I Pray The Lord My Soul To Keep
See Previous Parts For Disclaimers.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the lord my soul to take.
Wiping her sweaty bangs off of her forehead, the icy wind shooting small shivers down her spine Jenny breathed a small sigh. The blond haired woman was beginning to wonder if it had been such a good idea to volunteer to help out Jamie this morning.
This fucking, bitterly cold morning! Jenny cursed silently as she shifted once again on the hard saddle under her.
Taking a moment off of her concentration on the rather difficult two year old beneath her Jenny looked sideways at her friend. Jamie was at the other end of the rather large training coral on another horse that had been brought in last week for schooling. Jenny knew that Jamie, while game to try and curb the somewhat volatile behaviors of the three-year-old gelding, had not been amused at the training the owner had tried on the rather large palomino. The bad habits that the horse now had would need a lot of work on Jamie's part to correct before handing him back over to his rather ignorant owner.
For the entire training session the gelding had been fighting Jamie to get his head. The dark haired woman's patients with the difficult animal amazed Jenny. It was relatively easy to get a smart and easygoing horse to do what you wanted. Horses had an innate desire to please.
Jenny winced as the palomino suddenly swung his head around to bite Jamie in the leg. Or rather, would have bit her in the leg if Jamie hadn't been expecting the act. The pull on the metal bit and the firm legs on his sides convinced the gelding that returning back to the serpentine routine that Jamie had been running him through would be a better idea.
Concentrating more on her own mount Jenny continued to bend Farfalla around her leg in a circular pattern. The filly, generally a good natured and pleasant ride, had for some reason decided that if the gelding could act up then so could she. Farfalla wanted to canter, and the current trot was just too slow for her. To top it off Jenny had just thought that she saw a snowflake.
"Let's call it a day, shall we?" Jamie's voice broke into her cursing and Jenny looked at the other woman.
The compact woman was holding the gelding's reins firmly in her hands and looked like she was just about as beat as the palomino. The horse had a sort of defeated look on his face that was almost comical. Would have been hilarious if Jenny didn't suspect that she and Farfalla didn't wear an almost similar expression.
"Sounds good, I think it's starting to snow." Jenny looked up at the sky as a few more flakes came down.
Jamie made some sort of non-committal grunt and turned the gelding back towards the stables in a slow walk. Jenny did the same and instantly Farfalla settled down, walking with quiet dignity behind the gelding in front of her.
"You just wanted to stay inside today, huh girl?" The filly's ears waggled back and forth at the sound of her voice. Jenny gave a tired smile and patted the filly's neck affectionately.
Jenny and Jamie dismounted and led their horses into the thankfully dry and warm stable. A stable hand moved to take the horses from them but stopped short as Jamie held up a hand to stop his movement. It was none to soon as the palomino moved to snap at the young boy.
Jamie hauled back on the reins and took a firm hold of the gelding's headpiece, "It's okay Michael. You help out Jenny with Farfalla. I'll take care of him."
Jenny and Michael walked the filly into her stall as Jamie moved off down the stable to put the gelding into his box. Jenny smiled at the twelve year old as he helped her take off Farfalla's tack and saddle. His bright curly red hair stood out even in the low light of the stable box.
"Did you ask your father about more taking lessons after school yet?" Jenny's voice brought the youngster's head up, and he glanced over the small horse at her.
"Sort of, I think he wants me to get my grades up before I do anything else outside of school." The grimace that the young boy gave was made rather comical as his nose wrinkled up and bunched up his freckles.
Her eyebrows rising in query Jenny said, "How come he lets you come here to help out then? You must not being doing that bad in school."
"No, just math. We're studding algebra now and I just don't get it." Michael heaved a sigh, "I do good in all my other classes, just not math. I don't like it very much."
Jenny thought for only a second before coming to a decision, "Look, I'll help you out with math if you talk more to your father about coming over here for lessons. I was thinking I'd like to do some more, and I know that you have already been jumping. That's something I don't know how to do. Maybe you could help me with that, and I'll help you with the math. What do you say?"
"You're good at math?" Michael gave her an incredulous look, "Father Flanders said that women aren't really good at math."
One pale eyebrow lifted slightly, "Did he now, well I graduated sum cum laude from the University with a computer science degree. I had one minor in English and the other in Mathematics. We'll just have to prove him wrong wont we."
A slow smile spread across the twelve year olds face and Jenny gave him a conspirital one back.
"He's always picking on me." Michael confided to his new friend, "My mom is one step below the CEO at 3M. He keeps saying that it's unnatural that she's the one working and my dad's at home with me and my sister."
The look in the young boy's eyes as he gazed up at her, clearly asking if this was true or not made Jenny's heart almost break in two. The blond haired woman gave a little internal sigh as she thought of her own family and her father's equally bigoted remarks.
"I think it's great that your father gets to spend so much time with you and your sister. And your mother must be very smart to be able to be in the position that she's in as well. Lot's of people wish they could work for 3M, they make a lot of neat products."
"Yeah, she's brought lots of their new stuff home for us to play with. I've even been in the clean room!" The boy's enthusiasm was wonderful to hear. Jenny had always believed that young people should be exposed to science and technology so that they had more of a vested interest in the world around them.
"Well, we'll work on you math so that if you want to you can go work for 3M some day too. Deal?" Jenny held out her hand, which the boy took with a grin.
"Deal!" Michael smiled, his nose wrinkling again with gesture.
"Hey you two, you up for some breakfast?" Jamie had heard the last bits as she had come back up the isle from the palomino's stall. She hadn't wanted to disturb the scene and the conversation within Farfalla's box had warmed her.
"Yeah! Can Auntie Sarah make chocolate chip pancakes?" the boy's voice filled the small space and he ducked his head, blushing furiously.
Raising one dark eyebrow Jamie fought to keep a grin from emerging, "I think she could be persuaded to do that. Why don't you head up to the house and go ask her."
Quickly placing the body brushes back on their rack the red haired boy did just that. Dashing ahead of the two women as Jamie ushered her friend back out into the cold. They too headed quickly back up to the house as the falling flakes increased in number, while the wind picked up and swirled them around furiously.
"I don't know about you but I'm going to go grab a nice warm shower before we eat." Jamie announced as they entered the house, taking off their work boots at the door.
"Sound good to me," realizing that that remark might be taken wrong hastened to add, "I mean, I'll take a shower too. In my own bathroom. Not with you in yours. Not that you don't have a nice bathroom as well. All the bedrooms here have nice bathrooms, and yours is a very nice one indeed. It's just that I should take one in mine and all. Not that I have a better one than you it's just that "
"Jenny!" the sound brought the blond out of her nervous babble and with a worried look she glanced up at the blue-eyed garou.
"Breathe!" Jamie smiled at her friend, "You go take a shower in your bathroom and I'll go take a shower in my bathroom. Okay?"
Not trusting herself not to babble again Jenny just nodded. With another grin Jamie turned and headed up the stairs. Jenny followed behind, wondering where her little babble session had come from.
'Auntie Sarah' O'Connell did indeed feel inclined to make chocolate chip pancakes. The older woman had included fresh whipped cream, scrambled eggs, bacon, and country potatoes along with them.
Jenny's eyes nearly bulged out of her head as she saw the mounds of food that was placed before the three of them. Michael had helped bring it all in, along with the homemade syrup from one of Jacob's friends up north.
Having seen the large amounts of food normally eaten during a meal Jenny knew she shouldn't be surprised though. Jamie sat down next to her, and Michael took his place on the other side of her. The boy's eyes were practically glowing in his head as he chatted away while placing pancake after pancake on to his plate.
"Not so many, Michael," Jenny smiled at his appetite, "Eat what you have there now and then you can have more."
Taking a bite of her own pancakes the blond haired woman looked over too her friend, who was sipping genteelly at her coffee. Jamie looked back at her eyebrows going up in query. The look of feigned innocence on her face as before her on an overflowing plate sat ten pancakes, five pieces of bacon, and a small mass of both eggs and potatoes. Jenny nearly choked on her mouthful of food at the dark haired woman's expression.
As she headed back towards her kitchen Sarah patted her gently on the back. Jenny turned to look at the nearly gray haired woman who gave her a wink before pushing through the connecting swing door to the kitchen beyond.
Looking back again at her two breakfast companions Jenny wondered if she wasn't imagining things. Never having been witness to the appetite of a small boy Jenny's lower jaw nearly hit her plate as she watched Michael both devour everything on his plate and go back for seconds. As the blond woman was trying to comprehend this gastronomic feat she became aware of someone watching her intently.
Catching the eyes of her friend Jenny was startled to find Jamie studying her. Jamie looked away quickly, color rising in her cheeks as she looked intently at her plate. Jenny was just about to say something when Jamie looked back up at her again. The dark haired woman seemed to have composed herself for the blush was gone and there was a distinctive gleam in her blue eyes.
Jenny blinked as she stared back at her friend. The small smirk and heavy lidded look Jamie gave her made her begin to question just what game the dark haired garou was playing today.
Michael must have been watching the two of them for his suddenly loud prepubescent voice piped out, "Ewwww! Get a room you two!"
Both Jamie and Jenny blushed and looked back down at their plates. Jamie growled out a rough command for "less taking and more eating", pointing out that she and Jenny had to be at Ephany's soon. Paying no heed to the garou second in command Michael only giggled and continued on with his mostly one sided conversation about horses and the Children of Gaia's horses in particular.
Hurrying to finish her breakfast Jenny realized that Jamie did have a point, as they should be leaving in a few minutes. Though she did glance surreptitiously at Jamie who determinedly kept her head down and avoided any ones eyes.
Jenny wondered if the central heating was too high or if there was truly a blush across the dark haired woman's features.
Ephany sighed as she shifted slightly in her cross-legged position. It had been nearly three hours since Jenny, Jamie and she and come to see the Old Ones. At first the six shamaneses had wanted only to talk with her. Leaving Jamie and Jenny outside the main room of the old style log lodge. Ephany had thought that Jamie would protest to this, knowing that her quick-tempered friend was more action orientated. To her surprise though Jamie had simply sat down on the floor in the outer chamber without so much as a grunt or a growl.
Jenny shot a look of surprise at Ephany as she sat down next to the dark haired garou as well. So, with one last look at the two women Ephany turned and entered the inner room.
The following interview with the six wise women was relatively short and pleasant, for Ephany at least. Unlike the rest of her group members in Black Furies Ephany was not unnerved by the six wise women's presence. They reminded Ephany of how she imagined a grandmother would be. All of the women had some degree of salt and pepper hair, the leader of the group having completely white hair that was so fine and soft that it was almost like touching goose down.
The six grandmothers somewhat doted on her and their lodge was often filled with the smell of freshly baked cookies and other treats when she visited. It did not even occur to Ephany to wonder how the women always knew just when she would be visiting. This happened even when she had not notified them ahead of time of her visit. As far as she knew, that was simply how grandmother type people acted.
Suddenly, the inner door opened and Jenny walked out. Ephany raised her eyebrows as her friend walked towards her with a hesitant smile on her face. Giving a small sigh, Jenny took a seat on the floor next to Ephany a look of confusion in her green eyes.
"Umm so, what's up?" Ephany asked the other woman after a pause as they sat staring at each other.
Jenny bit her lower lip slightly, glancing over her shoulder briefly at the door she had just come through.
"I'm not sure, they sort of just wanted to chat about what had been happening so far." Jenny said as she turned back towards her friend, "I mostly talked, they really didn't acknowledge Jamie till the very end. They asked her something about "residual traces of evil" or something like that. I didn't really understand the word they said. It sounded pretty guttural, but that's what it seemed like they were talking about."
"Did it sound something like "wrym"?" Ephany asked.
"I think so " Jenny answered hesitantly, "The older woman, at least I think she was older, her hair was completely white. Almost like that of a ghost. She reached forward and placed her hand right on Jamie's head. I thought that Jamie was going to bolt, or take her out or something more Jamie like; but she didn't, just sat there. It was very surreal."
A sudden light of understanding brightened Ephany's features as the answer to their dark haired friend's behavior occurred to her, "Jamie has had shaman training from Jacob from when she was younger. She would have known some of what to expect from this meeting. Not to mention, she knows that she needs to be on her best behavior if you guys are to get any answers or help with this problem."
"Ah!" Green eyes brightened in understanding as well, "That would explain a lot."
"What did the older woman say about the wrym?" Ephany asked, her curiosity bringing them back to the subject.
Jenny thought that the word still sounded like nothing more than a growl, even when Ephany said it, "Well, she closed her eyes briefly and after a bit sat back down. She then told us that there was a lot of the wrr wrrr er, evil around the city lately. More than there usually is, I guess. This is sort of same evil that was around when those garou were being killed a few weeks ago."
"Sort of?" Ephany queried.
"Yeah, it has a similar pattern or signature to it but it's older. It might be from a mage who got away. She wasn't sure exactly since the strands that made up the pattern were hard to "unravel".
She also said that, even though Jamie was touched by the evil there were no residual traces of it on her."
"Anything else?" Ephany asked, noticing the far off look in Jenny's eyes.
"No," Jenny frowned, "At least not that I know of. She and the others kept giving Jamie odd looks."
Ephany's eyebrows rose at that, in her experience the grandmothers had never outwardly reacted to anyone in the past. They had always remained calm and distant to everyone but her; or so it had seemed.
"I don't think that they were bad looks so to say," Jenny hastily added as she saw the question forming on her friend's face, "and that was what was sort of odd. Especially after all you had told me about them probably not liking her since she was born during the full moon and all."
Jenny paused once more, looking as if she were trying to organize her thoughts to better describe what she had witnessed.
"It was more like the look Jacob will give you if you've done something especially well. Like he's proud of you but you know he's not going to tell, cause that's just how he is." Jenny finished.
"So, what do you think they want with Jamie still?" Ephany wondered.
Jenny shrugged as she acknowledged the oddness of the dark haired garou's absence. She and Ephany settled into staring at each other as they tried to puzzle out this odd development about their roguish friend. The sound of the inner door opening and closing behind them startled both women out of their contemplation as the object of such walk out.
Icy blue eyes moving over first Jenny's then Ephany's seated positions on the floor Jamie raised one dark eyebrow in query. For the hell of it she decided to join the other two on the floor.
"Umm, hey." Jenny gave her a small smile, which brightened at the one that Jamie gave her in return, "So, anything else?"
Ephany watched the small interaction between her friends, realizing suddenly that neither Jamie nor Jenny knew just how strongly the connection between them was. The leader of the Black Furies knew that Jamie had constructed many barriers ever since her first foray into the areas of love and companionship. When Ephany had learned of what the bitch had done to Jamie the then eleven-year-old Ephany had been quite livid.
It also seemed as if Jenny also had some problems when it came to trusting herself and her feelings. Ephany wasn't sure, but in the short amount of time that she had known the other woman, even though they had become friends quickly, there was something reserved about Jenny. Something Ephany suspected that Jenny was not quite aware of herself.
Tuning back into the conversation between the two women in front of her Ephany just was able to make out Jamie's mumbled response.
"Nothing really," Stormy blue eyes looked to the edge of a booted foot as Jamie picked at the edge of one of her boot laces, "They just wanted to look me over some more to see if they could find anything else out."
Jenny turned her head to the side slightly to try and catch Jamie's gaze, "Oh, I see." A resigned look rested into eyes gone pale green in their rejection, "Well, lets head out. We've got a lot more ground to cover today."
Ephany stood up as the three of them made to leave the Old One's lodge. A sad expression on her face as she wondered how she could help her two friends out of the obvious pain they were both in.
A swift boot to the head would probably work the best. Only Jamie would beat me senseless for kicking her, and then kill me for kicking Jenny. Ephany sighed and shook her head as she followed the brooding twins out to Jamie's Land Rover.
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