We all wore black.
My family stood in a little cluster at the very back of Leighton’s greenhouse. It looked like a different place now. The poppies were all gone, replaced by greenery. The skylight in the roof had been replaced, after Fiona had shot half of it out in order to get Justin down from a device Leighton had strapped him to. That happened only a few weeks ago, but felt like much longer.
It was Fiona’s idea to have the ceremony here, and now it felt like the right choice.
Justin stood next to my Mother, with Danny at her left.
I wished that my Father could have been there too, but that was no use. He’d been gone for two weeks, trying to find Scott, with Keiko in tow.
I looked at my Mother’s face, and wondered how much she really missed him. It’s not something she’d really talk about.
Justin smiled at me. And I realized that it was time for the ceremony to begin, and I was standing there, frozen.
Was I supposed to walk slowly, like a wedding march, I wondered? No one had told me anything about that. So instead I walked quickly.
Fiona smiled. She took my hand. Her fingers were cold. When I looked at her face, I realized that she was paler and thinner than I remembered.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
I swallowed over the lump in my throat. “Yes.”
Fiona spoke in a calm, steady voice that echoed through the greenhouse.
“You come before us today to take the Vow. Tell us your name.”
“I am Marradith Ryder. Granthem.” I added the last and flashed a look at Justin. He smiled proudly, and I took in a breath.
Fiona took a long knife from her side. “You understand what your vow entails?”
“Yes, I do.”
Fiona kissed the handle of the knife and placed it in my right hand. “Recite the Vow.”
I held the knife and tried my best not to shake.
“I am Sojourner. Enforcer of the Ways. I will fight bravely. I will defend selflessly, sacrifice willingly. I vow to live the principle from now until death.”
“Are all here in agreement?” Fiona asked.
“Yes,” everyone replied.
Fiona smiled. “With my authority, I grant you acceptance. You are Sojourner.”
“So you’re part of the fold now,” Justin teased. “How does it feel?
“Odd. I’m shivering.”
He put an arm around me. “Baby, you’ll be fine. Look at it this way. You’ll get actual paychecks now. Thick ones.”
I was about to ask questions about this when Fiona interrupted us.
“I need to talk to you, Marradith,” she said. “Sorry to be rude…hello, Justin,” she added.
“How are you Fi?” he said.
“Is it about Rafael?” I asked.
“Yes. Daria will be here shortly, and I need to get her report of what happened. After that, I have an assignment for you.”
“How about I leave the two of you alone to discuss it?” Justin nodded and took off.
Fiona stepped outside, and I followed her.
“Are the two of you angry at each other or something?”
Fiona shrugged. “You mean Justin? We disagreed about something, but, he’s the furthest thing from my mind. I did want to speak to you privately, and, he hovers.”
“It’s been his job to hover for how long? We just got married a month ago. If it doesn’t bother me, I don’t see why it should bother anyone else.”
Fiona’s mouth turned in a sour grin. “Sure. Let’s not waste time on that. I need you to do something for me.”
“You want me to help you find Rafael? I have been waiting for you to ask.”
Daria arrived a few moments after the ceremony ended.
“Hey you,” she felt a nudge on her arm and was surprised to find Justin behind her.
“Hey yourself,” she smiled. “I missed everything.”
“That’s okay. Marradith will be happy to see you anyway. How are you?” Justin frowned. “ I heard you got hurt.”
“I’m fine now. But yes, I messed up. I’ll tell you about that later. Where is Marradith, by the way?”
“Outside, with Fi.”
“Oh. How is Ms. Perfect?” she sneered, looking around to make sure no one heard her. She only used this nickname for Fiona around Justin and Marradith.
Justin shrugged. “Damned if I know. Today is the first time I’ve seen her since Rafael disappeared. She’s been calling and texting me with orders. It’s a mess.”
“No, you mean she’s a mess,” Daria whispered. “Half of me wishes this was all a set up. Rafael, I mean. Maybe he wanted to leave his wife and this was just a way to do it.”
Justin scratched his chin. “Well, I have known the man for a long time. We’re not friends. But that’s one bitch move that he wouldn’t stoop to.”
“So, what do you think? Who could have gotten to him? Rafael is a powerful warlock. Even without powers, he could put up a good fight.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out,” Justin replied. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t like this at all.”
©2010 Lori Titus
Lori is currently writing a new book about Lazarus and the dead things that dwell therein. Meanwhile, her nightmares are haunted by zombies, werewolves, and a teenager named Marradith.
Lori’s book, Green Water Lullaby, is available here: http://www.sonar4publications.com/green.html
Vote for The Marradith Ryder Series on Web Fiction Guide: http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=the-marradith-ryder-series.
For more about the author, read her blog: http://loribeth215.wordpress.com