Chapter 29. How Was Last Night For You: John Returns


Please read Chapter 28 here.

Chapter 29: John Returns

“Mom, hello? Is that you?” John said, pressing Nina’s IPhone against his ear.

“Jordan is that you? Why are you using Nina’s phone I was just talking to you. . .” Edith replied.

“No, Mom. It’s me John. I’m alive, here with Nina. You need to stop the funeral.”

“Jordan this isn’t funny. We discussed this. Your brother is dead. He’s passed on and we need to move on too, even if we don’t have a body to bury. You and Nina can hope forever, but eventually you are going to have to come terms with it. I know my son. If he was alive, he would’ve found his way home.”

“This isn’t Jordan Mom. It’s John. I am home. I came home early this morning. I ran into Nina walking on the beach in front of our house.” John told his Mom beseechingly.

“John?” Edith’s voice was muffled and he could the tears in her voice.”This better be you. Where have you been young man it’s been over four-months?”

“There’s a lot to explain Mom . . .” Edith cut John off.

“Take a selfie, show me a me picture of how you look with Nina right now.” John and Nina obliged Edith, taking a few photos on Nina’s phone and sending them to Jon’s Mom.

Edith called back minutes after receiving the pictures, “I’m coming over to your house now and I’m bringing everyone.”


 

Nina gazed at John putting her hair back into a tighter ponytail. “What did Edith say?”

“She thought I was Jordan. She was crying, but the selfies convinced her I’m alive. Mom’s coming over now and bringing my Dad and brothers.”

Nina swore. “The house is kind of a mess John. I haven’t felt much like cleaning the last couple of weeks . . .”

“It’ll be okay Nina. She won’t care about the mess until later. Mom needs to see me for herself first.” Nina wrapped her arm around John’s waist and he put his arm around her shoulders, they began walking back to John’s beachfront house, kicking sand up as they walked.

“How will you explain it all to Edith and Robert, your Dad? To the rest of your family?” Nina asked John.

“Well, I’ll explain as best as I can. I’m not sure where I was for most of four-months. . . I’d rather talk with you first but I’m sure the family is half-way here by now. As if a curse isn’t weird enough, coming back to life after being between life and death for months, will be shocking.” John reasoned.

“I think,” Nina countered, “You’re family will be overjoyed to see you safe and healthy. Not to mention, such as in every happily ever after, the curse is broken. I think your family will be happy you and I, and they can live normal lives without worrying about awful events occurring around you and affecting them. Your family loves you and will be enthused you did not die that night as they all thought.”

Nina kissed John’s cheek with a smacking kiss and he laughed, messing her hair up lightly. “Tell them the truth as best as you can. Tell us all. I would love to hear your story from after the point I thought you died, and you disappeared into the water and sky, when Talise broke the curse.”

John kissed Nina softly. “I’ll try to tell you first. The drive up here will take everyone a bit to get here.” The house loomed before them and they walked up the porch steps together through the back door.


John and Nina both showered together. They wanted to spend their time loving each other in the shower, but knowing Edith could barge in the house soon, stopped them from going too far with each other.

Nina wouldn’t put it past Edith to walk right into the bathroom to see John, even if he and Nina were both naked.

Nina and John both wore jeans and soft t-shirts. Nina blew dry her hair and curled it with a flat iron before applying her makeup minimally and the fastest she had ever had to apply it before. She didn’t like meeting John’s family without her ‘face’ on. The makeup was a bit of shield for her, against what she might hear from John and his family.

Nina applied foundation and mascara. Next came a gold sheen of an eye shadow color on her eyelid and a darker brown crease shade. A fluff of blush on each cheek and some gold hoop earrings were followed by Nina applying a pink lip gloss. She met John in the kitchen so relieved and overjoyed he was home. She could almost cry, but she didn’t. She needed to hear John’s story about Norman and life in-between life and death.

“You must be starving,” Nina told John.

“I had a huge steak dinner last night with Norman. I’m okay right now, it’s not even lunch. The fridge is packed with food I see though.” John commented.

“I’m happy you’ve been eating. It bothers me when you don’t eat because you’re worried, sick, or keeping secrets.” John remarked smiling knowingly at Nina.

Nina smirked.” I think you’re the one with secrets right now John; not me.” John laughed amused.

“I tried to eat when I remembered and at first, I forgot a lot. Rianne has been terrific and she grocery shopped for me when I was grieving. She’s literally, the only way I was able to handle losing you. She believed me when I said you were alive out there, even when your family stopped believing me.” A stray tear leaked down Nina’s cheek.

John stopped her tear with his thumb, ” I’m here now. I couldn’t come back any sooner, but I would’ve  if I knew how. I was stuck and sleeping in a vibrant place. You know what it was like you said, because you were there in that place in-between life and death that night when Talise’s bite poisoned you.”

“Yeah,” Nina nodded remembering. “It was tranquil and I had no troubling thoughts or worries. There was so many beautiful colours. Bold and magnificent colours there isn’t enough words in the human language to describe.”

“Exactly,” John said. “I’m glad I didn’t know how gone you were that night. When I was ended up in the place of colours, I couldn’t imagine so many colours existed. There were colours there and they don’t exist here on earth.”

“I was so fatigued and in that place I could rest and be done with the whole curse, with everything. I wanted to give in and I let myself for a long time, but then I pictured you and I was awake and I was wandering an endless beach.” John said.

He leaned against the kitchen island and Nina stood close to him. She smelled his woodsy and citrus cologne and breathed it in. It was the scent on the shirt she’d been sleeping with for over four-months.

“I’m ecstatic your back John and grateful. If remembering me brought you out of that in-between place, I’m glad.” Nine hesitated,” Do you think it was God who brought you to the beach, not only your thoughts?”

“I don’t know. Norman wasn’t God but I have the feeling he might have worked for God. He saved Rianne Norman told me and he was there to help me. He said he can take many forms. He came into my cottage, my home on the beach. After supper and beers, he answered all my questions and taught me a few things too.”

“Just like that?” Nina questioned.”What did Norman say exactly? You seem lighter now and carefree. I know it’s probably because the curse is gone, but I think something else has changed too. Just a feeling I have knowing you as I do.” Nina surmised, smiling contently.

John didn’t answer right away. He kissed Nina on the lips a few times, lingering over her mouth and Nina could tell he was holding back, trying to be gentle. She began to feel warm and she ached for John inside as heat and attraction simmered between them. Nina had missed John incredibly and wanted to demonstrate to him how much she had missed him in their bed.

John smiled at Nina chuckling: “I want to too Nina, but right now isn’t a good time with my family arriving soon.” He pulled back from kissing her. John must have seen the wounded look in Nina’s eyes, because he brushed her cheeks with his thumbs. Nina put her head against John’s chest, hearing his heart beat was comforting and his hug calmed Nina.

“Tell me more,” Nina said after a while, stepping back from John’s arms and peering up at him. John gently moved back from Nina some more and leaned against the kitchen island once again. Nina stood in front of him, hands in her jean pockets, full of curiosity.

“Well, I told you about Talise. She’s not dead. I’m not sure how. Norman said Talise saw something in Jordan that night. She broke the curse and she let Jordan kill her. This makes Talise redeemable,” John muttered, his anger at Talise present.

“Talise told me that the curse was a deeper magic than the magic she possessed. It was why she couldn’t save you John.”

“Indeed, I’m quite sure the curse magic and other magic is deeper than Talise’s magic. Norman said he was a kind of magic . . . Anyways, about Talise and Jordan, Norman said what Talise saw in Jordan was like what I saw in you when I first met you at The Manhattan.”

“Really?” Nina said shocked. John shrugged.

“I don’t understand it but Norman said Talise was Jordan’s responsibility the same way you are mine. I have tell Jordan what Norman told me. I’m scared to say anything to him. Norman explained about the ring Talise put her soul in for Jordan and the dagger that altered after Jordan killed Talise.”

” Jordan will be okay,” Nina said.”He hasn’t been in a good place since he thought you died but I think having his older brother back will make him much happier.”

“He despises Talise as I said,  I don’t know how he’ll ever see her as more than an evil sea witch. Honestly, I don’t know if can see her as anything but an evil person, despite what she did in the end that night.” Nina admitted. John nodded in agreement.

“What else did Norman say?” Nina asked. John sighed, wishing he could keep some of what Norman told him to himself. But John knew he had to be truthful with Nina, in this most significantly

“Norman said, I had no faith. He referenced a Bible verse John 1:5 which talks about light always shining in the darkness and chasing it away. It’s a verse I remembered from Sunday School.”

“No faith in God?” Nina said. ” I know you have faith in God John. You told me He was the only one looking out for you when everything in life goes badly for you. You go to church too. I went with you a few times if you recall.” Nina said.

“It wasn’t only faith in God, Norman was telling me about. He told me I was missing the bigger picture of life, so caught up in details and my own problems. Makes sense I guess, I’m an editor by craft.” John mused.

“But Norman also said I didn’t have faith my curse would ever be broken. He told me about you telling Rianne about people wanting magic solutions but not believing in them.”

Nina smiled. “It’s one of my favourite quotes from Alice in Wonderland. And yes, I believe in magic both good and bad.”

“Norman said I didn’t believe the curse could have good magic. I didn’t have faith God would work things out for me. I didn’t have faith I would live when the curse was broken. I didn’t have faith in you, that we could ever spend our lives together. I didn’t believe in my dreams.”

John appeared tired to Nina again, but she thought it was more the weight of finally having unburdened himself of the truths Norman had revealed to him, that had exhausted him. She hoped the lightness John felt earlier would return.

“Was Norman right John?” Nina asked.

“At the time, he was exactly right. I didn’t have faith in much of anything. It’s why I spent a good seven or eight-years doing nothing but working and going through women. Even when I met you and I hoped for more, I thought keeping you was a long shot.”

“When I knew I loved you and believed you were met for me, Talise was back causing trouble and targeting you. I always thought it wouldn’t work out in the end because Talise wouldn’t let me go until I was dead.” John admitted.

Nina patted John’s arm soothingly before grabbing his hand with her smaller one. ” Before you went away that night, you didn’t have much faith. You were afraid for me and you broke up with me. You loved me I know, but you didn’t believe that their could be a good side to magic, that a curse broken might end well.”

Even the magic Talise was wielding wasn’t always wicked. Your Dad said that night we all had dinner, most sea witches use both light and dark magic. They need a balance. When Talise became evil, the effects of malevolent magic on her were obvious.”

“I think that goes with your belief in magic too. You can’t believe it’s all bad, that a curse would end tragically. You needed to believe in life and have faith things would work out in the end for the good. I believed you would return time. I’m not saying I never doubted you would come home, but today you did. My prayers and faith rewarded.” Nina squeezed John’s hand tighter.

“I know. I understand now my Nina. It’s why Norman told me the Bible verse from John. No matter how dark it seems, light is always there to drive the darkness back, to drive evil back. It even drove the darkness out of Talise.” John said.

Nina smiled.”I told Talise as I lay dying from her poison bite, she had a choice. She didn’t have to be evil. She changed in that moment. So even though she cast the curse originally, and had little power over its eventual outcome, light and benevolent magic won out.”

John gazed at Nina admiring her soft skin and the way her thin T-shirt hung on her breasts. He noted how her waist dipped in and her hips flared, creating the beautiful curves of her body. ”

“You’re amazing, stubborn, smart, and beautiful Nina. I can’t believe not having faith, almost made me lose everything, lose you.” John reached for Nina, grasping her around her waist and holding her as close as he could while tracing her face with his lips.

Nina could feel the inescapable and enthralling heat and electricity moving between her and John. She ran her hand under John’s shirt and gasped at the feel of his smooth naked skin. John’s lips kissed Nina’s neck teasingly before he bit her gently. His kisses moved up Nina’s jaw about to meet her lips and his hands were under her T-shirt, ready to tear it off her when the door bell rang.

Not waiting a moment, John’s family burst in through the door.

Please Read Chapter 30 here.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

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27.How Was Last Night For You: A Stranger on an Unknown Beach


Please read Chapter 26 here.

Chapter 27. A Stranger on an Unknown Beach.

He was happy and content, floating amidst graduations of colour. He had never felt such tranquility in life.

He was awake suddenly and strolling on a picturesque beach. White sand almost burned his feet but he buried his toes down into the sand, and his feet cooled.

Gazing down at himself he saw he was only wearing swim trunks and a white T-Shirt. Sunglasses adorned his eyes and he knew it was his favourite pair of sunglasses. The sunglasses he broke some time ago he remembered. How odd they were in one piece now.

He languidly walked through the surf on the beach. Was he on vacation? He couldn’t recall. He didn’t even know what he was named. It was slipping his mind. How could he not know his own identity?

Sleep had held him in her vivid colours and luminescence for ages. His mind was foggy and he had forgotten details of his life he thought he should know.

In his mind, he kept seeing her . . . Nina. His beautiful blond haired girl smiling with pretty pink lips. He knew Nina had helped him break his curse because he loved her. He hadn’t loved anyone as much he loved her, ever.

Wait, he had been cursed? He couldn’t recall why.

But he pictured beautiful Nina in a pink bikini and grinned. He wished she was here so they could be alone and he could sip Corona and talk with her.

He’d convince her to go into one of the two cabanas where he could touch her smooth creamy skin. He’d remove the pink bikini that was the same shade of pink of the heels she worn when they first met… How had they met?

He sighed, lonely at the thought of not being able to be with Nina. He was by himself here on a fabulous beach which stretched for miles either way.

There was a cottage up some stone steps where he had been living,  but other than this cottage, and the cabanas, there were no other dwellings as far as he could see.

Fully awake and lucid (he believed), he thought of Nina. He knew had a family besides her too. Their faces were blurred images in his mind.

He recalled two rambunctious little boys laughing with him as he played with them and their construction trucks in the sand. His nephews . . .and that led him to who they looked like — Jasper his older brother. He had a younger brother too — Jordan.

She had given Jordan her soul.MHe didn’t know why she had done it or how he knew since he had been lost in colour and light then. But he could feel a darkness, a shadow when he thought of her.

Yes, she had cursed him. She had separated him from Nina. He hated her.

He knew in the end, the lake had swallowed her corpse and dying she hadn’t been darkness or light. She had been both.

So much did not make sense to him he thought struggling to think. Sitting down on a stained Adirondack chair, he leaned back, squinting into the sunlight in his sunglasses. The sun was incredibly bright. He was sweating in the heat. Could this be Mexico? The Carribean?

Not too far away from him he noticed an older man walking barefoot through the sand towards him. The man had a grey straggly beard and the man’s gate was self-assured.

How how had he not seen the man coming in the distance? He stood, a tad frightened at the thought of someone else being here where it felt he had been alone a long time.

He faced the man as he stopped at the steps and the man said: “John? Is that you? You’ve haven’t been this healthy in years. You’re well rested and I believe you’re bored of paradise.”

“I’m John?”

“Yes, you should’ve remembered your own name by now Mr. Eric. You’ve remembered Nina.” John flushed unaware the man had been privy to his inner thoughts.

“I don’t know you,” John said, his name and identity rushing back to him in torrents of thought.

“I need to see if Nina is okay. I need to check on Jordan. She did something to him. Talise or Tia, whatever or whoever she is, she put a ring on Jordan, one he can’t take off.”

“It’s an emerald with a silver band, and the emerald colour matches Talise’s eyes. Beneath the emerald her soul floats. It’s dangerous, why did she put a ring, her soul on Jordan?” John asked afraid for his brother.

“Good questions John,” the man said walking up the steps. He came up to John and shook John’s hand which John shook back without thinking.

“You have a good hand shake,” John told the man. “It doesn’t fit with the rest of you . . . You look as if you’re . . .weathered. You’ve been through tough times I think. It appears as if you live on the streets because your clothes are dirty and worn.”

“No offence, they haven’t been washed in a long time, and you need… you need a shower man.” John peered guilty at the homeless man, ashamed of what he had said.

The homeless watched him closely, his face expressionless in creases and wrinkles of acquired wisdom. Suddenly, the man smiled and let out a boisterous laugh, his deep creases becoming more pronounced.

“Yes, John. My appearance of late has been a homeless man. And if you’re offering me a shower and clean clothes, I gladly accept.” John smiled grateful the man wasn’t offended by his words.

“Come into the cottage and make yourself comfortable,” John remarked easily becoming a host. He peered in the fridge, “There’s trays of fruit and another of vegetables. Some steaks I can grill if you’re interested? There is even craft beer, AlleyKat,” John said grinning.”I don’t know how this all got here? Was it was here before I woke up?”

The homeless man only smiled at John and headed for John’s bedroom, “Where’s your closet John? Ah there.”

John followed the man to the master bedroom into a walk-in closet full of beach clothes and clothes one didn’t wear to work. “This is wonderful,” the man said, “Can I stock up for the road?”

“Of course,” John said. “I’m not sure any of this –the clothes, the cottage, and the food –even belong to me.”

The man smiled again at John, a curious light in his brown eyes.”After my shower we can sit and eat. We can talk all you want. Chill a few beer for me in the freezer will you?”

John regarded the man thoughtfully, trying to remember him.”Who are you?” John asked.

“I’m here to help” the man remarked, peaking back at John before he shut the bathroom door with a bang. John heard the sound of water streaming.

He wasn’t sure what to do. Usually, John was head strong and sure of himself. He had had to be with the curse from Talise, the sea witch who’d been his girlfriend in the past.

John felt enraged with Talise. She had  separated him from his loved ones with her cruel curse. He was afraid for both Nina and Jordan.

Perhaps, the homeless man could return John to his family, especially Nina. He would also like to know where exactly he was?

His mind made up, John decided if this homeless man was here to help him, then John should be a good host, as his mother had taught him.

After all, John was filled with so many questions he needed answering. There was much he didn’t know about current events since he died.

The old man was keeping many secrets, John was sure. Not to mention, John wondered if the man might be benevolent magic of some kind? He could use some magic now.

John set out the fruit and vegetables on a large coffee table on the patio. He got out the steaks to Barbecue (they were already in marinade) and placed six beers in the freezer.

John went back on the patio to warm the Barbeque up, and he waited for homeless man to emerge.


 

A couple of hours later, John was sitting on the patio having finished his dinner and two icy   beers. The homeless man could really put his food away and he’d had four beers as well.

“Are you hungry still? There’s extra steaks in the fridge I could bring out to Barbecue if you like? And there’s some lemon cake?”

The homeless man patted his belly, “I think I’m full now John, but thank you. By the way, you can call me Norman.” John nodded teeming with questions.

“Alright, Norman. You told me you were here to help? I thought you might be able to answer my questions such as why I’m here when I’m supposed to be dead? And who are you?” John asked.

Norman peered at John curiously. “You don’t know then? You haven’t figured it out? You’re not dead John. You’re in-between life and death, between the spaces between spaces so to speak.” John was even more confused.

“So, is the beach and cottage like purgatory? Where’s my body at if it’s not dead?”

“Your body is here and you’re not in purgatory. You’re not Catholic John, you’re Anglican,” laughed Norman.

“As for me, I’m here to help you and Nina. It’s my job, helping certain people in difficult situations. I know you want to go home, but there are some things we need to discuss first.”

“Rianne would know who I am,” Norman said.” She went to buy Chinese food and Talise’s bewitched boyfriend Malcolm, knocked her head against the wall and Rianne passed out. Which, is the reason Nina was alone when Talise kidnapped and bewitched her.” Norman explained.

“I woke Rianne up and made sure she was okay, so she could go back to Nina’s condo and call Jasper who called Jordan, to come help you and Nina.”

“They decided to bring your sailboat out at night, even though it’s impossible to see in the dark. It was windy at least. I helped them find you and they would have never seen you if I hadn’t been there.” Norman said.

“How could you help them on the Sirene at night?” John wondered and Norman smiled secretively.

“I whispered in Jordan’s ear as he sailed the boat. My form isn’t always a homeless man or a human. Sometimes I’m an extra push in someone’s mind to get them moving. Or a whisper their ear such as I was with Jordan.”

“You’re magic?” John asked, trying to understand Norman.

“Magic is as sufficient a word as any.”

“So what are you? A wizard?” John questioned and Norman laughed again.

“I’m here to help and I’m on your side,” Norman said.

John realized Norman was providing him with the only explanation he would receive. John changed his line of questioning. “I’m worried about Nina and my family. How long have I been gone?”

Norman appeared to be thinking. “You’ve been gone four-months now, nearly more. Nina she doesn’t give up hope. She convinced your family to hold the funeral off for months. She believes in her heart you’re out there somewhere. She’s right you’re here.”

“I need to get back to her. Has my family had my funeral?”

“You’re funeral is tomorrow, Saturday. Nina doesn’t think your dead, she’s only attending out of respect for your family.”

“Your nephews, Sam and Eric, don’t know you’re gone yet. You should probably get back there soon if you don’t want to break too many hearts more then you already have.” Norman said thoughtfully.

“Ok how?”

“In time,” Norman said giving John another secretive smile. His brown eyes glimmered with knowledge. “You wanted to know about Jordan and the ring Talise put on him with her soul inside?”

“Yes, absolutely. How do I help Jordan get rid of the ring?” John asked desperate.

“You can’t help Jordan, John.” Norman replied. “The ring and Talise’s soul is Jordan’s path to travel down. Just as you’ve have your pathway and responsibility regarding Nina, now Talise is Jordan’s responsibility.”

“But why?” John argued, “Isn’t Talise dead and gone. She’s evil! Just because she did the right thing by me and Nina in the end, doesn’t mean she isn’t still malovelent, does it?”

“Her soul was still in Jordan’s ring last time I checked. Talise chose Jordan. In the end, she saw something in him, she never saw in you. It was something like what she found in Ethan. But closer to what you and Nina had in each other when you first met.” Norman explained.

“She’s not gone?” John said afraid.

“No John. But Talise isn’t a sea witch anymore. A mermaid yes, but with no magical abilities. She gave them up. Talise is redeemable.”

“Are you kidding me?” John yelled.

“Don’t worry about it. You can advise your brother with her but Talise is his problem in the end. Let it go.” John was incensed but a feeling of calm washed over him as he regarded Norman. How did Norman do that?

“Why do you want to go home John. Beyond your family and being with Nina, why do you think you should be alive?”

John gasped. “I didn’t expect that question. I . . . It’s not fair. Curses are supposed to work out if you break them. They shouldn’t end in death. Talise cursed me, she told me I would have to sacrifice myself for the woman I loved, and I did.”

Norman nodded, urging John to continue. “Nina helped me, she loves me.Together we broke my curse so terrible events would stop occurring around me each day.”

” I should get to be with Nina, raise a family with her, be with my parents and brothers, and grow my business. If I die, it’s not fair. The curse was a lie because spells which are broken end happily,” John argued vehemently.

Norman peered at John from his seat around the patio table, the sun was beginning to set.”That’s not real life John, you know that. What you believe is some Disney fairytale and real life isn’t Disney believe me, I know. Do you think there would be homeless men in a world where everything was fair?” John starred at Norman confused.

“It’s not about life being fair. Or curses having a happy result.”

John stared at his hands at loss for words. “What’s life about then?” He asked feeling angry and betrayed.

“I’m glad you asked,” Norman said, brown eyes gleaming.

Please Read Chapter 28 here.


 

©Mandibelle16.(2016) All Rights Reserved.