’t concentrate on coming up with a brilliant idea because wild speculation about her best friend and the hunky doctor kept finding their way into her mind. Every time the phone rang she jumped in anticipation and trepidation. She checked her email every few hours. When the two cute little blond girls from across the hall stopped by to ask if she wanted to buy any cookies, she almost hit the roof. Amelia had made her obsessive and what was worse, her friend knew it.

The day swept by at a snail’s pace. Delilah watched the clock tick by until it hit a respectable hour (respectably early but respectable all the same) for bed. It had been so long since she’d actually welcomed the feel of her pillows and the comforter but it was a nice change from clockwatching. Just as she popped up off of the couch and was getting ready to bound into her bedroom, the doorbell rang. She checked the peep hole with trepidation before throwing the door wide open, a scowl firmly on her face.

“You are an evil woman,” she said as Amelia breezed back inside.

“You – go change,” she ordered with a wave of her hand. Delilah looked her up and down with a bad feeling. “Go on, go.”

“The only place I’m going is to bed,” she answered, leaning against the door jamb of her front door and refusing to budge.

“It’s only eight-thirty on a Friday night,” Amelia protested with a laugh, tapping her brightly manicured nails against her hip. She was wearing a bright red sheath dress that went with her caramel skin flawlessly. From the flashiness Delilah could predict her plans did not include letting her best friend get any sleep tonight.

“Well in Delilah time it’s more like two am since you had me on pins and needles all day.”
Amelia just giggled. “That was kind of cruel of me, wasn’t it?” Delilah just looked at her with her dove gray eyes and Amelia laughed again.

“What did you do?” she asked. After a moment, recognition dawned. “You didn’t do anything, did you? You just wanted to freak me out all day, didn’t you?”

“I just wanted to prove that you were interested in the good doctor and as far as I’m concerned, point made. Now we celebrate my victory. Go get dressed.”

Half an hour later they were in a cab making their way across town. Delilah had to change twice before Amelia was satisfied with her outfit, finally settling on a short, peasant bubble gown in bright teal that she had once seen one of the stylishly hip style reporters wearing at a party – she’d gone out and bought the dress the next day but never wore it, completely convinced that she’d never be able to pull it off. Amelia entertained no such notion.

“Where is this party anyway?” Delilah asked, adjusting the sleeves of her dress for the third time in the last five minutes, barely remembering to look out the windows she was self-conscious about the way she looked.

“Oh, did I forget to mention that?” The tone of her voice sent warning bells off in her head. She didn’t have to be an Intuit to know that she had been had.

But those ‘intuitive jumps’ that Madge had been telling her about suddenly reared their ugly head; she just knew, without any more words or smells or feelings necessary. She just knew. “Man Amelia, I can’t believe that you’re taking me to a party at Stephen’s so I’ll run into Jensen. This is so over the line you don’t even know. I can’t believe that you did this to me.”

Amelia just looked at her skeptically as the cab pulled up at the curb and they stepped out onto the sidewalk. Stephen had a townhouse and music was floating down the front steps to meet them. “Oh get over it Delilah. Live a little why don’t you?” she answered, leaving Delilah there on the sidewalk by herself.

Delilah languished there on the sidewalk for a moment, biting her lip indecisively. She was being self-obsessed. She was being difficult. She was being all the things she knew Amelia was thinking about her but wasn’t saying aloud. Oh no, Amelia had gotten her out of the house on a Friday night, possibly to see the gorgeous guy that wanted to date her – her life was over!

Delilah snorted a bit as she focused on shifting her perspective, taking a deep breath and forcing her mind to reach out for something other than herself. She was almost done when her eyes widened and she stopped, gasping a bit in surprise. This was probably an intuit thing, wasn’t it? Delilah was always finding herself getting caught up in the small things, tripped up over the details, and she had taught herself at an early age to get past it by trying to get into the head of someone else. Most people thought that she just turned on the theatrics, played a part, pretending to be someone else but that wasn’t quite true. What she did was reach out towards someone else in the vicinity and force herself to see everything through their eyes to see clearly.
Now, she realized, it must be an intuitive extension of her other gifts. Madge had been telling her that she would find something that she was easily good at, something that just came naturally to her without effort or difficulty. And finally she had found it. A smile broke out across her face and she abandoned the exercise there on the doorstep – the realization did more for her confidence than getting into someone else’s head would have done.

She slipped through the door and was surprised at the amount of people spread out across Stephen’s place. Usually Amelia owned a room and she had expected to see her the minute she entered but she must have slipped farther into the house, some corner where Delilah couldn’t find her if she was indeed as annoyed as she had seemed.

Buoyed by her newfound skills, she decided to try something else that Madge had told her about. She made her way into the kitchen and as she poured herself a glass of wine she closed her eyes and gave herself over to the moment. She focused on the air moving through her mouth, the energy in the apartment buzzing around her, trying to allow the other parts of her to tune into Amelia and ferret out her location.

But it was someone else that she locked on to. Sandalwood and dark chocolate swept over her. Her skin started tingling, as the scent slipped over her forearms, the back of her neck, her uncovered legs. She opened her eyes and spun around to watch him pass three people to slip into the kitchen.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I wonder . . .

I'm taking a break from the NaNoWriMo excerpts (I hope everyone is liking them by the way - feel free to leave me a message and tell me if whether they're tickling your fancy) to go all philosophical. Sorry about that. ;) NaNo will continue again tomorrow - sorry for the interruption from the regularly scheduled program.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I wonder sometimes if I'm not made to be part of things. I'm a pretty personable person - I get along and play well with others, I smile and joke often. Sometimes I just feel like there's something missing, some puzzle piece of personality that everyone else has.

An example - I'm at this conference and I haven't really talked to anyone. I mean, I've traded a few words with some people sitting next to me and I've talked with my co-worker Matt when we've been at the general sessions and when a presenter asks you to discuss things in groups I turn and smile and contribute. But I'm not striking up conversations every second and no one is dying to chat me up in the hall. And I'm okay with that, but is that okay?

So I'm just a generally self-sustained person. I have enough people telling stories in my head that I could stare at a wall for hours and be thoroughly entertained. I don't need to walk around the city alone, hopelessly worried about getting lost, to have a fun time. All I really need is me. The characters that have sprung forth from my head can provide endless hours of entertainment and do, all the time.

And even though people generally like me I think, probably see me as pretty mild and benign, I guess I have trouble connecting. I'm no good at networking (though pretty good at building working relationships - if we work together often, we're good; if I'm holding on to your name for the possibility of needing you in the future, I'm pretty sure you won't remember me at all). I'm just not memorable.

I swear I haven't been flirted with in my life. People just don't look at me in that way though I'm not sure in what way they do look at me. Maybe not at all. Maybe they can't see me because everyone around me shines brighter and I pulse, softly, dully.

I'm not supposed to be worried about this. The fact that I haven't for such a long time now means that I thought it was effectively tamped down but it rears its ugly head again. But I guess maybe it's different this time. I'm not worried about finding my soul mate or the love of my life. I just want someone to see me, help me prove that I'm alive, that I'm more real and interesting than all the characters in my head.

People don't smile at me when we pass in crowds. I've never caught anyone's eye. I've never been asked for my number or email or anything else that gets passed around for such reasons. I just worry that as the year pass I'll fade, pulse even slower, until the possibility of anyone notices dies. And I'll still be here - completely entertaining myself but completely apart, never a part of things.

Is this the way it sometimes happens in the end?

Let's Get Intuit, Chapter 7

Chapter 7
Like the days before, she set out to follow the wind. Delilah needed all the help she could get with this so anything that helped her along was just fine. The wind was blowing crisply away from the shopping district so she followed it, enjoying the feel of its strength on her back as she let it push her along, an unseen hand.

She had been walking for almost fifteen minutes, smelling only the normal street smells, and feeling nothing extraordinary, when the hair on the back of her neck stood up. She reached up and brushed a hand across the nape of her neck quickly, hoping to shake whatever was giving her a wary feeling. But it didn't work - the hair continued to prickle beneath the hem of her woolen cap.

She turned in a circle, wondering what, if any, intuit significance this had. Maybe it was just something normal, she mused, like someone staring at the back of her head or a chill finding its way underneath her clothes and against her skin. But the minute she moved her hand it stood up again, a veritable forest of sensations demanding her attention.

She stopped and turned, completely unprepared for what she might find there. Madge had somehow missed this, amongst the many other things she said she’d fill her in on later; she had gotten no briefing on what this was supposed to mean. She needed an anatomy book to understand what was happening to her body, felt like a prepubescent girl standing in front of a mirror and wondering what all the changes were supposed to mean. She had already been there done that. It had been a hard enough time in her life to live before; she dreaded going through it again now, alone.

So she turned, still unsure if it was danger or delirium that she would find there, and was caught completely off guard at what turned out to be standing there.

"Don’t I know you?" Jensen asked with a quarter smile, really just a twist of his mouth, that reminded her of how truly good looking he was, not that she needed much of a reminder. Had her nose led her here, really?

"Hi," she answered. She had to turn into the wind to face him and was doing her best to keep her hair from reaching out to him in the wind. At the rate it was growing it would probably succeed if they stayed talking longer than just a few minutes.

It took just a moment before that flirtatiously distracting version of herself was able to take a breath and move forward. "You forgot me already. Haven’t you been waiting by the phone for me to call you?" she asked with an amusing light in her eyes.

"No. Gentleman that I was, I was waiting patiently for you to be cured."

"You didn't want to be forced to make-out with a petri dish of germs?"

"Is that what I get to look forward to?" he asked, his own eyes lighting up and giving her lips a look just a second longer than needed so that she felt the urge to cover them up, her cheeks starting to redden at his scrutiny. "I thought the point of foisting you off on Stephen was because you wanted me looking at you," he said, leaning in close, almost seductively so, to whisper in her ear, against the wind.

"Was it?" she asked, meeting his eyes, already so close to her own that she couldn't manage to look away even if she had wanted to. Leaning so close, she could smell sandalwood and dark chocolate. The back of her mind was trying to decipher it, reconcile those two things but they wouldn't fit. Which one was real and which one was just in her mind? Frankly she didn’t care – rolling together they smelled delicious.

"So," he said, interrupting the electrically charged moment with a shake of his head, bringing them both back down to reality, "what are you doing over here, out in this horrible wind with that cold of yours?"

"Um, I'm all cured," she said, appearing anything but as she hugged herself tightly, trying desperately to stop her hands from getting away from her. They seemed to want nothing more than to reach out to him and pull him back, close enough for her to embrace and breathe in his scent again. Maybe she couldn't understand what it was supposed to mean but she understood that it was intoxicating, making her woozy standing so close to him.

"Are you?" he asked. "Well then I changed my mind. No more gentlemen from me. I think I might want my number back if you’re not going to use it."

She looked at him sheepishly. "Maybe I lost it," she said, all evasiveness, trying to appear both coy and ashamed at the same time in an attempt to steer him away from the truth.

"Maybe you should learn to keep better track of your things."

"Well maybe if you give it to me again I'll remember where I put it." Her hand made a break for it and reached out to rest softly against the rough suede of his jacket.

"Maybe you'll learn that sometimes you have to work for things you want."

She huffed and snatched her hand back. "Who says I want it?"

He just laughed, stepping a little away from her and under the eaves of the building. The wind howled towards them at that moment, a huge gusty sweeping of leaves that threatened to overturn them both. He was quick, like a panther, and grabbed her arm, pulling her under the eaves as well and out of the way of the debris rollicking along the street.

His hand was warm, strong, and his smell, of sandalwood and dark chocolate assaulted her again. She stared into his eyes and was reminded of the way his voiced had tripped across every one of her nerves last week, the way his fingertips had lightly caressed her back and the things she'd wanted to do to him because of it. She licked her lips and it was almost as if she could taste his heartbeat speeding up on the air. She was suddenly finding it hard to breathe again.

He must have been feeling something too since he didn't let her go immediately, his breath unsteady as their eyes met, as the wind howled around them, as she felt him move just ever so slightly closer to her, bending against the wind and into her.

A horn honked, kids in a passing car whistling and laughing, and it cracked the moment open wide. They stepped away quickly and his half-cocked smile was back in place. "You know Stephen warned me to be careful of you," he commented as they both watched the car speed away.

She turned back to him, part surprised, part intrigued. "Really? And what did he say?"

"That you break hearts faster than I could mend them," he said, looking at her a bit pensively as if trying to decide if it should be believed.

"That's a gross over exaggeration," she murmured. "I always give plenty of time for mending."
He shook his head and laughed a bit self-deprecatingly, shaking his finger at her. "I'm not sure what to make of you, miss,” he replied after a pregnant pause.

"If you're lucky maybe you'll find out," she said, backing away from him and the smell that was serving to slowly drive her insane.

He raised his hand in farewell as they both kept on backing away, two warriors calling a truce, neither one wanting to turn their back on the other. By the time she rounded the corner, Delilah was no longer letting her nose do the leading. She knew exactly where she wanted to go but needed to create a wide arc around the downtown district so as not to run back into the Pouty Practitioner that she just couldn't seem to keep her hands off of. If she'd indulged in letting her body do everything it wanted to do the kids in that car definitely would have had something to honk at.

It took her a half an hour before she reached Madge and her orange shop, her cheeks full of color from all of the activity. Anyone looking at her now never would have recognized her as that same sickly girl from a week ago, worn out from the buzzing and sneezing and symptoms she just couldn't shake. Magical Wasabi, it turned out, was not only cleansing but one of the best energy supplements not on the market. It gave her a jolt of oomph that it was hard to come down off of. She didn't know whether she could, but she desperately hoped that she wasn’t about to become addicted to a Chinese root – it sounded positively flower power flighty – but her body was starting to crave it just as much as Jensen's touch it seemed.

Delilah pushed the door open, feeling the clang of the bell in every cell in her body. It caught her off guard and she froze for a moment in mid-stride through it, closing her eyes to try to catch her breath and steady her soul.

"Hey there! Do what do I owe this pleasure?" Madge called across the shop. Delilah opened her eyes to find the place almost empty, just Madge and a broad shouldered man standing at the counter, looking every inch a straight-laced marine and seeming drastically out of place in such an unzipped store as Colin All Alternatives was.

"I . . ." she began, her eyes shifting restlessly to the brooding man with the buzz cut, leaning against the counter but still seeming to have perfect posture until she wondered if he required a ruler to get that way.

"Oh, Delilah! You haven't met yet, silly me. This is my cousin Brody. He works over at the Lift It! gym over on Cypress."

"Personal trainer by necessity, bounty hunter by desire. Nice to meet you," he said, coming across the store to shake her hand (and present himself for inspection it almost seemed). Even through his clothes she could tell that he was ripped, a very fine male specimen, from his broad shoulders all the way down his tapered waist and muscular legs. His eyes, while not the vibrant shade of an Intuit, held something different in their dusky brown depths, some small sparkle of the gypsy that bound him and Madge together. His lips stayed pursed together in a straight line, not much of a talker it seemed.

"Oh, well, nice to meet you," she said, finally able to move. She caught another whiff of dark chocolate as he escorted her over to the counter. So the sandalwood had been all Jensen, she thought with a tiny smile.

"What’s up?" Madge inquired again as she wiped down the display case in front of her. Delilah cast her eyes at Brody and looked away quickly. Madge spoke up before she had even finished the sweep.

"Brody, why don't you go and remind the kids of that reward of the pet shop now. I think that they've spent enough time pretending to clean their rooms."

"Sure cuz," he said. "Pleasure to meet you." He turned and gave a stiff little bow to Delilah, clicking his heels together as he did so, before bounding up the stairs three at a time, a commanding voice preceding his long stride.

"So, what's so bad you can't say it in front of Brody?" Madge started, setting down the window cleaner and cutting right to the chase.

"How did you know that I didn't want to talk in front of him?"

"Your eyes. Plus you're just exuding discomfort so quickly it had to have been seeping out of your pores. And hello, it’s my business to know what the people around me want so give me a little credit, huh. What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong," she said, running her finger along a groove in the counter and avoiding her eyes, "it's just . . . okay, there's this guy -"

"I knew it!" Madge whooped, clapping her hands in mid-air. "Hooo, I knew it."

“It's nothing to be so broken up about," Delilah mocked, giving her an amused eye-roll. “I’m just getting these weird feelings when I’m around him.”

“What kind of weird feelings? You’re getting a lot of those now you know.”

“I know,” she murmured, crossing behind the counter and dropping down into an easy chair hidden in the corner and out of sight of customers. “But, I . . . okay, maybe it’s nothing but the first time I saw him was right after I saw you the first time and when I was with him I just . . .”

“Just what?” Madge laughed at her inability to articulate.

"It's just that I feel Everything."


"Everything. Intimately. Everywhere. I feel his smell, I feel his eyes, I think I might even be able to feel his heartbeat and it's freaking me out. Oh and what emotion smells like dark chocolate?"

Madge just smiled, chuckling a bit to herself. "What?" Delilah asked in exasperation, just resisting the urge to slam something to show how serious she was being.

"Honey, you're just horny," Madge said simply.

"I . . . that . . . come on," she replied in disbelief.

"Your senses are heightened now, you know that. Dark chocolate is attraction, lust. You must just spark when you're together."

“Spark?" she asked quizzically, "Is that a good thing?"

Madge laughed out loud and patted her knee in comfort. "That’s a Very good thing."

"Oh stop it," Delilah said, waving her hand in the air to try and wave her attitude away as she stood. "I'm serious. I don't know what to do. I can't control myself when I'm around him. I can't control myself ever anymore it seems. I don't want this any longer. I don’t like being an Intuit and I just want it to go away."

"Tsk, tsk, you don't mean that," Madge said with a slight narrowing of her eyes. "And you should be careful what you wish for. You know that was almost the truth, right?"

"What do you mean?" she asked, sinking back down into the chair at the serious look on Madge's face.

"Remember when you came in here that first night and I told you that you were close to the deadline. I meant it, literally. If an intuit doesn't put on the necklace before their 25th year is over, it's gone. I thought, well we all thought that you had decided that you didn't want any part of this stuff which is why we'd never heard from you. If you had unpacked those boxes one day later you wouldn't be able to do any of it. You're very lucky."

"I don't feel lucky," she murmured, dropping her forehead into her hands.

"Yes, well, it's because you don't like to be unsure. You're new at this and it kills you to not be perfect at something."

"How do you know that?" Delilah asked, wondering if people's pores really did leak their secrets out all day long.

“Because you're so much like your mother," she mused with a forlorn little smile.

“Tell me about her," Delilah asked, drawing her legs up off of the floor and under her chin. It was the question that had been on the tip of her tongue for the last week.

"Oh,” Madge began, "your mother was a firecracker. She had a personality that would just light up any room. She was always getting us into wild schemes and pushing us to do crazy things. We went cliff-diving once near Gilded Hill, that almost killed us. And she used to have this hugely infectious laughter that just, well, you couldn't not smile when Genevieve was around.

"She got it into her head one summer that we could find the Sacred Dais, supposedly the birthplace of the Intuit and the keeper of all our secrets, and had us searching from hell and back looking for it. That was an interesting time I'll tell you that." Madge shook her head. "And when it was over, that's when she came back with you."

"What was my father like?" Delilah asked before she even realized that she had wanted to know. Her mother had never talked about him. Whenever Delilah asked about him her mother would just tell her the story of a girl being left in a cabbage patch, even when she was well into puberty and had been schooled in the ways of the birds and the bees.

Madge looked sad. "I don't know honey. I asked of course, we all did, but she always said that it was her business and everyone else didn't need anyone to know. She said it didn't matter anyway because she'd gotten what she wanted and she wanted nothing else but you."

Delilah sighed. She had no father. She had known nothing real about her mother. It felt like her life really had been a lie, a house of cards that was going to come tumbling down around her, just a bunch of trick mirrors throwing her off balance. What was the truth? Would she ever know?

"Your mother's letter didn't clear any of this stuff up?" Madge asked from the main floor of the store as she rearranged items and restacked books in the proper order.

"I didn't open it yet," she confessed with a sigh, wiggling her toes in her shoes and trying to be preoccupied with them.

"Why ever not?" Madge asked, looking startled but only for a moment. "Ahh," she said with a knowing look, "still scared of change and full of indecision."

"Is there any way I can block my emotions from you?" Delilah asked a bit crossly, wishing there was some part of her that wasn't an open book that everyone around her could delight in reading, something that was only hers to know.

'Well you can't tell what I'm feeling can you?" was her evasive response.

"That's not an answer," she said, "because I couldn't tell the difference anyway. But is -”

Whatever else Delilah was going to ask was cut off by a stampede of people barreling in from the back room.

“Soldiers,” Brody yelled in an authoritative voice, “ten hut!” The children snapped into a straight line in front of their mother, grins on their faces.

“Ahh, so we’re being presented for inspection are we?” Madge asked with a grin. “Well, let’s see. Have our rooms been cleaned.”

“Yes Mommy!”

“Even under your beds and the toy box in your closet?”

“Yes Mommy!”

“And you didn’t leave anymore surprises for Daddy in his office did you?”

The children giggled at the memory but replied again. “Yes Mommy!"

“Okay,” she said, turning the sign on the door from opened to closed in a flourish, “then let’s go get that ferret.”

“Ferret?” Delilah asked out of the corner of her mouth as the kids were corralled towards the door.

“Yes, well, ferrets are pretty susceptible to Intuit eye tricks so I figure if the kids won’t listen to me at least I can have one thing in the house that will.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Let's Get Intuit, Chapter 6

Chapter 6
“Where have you been all day?”

“What?” Delilah tried to deflect unsuccessfully.

“Where have you been all day?” Amelia repeated, pushing into the apartment like a bloodhound trying to uncover some hidden fox. “Or rather should I say all week? You have become impossible to get a hold of. What did you wake up cured and decide that you had to immediately go out and do all that living you’d been missing out on since you’ve been cooped up in the house. Well if that’s the case you could have at least waited for me to tag along.”

“How’s Bubblegum doing?” Delilah asked, trying to steer them off course again.

“Nice try at changing the subject but no go. Where have you been?”

Where had she been? She’d been . . . confused. It had been a week since Madge had sat down and had the talk with her over family dinner on the ins and outs of her "gifts" but she was still having a hard time believing that it was true. The whole atmosphere just seemed wrong to her the least of which was the fantastical abilities; what was throwing her off more was seeing a happy family, having Madge check up on her and wonder how she was managing. It was been a long time since someone besides Amelia and the Conrads had worried or wondered over her and it was a hard thing to get used to. Belonging somewhere did not come naturally to her.

Neither, it turned out, did being an Intuit it seemed. Madge called them growing pains. Delilah just called them accidents. Every day she started out with a hazy plan of walking around the city directionless and letting her nose take the lead and tell her where to go. By early afternoon she kept ending up at the same place, Papa Taco. The only smell she could make out with any distinction was the Triple Chile Verde Burrito. Nothing nefarious or heartwarming about that, though tasty to be sure.

What she really wanted was some kind of Oxford Olfactory Dictionary that could translate what she was supposed to smell into what it all was supposed to mean. Trying to reason out her sense of smell was starting to give her not only headaches but complexes as well. When she sniffed burnt toast did that mean that she had burnt toast, that a neighbor had burnt toast, that burnt toast was a figment of her oppressed need to complicate simple things or did hunger smell like burnt toast. These were the kinds of things that were constantly tripping her up. Delilah feared it was about to get to the point where there could be a fire in her building and she'd burn to death, thinking that the smoke was really all just a figment of her intuit imagination and she was already dangerously close to reaching it after only a week.

Madge assured her that it would get better, easier, and that after they made their pilgrimage to the mecca that was Gilded Hill everything would make more sense (though when that would be nobody knew since it seemed like Delilah had the busiest mentor known to man and she might have to take a job in her shop just to see her). She'd said it was like her brain, or senses, or feelers, or whatever just needed a little reboot. Like a software update for a computer and Gilded Hill was the computer store. Delilah had dealt with tech support at big box stores enough to know to be wary of that analogy.

And then there was the letter from her mother, hidden unopened inside her pillowcase. When Delilah had been distracted by the play the children were putting on in her honor, Madge had tucked the letter between the pages of her mother's book for her to find. And she did, as soon as she got home that night. But there were so many things that she wanted and needed for it to say that she couldn't bring herself to open it and see what was inside. The anticipation might have been killing her but the eventual letdown would destroy her even more. She’d wanted to talk to her mother again for ten years; now that she was getting that chance, no matter how staid, she didn’t want to have to face all the things she needed to hear, needed answers to, and wasn’t about to get. So she set it aside to ruminate over what it may or may not say before she found the courage to pry back the lip and peek inside. It was so bad that even she could smell the vinegar in the air and, novice that she was, had little trouble figuring out what it must mean - nerves.

"I've been . . . around," Delilah finally answered Amelia with that evasiveness she only ever barely got away with.

"Don't tell me, you've been out on the town with Dr. Hard Body haven't you?" Amelia asked with a supposedly knowing twinkle in her eye.

Delilah had been out with Jensen all right but only in the naughtiest corners of her mind and the shadowy recesses of her dreams. When she woke up she'd always reach for the phone, stare at it sitting in her hands for a moment, and then replace it in the cradle, phone calls left unmade. She wanted to see him but there was so much upheaval in her life already that she couldn't imagine what adding him into the mix might mean, no matter how much Madge and Colin’s story had made her yearn for a fairytale of her own.

Delilah pretended to laugh. "I wish. He hasn't returned my phone calls," she answered, turning from Amelia so she couldn't see her add silently to herself 'because I haven't made them.' There it was again - vinegar.

"Hmmm, well he does not know what he's missing. I'll go down and rile him up a bit if you want me to," Amelia offered with her trademark cock-eyed grin.

"NO!” she protested a little too vehemently, a little too loudly. “No, it’s perfectly fine if he wants to see if absence makes the heart grow fonder. We'll just see if it does. No guarantees my heart will still be here to grow while he's gone," Delilah continued, still in something of a panic but at least a little less hysterical. All she needed was Amelia to start chatting up Jensen and find out she hadn't called. Cornered with that information she would have no choice but to come clean with all of it - the hair and the nose and the eyes and the necklace. She'd be forced to lay bare the intuit truth and Delilah wasn't ready for that yet. She still barely believed it herself, how could she expect anyone else to? Wasn't sure when she'd be ready for that considering she couldn't stage a demonstration or boast highly magical skills for her trouble. She hadn't even managed to convincingly see the future . . .

Suddenly, as if the universe knew what she was brooding about and strove to prove her wrong, Delilah banged her knee into the table in her entryway as she was following Amelia past it. As she leaned over to see if her clumsiness had bruised anything other than her sense of balance, she spied a particularly ugly gash blooming across the side of her knee in spectacular colors of blue, black, and purple. As she peered down to get a better look, it happened.

Without knowing how she did it or what it meant, she found herself somewhere else. It seemed like the world had gone dark, like she’d closed her eyes but knew she hadn’t. It felt cold and dark but safe, the smell of grass at dusk with the biting chill in the air adding to that strange sensation of security descending over her. But she didn't have a chance to grasp at her surroundings, or lack thereof, because feelings were assaulting her in grandiose fashion, like images trying to be downloaded into her brain, no waiting necessary.

A kite. A yellow string. The letter X. Angst. The buzzing of a bee. The sun smiling. Knitting needles. Jubilation. A star is born. Surrender.

And then she was back. She hadn't moved, was still leaning down to get a better look at the bruise she no longer had any interest in examining. She had seen the future though she was disappointed to find out it made as little sense as her other Intuit senses did. She'd hoped that she'd have been able to see people or actual moments from the future. Even snapshots of latent images, a picture to take back with her would have been better, something more akin to a box of photos spilled across the floor than the words or impressions that stamped themselves against her consciousness, evidently no explanation necessary.

All she got were the words, the feelings, pressed into her. Nothing as magical as what she had seen on movies and TV shows and at carnival stands with fortune-telling superstars. Madge could do it, with all the flashiness of Gemini cards and crystal balls, but she was a gypsy. All Delilah had was the intuit ideal of telling the future, just another thing not living up to its expectations.

"De, what are you doing?" Amelia asked, looking back from the couch at her tragically clumsy friend in such a comical position that she didn't know whether to laugh or fear for her safety.

"I just bumped into this damn table and I'm hopping up and down in pain. You could join me you know." Delilah smiled on the inside at managing to cover in an adequate fashion.

"In what - the hopping or the pain?" Amelia was laughing at her but that wasn’t anything new really. Amelia was always laughing at her; she did predictably ill-advised things that always ended hilariously.

"The hopping of course, it's good for the soul."

"So is kale but you don't see me indulging in that, do you?"

"Well anytime you want to I'm sure you could just pull apart a few layers of Bubblegum's clothes and you'll be all set."

"Ooh, snap," Amelia laughed, resting her chin in her hands, elbows propped to support her, and staring at Delilah over the back of the couch. "Are you sure you're okay De? I haven't seen you since I took you to see Stephen and you weren't doing so hot then."

"Did I thank you for taking me there? I really appreciate it," Delilah said, looking at her best friend tenderly across the room. "And no, I wasn't doing well but I'm doing just peachy now." She hated lying to her, even a lie of omission, but this was definitely not the best time to tell her. She'd be supportive and kind but she'd also be researching shrinks and mental hospitals the minute she left. Just as likely to go pour over research at the library to prove her right as to go enlist the aid of Stephen and the scientific community to prove her wrong. She was like that, always wanting to help, always wanting to be prepared, consistently a mass of contradiction.

"Okay well I just stopped by to make sure that you are still joining us here in the land of the living," Amelia sighed, obviously satisfied with Delilah's answer or she never would have gotten up off of the couch and thrown her purse over her arm, all ready to leave. "I was coming past here to scout locations for the photo shoot at a dog grooming salon - don't ask - and figured popping in would have to get your attention."

“You know you always got my attention Amelia girl.”

“Try returning some phone calls every once and awhile then.” She took her by the shoulders and gave her three quick shakes, a smiled alighting upon her face. It was something that she’d been doing since childhood, always trying to shake some sense into that girl. They hugged quickly at the door, Delilah holding on a moment longer than was necessary, having a clear look at the concerned look on her friend’s face when they pulled apart. "Remember, anytime, you know that."

"I know that," Delilah answered with a smile and a nod of her head. When the door closed it soundly loudly throughout her apartment, sealing them on different sides of the door with shades of foreshadowing and finality that made her want to open the door and scream the truth at the top of her lungs to make sure that it never got between them. There were a lot of things that Delilah had lived through and a lot more that she could take but separated by a divide thicker than a piece of paper from Amelia was not one of them.

With Amelia gone and the lovely distractions along with her, Delilah sat down at her desk and tried to work. Kiki had emailed her, asking her to be a reference at a new job she was applying for and her heart started racing. This could be the break she was waiting for. If Kiki found another job, Delilah could slide right into her first assignment as a reporter. If Bianca was to be believed of course. It was something that she had been striving for, for so long it made her giddy to consider it.

"I'll try again," she vowed anew, determined to figure out how this intuit thing worked. Determination, it seemed, paid off. She ran to her bedroom to put on more layers and caught a glimpse of her hair in the mirror. It was already noticeably longer even after just a week, reaching farther down her back than it had since the third grade. She combed her hands through it and was surprised at how soft and supple it felt, like silk and straw. Maybe having five feet of hair wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Skipping Ahead

I'm not sure if it's cheating but it is definitely a first for me. I have skipped ahead in my story and have started writing part of it out of order.

There was just this scene that came to me today when I was having lunch with Diane and Heather. We were talking about this funny nickname for a person that we "know" but who I maintain doesn't exist and I told them that I was going to put it in my story. So out of desperation (I was starving) a chapter was born.

BUT, how was I going to put a spy (37 year old, 6 foot tall African American by the name of Asian Daniel) into my story? Well, I couldn't put it in chapter 7 (the one I'm currently writing) because Delilah hasn't figured out her 'desitny' yet, hasn't partnered up with a brooding bounty hunter to solve a major crime AND discover important cultural artifacts. It's not like a misnomered spy could just waltz into the herbal shop and start telling everyone who he was. So, my jump ahead was born.

Right now I have no idea how I'm going to get there. BUT at least I was writing tonight, right?

Let's get Intuit, Chapter 5

Chapter 5
Two hours later Delilah found herself at Madge's kitchen table, surrounded by her large, overwhelming family, and definitely in over her head. She hadn't been sure before if she believed any of it or if she even wanted to but there was something more important that she wanted - that letter from her mother. What would it say? Would it explain any of this? It had been hidden in the back of an unreadable book so hopefully it wasn't just your run of the mill tearful goodbye that she could have copied from any tragic Lifetime movie showing on the television every weekend. Though even that would be good enough for her, so much left unsaid when her mother died, they never did have even your most saccharine, run of the mill sappy goodbye. She didn’t have even one cliché to hold onto at night.

But she'd sat studiously and taken in everything that Madge had to say about her suddenly heightened sense of smell, about how her hair was going to grow impossibly long, about the necklace she couldn't take off and the meaningful scars that were going to crop up all over her skin. She wasn't very excited about the fact that she'd have to carry some of that wasabi in her purse since a neophyte like her could become besieged by sensations any moment but being able to tell what others were feeling and thinking might come in handy, if she could ever get a handle on it that is.

Hearing about her gifts hadn't been a straightforward endeavor with Chad, Jordan, and Jam running and yelling down the stairs every few minutes with interruptions and questions and requests for ponies cropping up. They finally retired upstairs, closing the shop and leaving all pretense of work or weighty things down with it.

"Sorry about this," Madge had said as she led her up into her apartment which wasn't exactly what Delilah had expected after the rich warmth of the shop below. Her house was all clean lines and straight edges, mostly white and steel with pops of color here and there, a mirror to the space below where white was hiding behind bookshelves and under tables as best it could.

"I really should have taken you to The Gilded Hill but you caught me by such surprise and I feel like if I abandon Colin I might not have a husband to come back to. The children are more than capable of locking him in a back room and succeeding at mutiny." To show their agreement, the lot of them scampered through the hallway, pitching themselves at their mother for hugs before they started chasing each other around the room.

"Taken me where?" Delilah asked, stepping over cars and dolls scattered about the otherwise spotless entryway.

"Gilded Hill. Where we were for a second this morning when our eyes met and you caught me off guard."

"So I wasn't hallucinating about the grass and the hill?" Delilah asked, not sure what to make of this information. She knew that weird things had been happening to her but had written off before as, well, before: before she understood what was going on, before she had learned about things she hadn't even guessed at, before she had been cured of all of her hard won delusions. Before.

"No silly, of course not. We can go there anytime we want. And it would be nice to get some Peace And Quiet," she said loudly towards her rambunctious brood causing them to quiet down for just a moment before giggling started up and mingled with the pitter patter of their feet running farther into the apartment, "but when you have so much stuff on your plate like I do it's hard to find time to jump over there whenever the mood moves you."

"How do you get there?" Delilah asked.

"Well it's a little complicated to get there by yourself but it can be done, with practice. But usually, like this morning, it happens when Intuit eyes meet. Our senses are heightened and we can see things that others can't and when our eyes meet, unguarded, we can see inside each other, inside our gifts and our purpose and that place is Gilded Hill.

"We'll go there soon and you'll see what I mean about it being special. It really is a wonderful place to relax. Ah, how I do need a vacation," Madge murmured, slipping down into a chair at the kitchen table. Colin was behind her stirring the spaghetti in a pot. He turned at her comment and placed his hands against her shoulders, massaging lightly. She leaned her head back to look up at him and he smiled down at her.

"What's that I hear? Vacation for a Super Mom like you? The world couldn't get by without you," he said, placing a quick kiss on the tip of her nose. "I couldn't get by without you," he added, placing a longer kiss against her lips. “The children would kill me.”

Madge swatted him away and laughed. "We have company you know," she said, waving a hand at Delilah.

Colin just wiggled his eyebrows and his smile grew as he returned to the stove. "She's horribly mean to me the rest of the time. I need witnesses around to keep her honest."

"Well I never," Madge murmured, grabbing a towel off of the table and swatting him with it. He hopped out of the way at the last minute and just laughed.

Delilah was happy to see this, a happy family. After everything Madge had told her about wild places and fantastic abilities and sensational origins, stories that sounded like they were only told in hushed sentences over smoldering campfires or other such places with legendary notions, she worried that her life would never be anything resembling normal again. Madge and Colin gave her hope that this didn't mean her life was over but instead that it was just beginning.

“Do the kids know?” Delilah asked, interrupting the teasing looks and words Madge and Colin were exchanging.

“Know what?”

“About being an Intuit and everything.”

“Of course,” Colin answered with a surprised look, “You think any of you women can keep an adequate secret? And with the crazy things that go on around here and the fortune-telling. Remember when those crystal balls came in the mail and starting whirling around like tops because they weren’t unpacked quick enough? There aren’t any secrets around here.”

“He’s right,” said Madge as she assembled a salad in the kitchen, Delilah being slightly disappointed that she did it with her hands and not her mind. Not that such things were intuit gifts but for someone who was just told that she was somewhat magical, the fact that she had a super sense of smell really wasn’t living up to the super part of the equation.

"Are you kidding? How could I explain about not only the weird things always going on but the weird things happening to them? Jam has been able to smell trouble since the age of two. Of course she likes the smell of trouble which is why she's always getting into it." They laughed.
"And the boys?" Delilah prompted.

"Well, being an intuit is generally a thing that's passed between mother and daughter but I wouldn't be surprised if one or both of them have a few surprises up their sleeves. Chad's eyes are made for this and Jordan is definitely taking after me with the fortune-telling."

"But that could be more gypsy than intuit," Colin reminded her.

"I know, I know," Madge sighed, circling the table and setting it for dinner.

"You sound disappointed," Delilah said with a laugh.

"I am," she replied, setting her hands on her hips. "I want them all to know they're special and it wouldn't hurt if I could show up Samson Matthews at the same time, would it?"

"Who’s Samson Matthews?"

"Her old boyfriend," Colin said, leaning over towards her conspiratorially. "He dumped her well before we got together. Told her she wasn't gifted enough to produce special males so he couldn't be having her around anymore. She's still peeved about it. She’s constantly trying to get Brody to coax some kind of fantastical thing or another out of the boys so she can prove him wrong."

"Well," she said with a harrumph as she dropped down into a chair. "Just look what happened when he set up shop here. Everyone's crediting him for revitalizing the neighborhood and it just sticks in my craw."

"Wait, are you talking about the owner of Samson's Department Store? You know him?" Delilah was awed for a moment. He was said to be an infinitely charming man that had broken as many hearts as piggy banks when his stock skyrocketed and made a lot of people very, very rich.

"So did your mom actually. They were hot and heavy for awhile. Oh, he made his rounds with all of us, taking it in his head that he could breed a superior intuit or something of the sort. We smell danger, we're not bloodhounds for goodness sakes."

"Don't get so fired up about it dear. You know you won, right?" Colin asked, taking a seat next to her. "Kids, dinner," he yelled. A stampede of little feet started towards them. "Don't forget to wash your hands first." They groaned in unison as their steps retreated towards the bathroom.

"I know that," Madge said, smiling sweetly at her husband and taking his hand in hers to give it a reassuring squeeze, "but it doesn't mean I still don't want to see that pompous, arrogant man eat his words."

"Yes dear," Colin replied, yanking his hand back and massaging it, mouthing a silent ‘ouch’ to Delilah that had her trying to stifle a giggle.

"Well how did you two meet?" Delilah asked. And out of nowhere, Jensen's face swam across her mind as she remembered when he had entered the exam room earlier that day and she could barely breathe. Was it like that for them?

"I bumped into him on the street - literally," Madge said, rising from her seat to help the kids, who had just breezed into the kitchen in their pack, get situated and served.

"And she is always telling me I have my head in the clouds," Colin said, dropping small mounds of spaghetti and salad onto his assembly line of plates.

“Mom can I have fried chicken for dinner?” Jordan interrupted, his big owlish eyes looking up at her.

“Only if it’s practicing to be spaghetti,” Madge answered, bopping him quickly on the nose with her finger. "I had just gotten out of rehearsal - I was in the chorus line of a very small production of The Wizard of Oz, really it wasn't much of a chorus line but what are you going to do - and I was rushing home with this new set of Gemini cards that one of the stagehands had given me and I bumped right into him after illegally crossing the street."

"The cards went everywhere," Colin continued, picking up the thread as Madge filled cups with milk, water, and juice, "and she was looking so pretty like a little drowned rat in that puddle that I took mercy on her and told her I’d help her up and wouldn't turn her into the police if she told me my future."

"And I told him that there would be dire consequences if he didn't treat the frazzled, wet lady in front of him to warm meal in the form of . . . ?" Madge looked at Colin for help.

"Locusts," he answered, "locusts and male pattern baldness if I remember correctly. And well, ever though I could pull off the no hair thing I really didn't want to chance it so there you go."

"When did you tell him about the intuit thing?" Delilah asked, wondering if there really ever was a good time to reveal such a thing.

"He met me flinging knock-off tarot cards around the street - I'm not sure he ever believed I was really all that normal."

"Nope, never," he reassured with a smile.

“I don’t think you’re normal at all Mommy,” Chad piped up as he tried to fit his whole plate full of spaghetti into his mouth all at once.

“Thanks Tiger.” She smiled at him. “Remember we’re supposed to chew our food, right, not inhale it.”

“Oh yeah, right,” Jam said with a wide-eyed smile like she’d forgotten and was so happy that she’d been reminded even though she had yet to touch her plate. “Thanks Mommy.”

"So one night,” Madge continued with an affectionate look at her daughter, “we were on our way home from somewhere and we walking down the street and we were talking about the weather and I said it was going to rain tomorrow and when he asked me how I knew that because the forecast was for sunshine for the rest of the week I just blurted it out.” Delilah looked at her startled. “I told you that honesty just kind of bursts forth from me like a fountain? Well that wasn’t an exaggeration.”

“No, it wasn’t” Colin laughed. “In the beginning I kind of found it endearing that she thought she could smell danger. Though I didn’t believe it I liked that she thought she could, that she was eccentric since everyone I knew was exactly the opposite. And when I realized it was true, well, I figured it might come in handy so I kept her around.”

“Kept me around, eh?” Madge asked, a little bit of attitude poking through.

“Like I can get her to leave,” Colin told Delilah. “Oh honey,” he cooed back at his wife at the stormy look she was getting, “you know I’m just kidding.”

“Hmm,” she replied, “he won’t have any problem with me bothering him tonight, that’s for sure.”

Delilah just tried not to laugh.